Monday, August 26, 2013

Contemplative Muffins

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Matthew Fox describes compassion as a creative force and also states it is critical to our and our planet’s survival.  He cites physicist Fritjof Capra's observations that all energy flows through and connects all things and one another.  Our planet and we are one in this giant web of energy.  Fox states that successful life is therefore a cooperative, interdependent venture not a competitive struggle and calls compassion the true creative life force.  He states, …there is no compassion without creativity.

Thomas Moore says it another way as I relate in my memoir as follows:  The idea of caring for myself was so foreign but I sensed it was imperative.  I read Thomas Moore’s “Care of the Soul.”  His assertion that everything has soul—people, trees, buildings, cars, etc., and each is a part of the larger world soul—let me look at everything in an exciting new dimension and feel a part of something bigger than myself.  And I experienced the sense of the world soul later on a walk to the beach.  I wrote:  Coolness was all over that early morning—overcast inland and a gray thick blanket of fog at the now warmer lake.  The water smelled heavy in the curtained air, too heavy to move.  Tall gray herons waded near the shore and seemed only a darker color of fog in the shape of stately birds.  It was easy to sense the seamless world soul in the all-encompassing softness.  …That day I learned, as part of the world’s soul, I create an atmosphere wherever I go. 

Fox cautions against too much introverted meditation and advocates for extrovert meditation saying it is centering by way of creating.  In extrovert meditation we learn to trust our deepest insights about images new and old and thus we learn from these images.  They become our teachers.  He cites the potter with clay, the musician with notes, the dancer with movement, the baker with dough, etc.  So this morning I made blueberry muffins contemplatively with my kitchen radio and TV left off.  Afterwards I washed the dishes by hand being present to the water and the task.  And the muffins I created, I shared.

What if we each tuned in to some creative extrovert meditation everyday?  Could we eventually create a just and peaceful world through our compassionate creativity?  Could we come to function cooperatively as a whole? 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Remembering Community

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Having spent much of this past week with just my dog and daughter’s cat for company my thoughts have turned to community and the three days I spent earlier this month on retreat with other women seekers where we experienced compassion for one another and became a healing community.  In the preface to Matthew Fox’s book, “A Spirituality Named Compassion,” he writes: Compassion is not an abstraction, but an entry into our own and others’ pain.  And joy as well. … Compassion is not merely a human energy; it is integral to the universe.  ...Compassion is a mystery. …our very essence, the very best of ourselves is to practice compassion.  … Compassion is important to wounded and oppressed peoples, and to the survival of our planet.    

When I struggled with my aging parent’s care needs, the compassion of others who cared sustained me.  My pain touched others as well.  In my memoir, “God Never Hurries,” I recount words I spoke at a church reform convention’s small breakout group titled “Patriarchy to Partnership.”  I wrote:  I felt empathy for a man in that session who was struggling to understand complicity.  In response to his frustrated disbelief that we all hold some responsibility for abusive patriarchy, I said, ‘My father is a tyrant.  I suffered most of my life under his tyranny until God showed me my complicity and I started standing up to him.  I am now the only one in the family who stands up to him.  My father is still a tyrant, but I am no longer his subject.’  After I spoke those words I felt a new level of acceptance and deeper change taking hold in me.  Applause from the group surely helped along with some hugs at session’s end, but most affirming were words from one woman who said, “You really helped me.”

During that most difficult time in my life I never met some of the people in my helping community but only spoke with them on long distance phone calls.  The following is from my memoir:  Outside of alerting social services agencies that my parents now had no care, and my mother could be in serious jeopardy, there was precious little I could do except trust God had a plan and accept whatever happens, happens.  Pouring my heart out to these professionals over the past two years had not been in vain.  Now the greatest help they gave me were their respectful long distance voices.

What if the next time we are “Wherever two or more are gathered together…” we look for the mystery within us that is named Compassion, and respond to one another with respectful voices.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Remembering Serenity

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How important serenity is for successful living has been on my mind since my retreat last weekend.  I am coming to really understand how much I need some sanctuary time (rest, breadth and going within) everyday to keep my inner calm regardless of what is going on around me.  It seems key to good physical, mental and spiritual health.  And when I forget to take care of myself, it is important to simply return to being faithful without incrimination.

Each day I will use the rawhide, beads, and feathers I put together while on retreat.  I will hold my prayer feathers turning to the four directions asking,  “What do I need to let go of today?”  “What do I need to embrace?”  I will also ask for a measure of laughter in each day or a least some genuine smiles.  And the mandala I colored in dappled sunlight under an arbor will be framed so I can see the time I let myself take to be peaceful.

And when life gets really difficult I will remember Matthew Fox and his book Original Blessing and what I wrote in my memoir, God Never Hurries, … 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.

What if we each made our own daily serenity plan, and when we forget to follow it, simply return to being faithful.

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Spider

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Who among you reading this would like a spider as your totem helper?  You might want to think about that for a while as I did this past weekend while on a Women Gathering retreat sponsored by Way of the Willow.  We were told we would journey with a drumbeat, our breath, and come to know our totem animal.  I wondered how that might happen.  I had some preconceived notions of animals that hold special meaning for me and I wondered if it might be a wolf, deer, coyote, fox, or armadillo.  But no, it was none of those.  With my eyes closed in the shaded room, and the steady beating of the drum, a spider showed up.

I didn’t want to believe it at first, but there it was just a darker shade of the dark, plump and fuzzy, suspended from a thin dark thread. I asked myself what it could possibly teach me and then began thinking:

Suspend judgment of others and myself.
Suspend anxiety for things undone.
Suspend the need to be perfect or right.
Look around and know that all is good.

When the exercise was over I eagerly sought out a book in the room, “Animal Speak--The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small” and began to fall in love with my spider as I read:  “Spider is the keeper of primordial alphabet.  Spider can teach how to use the written language with power and creativity so that your words weave a web around those who would read them.”  Spiders were also said to be a combination of gentleness and strength, and part of spider’s medicine is to maintain balance between life and death, waking and sleeping.  Who wouldn’t love that?

Each woman attending this retreat had a different totem animal come to her with unique and appropriate gifts and medicines.  It was a serious, but also very fun weekend, as we shared pieces of our lives and helped heal one another through our laughter and tears.

In a Saturday evening ceremony we each put on our wise woman shawls and spoke words that told what was important for us to remember.  I prayed, Dear God, Thank you for the gift of these women.  I know my serenity will be subject to forgetting so may I always remember the way back to it.  Help me trust what comes, comes because it needs to; show me ways I can celebrate what doesn’t get done so I can enjoy the present; help me let go of feeling too responsible; help me hold the questions with infinite patience and learn from them; may I find joy and new ideas in the accomplishment of others; remind me there is always a choice versus the victim role.  Thank you for being my power within and reminding me to “Be not afraid.”  And thank you for my spider.

What if everyone had the opportunity for a fun and healing time and could remember the way back to it when it fades?  I think we would all heal our planet.