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Showing posts from July, 2011

Making A New and Joyful Sound

In so many ways it feels like a new life to me, after surgery. And a new life is best expressed in new sounds...

A lifetime ago, I trained as a classical guitarist, starting to play at 9, taking my first lessons at 12, and continuing them in college, where I minored in music in addition to my two majors, Religious Studies and Psychology.

For many years, I was absorbed in practicing, writing music, and playing at the various colleges and universities I attended, and where I also worked in Campus Ministry. But in my late twenties, some time after having my son, all that stopped, since I really no longer had the time to play. So I did something radical. Since I did not feel I could adequately practice, I quit playing altogether, and hung my guitar on the wall. And there it remained, until a dear friend of mine, a former musician, simply looked at me and said to me in horror: "You've hung your guitar on the wall? Like a piece of art?"

So, I took it down and made a foray or two …

Cherishing Ordinary Moments

Life is filled with ordinary moments which we notice, when we allow life to slow down to a crawl.

Life these days is filled with long walks, reading several newspapers from cover to cover - yes - the old fashioned way - in print of all things - and time is also spent losing myself in novels, and enjoying fine wines and home cooked meals.

Life is filled with interacting with friends and loved ones, either online or through visits, or phone calls, or other ways.

Sunday, I met dear friends at a concert. That was the most dramatic thing I'd done since surgery. I went to hear Mindy Smith, whose music my friends and I had been following for several years.

Today I came across this quote from Rumi, which seemed so appropriate for this time in my life right now:

"Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Do not claim them.
Feel the artistry moving through,
and be silent."

Each day, is an opportunity to observe the wonders that occur around you, through you and others - in the simplest…

Blessings

I have a dear friend whose birthday it is today. She signs everything she writes, every card, every note, every email, simply, with "Blessings." It is an offering of her heart.

Years ago, she gave me this beautiful little "Blessing" prayer that I laminated and fixed to my laptop, where it greets me every morning. I have shared this acrostic poem before on this blog, yet it bears repeating again, from time to time:

Blessings

Be present.
Let the day flow with grace. Be flexible.
Expect nothing. Give thanks for everything.
Surrender. Be open.
Speak only kindness.
Impart only love.
Never forget that you are not alone.
Give so that you may receive.
See goodness in yourself and others.

It is such a simple prayer, but a beautiful reminder of how we should live our lives, each and every day. Today, I honor my dear friend, and lift her up in my prayers. I will try to embody and reflect this simple prayer.

Yesterday, when I called to wish her a happy birthday, one day early, my friend ha…

The Gift and Pleasure of Wonder

Where do you most experience the pleasure of wonder?

Does a few stolen, furtive, and sacred moments with a beloved soul friend present you with this gift?

Or, does a cup of coffee in your favorite Parisian cafe elicit sweet memories and moments of wonder?

Does the experience of immersing yourself in a treasured book take you places you never dreamed of, and where you become lost in your imagination?

Right before my surgery, a dear friend came and visited me. She is not someone I get to spend a lot of time with. But it does not matter. The connection is deep...

Over cups of tea, we shared secrets of the heart and and soul, and she presented me with a series of books she dearly treasures and loves -The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency - by Alexander McCall. She thought it was time for me to befriend these wonderful and gracious characters she has come to know during my time of recovery.

I have to tell you, my friend is very wise. I would never have voluntarily chosen to read these books, but I a…

All Shall Be Well

"All shall be well.
And all shall be well.
And all manner of things
shall be well!"
~ Julian of Norwich

This wonderful saying by Julian of Norwich has been buzzing around in my brain this last week. A dear friend often quotes it to me, and did so before my surgery, and in its aftermath as well...

Many years ago, in 1988, I traveled to Norwich, England, to sit in the cell of Dame Juliana, as she is often referred to. We actually, do not know "Julian's" real name. All we know is that she was an anchoress, and was literally walled in, almost as if buried alive, in the Church of St. Julian.

Unfortunately, the original church was destroyed during World War II. But it has been reconstructed, and I enjoyed the time I spent in Julian's sacred space.

In the 14th century, an era nearly as tumultuous as our own, Julian had a series of visions which she called her "showings." These were written down, and her writings are regarded as the first writings of any kind, re…

The River Speaks Once Again

Those of you who have read this blog over the years already know, that over the course of a couple of years, not so long ago, I found myself in transition and deep depression, and I went down to the river to sit, meditate, and pray, and eventually to paddle in it. Over the course of that time, the river taught me many lessons, until it no longer needed to do so.

This morning, I arose early, and was back on the Potomac River paddling, for what would perhaps be, the last time until the fall. Normally at this time, the hydrilla are growing quite wildly and overtaking and choking the river. Yet, for some reason, they have not made a noticeable appearance thus far.

The river was as calm as it could possibly be. There was not a ripple or wave, or discernible current of any kind. I pushed off the boat launch area in "Grace," my trusty kayak, and paddled effortlessly to the Maryland side. Halfway into my journey across, a motorboat cruised by, and I soon found myself tossed about by t…

The Song in Your Heart

We all have a song in our hearts...

What is yours?

Each one of us moves to a different drum...

Each one of us dances to a unique rhythm...

Yesterday, I wrote about a homily I heard on Sunday based on the the Parable from the Gospel of Matthew on the "Sower and the Seed."

The homilist told a wonderful story based on a YouTube video clip where a guy finds a stethoscope on the ground and proceeds to place it on all sorts of objects, and a unique song pertaining to the object in question bursts in his ear. For example, when he places the stethoscope on a light pole, he hears the song "Lean On Me." At the very end, after the guy in the clip seems to have exhausted all kinds of objects, he puts the instrument over his heart.

What do you suppose he hears?

Almost immediately, the "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah bursts all over the place. It is such a magnificent piece, that King George II arose from his seat when he heard the chorus. Since then, the tradition of …

What Takes Root in the Heart

What takes root in your heart?

What do you feed?

What grows like a weed and festers in your soul?

What do you give your attention to? And what nourishes you?

What arises magnificently within, and touches and even profoundly transforms others?

This morning, I took my mother to church. She is visiting me, and will be a great help during my surgery and subsequent convalescence later this week. It was a long mass at St. John Neumann, in Reston, VA, which included the baptism of three children, and the farewell homily of a resident priest.

The homily was based on one of my favorite scripture passages, the parable of the sower and his seeds (Matthew 13: 1-23). For those who are unfamiliar with this reading, the passage recounts a story of a sower whose seeds fell on a ground where they were eaten by birds, on a shallow surface, where the nascent shoots became scorched because they had no roots, among the thorns, where the sprouts were strangled, and upon good soil, where the seeds laid down deep …

Grace Can Happen at Any Time

"Grace comes out of nowhere.
It can happen at any time,
any place."
~ Amma

This morning, I arose early and made my way to darshan with Amma, or Ammachi, as she is also known, because she happened to be in my neck of the woods, literally. Just about ten minutes away!

I got there early, to secure a good spot, and while I had to wait two hours for the start of darshan, I had received my hug an hour later.

The word "darshan" literally means sight, or visions of the Divine, which we, in turn receive, with devotion and reverence.

I first saw Amma in the year 2003, I believe. I went with some yoga friends from that time, including one who was in remission from lymphoma. The experience was incredible for me. I remember feeling like a bolt of electricity had run through me, and I could hardly walk afterward. This time, the experience was more subtle, and the sea of humanity was almost overwhelming for an introvert. Still, it was amazing to be in a place where everyone was smiling…

Gardener of My Soul

As I watered my plants and waited for a dear soul friend to come visit me this morning, I thought of the many different ways in which we garden...

Sometimes we garden in our yards...

Sometimes we tend the garden of other people's hearts... This friend I awaited, has done this for me many times throughout the last few years...

But sometimes we are gardeners to our own souls...We tug and pull out the weeds of what no longer serves us, and create room for our dreams to take root and for our souls to grow...

Over cups of tea, my friend and I shared experiences from our meditation and yoga practices, which we do from time to time. I described an ability to plug into bliss very deeply in my sitting practice, but conversely mourned all I had lost in my yoga practice, lamenting that in many ways, I felt like a raw beginner.

She wisely noted, that it did not matter - for it shed light on what was ultimately important - the essence of the practice - and the poses that were now elusive disclosed …