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Posts tagged ‘Faith’

A Listening

“A LISTENING – Going through Lent is a listening. When we listen to the word, we hear where we are so blatantly unliving. If we listen to the word, and hallow it into our lives, we hear how we can so abundantly live again.”— Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

When the answers are hollow, listen to hear the hallowed;
Speak less, listen more;
Listen to understand rather than to respond;
Be open to a new space of possibility;

I discovered Ann Weems work through listening to Amy Bost Henegar, who I discovered on Insight Timer. When we search with an open mind and heart, one thing leads to the next, connections begin to form and sense-making follows.

May we all be open to listening, changing and growth on our joyful journey to Bethlehem and the difficult journey to Jerusalem. Oasis and desert. Living and dying. Winter to spring. Renewed and strengthened.

“THE WAY TO JERUSALEM IS CLUTTERED – The way to Jerusalem is cluttered with bits and pieces of our lives that fly up and cry out, wounding us as we try to keep upon this path that leads to Life. Why didn’t somebody tell us that it would be so hard? In the midst of the clutter, the children laugh and run after stars. Those of us who are wise will follow, for the children will be the first to kneel in Jerusalem.” — Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems

 

 

 

Come, Sit for a While

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.” – Alice Walker

For so long
Day after day
Running fast and furious
Checking the box
New list, new boxes
Task after task
Problem solved, another takes its place
Transactional living

For who?
For what?
Why?
To What end?
Ask the questions
Inventory what stays and what must go and then release it

Money
Power
Ego
Legacy
Expectations and assumptions
Quantity over quality
Examine how time is being spent or given

On sabbath, God’s day, He calls us to rest as He did after 6 days creating the world
The Author of Life, asks us to pause
To ask the questions, to listen, to pull off the racetrack to rest, nothing to check off, no problem to solve, to just be so we can carry Sunday into the week

God chases us as we chase everything and everyone but Him
Patiently, lovingly, mercifully, gracefully, generously
He chases, calls and waits for us to see Him in the threads of ordinary moments, always present, whispering, “Come, sit for a while”

You have earned your rest
There is nowhere to go
Nowhere to be than right now
On a bench, taking in the depth and beauty of this very moment
Sunday was created to linger, to laugh, to lounge, to live so the rest of the week makes sense and is lived on purpose, gratefully and with intent, not accidentally

Right here, right now.
Come, sit for a while.

“If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life.” – Eugene H. Peterson

Steep

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Tea time is a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate our surroundings.” – Letitia Baldrige

It’s going to break into the teens today and 20s this weekend. After two weeks of below zero temps, 20s will be balmy. Dog parking, snowshoeing and running will commence today with a deeper gratitude and appreciation for the outdoors.

The past year of a pandemic, weeks of below zero and weather extremes across the country have steeped us like teabags in hot water. It’s been long enough, the tea leaves have dissipated in the water, there’s no flavor left, pull us out already. The tea is dark and strong.

Our timing and God’s timing are rarely in sync, and God is always on time. While steeped and stuck in the hot water, in the desert and winters of life, rather than longing to be pulled out already, perhaps the answer lies in us listening quietly, observing with rapt attention and opening up our being to receive the cues, clues and signs that we are surrounded with in this present moment.

We have had a combination bootcamp/master class this year in self-awareness and gratitude, the first ingredients to empathy and transformation – the ability to go outside ourselves and see our connectedness to others, awakening to our shared path and grateful for what already is present. Rather than pass hard and fast on the left in a rush to what’s next and new, we can move alongside each other and continue our journey together on our journey to return home to authentic self and becoming.

The only way to the other side is right through the middle. Not around or about but through. We fritter away a lot of time looking for shortcuts and loopholes rather than do the root work of seed germination that’s required to break ground, unfold into bud and burst into beautiful bloom.

Do not forgo this time. Go deep until the tea bag has expended all the flavor into the water. Steep and when it’s time, savor.

Red, Yellow, Green

“Intuition is the very force or activity of the soul in its experience through whatever has been the experience of the soul itself.” – Henry Reed

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

Red light – hard stop
Yellow light – in between, stop or go, make a decision, choose the brake or the gas
Green light – hard go

Much of our time and energy is spent in the comfort of the yellow light zone, vacillating between stop and go, searching for signs of red or green, clarity, specificity, direction, an obvious sign, a detailed map, a guarantee. There are certainly clear reds and greens, but the in decisions that truly matter, that move us to purpose and meaning, in change and new directions off the beaten path, direction is found in quiet, in trust, in our own intuition.

Without questioning, we put our trust in the world, in institutions, in parties, in others, in systems, in our own limiting beliefs and narratives. But when God asks us to trust in Him, in His plan, in your own purpose for being, we balk. Hard stop. It cannot be that simple and that hard at the same time. There must be more.

When we do our part of listening to the soft whisper, we can move into each day taking a step at a time in gratitude and trust, guided by the compass of intuition rather that a detailed step-by-step map down the world-approved obvious road. God always does His part to show us green lights, red lights, when to pump the brakes, to hit the pedal, to idle in patience and when to pull off to the rest for a bit.

Signs and signals are woven into each day showing the path, one step at a time, when to stop, to go, to simply remain. Look, listen, trust. Eyes on the road ahead, glancing only but for a moment in the rearview mirror to see how far you have already come.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

22 Years Ago

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” – Pope Francis

“The days are long, but the years are short.”― Gretchen Rubin

22 years ago today on Wednesday, February 17th, 1999 I went to 7:00 am Ash Wednesday mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. When I arrived to work, I had a voicemail from my doctor’s office. The Friday prior, I had a biopsy taken of a mole on my right arm, so I was assuming the results were in. On Friday, she said, “don’t worry, it’s probably nothing.” When I called back, the nurse said I made an appointment for you on Friday. “You have melanoma.” Cancer. Hard stop. I blew off the rest of the day – it took a cancer diagnosis to finally take a day off.

She said I was getting an in-office wide excision (cut it off, a few stitches, move on). When I arrived, the doctor said that there would be no in-office procedure but due to the size and speed of growth, he would need to do surgery to go deeper and check if it spread to the lymph nodes. Three weeks more. Super, more waiting. The only time that I cried during the entire experience was when I went out to the waiting room and told my family that I needed surgery and looked into my Dad’s eyes. He aged 10 years in an instant. Both of his parents died of cancer, so I knew where he went.

The day of the surgery, they put dye in my arm and took pictures for an hour to see if any lymph nodes “lit up.” Three buggers did so full surgery on the arm to dig deep in the mole area and underneath the arm to remove three lymph nodes. Happy ending – caught just in time, no spread, no chemo or radiation. Move on, check in annually every year for five years.

Transformative moments of diagnosis, loss, transition, change, detours and sharp turns demand a hard stop to reassess perspective and priorities, inventory how, who and what we spend our time on and if we are living with intent, purpose, from a place of deep gratitude. If we don’t stop, we miss the blessings, steeped in the burdens alone. We can also make hard stops without a diagnosis to ensure we are not straying off the gratitude trail. Pause each day to reflect, take inventory and stay awake to the gifts of ordinary miracles and blessings. When we pump the brakes, the hard stops are less hard.

22 years ago wasn’t the last hard stop, but it did ground me in gratitude and optimism, although I wander off regularly. 2020 wasn’t my “worst” year or will it be our last hard stop. If we allow, hard stops from difficulties can be wake up calls, so no year can ever be completely written off. Woven through burdens and struggles are blessings and light that become apparent with time and distance. Knowing that allows for joy to enter daily, no matter the circumstances.

Life is happening for us, not to us. 22 years ago, at the end of Lent, 40 days in the desert, I was cancer-free. The promise of spring was different that year and spring has come every year since without fail. It will continue to come at the end of each long winter without skipping its turn. Do not forego the time between ashes, cross and resurrection. Each day is holy, sacred time. From Ash Wednesday to Easter, walk the path, experience the depth of the journey, allow a peace that passes all understanding to enter and sit next to you, holding your hand. Never alone, from ashes to resurrection, winter to spring.

“Lent is a time of going very deeply into ourselves… What is it that stands between us and God? Between us and our brothers and sisters? Between us and life, the life of the Spirit? Whatever it is, let us relentlessly tear it out, without a moment’s hesitation.” – Catherine Doherty

Your Lion’s Suit

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage.” –  Thucydides

I stopped by to visit and drop off a few coloring books for Liam who was just getting up from a Sunday nap. He walked out in his lion suit, a costume sewed decades ago by my Aunt Terry for my niece Emily for Halloween.

A random day in February and it was lion suit day. I’ve written often in Cast-Light about my dogs, Liam, friends and family. All sources of inspiration and frustration (humans can do that), light and love. Who and what we surround ourselves with defines the quality of our life. As important, perhaps more so, is who and what we surround our self with inside of thoughts, mind and actions – the me in the we.

When we are our most authentic self, showing up in our own lion suit and not the one others think we should be wearing, we come home to joy, purpose, clarity and contentment.

Many will tell you what “suit” they expect you to wear.
Don’t listen.
Many will tell you that you don’t wear a lion suit that’s too small for you on a Sunday afternoon.
Don’t listen.
Many will tell you, do it my way, it’s better.
Don’t listen.

Wear your lion suit with joy, awe and wonder, entering your own space, completing your own assignment. When I drift and wander, listening to everything but my own voice, I find the courage of a lion again when I see Liam in his lion suit, unapologetic, filled with joy and coloring outside the lines.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:11-18 NIV

The Gifts

Start your day slowly, quietly and with intent. Throughout the day, listen to your own voice, seek wisdom outside when thoughts constrict rather than expand your view. Poetry, music and art are balms to the soul, a lift to the spirit.

For the past six months, the most fruitful ritual that has become a nonnegotiable is the Insight Timer app. It is the best tool to guide me into quiet, contemplation and exploration. It has changed the quality of my days, especially as we move through one year of “pandemic living.”

Amy Bost Henegar has 4-6 minute prayers that are uplifting and grounding at the same time. In the one I chose today, she referenced a poem by Ann Weems that is worth sharing as we move closer to the other side of pandemic living into whatever may come next.

We are in transformational times, struggling in the dark cocoon and preparing for the promise of the butterfly, which never fails. Resilience, optimism and hope are the fuel to move through all difficulties in life. The pandemic wasn’t the first nor will it be the last chronic and comprehensive struggle we will experience. Misery, consternation and fear do not make transformational times pass more quickly, rather they only serve to steal our joy that’s available despite circumstances, other people and even a pandemic. Dare to find awe and open the gifts in both ordinary and extraordinary days.

The Gifts of the Magi, Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem

“O Lord, I’d like to go to the stable this night!
I’d run – even through the dark
To lay my gifts at your feet!
Lord, why couldn’t I have been there?
I needn’t have been a king – perhaps just a shepherd child
Or someone sent from the inn – To check on the progress of the birth…
Or are you waiting this night in other stables
For me – to bring my gift?
Are you waiting for me to run
Even through the dark and cold of the night?

God’s Handwriting

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.” – Brene Brown

Listen up
You are enough
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
You are beautiful inside and out

Look around
Take in the beauty of a sunrise, binding heaven to earth
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
The sun remains in front and behind the clouds, unmoved

Head down
Root your feet in this place and time
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
You are where you need to be so find the reason and let it unfold

Journey within
You are worthy
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
You have arrived and will continue to unfold

Step back
Observe as a spectator and absorb only what is necessary to nurture, prune and prepare
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
Seasons, rhythms, cycles promise full bloom, the transformation to butterfly

Enough, worthy and beautiful in this very moment
Return to yourself and allow God to do His work and you do your work
Right now, nowhere to go, nothing to do, no permission needed
God’s handwriting is within and all around. Let your story be completed by the author of life.

You are enough, worthy and beautiful.

“Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle

February Promises

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

“Keep every promise you make and only make promises you can keep.” – Anthony Hitt

As February enters, the energy, enthusiasm and rush of New Year’s resolutions have waned. You’ve either made progress, are stuck, disappointed, encouraged or a combination of it all. We make big plans and forgo the daily practices and habits to transform them into changed behavior and new destinations.

While it feels like it’s time to give up on resolutions, now is the precise time reflect, recalibrate and promise to keep moving and starting new each day. Promises are commitments that we make with our heart. If your heart isn’t in it then you’re going in the wrong direction. Spend the next week asking yourself what you want more of in your life like laughter, joy, a renewed sense of wonder.

In the beginning of January, I chose to do the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge with Insight Timer, in addition to my daily meditation practice. I wrote everyday for Cast Light. Not all of the posts were complete, perfect or finished to where they could have been, but I overcame resistance by doing it imperfectly. I’ve been active daily with snowshoeing or running, “dog parking” with the girls to be reminded of simple joy of open spaces to run freely and with abandon.

Make promises to yourself and hold them up with resolve and daily imperfect action.

“Wise to resolve, and patient to perform.” – Homer

The Certainty of the Rooster

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Within our obstacles and struggles lie the answers and insight necessary to move beyond feelings, automatic reaction and shallow perspective to understanding, clarity and transformation.

Getting the right answers requires asking the right questions. If we dare to enter the space of honest inquiry, choosing to linger, we move past trite and obvious answers to deeper meaning found in “root” work. With time, patience and faith, we trust that the rooster will crow and the darkness of night transforms to the breaking of day and gift of light.

In Jewish tradition, they refer to “the wisdom of the rooster.” The rooster is the first to sense that the day is breaking and announces the coming of light. Knowing that the light always enters at the right time offers hope in the certainty of transition from dark to light.

Wait and anticipate the call of the rooster announcing the breaking of dawn and entrance of light. What follows is discovery, clarity and light that transforms our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows into meaning, joy and purpose.

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

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