Sunday, January 28, 2018

Moral Voice

The Mystery within...
Two statements caught my attention recently.  I’m not sure if I read or heard the first one, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  And, the second is a quote from a German forester, Peter Wohllenben’s book, “The Hidden Life of Trees.  ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.’ Trees could have come up with this old crafts-person’s saying.  And because they know this intuitively, they do not hesitate to help each other out.  Wohllenben writes of the amazing discovery he made in how beech trees provide nourishment, protection and healing for one another through their interconnected root systems.  Their interconnections help other beech trees growing in less desirable locations within the forest, and can even keep some trees alive and regenerate new bark after they have been purposely girdled in attempts to kill them. Wohllenben’s story of interconnectedness in a healthy forest struck me as an apt metaphor for understanding the political crisis we face in America and the world today.  We need to help each other through systems that distribute nourishment and healing to those who need it in our human communities throughout our country and the world.   We need our moral voices raised to be part of the solution. 

From where we are planted we can know America is headed in the wrong direction with a “me first” mentality, and can understand it will ultimately weaken us all.  Not all of us can become legislators or lobbyists working for what needs to happen to establish and keep systems in place to grow a healthier society.  But we can seek out others who are on the front lines working for justice and peace.  We can let our legislators know we want systems to protect and heal the most vulnerable in our society.  It’s about caring for the welfare of others and letting our moral voice be heard.     

There is an organization of honest and brave women resistors who are on the front lines working for justice and peace for all, led by Sr. Simone Campbell of Nun’s on the Bus fame.  She is also a lawyer and lobbyist advocating for Catholic social justice issues.  The one suggestion I would have for Sr. Simone is to lower the case in catholic to make it more inviting and inclusive to people of all faiths, and for those of us who no longer declare a religious affiliation, the other nones.  My computer’s New Oxford American dictionary defines catholic as:  adjective, including a wide variety of things, all-embracing:  her tastes are pretty catholic.

I highly recommend you poke around on Sr. Simone’s Network website.  You will be amazed at the many different ways we can have a part in furthering social justice in our country and the world.  Like Wohllenben’s birch trees we can each contribute to a healthier society and world through our moral voice.  The dedicated women and men at Network are eager to help you get your voice heard.

What if we got excited about being part of the solution by letting our moral voice be heard more often?   

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Winter Gathering for Self-Compassion

The Mystery within...
I am blessed to be a member of a group of women who come together twice a year in a sharing circle of introspection designed to grow us in grace.   Through sharing our     desires to become more whole, and identifying obstacles to our wholeness, we facilitate each other’s journey toward personal growth.  Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak skillfully lead us in our discoveries twice a year.  In summer we gather for three days, and in winter a one-day circle keeps us in touch with what we are striving to achieve from our previous summer sharing.   This past summer’s focus was on Self Compassion.   

Our winter one-day circle began with creating sacred space by inviting the spirits from the four directions. (My heart smiled when facing south, the place of the great serpent, as I remembered a young looking, very thin, multi colored green snake that crossed my path in the woods this past fall.  It stopped and looked at me with sparkling eyes as we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s gaze.) We asked for blessing and guidance from each direction and thanked the Great Spirit, known by many names, for bringing us together. 

“How has my journey been with self-compassion and what do I want for myself today?”  It was the question that started our winter sharing.  I was glad others responded first because it gave me some time to realize I did make some progress.  It wasn’t all fruitless.  There was my therapy note to myself, “Be kind, honest, and brave.”  But I realize now the “Be kind” piece was focused more toward the other, not myself.  I now realize being kind originates with myself first.  When it does, honest and brave come easier.  The rockier part of my self-compassion journey has been an increasing awareness of being more anxious with delays, inefficiencies, and errors—both mine and of others.  My anxiety only compounds inefficiencies and errors.  I suspect some of my anxiousness is related to my decline as I grow older and find myself needing more and more time in daily living maintenance.  What I wanted for myself that day is to be accepting of my slower pace and find sign posts to alert me before my anxiety escalates.

Each of us was then given a paper with a spiral on it on which to write obstacles we encounter on our quest for self-compassion and then discuss what we wrote with a partner.  The obstacles I wrote on my spiral all pointed to fear—fear of and for others and myself.   Fear that I am not enough.  My partner and I discovered we are already enough and deepening the discovery our enoughness is a joyous life long process that requires trust, patience and forgiveness for when we get stuck with another obstacle on our path--an obstacle eager to point the way to self-compassion.  Fear can and has led me to my center were Compassion lives.  It was the impetus for my writing “God Never Hurries” after an encounter with the Divine Feminine telling me to “Be Not Afraid.” 

We heard trusting ourselves takes time and tending.  The way to compassion is not tidy and neat.  We are always in the process of becoming more.  But we can love ourselves in the messiness along the way, and that is self-compassion.  

The perfect ending to our day together came with the gift of a small book by Kim McMillan titled, “When I loved myself enough”.  Each page contains profoundly simple life-affirming wisdom that McMillan discovered when she loved herself enough.   And when we love our self enough we learn how to love all others.       

What if we all came to love the messiness in self-compassion more often?       

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Therapy

The Mystery within...
I recently found a yellow sticky note on which I had written “Therapy—Be Kind, Honest and Brave.” I wrote that note to myself toward the end of 2017 when I became aware of being more crabby and impatient than usual as the holiday season approached.  I now want to embrace my crabby impatience so it can turn into gift.        

I reviewed some notes I made from when I read “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” by Debbie Ford.  My dark side, my shadow is the person I would rather not be but whom I need to embrace to live a deeper spiritual life.  Being authentic and transparent is the way to my true self where a Vast Love resides that can teach me how to love all others by first unconditionally loving myself.

And then my favorite columnist, Philip Chard, who writes for the Milwaukee Journal, provided some more insight in his January 7th Out of My Mind article titled “Turn interruptions into respites, not outrage.” Chard reminded me I do have a choice in how I respond to what life presents.  His column also brought back to mind a story told by Sr. Hose Hobday, when on retreat with her a long time ago, of how Brother Lawrence saw God in distractions.  It struck me back then as an easy and direct way to accept whatever is.  Because whatever is, is the present moment where that Vast Love who resides in us all teaches how to live in love. 

And all of the above reminds me of Teilhard de Chardin’s prayer, “Above All Trust in the Slow Work of God.”  Knowing, loving and forgetting seems to be part of our human condition and in the Divine plan to learn how to love, serve and forgive ourselves and one another.    

What if we wrote therapy notes to ourselves more often?