Friday, January 30, 2009

gracious tenders of fire

Oh, I have a fire in my belly and sometimes it doesn’t burn so pure. It threatens to hop out of its grate and scorch those that get in the way. I am so grateful for the responses to judgment or observation and how it helped me to see for myself where and how I want people to join me in my “righteous” flame. My reader responses were so thoughtful that I wanted to respond here in post rather than have it buried in the comment section. (The following, in most instances, contains my paraphrasing rather than direct quotations.)

Difference a Year Makes spoke of bringing our own eyes and filters to each situation. What a great little reminder of something that I often preach, but sometimes forget to practice ☺. In this case, my filter comes from someone who grew up quite familiar with judgments in general and Christian fundamentalism in particular. I have also been a mother who wonders when she might get the call that something has happened to her “not model” child. So, I get a little sensitive when all of those things collide together as they did in the referred to recent e-mail.

Gabrielle reminded me that we have the power to choose what we do with our observations and judgments. I can choose to hold onto thoughts and let them fester or I can let it go and transform into something else. Tess and Sunrise Sister let me know that my interpretation could be subject to another point of view. (Ouch! That one hurt a little and I really wanted to fight it.)

While the wording in the e-mail did indicate that prayer for the deceased (or perhaps one who takes one’s own life) might not be appropriate, I was reminded by Sorrow that the author was indeed seeking comfort for the family and not attempting to exclude anyone. She was trying to be respectful of other’s faiths. Furthermore, Barbara and my husband reminded me, there are wonderful, faith-filled people who do not believe in praying for the dead. While I still get caught on that one, I can let it go as a difference of opinion and not something I am called to judge. It is here I realized I wanted others to join with me and say, “That Faith is wrong!” Gabriella M. reminded me that I can accept someone without liking what they do.

The gracious words of those who love and tolerate my fiery nature led me gently back to the place I long to be. It is a place where I am not attached to my thoughts and thus they do not turn into judgments and I am at peace with the world and myself. It is a place where I recognize myself as fallible, broken and wondrous and I can see others that way too.

This time the fire briefly threatened to be one that could consume. Instead, my friends came around like gentle tenders of the flame, nurturing with word, musing and metaphor to keep the fire a place of warmth and safety rather than danger and destruction. Peace to each of you, fire tenders.

For those of you who did not read the responses to this post, I highly recommend you visit there for beautiful words of wisdom and grace.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

judgment or observation?

Recently I find myself wondering about the difference between judgment and observation. Can the two be separated? It is something that I find myself considering both in terms of how I behave and how I respond when someone comments on my personal behavior.

I have a friend who begins many statements with “I’m just making an observation. There is no judgment involved.” Most of the time I feel this to be quite true, however, occasionally it seems to cross over into the judgment category particularly when she declares “I just don’t understand why you do that” without following it up with curiosity as to what might be my motivation. Isn’t that where we often get ourselves into trouble and move toward being judgmental – when we don’t understand the motivations of another and do not bother to even be curious about them?

This morning I watched a woman give another person the finger while driving and I thought to myself, “How rude!” Judgment or observation? The gesture, I believe, was indeed rude. The woman? I have no idea what was her motivation, therefore, I could not judge her character. Perhaps that is the difference, when we make a character assessment rather than an observation about behavior.

I have found myself recently (& not so recently) quite disturbed as I have heard people bash George W. Bush not just for his policies but for his “thin lips, smug smile, big ears…whatever.” While I am not a fan of GWB, I still recognize him as a person and not an Other. Why do we feel the need to make people “less than”? Do we need to assassinate their humanity? Are we not all – uh – human?

One last incident which really bugged me today was when I received a very sad announcement that a sorority sister’s child had recently died of a drug overdose. It is heartbreaking and I wept tears for this child and family I have never even met. The letter gave a few details of the death and in it this young woman was compared to her two siblings who had “always been happy, model children and a joy to their parents.” It left me wondering, had the deceased daughter NOT been a “model” child and “joy” to her parents? Again, I wonder – observation or judgment?

The part of the e-mail, however, that really irked me was when we were asked to pray for the family and also the deceased “if our faith allows.” IF OUR FAITH ALLOWS?!?!? So, here I am going to make a judgment. What kind of “faith” would not allow a person to pray for a tortured young woman’s soul? Yikes! What else can be said? I will proudly stand up for my judgment that leaving anyone out of God’s grace is wrong! (And it takes an awful lot to push me to use the terms "right and wrong"!)

So, what do you think? Is there a difference between judgment and observation? Do you hide your judgments behind words of observation? Or can one be distinguished from the other? I’d love to know what you think and I promise not to judge your response even if my observation is different ☺.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

fire. rock. water. you. me.

"In loving ourselves, we love the world. For just as fire, rock and water are all made up of molecules, everything, including you and me, is connected by a small piece of the beginning." --Mark Nepo

sunset hill 1.23.09

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Language of Letting Go

“Today I will begin the process of letting go of all self-defeating feelings and beliefs connected to past relationships. I will clear my slate so I am free to love and be loved.” - Melody Beattie

This process of healing is long and hard – just like the process of being hurt. It is not just one grand instance – perhaps that would be easier and quicker to forgive. It is instead death by a thousand pinpricks so small in the moment that they might not be noticeable at all, but added together over years and years of time, they create a gaping hole that may seem impossible to fill. However…nothing is impossible. It may take more than this lifetime – perhaps not – but it will take diligence. One tiny dot at a time covering over the hole – patching it sometimes with the size of a needle’s eye and other times with big scoops and shovels full. Each time by letting go a little more, the gaping hole is healed.

If one sets one's mind to not forgive, the hole will remain jagged and deep, but if we open ourselves to forgiveness and grace – to gratitude for what we have received – the light will begin to fill the darkness.

Today, I tossed handfuls of fertile soil into the hole. I chose to look her in the face. I opened the door just a little bit more toward forgiveness. Little by little we are being healed; just as little by little, we were harmed. Happy Birthday, Daisy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

grace unbound...what people are saying...

"I love your book! It's one of those that can be picked up at any moment and find peace in the pages." BV

"I stayed up late with it, wanting to absorb it all in one sitting." LS

"i love love love it!!" AB

"I sat up late last night and read mine, cover to cover.  Lovely!  And
a piece I will come back to in meditation. (I just couldn't put it down the
first time through . . . )" PS

"This is a book to be savored!" DW

I hope you will consider supporting our work and order your very own copy of Grace Unbound today.  You can order through Paypal payment to or send me an e-mail with your request.

Copies are $20 plus $2 shipping.

Grace Unbound: New Reflections on an Old Subject is a creative combination of words and image. Containing original works as well as some old favorites and over 50 stunning photos by amazing photographer, Bill Hughlett, this small 7 X 7 book contains thought provoking and reflective images like those you have come to love and appreciate here. It is simple and complex. It is easy to read and it will make you think. I hope you will decide to give and receive this gift of Grace.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

fire of freedom

This theme of fire continues to find and follow me. The candle beckons me first thing in the morning to light its flame. It dances in the peripheral of my vision and reminds me that We are One – dance – flame – God.

A little journaling and then a “random” opening of “Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours” reveals this:

"The fire of love for souls loved by God consumes like the fire of God’s love, and it is the same love. It burns you up with a hunger for the supernatural happiness first of the people that you know, then of people you have barely heard of, and finally of everybody."

It is easy to love the lovable, but what of the not so lovable? My heart is big even though it grew up in a home of judgment and criticism. My mind turns to Linda on the playground. We are seven years old. I feel her hand in mine. It has a slightly different feel - a little drier – a little coarser, but still it is a small hand like mine. Fingers entwined as we skip across the playground, joyously together.

During that moment, I did not know this was considered an outrage to many. It was 1963 in Bethany, Oklahoma. Linda was black and I was white. I did not know that during this same time period, perhaps even the same week, four African American girls just about our age had been killed in a bombing in Alabama while attending church. I did not know it could be considered dangerous to be friends with this girl who was just like me. I did not know that some considered her unlovable.

I have no idea how long we were friends. It might have been only that one day. She disappeared from our school as quietly as she had arrived. Still 35 years later, she lingers in my mind.

Have you ever heard the saying, “You cannot skip and be angry at the same time?” Try it sometime. Two images of freedom come to me most strongly when I think of my childhood. One is skipping by myself on my way to Kindergarten - scuffing my perfect little shoes along the way. The other is skipping hand in hand with Linda on the playground of our elementary school.

So why does this come to my mind now? I believe Linda has reappeared to me today as that symbol of freedom both for myself and for our country, even our world. We are in an historic time right now. Can you feel it? May the fire of freedom burn brightly!!!

Bless you, Linda, wherever you may be.

Consider this: Who are the "Linda's" of your life? What does "fire of freedom" say to you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He's IN!!!!!

I watched. I laughed. I cried. I cheered.
How about you?

Monday, January 19, 2009

blazing a trail

Earlier this afternoon while pondering why it was that I so desperately felt like I needed a nap even after almost 10 hours of welcome sleep last night, it dawned on me that I have been going non-stop since the beginning of the New Year. It has been wild and wonderful and I have to admit just a bit exhausting.

I started the New Year with a trip to Denver for my husband’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was a blessed event and a glorious celebration of the lives of two very special people plus their four amazing children & spouses and numerous grandchildren. It was a special treat for my family of four as we traveled, laughed, lived and even danced together for a few days.

My next stop was Lubbock, Texas and a trip outside town to Brazos de Dios ranch where I helped facilitate a Soltura workshop for five amazing men ranging in age from 25 to 58. There is something incredibly special for me to work with men and watch as their hardened armor drops away and tender hearts shine through. It was a blessed way to spend several days.

I arrived home late the night of January 11 (after a delayed flight) and began a Full week which included:

• beginning of term meetings at Mars Hill,
• planning sessions for a new Supervision Group for Compassionate Listeners that I have the privilege of co-facilitating with the amazing Christine Paintner,
• my first taste of the Memoir Writing Class I am taking at the University of Washington Extension,
• my first ever drumming class with Simone LaDrumma. (I bought myself a djembe for Christmas and talked sweet hubby into coming along for the lessons ☺),
• Thursday morning’s first session of our Supervision Group. Six amazing women make up our group and they each brought a spirit of yearning and delight to our initial meeting. I was excited to lead the expressive arts time which is a real stretch for someone who as little as two years ago did not consider herself an artist ☺!
• Friday brought another packed suitcase and the short flight to Walla Walla to connect with my sister for an art retreat weekend in Pendleton, Oregon that she purchased at an auction in 2008.
• Saturday, four of us trekked to Pendleton and spent the day in the presence of master printmaker Frank Janzen at Crow’s Shadow. Wow! This part of the experience was definitely more about process than product, but I have to admit that I am moderately pleased with my first efforts. And, it was a blast to do!!
• Sunday we awoke and headed to the studio of Roberta Lavadour and spent the day making our own handmade books. So much fun and I love my new journal!!
• Sunday afternoon I returned to Seattle and went from airport to my daughter’s basketball game after which I vegged in front of the tv watching “You’ve Got Mail.” ☺

So, all of that leads me back to this afternoon and my serious pondering of a nap! As you might guess, this also accounts for my cutback in posts and comments via the blogosphere, but hey, I am having some kind of fun!!!

I’m not sure where all of this is leading, but I am definitely Ablaze with lots of creativity and fullness!!!

Wishing you a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day and hoping you find yourself awakened to whatever lights your fire!!!

photos from brazos de dios, january 2009

fearless fire?!??!?!

Although my word for the year is Fire, I smiled when I read the results of this blogthing found at Sacred Ruminations. Fearless Fire, whaddya think?

My Word is "Fearless"

You see life as your one chance to experience everything, and you just go for it!

You believe the biggest risk is being afraid and missing out on something amazing.

Sometimes your fearlessness means you're daring. You enjoy risky activities.

And sometimes your fearlessness means you're courageous. You're brave enough to do the right thing, even when it's scary.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Morning Mindfulness

A few days ago a friend asked me how I “fight for my personal freedom everyday”. It was a question that I understood and one that I take very seriously. As I helped wrap up a Soltura workshop a few days ago, I shared that if you think you can have an amazing “experience” and then the experience will carry you through without working at it, you are sorely mistaken. So, how do we hold onto those amazing experiences when they enter our lives? How do we stay connected with God or Spirit or Universe or Ourselves?

Well…I have a variety of ways that I try to do this. Morning pages and journaling. Centering Prayer. Lectio Divina. Sharing story with others. Giving without thought of receiving. The list could go on and on, but one that resonates with me and that we can do anytime and anywhere (without having to set aside “special” time for it) is being mindful of the present moment. Right now is all we have. What does it look like to embrace the potentially mundane of the day? (And I say “potentially”, because once you become mindful and connected, nothing really seems mundane anymore.)

This same day that I conversed with my friend, Lisa, I had earlier walked to my chiropractor’s appointment which is about 1 ½ miles away. I was so stunned by the beauty of the moment that I was prompted to use my little phone recorder to capture the morning’s essence.

The sky is alive this morning. God everywhere. The touch of the hydrangeas. The smell of the rosemary. The squirrel darting out to meet me on the sidewalk. The mom with her big old dog. Her baby swaddled in the stroller. The dog pulling her around the stop sign. Smiling, it takes me back to those times with Jane when she was a babe. Now it is she that pulls me not the dog anymore for he is gone. The sky. The birds. Christine taking flight. Fire and flight. Powerful combination. I see the birds lined up on the telephone wire. I see the fingers of God. The rays of the sun coming through the clouds. It is a gift. I am overcome. I am one. The world has disappeared. I am sky. I am clouds. I am flight. I am the telephone wires. I am the dog wrapping myself around the stop sign. I am the baby bundled in the stroller. I am the little girl standing on the porch saying good morning. She is brave and bold as she tells her old dog not to bark at me. I am enlightened. I am alive.

(a recommended pause and breathe here ☺)

So, what brings you alive? How do you stay connected to your true essence – your personal freedom? What gives you flight or starts your blaze? If you can’t answer any of those questions…what are you waiting for? Come join me in this flame of New Year!

photos from my neighborhood

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Becoming Fire

Settling into the darkness of winter, I have been introduced to FIRE.

“No one but me by the fire, my hands burning red in the palms while the night wind carries everything away outside.” David Whyte – “The Winter of Listening”

“…she would burst into conversation that must have startled listeners, at times, like heat lightning in a distant summer sky.” Robert McDowell

“I am the fire of the world burning with desire.” Feminine World

“When prayer and attending to the Sacred have become so deeply integrated into your life that you are consumed by a love of God and all things, you have become fire.” Christine Valters Paintner

I am fire. Images dancing through my mind during my season of Advent. The flame. I am the fire of the world. I am flame. Light. Maybe the word is not light. Perhaps it is flame. Fire. To burn and not be consumed. Reaching toward the light. Becoming flame. Feeling that during centering prayer. Be Fire. Be the flame.

I am the fire of the world burning with desire. Desire does not consume. It encompasses and spreads. With motives of fear, it can be destructive and take out everything in its path. But desire and delight spreads – nourishes – overflows. The chalice. The flame. You cannot look away from the flame.

Today I was fire. The other warmed by my flame, not wanting to look away. Radiant – engaging. My truth shining through. Lovely. Kind. Free. Delightful. I am fire. My mantra for the year – the new year. Welcoming this into my life. Naming what is there. A spark. A light. The flame is coming into fruition. Ablaze. I am fire.

“Let your light shine. Let your love show.” Keb Mo

adapted from morning pages 12.30.08
photo - brazos de dios 1.06.09

Thursday, January 01, 2009


FIRE is my word for 2009...Watch out world!!!

photo © h3images

2008 Restrospective

No matter how many times I review the year 2008 and think of all of the things I did, saw, experienced and lived, it will always be The Year I Went to Paris!! On the other end of the spectrum, it will also be remembered as the year my beloved Curry died. My oh my, what a full year! Here are a few of the highlights to help synthesize my own memory ☺. In 2008:

lucy creates!!! was launched.
My trip to Paris was born via another blogger’s Sunday Collection
I took my first official art class @ Pratt Institute – Beginning Collage
Dreaming in French found its way into my nights
More than two dozen books made my completed reading list
Completed the co-authorship & facilitation of The Paradoxical Dance – a workshop for couples
Experienced lots of extraordinary ordinary time
Swam with the dolphins
Played and traveled with my sister
Missed my brother
Lots of Soul Collage
Had my first birth chart reading & later a current cycles reading
Took the Baby Road Trip (1975 miles)
Said good-bye to Curry
Experienced Sabbath with friends
Walked my first labyrinth (& my second)
Went on a Contemplative Yoga and Art Retreat
Was introduced to Photoshop Elements
Walked and walked and walked in the December snow
Enrolled in a Memoir Writing Course for 2009
Bought my own djembe & signed up for drumming lessons (beginning in two weeks)
Birthed a new collaboration for Group Spiritual Direction Supervision
Posted 362 blog entries
Filled half a dozen composition notebooks

Wow! Bring on 2009!!! Happy New Year!!!