Friday, November 11, 2011

Birthday Wishes

Today is my birthday. I always have mixed feelings about my birthday and this year is no different. I am getting older and it's a little disturbing. I will never be young again in this lifetime. My body hurts quite often these days; my back, right hip and knee are at times very painful and not much relieves the pain and it's annoying. Driving at night is becoming a challenge. So, each passing year I need to surrender a little bit more.

I saw a little video this morning, it was a video of a litter of kittens and chronicled their growth until they were nine weeks old. My thoughts went to prayers for long, happy and healthy lives for each of them, but I was struck that they too will one day be old and things will ache and they will die. We all die. This is what I have learned from my work at hospice, we all die. Our lives are like packages, with all of the stories, heartaches, joys, accomplishments and losses tucked neatly inside. Each experience finds a place within the package and when we die our package is closed and wrapped with a ribbon and put away on a shelf. It is the life inside the package that truly matters and not package itself.

Life is. Life is long or short. Life is lived in health, sickness, poverty or wealth. The circumstances don't matter, it is Life that does. It is how we live our lives and the meaning that we find that is the most important thing of all.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I woke up and it was foggy outside. You know that gentle cloud that descends and rests on us all, the world seems cloaked in stillness. The trees were at the absolute peak of color and the colors stood out brilliantly because of the fog. It was a soft day. A quiet day for reflection. As I was driving to do a bereavement visit I was totally struck by the feeling of Life. It is all Life. I am not separate from the tree, the squirrel, or that man over there or you. I am Life. You are Life. It is just Life. We need this feeling of separateness in order to experience life. If there was no illusion of separation then Life would be a sea of amoebas floating endlessly without ever bumping into each other. It's the bumping that makes Life worth living, it makes it interesting. But, it was as if the illusion was stripped away and I only saw Life and it was beautiful! As it happens during most autumns, by the end of the day most of the leaves had fallen.

Today I awoke to brilliant sunshine streaming in my window. My room has a golden hue. It is cold outside and the trees are showing their bones. I can never decide which season I like the best. Each has it beauty. In winter the purple lace of tiny branches agains the grey sky. Freshly fallen snow glistening in the sun. Soup, I love soup! Darkness comes early and wraps us in peacefulness. In spring the shades of green burgeoning forth from the branches make my heart sing. The warmth of the returning sun, the songs of the birds. Tiny sprouts coming from the ground to call of the sun. Forsythias, I love forsythias. In summer the deep greens against the bluest blue of the sky make me feel giddy. And the sun, I love the heat of the sun. Of course, there are flowers and picnics, an abundance of fruits and vegetables which all make life in summer joyful. But, I think I love autumn most of all; the chill in the air, pumpkins, descending darkness, foggy days. And of course, color. I love the color most of all.

As I watched the leaves falling and dancing as the wind blew them up the street, I was struck by the idea of life as a package. The leaves came to the tree as a gentle green not so very long ago, they grew into the lush green of summer and turned a brilliant red or gold with the change of light and the chill in the air, and now they are on the ground, soon to decay and return to the earth, the winter will complete the cycle and the leaves will nurture the tree in the spring. And the cycle will begin again.

Is that how our life is? I am in the autumn of my life. Will I die and the totality of this life be the food for the next? Will I emerge again in springtime and draw from the earth what I experienced in the life just ended?

It seems to me that Life teaches through example and if we look at nature we will learn the truth of all that is. Life continues... always. Today is the day I was born. It is 11/11/11 and that seems like such a auspicious date. I am glad to be alive. Thank you, dear Creator, for my life, thank you God for Life. I truly am a divine idea in the mind of God; we all are.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prayerful Image

I found this quote on prayer the other day. I love the language and the imagery of it and I want to share it here.

Reverend Carolyn Colbert’s words on prayer:

“I have this notion that we live in a sea of prayer. All over the world, in almost all traditions, prayer is being practiced. Practiced in a multitude of forms. Prayers are chanted, prayers are danced, prayers are spoken aloud and sounded in silence within. Prayers are written on paper and scattered like petals on the waters of the world. Some prayers are floated out on the breath; others are pounded out on the drumbeat of our hearts. Prayers are said and sung and danced morning noon and night. They are flung to the wind by flapping flags and spun into the air by turning wheels. Prayers are sounded from the tops of majestic mountains and whispered by children at bedtime in the close and holy darkness.”

"We live in a sea of prayers..." I see myself floating on the prayers, being held up by them. When I swam in the Dead Sea there is so much salt that I couldn't possibly sink, the water literally held me up. I see prayer like this; it holds me up. Prayers "...are flung to the wind by flapping flags and spun into the air by turning wheels." Prayers are surrounding the Earth, just as clouds circle the globe. What a gorgeous image! Held by prayer. Held up by prayer. The only thing required of us is to believe in the power of prayer and know they work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Castle Walls

I have started to write a couple times over the last six weeks and not much would come. I wrote a long and ponderous post about dying, but I didn't post it because I sounded like a pompous ass. Since moving out of my father's house I have been involved in arranging furniture and hanging pictures; activities that I love to do. I stand back and look at my little house and my hearts feels glad. It really is cute!

Being away from my father and brother has created turmoil. Not turmoil in that I am running over there and caring for my father, but turmoil because I'm not running over there and caring for him. I am very conflicted about the whole thing. I have not seen either of them at all since I left. Good thing/bad thing. I feel very guilty for walking away. I feel terrible that my father is alone. Yes, my brother is there, but my father might as well be alone. My brother does nothing. The woman that we hired to be a companion/driver says that she tells my father all the time to ask Karl for help, but he says Karl refuses. Which adds to my sense of guilt. I am torn and I don't really know how to approach the whole situation.

However, being away from my father and my brother has filled me with peace. I am my own person. My brother's passive aggressive behavior doesn't touch me anymore. I am away from his drinking, his smoking, his sick sexual fantasies which disgusted me. All of it and it fills me with comfort. I come home to my cute little house and it's clean. It's peaceful. And it's quiet.

All of this leads me to my castle walls. My defenses that I've constructed. I see perfectly how I am bound by my psychology. How my defenses hold me back and keep me from participating fully in life. How I am not my reactions; I am not ego and yet, my defenses define who I am in this body. How does one move pass these castle walls?

When I teach meditation I talk about our castle walls and how meditation slowly over the course of years will break down the castle walls and allows the light of God/Universe/Divine in. And it does do that, but I see very clearly how I am still confined by my walls. They are much more transparent, but they are still there. I guess this is the derivation of the saying, "hitting a wall," it is my own wall I keep running into. Crash! I am always confronted by myself and they same issues over and over. Do we ever leave them totally behind?

I echo Ronald Reagan (Oh, my God, I echo Ronald Reagan!) "Tear down that wall!"

Dear God, I am here. I am willing. Help me to move passed what holds me. Help me to move passed what binds. Be with me, Dear One. Help me to know who I am really am, so that I may know you more fully. Help me to stand naked, clothed only in my being, like a tree in winter, devoid of that behind which I hide. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Heart of The Matter

The following is a sermon that I will give at the first worship service of the year. I think its message is one that everyone can relate to. 

Heartbroken, Open hearted, Heartfelt, heartbeat, heart and soul, heart space, heartsick, Bighearted, Coldhearted, Disheartening, downhearted, fainthearted, halfhearted, heartache, heartily, heartless, heart-filled, heartthrob, heavyhearted, lighthearted, softhearted, stouthearted, wholehearted. All of these words are part of our language because our hearts are not just a physical organ. Our hearts are the connection between our physical being-ness and our soul.

The heart of the matter is that all of humanity growing spiritually. But, honestly what does that mean in every day language? It seems as if our hearts must break as they open, which may be exactly the heart of the matter. We are “Broken Open” as Elizabeth Lesser’s book tells us.

And honestly it doesn’t feel all that great to be broken, broken open

We live lives behind self-constructed castle walls. We build these walls as a form of protection against the hurts, wounds and unexpected arrows flung at us by fate and fortune. The deeper the wounds- the thicker we build our walls. Some walls are almost impenetrable… almost impenetrable. No one is able to completely isolate themselves from the light of Love. No one is beyond redemption. No one can completely ignore their heart in their heart of hearts.

Spiritual practice breaks down our walls and this happens in tiny steps of which we may not even be aware. We turn around and realize that we did not react from the same old pattern. We woke up, even if it is only for a moment. Of course we will go back to sleep. We always go back to sleep.

When I was thinking about giving this talk today I meditated and in my meditation I was pondering all of the words and phrases that we just named. Heart broken, open hearted, compassionate heart… but, I also clearly heard in my head, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” I read this book in high school. It was the time of the Civil Rights movement. It was a time of turmoil and heartbreak and struggles: riots, beatings, assignations that rocked our country in our very hearts, to our very souls. So, hearing the name of this book in meditation, of course, I needed to revisit it and see what was there that would help with this talk. “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is a story of John Singer, a deaf man and the people he encounters in a small town during the 1930s. It’s interesting that the people John Singer meets feel drawn to him and confide in him and he can’t hear what they are saying. He is safe. Therefore, in essence they are talking to themselves, baring their hearts to man that can’t hear them. John Singer has his own heartbreak that he carries alone, unable to communicate his pain. Each character has a story of their own heartbreak, broken dreams and sorrow- very much like all of us in this room.

At the end of the story, Biff Brannon, the owner of the diner in this little town, suddenly awakens… “Then suddenly he felt a quickening in him. His heart turned and he leaned his back against the counter for support. For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who—one word—love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only. For in him he felt a warning, a shaft of terror... he was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith."

Moving beyond our castle walls is unbelievably terrifying and most of us can only do it with tiny forays into the light and like hermit crabs we quickly close back up after only a moment or two in the light. It is my prayer that each of you will open your shell for just a moment and feel safe enough to feel the light during this our offering here today.

Even if it’s only for a moment I hope that you feel safe enough to rest in your heart, like our friend the hermit crab open your heart enough to feel the light. Rest in the arms of God. You are safe here. And like Biff feel that moment of radiance. If you feel it once, your’ heart will long for it again and again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & truth." The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?" The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Wonder...

I wonder. I am wondering. Wonder.

Isn't that a lovely word? I am wondering what the hell is going on! That is my current state. Just when I think you have a handle on things all of the old stuff comes back to bite me on the butt. Wow, it's the same old stuff, only now it's deeper, strong and it feels closer to the core. I am confused and anxious and feeling pretty bad. Oh, and let's not forget angry. Anger is the way my issues manifest. And, boy, I am feeling it now.

I suppose that I should call my old therapist and see if she can see me again. I just don't want to start into a another three year process. It can be agonizing and expensive. 

It feels as if I am missing summer. I know I missed the spring, I was so busy with Graduation and the Intensives that I never really looked up for a instant. Life is gorgeous and it is passing me by. 

So, I wonder. I wonder if I will ever be truly free of my issues, or if each layer that reveals itself will be harder and more difficult to get past. And if that's the case, do I really want to try... Hell, yes! I know the wonder of feeling free of the stuff that holds us back (even if that is an illusion until the next layer is peeled away), it's pure joy to throw off those heavy cloaks that weigh me down. So, I will work on this again, and again, and again; until I stand naked, pure and free. It's only then that I will begin the work of union with the Divine. And after all that's what I have been seeking all these years. It will take the rest of my life and probably all of the next several lifetimes, but I'll get there. Time is unimportant. 

But, first the phone call to my therapist. Sigh.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bless What Eludes My Grasp

Lord, so many things skitter through my mind,
and I give chase to gather them
and hold them up in a bunch to you,
but they go this way and that
while I go that way and this...
So, gather me up instead
and bless what eludes my grasp but not yours:
trees and bees, fireflies and butterflies,
roses and barbecues, and people...
Lord, bless the people...bless the people:
birthday people,
giving birth people,
being born people;
conformed people,
dying people,
dead people;
hostaged people,
banged up people,
held down people;
leader people,
lonely people,
limping people;
hungry people,
surfeited people,
indifferent people;
first world people,
second world people,
third world people;
one world people,
your people,
all people.
Bless them, Lord.
Bless what eludes my grasp but not yours.

~Ted Loder

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Coming Soon: Spring!

Spring is definitely on the way! I can feel it in my bones. Yesterday I was in the backyard filling the bird feeder. I just casually looked up at the branches over head and I saw it... the leaves are just beneath the surface of the wine colored buds. My heart sang for joy!

I enjoy winter. I love the cold air on my cheeks, the hearty foods of winter the snugglily feeling of being in a warm house, the cold floor on my feet, the world blanketed with snow and the muffled sounds and deep quiet.. I enjoy these things. But, spring is near and I love that too.

The forsythia will be blooming very soon, I haven't yet seen one, but I'm sure the crocus are starting to push their way to the surface. The grass is already showing its delight and turning green. Life is coming back.

What a gift God has given us. Spring. But, it's not just the physical aspects of spring that is the gift, it's the renewal of life. God has shown us through the cycles of life that there is always a new beginning. Just as sure as day follows night, spring follows winter and birth follows death.

So, spring is on its way. Birds are singing dancing around the bird feeder and life is coming back. Thank you, God. Life is truly amazing!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I have been thinking about paradox lately. It seems that all of life is a paradox. There are two sides to everything. There is light and dark. Good and evil. Male and female. Love and fear. According to the Tao, the world is made up of opposites or paradoxes and the world exists because of the tension between the two.

I get it. I see it everywhere. The world is so beautiful, it takes my breath away on many a day. Today is one of those days, we had a heavy snow last night and the vista from my bedroom window is incredibly beautiful.

Is there anything more inspiring than seeing an eagle soar? Or a lion basking in the sun? Yet, they are killers. The kill to survive. I have always struggled with this. I sometimes say that as a planet we will become enlightened and see God on the day that all creatures become vegetarians. Yet, I know that isn't going to happen. What I am beginning to see is that the pull of the polar opposites is necessary to creation. The killer is majestic, just as the lamb is majestic too.

Perhaps the tension is more about surrender. Perhaps it is in the surrender that we know God. Whether it is a surrender to love or to the talons of and eagle. One season surrenders to the next, just as every day we are shown the surrender of day into night and night into day. One can't exist without the other- what would day be if there was no night? Or perhaps it is about being a witness- one side of the paradox watching the other side, as a way of knowing oneself through seeing the opposite.

It is a puzzlement, as the King of Siam used to say in The King and I.

I feel that that one of the biggest elements of the spiritual path is surrender. What does that mean exactly? Father Bede Griffiths, according to Andrew Harvey, died into love. His union with God was complete once he "died into love." It means giving up the false self, letting go those things that bind us to us. I feel that in my life I have let go of so much. I allow God to take the reins often (at least, that's what I think I do, but do I really do that?). 

According to so many people throughout history and today's spiritual community talk about the "Dark Night of the Soul" and the necessity of experiencing it in order to progress along the spiritual path, it is the only way in which to achieve a union with God. Is that so? If there are paradoxes, and polar opposites, then why isn't it possible to achieve a union with God through a "Light filled day of the Soul?" 

These are my questions today. I look out my window and see the glory of God in my backyard, snow deep enough to almost touch my knees. This is God. God is right here right now. My questions are meaningless in the face of the beauty that I see. All is beautiful and all is perfect and that includes me as well. I don't need to strive or flail my body with whips to understand God, all I need do is to allow God to move within me, open my eyes and see the beauty and the horror that is mine to see. 

Easy, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This and That

There is freezing rain today and the trees are wearing a thin coat of ice. It looks beautiful. It will turn to rain soon, but right now I am enjoying the glistening branches. With my daughter, I am taking my granddaughter to the dance school this afternoon and signing her up for ballet, jazz and gymnastics class today. How do they get all that in just an hour lesson? I think she will love it and it will channel her exuberant energy in a useful direction. Izzy loves music and loves to move, so it should be a good combination.

I look at Izzy and I am instantly filled with joy. I think granddaughters are the greatest thing ever invented. She delights me in every way. She is hilarious, she is incredibly deep, she is a goof, she bounces off of the walls with all of her energy, she is very loving, she is very sweet, and very girlie, she loves music and sings raucous songs, she shakes her butt when she is delighted by music and she does a cheesecake pose sticking out her butt. Words really can't describe how special she is. And yet I know she is no more special than any other three year old, they are all special and all the same. However, to me she is the most wonderful child in the entire world and I love her very much.

Looking back over the last three and almost a half years, I am struck by how much joy I have in my life and almost all of it is because of Iz. I saw her when she was just 15 minutes old. I took her tiny hand and held it and my heart was broken opened. Over the next months she grew and thrived, she had an ear infections that went undetected for a bit and we all thought she was a crier, but once the pediatrician discovered the infection and treated it she has been a delight. Her natural response is laughter. The kid is fearless in her pursuit of fun. When she was about five months old she felt her first piece of paper, it was love at first sight. She made such a funny little face, puckering up her lips as she touched the paper. She crinkled it and ripped, all the while concentrating very hard making this little mouth. She played with the paper for a good hour, never tiring of it. Today if she finds something new and unusual that she is exploring she still makes the same mouth.

Izzy has discovered curse words and we have great fun being bad and saying them. She laughs and laughs. Sometimes she makes up her own. "Oh, you're a dope and a shit noogie and you smell like dog butts." After she says it she always says something that sounds and awful like Homer Simpson's "Doh!" And then laughs and laughs. "Damn it! - Doh!" "Bitch - Doh!"

I love that kid!

This is how life is meant to be lived, watching your children grow and then playing with their children. All it is is simple joy. Life really is good.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Deep Meditation - Deep Peace

Today I went to the Center For Conscious Living for services. I had checked their website the other day for another reason and I saw that one of my classmates was singing in the service. So, I made up my mind I was going and I did. It was a lovely service and Rhetta did a fabulous job. She has an amazing voice that comes directly from spirit. I enjoyed the service very much and I will definitely go again.

During the service the minister did a guided meditation that took me very deep. I love when I am able to go so deep and feel nothing but the spirit within. I was at peace. It just a shame that it can't last beyond the meditation.

Life is beautiful. Meditation is a joy. Life is truly holy. I am at peace. So, maybe the meditation actually did last beyond the service.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Day, A New Year

Today is 1/1/11 and it's a new year. To ring in the new year last night, Jon and I ordered in Indian food and and we went to bed at around 10:00. We both slept through the night... for a change. We woke early and watched the sunrise, then we went to Starbucks and waited for it to open at 8:00. We were one of the first customers in the store so we got the comfy seats. As we sipped our coffees, Jon read the paper and I read The Times on my iPad. It was such a delight and so relaxing to just sit there with each other. Afterwards we ran into the grocery store for some breakfast food to bring home and cook. Later on we went for a ride in the country.

This is a good start to the year. A propitious start.

Life is such a precious thing. My life has truly been a thing of joy. It wasn't always like that, but I was being led. I am sure of this. My spirit or God was leading me to find the joy within me. Jon and I went through some really lousy times. Our marriage was in trouble. We had absolutely awful money problems. Neither one of us had healthy self-images. We were co-dependent. We were utterly clueless.

But somehow, perhaps through my meditation practice, spirit was able to to find a foot hole and all things changed. Slowly at first, but then little by little I found my way. Jon was doing his own work too. And here we are. Life is precious and totally beautiful. We still don't have tons of money, but we have enough and that's a good thing.

It didn't happen over night. It was a step by step process, it took practice and a lot of self reflection. I feel that I know myself pretty well today. I forgive myself. I love myself. All of this adds up to have a been pretty blessed. And I am grateful. I am so grateful.

So, as I start this new year full of hope, I say thank you, dear God, for all of my blessings. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for my beautiful and healthy daughter. Thank you for my amazing granddaughter, may she always be happy and healthy, living life abundantly and enfolded in your loving presence. I am grateful for my home, it shelters us and provides us with warmth and comfort. Thank you for my job, I am so very blessed to be doing this work. Thank you for One Spirit and my place there, may it grow and reach more people and may my role expand. Thank you for my dog and cat, I love them both very much. I am grateful for my car, which takes me where I want to go. Thank you for the abundance in my life. Thank for my friends. Thank you for it all. I am so blessed.

Happy New Year.