Monday, January 26, 2015


The Mystery within...

I haven’t gotten outside much this winter and the truth is I am really longing for the emotional strength and spiritual comfort past winter walks brought me.  I long for deep feathery snow that kicked up lightly or a sandpaper crunch beneath my feet, or being gently blessed by fine falling crystals from a high cedar bough.  I think its time for me to reread “God Never Hurries” for my main purpose in writing it was to always remember my heightened awareness from the everyday messages that came with each season, and everything in it.

In the section of my memoir titled Truth, the first two paragraphs read:

Light snow was falling on an early January morning when I drove my car to a neighborhood service station and left it there for an oil change.  The snow stopped as I started to walk home.  Several hours later when I went back to pick up my car, I was surprised to see my footprints still alone in the fresh snow.  No one else had walked my path.  I backtracked on my lone footprints thinking of the path I had trod the previous year and my painstaking search for truth in daily reflection and writing.

Several blocks later, I saw a woman approaching.  She walked in my original prints but didn’t know me.  We smiled as we passed each other and said hello.  I wondered:  if she reflected and wrote each day about her reality, what would her truths be?  When I reached the corner, I crossed to the other side of the street so I could continue in my tracks.  There a man’s footprints had tracked on mine.  I wondered what his truths were and could he understand my reality? 

I am currently going for physical therapy for my sore knee so I can hopefully return to a life lived closer to God’s creation were weather, skies, sun, clouds, rain, ice, wind, birds, fog, water, waves, stones, leaves, and animals and fish and so much more spoke to me in every season and let me know that I am loved.  While at physical therapy today an overhead television screen showed bedridden soldiers with horrific incapacitating injuries.  I hope they know that they are loved.

What if each and everyone one of us, everywhere, knew that we are loved?  Would there be need for injury anywhere?  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life's Messy

The Mystery within..

There was a vacuum cleaner commercial some years back with the slogan, “Life’s messy.  Clean it up.”  I’ve learned from life’s traumas to keep cleaning because like vacuuming it’s not something I do once.  Learning from trouble requires ongoing engagement.  The important thing is to do the work again and again.  If there were no struggles, would we ever know true forgiveness?  And how else would compassion be learned?  

My traumas taught me about hope, trust, patience, reflection and planning along with forgiveness and compassion.  I heard Martin Luther King had said, “Struggle is about hope.”  His words helped me accept my angst in caring for my aging parents.  Also enlightening and comforting, was a copy of a Teilhard de Cardin’s prayer, “Above All Trust in the Slow Work of God.”  That prayer seemed to find me whenever I really needed to let go and trust things would eventually work out.  I also remember being very open to everyone and everything around me during that difficult time.  My heightened awareness to the people, places and things I encountered daily was the source of my learning, along with reflection and writing that helped clarify the next steps I needed to take.

I sometimes long for that heightened alertness that made me so very present to what was going on around me, but not the accompanying trauma. Lately, I tried applying Bessel A. van der Kolk’s recommendation to hover calmly and objectively over my thoughts, feelings and emotions as a way to access mindfulness and not let my emotions hijack me.  It did help me respond to others more calmly and made me want to plan for better outcomes in daily living.  Remembering to hover is the tough part.  

What if we could all know struggle stands for hope and to trust mindfulness will eventually lead us to better life outcomes?  

Monday, January 12, 2015


The Mystery within...

This weekend I accepted a reciprocal invitation to share a meal, and continue renewing an old friendship, with a couple my late husband and I knew before we were married, and while our children were young.  Our reminiscing took us back to the first places we lived after marriage, and the subsequent dwellings we occupied that eventually led us to our present homes.  We marveled at the advancing ages of our children, and grandchildren, and shared our health status and other challenges that come with age.  We became quite aware of our temporal timeline.  I was stunned by how fast time has streaked by in the intervening years, and grateful to be renewing this old bond.  It led me to reflect on what I have learned, and I am still learning, about friendship.               

One of the most affirming acknowledgements and insight I received regarding friendships came in a Clinical Pastoral Experience handout I received back in the 1990’s.  It was a joy to find this Xeroxed copy again of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper column written by the psychotherapist Philip Chard titled, “Some of us don’t need many people to be truly happy.”  Basically the article acknowledged that we are a social species but that not all of us are cut out for “…a life crowded with people.”  Chard further wrote, “Many of my clients could benefit from being less people-focused, not more.”  ‘Mostly what makes people crazy is other people,’ is how one associate puts it.”  And …”while it has been rightfully said that you can’t know yourself without being known by others, it is equally true that you can’t know yourself without finding time to be alone with just you.”  I still look forward to reading Chard’s continuing weekly columns.   

And the guests on this week’s On-Being podcast, Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin – The Inner Life of Rebellion, told of the human aspect of rebellion that includes the importance of a discerning community and inter-generational friendships that connect us to both our inner and outer lives thereby transforming us into life-giving people.  Our soul was compared to a shy wild animal that knows how to survive and only makes an appearance in a safe space.  Paradoxically, we also need both chutzpah and humility, be open to critics, and to know our hidden wholeness that will allow us to experience discomfort and learn in public.  It was said that we are each other’s health care workers, and faithfulness trumps effectiveness.

And I am currently reading Bessel A. van der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps the Score” telling how the trauma’s we experience affect us, mentally and physically, along with our relationships with others.  He writes:  “Being able to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions (an ability I’ll call mindfulness throughout this book) and then take our time to respond allows the executive brain to inhibit, organize and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions preprogrammed into the emotional brain.  This capacity is crucial for preserving our relationships with our fellow human beings.”  Responding to others with a friendly face and soothing voice does create a safe space where others and we can feel calm.

What if all our hearts could be tied together in friendship?      

Monday, January 5, 2015


The Mystery within...
Saturday morning I put on my navy blue sweatshirt with the white swirl of our Milky Way Galaxy on it.  It has an arrow pointing to the place I occupy in this massive blur with the words, “You are here.”  I needed to wear this, keep my troubles in perspective shirt, since I lay awake Friday night worrying about another leak that has made itself apparent in my five-year-old sunroom.  I told myself, “You can either let this really upset you or you can let it test your mettle to find a remedy.”  It reminded me of a previous water problem I had many years ago when my son took apart an upstairs bathroom leaky faucet but didn’t turn off the water supply in the basement, and then went to Home Depot for a part he needed.  I went with him.  When we came home there was water pouring out of my kitchen chandelier, running down between the walls, and seeping up under my hardwood floor. The next day I saw Fr. Alex Luzi and he asked how things were going.  I told him of my in-home waterfall and he acknowledged that is upsetting and then said,  “But in the whole scheme of things there are much worse.”  I was grateful for his words back then and for remembering them now.

It doesn’t take much to imagine worse things.  Near and far people are homeless, food insecure or starving.  Sex slaves and child prostitution are not isolated incidents.  And those over 200 Nigerian girls that were kidnapped last April are still missing.  There are forced marriages, female genital mutilation, dowry deaths, and domestic abuse.  Discrimination, killings, torture, trauma and mental and physical suffering have touched many of us, or those we know and love.  So yes, in the whole scheme of things I am grateful to know, but wish there weren’t, so many worse things than a leaky sunroom.

What if putting our own troubles in perspective could somehow test our mettle to help alleviate the many worse things happening in our world?