Wednesday, December 30, 2009

for today...

"...shaped by our suffering and polished by our joy, we become the Earth, knowing more and saying less." -- Mark Nepo

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cherry blossoms? Really?

While tidying up my studio this morning, I ran across this little parable/fairy tale written during a recent group supervision session. While I realize it is not quite cherry blossom time, I thought it appropriate as we begin the new year and consider what undiscovered adventures await us and where we might find freedom in letting go.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful pink cherry blossom. She was stunning in her splendor – light, extravagant, playful. She wanted to swim in the air, but nevertheless clung to the branches – hoping she could live and bloom and grow for a good long time.

Alas, the blossom spent vast amounts of energy worrying about what would come next. Would she fall? Would she soar? Would she die? All the blossoms around her were letting go and gently floating through the air. They seemed oblivious to what might lay beneath them.

“How ridiculous,” she thought. “Don’t they know you have to fight for what you want?”

“Really?” chimed in the branch upon which she clung. “All I do is sit here, come rain or shine, and beautiful, amazing things happen to me.”

“Like what?” asked the blossom.

“Like green leaves and blooms and purple sprouts and colors changing and covering me in pink light until I am so full I don’t know what to do. And just when I think I can’t hold another thing, the load begins to lighten – slowly, but surely – the weight dissolves and I grow and morph and change into something new.”

“But if I fall from this branch, I will die and turn into mush.”

“Yes, you will change forms, but you will become food and molecules. You will transform into something new and life giving.”

“But will I be as beautiful as before?”

“Who defines beauty? Beauty is in your heart, not your color or weight or size or smell. Give it a try. Let go.”

And so the blossom let go and she was filled with the greatest exhilaration of her existence. She was free in those moments as she floated to the earth. Free as a bird. She was swimming in the air and nothing else mattered in the world.

So... will you consider the possibilities and undiscovered adventures awaiting you in the coming year? Is there something you need to let go? I know I'll be pondering this over the coming days.

plum blossoms © lucy, 2007

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did you celebrate well?

December 25 has come and gone, and today I sit pondering…what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? The world tells us we are to be filled with joy and wonder. We are called to celebrate the birth of a Savior. How does one honor a Jesus who has been lost amidst the shopping bags and the self-importance of the “chosen” few who claim to know THE Christ.

At Anchors and Masts, Tess speaks of Christmas as a time for families. As I spent the weeks leading up to the holidays listening to individuals who struggled with going home or not going home, I became increasingly aware of the damage we do to each other and ourselves in the name of family and in the name of Christ. We seem to forget that Jesus’ own genealogy was filled not only with God's faithful, but also “adulterers, murderers, rebels, conspirators, transgressors of all sorts, both the fearful and the bold.”*

We seek impossible perfection. We say, Put on a happy face. Go to church. Celebrate with your family – even if it hurts. So, I ask again...what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? My family experienced a fabulously messy Christmas this year with lots of tears and gales of laughter. I had a little meltdown in front of a visiting nephew - surprising and amazingly good. It opened our hearts to see and know that we’re all human and no one is exempt from life’s hard times. My ancestral crew doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell portrait (although heaven knows we’ve tried at times!). We are a messy, wonderful, wild, American family complete with our own rebels and transgressors, both fearful and bold!

One relation would give anything to be with us and can’t. Another holds a perpetual scowl in our presence. A devout Christian refuses “real wine” communion, then ladles on spoonful after spoonful of Port sauce at dinner. We make small talk. We cry and shout. Laugh and play games. Show love and gratitude. Display our rough edges.

Christmas Eve, I oohed and aaahed over the sweetness of the Christmas pageant, then wept sobbing tears, because it was too much to bear. A brief while later I was bursting with gratitude and joy for the gathering around my table. My heart was filled to the brim and broken wide open all at the same time.

Obviously, Christmas brings up LOTS of emotions (at least for me!) It is a great metaphor for life. The mess and the beauty. I love it and I hate it. I overflow with joy one moment and I burst into tears the next. Bottom line – Christmas is hard and Christmas is wonderful. I think I felt every emotion possible in the last three days. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted today and just a little bit weepy with no solid answer to my own question… what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well?

*Kathleen Norris - "God with Us"

Friday, December 18, 2009

How do you define SOUL?

Peaking in on Country Parson's "breakfast conversations", I realized as a person who has a website titled "diamonds in the soul" , and practices "soul collage" & "soul care supervision", I should probably wade in with my own thoughts on Soul. A scholarly theologian, Country Parson, offers great questions and ponderings on the topic. He is joined by thoughtful readers and replies with often thought-provoking responses.

In his recent post, the line that jumped out and speaks of soul to me is:

" (soul) continues to grow and change embracing the wholeness of life." -- CP

My ultimate response developed into this (partially whole) definition of soul:

Soul (whether in an earthly or heavenly body) is "instantly recognizable" as the truth, wholeness, & fullness of our uniquely created essence.

So, what do you think about that? Do you have your own definition of soul? I imagine I will continue to develop and refine this growing and changing concept. In the meantime, I'd love to know: How do you define soul?

photo december, 2008 ©lucy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surprise Tribute

Sometimes I wish I could plug a recorder into my brain during the night, especially those early morning hours just before waking. I swear some of my best ideas and writing emerge just before dawn, but once I open my eyes they drift away like ash in a windstorm. I also wonder – often – about this crazy universe and how much we can’t even begin to comprehend in relation to our thoughts especially. I’m talking about those goose bump generating moments when you think of a person you haven’t thought of in years and seconds later the phone rings and it’s him/her on the line. Or when a topic is bubbling in your brain and then you find three other bloggers have written about the same thing at the same time.

Early this morning, I was creating a post in my brain about being known (or not) by others. My thoughts drifted in and out through recent events. Monday night I was at a dinner honoring the faculty and participants of the transformational program at the Recovery Café (a place of healing for those in recovery – days, weeks, years, hours – from a variety of addictive behaviors.) Having facilitated a program there on deepening spirituality, I felt as though these people knew me in personal and meaningful ways that people I have known for years don't fathom. Last night, I was with friends I have journeyed with through child rearing, parents’ deaths, divorces and day to day mundane events for 20 years. They see me through a completely different lens. I doubt they would ever consider referring a client to me since they know so many of my personal foibles. In both instances, I am known and I am not.

So, imagine my surprise to wake up and find an e-mail pointing me to this tribute. Maureen at Writing Without Paper is indeed a skilled writer. I found myself perusing her words (my words, in many cases) and being fascinated by their arrangement. While I have never met Maureen in person, she created a unique profile of me that feels very intimate, accurate and revealing. Wow! I felt very “known” as I read her words. I also loved how she left space for not knowing me with this prose: "I figure I still have a lot left to learn before I can imagine saying I know her, even remotely."

Part of my story includes a tension of wanting to be known deeply and also carrying a layer of protection that keeps others away from my heart (sometimes intentionally and other times automatically). It is just one of the many paradoxes in my life. So, today I find myself feeling quite honored by Maureen’s tribute AND feeling a bit shy about pointing you in that direction. However, if you know anything about me at all, you know a little shyness rarely keeps me from taking the leap into new territory. So, please pop on over and read Maureen’s wonderful weaving of prose and meet me in a way I found quite fascinating. (I hope you will leave comments for her to acknowledge her amazing gift of Writing Without Paper.) Thank you, Maureen!!!

My question(s) for you today is: How do you feel about being “known”? Do you hold your own tensions on that subject? Do you leap or lay low? I’d love to know!

collages by and of lucy circa 2007

Monday, December 14, 2009

from Diamonds in the Soul

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." --Howard Thurman

Have you ever watched someone closely as they talk about their passion? A physical and emotional response often accompanies their stepping more fully into life. The heart pumps stronger. The color of the skin flushes brighter. Worries seem to fall away. The step becomes bouncier, and in response, you may find yourself wanting what they have.

I remember a few years ago, my family was on a tour of the Walla Walla wine country. Our guide was a geologist who studies basalt and loess (fancy words for rock and dirt). As our group stood on the side of a mini-Grand Canyon, the guide warned us to steer clear of the rim that has been known to spontaneously disintegrate. In the flash of a moment, however, he muttered, "What the heck," and charged off the side of the cliff. With this movement he became a young spirit romping through the tall, probably rattlesnake-infested grass to show us what he needed to communicate. While we gasped from our safe viewpoint and wondered if we should follow, the earth became more than just dirt and the man transformed from a middle-aged person into a passionate being who made even the most inert of objects (rocks and dirt) become exciting and interesting. It was truly a gift to behold and experience.

Oh, that we could all find what makes us come alive. The Thurman quote above could be considered my personal mission statement. The offerings of Diamonds in the Soul are geared to help individuals come more alive - spiritually, mentally, emotionally, creatively - and find or move closer to their personal passions. I invite you to look around my site, consider gifting yourself with a workshop, or coming in for a chat...."Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Join me today, won't you?

Blessings this holiday season!

"Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place." - Henri Nouwen

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday: Honoring St. Lucy

Today is the feast day of St. Lucy - patron saint of the blind. It is becoming a tradition for me to share my own Tale of Lucy on this festival day. Please join me on this Sacred Sunday in honoring all of the Lucy's in your life.

Perhaps today is a good day to write your own tale. All one needs to start are these magic words: Once upon a time...

There once was a beautiful girl with pools of deep brown eyes. She lived in a normal house in a quiet neighborhood and some would say she led a privileged life. From the outside it looked that way, but on the inside she felt as though she were locked in a tall tower. No one could climb the tower to reach her. In fact, no one ever really tried. Only the evil gremlins communicated with her and all they said was, “Sit still. Look pretty.”

Although she was, in deed, quite pretty, she never felt that to be true. And as far as “sitting still” went….well, all she really wanted to do was play and skip and laugh and shine. The gremlins were quite envious of this playful behavior and in their resentment, they cast a spell over the beautiful girl. They used sweet sounding words tinged with bitterness that gently lulled her to sleep. But, just before she went into a deep slumber, the girl realized that she was being tricked. She knew something was terribly wrong and deep in her heart she clung to the dreams of her childlike nature.

Alas, the spell still took hold and the young girl was silent for many years during which time she became bitter and resentful just like the gremlins. She was crabby and spiteful and often pushed her companions away with her nasty demeanor. One day, a very brave friend looked at the girl and said, “You are Lucy. Lucy Van Pelt. Charlie Brown’s nemesis.” Hearing the name and making the association was like being struck over the head with a large stick (or awakened from a deep dark sleep.)

The name stuck and the young girl (who was no longer so young) realized slowly, but surely that she was not really Lucy Van Pelt in character and she still wanted to play and skip and dance to music and to have her heart touched by those she loved. She came to learn that the more she knew about herself, the more she wanted to love and care for others in return. And so, she began to play again; and she started to shine; and music followed her everywhere she went.

Birds gave her special messages and dolphins danced along her path. She was full of light. It was as if she had her own magic wand and she could use it to help others see their own light. She glistened and glowed. She transformed back into who she had always been deep inside her heart. She played. She skipped. She did the gratitude dance. And one day, she learned that her new name, Lucy, meant light. She was not only Lucy Van Pelt, she was also St. Lucy—Patron St. of the blind.

She was playful and beautiful and her pools of deep brown eyes could see clearly now. When she was scared and under the spell of the gremlins, she would pull footballs out from under unsuspecting victims, but when she was grounded and filled with love, she was St. Lucia. She was Lucy in the sky. She glittered with diamonds and pearls of wisdom. She was magically fulfilled.

Today, the girl-turned-woman loves both her “Lucy’s.” They make the completeness of who she is. The dark and light. The serious and playful. The crabby and kind. She needs them both. And so, you see, the gift of Lucy (given to her by a very brave friend) was one of the greatest gifts she ever received. For without that gift, she would not be Lucy of the light and there would be no diamonds for her to share with the world.

Today is St. Lucy’s day. Please join me in celebrating the Light!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

lucy's magic kitty

“At the name of Aslan, Lucy got the feeling you get when you wake in the morning and realize it is the beginning of spring.” -- C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ripple Effect - Part two

There is lots of wrestling going on in my brain and body these days – imagine that?!? Yesterday was a self- proclaimed, self-care day. I visited my chiropractor, my spiritual director and my hairdresser. I snuck in a quick nap with Aslan purring on my chest, then headed to a client meeting and after to the local, highly acclaimed, hard-to-get-into pizza place, Delancey, for dinner with my husband and daughter. When a friend called in the afternoon to ask how I was, I proclaimed, “Today was a good day.”

I struggle with not wanting too quickly to put the cherry on top of this crazy ice cream sundae called life. I have really wanted to be pissed off at God for the last couple of days, but God’s pursuit of me is making it really difficult. My spiritual director and I talked about this quite a bit yesterday. She suggested that perhaps my long-ingrained anthropomorphic view of God is finally starting to disappear. I want to be angry at some controlling guy in the sky who pulls the strings and makes things happen for better or worse. Instead I am being greeted by scripture that sings of the earth holding me and I hear and feel the love of Jesus in the comforting words of supportive bloggers, beautiful voices uplifted in song, a purring cat, the glorious sunshine and “random” other places.

My spiritual companion and I also talked about songs of lament and how the Psalms are filled with them. They have their own rhythm of wailing and crying out to God while ultimately coming to a place of hope or rest. It is a pattern I have experienced myself in writing or verbally processing. By exhausting the dialogue in my head (the rants & raves & miscellaneous thoughts I might not dare to share out loud), I usually find I come to a place of peace – not necessarily resolution. There is a difference!

Most of my last post came through stream of consciousness journaling. Not wanting to rush to a place of calm waters, (because I needed to feel and share the tumultuous rhythm) I drew short of sharing where my lament finally landed. After a couple of days to let it settle, I wanted to share it now:

…and then the ocean returned to its smooth placid existence in the cove along the deserted beach. The gentle ripples returning & spreading out to sea. The same water now touching another on a far away shore. Interconnected.

Who can assess the ripple effect of one tear poured into an ocean? One drip pounding subtlely time and time again until rock has been eroded. Perhaps my love, my tears, are the drip that will erode the heart of stone. My own? Another’s? Who knows?

It’s ok to sit in the mystery. My world has been rocked. I sit in Advent and wait. I know not for what. Redemption? Reconciliaton?

Thank you for waiting alongside me. Your ripples wash over me like fresh rain drops. I am soothed and comforted knowing I am held in this gentle embrace.

What are you waiting for this Advent season? Are you willing to wrestle with the echoes of your own mind? Are you content to rest without knowing what will come next? Are you aware of the gentle ripples touching your days? Advent is a season about being awake. Might you find a new way to open your eyes?

photos ©lucy - glendolough 10.09

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Ripple Effect

“…I know in my bones the ache to find the words, I know, as well, the ache of uncertainty about which words.” --Scott Cairns

Since my return from Ireland on October 26, I have been struggling with this “which” of words. On the heels of one of my most incredible life experiences, I was greeted only moments after arrival in Seattle with the news that my beloved beautiful boy was in jail, charged with a very serious offense. Needless to say, I was (and am) devastated.

In both events (Ireland & 'the news'), my world has been rocked. I sit and wait during this season of Advent to see where the ripples might land. Can that be enough? Yes – for me, for now – the waiting must be enough. Still…I ache to find the words, so today I share a few regarding “the crime.”

I am ever so grateful no one was physically harmed – no death – no hospitalizations – no rape. But, laws were broken. Stupid, careless, foolish mistakes were made and now a young life – my son’s – will be imprisoned for as many as four years. They say it could have been much worse – 15 years or more. Can I be grateful? Perhaps later.

No one was physically harmed… the words linger and I am struck with the ripple effect, because the emotional toll is high. I can’t begin to process the damage for myself, so how can I weigh the cost to the rest of my family or anyone else? The ripple is high. It is exhausting. Like the waves of the ocean, even the gentle ones leave me with a queasy feeling if I stand or float in them too long. And, then there are the rogue waves that come out of nowhere and pick you up and thrash you to the ocean floor where all equilibrium is lost. Which way is up? Where is the bottom?

I once danced with a rogue wave in Hawaii. Even after I was safely out of the water and had survived the experience, I could not accurately assess the damage. Removing my swimsuit, the sand came out of nooks and crannies I didn’t know existed – little grains of evidence that the wave had had its way with me. Later, I walked by a mirror after showering and caught sight of a giant bruise disguised as an enormous eggplant tattooed on my butt. I don’t remember how long it took before I could sit comfortably again or when the ugly mark finally faded away.

Today, I have more questions than answers – many of them surrounding this season of Advent, as well as the circumstances of my life. It’s odd, but there is a simple peace in knowing that today waiting can be enough. I am grateful for this space. I have struggled with the words and will continue to do so. Your loving witness alongside makes the waiting a little easier.

Blessings to you and yours.

bermuda waves ©

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Zen Kitty or...

...10 things I love about Aslan

Aslan is our adopted kitty who came to live with us in September. He has quickly made himself at home and won over the hearts of all who live with him. Today I share just a few of his endearments.

1. His coat is so thick and cuddly, he really does look and feel like a miniature lion.

2. He has nearly perfected the dance of a circus dog - spinning on his hind legs while waiting for a treat.

3. I adore the way he makes my husband laugh when they play together. Hubby tempts him with a peacock feather and Aslan repeatedly makes flying leaps into the air.

4. He is a true Zen master focusing solely on the now. I shall need to study him more closely!

5. When I am in the kitchen, he stretches his paws up the counter as if to ask “What’s up?”

6. He is quite the conversationalist when he decides it is dinner time. We share several words together as he not-so-patiently waits for me to get his food down to the floor. His meows sound much like Please – either that or Hurry Up!

7. He greets me at the door when I come home and watches curiously through the window when we are outside.

8. He seems to know when I need extra attention and sticks close by my side. One of his favorite spots is the middle of my chest. His fluffy tail is a great nose tickler.

9. When he decides I have been on the computer too long, he sits next to my chair. When I acknowledge him, he hops into my lap, onto the desk and proceeds to drape himself across the keyboard.

10. He is the kitty version of my golden dog, Curry, sharing unconditional love with me.

Do you have a loved one (furry or otherwise) who deserves a little tribute? There's no better time than now to share!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lady Wisdom

Ancient wisdom greets me with bright eyes and wrinkled skin.
She comes with grayed hair, radiating golden light
like sunflowers on a bright summer day.
Wisdom comes in the platinum locks of a precious child,
In the single tear of a caged young man.
She sits on my heart until I feel her weight;
Until it sprouts wings and takes flight, leaving me lighter than air.

Wisdom has roots that reach deep into the ground,
wrapping around the stones of my heart.
She is blue sky and flowing water –
streams mingling with tears of sorrow and joy –
pouring into an ocean of emotion
where one drop cannot be distinguished from another.

She greets me with her kind eyes – her warm heart.
She holds me with her gaze and promises she will never leave.
I’m always here, she says.
I am in the bloom of a single white blossom shared by a friend;
In the candle flames throwing light into the darkness;
The song carried in the air sings my tune.
I feel her within the chill of my bare toes;
the warmth and taste of coffee through my lips;
The brilliant pink and gold splashed across a raw canvas.

Wisdom greets me everywhere I be.
The ticking of a clock; the whisper of the breeze; the sounds of silence.
She is there when I open my eyes; focus with my ears;
touch with my hand; inhale through my nose;
know in my heart.
My soul cries out for her and she meets me – unfailingly.
Always there. Always present.
Wisdom greets me with hair of gray and crown of golden sunflowers.
Child. Maiden. Mother. Crone. Lady that she is.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Reach and...

“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.”
--Psalm 143:6

Rolling waves of parched land spread out before me.
Dry. Thirsty. Barren.
My soul connects.
Spirit is present in the midst of my own desert.
Thirst and longing.
I stretch my hand.
I lift my eyes.
I feel your presence.

I see it through the window of a plane.
The photo of a tree.
The creating of a card.
The quiet of my heart.
I engage with the mystery.
Perhaps only I can name it.
Still, I know I am connected.
Blue sky.
Clouds drifting over.
Those who have gone before?
Yes, I am connected,
even in my desolation.

I close my eyes and see the barren landscape.
It is magnificent in its beauty.
I hear your name in the sky and
see it written across the lands.
I am created in your image.
Earth. Fire. Water. Air.
All right there.
Beside me and around me.
The fullness of your majesty.
The fullness of my life.
I stretch out my hands for you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

I reach…
and you are there.

photo taken just before landing in Walla Walla 11.24.09

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stone in My Heart

On a quiet day in Glendolough, I curled up in an abandoned room filled with extra chairs, tables and a perfect crimson loveseat by the window. For the first time in the trip, I placed my i-pod earphones into my ears, set the music to shuffle and listened to the conversation that played out between the Universe, the still small voice, God and me.

Much of the poem here is made from lyrics that showed up “randomly” that day. I journaled as I listened, and the result turned into the conversation I call “Stone in My Heart.”

Abbey of the Arts gives us a great invitation this week to engage in poetry and gratitude. I am grateful for so much – including the stone in my heart. ☺ So, pop on over to the Abbey and share your version of gratitude. Here's mine:

She gets unruly with things she don’t wanna do.
Stuck believing her dreams will never come true.
So, Baby, how’d you sleep last night?

Stop hanging on. It’ll be alright.

Let go of the stone in your heart.

But I don’t understand the touch of your hand.

You might think it’s easy being me.

Just stand still and look pretty.

Don’t wanna hurt anymore.

Can’t let go of the stone in my heart.

In every moment there’s a reason to carry on.

Sweet love flowing almost every night,

I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.

Life is more than memories.

Let go of the stone in your heart.

Sweet surrender’s all I have to give.
Stop hanging on. It’s time to let go.

Dance, Baby, dance – child, wild & free –

Unruly one, come dance with me.

Embracing the stone in your heart.

photos taken at NewGrange, Ireland 10.09 ©lucy

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blessed by Risk...

...a response to yesterday's post.

“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.” --Epicurus

Words like Thank You, Yes, and Sally Fields’ academy award speech from years ago, “You really do like me,” ring through my head. I am wrapped in the warm words of others. We mirror each other and I hear myself in both the encouragement and the resistance. Your words are mine - “I read, but don’t always comment.” The overflowing sentiment (from you and for you) - I am here when you need me.

It has taken me a long time to learn to ask for what I want or need. For me, it can be a paradoxical situation. If I have to ASK, does it lessen the gift when I receive? The challenging thing is that when I get scared or lonely or angry, I can get pretty prickly AND by that point, I don't know how to ask - so I push. Thus, the initial response is for others to back away when what I really need is for someone to move in closer. I need a cocoon to hold me. I need to cry and weep and wail.

The other day I was so beside myself, it was pretty ugly and instead of backing away – my dear sweet husband leaned in. He wrapped me in a giant bear hug and held on. I cried – we cried – wracking, gut-wrenching, snot-slinging, unabashed tears. I pushed away ...surrendered ...and then cried some more. Somewhere inside my little soul, I was confident he was there to help me. And you know what? When I finally came up for air – I laughed. Yes, laughed! I felt lighter, better, more complete and real.

A similar thing happened yesterday as soon as I wrote the words “Would it make a difference if you knew I was sad”? Something deep inside me KNEW you would show up. And you came – lots of you – some I had no idea ever visited here! You offered much and it didn’t even matter what you said (although I loved every word). My heart lifted when the first comment showed up in my inbox… Really, I think my heart began to shift when I took the risk to ask. It was the sheer act (yes, sheer, as in transparent) of risking the ASK – risking to be real – even though I couldn’t definitively predict what might happen.

My heart overflows with gratitude and I want to sit here for hours basking in your wisdom. It’s hard – very hard, but I am going to push away the desire to spend the day at the computer responding to everyone's wonderful posts. I need to move and stretch and maybe go dance in the rain. Perhaps it’s a risk and you will see me as selfish – I certainly hope not. I have been, and continue to be, blessed by your words and presence. SO...I offer this in return:

May your day be blessed with risk,
May your fears be answered with companions,
May you know that you are loved, and
Experience the inseparable wonder of both grief and joy.

Peace to you, my friends.

"fashion risks" - dublin 2009 © lucy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If you knew I was sad, would it make a difference?

Life upon return from Ireland hit hard and fast. I find myself rising and falling like the rhythms of the ocean. Sometimes the waves are gentle and I float as though on a blowup mattress in the middle of a still Oklahoma lake. Other times, I feel as though I have been slammed by a giant Tsunami – shaking myself off and gasping for air from the force of the hit.

I have been lonely here at Diamonds. Not sure if my readership is down, if my topics are not engaging or if people are just plain busy – or maybe I sound so content you don't realize I crave your company and comments. So, I ponder the question in the post title… If you knew I was sad, would it make a difference? Would you make a little more effort to comment if you knew I needed it? Would you stop and speak to a co-worker or a child or a stranger if you thought your comfort would make a difference? I wonder how often I settle for the pat answer when someone responds with a standard, “I’m fine?”

I wonder about people’s interior journeys (those who confide in me and others I pass on the streets), realizing I can only know a fraction of their stories – if that much. We are complex beings and have a capacity to present many faces to the world. Does showing joy when grief lurks inside (or vice versa) discount either emotion? I ask, because, the waves that follow me these days are somewhat confusing. I feel both the gentle rocking of comfort as well as the motion sickness of constant movement. I find it near impossible to answer the question, “How are you?” for the water that washes my spirit clean and gently holds the raft upon which I float is the same element that threatens to drown me and take away my breath. The two cannot be separated for they flow in and out of each other like waves moving against the shore – both gentle and wild. Hmmmm.Anybody else ever feel confused by two seemingly contradictory emotions that flow in and out simultaneously? Reminds me of the old lyric “hurts so good”…or maybe not. I’d love to hear your thoughts (but a simple hello works, too).

ireland brook ©2009
dublin river ©2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Pilgrim's Day - October 21, 2009

Rain. Rain. Rain. The other pilgrims off to Dublin – a handful stay behind in ancient Glendalough. I am snug and cozy in a room beside the flowing stream. The monastic gates rest just beyond. Today’s gift: to follow the breeze of my own heart. Listening to the i-pod – a poem and thoughts form through the stream of music. God leading. Me following. Listening. Writing. Companioning.

A walk to Laragh. Braving the elements. Skipping. Dancing. Singing in the rain. Two ancestral maidens hold my hands and we are one – alive and at peace. A momentary pause to soak in the wonder of St. Kevin’s Well, we are washed clean.

Further down the path, I am drawn to the ruined church of St. Saviour. Mesmerized by this holy site. Two gates to enter. Stone steps downward. Crossing back and forth between worlds. The rain begins to pour once more. Mother Earth sprinkles me with her holy, heavenly waters.

I continue down the trail. Rain comes and goes. I dry, and just as quickly I am soaked again. Another pause – this time a rock. I almost pass it by, but Mother Earth – Goddess – calls out to me. “Stop!” I return to the spot and witness the sienna stone with one white vein splitting the middle. I pick it up and turn it over in my hand to see two identical veins on the opposite side. The babes – the maidens - have greeted me again. My heart and throat burst into laughter. Goddess is greeting me every step of the way. We are three. Maiden. Mother. Crone. My knapsack fills with treasures.

Material things hold no value for me today. The linen shop is warm and dry, but it cannot hold my attention. I return to the elements. Rain pouring – the sound from the heavens matching the rush of the stream. I retrace my footsteps and then turn upward along the marked hikers’ trail. It takes me higher than I imagine. Up. Up. Up. Until the valley spreads below me.

I walk and walk – an hour, maybe two – the Monastic City a mere speck in my viewfinder. I follow the trail and loop back out by the upper lake of St. Kevin’s Desert. Waterfalls sing to me along the way and I join them with my joy-filled chorus. Whistling while I walk.

Tired and hungry, I return to the hotel. Wet, but warm from the exertion. I satisfy my hunger with Guinness and chips. Returning to the room, my roommate gently naps. Quietly, I run a hot bath, soak my body and shampoo my hair. Clean. Tired. Sated.

I have tended much today. I have laughed and played. Danced and whistled in the rain. Greeted the elements and made time for my heart. Listening. My anam cara with me every step of the way. Blessed be and amen.

view from glendolough hotel window ©
st. kevin's well ©
st. saviour church window ©
monastic city from orange trail ©
st. kevin's desert waterfall

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple Day

FOR TODAY November 16, 2009
prompted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window the rain continues to steadily fall. Night time is upon us even though it's only mid-afternoon.

I am thinking how I would love to get in my pajamas right now and curl up with a good book.

I am thankful for the graciousness in the world around me.

From the kitchen - fresh chicken soup and cornbread muffins to warm the damp, wet bones of my family.

I am wearing BROWN - head to toe (except for some crazy-colored stripes on my socks.)

I am creating an activity for my spirituality class at the Recovery Cafe and gathering images for my SoulCollage® workshop this Friday night.

I am going to my memoir writing group tonight. My piece, "Ordinary Life," is up for review.

I am reading Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (vampires and werewolves for a dark fall night!)

I am hoping there is minimal traffic on the way to Bellevue.

I am hearing rain, rain, rain.

Around the house all is quiet.

One of my favorite things is snuggling with my curious cat who keeps me warm and cozy in the midst of darkness.

A few plans for the rest of the week: a schedule full of clients, yoga, therapy, group facilitation, and a new workshop.

My picture thought is Aslan - Lucy's faithful friend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sacred Sunday

Still. Numb. Quiet.
I absorb the light.
Shadow of hand upon paper,
Music of monks drifting through air,
greeting me from centuries past.
Am I alone, or surrounded by saints –
a cloud of witnesses to guide and protect?

Am I alone – or is every hurt of every generation
wrapped inside my body?
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

The pen is heavy, but I cannot release it –
Running out of ink, I pause and pick up another –
Another sorrow? Another pen?
Trading – sorrows & shame.
Am I allowed? Are they welcomed?
Does the Cross exist?

Created in the image of Creator,
Can I write a new story – or
will it always be a continuation of the old?
There is no escaping –
the sorrows run deep,
but what of the joy?

Am I alone – or is the joy of every generation
wrapped inside my body?
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

It is a massive excavation for the
spark lies deep within –
Covered with graves of sorrow and pain –
still the seed is there.
It is Eden before shame
before the covering layered on,
Layer upon heavy layer.

The mustard seed of hope is eternally there –
Waiting to take root.
Waiting for me, alone, to release it.
No one else can write this story –
Or live it –
Or tell it –
Or feel it.

Am I alone – or is every feeling of every generation
wrapped inside my body?
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.

glendolough celtic cross ©lucy
remembrance of soil ceremony ©lucy

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reflections from Ireland

Through days and miles, I close my eyes and see the wondrous faces of Noble Silence.

Dim lit room – candles flickering – features softened. Some weary from a day of feasting on the senses - others radiant upon reflection of the ancestors and saints gone by.

Silently – we form a circle – entering meditative prayer through reading and ritual. We bow our heads with soft-focused eyes until the words of the first bubble to the surface.

Palms together – gentle nod – the words flow. Some brief – others a longer story. They wash over me – absorbing me in the soft light – the dark of night surrounding us beyond.

A bow to finish and the silence rests upon us again.

castledermot graveyard ©lucy

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On track or off?

Following my statement last night to Sunrise Sister’s post where I proclaimed myself as having thrown away my day planner, I found myself this morning in great need of a list. For the first time in weeks, I have the luxury of some much needed spaciousness in my life. For the next few days, there is little on my calendar, but LOTS in my mind that wants to happen. My head was beginning to hurt and my stomach spin with all of the possibilities before me – so much that I found myself nearly immobilized. Thus “the list.”

Armed with list nearby, I started on my merry way until nature called and I made a pit stop in the bathroom. There I picked up a book on guided meditations and explorations so I could look for an appropriate reading for next week’s Deepening Your Spirituality group I am co-facilitating at Seattle’s Recovery Café (a place I hope to share with you in the near future.) While I am not certain whether I found the reading for the group, this one jumped out of the book and said, “READ ME.”

Consequently, I have already ventured off of my list and instead of writing about Noble Silence (another topic I hope to return to soon), I am sharing this quote that came under the topic of “What was your face before you were born? He asked.”

When the heart bursts into flame
history completely disappears
and lightning strikes the ocean
in each cell.

There, before origins,

when the
double helix
is struck like a tuning fork

there is a hum
on which the universe is strung.

My word for the year has been Fire and as this calendar year nears its end, I have found the theme of Water rising in my consciousness. Given those two things and the recent discussions here and elsewhere on synchronicity and thin places, I could not resist taking a moment to stop and post this. So…does this detour make me on track or off? Or does it really matter? Can you feel the hum on which the universe is strung?

P.S. Upon a little further exploration, I find that the "double helix" looks amazingly like the swirl I have worn around my neck for a few years which mimics the ancient symbols I encountered in Ireland AND looks surprisingly like the
Source card I created a few days ago. I swear I didn't know what a double helix was until this verse jumped out and said, "READ ME." Oh my, I think I need some fresh air!!
"swirls" on celtic cross at castledermot 10.23.09 ireland ©lucy
"fire in water" glendolough stream 10.09 ©lucy
"entrance to new grange" 5000 year old tomb 10.09 ©lucy

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leveling the Playing Field

Last week at the "Honoring the Ancestors" retreat, I was greeted by these images during an experience of walking the labyrinth. My oh my!

Giggling little girls – full of joy and eager to greet me. “Come on. Come on,” they say. “Come play with us.” The years fade away – the hurts – the sorrows – the weight of life. We are girls – skipping – laughing – tumbling. Full of joy. Generations cascading together. Somersaulting like acrobats. Walking a tight wire without fear. Taking each others’ hands and holding – caressing. We raise each other upright with our laughter – lightness and light. A puddle of puppies, but we are giggling girls – all of us. Grandmas. Aunties. Mothers. Nieces. Daughters. Tumbling together on beds of feathers – light as air. Pure goodness – All else dissolves into fits of laughter.

“Come play with us.” We are little girls even in our death. Those who have gone before and those who come after share in the joy. Let it out of the box for all to see. Anne. Daisy. Myrtice. Audrey. Addie. Morgan. Janey. Stephanie. Kari. Ainsley. Dianna June and Kayce Dee. Come play with me. Auntie. Glenda Jo. Vicki. Carolyn. Barbara. Marilyn. Little girls, all. Their beauty glows.

Little girls. Aunts. Cousins. Daughters. Mothers. Grandmas. Sisters. Blonde. Raven-haired. Straight and curly. Giggling girls. Our laughter and compassion will save the world. Little girls, come dance with me. Little girls of wonder for all the world to see. Communion white and taffeta red – pink – yellow – golden girls. All tumbling into giggle pie.

Little girls skip and scuff their shoes. Giggling precious girls. Generations of them. Embracing me. Touching me. Our blood flows through from Eve. Transformed girls. How can anyone be angry with them? Look through the wrinkles of gray and death – into eyes of laughing girls. Full of hope and compassion and JOY! Amen. Blessed be.

"laughter" © lucy 11.11.09

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Spirit like water...

"Spirit like water
is a source of life."

Sometimes I wonder if I shared everything that transpires in my day and mind whether or not people might think I was going a little crazy. In mental health, it is said if you at least think you're a little nuts, it is a sign of sanity - so at least I have that going for me.

The truth is I feel so connected to the Universe that I have moments when I wonder which realm I am operating in. This time of year in particular is designated as a very "thin" time when the veil between the known and unknown worlds dissipates. My air was already pretty thin, so my ancestral mind that lies just below consciousness has kicked into high gear. For example...

During and since I went to Ireland, I have been experiencing lots of technicolor dreams. When I am disciplined enough to awaken, I can capture them on paper before I return to sleep. Last night, I was vividly dreaming and was making a SoulCollage® card in my sleep (not literally), BUT... when I awakened this morning, the materials had already been gathered to create the card I dreamed. (I keep a stack of images that attract my attention nearby.) I was dreaming of creating a Source card which symbolizes the Oneness of All Things. In reality no image is suitable for the Source for it is without form. (Some people refer to this as their God card.) Nevertheless, swirls continued to follow me throughout my dreams as they have for years in various shapes, sizes and forms, so I laid out the images on my desk and sat down for some quiet meditation. It was then that Nepo's quote greeted me. "Spirit like water is the source of life." Key word - Source. Key images - Water. Before me lay my floating, swirling water-filled card I was considering naming "Source."

Am I making this up? No. Had I read those words before? Maybe. Had I already seen the images? Yes. Did they all come together in one serendipitous moment? Absolutely. Does this make me crazy? Nah, I don't think so. Is it just coincidence? Nope, don't think that either. This, I believe, is part of the great mystery of being alive. It is bigger than anything we can possibly imagine AND it meets us in the everyday of our lives, when we allow ourselves to open up.

So, that's how my day started. Not particularly unusual for me. How about for you? Any encounters with serendipity, synchronicity, thin air or the like lately? Please share... it's much more fun to be a little crazy with friends, isn't it?

"source" - created by lucy 11.08.09

Friday, November 06, 2009


Like a sponge…

Soaking up the luscious green of Ireland
Feeling the presence of ancestors
Creating poetry with addicts and alcoholics
Holding space for compassionate listeners

Snuggling with my kitty
Listening to the thunderstorm of night
Stretching my weary body
Birthing the dreams of my soul

...I am saturated.

glendolough waterfall 10.09 © lucy

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

New SoulCollage® Workshop

Please join me on Friday, November 20 from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. to celebrate the abundance of Fall by creating your own SoulCollage® cards.

Beginners and experienced collagers are welcome at this three-hour workshop. All supplies and instruction will be provided in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

Workshop held at Soma Yoga in Crown Hill. Pre-registration cost is $35. ($40 - night of the event.) Space is limited, so register today. For questions or to sign up, please e-mail

Feel free to pass this information along to anyone who might be interested.

SoulCollage® is the process, developed by Seena B. Frost, of creating a deck of collaged cards from found images for the primary purpose of self-exploration and self-acceptance.

Some things I love about the SoulCollage® process include:
  • the premise of everyone is an artist. We can all tear or cut images and apply a gluestick, right?
  • a way to move beyond words and connect with ourselves in new and creative ways.
  • you are in control of the process. Gentle guidelines are suggested, but do not become rules of engagement.
  • no special skills or knowledge required (i.e. everyone can participate.)
You can visit the official SoulCollage® website here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Invitation to Poetry

My senses overflowing - saturated, really - after almost two weeks in Ireland, followed by a retreat to honor the ancestors. I was grateful this morning for Christine's Invitation to Poetry. It is a welcome entry point to "step across the threshold" back into my blogging world. The invitation made easier since I have a poem already created from this past weekend. It came out of an intuitive process where we poets were asked to include a given word line by line in our poems. It never ceases to amaze me what pops out when I choose to get out of my own way.

Titled, Healing Women, this creation turned into a tribute to my mother and two grandmothers. Our history is not one where loving care is the first thing that always comes to mind. However, something shifted this weekend as I honored the women - the girls - they were. The pictured shrine came later in the weekend as more pieces fell into place. The young girl is my mother, Daisy Ernestine. The top photo, her mother, Myrtice; and my father, "the sailor", holds the arm of his mother, Anne.
Stepping over the threshold,
what story wants to be told?

Shafts of silver light illumine my world,
spreading bare the winter of my soul.

Anne, Myrtice, Daisy step into the dance
as we let go of the stone in our hearts.
Je t'aime, mes amis.

The breath of God has washed us clean &
Jubilation rings the bell
as we return Home together.

I hope you'll join in the fun and join this week's poetry party. To get you started, here are the 10 prompts used this weekend. Let me know when you create your own poem!
  1. threshold
  2. story
  3. a color
  4. winter
  5. names of ancestor(s)
  6. stone
  7. a foreign phrase (perhaps from your country of origin)
  8. breath
  9. an emotion
  10. home
Bon chance, mes amis!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Returning home, I find myself walking between multiple worlds. The ancestral mind and time for intentionality and presence were abundant on my recent trip. Back in Seattle, on a 'thin day' where the space between heaven and earth almost disappears, I experience a sense of floating and being grounded all at the same time. My own words fail me and so I turn to words of another and images of my own.

Today, I continue a journey that started who knows when as I head to Hood Canal with my wonderful sister to a retreat called "Honoring the Ancestors." My heart is already overflowing and I wonder if it can hold anymore. Wondering leads my way both past and present...

I move among the ankles
of forest Elders, tread
their moist rugs of moss,
duff of their soft brown carpets.
Far above, their arms are held
open wide to each other, or waving--

what they know, what
perplexities and wisdoms they exchange,
unknown to me as were the thoughts
of grownups when in infancy I wandered
into a roofed clearing amidst
human feet and legs and the massive
carved legs of the table,

the minds of people, the minds of trees
equally remote, my attention then
filled with sensations, my attention now
caught by leaf and bark at eye level
and by thoughts of my own, but sometimes
drawn to upgazing -- up and up: to wonder
about what rises
so far above me into the light.

irish trees © lucy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a few things I Learned in Ireland...

Ireland has more colors of green than any box of crayons.

Hospitality and Ireland could share one definition in a dictionary.

The ancestors are alive and well.

The ground holds the presence of times gone past. If you listen closely, the wind will whisper secrets into your ears. If your heart is open, no words are necessary.

St. Brigid's fire burns as bright today as in her own lifetime.

The womb of the earth is safe and whole and dark and lovely.

The future guides us into the present. The past greets us and the three become the Holy now.

Holy cow - is there any doubt?

People are generous at heart.

Guinness is most satisfying by the 1/2 pint.

A sip of Irish cream makes a fine dessert.

There is NO potato famine in Ireland today.

Stone bridges do not yield. They are made for crossing and honking your horn doesn't mean someone will hear it.

There are portals between worlds: gates - pathways - doors come in all shapes and sizes. Stone, air, wood, water. And in all colors - forest green, stone gray, sea blue, red of fire, yellow, green, orange, blue, white and black.

The killeen are alive and well in the soil of St. Mary's Church.

There is a great orchestrator in the cosmos. Just listen and you will hear the next step.

"May the stars light your way and may you find the interior road forward." - traditional Irish farewell

photos © lucy
St. Brigid @ her well
Holy Cow - Dowdstown
St. Saviour Church window

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Celtic Spirituality and the Wisdom of the Ancestors

"Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys." -- Richard R. Niebuhr

7:30 Morning Prayer and Breakfast

Newgrange, Hill of Tara

Midday Meal and Afternoon free to rest, contemplate, and explore

17:00 Noble Silence

18:00 Evening Meal followed by Evening Prayer and Pilgrimage
Closure Celebration

20:00 Celtic Music Celebration with Claire Roche - Harpist

Overnight: Dowdstown House Retreat Center, near the Hill of Tara

Friday, October 23, 2009

St. Brigid of Kildare - Mary of the Gael

"Have you ever imagined yourself in a place that stirred your soul like the song of doves at dawn? Uncover what you long for and you will discover who you are." -- Phil Cousineau

7:30 Morning Prayer and Breakfast

9:00 Depart for Kildare, St. Brigid’s Well, St. Brigid’s Cathedral

Midday Meal and Afternoon free to rest, contemplate, and explore

19:00 Evening Meal, Noble Silence and Evening Prayer

Overnight: Dowdstown House Retreat Center, near the Hill of Tara

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back to Dublin - National Treasures

"A great a kind of introspective; as she covers the ground outwardly, so she advances fresh interpretations of herself inwardly." -- Phil Cousineau

I wonder if Dublin will look different than it did a few days ago?

7:30 Morning Prayer and Breakfast

9:00 Depart for Dublin

10:00 Celtic treasures at the National Museum and the Book of Kells at
Trinity College

Midday Meal and Free Afternoon to explore Dublin

19:00 Evening Meal

21:00 Noble Silence and Evening Prayer

Overnight: Glendalough Hotel, County Wicklow

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Glendalough, Quiet Day - Wisdom of the Heart

"What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what when contemplated transforms us utterly." -- Phil Cousineau

7:30 Morning Prayer and Breakfast

9:00 Guided meditation on the ancient Wisdom of the Heart Spiritual Practice
Free Day for quiet, reflection, contemplation, and rest

16:00 St. Mary’s Church for Celtic Communion Celebration

19:00 Evening Meal followed by Noble Silence and Evening Prayer

Overnight: Glendalough Hotel, County Wicklow

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Glendalough - St. Kevin’s Desert

"...the prayers in the old Celtic tradition could aid our search for a spirituality that seeks God by looking towards the heart of life, not away from life." J. Philip Newell

7:30 Morning Prayer and Breakfast

9:00 Presentation on Desert Spirituality and the Celtic Tradition

Guided and reflective pilgrimage walk to Diseart Chaoimhin (St. Kevin’s Desert), St. Kevin’s Cell, Reefert Church and overview of St. Kevin’s Bed (a sacred cave where St. Kevin fasted for Lent)

Midday Meal and Afternoon free to rest, contemplate, and explore

17:30 Oral Tradition as a narrative method for Spiritual Listening

19:00 Evening Meal, Noble Silence and Evening Prayer

Overnight: Glendalough Hotel, County Wicklow