We have been hearing a lot of bad news in the world lately, and with all that is happening it is easy to find ourselves despairing at the state of the world. It certainly seems that there is a fair share of darkness that has been dominating lately.  I wanted to offer a little light, and the reminder that things are not always what they seem.

The other day I was presenting on my favorite topic to a group of college students, the “Art of Deep Listening”.  I always begin the presentation the same way, by asking the group to share the last time that they felt deeply listened to.  It is interesting to see the themes emerge and hear people share their stories of feeling loved through listening.  According to my informal poll, it seems that mothers and best friends are the best listeners.

One of the young woman shared about how the night before as she had been stressing about finals, and overwhelmed with everything she had to do her roommate deeply listened.  She never told her that she was overreacting, she didn’t tell her to suck it up, or try to show her all that she did had under control, or share with her all of her solutions.  Instead, she listened generously, shared her presence for as long as it was needed, and then, she made her a waffle for breakfast that morning.

And sure enough, after a good night of sleep, feeling heard and understood the world seemed a lot more manageable, and whatever was looming large the night before seemed to fall into place, at least a little bit.  But the kind act of being provided for, of being nurtured and cared about “fixed” what was “broken”.  Her roommate knew a secret that we too often forget… sometimes things aren’t meant to be fixed, or changed in that moment, it is in these small acts of kindness, of nurturing that we heal each other.  It is in these small acts of compassion that we remind each other that the world can be a safe place.  It is in offering a safe space to be that healing can happen.

When we can offer a soft place to land for those we love, when we can share with one another our  little acts of love, we light up the world.

And we could all use a little more light in the world.



The Monk Manifesto

Summer 2015

Summer 2015

It has been a long time since I have found myself in front of the computer to write a blog post. I have been embarking on a creative journey lately, one that has been all-consuming, and much different than I had expected.

Christmas Eve my partner and I found out that I was pregnant. It has been an amazing gift, but it has been difficult. I have been sick most of my pregnancy, and I have been learning a lot about my limitations. My world has gotten a lot smaller than I am used to and I have had to learn how to be better at saying no. With just a little over a week left I am coming out of the fog and starting to feel better and more myself with each passing day. With all of this focus on my physical body and all of its changes, and the physical changes in the house, creating a nursery and getting all of the essentials ready for the new arrival I am realizing that I am craving more of the sacred. I am craving more time to go within and to spend some time pondering what all these changes mean. And as I was thinking about how to delve more deeply into living with intention and where to even begin after being so externally focused on all of my to do lists and “things to get done before the baby arrives” this beautiful piece came across my newsfeed today on Facebook and I have been thinking about it ever since.  And since I have been so focused on doing, it feels like shifting into a different gear to focus on being- albeit a welcome one and this feels like just the place to start.

The Monk Manifesto: Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention:

Monk Manifesto: A public expression of your commitment to live a compassionate, contemplative, and creative life.

The Monk Manifesto-

I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.

I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.

I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.

I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.

I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.

I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.

I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.

Christine Valters Painter

It brings me great peace to be reminded that I will always be given what I need when I ask for it, to know that if I choose to walk a more contemplative path it is always one step away.

It brings me great peace to know that there are seasons in my life that allow for different focuses, but that a deep and meaningful life is always waiting in every season and in all ways, and that both doing and being have their place.

It brings me great peace to be reminded that as long as I am living deeply in the midst of life there will be treasures to unearth, love to be found, and joy to be had.

It brings me great peace to know that the path that I have chosen for my spiritual journey allows for detours, for exploration, for compassion with myself.

It brings me great peace to be reminded that as I embark on this shift in identity, in this life-changing journey, that I can choose to do this with compassion, with creativity and contemplation.

Learn something…


“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”

The Once and Future King

T.H. White

This beautiful quote was found in this blog post by Parker Palmer.

On becoming silent…

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is nice to carve some time out for silence, for stillness.

A little time and space to absorb all that has happened. The love, the sharing, the gifts, the time together, the warm hugs and all of the other emotions too the emptiness that we sometimes feel of those who aren’t beside us, who can’t be with us for various reasons, the excitements, the disappointments and everything else.

So often it feels like it jumps from Thanksgiving to Christmas and right into New Years. So when New Year’s Eve comes along it feels like hurry up and make a resolution, hurry up and decide what is going to be most important for you over the next year, have a resolution tied up and neatly bundled and ready to go, but I have decided that I prefer a little time and space with my resolutions.

I have been reading what my blogger friends have written about their resolutions, intentions, their decisions not to make intentions, choosing words to represent the year etc. and when I read this from Amy at My Path With Stars Bestrewn I knew that was just what I was looking for.

Become silent, and wait
within your heart to feel
the next step
choreographed by Love,
then close your eyes and
surrender to the hold of
grace. Let yourself lean
into the music of stillness
dancing. . .

~Kate Mullane Robertson

So as this 1st day of the brand New Year draws to a close I offer you this prayer:

I wish for you
the ability to “surrender to the hold of grace”,
silence that fills and nourishes,
joy that overflows and sustains you,
the ability to ride the waves of grief when they come,
the ability to learn from mistakes and let them go,
and the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments.

May you enter into this New Year bringing only what you need from the previous year,
may you trust in the abiding love that surrounds you now and always,
and may this year be filled with wonder and delight.

P.S. Don’t forget, like Pastor Carson so beautifully reminds us: Renewal Can Happen Every Day

The First Christmas…



For many of my friends this is a “First Christmas”  First Christmas without their dad, first Christmas without a significant other, first Christmas for a variety of reasons… and tonight as I am thinking of them I wanted to send a little prayer/letter out to anyone who might be experiencing their “First Christmas”

Dear one,

This complicates things so much.  It wasn’t the plan, it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, and yet… here we are.

You may wonder how you will get through the day, how you are ever to smile again, much less be “Merry”.

Just don’t.  For one Christmas just don’t.  If you don’t want to put up a tree, don’t.  If you don’t want to send out Christmas cards, don’t.  If you can’t bring yourself to read other people’s Christmas cards, don’t.  And by all means if you want to do it all exactly the same as you always have done, do it!  But, perhaps, for this Christmas, you will give yourself a pass.

Let your expectations drop, focus on the love that remains, focus on the memories, and pay attention to the pain.  Don’t hide it, don’t shove it underneath a strained “Merry Christmas”, don’t drown it in too much liquor or lull it into a sugar coma with too many sweets.  Your pain is inviting you to pay attention.

Your heart has been through so much, it has been torn, bruised and battered this year.  It is time to rest, to repair, to heal.  But in order to do that you must be willing to pay attention to the pain, which we so often avoid.

I remember sitting on the bed crying, holding my heart wondering if it was possible for my heart to literally break, it felt like there was more pain than my heart could hold.  And now I know, yes, the grief manifests itself physically.  But at the time, I wondered if I was going crazy.  Dear one, you are not going crazy, you have loved much and this loss runs deep.

I didn’t know what I know now, that our hearts are amazing, they are far more powerful than we even realize, and sometimes when it feels like it is breaking it is breaking- breaking open to allow more room for more love, more joy, more gratitude, the the process can be painful.

You are allowed to grieve, to have your time, to have this Christmas be a jumbled mess of everything.  Joy, sadness, gratitude, love and perhaps even a moment where it the grief doesn’t feel quite so heavy anymore.

To the extent that you can “don’t anticipate, participate”.  Anticipating when grief will hit is like trying to catch a wave in your hand, it just doesn’t work.  You will sail by moments you thought you weren’t going to make it through and then something else will hit you that you never expected.

Grief isn’t linear and can’t be treated as such, it is a wild mess of jumbled things that can’t be anticipated, but if you participate.  If you allow yourself to fully feel it you will gain trust in yourself again that yes, you can ride this wave, you can do this.  You may not know how, but you can.

Pick a phrase, something that will get you through, something for those moments that you need to focus.  That first Christmas my mantra was from the Amy Grant song “Breath of Heaven”

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me 

Here are a few things I know…

You will be held.  In the midst of your darkest night, there will be someone, something that will remind you that you are not alone.

You will make it through this day, it may not be pretty, it may not be what you anticipated, but it will be over. Hour by hour, minute by minute, you will get through this.

You have the right to say their name, to bring up memories, and you have the right to know if that is too hard, if it is too much right now.  And it may happen in the same day.

You have the right to turn down invitations, to decide what is healthiest for you, without buying into other’s expectations or guilt.

You have the right to listen to your own grief journey, to listen to your heart.

Know there are others who understand, who have been where you are…

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now 

Breath of Heaven- Amy Grant

Know that my heart is outstretched to yours and I am holding a candle to light the darkness.

May you be held, may you be loved, may you find peace wherever you are.

With all my love,


P.S. If you liked this piece here is another post I wrote about dealing with the Holidays. The “Merry” Dilemma


There are a few poets that I go to on a regular basis when I need some centering,

a reminder of the sacred or a deep breath.

David Whyte is one of those poets.

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

Grace of Beginning


Words to tuck in your heart…

“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awake your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

John O’Donohue



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