Monday, February 29, 2016


The Mystery within...
"You look old," said a precocious young boy as he got off the school bus at Riveredge Nature Center where I was volunteering as a Teacher Naturalist.  At first I didn't know how to respond but then I asked him, "Is old good?"  Now it was his turn to pause and reflect.  He didn't answer right away either, but lucky for him, and me, he did say, "Yes."  The lesson plan for that warm fall morning was Sensitizing—creating a sense of wonder and awe by engaging the children in using their eyes, ears, nose, touch and taste in exploring and caring for the natural world around them.  In little Joey's and my exchange we also engaged our hearts.  Our encounter occurred in 2004.  Joey would be a teenager today.  I wonder how he and I would react to one another now, twelve years later.

My thoughts went back to "You look old," when a friend sent me a link to a blog site titled WOW:  Women's Older Wisdom.  It led me to remember old is good.  In my past 72 years I've had ample opportunity to learn from my mistakes, which helps me be more accepting of the mistakes of others, but I also know there will always be more learning opportunities for me.   Now, when I am having a particularly bad day, I can be confident when I go to sleep at night things will be different in the morning.  Maybe not better, but at least different.  And although I have growing physical limitations, through the years I have gradually learned to leave behind restrictions imposed by others.  Would I want to be young again?  I don't think so.  It was a lot of hard work to get where I am.  But I also know keeping up in a changing world is work that never ends.  Creating a sense of awe and wonder that engages hearts is a fascinating work I hope to do until the day I die.

Nature's web of life includes us and our interactions.  I invite you to connect with my readers and me and to leave comments, even precocious ones.  They can make us all better.  Instructions on "How to Comment" electronically can now be found on the top bar above each post within  If the commenting instructions aren't clear, let us know.  The challenge of a changing world begs we engage and interact with one another.

What if pause, reflect and share became a part of our every day?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Awesome Within

The Mystery within...
I know everyday experiences hold the potential to reveal the Mystery within us, the Mystery within everything--the Divine.  This past week the gift of a fifty-degree February sunny day, in a Wisconsin winter, sparked such a connection for me as my yellow lab, Oliver, and I encountered a stranger on our walk to a snowy wood.  Our brief greeting as we passed one another on the footbridge spanning the river held a hint of the Divine in our mutual praise for the glorious day.   

Awesome was also present this past week in the words and gentle singing of a Sally DeFord hymn titled "Write Thy Name Upon my Heart" sung at a monthly ecumenical service I attend.  DeFord's lyrics gently led us to our transformational goals.

"Write thy name upon my heart, Jesus savior of mankind.
Teach me charity unfailing.  Teach me compassion, Lord like thine.
Endow my soul with loving kindness.  Make me even as thou art.
Engrave thine image in my countenance.  Write thy name upon my heart.

When battles rage, when storms arise, make me a messenger of peace.
Teach me tolerance and meekness, and faith to bid the tempest cease.
Endow my soul with loving kindness. Make me even as thou art.
Engrave thine image in my countenance.  Write thy name upon my heart.

Grant me strength to serve thee well, light my spirit with thy grace. 
'Til all my works reflect thy goodness, 'Til all my labors sing thy praise.
Endow my soul with loving kindness; make me even as thou art. 
Engrave thine image in my countenance.  Write thy name upon my heart."        

What if we opened to our Awesomeness within and trust we will be guided by our everyday experiences?  

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Donation

The Mystery within...
I treated myself to a new mattress in hopes it will help alleviate some of my aches and pains.  The sales woman said if my current mattress were in good condition the store would be able to donate it. That made me feel better about spending the money.  My new mattress was delivered today.  I look forward to testing its therapeutic qualities tonight but the good feeling about the donation has been dampened by the great neediness of so many people right here in my state, not to mention the country, and world.

Earlier in the week my brother sent me a New Yorker magazine article "Letter From Milwaukee – FORCED OUT – For many poor Americans, eviction never ends."  The personal account of Milwaukee's poor and their landlords is heart wrenching.  The author, Matthew Desmond states, "For decades, social scientists, journalists, and policy makers have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration as the central problems faced by the American poor, overlooking just how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty."

And a friend sent me this link to a Charlie Rose interview with Serene Jones, first woman President of Union Theological Seminary in New York City who laments we are a nation in a state of moral collapse where we hear cheers for bigotry and hatred.  She calls for depth of thinking about the human condition and asks that we not be afraid of moral complexity.  She said we have not even begun to address two hundred years of systematized slavery sanctioned by church and state.  She says the goal is simple, "Love each other—that's it.  Our job is to figure out how do it."

In "God Never Hurries" I write of an encounter that happened almost thirty years ago. I was returning to work one day after lunch when I passed a young black man on a downtown Milwaukee sidewalk.  I smiled and said, "Hi."  He shot back with, "Sure bitch, you can smile on your way back to your fancy job!  And I felt guilty.  I understood the soulful quality of that encounter through my own experience of tyranny from both my father and the church.  Listening to my inner voice helped me hear the voices of others oppressed and disowned.  As I worked to free myself through understanding my complicity in tyranny, I decided I'd rather be the oppressed than the oppressor. I might get crucified, but so what." 

I am grateful for the new mattress I will lay down on tonight, but I will also feel guilty.

What if we could truly appreciate our complicity in tyranny and feel guilty?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dependable Truths

The Mystery within
"The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" by Jan-Philipp Sendker is a novel my book club is currently reading about a grown daughter, Julia, who goes in search of her father who mysteriously left family and country after her graduation from law school.  She questions:

What do we know about our parents, and what do they know about us?  And if we don't even know the individuals who have accompanied us since birth—we not them and they not us—then what do we know about anyone at all?  …on which truths can one ultimately depend?"   

Two dependable truths came to mind for me.  First, I really cannot judge another or say what they should be or do.  And second, I need to be true to myself.  Writing "God Never Hurries" was a gradual unfolding and pulling together of freeing truths for me.

The following is some of my dependable learning from "God Never Hurries:"

"Being in the present moment, however, is only half the test.  Becoming friendly with the present moment, or accepting it, is the more challenging half."

"I sat there with a great discomfort and began to understand the real test for me was to sit with my was also my deepest learning."

"The right questions began to surface from my pain.  My relief was in my pain; my safety was in my questions."

"I found much grace in my trouble."

 "I saw the complicity of my silence in all the past abuse."

"It was as if the sweet seductive voice of God whispered, Be not afraid."

"The more difficult life became, the deeper grew my experience of a caring Presence in the Natural world to whom I belonged.  I came to see God everywhere—and even where God wasn't—in the abuse."

"Bearing accusations of betrayal and seeing my mother hurt was an enormous price to pay to be true to my own soul."

"To hope means to struggle.  …It can't hurt to have hope but it can hurt not to."

"Justice will be kind.  It will be done over a period of time."

"All that lives is holy, holds truth and mystery for me that I will strive to realize for the rest of my life."

What if we could always trust our troubles to reveal the slow work of God?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Heart Thinking and Breaking

The Mystery within...
I was surprised when I learned thinking occurs in our physical heart as well as our brain.  Initially I thought heart thinking would be the goal since I imagined it would soften the ego and our response to others.  But then I remembered Parker Palmer's On-Being reflection, "An Invitation to Heartbreak and the Call of the Loon" where he says there at least two ways for the heart to break:  "…it can break open into new life, or break apart into shards of sharper and more widespread pain." So that makes heart thinking and breaking, like everything else, a both/and thing. 

News features this past week broke my heart.  First it was of a grandmother that took a walk in the woods with her two-year-old grandson and became separated from him.  Days later the child was found dead.  My heart broke again on hearing of the death of three children in a house fire when the eleven-year-old sister successfully got one young sibling out but died trying to save two who remained in the house.

The last five lines in Mary Oliver's poem "Lead" read:

"I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."

Hearts broken open must be the positive force behind human progress.

What if we all were willing to let heartbreak break us open to the rest of the world?