Monday, October 27, 2014

A Gift in Everything

The Mystery within...

“There’s a gift in everything.”  I heard that this past weekend and I am 99.9% sure it was from Krista Tippett’s On-Being interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber, “Seeing the Underside and Seeing God: Tattoos, Tradition, and Grace.”  I didn’t take notes during the broadcast because I was just laughing a lot and enjoying the fast moving, sometimes hilarious, conversation.  If you ever want to lighten up about religion, it is certainly worth a listen.  I heard the broadcast early Sunday morning, before I sprained my knee in the late afternoon, when grandchildren and their parents were coming for a light supper and then trick or treating in my neighborhood.  As I hobbled around my kitchen in significant pain getting food together, and later resorted to my old crutches, I wondered where’s the gift in my injury?  Just anticipating that there will be one helped me be more accepting of the pain.        

I think there is more than just one gift coming my way.  To start with I am aware of a deeper sense of gratitude for all that I can still do.  First, it is my left knee that is affected which allows me to still be able to drive my car.  Second, I already had an acupuncture appointment for today and have gotten some relief and homeopathic remedies.  Third, I was on two crutches last night and today, just one.  Fourth, cars and people stop for an old lady on a crutch.  Fifth, the staining and varnishing I had to do before my front window replacement could be installed is behind me, and the remaining interior grillwork can wait.  Six, some leaves are already raked and maybe I’ll be well enough to do it again before the last leaf pick-up and final mowing.  Seven, I have plenty of food in the house.  Eight, it is a reminder that I can’t slack off on biking, outside or inside, if I am to keep my knees strong.  Nine, if I don’t heal sufficiently, this could be the final push I need to go for a knee replacement OR maybe I broke sufficient old scar tissue to eventually give me more mobility.  Ten, I could sit and put my feet up and laugh more reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book “Pastrix: the cranky, beautiful, faith of a sinner and saint” with an opening line that was said to be unfit for public radio.   

This isn’t the first time I sprained this knee.  In “God Never Hurries” I recount a previous injury when I questioned God, “Why now?  At this most inconvenient time!  Days later several answers came…”

Now I just wish I could find some blessings for my yellow lab, Oliver, who can’t understand why were not going for our daily walk. 

What if we all really looked for the gift in everything?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Please Vote

The Mystery within...

I voted this morning, two weeks ahead of Election Day.  When I turned the corner to the village hall and saw the big American flag gently moving on a slight breeze, I felt a bit of relief in knowing that so far everyone’s right to vote is still protected, and that soon the totally tiresome campaign messages will end.  As I left my early voting ballot with the election workers I ask, “If I should get hit by a bus before November 4, will my vote still be counted?  They assured me it would.  I walked out feeling lighter and more hopeful than when I walked in.  Please vote.

When I got home I looked up the word politics in my Roget’s International Thesaurus and was further encouraged by the first definition:  “politics, polity, the art of the possible, “economics in action” [Robert La Follette].”  The big question today seems to be economics in action for whom?  Is it for some of the people or all of the people?  I much prefer a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.  Please vote.

Parker J. Palmer links politics to our humanity in his book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy:  The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.”  Following are some excerpted words of Palmer’s thoughts that will give you a better idea of what makes real democracy possible and what it requires of us all:  “…we are all in this together…profoundly interconnected…accountable to one another; …practice deep hospitality…invite ‘otherness’; …hold tension creatively…to expand our hearts…to generate insight, energy and new life; …speak our truth checking and correcting it against the truth of others; …steady companionship of two or three kindred spirits can help us find the courage we need to speak and act as citizens.”  Please vote. 

It is so easy to get totally discouraged with the messiness in our politics.  We the people can help create a politics worthy of the human spirit.  Please vote.

What if we all worked on healing the heart of our democracy?  

Monday, October 13, 2014

A "None" Connection!

The Mystery within...

I was thrilled to come across a pertinent post on Krista Tippett’s On-Being website titled “They Call Us the “Nones,” But We’re So Much More” by Coutney E. Matin.  I began my weekly blog posts on April 1, 2013 with the first post titled “Nun, None or None of the Above.”  It was the beginning of a promise to reflect and write for three years on what I found significant for me in each week.  Though Coutney’s and my path differ significantly in age and life experiences (I left the church of my birth eleven years ago at age 60) we do, however, share a common goal, which in her words is, “looking at the burden and joy of trying to understand how to be a good human.”

Prior to starting my blog there was a period in my life when I reflected and wrote daily for three years as I struggled with a lifetime of dysfunction and my aging parents’ care needs.  I ached for truth and was desperate for answers to heart wrenching problems.  What I needed to know came from the everyday stuff of life.  I learned I could question everything and became aware of the havoc that inappropriate silence wreaks.  I came to know my complicity in my troubles, and that I was worthy of good self care.  I also became keenly aware of the subtle, systemic oppression of women, through religion. My reflecting taught me how to recycle pain and let darkness illumine the light.  Eventually those years of daily reflection and writing turned into my memoir, “God Never Hurries.”  Now this blog, “What if… God Never Hurries,” continues to grow me through reflection and connection adding depth to my life.

What if we all reflected on the everyday stuff of life to grow?          

Monday, October 6, 2014

Season of Mystery

The Mystery within...
I experience fall as a season of mystery.  The air has a melancholy feel and scent. Some life will soon slip into dormancy and wait for spring.  Much of what sprouted in spring and grew through the summer has matured and is preparing for death.  I am reminded of my own mortality and the day to come when I find out what happens to this energy that is me, and will finally know what it’s all about.  Though I love fall best, right now I am preparing for the season to come, the one of introspection and the hibernating bear.  I put away my flowered summer quilt and put the red and beige plaid winter comforter on my bed.  I hauled up storm windows from the basement, standing them up one step at time, and wondered if next year will I have the strength and balance to do it again?  And a necessary major window replacement is happening in my living room this week for which I am staining and varnishing the surrounding woodwork, along with redoing other timeworn windowsills.  I find it hard to believe that I once had the stamina to finish all the woodwork in my house forty years ago.  A lot of seasons have since gone by.     

I feel blessed to live where there are four distinct seasons and look forward to living in the rhythm of each one, and then transitioning to what comes next.  But I can sometimes get tired of winter’s cold, spring’s dampness, and summer’s heat, but I don’t think I could ever get tired of fall.  Its colors are so warm and the air so invigorating.  It makes me feel earthy.  I remember some past unforgettable fall scenes, one going way back before children, when I walked with my late husband on a sunny day at the edge of a dark wood.  There, white birch stood at the edge of the darkness while their sun bright yellow leaves floated lazily to the ground.  I watched in silent awe.  And then there was that perfect autumn bike ride when falling leaves, back dropped against tall pines, fluttered, floated and then dipped to the ground.  Watching them tumble, glide and then tumble again made my tummy tickle.  Being present to each season brings depth to my life, and the deepest occurs in fall.

What if we could all love a season to depth?  What’s your favorite season?    

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Mind of my Own

The mystery within . . .

Growing up I was not permitted a mind of my own.  And if I did express an idea or preference for anything it would invariably be met with ridicule.  No wonder I am reticent to speak an opinion or look forward to engaging conversation.  So when I was presented with an invitation from a friend, an invitation I knew I would rather not accept, I was anxious about my response and initially said nothing.  A week or two went by without a word or even an acknowledgement from me.  My inability to speak my mind gnawed at me.  I thought maybe I could respectfully write my decline in a note since the written word is a safer way for me to communicate.  Ironically, my early conditioning made me a clear and concise writer, a gift for which I am grateful.  But now writing a note felt cowardly and awkward.  I decided a phone call would be more personal and felt less threatening.  When I got the answering machine I was relieved.  I could state my reason for calling and wait for the call back.  It came, and I respectfully spoke my mind.  My friend became ever more dear to me when my words were met with acceptance. That acceptance lit a light inside me and I basked in its glow knowing I do have a mind of my own and can speak it.

My anxiety over responding made me very aware of how much my early conditioning still affects me, but I want to continue my growth in my spoken words that reveal the light within me. 

I know I am not alone in my previous conditioning.  What if we could all know the light within when speaking our own mind, or be the accepting listener?                          

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Conundrum 1) and its Complicity 2)

The Mystery within

1) a confusing and difficult problem or question

2) the state of being involved with others in an illegal activity or wrongdoing

Richard Rodriguez – The Fabric of Our Identity, was a Krista Tippett On-Being program.  I identified with Rodriguez’s eloquent praise for his Roman Catholic upbringing as a foundational gift in his life, especially his participation in the Mystery of the mass.  And yet it is this institution that denies him the right to openly love his long-time male partner.  Rodriguez praised women, and their fight to win the right to vote, with his freedom to be who he is in society.  That surprised me since I suspect gender inequities will be the last discriminations to disappear.  But nevertheless I was pleased he credited my gender with such an important step forward.  Rodriquez also expressed concern for immigrant families wanting to come to America because he sees the American family eroding, with its emphasis on wealth and individuality, over society and family.  He said every thirty years we should all be sent back to where we came from to keep America healthy.  He closed with a poignant vision of a drunken priest slurring the words of consecration at mass, “This is my body, broken for you,” and concluded it is all about growth through trials and forgiveness.  And he asked, “Why don’t we talk about difficult things?”

It’s not easy to talk about difficult things or write about them.  I related Rodriguez’s words to my struggle with abuse; my aging parent’s care needs, and my decision to leave the church of my birth at age 60. I felt compelled to tell my story but I didn’t want to focus on the abuse, only the help I encountered throughout the long struggle to free myself from it.  I too valued the Catholic mass and attended frequently from a very early age.  It continued to sustain and comfort me after losing both my husband and son to suicide.  But once I saw my complicity in my family abuse, and its relatedness to the discriminatory teachings of my church, I then began the long and painful process of separating myself from it.  In my memory’s eye I can still see my favorite priest raising the host high in the air and reverently proclaiming, “This is my body...” His words triggered in me a sudden hollowness and a voice within saying, “God is in all things and everyone.”  So I went looking, and found God everywhere, as well as finding myself.  Amazing things happen when looking for God in each day, especially when you are desperate.  They arrive in the form of Synchronicities in landscapes, animals, weather, books, radio voices, and encounters with others, successes, failures and more.  And when reflected upon, they all point the way.  And I too was shown it is all about forgiveness.

What if you read my memoir, “God Never Hurries,” and had some difficult questions.  Would I welcome them?

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Supple Heart

The Mystery within
I heard a supple heart in a quiet, calm, most soothing voice, of a man I didn’t know while I sat in my ophthalmologist’s waiting room.  At first I thought he was speaking to his wife sitting next to him but later realized he was on his phone talking to a service provider who makes corrective shoes.  I never want to forget the softness in his patient voice when it became apparent the person on the other end of the line was not being helpful.  I sensed within him a very healthy ego, one that didn’t need to get upset with the incompetence of another because he was not getting the service he respectfully requested.  His was not a milk toast response, but one of enviable acceptance and control worthy of emulation.

Parker Palmer’s On-being reflection, “An Invitation to Heartbreak and the Call of the Loon,” states “the heart can break open into new life or break apart into shards of sharper and more widespread pain.”  Clearly my waiting room teacher demonstrated a heart broken open--one that did not need to retaliate and cause more pain.

I am also remembering now the kindness I heard in the voices of others that encouraged my heart to refuse the victim role when I struggled with abuse and my aging parent’s care needs—a hospital volunteer, social workers, a nurses aid, friends, and sometimes family.  Simple kindness, heard in the voice of another, can transform us.  So I have been listening to my own voice lately and have found myself responding with more thoughtful words, acceptance, and patience.

What if we could all hear the supple heart of another and let it soften our own?