Sunrise And The Spiritual Reboot

2014-09-07 19.37.17It’s not that I like to get up early, rising from bed in the morning chill, but, I am always glad when I do. It’s so easy to connect to the Truth of it all when the day is new, the light is emerging, and there is still the dewy calm to the day.

I sit in the living room looking out on the woods. The house is dark except for what light peeks through the French doors, just reaching me. I love to watch the woods emerge with the sun. A reminder that here is a fresh chance, a new start to whatever is working on me. The sunrise is the global reboot.

This blog has had a hiatus. Life brought some pressing matters and writing the blog was pushed off the must-do-today list.

But this morning’s daybreak brings a blog. And, I am so happy to be back.

I don’t know if this is how it works for you, but often for me a movement grows when I need to make a change. I’ll hear one person mention writing, for instance, and somehow it catches my attention. But I don’t connect the dots that it’s a message for me. Then I’ll read something about writing. Then another person says something else about it. Finally, it gets through my denseness and I say, “Yes, I finally hear you. I’ll hop to it.”

I am so thankful that Spirit is so patient!

Especially if the change is a tall order and I don’t think I’ve got the energy to do it, I resist. I may know what needs to be done, but I’ll procrastinate.

At other times, I’m just not clear. I’ll meditate and pray on it repeatedly. I’ve come to realize that when I think I’m not getting the answer, it’s perhaps that I need to break out of my old thinking. I’m stuck in an old pattern. For instance someone last week suggested I get back to writing. I’ve been a journal writer for most of my life, but it hasn’t been speaking to me of late. I tried it again thinking maybe that was it, and…nothing. There’s nothing wrong with trying something that has worked in the past, and this trial and error worked. I knew I wasn’t being called to journal at this time.

But, with this morning’s meditation, blog came over me loud and clear. Or, maybe I just shifted enough to hear it. Equipped with new learnings from life’s ups and downs, I’m back.

There is another chance. It may look a little different, but I think as far as God is concerned, there is always another chance and the sunrise is a powerful reminder of this.

How does it work for you? Do you get thunderbolt or trickling realizations?

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

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Cars And The Holy Spirit

2014-08-01 16.22.00I know it sounds weird but I’ve used my car as spiritual companion. I have used it as a vehicle (smile) to spiritual deepening, to contemplative living, to a place where I remember there is the Holy in everything.

Many years ago a seasoned Friend at Quaker meeting had mentioned that she regularly got in the car and purposefully did not turn on the radio. She would drive in silence, thus allowing this to be a pocket of stillness in her day.

I know others who have the spiritual discipline of saying a prayer before they start the car or breath deeply at every red light, and we all know there are lots of opportunities to practice forgiveness when on the roads.

In times of need I have pulled over and used this space for screaming prayers, soaker (tears) prayers, and in joyful times, singing prayers. I have used it as a place to open myself to Spirit. It’s a place where I can use red lights, for instance, as mindfulness gongs to bring me back to my awareness of the interwoven holiness of everything.

I don’t know about you, but I spend enough time in the car so if I can use some aspect of it as a spiritual discipline I figure I’m ahead of the game.

Do you have a vehicle-related discipline?

Travel mercies!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

The Delights of Dunking

2014-07-18 06.56.32I was sitting in a coffee shop near the airport having just dropped off one family member and waiting to pick up another. I was amazed at how lovely the view was outside the big picture window: clear blue sky, a few jet streams shooting off in various directions, the teenage tulip tree and sumac framing my perspective. Ahhh, gratitude for the abounding beauty.

I sat at this corner table typing away when I noticed an older man, about the age of my father, dunking his roll into his hot milky beverage. It reminded me of my childhood. I would visit my Ukrainian grandparents who owned a corner store in New Jersey. The rolls and bread delivered fresh, early every morning. I can hear the bread man pouring them into the heavy cardboard box they’d sit in, their coarse, grainy bottoms rubbing roughly.

While bustling back and forth from the store to help a customer to the kitchen to tend me and other duties, my grandmother would make me hot chocolate. I would take a fresh roll, slather on sweet butter (not the salted butter we had at home), and dunk it into my hot chocolate. I returned to the warmth of that little kitchen as soon as I saw this older man dunking. Then, I heard him speak to his friends: Russian or Ukrainian! The connection solidified.

There was an unspoken bond I felt to him, the gratitude I felt for him bringing my grandmother (Bopchi) back to me!

As an adult I had tried to recreate that culinary experience but the roll, butter, and hot chocolate just never tasted as good. The magic of childhood and my grandmother spoiling me was the key ingredient missing. She’s been gone for more than 20 years, but I’m amazed and grateful that her love and warmth can come back to me in a chance glance in little coffee shop in Maryland.

So thankful for the many gifts already this morning!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Who I Am In Life

2014-01-09 16.25.59“…the life I am living is not the same as the life that wants to live in me….I sometimes catch a glimpse of my true life, a life hidden like the river beneath the ice. And…I wonder: What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to be?” (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, p. 2)

My son will start his senior year in high school in the fall and lots of well-meaning adults will ask him and his friends, “What do you want to do when you grow up? What do you want to be?” My son and his friends think, “How should I know.”

I commiserate with his stress over these questions. At my age, I am still pondering them. I keep searching for my Truth, my Path.

As Parker asks, “Who am I meant to be?” Does this feel like a struggle because we are trying to figure these big questions out while living life: doing laundry, living, food shopping, praying, loving, hurting, getting confused and clear again? Or, could it also be that on this holy journey we (God and I) keep peeling back the layers of ourselves, revealing a new me each time, one that will again try to figure out what the Truth is.

There have been times in my life when I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do at that moment in time. I didn’t suppose that this was IT, as if that was what I was supposed to do until my last breath. So there has been wiggle room, space to pray and ponder and wonder. What’s next? At times there’s a restlessness that comes over me and I know, change is coming. “Show me, God. What am I to do next?”

I heard a talk the other day and the speaker asked several probing questions:

What are you most afraid of?

What would you do if fear was NOT a factor?

What would you do if you only had a year to live?

I’d add:

What gives you the most joy?

What gets you really excited?

When are you most passionate?

What comes to you in prayer?

If we follow that and know that we are given what we need to know, we’ll be on our way, whether we realize it or not!

Blessings on the journey and here’s to a little more clarity!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

From Independence to Peace

2014-07-04 13.06.58It’s July 4 and the morning blessed us with cool temperatures (70s), low humidity, and clear blue skies. The past week has been full of high 90s, higher heat indexes, and unhealthy air, but a large storm came through yesterday evening and blew the stifling weather away. Thus far we are blissfully independent of our air conditioners!

I am filled with gratitude and not just for the weather, which is magnificent. This morning finds me in one of my favorite places, the back porch. I watch the woods inhale–all the leaves rise, pause, and swoosh their communal exhale. The sound of the forest breathing, birdsong, and the lack of air or car traffic is delicious bounty. The sun beams down through a skylight, spotlighting particles that float through the screens in a wave toward the other side of the porch. This catches my attention. The porch stands strong and supportive, allowing her inhabitants to take part in the beauty of being in and among the trees, 40-50 feet up, but she doesn’t need to hold onto the little stuff. Ahh, more independence. She lets it just flow through her. She stands up for the big stuff, the important things, but lets go the little flotsam that we can get gunked up with as we hold tight. This is perhaps the non-dependence on trying to control everything, living without fixating on those things that don’t really matter.

Thank you, Gentle Reminder, for showing me the way to Peace.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Getting Rid of What You Don’t Need

2014-06-27 10.18.06I was at the kitchen sink doing dishes on a perfectly still morning when I heard a crashing sound out back. I looked up and saw a 15-20 foot branch tumbling down from a poplar tree. I went out on the porch to look more closely and what struck me as strange was that the branch looked perfectly healthy. There was even a totally dead branch still holding on to the tree just below where the healthy looking one had been living. I wondered why the dead one clung on, while the green, leafy one took a dive.

A few days later I was working on the back porch and it happened again. A large branch came tumbling down for no apparent reason. I wondered what is going on here! I’ve not seen this before and now it happens twice in the span of about 5 days?!

My friend’s husband is an arborist, so we asked him. He said this is not uncommon. There can be some past injury that makes the limb drop.

This made me think that we all carry around old stuff that no longer lives for us. Maybe they are memories, maybe they are old habits, but they are pretty benign.

Then there are the old injuries that we’ve covered over, we look healthy on the outside, but the fractures are there underneath. We can’t keep faking it. Eventually we need to shed those parts of us in order to move on in healthier ways.

It seems like this is a more complex aspect of letting go of what doesn’t serve me. It’s not just ridding myself of the obvious stuff (a negative relationship, drinking too much diet soda, whatever the case may be). It’s opening my eyes to what I’ve covered over, maybe I don’t even realize it’s there and unhealthy. It’s a part of my shadow work, admitting to myself that this is not only a part of me, but one I need to jettison. For example, perhaps I don’t think I’m trying to be right, but maybe I need to admit that I’m not really trying to help the other person, I just want them to do it my way. It’s ugly, but life is too short to carry around excess baggage. In traveling light we can reach to great heights.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Meditative Kayaking

It’s funny but true. You can find God and peace anywhere.

M2014-06-07 17.12.17y cousin, my fiancé, and I went kayaking down the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Princeton, NJ. The three of us left the house early before it got hot. I am by no means an expert kayaker, but the smooth canal water made it carefree.

We had the canal to ourselves and we quickly relaxed into the dip, pull, dip, pull, rest-coast. The rhythm, the glassy water, the beauty, the quiet made for an easily meditative experience.

Peace filled my being.

Isn’t it wonderful when God sneaks up on you like that? God was just waiting there.

Kayaking that morning was a body prayer as well as a prayer of gratitude for the surrounding beauty, the willing and able muscles, the communion I shared with people I love, the turtles sunning themselves, the moments filled with the Holy.

Gee. Wow! Thanks.

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

The Blessing of Silence

2014-06-13 10.12.09I love silent retreats. Usually there are people who attend who have experienced the great quiet before and are hungry for more. And then there are people who are there for the first time. They usually express some trepidation about what is going to happen. Questions like, what do I do and am I going to be bored arise. But then there is the anxiety about the unknown that is about to be embarked upon that can be seen in their eyes.

Many of us are used to the clutter and white noise that surrounds so much of society. When it’s gone, it is noticeable and a foreign feeling. We are so used to chatter of one sort or another filling our time and ears.

But, as John of the Cross says, silence is God’s first language.

I think it’s a matter of perspective. When I am introducing a silent retreat, I explain that the silence is not a time of doing without. It is not a time of not talking, it is a time of listening. It is a time of making space for the richness, the fullness that the Holy has to offer.

The silence is a place to deeply listen, fall back into it. Listen to the rustle of leaves, the exhale, the still small voice where we can hear God. Silence is a place of creation, a place of letting go, of emptying ourselves from clutter, of filling up with abundance.

In the silence we can come home to the fullness and richness where we can begin to feel it is safe to open up to your true selves. It is a place where we can be instead of focusing on doing.

There are times in my life that I actually hunger for the Holy Silence. When the world is too much, when the stress and strain ratio is too high, then there is nothing as healing as an extended, deep silence. Ahhh….what a relief!

“There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven.”–Meister Eckhart

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

The Art Of Following Your Bliss

2014-01-18 10.57.55I think most of us have heard the phrase, “Follow your bliss.”

I’m not sure if it’s just me or a human thing, but when I hear that I have often thought, “Yes! That sounds like a good idea. Great advice. Follow what you love and you will be living your Truth, what you were put on the planet to be.” But, does anyone else experience a hiccup when attempting to live that?

HOW does one live one’s bliss? Does that mean I am chilling on the back porch, writing blogs, and eating a little chocolate? What does it look like when it comes to balancing my bliss and my need to fulfill my promise to the mortgage company or my husband and our new company? It feels like my bliss is to make my son, my customer, and my neighbor happy, but I can’t figure out how to humanly accomplish that when they all want/need me at the same time. Where does Bliss end and responsibility begin? Or does it? Is there a way to live my Truth so it all works?

I do know that feeling when I’m on the Bliss Trail. When I’m on to what I’m supposed to be doing here in this lifetime. It’s that butterfly-tingly-zing. The energy races through my core. Yahoo! This is it!

I’ve recently gotten that feeling again. I’ve been letting the idea of becoming a spiritual director/companion season a bit. Well, I now know it’s time. When I was casually looking at the different programs I got the zing feeling. So, here I am, embarking on a new leg of the journey. Zing! Taking one step at a time. We’ll see how the bliss and life’s other components work together!

 

© Copyright 2014. Blessed Journey Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Flow From Me Like A River

2014-06-01 15.31.56I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
(Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)