Tuesday, May 28, 2013


God is...

Philip Chard, psychotherapist, award winning newspaper columnist, and fine human being, writes the weekly column “Out of My Mind” which runs every Tuesday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  He also graciously wrote the endorsement for my memoir.  In his May 14, 2013 column titled “Finding one’s way is no easy journey” he suggests, “…existential disorientation calls for visiting one’s existential home, which is the natural world.”  Chard’s words transported me back to times when my internal GPS (God Positioning System) helped re-orient me mentally, spiritually and psychologically.  Conveying those special times became my primary goal in writing God Never Hurries.

There was the candlelight walk at a nearby state park on Lake Michigan’s shore …There was special mystery in the dark fall air.  It was as if God was right there.  The leaves were wet soft, and silent under our feet.  As we walked in the black velvet night each step required a little faith….  Then there was the windy winter walk to the valley …As I entered that more gently sloping entrance into the calm valley, I slipped on slick ice under this fresh deep snow.  But it was like falling on a soft white cushion.  A floor of very slippery, but deeply cushioned ice was in much of the valley.  I fell or crawled or sometimes just sat down—moving like a child learning to walk.  I was like a child learning to walk with deeper spiritual and psychological discovery….  And …I rolled back up a large drift at the mouth of the valley that I had rolled over to get to the beach, but before rolling down the other side I stopped at the top to appreciate the brilliant blue sky.  There I decided I needed to have more faith and a lot less fuss and debate with myself…. And I responded to the sweet young outfitter guide’s question as to what I wanted from my wilderness experience—I told Jeremy I just wanted blend into my surroundings.  My body was aching from all the accumulated tension in my back neck and shoulders.  Instinctively I was aching for naturalness….  Every season gave me new and deeper insights that helped me navigate through dark times and brought deep learning. 

Chard concludes his May 14 article suggesting we slow down, practice mindfulness in nature and learn about its ways, and he said it “helps us plant our feet in the real world.”  He ended his column with a quote from the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor who wrote:  “God does some of God’s best work with people who are seriously lost.”  I can attest to that.  What if my internal GPS had not been working when I really needed it?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Paradox of Fear

God is...

I have just started reading Gavin De Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear.”  His first chapter begins quoting the author Margaret Atwood, “This above all, to refuse to be a victim.”  Her words resonated deep within me.  Then De Becker surprised me with a definition of intuition that succinctly summarized what led me to write God Never Hurries.  He wrote,  “Intuition connects us to the natural world and to our nature.”  And, “Nature’s greatest accomplishment, the human brain, is never more efficient or invested than when its host is at risk.  Then intuition is catapulted to another level entirely, a height at which it can accurately be called graceful, even miraculous.”  When I struggled with my aging parents’ care needs, I believe Attwood’s words were an unspoken mantra permeating my being, and De Becker accurately sourced them coming from the natural world.  Together their words highlight the grace nature provided, and my humble attempt to share it through my memoir.

My writing was sparked one early morning when instead of driving the two hours to get to my parent’s house in time to make breakfast, I uncharacteristically took a walk to Lake Michigan with my beach buddy, Bear (shepherd/husky).  As we walked my heart, mind, body and soul were consumed in what the day might hold.  But I was most aware of my soul.  It seemed to be telling me, “Love is courage talking, not long-suffering silence.  Down in the valley it looked as if my glasses were smudged.  But When I took them off I realized it was a soft mist beginning to enshroud me.  The farther down we walked, the heavier and more comforting the veil became.  Then turning a bend in the deepest part of the valley, the sun came alive as it beamed through the trees.  I caught my breath and heard my voice say softly, “Oh my God.”  (She is so beautiful in person.)  And I was infused with courage.  It was as if the sweet seductive voice of God whispered, “Be not afraid.”  Fear led me on that walk where I was told to not be afraid.  It was the beginning of my resolve to trust in the slow work of God.

What if intuition does connect us to the natural world and our true nature?  What if the piece of God within us, our original blessing, flows from the natural world?  What would we each of us do differently?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Third Eye

God is... 

I recently read Fr. Greg Boyle’s book “Tattoos on the Heart.”  He amazed me with stories of his work with rival Los Angeles gang members and his ability to sometimes let them see the original blessing they are through his suspension of all judgment.  He talked about closing both eyes and seeing with a third eye as God sees.  Looking at another as God does can affect the other profoundly, leaving tattoos on the heart of both the beholder and the one beheld.  It’s that original blessing versus original sin thing.

Matthew Fox’s book “Original Blessing” was an important resource for me as I struggled with my aging parents’ care needs.  What I most needed to learn from Fox was to befriend both light and darkness—to let pain be pain and mystery be mystery, and trust good would come from it.  And I recalled one very ordinary experience that brought home to me how I see God affects me and wrote of it in “God Never Hurries.”

…Fox’s shift in perspective made me aware of the huge difference it makes in how I view things.  It reminded me of an experience from my downtown workdays.  When life felt hard and I needed a treat, I would go to the food court for lunch in the mall across the street.  Things must not have been going well at all that day for I decided I even needed to walk the stairwell to the third floor instead of taking the escalator or elevator.  I remember coming out the stairwell door and feeling momentarily stunned asking myself, “Is this the right place?”  From the angle of the doorway it seemed the food court appeared to be an entirely different place.  God will forgive my analogy to a food court, but after reading Fox’s confirmation of original blessing versus original sin, I understood that how I view God shapes my reactions.

What if we each looked more with our third eye at others, or were frequently beheld by others as God beholds us?   

Monday, May 6, 2013

Both/And Thing

God is...

David Brooks, in his OP-ED NY Times April 22, 2013 column titled “The Confidence Questions” posed several questions, two of which I can personally relate. 

“A generation after the feminist revolution, are women still, on average, less confident than men?”  First I would like to offer that one generation is an extremely short period of time to achieve parity in issues that go deep back in time.  My mother was born in 1916, prior to women winning the struggle just to be able to vote.  I was born in 1943, twenty some years before Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, of which I am a direct beneficiary.  Overcoming oppression is slow, hard work, but I can say from personal experience it is a blest effort which I proudly wrote about in “God Never Hurries—A Memoir.”  And I continue to progress in speaking my truth in this weekly blog.

In response to David’s last question, “In society generally, are more problems caused by overconfidence or under confidence?”  I can confidently respond “yes” to both since life got a whole lot easier when I understood that everything is a both/and thing.  Over or under confidence get equal billing in my book as troublemakers.  And I am getting some insight into their origin, namely that we are not taught about our own inherent goodness.  What if we all knew the original blessing we are—could we then more easily speak our truth, and have no need to inflate our importance?

Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955) the great scientist/priest/mystic saw man’s embrace of woman as consummating a union with the Universe, and in turn, growing to a world scale.  Whenever I needed a boost to help me find my confidence, my voice, I would pull out an old Xeroxed copy of Chardin’s prayer, “Above All Trust in the Slow Work of God.”  Today you can Google it.

We are still birthing Chardin’s vision of the future.  What if we learned to first listen intently to one another and then engage in respectful dialogue?  Would that bring us closer to Teilhard’s vision?