Monday, July 27, 2015

Unique Reflecting

The Mystery within...
I was on a “Women Gathering” retreat this past weekend.  It is a happy time when I leave everyday activities behind and sit in a circle with other women who want to explore what life is all about.  I look forward to this annual coming together.  Who I am becomes more apparent and I leave these weekends with a sense of fragile wholeness. 

There is always a craft project to symbolize the theme of our gathering.  This year’s theme was “Endings and Beginnings” with the symbol of a spiral depicting life as one continuous flow with ending events turning into new beginnings.  I’m not fond of doing crafts and always feel some resistance to the task.  This year was no exception, with not one, but two anxiety producing crafts for me.  But in naming what I struggle with I always find healing. 

My first project was to glue a length of twine to a piece of cardboard with Elmer’s glue in the shape of a spiral that symbolized my life thus far.  My fingers found the stiff twine hard to turn and keep glued down so I did the best I could with just looping it back and forth and decided it represented the twists and turns in my life that have become a little more gentle as I age.  But the two ends of my twine didn’t meet and I thought they should until I saw the distance between them representing the time I have left in this life before I return back to where I initially came from.  Everyone else did manage unique and widely differing spirals highlighting how different and special each one of is.

And then came the instructive, all afternoon weaving project, where we were provided a weaving board, a myriad of colorful yarns, textures, and ribbons, and were invited to weave a depiction of our life thus far.  One thing I was sure of was I needed to keep mine simple.  My board’s base yarn had to be easy to work with as well as using just one texture of yarn to weave throughout.  I choose a soft multicolored yarn in shades of green to represent the heart chakra’s color that to my surprise turned to a soft gold near the end.  All I needed was to trust my heart and embrace my fears and it would be okay.  And it was.  I did need some help in taking my weaving off the board and hiding some mistakes.  But I didn’t want too much help.  I wanted to see and fix those flaws myself, even if imperfectly.  And I knew how true that is for all of us who struggle to come to our own insights in how best to find answers for healing.  I was reminded of a paragraph from my memoir, “God Never Hurries,” as Bear, the Shepherd/Husky, searched for his yellow tennis ball in the back yard after an early snowfall:

“Just as I watched Bear out of the corner of my eye as he frantically searched for his ball of sunshine, so too God was watching me as I worriedly searched for answers to my care giving problems.  God knew I needed to find the answers myself in order to grow.”

Each of us gathered was gifted with a beautiful spiral pendant to help us remember the weekend and how we learned from listening to others’ unique stories and sharing our own.  No matter that my spiral turned out to be a loop de loop and my weaving has memorable flaws.  It is all good.

What if we all had opportunities to appreciate one another’s uniqueness and find our own true path through sharing?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lessons Everyday

The Mystery within...
Three things I am quite sure about this week:

1.  Every one of us is unique and we each come with our own set of gifts and faults. 

2.  Our faults are pure gold for they hold the potential for true humility, compassion, and the ability to love everyone else regardless of their faults.

3.  Every day presents opportunities to grow in love for others and our self through the power of reflection. 

What if we all knew our true potential for humility, compassion and love, present in each day’s living?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Being with Mystery

The Mystery within...

My daughter’s cat; my daughter’s Facebook words:
“Rest in peace Sophie.  Sweetest cat I've ever known.  Very sad day.  She will be dearly missed.”

We never expected to lose Sophie this past week.  Her death brought us closer to Mystery and reminded us control is an illusion and change is inevitable.  She was thirteen years old and was treated a couple of months ago for a lame front leg that got better overnight.  The lameness suddenly returned, much worse, now in her opposite leg.  Treatment was ineffective and the next day she was still in major distress.  The vet suggested it might be best to put her down.  So we took her in and mercifully she was put out of her misery while we stood by her.

I had suggested to my daughter that we could bring her back home with us for burial but she was reluctant until the vet mentioned home burial was one of our options.  I thought Sophie would also have wanted to come back with us. 

Clearing a spot for her burial, digging a deep enough hole, sawing away large underground roots from nearby bushes was hard work.  But when I watched my daughter gently wrap Sophie in the cream colored sheet, carry her to the grave, and nestle her in, I knew it was the right thing to do.  She put colorful flowers upon the sheet, and sprinkled some of Sophie’s late buddy Ben’s ashes around her and then lit some sage.  That little ceremony reclaimed our connection to Sophie and Ben and all things beyond.  Life and death are so inextricably linked.

What if we could always reclaim the life and death link to everyone and everything? 

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Power of Could

The Mystery within...
Words have real power.  I know this because I have been calmly talking to my resistant muscles in my surgical leg telling them, “You can bend.  Yes, you can.  You can bend.”  And ever so slowly those stubborn, long dormant, knotted muscles are beginning to respond to my words thereby making my exercises and therapy more productive.  I am now hopeful good health could be restored in that leg.  Could is the power word here.  It presumes I continue to talk positively to my muscles and do the work. 

The word could is very optimistic.  It invites challenge, thinking, and a plan.  Alternatives and opportunities come with could.  The negative opposite of could is should which I could eliminate from my vocabulary.  If I tell myself I should do this, that, or the other thing, it leaves me flat and uninspired.  And heaven forbid that I ever tell anyone else what he or she should do.  But “could” could get us both thinking.

What if we could help ourselves and one another be good by eliminating should and using could?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Being Good

The Mystery within...
Just as Kermit the Frog sings, “It’s Not that Easy Being Green,” I have been thinking this past week it’s not that easy being good.  My daughter recently gifted me with New York columnist David Brook’s latest book, “The Road to Character” in which I read we also need to help others be good.  I thought, wow, it’s hard enough to be good and then I have to help others be good too.  And doesn’t that then open Pandora’s box because what my idea of good is not always true for another.  But I am learning there are some guiding principles to promote goodness in myself, and relate to others in a good way.

It seems the first necessary understanding is that I am flawed.  In realizing and confronting my flaws, I build character.  Knowing that everyday presents opportunities to build character, and serve others, comes through disciplined daily reflection that exposes my limitations, shatters my illusions, and leads to humility.  Ironically the gift becomes dependency--teaching indebtedness, knowing that I am just a part of the greater whole.  It also teaches me, regardless of the flaws of others, I need to affirm each person’s inherent dignity.  And then like Kermit’s other famous song I understand we are all part of the “Rainbow Connection.” 

So being good is not all that easy.  Worthwhile things aren’t.  Real suffering can be involved.  But it is the kind of suffering that eventually leads to a larger purpose beyond myself and reveals some of life’s deepest truths where joy is found.

What if our flaws, and those of others, teach use how to be good and help other be good too?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hope and Sadness

The Mystery within...
I can’t remember the last time I felt so hopeful as I did this past week with Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change.  His admonishment of developed nations' carbon emissions, the link to climate change, and its effect on undeveloped nations and the poor, lightened my heart and filled me with hope for the future.  I felt anew, the connection we have with our earth and everyone on it.  I listened to the conservatives respond to the Pope’s plea with fascination as their words so blatantly exposed their agendas.  I know there is still a long road ahead, but I have hope that this renewed struggle shows how deeply connected we all are, and will eventually lead us to revere and respect one another and our precious earth.

Real sadness touched me as well with the mass murders in a South Carolina black church by a young white man.  My heart ached for the young man, full of hate, who wrought so much death and grief for the affected families and our nation.  This Sunday’s “Meet the Press” discussion of this tragedy revealed a startling fact regarding South Carolina’s flying the confederate flag from its state capitol.  The fact was that it first started this practice in the early 1960’s in defiance for the passage of Civil Rights legislation. 

I either read or heard it once said that when evil is exposed to the light, it dies.  That gives me hope that we are on our way to creating a society where it is easier to be good to one another and our earth.

What if we all felt hope that eventually good will prevail for one another and our earth?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Emerging from Knee Replacement Surgery

The Mystery within...
Six weeks have passed since I became resigned I could not get ready for my impending knee replacement and keep on blogging.  I thought I would have so much time while recuperating to write and read but have recently returned unread, or partially read, overdue library books.  There are still six weeks of unopened Center for Action and Contemplation daily meditations in my computer’s inbox.  The same is true for Krista Tippet’s On Being podcasts.  It has truly been a slow emergence back into living, as I knew it.  I became keenly aware of how much in life I have taken for granted when after surgery I had to be supervised while taking a shower.  And I am still not able to take a walk in the woods.

Patience is what I was told I needed most after this surgery.  I am working on it.  Grueling outpatient physical therapy three times a week, with high power pain medication onboard, continues with minimal range of motion progress.  Patience.  I’m working on it.  Hours of at home exercises claim my days.  Patience.  I’m working on it.  And although I still no longer try to make phone calls on the TV remote control as I did when in the hospital, my mental clarity is returning slowly.  Patience.  I’m working on it.

I remember blogging "I will accept what follows my surgery, including the pain."  I should have been more specific and added, “without being cranky.”  I’m working on it.  What I am hoping I have learned so far from my knee replacement is to accept another’s crankiness, knowing it comes from their pain.

What if we could all accept another’s crankiness, knowing it comes from their pain?