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Claim the Sky

“A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wing in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky.” – Maya Angelou, Caged Bird

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” – Alice Walker

Church is not a place to go or not go once a week for an hour to check the attendance box and return to “normal” life. We are the church, not a building. Individually and collectively, we make up the church. What we believe in, what altars we kneel at, who we become if we dare to take the journey within and venture out.

We put ceilings up to limit God, circumstances, other people, self to be comfortable, safe and certain. We want to know the ending, but the ending is being written each new day in choices, thoughts, actions and inactions.

Our willingness to expand and open without fear of losing our sense of security and stability is the dance, the balance beam, the inflection point that pulls us into this moment, this day, aware of the mystery and entering it without full knowing but trusting it will unfold as it should.

“There is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don’t even know it. — Sue Monk Kidd

Regret’s only purpose is to change our behavior and actions. Carrying it further slows and stalls the journey forward. When we stop circling the same mountains looking for new terrain, we can venture off trail cutting new paths to new mountains.

Life is a series of interwoven journeys, moments to savor and memories in the making. Be present, feel the ground under your feet, expand your lungs with a deep breath.  Grasp the immensity and breadth of all that is before you and most importantly in you.

Allow the mystery to unfold and be revealed in quiet reflection and inquiry. Feel the pull of gravity. Follow the compass of intuition. Trust the soul’s compass. Ask the questions. Listen for the answers. There is no ceiling, just sky. Claim the sky.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” —Henry David Thoreau

Palpable Hope

“No doubt about it: this is the day of the going down into the tomb—our own as well as Jesus’. It is now the time for us to die to false hope. But it is also time for us to die to faithless despair.- Joan Chittister

This week in posts, I am focusing on Holy Week, the road to the cross. I realize that this will not sit well with many and that is alright. This journey is uncomfortable. It is heavier. It is deep. I am wandering through it and searching for its meaning in my own life.

It makes us stop our flurry of activities. It holds up a mirror to show us how we define our life, our being and how we can redefine our life, to be changed and transformed.

It is not about religion. It is about relationship. It is expansive, filled with mystery, unknowing, joy and light. It pulls us out of our own story to see how it fits into the story of humanity.

In struggles and victories, you are not alone, you are worthy and enough. Lighten your load and open up to seeing the hand of God in this moment and all moments. Life changing, hope-filled, luminous.

“Hope, you see is a slippery thing, often confused with certainty, seldom understood as the spiritual discipline that makes us certain of only one thing: in the end, whatever happens will be resolved only by the doing of the will of God, however much we attempt to wrench it to our own ends.

There is the hope that we can begin, finally, to see the world as God sees it and so trust that God is indeed everywhere and in everything at all times—in abstruse as well as the luminous, whether we ourselves can see the hand of God in this moment or not.” — The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister

Streams of Light

“The only road to Easter morning is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday. Only then will the alleluias be sung; only then will the dancing begin.”— Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

We look for shortcuts, ways around, a clear path, sunny days. Daily life is about going through, both the light and the dark, woven together. Seeing the streams of light in the clouds, trusting the sun remains, that it will rise and set.

This past year, the world has carried a heavy cross of a pandemic, of politics, of racism, of hatred. Darkness is a dead end, hatred begets more of the same, an abyss. Hope pulls us from despair and carries us to the other side.

Light, redemption, resurrection are real, overflowing and calling to each one of us. Light is the only sustaining choice to live in joy, equanimity and peace in an unrelenting world that keeps calling us to our worst selves. Choose light, life over death.

Streams of light are everywhere. Choose to be a beam in a world that longs for light yet still chooses to see the clouds alone. Cast light!

THE FEAR AND FEEDING OF THE SHEEP — Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

“We have nothing against Jerusalem; in fact, it’s the place to be on a sunny Easter morning.
It’s Golgotha that we fear; and yet, we’ve been to church enough to know that the way to Jerusalem leads through Good Friday.
Keeping covenant means keeping covenant under a cross as well as by an empty garden tomb.
What we’d like to do, of course, is wave palms and shout Hosanna and then rest up for the Hallelujah Chorus. We dismiss the others as religious fanatics, who wallow in the woe of Holy Week!
O Lamb of God, Lamb of God, Lamb of God, feed us!”

No Ordinary Week

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holiest week for Christians, for the world if the invitation is accepted. From Sunday shouts of “Hosanna!” entering Jerusalem to Friday’s “crucify Him!” on Calvary, God loved the world so much He sent his son to bear the cross, the weight of the world’s sins. Jesus not only spoke love, he lived it, proved it and is the model of it. When we are amidst our own struggles, carrying our own crosses, we think we are alone and no one knows. And we are wrong. Jesus does.

Love is the only thing that will save us and save the world. We’ve been given the model of love and this week is the culmination of it.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

It bears repeating. It bears living it out. Love.

New Ground

“Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts. Always keep your body filled with light and heat. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.” – Morihei Ueshiba

Put your energy and attention into what you can control – your thoughts, actions and imagination. Quiet the noise, lay down the weight of worry, offense and opinion. Open up to deep waters of possibility, enthusiasm and optimism.  Overflowing. Sacred. Holy. New day, new beginning, new ground.

For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue

“In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.”

Ice Out

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.” – Napoleon Hill

“The tree
That wanted to be
A beautiful book
It would die
If that’s what it took…” – Butterfly Boucher

Thin ice remains on the shore as the middle gives way to open, cold, deep water. The transformation from winter to spring almost complete. As winter and spring dance, transitioning who leads, a mix of cold and warm, dry and wet will bring us into April. The rain softens and greens the grass. Spring is certain. Winter returning in eight months is certain as well. The dance continues, steps in sync, choregraphed by the Author of Life.

Seasons, cycles, transitions, change are certain. Transformation, growth and transcendence are a choice, a decision. We can remain on the surface, on thin ice, in the hardness of winter or give way to spring, to dance, to deep waters.

The journey is not to foreign lands beyond but within to unfold, unwind and peal the layers to reveal our authentic self. It calls for letting go, dying to old self, releasing what was to be on its own to fully embrace what is while anticipating the fruit that comes with time, sun and rain. Take the journey.

“Well everything’s
Full of dreams for one thing…
And everything’s
Full of dreams for reasons…
And everything’s
Full of dreams for one thing…
So keep dreaming” – Butterfly Boucher

Nature Delivered

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” – John Milton

“For me, the reason why people go to a mountaintop or go to the edge of the ocean is to look at something larger than themselves. That feeling of awe, of going to a cathedral, it’s all about feeling lost in something bigger than oneself. To me, that’s the definition of spectacle. – Diane Paulus

Amidst my morning routine yesterday, I glanced out my front window and a herd of deer was across the street. I immediately went out in the rain to capture this rare occurrence. There’s a wooded trail a few blocks away where the girls and I normally see a few deer scattered through the trees. Delivered to my doorstep, they turned off my autopilot and pulled me into wonder and awe, a place we need to spend more time in.

Seek, invite and welcome awe and wonder in to wake you up to miracles found in ordinary days. Be open to surprise, joy and delight. Let it soak into your being to change you and how you see the world. The world needs more wide-eyed childlike optimists to show us the way. Heed the call.

We are at the foothills of mountains and looking only three feet ahead. Lift your head up and see the mountains to reset your perspective and shift into gratitude, magnitude, awe and wonder.

“Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe.” – Wayne Dyer

Rain Jacket

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” – John Updike

Against my natural instinct to not go out in the rain, I put on a rain jacket to get the girls for an end of day walk after another meeting-packed day. My last meeting yesterday was with a client who I’ve worked with for 12-years who is merging with another organization, so it was my last meeting with them. It was another good-bye. This has been a year filled with good-byes – of people, of activities we enjoy doing, of “normal” living.

Life often feels like series of good-byes and transitions. Our natural instinct is to avoid, run and hide from them like going into the rain. If we live well, we weave experiences, places and people through our fiber. They become a part of us so when things change, a piece of us is carved out of our being and we are never the same. But that is not the end of the story.

On the other side of good-byes are fresh hellos and adventures waiting to be entered when we cross the threshold of what has been to what is next. If we keep looking backwards, we miss what’s already present and what the past has prepared us for in new paths to explore. Life is a year-round classroom. We decide if we are going to learn and grow or do just enough to get a C+ by coasting unaware, stuck and dry in sameness.

Endings and beginnings are a package deal. If we allow, we concurrently enter the depth of departure and embrace the anticipation of new adventures. As a door closes, it prompts the next door to open. Often, it disguises itself as rain, so put on your rain jacket and get out into the rain, crossing the threshold to abundance and light.

Zoom In, Around and Out

“Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.” – Mary Webb

“Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.” – Yousuf Karsh

On the first lap around Como Lake, an eagle appeared on the left, floating and then swooping down to the lake to capture its prey with rapt focus, attention and execution. After landing, he stood on the remaining thin ice savoring his dinner.

On the second lap, the eagle was now in a tree looking all around and soaking in the fractured light of the sun setting through the clouds. Focusing with the same rapt attention on the wide as the narrow.

Throughout the day, change up your view to see wider, farther, closer, larger and smaller. Broaden and deepen your perspective through all lens – microscope, wide-angle and telescope.

Suddenly you’ll see the complexity and beauty in places, people and within as opinions, judgment and assumptions fall away. Beauty and grace enter to hold you in that space of possibility and abundance.

Joy Recipe

“You must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a song.” – Sai Baba

“All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” – Sai Baba

As the week begins and the weight of all that needs to be done fills on your mind, stop. Allow play, laughter, fun in to do its work in you. Do one new activity each day this week. Swing on a playground, jump rope without a rope, walk a new path. When you find yourself complaining and comparing, count your own blessings and give away that which you most desire.

When conspiracy theories, assumptions and judgment come to the forefront, change the narrative to believing the best and in all and everything to create space for joy in simple ordinary sacred days. Expand, absorb, lighten, deepen, laugh, dance and cast light.

don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements is a simple recipe for more daily joy:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.
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