Friday, May 31, 2019

Forgiveness Mantra

The Mystery within...
I have a friend, Karen, who is in an exercise class with me.  She shared the following simple mantra that she says to herself when feeling challenged by people being difficult.    

“I forgive you ___(name)_____for not being the person I want you to be.  I forgive you.  I set you free.  I set me free.” 

I started a search of my blog with the word forgiveness and stopped counting the number of posts that came up.  Karen’s simple short mantra seems to summarize it all.

What if we understood it really is all about forgiveness.       

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Brave Heart

The Mystery within...

It’s April 30.  Soon there will be no more April 2019 left. I decided I was too tired to post anything for this month that has streaked by with tiresome tasks.  But then I remembered I scribbled some words that were in my head upon awakening one morning a couple of weeks ago.  I found them on my bedside stand.  I am glad I did for they are worth remembering and sharing.

Be very brave.

Walk in the courage of your own truth.
Seek knowing unconditional love of yourself and others
through the grace of acceptance and forgiveness.

Live from your heart.

Dance with courage in the truth of who you really are
seeking always to love unconditionally. 
Grow from what challenges you.

Tiresome tasks have challenged me this month.  But if I wasn’t too tired to write an April post, I might never have remembered and looked for the words I scribbled upon waking a couple of weeks ago.  

What if what challenges us grows us to love unconditionally?  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Doing Life Together

The Mystery within...
Doing life together transforms us from human doings into human beings. And since each of us have unique personalities (think Meyers-Briggs), and each of us are uniquely spiritual (think Enneagram), learning our different approaches to life can bring us closer to the Great Mystery who created it all--our diverse natural world and us. The original design is for nature and humanity to work in tandem—to do life together.  I believe this understanding is our greatest challenge.   

Thoughts of doing life together bubbled up in me after reading the best summary of the Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE) I have ever seen by a CPE student, Sister Denise West, a Benedictine at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI. I was recently at Holy Wisdom Monastery, not for a presentation on CPE, but on Native American Patty Lowe’s presentation titled, “Ethics of Indigenous Cultures of Wisconsin.” Putting some of Sister Denise’s CPE summary thoughts alongside thoughts from Patty Lowe’s presentation struck me as a template for doing life together.

A major part of CPE training (which I experienced in the late 1990s and early 2000s) is a group critique by fellow students and the CEP instructor, of our individual written verbatim reports of interactions with patients. These words from Sr. Denise’s CPE summary brought back vivid memories of struggle and growth from my four CPE units:

… we would reflect on the interaction to see not how we could have done things better, but how we could have done things differentlyThis framing freed me to scrutinize how I encountered those in need. I had to learn to let go of my agenda when I walked into a patient’s room and let the patient’s needs unfold before me. In my best moments, I was a companion on a path we co-created."

Patty Lowe’s presentation at Holy Wisdom Monastery shared her Native American Seventh Generation Philosophy that decisions made today should be in the best interest of seven generations into the future.  She spoke of current threats to the environment, and to we who inhabit it, including the adverse effects of mining and pipelines both under the earth and in Lake Superior. She said care of the earth is the most important thing we can do in life--we need to change our relationship with nature and can no longer put profit over planet.  She spoke of her love of nature, the Rights of Nature Movement, and asked, “What if we believed nature loved us back?”

Care for one another, and Mother Earth, calls us all to reflect on how we can each do things differently, to see what agendas we need to let go of, and discover how we can become companions with one another on a path we co-create to sustain Mother Earth and us today, tomorrow and seven generations into the future.     

What if doing life together makes us all CPE students to one another and Mother Earth?   

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spiritual, Not Religious

The Mystery within...
Where did February go? March starts tomorrow and I have yet to write at least one post for February. It’s late.  But I want to write something before February ends.  So here’s a draft synopsis of my next book that is in the editing and publishing process:

Spiritual, no longer religious, is the transforming journey that Marcia walks seeking to learn unconditional love and forgiveness. Both/and Things – The Power in Reflection shares her everyday discoveries that accepting everything and everyone encountered in life can eventually lead to a love that is bigger than the universe--a love that connects us to one another, Mother Earth and beyond.

What if we all seek to connect with one another, Mother Earth and beyond?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thresholds' Review

The Mystery within...
On our July “Women Gathering 2018” weekend retreat we were led to reflect on the many different thresholds we have crossed in our life. Our one-day winter follow-up, on where each of us are with our life’s thresholds, was held January 19, 2019. This review made it clear to me all of life is about change and how I accept and grow with those changes.

The challenging threshold I was standing on in July was to find my voice and express myself to a public political ideologue. I feared getting “dirty” in a fight. My initial fear of getting “dirty” led me to find the courage to write my truth respectfully, through a series of letters to the editor of my local paper. 

Main ideas in those letters were: we are all in this together—vote responsibly. Service to others is the hallmark of a healthy community. The health and education of our children is our country’s future. I shared recent tips I had learned in how to search the internet to be better informed on the issues and candidates on the ballot for my district. I acknowledged my gratitude for the Dane County League of Women Voters who listed statewide Wisconsin candidates and how each proposed to served the people if elected. I summarized the first ever Ozaukee County Democratic Party fundraiser where speakers called for respect and dignity of all; more equitable tax distribution, critical infrastructure maintenance, returning science to environmental management, investing in our children’s education, mental health, and adequate, affordable health care for all. And I quoted excerpts from Parker Palmer’s book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit”. I acknowledged we need grace in governance, and voting is more than a civic duty, it is a spiritual exercise. And finally, I shared how learning to breathe from my heart allows me to feel sheer compassion for those who govern with self-serving agendas.  

I was in a better place for our “Women Gathering” January Thresholds’ review. I realized how much effort I put into reflecting/writing/speaking my truth. Not just in political matters, but also from my own life in the completion of my second memoire titled, “Both and Things – The Power in Reflection”. In my first memoire, “God Never Hurries”, I danced with anger and fear for my mother’s and my safety. In “Both and Things” I am learning to dance with love, forgiveness and connection. The nest photo in this post was an art therapy piece from July’s “Women Gathering” weekend  retreat. When “Both and Things – The Power in Reflection” is printed, the nest photo will become the book's cover and will include an explanation of its symbolism for me.

To facilitate our January review of our individual Thresholds we were given these words to ponder: Acceptance; Letting Go; Mindfulness; Compassion; and Identifying Helpers. My helpers were easy to ID. They are retreat facilitators Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak, and our beautiful circle of women, who are gently guided in discovery and sharing. Poems also accompanied each of the five words for reflection. This stanza from a David Whyte poem titled, “Start in Close”, stood out for me:

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet, 
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Also poignant for me were these words from a John O’Donohue poem titled “A Blessing, A Poem”:
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing 
whispering in you heart that something good 
is going to happen to you.

What if we all felt empowered through reflection?  

Monday, December 31, 2018

In Gratitude

The Mystery within...
I am so very grateful it’s finished, my next memoire. I handed it off to my publisher, David Gawlik of Caritas Communications, today. My manuscript left with the title, “Both and Things”, but now I’m not so sure that should be the title. I still have time to change it. It is definitely about the paradoxical nature of everything, that everything is a both and thing, that all troubles can eventually lead to good, especially learning how to love unconditionally.

At the close of my new memoire there is a long list of people I acknowledge who have helped form and inform me thus far. Maybe the real title is hiding in the last two sentences of my acknowledgements that end the book. They read, “Perhaps my deepest gratitude belongs to all those who have ever given me a hard time. They have driven me to reflection, searching for answers for how to love the hard to love unconditionally—a lifetime opportunity.”

Maybe my new memoire’s title should be, “Driven to Reflection—Learning to Love Unconditionally”

I wish you a blessed New Year and invite you to read the poem by the famous Anonymous, "New Year Resolutions", that is listed in the Comfort Messages of my blog under the heading Ego Training. 

What if we all were driven to reflection?  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Post Election Gratitude

The Mystery within...
It’s over.  The campaigning.  I can turn on the T.V. now without being bombarded with cruel and bitter campaign ads.  For that I am grateful. 

I am grateful I found the Dane County League of Women Voters website with their list of questions posed to all candidates running for office in the State of Wisconsin on how each proposed to serve if elected.  I have long longed for such a service.  I am grateful I learned how to find and print a copy of the ballot I would be handed at the polls so I knew ahead of time who would be on my ballot for my district.  I felt better informed when I voted.  For that I am grateful.  

Voting is much more than a civic duty--it is a spiritual exercise.  Governance affects the quality of life, the health and well-being of us all. Education, livelihoods, healthcare, equitable tax distribution, care of the environment, justice, and war or peace are all dependent on how we vote--how we care for one another and the earth. We need a caring economy to be in healthy relationship with one another and the earth.  I am grateful the tide appears to be turning toward understanding our responsibilities for one another's and the earth’s health and well being.

And I am grateful that I am learning to practice sheer compassion for those who govern with self-serving policies that leave so many to struggle without adequate food, shelter and safety.  Breathing from my heart helps get me in touch with Sheer Compassion.  When I remember to do that, I am grateful.

What if we all understood voting as a spiritual exercise and learned to breathe from our hearts to practice sheer compassion toward all?