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Archive for August, 2014

Grace

Lucky for us the lessons we most need to learn keep showing up.
Sigh…

I have been antsy lately, crabby and feeling overwhelmed by pretty much everything.  Instead of going to the things that I know bring me closer to my center, closer to a little bit of peace- getting enough sleep, working out, finishing one project at a time- I have been starting more and more, cramming more and more on my little plate and feeling the pressure of trying to keep it all contained on on the plate.  My soul has been craving space, silence and expansiveness with a large dose of grace, but instead it has been on a steady diet of have to’s, shoulds and ought to’s crowding out any space for grace.

Luckily I was reminded last night of the gift of being given grace by another when you can’t give it to yourself.

Then today, I came across this blog post, and was reminded this quote by Thomas Merton:

“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

And this from Courtney Martin in her post the Spiritual Art of Saying No:

“So often when this issue gets talked about, I feel like it is portrayed as a problem of wilting flower women who just want to make everyone happy. I don’t mind disappointing people so much as I’m voraciously and indiscriminately interested in the world. I want to learn everything, be everywhere, collaborate with everyone. In thoroughly modern terms, I’ve got major FOMO about anything that fascinates me.”

One of my greatest strengths is also one of my greatest weaknesses.  Life fascinates me, and there is so much to learn, discover and experience.  And so many amazing people to befriend, to share life with, to adventure through life with.  And yet, this quote, and my recent days have reminded me that I can’t do all things, be all things to all people.  It reminds me to give myself the gift of stepping back, of taking a deep breath, of centering first and moving from there, giving myself more of the grace that was gifted to me.

So my reminder for myself, “Make space for grace”.

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Listening as Spiritual Hospitality

 

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations.  True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known.   They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

 

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting …for a chance to respond.

Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.  The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.

 

Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

 

Henri Nouwen


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As Annie Dillard says,

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

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I choose to spend mine lately seeking beauty, with the lens in the tangible world and in the in the middle of heart-filled encounters with friends in the more intangible world of sacred listening.  And when I saw this little gem it resonated deeply.

Become Beauty

 

Since delving deeply into photography I have discovered that beauty is so much more abundant than I ever realized. We are taught that beauty fits into a certain mold, reminded by advertisements, and our culture in subtle and overt ways that beauty is this rigid, definable thing… and yet, our souls know differently.

Seek beauty, let it become you.

 

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Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.

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Mindful…

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Continuing my love affair with the poetry of Mary Oliver as of late, I offer this little gem. 

 

Mindful

Every day I see or hear something that more or less

kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle

in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen,

to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over

in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help

but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light

of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early)

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It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since my brother died.

Anniversaries are always… well, they are always something.

Sometimes they are hard and you can barely get through them, sometimes they pass more silently, sometimes the anticipation is harder than the day itself, but always it is made easier by all those who remember, who tell stories, who help remember and who help comfort.

I have learned a lot in the past 7 years, but the thing that sticks out today isn’t what was fixed, because something like that couldn’t be fixed, but instead what fills my heart is an immense gratitude for the times people have been there, with hands and hearts outstretched, willing to do whatever needed to be done.

And sometimes all that was to be “done” was to sit with us as we cried, got angry, laughed and then cried some more.  Please know that your presence, your love, your kindness has helped our family heal.

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This little gem is from Glennon Melton’s WONDERFUL book-

Carry On Warrior-The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

(if you haven’t read it what are you waiting for?!?!)

For those of you who have been my “In Case of Emergencies” I thank you, for the nights when you heard my sobs over the phone, or in person, for those times you just showed up for a hug, for those times you sent a card to let me know you hadn’t forgotten, the random texts at Facebook messages at just the right time, for those times you would offer to take me out to dinner to get away from it all, I knew I was never alone.  And for that I can never thank you enough…

Thank you for not taking away my pain, but being willing to walk through it with me.

Thank you for all the times you hurt for me, and yet you did the hardest and most loving thing, to let me have my sacred journey and instead reminded me (early and often) that I wasn’t alone.

Thank you to all of my In Case of Emergencies… you are so very precious to me.

 

 

 

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I found this little gem of a poem on Heather Plett’s website on the page Connecting With the Sacred.   Part prayer, part invitation it spoke to me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Every time I stumble across Mary Oliver’s poetry it is like connecting with the Sacred for me, it causes me to sit up straight, allows light to flood into my being and it invites me to breathe deeply knowing this moment is enough.

Her poetry is simple observation, combined with deep wisdom and an expanse of stillness that fills me up every time.

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

 

My prayer for you today:

May you seek what fills you.

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