Saturday, April 11, 2015

Back Into the River

This week, for the first time in almost three years, I went back into the river...

Yes, this same river that for several years, beginning in '08, first invited me in, and then beckoned... And so, I obediently responded to its calling, bought a kayak, and without any experience, launched myself off from the shore into a Great Unknown, relinquishing all control over where it would take me - both inwardly and outwardly...

For the next few years, in stillness and silence, the River taught me all I needed to know. It yielded up its secrets, as I was companioned by blue herons and the bass fish that occasionally jumped out of the water to give me the once over...

I forded into the waters and mists in the fog, performed penitential rituals during the High Holy Days, and chanted mantras in various sacred languages, over and over again. And in my ear the River whispered over and over again - "Let it go. Do not fight the current. Just flow"... and many more such sayings.

I paddled upstream, sometimes laboriously, repeating the Magnificat in Latin, during one cold Advent - and floated downstream on a sunny and warm summer morning...

So many insights were granted...

But then, three years ago, I needed to replace my vehicle, and no longer had a truck to haul Grace, my kayak down to the river...

A month ago, I decided to buy an inflatable kayak and so I did. And on Monday, the first truly warm and sunny day of the last couple of months, I launched back into the water. On this day, my husband started a new job, and I - teaching a new yoga session. So it was fitting that I paddle into the river once more, in search of new and great spiritual adventures!

It will take some getting used to kayaking again. It takes time to inflate the kayak, and it has a different feel as well - but I am grateful just to have the opportunity to commune with the river once again...

I am rusty, and a little hesitant in the water - I will have to regain some of that confidence I had paddling in a more solid boat - and yet my spirit now is lighter and has transcended so much of the sorrow and grief that first propelled me into the water, so in a way, my new vessel is a metaphor for this current phase of my life!

Yes, it seems fitting indeed, that on a day of so many firsts - and on a day which was also the day after Easter and the Resurrection - I should resurrect the practice of something I have loved and which fed my spirit for so long!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vernal Equinox New Moon and Eclipse Offerings

A gentle snow falls, on this day of triple plays - of the Vernal Equinox, a New Moon, and a Solar Eclipse. A powerful confluence of energies conspires to shift things within us and catapult us into transformation!

I am excited to see the breathtaking beauty of what will perhaps be the last snowflakes until winter dawns once again...

I head down to the river and am blessed to have it all to myself. The graying sky for a moment reminds of The Mists of Avalon - and I half expect the mists to be parted, revealing a hidden magical kingdom!

Out in the gentle snow fall, with an occasional cardinal hopping from one snow laden branch to the other, and geese flocking in formation, I speak my prayers, my affirmations, and my Lovingkindness recitations - offered up like a Litany of saints...

I speak my prayers and intentions out loud in hopes that they will move mountains and shift energy, for indeed it is right and just - and necessary - as proclaimed in the Catholic liturgy.

I reflect on a host of astrological interpretations of the signs in the heavens, and settle on these insights as the ones from which I derive most consolation:

"Return, return return... and enter the stillness through meditation, prayer or ceremony offering gratitude for the gift of Life and All that Is...

From simple acts of kindness, beginning with the Self, the revolution will birth forth from within each of us. For as we heal, we help others heal. As we shift our vibrations, we contribute in unseen ways to uplifting the energetic web that connects us all...

We might call this a pivot point, a time of choosing new options and releasing the old. It is a time for breakthroughs and insights, when we can ride the energies of change into a new future...

Practice the Law of Allowing. That is create the space for others to find their own answers... If you want to help other people, role model a great life. When you do what is right for you, it is right for everyone else. The Law of Attraction is matching your energy, words and behavior."

To create the space for others to find their own answers by modeling a great life - that is what calls to me. For living a great life does not mean a life of fame or wealth - but one of profoundly touching those around us, as a beautiful soul reminded me yesterday...

And so, on this day, I recommit once again to being the best that I can be and to contributing in every possible way to making this world a better place.



For more information and to see the entry from which the quotes were taken:
http://www.mysticmamma.com/total-solar-eclipse-new-moon-in-pisces-equinox-march-20th-2015/

Monday, March 16, 2015

And God Laughed!

Have you ever had one of those days that didn't quite go as you had expected?

Have you ever allowed your mind to run wild when things don't quite go your way, conjuring up a myriad of reasons why it may be so?

And how many times have reality and your thoughts not aligned?

I had one of those evenings last night...

Through a series of misfirings, miscommunications, assumptions, expectations - call it what you will - I did not connect with a friend at a recital last night. One of the churches that I attend was dedicating it's new organ for the first time, and a master organist had been invited to give a recital that was part worship, part dedication, and part concert.

I later reflected on what had happened - what I thought had happened - what I thought the reasons were, and then found myself thinking of a passage in scripture, where Sarah - the wife of Abraham the patriarch - is told that she would bear a son. She was quite past child bearing age - and she laughed in response. As God must have last night.

In the 70's, I went to the ordination of one of the first Episcopal women and one of the banners that was processed in bore the simple caption - "And Sarah laughed."

Well, here we were - my friend and I - sitting in the same church - listening to the same concert - neither aware that the other was there. One of us thought the other might not come. The other had every intention of being there. One of us had no phone service. And so it went on.

I sat there, lost in the reverie of my thoughts - disappointed - only because I had certain expectations - and yet I was profoundly moved by the music.

And yet, even in this experience, there was no separation. There was only oneness.

Earlier in the day, I had read a channeling that reminded me that the world is not always what we think it is. Things that happen or not - often do because of the limitations of our thinking. The Universe is much grander and capable of so much more than we give it credit for. All things truly are possible - and what we see or think - or imagine can be so off track at times.

This morning, one of the first things I read was the following quote by William Shakespeare:


"Expectation is the root of all heartache."

Indeed...

We live lives of expectation, of desiring control and so forth, when in reality such things are not truly possible. At least, not all the time...

What did I learn and what was I reminded of? Of the need to simply be. To enjoy the moment. To let go. To accept what is. To see things from a higher perspective. If we are able to do so, things will certainly go more smoothly!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Divine Repose

I heard two very similar homilies during the first Week of Lent - one by an Episcopal priest - and the other by a Catholic lay deacon. 

Both acknowledged that a common question asked during this season is:


"What are you giving up for Lent?"

To which, both answered,


"Nothing."

In the first case, the priest is a woman who is presently burdened by many situations - and very much part of the "sandwich generation," and all which that label entails and demands. In the latter case, the person in question is both father and grandfather to several.

The first homilist focused on letting go of control during Lent - and letting God take the reigns of her life, which she had tried so hard to steer, to no avail. And of course, we all know, that outcomes don't often yield the results we planned or imagined.

The second, spoke of a time for seeding and growing, and fostering new practices and traits to enrich our lives, such as the cultivation of greater compassion.

In between both homilies I visited a friend, who is a massage therapist, for our occasional trade, and exchange of massage and Reiki sessions. She too - a busy wife, mother, grandmother, and caretaker to her grandson - shared that she had not considered giving anything up, and resonated with her Episcopal pastor's sermon.

Years ago, when I was teaching theology in Catholic schools, I used to tell my students that Lent was not so much a time for giving up candy and other such things - but that it was a time to cultivate something much richer in our lives - something that would bear fruit in the end - such as praying more regularly, or working on a quality we wished to embody in our lives, like love and respect for those in need or those closest to us. Or, committing to a social justice issue. These would surely be more lasting in the long run.

Not that refraining from sweets or social media - or other such things is not a worthwhile practice, but they do not tend to last. And often, we fail after a couple of days, and then beat ourselves up for doing so.

What if - instead of giving something up, we chose to rest and let go of all our cares and concerns, embraced in Divine repose?

What if - we gave up trying to make things go our way - or have others see things as we do and just simply let go - and let God?

These would not be easy choices - but they would be worthwhile. They might begin to cement into place practices that would enrich our lives for many years to come - far beyond one Lenten season. We could even recommit to it in a subsequent year.

After all, are we not weary of beating ourselves down for all the missed marks of our lives?

This year, I simply want to let go and let God.

This year, I simply want to rest in the sweet embrace of Divine repose.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Everything in God: The Journey Begins

I am poised to begin the Lenten journey once again, ready to commence it with a seal of ashes tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Such an ancient ritual - but for the past few years it has been a time of personal growth and recommitment for me...

A few years ago, I gathered my Lenten entries from over the years and forged them into a collection I titled, Everything in God and God in Everything...

I repeat those words today, as a mantra...

"Everything in God and God in Everything."

As in other years, Maha Shivaratri, the Great Night of Shiva, observed by many friends, also coincides with this journey...

Years ago, a friend gave me a photo with this quote:

"I do not know what it calls me to, but I recognize the Voice."

I truly do not know what - or where that Voice calls me to - but I know I must respond and go where I am led. It has become more insistent and persistent over the years...

The Voice speaks. It beacons. It invites me to a journey. It will be long. It has been long.

"Here I am. I am ready. Speak. Your servant is listening."

I look, as it if were - downstream on the river, as I paddled so often - cognizant of where I had been and where I needed to go, at the time.

I have learned the destination does not matter. It is all about the journey...

The journey begins once again. And in many ways, I have prepared for it - not knowing what it will call me to - but knowing I must go...

I think of a dear friend, on her way to India, being called there in spirit by her teacher - dropping everything at once, and responding by traveling half way around the world, because she listened - deeply - always ready for the next invitation in her journey. It is a lesson to me...

There is no place, and no destination...

Rumi, a recently read book, and my own Guide remind me:

"Everything you need is already inside you...

"Everything in God and God in everything..."

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why and Where

Recently, a dear friend from my graduate school days, sent me this quote, on a day when things were out of sorts:

"Whatever is happening in your life,
don't pre-occupy yourself
with the question
WHY?

But rather ponder more on to 
WHERE
these events will be bringing you.

Know you are being led to
somewhere beautiful,
beyond your present harsh reality.

Once you get to the WHERE,
then you'll know the WHY."
~ Unknown

In a week or two filled with infinite requests for prayers by many in need, and in such dire circumstances, I round out this week by reflecting on these words and the comfort they bring me.

I share them with you, in hopes that you may find solace in them as well!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This Too Shall Pass

I slept in a bit this morning, and then quietly donned sweats and bundled up, and headed down to the river with my coffee. I had not been there in months!

It was very cold for me - the temperature hovering in the low twenties - and ice clung to the riverbanks, as the rushing river passed on by.

I said my prayers, chanted the Reiki precepts and poured out my heart to God...

I've felt a little unsettled of late in my life, and after a while, feeling chilled to the bone, I retreated to my car, parked in front of the boat ramp where I launched my kayak regularly for years.

I sat, I meditated and I watched the river - the waves briskly moving downstream. And then, I simply heard within me:


"This too, shall pass."

All of the things that most consume our thoughts - our pain, our sadness, our regrets  and our hurts - our very lives - they will all pass. But only love will remain...

I reflected on a number of things weighing deep in my heart - some of which I have shared with a few - some of which I have not - and in that moment - I saw everything lifting and floating away down river. I somehow saw a life that was very different, knowing that this moment would also pass.

There was something very freeing in that exercise of dwelling upon a score of different circumstances, and knowing that they would all eventually pass.

I thought of what I had accomplished thus far in my life - and what I still wanted to do in the time remaining - knowing all would not perhaps turn out the way I envisioned - but that it would also pass...

I thought of what would remain: the times I loved, the times I reached out, the times I tried my best - even when it seemed it wasn't good enough - and most of all - what would also remain is the intent behind it all - the striving to do better, to care, and to make a difference.


"This too, shall pass.

There is nothing that cannot be overcome. For love, endures forever. Nothing else matters.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Contemplating the Real Questions

Recently, I came across these questions posited by Henri Nouwen, who was one of my favorite spiritual writers from the seventies, in addition to Thomas Merton, whose centenary happens to be today. Both of these prolific writers, teachers, priests and mystics, exerted a deep influence on my spirituality.

I read and reflected on these questions, finding them to be quite powerful and a useful tool, and so I saved them, because they are truly perennial questions - meant to be asked over and over again - scrutinized, masticated, authentically pondered, and even verbalized out loud, until they become so deeply internalized that they become part of the fabric of our minds, our prayers, our hearts, and our spirituality.

I can think of no better questions to ask myself at the end of my day as I take time to review  events experienced and encountered, before drifting off to sleep or finishing my night prayers.

As I close out the first month of this still, fairly new year, I commit to asking myself these questions, desiring to slowly work towards a time when I can answer affirmatively to each and every one of them - every single day!


Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone's face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
~ Henri Nouwen