Showing posts from November, 2010

Advent - A Season for Change

I make my way down to the river on this rainy morning, and offer my Advent Prayers, on its shores, under an overcast sky... I read this quote by Cardinal John Henry Newman , who began his life as an Anglican, and ended it as a Catholic saint, not that it matters to me. Even as a child, I felt we were all one, and I could not imagine or abide a kind of God that would exclude some of his children from the gift of eternal life, or from sharing at His table... "To live is to change, and to be perfect, is to have changed often." As I I work through some deep issues, it is obvious that they are once more an invitation to change and to grow. Newman also is quoted as saying that "growth, is the only evidence of life..." Yet change is messy, and painful at times. We can deny what it asks of us - but only to a great cost to our health and well-being. What we bury deep inside has a way of gushing forth out of us once again, demanding our attention - it will not be ignor

Advent - A Season for Joy

We have entered into the season of Advent - of waiting, of preparing, of readying, and listening...It is a sacred season, and I find myself wanting to enter into it more fully than I have in the last couple of years... While I was in London , I found the church that I had been baptized in - St. Mary's on Cadogan Gardens . I sat by myself at twilight and said a series of prayers for loved ones and special intentions. On my way out, I caught a glimpse of a little book of Advent and Christmas reflections titled "Walk With Me," and made the requisite donation for it, knowing it would be just what I needed to add to my morning meditations. As I opened the little booklet, I read these words by Pope Benedict : "This is the real commitment of Advent: To bring joy to others. Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive presents that demand time and money." I thought to myself - how true! Joy is not only the gift of this season, but it is also who we are a

For Blessings Received, Make Us Truly Grateful

I arrive home safe and sound from a perfect and magical trip to London, the city of my birth, which I enjoy, 55 years later - in the company of my son, who is nearly half of my age - and who is visiting for the very first time... Everything not only goes right on this trip - but turns out even better than I could have imagined. I recall the many beautiful encounters I had everywhere and the incredible connections made with perfect strangers - souls intersecting in ways that defy any kind of separation and I truly realize, that at our essence, we are all One! Every meal had, was simply delicious and fully enjoyed. Revisiting every site - brought back memories, even as the seeds were being sown for richer ones to come... I visit the street my parents lived in - and find the church I was baptized in, and where in many ways, my own spiritual journey began. It was moving to sit inside, as the day waned, turning into dusk and merging with the coming nightfall, while I was lost in the rec

Bound for London and Unplugged

Last night I treated myself to another concert with one of my favorite songwriters and performers of all time, Melissa Manchester , I saw her last year at the Barns at Wolf Trap , for the first time since the early seventies... As always, she did not disappoint, but this year she performed a retrospective of songs that were dear to her heart and influential in her life - songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Dusty Springfield, Carole Bayer Sager - show tunes like "Somebody" written by Sondheim , from the play "Company." Melissa included a classic by Ella , a beautiful re-interpretation of "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes - and topped it off with an exquisite acapella rendition of "Something Wonderful" from the "The King and I"... It was a trip down memory lane for me - for we are both about the same age - we have been married about as long - and have children the same age, so we were formed in many ways by the same

Stepping Into a New Cycle With Courage

I look out my bedroom window in the early morning and my eyes take in the crisp leaves falling and the brilliant vermilion of the maple trees, shrouded in a thin but delicate veil of fog. Feeling overwhelmed by the weekend, and the energy of 600 hundred bodies congregated at one venue - half of them in one yoga class at a time - I am overcome by the urgency rising within me to simply breathe and ground. So I make my way down to the river, as I did on so many mornings, for nearly two years... It is still and quiet - no one else around, and I walk down to the boat launch area. The river, like a vessel, is heavy, its belly pregnant with so many leaves, embracing transition and the change of the season, and the essence of death itself - which will only serve to open the door to greater transformation. I imagine the trees letting go of what no longer serves them as they prepare to settle in and weather the coming winter before emerging once again, and unfurling their resplendent and ri

Let it Be

On this evening, of my 55th birthday, after a day of practicing yoga with 300 Anusara practitioners and teachers, filled with many sacred openings, gifts, outpouring of love, and well wishes from others in the Anusara community, and from former students from my academic years, in the midst of many moments of synchronicity and deep soul connections, I enjoy a glass of wine while my heart overflows with gratitude! I was blessed to practice alongside one of my teachers - who like an angel - was on my right during the morning session, and on my left in the afternoon session. She was part cheerleader, and encouraged me when needed, reaching out to anchor me and give me one of her powerful assists when needed, and sweetly reminding me when it was time to let go. One of the greatest gifts I received, came in the form of a message. As we pressed up to many Urdhva Dhanurasanas, which is very challenging for me right now, John Friend , our Master Teacher - came and stood between my teacher a

Everything in God and God in Everything

I arise and sit in meditation, and spontaneously, a prayer wells up from the center of my being, like an offering: "Everything in God and God in everything." I repeat it silently, over and over again to myself, and it begins to color every aspect of my day on this 11/11 - opening the door to one sacred synchronicity after another - to blessings, to unexpected connections and opportunities for ministering. Each time I step out of my house, a sacred encounter awaits - and I marvel at how everything happens in just the right moment... I think of this on a walk in the afternoon, and wonder if the energy of my deep reflections and prayers, averts a possible collision as I approach an intersection - that ends up simply being a near miss... I connect with a former student, a neighbor, and we minister to one another as Mary and Elizabeth did in the "Infancy Narratives" in the Gospels. I get the shopping done in preparation for Thanksgiving to provide for my fami

God Climbs into Your Pocket

I arose on a magnificent morning, after having been gifted with an extra hour of sleep - and drove over to the other side the river to take a yoga class with the teacher that I have studied the longest with, and who is truly gifted and compassionate. I arrived early, which was good, because it was practically standing room only! All came from far and wide to imbibe more tales about Hanuman! My teacher continued to work with themes related to Hanuman , and today the focus was on Bhakti - which is understood to mean "the yoga of devotion." We were encouraged to offer and experience our poses as an expression of self-love, which is often a neglected aspect in the practice of devotion. As part of the centering, we were read this beautiful poem by Hafiz, one of my favorite Sufi poets: No More Leaving At some point Your relationship with God Will become like this: Next time you meet Him in the forest Or on a crowded street There won't be anymore "leaving."

Grateful Abundance at the River

After morning meditations, I head down to the river on a very resplendent fall morning. The air is crisp, and the sun shines brightly, a total gift, after nearly 24 hours of steady and much needed rain... It has been a while since I visited this river, which is swollen right now, and greatly abundant. There was a time, not so long ago, I visited it every day, offering prayers, lovingkindness meditations, and numerous spiritual practices, that I now realize, were not so much meant for the others they were intended for, but to release much more in me than I could ever have envisioned or thought possible. I stand at the launching area, and survey the ondulations of waves, breaking up at the banks of the river, scattering and dissipating, merely a footprint away from my toes... In some ways, the topography of the river resembles the covers of a few of my manuscripts, but in other ways, this river is very different. The river and I - are the same - and yet, we are not... I try to re

Gratitude For a Garden of Soul Companions

More than a lover, I came into this world wanting a true soul companion. And while I waited a long time for this rare gift, what I received, in the long run, was a whole harvest of them! I have been truly blessed to have known many wonderful friends throughout my life, but I was always drawn to the notion of spiritual friendship. I wondered what it would be like to have a true friend of the soul - to be a St. Jeanne de Chantal to St. Francis de Sales , or St. Claire of Assisi to St. Francis of Assisi , or to be St. Louise de Marillac to St. Vincent de Paul . Or, St. Teresa of Avila - to St. John of the Cross . I could go on, and on, and on. One of my favorite spiritual works has been Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx . In my graduate school years, I often read the letters or correspondence between such titans in the world of Catholic spirituality. I envisioned writing a dissertation on spiritual friendship - but Dr. Wendy M. Wright , outlined many of these beautiful rela

Gratitude For a Harvest of Blessings

I awaken to the first frost of the season - a delicate blanket covering the grass - and it takes my breath away. I wonder what it would be like to kayak this morning. It has been weeks, and perhaps months since the last time I launched into the river... But first, I make a cup of Parisian coffee, and climb back into bed and enjoy the quiet and the stillness. I am reminded of Mother Teresa of Calcutta , who once wrote: "God speaks, in the silence of the heart, and we listen." Yes, I listen. Every morning and evening I ask to be shown the way. I ask that the path be made clear...And after enjoying every moment with my hot cup of coffee, savoring every sip - I give thanks for a good night's sleep, and for the gift of this day, and everything it will bring to me... I teach a yoga class, and then drive out to meet a treasured soul to walk the labyrinth and celebrate my birthday, a few days early. This sacred walk is a practice this soul companion and I have done many t

Pratipaksha Bhavana - Cultivating a Better Way

I continue to journey through the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as themes for my yoga classes, and today, we arrive at Sutra 1.33 . Here is a translation by Nischala Joy Devi that I like very much: "When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. This is Pratipaksha Bhavana." This is both a beautiful and challenging practice - but it is one that has the potential to change the world. At the very least, it can shift the energies in our immediate life, by enabling us to choose to see the light that is absent in the darkness, and the goodness that resides in the essence of every person, opportunity, and experience we are presented with. As Nischala Joy Devi notes, in her wonderfully transformative interpretation of the Sutras, The Secret Power of Yoga , Pratipaksha Bhavana it is a personal practice that "helps to change my attitude rather than hoping to change the situation or the people who 'cause me' to be unhap