Saturday, May 30, 2015

"The world is in truth a holy place"

This is a quote from Teilhard de Chardin that was in Richard Rohr's daily meditation today and it is an apt thought for this morning.

As I often do, I come in the morning to my back porch and sit on the flowered and comfortable couch next to my dog Ginger.  This morning I took some time to just breathe and listen.  And what I heard loud and clear was the sounds of the birds that seemed to be all around me.  I cannot describe in words what I heard.   I found myself writing words like - "chirp" "Sing" "warble" "Trill" "Caw" Shriek"  I could not tell where the birds were - how close or how near.  The sounds kind of rose and fell as I sat there.

Ginger is VERY attentive to all sounds and sights as we sit.  When she spots a bird or a squirrel actually in our back yard she makes it very clear that she needs to go outside to run around in a circle and bark and assert her primacy.  Surely she doesn't think she is going to catch them?

Anyway, it is beautiful and awesome just to consider the beauty and the wonder of it all. I sit and see the" both- and " of life even in these moments as the wind comes and goes, as the sounds rise and fall, as the light in the porch changes from the clouds.  And I feel alive.  And grateful.

I read a chapter this morning in Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.  She quotes Joseph Campbell
People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life,
I don't think that's what we're really seeking.
I thing that what we're seeing
is an experience of being alive....
so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive.

And somehow on the porch this morning I get it.  I know it is pretty tame as the world views it all.  I read an article in the New Yorker yesterday about a young man who joined ISIS in order to feel alive.
And I know about how extreme sports, or gambling or love affairs or all kinds of things may be a way of seeking aliveness.

Elizabeth Lesser writes:
When I look at the pinched faces of television evangelists or the rigid bodies of angry activities marching in mobs, I want to take them aside and rub their shoulders, wipe the furrows from their brows, feed them something delicious and make them laugh.  I want to say: "It doesn't have to be so intense, so fierce, so acrimonious.  You can work to ease the ills of society, and at the same time you can love the world with all its sorrow and beauty.  You can serve your God without being so uptight about it.  You can feel the simple rapture of being alive and let that rapture be your North Star.  You can be led by quiet joy."

That is what I want for myself.  As I served the church there were certainly times of experiencing tension and even (inside myself) acrimony.  There is no question that it is easier in retirement to take the time and step back and see the oneness of life.  But even now, it is easy to lose that peace and awareness and aliveness and go back into critical, controlling, anxious thoughts and behavior.

So I am grateful today for today and the moments of clarity and wonder.  One of my favorite books of all times is Anthony De Mello's The Song of the Bird.  I think of that today.

The Song of the Bird

The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the master, God is the Unknown
and the Unknowable.  Every statement
about him, every answer to your questions,
is a distortion of the truth."

The disciples were bewildered.  "Then
why do you speak about him at all?
"Why does the bird sing?  said the

Not because it has a statement, but because it has a song.

The words of the scholar are to be understood.  The words of the master are not to be understood.  They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird.
They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.

They will bring us to life!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

You give them something to eat

This is what Jesus said to the disciples when they wanted to send people to the villages to buy something to eat.  And I am sure they thought - we don't have anything.  What are you talking about?
And this was then followed by the feeding of the 5000.

This is one of the scriptures of today and I love it!  It speaks to me in all aspects of my life.

Yesterday I "launched" my website so to speak.  Before I posted information on this blog,   I sent the link to my daughters and some friends and received both encouragement and help.  Three of my friends, Kim, Debbie and Susan mentioned some spacing and editing needs.  Kacey immediately sent me a message using the website which reinforced that it works!  And Marnie sent a line by line proofreading response.  I thought this is exactly how it works for me. I am definitely of the "Just do it!" persuasion.  Get it out there even though you know it is not perfect and make changes along the way.  Everything I do needs both encouragement and a little help.

At the same time I am now reading through Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser for a book group next month. I feel so blessed by this book as in this writer I feel like I have found another kindred spirit. I completely identify with the understanding that we are all "Bozos on the Bus" who have an "Open Secret" which is the flaws, addictions, wounds and imperfections of our humanity.

So I launch a website and wonder if it is foolish.  With all of the questions that lurk within me - who do I think I am?  what am I doing?  what if a year from now I look back and think it was another thing I tried for a while and let go?  And all of that may be true and then at some point I say - so what?

I carry this awareness within me - the "Both And" of my identity.  I am a bozo on the bus.  Elizabeth Lesser writes: "We are all half baked experiments - mistake-prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world."  And I also am a disciple of Christ.  Walking with Jesus who enables me at times to help others to be fed in times of spiritual hunger.

So I am grateful today for all the ways in which I am being fed - with scripture, books, nature, and friends who encourage and help me. 

As always I say - God is Good, All the Time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

take the next step

I created a website for myself - and maybe some friends - and this is it:

When I was at Hilton Head I came to the realization that what I really enjoy doing is spiritual direction and I decided that I would come home and start to take it seriously.  So....a website.
And God only knows if anyone will respond to this offering.  But it is a start.  It is my next step.

Here is some of what is written on the website:

Each of us is given the gift of life and the opportunity to grow into becoming the people that we were created to be.  Our lives are fashioned by our families of origin, our personalities, our genetic make up. events in our lives  and the choices that we make along the way.

The spiritual journey is one of discernment as we listen to our own lives and allow ourselves to be guided by the still small voice of the Holy One who loves us and leads us into growth in all kinds of ways.  It is a process of transformation as with God we begin  to see and dismantle the masks we wear and the attachments that bind us so that we can  come home to our authentic selves and inner happiness.

A spiritual director has  been trained to help us to listen and look and reflect upon the movements within our own lives.  And through this relationship we  are better able to discern God's leading to take  the next step that leads to love, healing, growth, peace and freedom. 

My three years of the Wellstreams program gave me a wonderful opportunity to direct others and to really experience how God is present in our conversations with each other. I have been in spiritual direction for over 10 years and know that having someone who really listens helps you to hear yourself.  And when you can hear yourself, you can see how God has worked and is working in the midst of the dailiness of life.

I like the idea of "taking the next step" because I believe that this journey is ultimately about movement - slow but sure movement - as we give some things up and take other things on and keep trusting in God's guidance.  And that is how growth happens (by the way the print is in green because in my mind Green = Growth!)

So, if intention and naming what I want helps to bring my desires into fruition, I am doing that today.  I want to be a spiritual director - I just need somebody to direct.  

Check it out.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

On the Mystique

 I am home now from a wonderful week in Hilton Head and just want to mention one of the highlights of my time there.  It was spending time on the "Mystique."

That is the name of the 42 foot teak and mahogany  yacht that Kim and I were able cruise   this week on the Calibogue Sound at Hilton Head.  What a wonderful way to end the day.

On two evenings we boarded this boat and joined about 8 other people doing some of my favorite activities: being on the water, drinking wine and looking for dolphins. It was relaxing and beautiful.
And until I read about it - I didn't know it was a "Yacht" - I thought it was a boat because it was dwarfed by so many large YACHTS in the harbor.

One of my observations about being at Hilton Head is that there were people with MONEY there.
But I also noticed that what was most appealing to me - and clearly to many people - were the things that money cannot buy.
  • It was viewing a sunset at the end of the day.  Many people sat expectantly in red rocking chairs or sitting on the dock just waiting for the view that came every night of the bright sun setting again.  It was always stunning.  Here is one of my pictures.
  • It was bicycling or walking on the beach.  Kim and I walked a couple of miles one morning and I found myself praying as I walked and just happy to be moving my body and experiencing the sun and the sand and the water.  There is nothing like it.
  • But most memorable of all for me was looking for and seeing the dolphins.  We were mostly strangers to each other on the Mystique, but we were all united in looking for the dolphins and pointing them out to one another.  Seeing what looked like mother and baby playing and glimpses of the arc of the fins was more thrilling than you can imagine.  It seemed to me that some people were more aware of them and could spot them more readily but always shared so that we could all see.

And as I reflected on that experience, I really felt that it reminds me of spiritual direction.  That we get glimpses of God and need to share them with each other.  Because like the dolphins in the sound - God is always there - we just need to take time to look.  And it is really helpful to have companions on the way.

So a wonderful week is over and I feel blessed by my time there .

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blindness and belonging

Blindness and belonging

I am writing this from Hilton Head where I am beginning a week of rest and re creation with Kim Veatch.  I start this day out on a balcony porch overlooking the harbor.  My view is beautiful beyond words: the  rippling water, a line of palm trees,  regal pines and then birds flying, soaring, gliding, perching, trilling, singing, calling.

And me sitting in wonder that AGAIN I am in a place of exquisite peace and beauty.

This is a Sunday with no church again, but a Sunday that begins with God.  I start a new book: Pursuing God's Will Together by Ruth Haley Barton and I read the texts of this day.  And I wonder - what is God going to do with me this week?  Because my sense is that there is something.

This much I know - that I am on a journey where ( for the most part) I want to pursue God's will.  Ruth Haley Barton defines discernment as "distinguishing between the good - what is of God and draws us closer and the evil - what is not of God.  And the aim of discernment "finding God in all things in order that we may love and serve god in all."

Which of course is words that make it sound easy. She uses the story of the healing of the blind man in John to explore that problems we have in our spiritual vision as the Pharisees struggled with preserving the system and the parents feared rejection. Our systems of thought and expectations can filter out our awareness of Gods presence and activity and speech.  She writes "we only see what we are ready to see, expect to see and even desire to see."

As i write this I reflect on Kim coming outside and immediately seeing a baby dolphin in the water.  I had not known to look.

So my hope and prayer is for discernment and guidance. One of scripture  readings today is John 17:6-19 as Jesus is praying to God before he leaves this world for his disciples:
"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world"

And what pops out to me is "belong". As followers of Jesus we do not "belong" to
 the world but to God. I believe that but I also know - to go back to the very first sentence of my blog- that I "for the most part" want to pursue God's will. The other part is about pursuing my will or getting caught up in the values of " the world."
And THEN I find myself in a place of just plain confusion as I don't really know what is what.

No wonder I love the prayer by Thomas Merton so much that begins like this:

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. ."

And so, as this week begins in it's beauty I pray for real discernment as I stumble along seeking to follow the will of God.  I know that is where I will find life.

Here is a prayer by Ruth Haley Barton:
Heal my inner sight, O God
That I may know the difference between good and evil
Open my eyes
That i may see what is true and what is false
Restore me to wisdom
That I may be well in my soul
Restore me to wisdom,
That I and my world may be well

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


That is a new word for me.    It means the complete intercirculation of love. As I conclude this book on centering prayer, I end up with an image that really speaks to me.   Cynthia Bougeault writes:
"It's sort of like the buckets on a watermill, as they empty one into the other, the mill turns and the energy of love becomes manifest and accessible."

So, what this means for us is that as we are following Jesus in "Kenosis" self emptying, we are doing our part of making the world go around in love. I still remember that Scott Peck once said that everything is paradox except for this statement: "Love makes the world go round."

What I find in my life is a lot of situations that are up in the air and not resolved.  Don't we all want to solve problems and get resolution?  That is the illusion of life.  Instead I see things like my grandson who seems to be having seizures for some reason, a friend who is struggling with mental illness, the reality of aging and all the changes that makes for us.  And on a larger scale - another earthquake in Nepal, a terrible train accident in Philadelphia and our government which tries to deal with big problems like poverty, racism, a broken educational system.  Etc, Etc. Etc.  And interestingly, in the midst of these relentless questions of life, I read yesterday the Non News that fewer people go to church and identify as Christians. We in the church biz already knew that!

And maybe the problem is the dis connect between church life and the good news that is in our relationship with God.  I don't know - what I struggle with personally is the realization that the church is the best place where we can learn about who God really is and what a blessing it is to have God in the center of this often confusing life that we are all living. And often church is the place where we experience perichoresis and name it as God's work - as I watch people whose love flows from one to another.  It is often, unfortunately, a place where you can experience judgment and shaming with folks who have not really understood or experienced the grace of God.

And so, I think the contemplative life is pretty important for everyone.  Cynthia Bourgeault writes
"The goal of the contemplative life, then, is to make "beautiful Christians": those with the insight and the inner flexibility to flow into life in any and all circumstances knowing that the fountainhead is love."

Marcus Borg suggests that the word Metanoia - often translated as "repent" or "turn around" actually means "go beyond the mind" or go into the "larger mind."  And that is what I keep learning through prayer and time spent contemplatively with God's word.  At the center of the universe is God, the source of all life and love.  God's love flows into Jesus and into spirit and into God and into us.  It is like a water mill of endless love. And gives me hope in the midst of all the stresses and questions of daily life.

However, it is our emptying ourselves that enables this to happen.  And how that happens is - as is everything spiritual - about intention, grace and mystery.

Anyway, this morning I just feel grateful for my faith and for the gifts I receive through times of silence, through reading books like this, through spending time with God's word.  It all prepares me to go out into my world right now - as friend, mother, wife, grandmother, disciples.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Welcoming Prayer

I continue to be blessed by reading Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault. I am reading it slowly - a chapter a day in order to try to digest the important understandings in it. But WOW it is speaking to me.  And as always, it seems to relate to the scriptures of the day.

Today's texts include

1 Timothy 6:11-12
But as for you, man (and woman!)  of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

I remember many years ago listening to a series of tapes (not CD's - it was MANY years ago!) by Rick Warren on preaching.  And one of his emphases was "Yes but how?"  We can say things like pursue righteousness - but always the question is - what does that look like and how do we do that?
 In this book Cynthia Bourgeault writes about the emotional programs for happiness - security and survival, esteem and affection and power and control that of course do not work and say our energy.  They lead to our attachments that make us feel safe and comfortable and aversions that push our buttons.  And these "programs for happiness" are so often unconscious and an illusion and do not lead to happiness.
The welcoming prayer is counter intuitive but I know that it works.   She describes it as "deep surrender with gutsy presence."  As I write about it, I know I am going to make it sound simpler and easier than it is.  But I will give it a try. There are three steps
1. focus and sink in
2. welcome
3. let go
What this means is that when something is stirring us up - like conflict with a family member or hearing about gossip about us or job insecurity or health issues.  We begin by focussing on it.  That is not to say analyzing the situation or psychoanalyzing ourselves.  But focus and bring it to our attention. (as opposed to what I might do - like eat potato chips and play a video game!) Focus and welcome the emotions that come with it.  The anger, the fear, the pride, whatever it is. Welcome.  She says that when we welcome it we have avoided the pitfalls of disassociation and repression.  And what I know is that welcoming means seeing and accepting our shadow.  She writes: "By embracing the thing you once defended yourself against or ran from, you are actually disarming it, removing its power to hurt you or chase you back into your smaller self." 
It is a form of surrender: "Surrender understood as an interior act will place you in alignment with magnetic center, the seat of your inner observer, through which Divine Being can flow into you."   And for me another way of saying this is that we give it to God.  And then we let it go.  Here is the formula one woman used:
I let go of my desire for security and survival.
I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go of my desire for power and control
I let go of my desire to change the situation
And what this means is that we are aligning ourselves with God and God's plan for our lives. And allowing God's presence and power to have its way with us.
As I write this I think - this may not be new but I still struggle all the time with MY plans and MY image then get into some kind of crazy stuff that leads me back to my attachments and aversions.  Anyway, I write this to remind myself that God wants me to be free and full of the energy and love of life.
So may we all welcome all parts of ourselves into consciousness and allow God to do God's work of healing within us.  
45 years ago my dear friend Susan gave me a plaque that I continue to have hanging on the walls of my home.  It is called "Friendship" by Dinnah Maria Mulock Craik (written in 1859)
   Oh, the comfort—
    the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
    having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
    but pouring them all right out,
    just as they are,
    chaff and grain together;
    certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
    keep what is worth keeping,
    and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away
We have such a friend in Jesus!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Blessings

Today was Mothers Day and it has been a good one.  When I was preaching, I always found the day to be tricky because there is often pain associated with this day.  The pain of a mother who has died, or a child who has died, or a mother who was absent, or the inability to be a mother.  There are so many hidden pains in a congregation regarding this day.

But THIS mother's day I only had to be ME and receive all the blessings of this weekend.

There was the blessing of being Audrey's mother.  Audrey, like me, is an ordained minister and she had a preaching gig today and sent me her sermon to look over on Saturday.  I love that I get to do this and I love that her sermons are SO GOOD.  Proud Mama here.

There is the blessing of being Marnie's Mom.    I had a beautiful lunch at her house today and got to play with the baby, joke with the big girls and receive cards and wine and a chocolate chip cookie cake.  This family knows me!

There is the blessing of being Kacey's Mom.  She called me last night to say that Jackson was going to the Emergency room at Children's Hospital following a seizure at a race.  "Do you want me to come?"  "Yes."  And just that is a blessing.  I get to (with the other grandparents) be loving support for a young family in a very scary time.  The good news is that he did come home last night and they will get some tests and maybe we will find out about why this very active little boy has had three seizures in 3 years.

To be a mother is to learn about love and limits and humility and love.   It is to be so proud of your children and so concerned for them.  It is to share history and humor and heartbreak and happiness.
It is the very best part of my life.

And so, happy mother's day to me.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

David Letterman

is leaving soon and I will miss him.

I don't watch every night but whenever I do I like him and I always have.  For me he was the successor to Johnny Carson who I link to my growing up years and my parents. My dad was very funny and people compared him to Johnny Carson. And watching Johnny was what we did.  I remember waiting until after his monologue on September 17th 1973 before Chris Connor and I went to the hospital to have our first baby.  I am telling you, Johnny Carson and David Letterman were both important to me.

I have this thing about comedians anyway. I learn from them in watching them about timing and presence as a speaker myself.  Strangely, even more than watching them - I like to read about them and learn about their process.  I have read lots of books - (recent favorite were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's), listen to podcasts (Kevin Pollek, Marc Maron, Aisha Taylor),  and like "Comedians in Cars with Coffee" alot.  Yesterday I watched a new documentary by Kevin Pollek called Comedy Loves Misery.  It was essentially interviews with a slew of comedians about their life and their art.

What struck me is that some of them mentioned how thrilling it is (like a drug) to be in control of an audience.  Others emphasized connecting to the audience.  Some talked about the "disease" of "Look at me" -- wanting attention and to be seen.  Others talked about becoming authentic and speaking their truth about life.

All of it makes me think about some of the reading I have been doing with this book on Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault. I read the chapter on "Divine Therapy" and it expressed an understanding of our wounded egos that I found to be helpful. She writes that woundings come in the areas of security/survival, esteem/affection, and power/control. And when our egos are wounded we lack self esteem and we are overly defended.  And yesterday watching the documentary so many men and women spoke about how tough this life was but that in maturity they were able to accept and get past the many time of failure and find their own voice.  And the big question is: how do we get to that place of maturity?

I listened to a podcast of David Letterman recently and he talked about how different he was after his heart surgery and how much more able to relax and enjoy his life and stop needing to be in control and have his self esteem rise and fall with every show.

All of which brings me back to my life and the spiritual emphasis of it.  My experience continues to be that something happens to us in prayer and in our faith walk  that enables that wisdom, maturity, perspective to happen so that we can find not only peace in our lives but connections with each other and the universe.  That is what can heal our wounded egos so that we can live our lives as a blessing to each other and not as a competitor.

I believe that people are called to be comedians as well as ministers and teachers and other vocations. And these people - especially when they are spiritually and emotionally healthy - can - not only make us laugh - but make us think about ourselves and the world in new and important ways.

And so I am grateful to Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and many others for their humor, wit and wisdom.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Prayerful Life

Is powerful and exciting.

The readings of today include a wonderful verse from Isaiah 49: 5-6
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel: I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

What I hear in this and believe is that most of us think way too small about what God wants to do with us and with our lives.

Another reading of today is the story of Peter and Cornelius found in Acts 10: 1-34.  I LOVE this story because it shows how these two prayerful men are being guided by God to one another and in that encounter they are being changed.  Both of them.  And for me, one of the most telling details is that they are prayful.  Cornelius is described as a "devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God."   And Peter "went up to the roof to pray."

The point is our prayer habits are primary in allowing God to speak to us and use us as a "light to the nations."

I continue to read through Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault.  Chapter nine is title: "Divine Therapy" and it is about the healing power of our receptive stance in meditative prayer.  It is through opening ourselves to God by spending time with God that we are "consenting to the presence and action of God."  The image that I have for myself these days is that I am like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus experiencing his love and listening for whatever I need to hear today.
Thomas Keating writes:

    "The level of deep rest accessed during the prayer period loosens up the hardpan around the emotional weeds stored in the unconscious, of which the body seems to be the warehouse.  The psyche begins to evacuate spontaneously the new space for self-knowledge, freedom of choice, and the discovery of the divine presence within.  As a consequence, a growing trust in God, a bonding with the Divine Therapist enables us to endure the process."

And Cynthia writes:  "what really happens when one enters the cloud of unknowing, resting in God beyond thoughts, words, and feelings, is a profound healing of the emotional wounds of a lifetime."

And so I read this story about Peter and Cornelius which ends in Peter changing his mind and his eating habits and opening himself to a God who shows no partiality.  I believe this kind of change is really huge and does not happen in a moment, but as a result of a the relationship with God and the times of prayer that came before.  He may be moving a step at a time- to use Richard Rohr's vernacular - from first half of life faith into second half of life faith. 

As I reflect on my life and these readings today I think that sometimes
our minds, spirits, souls can be like a pan with burnt on food from dinner.  And prayer is our soaking the pan in soapy water overnight.  So that when we come back to it again, the dirt and grime just wash away.

Interestingly, today is "National Day of Prayer" as we come before God as Americans and pray for God's guidance upon us.  When I was in Bowling Green I frequently participated in these ecumenical services that consisted of many different pastors praying to God.

But the prayer that changes me has not been those experiences.  Instead it has been dedicating time in silence and solitude to just sit and be open and present.  There is no question that over the years I would wonder what difference it makes.  At this point in my journey, I do so trusting that God is doing more than I ever know and that I can trust that.

I also believe that God has more for all of us to do as we allow his healing spirit to work within us   so that our light can really shine out of us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I will not leave you orphaned

This is a quote from the Bible - John 14:18.  Jesus is preparing to leave this earth and he is telling his disciples that he goes to prepare a place for them but also that there will be this gift of the spirit.  And he will not leave them "orphaned."

I became an orphan in 2000 when my mother died.  My father had passed away in 1995 and then there were no more parents.  The greatest loss for me was that I no longer had someone to call to share the good news with - of grandbabies born or compliments given or other personal achievements. Like many of us, I would share some but not all of my struggles with my parents because I wasn't sure they could "take it."  But all of my successes and joys came to them because they shared in that completely. There is no question that I still miss them.  I wish my mother could see Jackson and Reagan play soccer and hold baby Maggie - the 5th Margaret in our line. I wish my Dad could fish or golf with Chuck and sit and laugh with  my girls and grandkids.  But I am an orphan.  Eventually, if we live long enough we will all be.

That idea just speaks to the reality of life that is full of change.  And to speak in cliches that are so true - Time is Marching on and I am not getting any younger and people come and go throughout my life. And the good news is there is a  constant presence.  It really helps to know and connect with our creator and recreator is also a "constant and abiding presence."  That connection with God or Jesus or spirit gives us peace this is not of this world.  And it does more than that.

I have thought about this recently as I contemplate my past.  Sunday  I traveled  to Bowling Green Ohio.  I lived there for 13 years, met and married Chuck there, had all 3 girls graduate from High School there and had a whole variety of experiences.  Some of which are very personal that I literally "ponder" in my heart when I remember them.  Also, through facebook, I have been in contact with some girls (now Grandmas!)  I grew up with in West Chester Pennsylvania and have been invited to a reunion in October with them.  I have not seen most of them for 50 years. My husband, kids and friends have no idea about any of this - this is my own singular history and memories to explore. 

And somehow this all makes me think about being "orphaned."  This life that can feel  isolated or random  or NOT. I believe that the spirit of God is very real and does bring PEACE in the midst of change and loss.  And it is even more.  I feel that the spirit leads us to people who can companion us on the journey of life as we go through change after change after change. And lead us to times and places of remembering, reflecting and re learning about God's activity in our lives throughout the years.  

I feel like I have rambled this morning, but really this is where I am often.  In awe as I get glimpses of the spirit at work in the past and the present.
I have not been orphaned but over the years:  protected and prodded and pushed by my heavenly father who gives me peace.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wisdom from Above

I had one of those dreams this morning.
 I try to pay attention to my dreams and know that there is often wisdom in them.  This morning I woke myself up because my dream was so uncomfortable.  In our Wellstreams class, it was suggested that we write our dreams down and title them.  My title for today's would be: "Margot does not have enough."  That is a frequent idea in my dreams and actually in my own psyche.

In the dream I was preparing a lunch of chef salad for a group of women. 
At first I am very generous with the lettuce because I have more than enough.
 Then I realize that there are more women than I had expected.
 I had to set another place at the table.  Then I am scrambling with not enough food.
  I am trying to figure out who to ask to help - no one else seems to be aware that I don't have enough. Should I go to the store?  How can I do that?
 I look in the refrigerator hoping to find more salad fixings.
 I think I need to wake up from this dream and start over.

How about that?  I wake up and wonder what is the "salad"?  time, money or just me?  I don't have enough.
And I recognize that it is fundamentally true.  That if you scratch my surface you will always find the questions and the doubts within me - do I have enough? Am I enough? Will my lack be found out?  Am I adequate?

As I pondered the dream this morning, I thought - that is certainly why I am a woman of faith. The truth is that I often hit my limitations and find myself having to rely on a power beyond myself - which is God.  And God's strength and mercy and most of all God's grace.  

This morning I read another chapter in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening and spent time with the texts of today especially James 3: 17-18:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, 
then peaceable,
willing to yield,
 full of mercy and good fruits, 
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. 

The writer compares the wisdom from above with"envy and selfish ambition" which brings "disorder and wickedness of every kind."  Cynthia Bourgeault writes: "Our minds like to make ladders" which means there is a progression which separates people - some are better, farther along, more advanced, etc. And that is not the realm of God.  The wisdom from above comes for me from contemplation and spending time with God. It is seeing from a perspective of oneness  that we are all connected and in the presence of God.

So, I begin this day in prayer and surrender knowing my need of the Holy One.  And hoping that I am opening myself to the wisdom from above - which is not anxious, proud, arrogant, ambitious - but pure, peaceable, gentle and willing to yield.  As I seek God this morning I remember the wonderful quote by Meister Eckhart
"The eye with which you seek God is the eye with which God seeks you."

Here is my prayer today

O Holy One, Dear God
I come today in prayer and open myself to your presence.
May your wisdom fill me - heart, mind and soul.
So that I may walk in your ways as a woman of peace trusting that you are present and giving to me
in the midst of my fears of scarcity and inadequacy.
So that I may find and bring peace to every situation with your love and mercy.
Lord, the wisdom that comes from above is a gift a desire from you.

Monday, May 4, 2015

All you need is love

That song is flowing through me today.

 I just sat in my prayer room for a while writing, reading and meditating.  Thursday I went to the candle lab and Nicole treated me to a candle that I "designed."  I combined three scents: fresh linen, key lime and sea breeze.  This morning I lit it and the scents filled the room.  I looked around me and saw all kinds of signs of love in gifts from others.  There are memories for me in this room of so many occasions of my life that remind me of blessings throughout the years.  And I know now more than ever that LOVE is really the most important part of life.

Yesterday I went to Northwest Ohio and saw several people in my life.  I spent time with Rosalea, a former member of the church in Bowling Green who - a month after her husband's death - is living with both cancer and congestive heart failure.

       I took this "selfie" of the two of us that looks kind of cockeyed but I think she got a kick out of it

.Rosalea  has been a "doer" all of her life as teacher, mother, caretaker, super volunteer  and now all she can do is rest and receive the love that others want to give her.  And I think - like all of us - it is hard for her. 
There is always this part of us that wants to make sure we are worthy or can give back.  And of course, my faith tells me that none of us are really worthy - but all of us are loved and simply need to accept that.  I remember how hard all of this was for my mother and actually that is part of the challenge of retirement - receiving without "earning."  And of course, that is a definition of grace.
But what a gift it was for me to get to be with her so that in my presence she might know that I LOVE her and represent God who is love and loves her.  She is not alone.

Sunday afternoon I went to the baby shower for Brittany who is expecting a baby in 7 weeks.  She is Shane's wife and that baby girl, Blair, will be Chuck's first great grandchild. (mine too!)

There were 60 people there and I was not sure I wanted to make the drive - but so glad I did.  What I saw there was so much love expressed for this young couple in the presence of friends and family and some wonderful gifts that were given.  I watched Brittany being overwhelmed by this clear expression of love.  And again as  a new life begins I think it is so good to know that you are surrounded by LOVE.  You are not alone as you begin this daunting journey of parenthood.

And so as I begin this day I begin in expectation that love is being given to me in all kinds of forms.  I light my new candle and open myself to God whose nature is love.  And in that relationship I am breathing in LOVE that I can breathe out to a world that needs it.

Because all you need is LOVE

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Walking the Race

I think this is my life - I am walking the race.  Not running - but walking, sometimes stumbling, meandering, but moving.  That is me.

It is easy for me to look at walking the race I walked yesterday - the Cap City Marathon and see the ways in which I keep learning about the bigger walk of my life - the journey of faith.

This was the third time I have walked the quarter marathon.  And it was probably the most fun.  Marnie and her sister Audrey had signed up to run the half marathon and life got in the way.  Audrey was unable to train for it and had to drop out.  So, Marnie invited me and Kim Veatch to join her Friday night at the Holiday Inn downtown.  And it was a wonderful beginning.  Eventually our group included Addie, Reagan and Erik that stayed together in two rooms.  We got downtown through terrible traffic on Friday and were able to enjoy a fun and leisurely dinner.  That evening Marnie, Kim,. Erik and I walked downtown and saw the set up for the race and the walked around the empty Commons.  It was so peaceful and really got me in the mood. 

What I keep learning is how much better my life is now that I have time to have breathing space between EVENTS in my life.  This year I did not have to rush down on Saturday morning and go to an engagement Saturday afternoon and be preparing a sermon for Sunday morning.  I feel like I have breathing space for the first time in my life and staying downtown ahead of time is just an example of that.

We only had to walk 4 blocks to the event itself and it is quite an event.  There were 14000 walkers and runners for this race and we were in corral J.  Kim and I waited in the throng for each of the groups to go.  It was noisy and full of announcements, music and people.  The energy of this race is just undescribable.  But finally we were off.
Kim and I keep much the same pace.  And we both said that we probably would not do this without a companion.  I know that finding someone who does not walk too slow or too fast is pretty wonderful. And it is certainly true for the spiritual walk - our companions can be so important to help us to keep moving.  One of the blessings for me with Kim was that she always saw my family (Erik, Reagan and Addie) cheering for us from the sidelines before I did.  And that too, is one of the gifts of spiritual friendships - one who sees what you do not see right away.

It is fun to see the other walkers in their attire and the signs of the cheering people along the way.  i took a picture of this T shirt because I felt like it expressed how it is for us walkers.  It says: "Looks like walking, feels like running."  Nobody knows that the individual is going through on their journey.

Finally, what will keep me coming back is not the cheering of the crowd but the inner satisfaction that I had because I DID IT!  I hadn't realized until I was halfway along how much I really want to be a 66 year old woman who keeps doing quarter marathons.  That is my identity when I do it!  I have an inner athlete who doesn't come out enough because I am too sedentary.  But this reminds me that the journey - both physical and spiritual - is not about what we think but about what we do.

So yesterday I was satisfied and tired and actually took a nap in the afternoon.  It is good.  All good.
This journey of life.