I come to you on my knees this early January morning huddled in a heap of conflicting emotions over the prospect of war between the United States and Iran.
Rough Translations by Jan Richardson
Hoping against hope, he believed.
Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.
Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.
by Jan Richardson from Women’s Christmas Retreat
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler
I am grateful to Lynn Schooler for permission to use this exquisite photo experience of today’s dawn in Juneau Alaska. You have a rich experience awaiting you at his facebook page. Thank you, Lynn.
Incarnation happens where it happens: East, West, North and South, Inside, Outside, In Isaiah and in Rumi too. May this new week bring us Incarnation.
I am reminded of these earlier musings as I feast on the book, Walking in Wonder, a gathering of Johm O’Donohue’s poetry and philosophising by his friend John Quinn. It is O’Donohue’s discussion of Meister Eckhart that brought me to this place again.
I first coined the phrase “genes of our souls” in this poem I wrote in 1989 after experiencing the deaths of my parents. It brought me some comfort.
At 75 I am coming closer to understanding and accepting the import of the phrase. O’Donohue relates Meister Eckhart’s conviction that there is “a lonely edge to our lives” that can only be filled by God, and that if we want to come into God’s presence, we must let go of all images to make that journey. And it is the journey, the process that matters. For me the journey entails a stripping down to the very genes of my soul where Presence lives unfettered by the images I have created. In those moments of nothingness I experience fullness.
This has become my Advent meditation. My journey is less toward a babe in a manger and more toward an expansive divine presence gestating within my spirit. As I move along the path I throw out all the clutter that blocks my way. It comforts me to be companioned by you on this sacred camino de santiago.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.”
Greetings to you all in this spare time of dark days and great expectation. This morning I lightened my day with a meditation on simple abundance brought to us by Ardine Martinelli at https://listeningtomylife.blog/2019/12/08/simple-abundance/
I thought you might also be nourished by Ardine’s reflection. She relates a spiritual practice offered by Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her book Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. The practice involves meditation on the place of gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy in our lives.
Enjoy! I hold you all in my heart today, sending peace.
Photo Credit: https://binged.it/2PuZHNz. @ pexels.com
I have recently been gifted with a profound metaphor that I will share with you, but first
TWO STORIES. A treasured member of my faith community lives with early on-set Parkinson’s Disease. When his brain stops moving him forwad, he walks backward. Healthline.com says, “It’s a simple way for you to challenge different muscles and force your mind to focus and operate differently.” Rather than stopping, my friend lets go and imagines another way to move. Backwards becomes frontwards.
In the 1960’s war novel, Catch-22, Yosarian walks backwards, “…because he was continually spinning around as he walked to make certain no one was sneaking up on him from behind.” Yosarian was experiencing the reality of war, not paranoia. The enemy was sneaking up behind him with intent to kill. His fixation on fear had taken possession of him, so he walked backwards to be safe. And now
THE METAPHOR. What if we trained our souls to stop the unhealthy ego-spin by walking backwards? This spiritual practice necessitates a profound letting-go, just as it does when our bodies attempt to walk backwards. We are awkward and afraid of falling, so we rely on a friend’s arm or trekking poles, and our progress is slow. Spiritual backwalking requires us to rely on the movements of the Spirit instead of relying solely on an out-of-control ego. We find the courage to walk inside the dangerous fissures of constant change and uncertaintly. We take on a holy vulnerability when we risk this spiritual backwalking.
Our society doesn’t endorse walking backwards. It’s motto is forward-thrust with great gusto, a speed which supports all manner of unhealthy ego-patterns, the worst of them being an inordinate drive to control self and others at all cost. This is the war zone we find ourselves in at this moment and like Yosarian, we have to walk backwards to be safe. We have to let go and trust Spirit to companion us through the change and uncertainty that bombards us. And now
One of our blogging community members offered this beautiful story about PD folks “unfreezing ” by dancing. Enjoy:
Photo Credit: Pinterest.com
Coleridge enthusiasts will recognize the reference to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Alone, alone, all, all alone/ Alone on a wide, wide sea/ And never a saint/ Took pity on my soul in agony.” Whether spawned from an opium delerium or a moment of contemplation, the truth is there.
A nod to my friend Ernest Hemmingway and his brilliant short, short story, “A Clean Well-Lighted place,” where all is nada without one.
Photo by Hasan Albari from Pexels
It has been two days since I visited my sister-in-law in the memory care unit. An intense collage of feelings have mixed with tears as I struggle to make sense of the unsensible.
GONE WHERE ARE YOU MOMENTS OF TERROR HUMOR GRIEF UNLESS YOU BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN YOU CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WITHOUT THE ABILITY TO THINK…IS THERE A SOUL it’s all there.
Phyllis was diagnosed with Alzheimers two years ago and now after another fall and a broken hip and a move, the disease has progressed dramatically in a short time. I am grateful that my brother hasn’t lived to witness this.
At last this morning I was gifted with a measure of sense and hope:
Photo Credit: pexels.com
Light before us, light behind us, light under our feet.
Light within us, light over us,
Let all around us be light.
* David Haas
While chanting my morning protection prayer, a gift from liturgical musician David Haas, I was transported back to Monday when I joined with others in celebrating the life of Sister Michele MacMillan, O.P., who transitioned to life beyond last week. Michele exuded a sense of justice that informed her ministry on behalf of vulnerable immigrants. As she was dying, she crafted her own send-off, a liturgy of light, love and humor.
As often happens with me close to the time of dia de los muertos, the Day of the Dead, the veil between worlds has fallen away and I have been entertaining a few spirits who’ve come for respite in my little anchorage. Not surprisingly, I waited for Michele to show up for her celebration of life.
She did not disappoint. Half way through the service I physically felt not only her energy, but the energy of three other sisters recently transitioned. Their palpable joy and light prompted a steady trickle of tears, and as the service ended I sat fixed to my chair, unable to leave their presence. Like a reluctant Peter experiencing the transfigured Christ (Matthew 17:1–8), it felt so good to be there that I wanted to set up my tent in that chapel. I am grateful for the faithful presence of these sisters in our lives, a presence that endures beyond the veil.
This poem follows on the heels of yesterday’s prayer. It dogged me with the tenacity of Heaven’s Hound until this was born. Ponder with me.