Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Connected

The Mystery within...
I had the great fortune to take a quiet, early Sunday morning walk, with my yellow lab Oliver.  We moved along paths in a wood where a thin soft layer of fresh wet snow lay.  No other human foot traffic had yet disturbed the thin even layer of moist softness.  But there were definitely signs of other traffic--most notably deer, turkeys, raccoons and rabbits.  I felt privileged to follow in their footsteps.  Only three deer made themselves visible to us but I felt connected to all with whom we shared the trails, as well as the still iced over pond, bare trees, and intermittent peaks of sun.  I wanted that sense of connection and peace to stay with me and expand to the people I would encounter throughout my day.  And I envied the native peoples who had lived closer and more connected to the land and one another.

But as my day moved forward my heart felt overwhelmed from current threats to God’s creation and our alienation from one another.  Perhaps it will be the gift of fear that will bring us to acknowledge what our world needs, awakening our dependence on the land and on one another. 

I was reminded of my long ago reading of “Seven Arrows” where author Hyemeyohsts Storm tells of the Sioux tribe’s peace shields that depicted an individual’s strength along with one’s weakness for all to see.  What a great ego softener that honesty would be.  It could elicit understanding and help from those I encounter throughout my day.  And my strengths would be known for what I can contribute to the whole.               


What if we each designed our own peace shields as medicine to reconnect us to the land and one another? 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Hello"

The Mystery within...
Padraig O. Tuama, poet, theologian, writer and healer of fractures in human relations was a Krista Tippet On Being guest.  He touched me with his love of simple language for effective communication, and most especially his morning prayer where he simply says “hello” to what is in his life as each new day begins.  And even more poignant, throughout his day he says, “hello,” to whoever or whatever new shows up, whether a welcome arrival or not. 

I loved the purity of Tuama’s daily greetings.  I understand how practicing “hello” would keep me in the present moment and help me be more accepting of all that shows up in my day.  I know from past experiences there is grace in accepting whatever is and it is that acceptance which leads me to learn from whoever or whatever shows up in my day.


What if we could “hello” ourselves into accepting the present moment more often?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Exposed

The Mystery within
As I worked in my kitchen I had the T.V. tuned to a PBS special on the author Maya Angelo.  The program looked familiar. I thought I had previously seen it but as it continued to play I realized I had only watched part of it some years earlier. I faintly remembered losing interest in it, and even feeling a bit scandalized by Angelo’s telling of her difficult young life.  Remembering my feelings now intrigued me so I sat down to watch the program to its end.  My interest was peaked in my previous more closed reaction, and my now more open attitude.  I saw Angelo in a brave new light and admired her honesty, zeal and love of life and writing.  I empathized with her young, difficult journey and saw how it was her trials that formed and informed her and her writing.  My previous judgment made me uncomfortable.  But I was also grateful for its exposure.  And I wondered, what more judgments do I still need to let go of?     

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Author of "Pastrix, the Cranky Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint" cautions us against judging others through the lens of our own personality.  When we do so she says “…we are distracted from the better part”.  I want to be open to the better part in what others have to offer.  I do not want to be judgmental.  I pray my past, more narrow parochial learning, will continue to be exposed. 

There is much to sort out from what I had been taught and experienced in my younger life.  “God Never Hurries” tells of my honest inquiry.  The darkness of patriarchy was made known to me and the natural world became my solace and teacher.  No doubt I too have scandalized some in its writing as I struggled to claim my life and voice.  But it is those  struggles that informed, and continue to inform, my life and my writing.  


What if we were grateful more often when our judgments of others are exposed?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Flawed

The Mystery within...
I’m flawed; we are all flawed in some way.  Episcopal priest Father Michael K. Marsh wrote a thank you note to president Trump for being a mirror for him to take a closer look at his own dark side.  He suggests Trump can be a mirror for us all to know our own darkness.  The following link http://upliftconnect.com/thank-you-note-to-president-trump/ will take you to Uplift and the thank you note March wrote to president Trump. 

I felt my darkness this past weekend as I greeted my very zealous Trump supporting neighbor.  Just seeing her and hearing her speak gave me a tight sensation in my chest.  My heart felt constricted, vengeful and cold.  It was a very unpleasant feeling that scared me and it let me know that violence is our common enemy and has its roots in fear.  I am grateful our meeting was brief.   

Feeling those roots of violence in my heart left me with wanting to do anything I can to keep them from sprouting.  Marsh suggests, “We must choose our own peace leaders to inspire us on our journey forward.”  Leaders like Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King who can disarm and inform my heart.  I do not want a passive heart but rather one that seeks justice and good through love.

I want to take to heart other uplifting suggestions Marsh’s gratitude link gave me:  

-  1.  Speak one word today that will give a fearful person courage.                   
-  2.  Never repeat stories and rumors that spread fear;
-  3.  Make eye contact with people who I normally ignore;
-  4.  Give someone an unexpected smile;
-  5.  Listen to news items with common sense.

Marsh relates gratitude and common sense to a cosmic intelligence—a sense of belonging to the common concerns of all, which he adds would include Muslims, immigrants, refugees, women, the disabled and Mexicans.  I was left questioning, “How do I relate my zealous neighbor and Mr. Trump with cosmic intelligence?”  It led me to reread “Known” by Reverend Dr. Charles K. Robinson that is found in my Comfort Messages section of my website under my title of Learning Forgiveness. 


What if we, with all our flaws, knew the unconditional embrace of love more often?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Woman Spirit Conference

The Mystery within...
What a privilege it was to attend the “Woman Spirit Conference 2017 Just Women:  Just World” sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in DeKalb, Illinois.  Through the creativity and grace of music makers and singing we were soothed, lightened and emboldened.  Empathy and compassion were heightened in rapt listening to one another’s experiences.   And our keynote speaker, Sr. Simone Campbell of “Nun’s on the Bus" fame, skillfully paired tragedy and humor to give me hope and direction to become a woman for just change. 

I came away with a better understanding of today’s turbulent politics, and how its culture of fear and individualism breeds hate intended to divides us.  I understand I need to share my fear to reduce its impact, to speak out of my experience, and be a good listener.  I know I need to work on radical acceptance and compassion for “those we want to vote off the island” as Sr. Simone quipped.  To do so I need to understand my own shortcomings first.  I want to be able to speak my truth with joy and humor and articulate a vision I can fight for, not alone, but with others who also include radical acceptance and compassion for oppressors.  I want to nourish a holy curiosity and be able to talk to and listen to people who think differently about issues--and then engage in sacred gossip and share what holy curiosity taught me.  I need to moderate my exposure to news broadcasts and electronic media.  And when I feel overwhelmed I want to be able to share that feeling with another for relief.  I want to remember it’s not all up to me, but to listen for, and know my part.  I hope to meditate daily to help me know and accept my part. 

As a woman who walks in the white skin of privilege, I learned much from other women’s stories of oppression—stories that have broken them open to radical acceptance and compassion for the other.  The Woman’s Spirit 2017 conference was a joyful but intense experience that left me exhausted.  I was so very grateful to return to my home and the prospect of sleeping in my own bed.  As I stepped into my shower before bed, I thought of the world’s immigrants, who have not home, or bed, or shower.  Grief overwhelmed me. 


What if we, who walk in the skin of privilege, could be overwhelmed with grief for the other more often?