Thursday, March 31, 2011

Caught between Tangible & Intangible

Today’s Lenten questions:
“What are the things you feel pulled between in your own life?”
“How are you being called to a greater experience of wholeness and integration?”

Isn’t that our greatest movement – the steps that propel us toward wholeness and integration? Living a life of integrity and not lies. The pull of life on the grand scale between love and fear. How will I step into the places of love? Where will fear seek to overcome my integrity?

In my recent post, a commenter asked what areas of growth I thought the robin’s song was signaling – spiritual, professional or relational? My response was that it feels like they’re all nestled together. My spirituality encircles everything I do and my professional life is all about relationship. I feel pulled or torn between being a go-with-the-flow, follow-my-heart, don’t-worry-about-time–or-money kind of woman and the get-‘er-done, make-a-list, be-productive, earn-a-living while tangibly-using-my-gifts messages that run through my mind. I am caught between the tangible and intangible.

Tangible output receives praise, financial reward, acknowledgement and results in physical product. This approach glorifies product over process. Process (or the intangible) comes from the times I sit curled on my sofa with music playing and candle lit simply allowing myself to be. Ineffable moments not limited by time or space. It is 'output' that can’t be quantified (nor should it be). Yet even this sacred time can be subjected to productivity results if I judge the quality by how many pages I pen or the number of minutes my meditation lasts. The challenge for me is to simply BE(E).

While in Egypt last fall, I received the word Be(e) during a very special ritual. It is proving to be quite a powerful presence for me. Bees are longtime symbols for accomplishing the impossible. The bee is a perfect totem for this place of being caught between tangible and intangible, product over process, because in reality both are necessary to achieve the balance my heart desires.

Be. It all comes back to this for me. Greater wholeness and integration calls me to this place where tangible and intangible meet and dissolve into one. Where product and process find their perfect balance. Where prayer becomes a way of being and being becomes a way of prayer.

Will you ponder today’s questions alongside me?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Robin's Song

I awoke feeling a little restless today. Kind of excited and a bit overwhelmed. That’s what sometimes happens when life presents so many full possibilities – ranging from new creative adventures to curling up with my Lenten readings.

While sitting at my desk just now, I caught sight of a glorious robin sitting at the tip top of a barren tree. She takes my breath away as I hear her song across the rumble of a school bus and the music playing gently in the background of my room. Her wings flap and I see the brilliant orange of her chest. Ahhh. Breathe. One. Two. Three. Four. I am here now.

A friend wrote me last week about a robin that’s been banging on her window whenever she tries to sleep or read in her room. My friend was not quite as enamored with her robin and was considering homicide (due to sleep deprivation). I encouraged her to not shoot the bird as it might be a sign of new growth in her life.

When I revisited Animal Speak this morning these words for robin showed up:

“The song of the robin is a cheery, rolling trill. Part of its purpose is to help the robin establish territory… This is very significant when robin shows up in your life… it reflects a need to sing your own song forth if you wish for new growth. Any confrontations or hindrances are more show than actual threats, so go forward.”

Oh my, there’s the call of the fierce warrior yet again. Breathe. One. Two. Three. Four. I am here now.

Where are you being called to sing your own song? Can you offer it with a cheery rolling, trill like the robin?

© robin's song 3.29.11

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fierce Warrior

“How are you called to be fierce in your commitment to…?” (This question posed by Abbey of the Arts Lenten Retreat)

I am a fierce warrior. This I know to be true. Nonetheless, I have a hard time understanding how other people see me because of conflicting messages. Shy – the label of my childhood. Bitch – the critical murmurs that followed me as I learned to stand up for myself and set appropriate boundaries. Peaceful. Contemplative. Mean. Brilliant. Crazy.

There have been times in life when making a controversial decision has taken all the strength and courage I could muster. It was terrifying and it was absolutely the right thing to do. To walk away from someone or something you love is the hardest thing in the world. Agonizing. Painful. True. Even harder is to step back in when your heart’s been broken. Rewards beyond our wildest imagination beckon us forward. Risk of rejection looms with infinite magnitude.

We reject ourselves all the time out of fear. I can’t do that… I could never… When we hear those words coming out of our mouths – beware! Especially when they sound like: My child would never.. I’ll never allow… This is just the way life is… Absolutes get us into trouble most of the time. Words like: I can’t or I won’t are rigid and stifle our growth and creative movement. They also push us away from what we are authentically called to do and be. They leave us passive and without choice or responsibility.

I daily choose to step into the places that scare me. I’m not frozen with fear to do the hard or unpopular things especially if it will benefit another’s growth (or my own). There is a Hindu mudra called Abhaya. It is a gesture asserting power and giving peace at the same time. The Buddah is said to have quelled a rampaging elephant with this simple gesture. In it I see both compassion and fight. So, as I fill-in-the-blank to the above question, my answer becomes Compassion. I am called to be fierce in my commitment to compassion for myself and the world. Finding compassion in the fight, and fight in the compassion. Yes, I am a fierce warrior.

And you? Where are you called to be fierce in your commitment?

(btw-this post is my scary thing today...)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just Be(e)

"Of all that God has shown me
I can speak just the smallest word,
Not more than a honey bee
Takes on his foot
From an overspilling jar."

Mechtild of Magdeburg

"bee hind" ©h3images

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Returning Home

We have the ability to lose ourselves so easily with a thought, a word, a deed, an action. But in the losing, we leave space to be found - to find - to return.

Home. What a beautiful word filled with resonance and rich meaning. To me "home" represents the deep internal space where I am fully known. It resides in the center of fullness that is so simple and complex, it becomes wordless. Home provides shelter, warmth and comfort. It contains all of our fears, doubts and greatest joys. It is the place where we operate on all cylinders - not shutting down any area of shadow or light.

This past week I was part of an experience called "Returning Home." My role was as facilitator, but my open heart could not help but receive as participant. I returned home to Soltura (the foundation for healing and personal growth) after a break of nearly two years. The experience was reminiscent of (& profoundly in sync with) the desert time I have been following during my Lenten practice. Like the desert fathers and mothers, we committed to remove ourselves from normal lives, set aside distractions and within carefully designed boundaries find our own unique rhythm(s). In this way, we returned home.

Through experience, I discovered a fresh way to the rhythm of healing - for myself, relationships and others. Through honor and delight, the spiraling movements from deep within spread their wings into the world.

How will you commit to return home today? For yourself and thus for the world...

"port orchard heron" © ksh 3/2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lenten Pilgrimage

Somehow the season of Lent allows me to sink more deeply into listening, waiting and letting go. Delightful themes and synchronistic opportunities have presented themselves abundantly and the journey has barely begun. As I mentioned in my last post, I had the beautiful opportunity of physically going on pilgrimage to the desert last fall. In conjunction with that trip, my fabulous guide invited me to write a short article for an upcoming website. It was indeed a delight when Christine @ Abbey of the Arts then invited the Lenten pilgrims to answer this question:

How have great pilgrimages and journeys brought you to a new insight about your daily life?

Today, I am pleased to share the words I had already penned for my Sapira friend.

Pilgrimage calls us to find that which is essential. We learn through preparation and packing for the journey. Along the way, we explore what nourishes us through feast of eyes, body and soul. Necessity changes shape as normal routines drift away. Paring down and moving toward simplicity, a sense timelessness envelops those who dare to step into the unknown.

Having participated in three intentional journeys (two of them with Sapira), I have come to know more of myself, and the world as a whole, through these travels. To fully enter a pilgrimage is to take off your shoes and stand on Holy ground. My toes have curled in the chilling loam of Ireland and danced across the swirling sands of the Sinai. My heart has opened by stepping into the gentle rhythms of the pilgrim’s clock. Pilgrimage is like walking an ancient labyrinth – each step intentional with no straight pathway – moving toward center and then returning back into the world with heart and soul forever changed.

My blessings envelop each of you who stops by this place. My hope is you will move more deeply toward your own center during this Lenten season and return back into the world with your heart and soul forever changed.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Desert Blooms

In October of 2010, I had the amazing privilege of journeying to the Sinai of Egypt. During this season of Lent, I am being called to return to the desert - this time in my thoughts and prayer life. There is a barrenness in the desert landscape that is in sharp contrast to the life I experience at home in the Pacific Northwest. We are surrounded by buckets of rain and lush foliage bursting with color. It can be a challenging shift between the landscapes and I am grateful to have the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers to guide me. This morning as I pondered Christine's words of blossoming and desolation, I couldn't help but remember my camel ride through the Sinai.

My perfect mentor showed up in the form of a majestic and sultry camel named Bella. She would be my wisdom guide for that day, and she lingers with me now as I rest over 6,000 miles around the globe. Bella was truly a desert queen and knew exactly how to find blossoms in the desert. She bloomed by following her own rhythm, and in these things we have much in common. Oh my, I love that camel. We started our day with a Bedouin boy holding the ropes. Slowly slowly we built trust until ultimately I received the reins. Nonetheless it was Bella who led.

This glorious creature had an uncanny way of spotting the smallest shade of green hundreds of feet ahead. She would subtly pull away from the crowd and with precision-like focus make her way to the nourishing Acacia bush. After dining, Bella and I would take our time wandering and pondering through the dry land. At times we moved slowly and walked along the edges of our tribe. Sometimes the pace was brisk and we bumped up alongside other pilgrims. When spying the blossoms before us, we pulled away from the herd to reach our destination.

As I remember Bella and write these words, it becomes clear this will be my Lenten journey - a season woven with times of rest, nourishment and activity. I must make time for my own rhythm and meditate in my cell as I surrender to the voices of Sabbath. Community will be important, for there I am called to laugh and love. The discipline of the practice offers me restoration and rejuvenation.

Like Bella and I in the desert, we don't have a map and cannot be certain what lies ahead. There is barrenness and desolation along the way, and nourishment blossoms in the most unexpected places. Welcome to the desert. I am grateful to be here. How about you?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Quiet Voice of Wisdom

The season of Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday. Words like surrender, sabbath, and begin again greet me with the journey. Step by step I inquire where I'm going. Today happens to be a day with a bit more spaciousness surrounding me. While I have lots to do, I don't have any "official" meetings scheduled so I am able to slow down and listen more deeply. For some reason a great scene from the book Eat, Pray, Love keeps coming to my mind. (btw - the scene is in the movie, but doesn't do the book justice) In the passage, Elizabeth Gilbert has her first intentional meeting with God. As she waits for wisdom in a time of crisis, she hears the simple words, "Go back to bed, Liz." This scene is so profound for me, because that is how I often experience the still small voice of wisdom.

Today's quiet has offered direction moment by moment: read this, write that, shower now, rest, fix dinner, sit, rest, and so on. When asked a question offered by Abbey of the Arts, these words arose:

What is the grace I am seeking this Holy season?

Surrender to the voices of Sabbath.
Let the timelessness was over you.
Trust. Laugh. Love more.
Rest and restore.

What is your still small voice inviting today? What grace are you seeking this season?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Drafty Window - Part 2

"Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." - Luke 8:46

In my last post, I wrote about my drafty window and today the conversation continues. As I ponder the warm air seeping out my window, I'm reminded of Jesus' story when he felt his power leave him as the woman in need of healing touched his garment. He said, "Someone has touched me." Is this how I feel as I'm aware of others' pain? Does compassionate power flow out to meet others' needs? Do I offer it willingly or is it sucked out unknowingly? Is warm air drawn out with the draft or does cold air come pouring through the window? How does another's hurt blow through the crack in my heart?

Compassionate hearts are at risk of being drained of their own life. Sacrificial giving can end in death. So, today I ponder the balance between offering myself in service of others and protecting my warmth and health enough to have something left to give. It's like the leaky window. Do I want to plug the cracks so the cold can't get in? If I do, does this mean my warmth will no longer flow out?