Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Always More

Than meets the eye

I keep finding this in so many ways.  Last night I went to my "dream group" for the second time and learned again about the more.   There were seven people in a beautiful living room and with great anticipation  we listened to the dreams of two people.
After some clarifying questions we began to notice - words that they used, images, and connections.
We listened to the context of the dream and the circumstances of their present life and some of their history.We asked questions that were open ended and wondering - ...If it were my dream I would look at....

And slowly the dream comes into view and something new emerges from these disparate images and words. What seemed random and sometimes odd starts to become meaningful and important and even profound.  There is much more here than just what I ate last night.

And now, on reflection this morning I wonder how much more there is - not only to dreamed events but to lived events..  What happens when I take the time to unpack - not just my dreams, but my life.

Maybe it is useful at times to stop, explore, discover the words, images and connections.
Will I get a glimpse of the hand of the divine one who is here healing, blessing, and guiding me.

My mantra these days: Come Close and Let me Show you.....
Maybe God is saying:
"I want to show you life and beauty and healing and hope and growth that is happening
and most of all I want you to see there is a flow -
Go into my life and trust the flow."

Here is a poem by Edwina Gately that I love

“Let Your God Love You”

Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God
Look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God –
Love you.
– by Edwina Gateley
from In God’sWomb

Monday, June 20, 2016

Go with the Flow

Of course I have heard this phrase over and over again.  And sometimes it means "chill out" and just let it go.  But  after  morning prayer and reflection about recent experience and reading slowly through The Soul of the goes a little deeper for me.

This week I am spending time with the second chapter "The Practice of Packing Lightly."  The scripture for this week is Genesis 12: 1,2:

"The Lord said to Abram: Go forth, from your land, your relatives, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing."

It starts with GO and the reflection of the week is what do we take with us when we are going?  We just got back from a trip to Put N Bay visiting with some old friends Pam and Gene Zajak who now live there.  And before we left I had to consider what I was going to bring - since we were on the ferry.  I knew I needed to pack lightly.

There was something about getting on the ferry that seemed freeing.  We were with Jim and Holly and she said that they call it "leaving America." And there was a sense of leaving our worries and our old life behind.  Our visit was relaxing and we not only got to "sight see" (is that a great word?) but fish, sit by a fire, be with friends   and most importantly appreciate beauty in nature. .  One of the greatest blessings was just sitting on their porch and watching the birds and squirrels in their back yard.  They have been very intentional about creating a space for them and I cannot overstate how relaxing it was just to sit and watch the colors, the antics, the wonder of it all.

As we left, I thought I need to bring some of this back with me.  I want to "sight see" and appreciate what is right in front of my eyes.  So yesterday I spent some time just cleaning MY back porch and making it comfortable.  We have bird feeders in the back yard and attract squirrels as well.  But the difference is whether I really take the time to see.

I want to go with the flow.  And the flow for me right now seems to be a continual reminder about letting go and creating space for God to do God's work.  The creating space does mean freeing up time and being intentional about my stuff as well.  It is interesting that at the same time as I am reading this book my daughter Audrey is coming to visit.  We want to create space for her in our home which means - emptying some closets and getting rid of what really is extraneous.  Lately God seems to be getting my attention about various  accumulations of my life.  So, right now I have a car full of old clothes which are going to good will so that there is more space.

We let go and at the same time need to consider what to carry with us on this pilgrim journey.  The author writes:  "One traditional symbol for the pilgrim's journey is the scallop shell.  The grooves on the shell represent the different journeys we take as pilgrims.  Just as all the separate grooves meet at the end of the shell, so do all of our paths meet in the same place.  The journey of a pilgrimage is about returning home with a new awareness of what home really means."

So, Saturday I took the ferry home and felt ready to  return home and "Go with the Flow" - that is God's flow.

And here is a picture of what I saw this morning as I sat in my back yard - a candle burning, a bird at the feeder and a scallop shell hanging decoration that I never really saw before.

A Journey Prayer

Journeying God,
pitch your tent with mine,
so that i may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt,
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength now bolstered by might,
toward a God not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in other's shoes.

 - Prayer song from Ghana

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Out of my control

We woke up Sunday morning to find that a tree split in our back yard.  And half of it was on the roof of the house.
And somehow as I sat in the back porch in prayer and reflection it seemed like a metaphor to me.  About so much that we cannot control and need to deal with.  When I stop long enough to get in touch with how I am feeling - I realized that I am sad and grieving about what happened in Orlando.
Another mass shooting that brings up so many feelings of helplessness and anger and fear.

At the same time I am watching someone I love go through the end of a marriage and all the pain and hard decisions that follow.  And for me there is sadness, grieving and once again helplessness.

I just listened to the sonnet that Lin Manuel Miranda's sonnet from the Tony Awards

My wife’s the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees
She is a perfect symphony of one
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music, love and pride.

And it reminds me again what i know to be true as a follower of Jesus - that we cannot control what happens in this world.  Trees fall, hate filled mad men kill, relationships fall apart but "love is love is love lis love cannot be killed or swept aside."

So we will deal with what we do not like - the aftermath of it all.   And trust that eventually there will be healing and new life that seems unimaginable today.

But for now I make plans for tree removal which in light of the horrors and sadness of others is pretty unimportant.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

An Intentional Journey

It has been a most interesting day.  I received an invitation today to continue to be part of Advance Conference in a secondary position.  After prayer and discussion with some trusted spiritual advisors, I knew it was time to say no - to close the door to a ministry that I have been involved in for almost twenty years.  And I told my friends, that letting go - dropping my nets - felt like I was moving forward into emptiness.

We always like the idea of a relay race - the baton goes from one runner to another.  And when I was working, I might drop a responsibility knowing that there was more coming ahead.  Now, I let go and wonder how blank my calendar will be and whether or not there is something more on the horizon.

However, it did not take long for something new to emerge. After our meeting this afternoon, my friend Cathy invited me to join a group that was just forming at her church and their first meeting was tonight.  And I said YES.  The truth is that  I have  been waiting for some time for something more and longing for a spiritual group to join.  The one thing I really miss from full time ministry is  Bible studies and I have been wondering for months how to fill that missing piece for me.  What I really wanted was - not to lead - but to participate in a community of seekers.  And today - the invitation came - and I said YES.

There were 8 of us that met in a circle tonight and began the first night of a ten week pilgrimage.  We are all reading the book The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Painter. It contains eight practices for the journey within and we will meet a total of ten Thursday nights.  Tonight was a wonderful beginning for me.  We spent some time with two paragraphs from the book:

"A pilgrimage is an intentional journey into this experience of unknowing and discomfort for the sake of stripping away preconceived expectations.  We grow closer to God beyond our own imagination and ideas."

"Pilgrimage calls us to be attentive to the divine at work in our lives through deep listening, patience, opening ourselves to the gifts that arise in the midst of discomfort, and going out to our own inner wild edges to explore new frontiers."

There were several words that spoke to me:
 - an INTENTIONAL journey.
 - Experience of UNKNOWING  and DISCOMFORT
 - ATTENTIVE to the divine at work

There is something that is  heartwarming for me to be in the presence of a group of women who are taking this spiritual journey seriously enough that they are willing to intentionally block out time and space daily for God and to be open and vulnerable with each other weekly.  I really have been longing for this kind of community.  Last year I did the 30 week "Retreat in Daily Life" and while there were others on that journey - we only met twice - at the beginning and the end.  This time we will truly companion each other.  What a gift for me.

After sitting with these paragraphs Cathy led us in a meditation in which we pictured ourselves opening a door into a house. I pictures a large warm home with a sweeping staircase and the promise of  many rooms to explore. And the invitation - come and see!

In the book, the author suggests that as we begin we receive a Seven-Word prayer.: "As a way of naming the grace you seek for this time, I invite you to open yourself to receive a seven-word prayer to carry with you.  Just notice what the prayer of your heart is for this time and what words or images seem to draw you forward..."
And my prayer came  :   come close and let me show you......

We were anointed and then went home.  I read the introduction and have now written this so I might remember how it was for me today.  I will end with a quote by John O'Donohus from Eternal Echoes

"Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discover.
The most exciting discoveries happen at the frontiers.  
When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world.
Discovery enlarges and refines your sensibility.
When you discover something, you transfigure some of the forsakenness of the world."

Dear God, I ask your blessing upon me and all the women who are participating in this Pilgrimage.  May we discover something new as we take the risk moving forward a step at a time to explore new frontiers.  Amen