Saturday, May 30, 2009

enCouragingBliss: What would you sacrifice?

What do you want? What do you really need? What would make your soul burst into the flower, into the universe that it was born to be? And what are you willing to sacrifice to get there? These are questions posed by BlissChick on her latest post: enCouragingBliss: What Would you Sacrifice?

Pondering these questions, I sat down with pen and paper and this is what poured out: What do I want? What do I need? I want my family to be healthy and whole. I am one of the lucky ones. I do not have to worry about whether or not there is enough food on the table or where we will sleep at night. If my children want to go to college, we could make that happen.

I have the house – the car – the life that many people dream of having and I am VERY grateful. I have made choices – even sacrifices – along the way. We live in the “starter home” we bought 20 years ago. It is more than enough. We chose to live our life on one income. It has been a good income. Like I said, I don’t have to worry about much. Still I ponder…what do I want? need?

I want the freedom to go for a walk in the sunshine – to put pen to paper – to watch my children reach adulthood. I would sacrifice my life for my children, but I will not sacrifice my living – my bliss. To live means to explore the depths of my heart – to experience joy which can come from something as simple as rolling in the grass with friends - to feel sorrow so deep that breaking glass or throwing rocks in the ocean is all that can suffice.

In regard to material things - I repeat - I have been very fortunate. In addition to the house – the car – the children, I have an advanced education, access to books and music. I could attend opera, plays, visit museums and other cultural events if I so desire. Still, I come back to the simple things. Watching a child play in the park. Scratching a few words into my $2 composition notebook. Walking hand in hand with my husband to watch a sunset after a day’s work.

In light of the economy and life’s uncertainties I take none of these things for granted. I return to the questions: What do I want? What do I need?

I need connection with people – with nature – with God – with myself. A roof over my head which I have imagined as a motor home of simple means or a lean-to on a Mexico beach. Basic food – rice, beans, veggies & fruit.

What would I sacrifice? How do I begin to name sacrifice? BlissChick calls it “sacred and holy choosing.” Holy choice. I believe I make holy choices every day. Will I spend time with God or will I sit down and veg out in front of the tv? Will I expand my work to help others or will I focus only on me? Will I fix a meal with love for my family or drive through a fast food restaurant and fill my body with toxins?

Yes, I have a choice. I have the means to drive my car and purchase food. Still I hope I am making conscious choices to live my bliss. Bliss knows that creating art with crayons and scratch paper can be as powerful as traveling to Paris to visit the Louvre – that spaghetti with loved ones is more important than dining at a 5-star restaurant alone – that riding the bus will give me as much contentment as touring the country in my convertible.

I know I have these choices. I have worked hard to have them. I work to hold onto the choice. I have lost friends and social status because of my choices. It is not easy choosing to be different. I have been considered “whacko” or “out there” because I navel-gaze and consider my bliss. I would go to the wall for authentic connections. I would sacrifice much – all – anything for the three most important relationships in life: God, Others & Myself.

Thanks BlissChick for asking these questions. So, what do you really need and what are you willing to sacrifice to get there?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

six words...& more

Living in Paradox
Integration is Hard

This morning I spent some time pondering the wonderful book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs. The above words are what popped out for me today. I realize I could exchange the words “living in paradox” with “light and dark”; “full or empty”; “fire and water”; “me and God”, etc. I think you get the picture. Living a life of paradox is all of those things… “difficult and simple”… the list is never-ending.

My past several weeks have been all of the above and more. Lots of wrestling going on. In more than one context the question of whether or not it is “better” or “less painful” or “more glorious” to have insight has come into conversation.

While walking this morning these words came to me. “The bigger the light, the larger the shadow.” So, if I am indeed FIRE…BIG FIRE. What kind of shadow will I cast? If the pendulum swings far into sadness will not the law of physics swing it to the same degree of joy and back again?

So what of integration? How do we live fully into joy and sadness without getting whiplash from swinging back and forth? If our eyes are open, we see not only the amazing beauty of the simplest pleasure, but also the great depth of pain that pervades the world.

I sit in a time of letting go. Every birth is a death of something else. (Today is my beautiful boy's birthday). Every death means a new way of existing is being created. (Two weeks ago was the 5 year anniversary of my mother's death). Six weeks ago, I left a job I have loved. This weekend was shared with wonderful friends. Last week was time well-spent with amazing women including my fabulous sister. Like I said, lots of wrestling. Lots of joy. Lots of sorrow. Integration is hard. Six word memoirs? Six word responses? I’ve missed these conversations and look forward to hearing from YOU!

Friday, May 15, 2009

welcome the dark

Go to the place of your greatest fear
and there you will find your greatest strength

image from lucy's book of hours

Posts I'm pondering today: Abbey of the Arts; BlissChick; MindSieve

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dancing with the Jellyfish

"Nature...a source of renewal and perspective, a place to be made whole." Mimi Farrelly-Hansen

Walking on the shore, I find myself staring at transparent beauty. Beauty began to stare back at me – to cry out – to breathe and gasp – “Help me” “Save me” “I’m melting…melting”.

Breathing or melting? The sun drying out her ethereal body. Only a spark to be left at the center.

The core. The center. The soul. The outer withering away. Dried up and gone with the wind.

The jellyfish pled to be saved. She looked at me from that transparent soul. “Water of life, I need you.”

And so the dance began. Scooping her up with a sheet of broken plastic – garbage left in the sand. Scooping and tossing. Over and over again. The currents – the waves - would not cooperate. They would not carry her out to sea.

Watching the rhythm – landing her in the ocean – she began to swim. Her tentacles spreading and floating. Beautiful and deadly. They are her power and they are deadly. I nearly forgot they could harm me, so mesmerized by the beauty was I. Her power full and floating free. Could she escape to the open sea?

No. She was destined to arrive on the shore. I could not save her. Did she know and feel that I fought for her? Scooping and tossing again and again until I knew I could not save her.

And so I left her by a rock. A small pool of water keeping her moist. Life giving. Life sustaining. Maybe that small pool of water was enough to nourish her. Perhaps the tide changed and pulled her back to sea. Back to see the depths of the ocean.

Did she know I fought to save her? Was that enough? Did she know?

Will I let my power flow or will I tuck it under and shrivel up and blow away?

She was 85% water. The sun drying her out. The heat. The fire of day. Shriveling into sand. Beached upon the earth. Blown away by the wind. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

Perhaps the morning rain released her. Maybe her soul dropped into a new body. The joy of a dog. The laughter of a child. The brilliance of a woman.

photos by lucy 5.07.09

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sun & Sixteen

One of the greatest gifts in life can be having a friend who knows you well. You wonder and ponder whether they were with you in another life or silently observing you throughout the years. You experience those moments when you say, "how did you know?", But then it doesn't really matter does it, because they have seen deeply into your being, and to know and be known needs no response at all.

The following poem was gifted to me this week from one of those wonderfully amazing friends. Were she and the poet laying on the grass beside me? I wonder...
Thank you, C.

The Sun Lover

The long afternoon after church

a girl lies on the lawn,

glazed thighs slightly parted,

fingers splayed like petals. At sixteen

she is a virgin. While her parents nap

in the quiet house, she knows

the sun is teaching her about love,

how it comes over your body

making every muscle go soft

in its pitiless gaze,

how it penetrates everything,

changing you into something dark

and radiant. She craves it,

knows it is everywhere like God’s love,

but difficult to find. She waits,

entirely still, trying to see her eyelids–

not lingering traces, but the lids themselves

luminous and red as the cheeks of the kid

who stuck a flashlight in his mouth at camp.

She squints so the tips of her lashes

flash like iridescent fish scales.

Every hour, she turns over but prefers

to face the sun. All her life

she’ll measure loves against this

gentle ravishing. She’ll spend afternoons

alone on crowded beaches, and at home

stand naked before mirrors, amazed

by the pale shape of her suit. She’ll touch

her cheekbones’ tingling pink, and nip

at her lover’s shoulders, as if

it were earth she were after.

-Julia Kasdorf

photo of me at 16

Thursday, May 07, 2009

scribbled on a scrap of paper

diving into the depths...
do i fight or
will i surrender?

are you leading me
in my dreams?
will i awaken
to an ongoing nightmare

or shall peace
finally flow & wash
over me
with new, abundant

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

now that i'm free...

Feeling slightly less discombobulated...I spent some time yesterday in nature with only the elements and creatures as company. Earlier today I found this very apt poem by one of my favorites, Mary Oliver.

Now that I'm free to be myself, who am I?

Can't fly, can't run, and see how slowly I walk.

Well, I think, I can read books.

"What's that you're doing?"
the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.

I close the book.

Well, I can write down words, like these, softly.

"What's that you're doing?" whispers the wind, pausing
in a heap just outside the window.

Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face.
It doesn't happen all of a sudden, you know.

"Doesn't it?" says the wind, and breaks open, releasing
distillation of blue iris.

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

-Mary Oliver from Blue Iris

I'd love to hear what this poem says to you. Personally, I find myself hanging onto the first and last stanzas. Now that I'm free...

Monday, May 04, 2009


I am really having a hard time finding my center these days. Perhaps it is being away from home and routine. Late nights filled with a little too much wine and festivity. Groggy mornings spent lounging and sipping cappuccino while the ocean breeze blows across my face. Is there such a thing as too much paradise?

I wonder if the discombobulation comes from too much activity – lack of routine – overindulgence. Or perhaps is it a result of my recent “retirement” from a job and institution I have loved for five years? What comes of being surrounded by people who talk of high-level politics, economics and other “ics”? I want to indulge in matters of the heart, but find there are few doors in. My heart feels lonely and sad. I am a spiritual misfit here.

The crowds are thinning and I will hopefully have a little more time to center over the next few days. My favorite monk arrives this afternoon. Perhaps the spiritual balance will shift. I am really having a hard time finding my center these days. My writing feels stifled. My voice sounds hollow. And even my skin is having a strange reaction to the sun.

Weird unfurling and a struggle to list Bliss even as I sit in the middle of paradise. Wonder what’s up with that? Anybody besides me (and Sue) ever feel discombobulated?

Friday, May 01, 2009

are you awake?

"Only that day dawns to which we are awake." Thoreau

Posts to help awaken your May day:
Abbey of the Arts
Anchors & Masts