The “goodness” of Good Friday

At first blush, meditating on the goodness of Good Friday seems to be foolish. What is good about a day designed to make Christians stop and ponder a gruesome, ghastly death of a seemingly innocent man? To reflect on an event of a man caught up in government hierarchy and power, who was tried without benefit of anyone standing with him, and was judged by these government forces – out of their fear – and sentenced to death? A seemingly agonizing and horribly painful death in between two thieves according to the stories we’re told? What is good about that?

Cross of San Damiano Bishop Chartrand Memorial Chapel – Marian University

We know Easter Sunday is coming. We know there will be New life, Rebirth, Resurrection. As Christians, we celebrate life as people of the Resurrection, people of Hope, people of Love and Grace.

But first . . . We must journey through the dying and the entombing and the uncertainty and unknowing.

Unless a grain of wheat fall, break open, and die to itself as a seed, it will remain just a grain of wheat. It will produce nothing. But if it dies – if we die – to our self, to ego, to desire and craving, and what the “I” wants, we will become what we are meant to be.

How have the events of the past few weeks and months broken you open? I believe the uncertainty and the unknowing of this threshold event beckons us to break open and embrace a new awareness, a new life, a new way of being in this world going forward. Are we ready to let go of what we used to know and be and allow a dying to a way of life that left us exhausted and over stimulated and filled with mass consumption of stuff? A life where our consumption has seriously impacted our natural world? How will our self-quarantining, our entombing of the ego, bring forth a True Self which is more in harmony with our natural world and with one another?

I believe we are being asked to see this time of COVID19 quarantining and social spaciousness as threshold to a new way of being in this world. We are being broken open and changed. We cannot go back to the way things were before because we are not the same people.

Jesus told us two things – love God, the Divine, The Mystery, the Cosmic Consciousness – however you might name The Other. He also said love your neighbor as yourself. Show compassion, be kind, be generous, look out for those on the margins, the sick, the imprisoned, the disabled, those we deem weak and unworthy, those of a different race, culture, creed, or sexual orientation or identification, the weirdos, those entrenched in positions – anyone who is “different” from us. Jesus summed it up. It’s not about following all the minutia of man-made rules. It is about breaking open to Light. Grace. Love.

The struggle is real to allow ourselves to be broken open. I’ve known it. I’ve struggled with loss of a career and letting go of an image and a persona. I’ve wrestled with transitions, stood at thresholds, watched loved ones take their last breath and felt shattered and scattered and exhausted by it all. I screamed and cried and shook my fist at God and the Universe and asked why. This doesn’t make any sense. And while in the midst of it, I could not see the Grace in it. I could not be grateful for the gifts. We can’t see where the path will take us while standing in the doorway – the threshold. We have to step through the door to follow the path.

Dying to the Self or the body dying doesn’t make any rational sense whatsoever. We are biologically primed to survive and stay alive in body and in Self. So how do we make sense of The Cross and Jesus’ dying? Lots of other learned theologians and writers have written pages and pages on this. Some call it folly because Jesus’ act seems foolish by all human accounts. I’ve read and pondered and concluded I can’t make sense of it intellectually. We must experience the breaking and pulling apart and even then it still doesn’t make rational sense.

What is good about Good Friday? It’s a reminder of the fragility of human life and the precious gift of each individual. Yes, even the one you despise. It’s a call to live in the moment. It is a reminder to never miss an opportunity to tell the people closest to you, you love them. It is the Grace to show gratitude. It is a symbol that things don’t make sense, that people can be cruel and reject you and try to kill your soul and your spirit not because they are evil but because they, too, are broken.

I believe this Good Friday is a wake up call, an opportunity to see human-made constructs of government and hierarchical power may not be the way to function all the time, that perhaps the wild and uncontrolled energy of Mercy and Love and Grace is what is needed. Let’s not through the baby out with the bath water. I’m not advocating anarchy. What I am challenging is that while we need constructs and hierarchies to preserve and protect, we also need the wild and uncontrolled energy of Love, Grace, Mercy, Compassion, Gratitude. It is not an either/or but a both/and. We are being called to soften, to be kinder and more gentler, to allow ourselves to be broken open for something new.

Here are some questions for prayer or reflection. Perhaps you want to journal or create art or SoulCollage with these questions. Sit with them and let arise what arises without judgment. May you be blessed by Love and Grace and Mercy this day and always. May Easter be particularly special for you this year.

How has this time of Covid19 broken you open? What has arisen in you? Can you lean in and gently hold the fear, uncertainty, or anger and let it transform and transmute? What is “good” for you today? What image or images capture what you are feeling at this time? In this time of uncertainty and unknowing, recognize the powerful energy of liminal space, of being on the threshold. Have you experienced being on the thresh hold at other times in your life? Is there a word or words which stood out for you in this blog? Find an image in a magazine or on line which symbolizes what you feel about Covid19, The Cross of Jesus or that word or words which stood out for you.

Be well. Be safe. Blessings – Christy

(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting and can be done via Zoom or FaceTime. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me to schedule an informational workshop. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)

We’re all in this together.

I realize you are probably overwhelmed with information, news and emails filling up your digital mailbox. I’ll keep this short and sweet.

You are not alone. If you are feeling alone or lonely, call someone, send a card or an email. If you are feeling afraid. It’s okay. I am too – a bit. The initial shock of what’s been happening in the world the past few weeks is overwhelming to say the least. Please ask for help and for contact. Better yet, offer help and contact to someone else.

I’m still offering a SoulCollage workshop on April 18th. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/listening-heart.com/219 I’ll be trying it on Zoom. I hope it will be a source of comfort, creativity and insight for participants. There will likely be a few laughs too as I navigate an unfamiliar platform for delivery but hey, it’s never too old to learn something new. You should sign up for it if only for the comedic value! We’ll have fun and hopefully discover something about ourselves as well.

In all seriousness though, I am here to companion you, to listen deeply, to provide a sacred space and place to grieve, be angry, cry, pray, shout – whatever it is you need to do to connect with your inner healing spirit and the gracious loving Divine within you. Even if you are not sure what you believe or don’t consider yourself “religious” but want to have someone deeply and patiently listen to you – I am here for you.

Email, call, or contact me via social media. We can “meet” via FaceTime, Skype or some other platform and of course, there is the phone! I’m offering discounts for sessions purchased in a 3 session package so reach out.

I offer distance Reiki with discounts for 3 session packages too. Reiki energy work during this time offers relaxation and allows the energy – the Chi – of the Universe to flow.

Whatever your spiritual need is, please know you are held in prayer. Yes, even though I don’t know you or we haven’t met, I hold you and the rest of the world in prayer for patience, for compassion, for healing and for a new vision going forward.

Be well. Be Safe. Blessings.

Christy

(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)

All Will Be Well

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” wrote Thomas Paine, about the tyranny of the British against the colonists of America in December 1776. It feels like we are experiencing the tyranny of a microscopic entity known as COVID19. These are indeed the times that try all our souls and our hearts, our patience, and our hope.

These are the times when I’m reminded of the Serenity prayer – again and again. Grant me the serenity to change the things I can. What can I change in this time of uncertainty and what appears to be an unraveling of connection and compassion?

First of all – just breathe. Stop for a moment. Put down your phone, your pad and all the “stuff” coming in at a billion bits a second and breathe. Sit. I’m reminded of the words of St. Clare of Assisi – gaze upon, consider, contemplate, imitate. Ponder all the information that’s been coming at you for weeks. Consider YOUR personal reaction and the choices over which you have control. Will you up your game with better personal hygiene, eat better, drink more water, or take a walk?

Contemplate. Yes. During this time of social distancing, you have been provided with the wonderful gift of solitude and an opportunity for contemplation. Put down the phone, the social media, turn off the streaming news and JUST BE. You’re afraid or nonchalant. I get it. Whatever feeling arises. Whatever thoughts arise. Let them flow by like a leaf floating in a stream. Whatever arises – just keep breathing.

Imitate. These are trying times. People are scared. Let’s be honest. Everyone is scared. Some admit it. Some don’t. Some are cavalier and throw caution to the wind. Some are daring, defying or depressed. Above all we need to be compassionate. There is no need to taunt the shopper in the grocery store about bathroom product or other purchases. No need to hoard either. There is enough for all. Those on the margins need your help more than ever. Imitate compassion. Imitate Love. Be like Jesus if that’s your thing. Be like Dorothy Day or Catherine Doherty or anyone who seems to go above and beyond. Be inspired. Breathe peace. Walk peace. Be peace.

The other part of the Serenity prayer is accepting what we cannot change. There are just some things beyond my control like the value of my retirement portfolio, the spread of virus causing cancellations of large gatherings of people and the postponement of events like the start of spring (meaning – the beginning of baseball season!). I don’t want to appear flippant yet if you’ve read prior blog entries you know how much I love baseball. I read the news today and it felt like winter was going to last another 6 months because the start of MLB was postponed. I was reminded to be grateful for all that I have. Spring will come as it always does. America has rolled on through the years and the one constant has always been baseball (thank you Terrance Mann and Field of Dreams!) It will come.

And so I hang on to all the quotes, wisdom and learning from sages and mystics of long ago especially to Julian of Norwich. “All will be well, all will be well. All manner of things will be well.”

Trust. Believe. Hope. Be healthy. Take precautions. Be well.

Blessings,

Christy

Please note: I will be taking extra precautions for directees I meet with in person Hand sanitizer and wipes will be made available. Lots of extra cleaning and spraying with disinfectants too. Still uncomfortable? I will companion you through FaceTime, Skype or other platform. Let’s talk.

(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)

Soul Collage© and Labyrinths

SoulCollage Card

Since I last wrote, I’ve attended several training opportunities which also gifted me with spiritual growth as well. In December, I flew to Connecticut and then took a very expensive cab to Westfield, Massachusetts for a 5 day training workshop to be a SoulCollage© facilitator. I have created a information page here on the ins and outs of SoulCollage© so I won’t rewrite it all here.

My first experience with SoulCollage© was in the fall of 2018 when I attended a day retreat/workshop. I fell in love with the creativity of the process which awakened more of the right side of my brain. For me, it brought balance to the creative and analytical sides. When I’m intentionally creating and seeking the “right” image my analytical brain evaluates the size, shape, color, etc. of an image then the left brain kicks in like Jackson Pollack throwing paint!

Last June I had an amazing and deep experience of creating SC cards while on a 7 day, personally directed silent retreat at Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center in Fremont, Ohio. https://www.pinesretreat.org/ I’m going again this year. Being able to create collages of images to express the indescribable growth in spiritual matters gave me a way to describe without words all the “stuff” of interior movements. Theresa of Avila used the image of Spanish mansions to describe the work of the Spirit in her life and her mystical encounters with the Divine. I cut and paste magazine and calendar images to 5×8 cards!

And the end of January, I attended a prequalifying workshop and a 2 day training to be a Veriditas trained labyrinth facilitator. The prequalifying workshop was SoulCollage© and Walking the Labyrinth! I created a page about the labyrinth here so feel free to read more on that page. We were introduced to SC – some of us were trained SC facilitators but it is always great to see how someone else facilitates a workshop – and then went to the outdoor labyrinth at the Avon Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. After our walk we came back to the fellowship hall and created SC cards.

My very first time walking a labyrinth was weeks after my mother had passed away in 2016. I seem to tuck that away when I talk about my labyrinth experiences. I also had access to one in my spiritual direction internship program which I used frequently. My first time walking was during a workshop at the Oldenburg Franciscan Center. It’s probably one of my first expressions of body prayer unless you consider sitting in stillness and uprightness on a Zen cushion as a form of body prayer. I recall walking with the rawness of the grief and loss and also finding comfort in the twists and turns and journeying to the center and back out. You can’t get “lost” on the labyrinth. You might miss a turn – and I’ve done that – and come back round again but the labyrinth is truly a metaphor for life. It is an ancient archetypal symbol of the journey and the path.

We think it’s linear but live meanders and comes back on itself and goes to the center and back out on the edges again and again. I love walking a labyrinth for that reason. I think walking and looking where the turns are gives my left brain something to do while my creative mind – and my heart – have a space to be open to the movements of Spirit and Universe.

I’m planning to facilitate some SoulCollage© workshops. I also want to facilitate helping others experience the labyrinth. If I am able to pull the two together at some point then that would be fantastic.

The motto in SC is Discover Your Wisdom, Change the World. Many quotes apply to the labyrinth but St. Augustine said it succinctly when he said “It is solved by walking.”

Please contact me and let me know how I can help you create and collage SC cards to help you discover your inner wisdom. And let me walk with you on your own labyrinth, your own spiritual path and discover inner wisdom in walking.

Upcoming Events

CATHERINE DE HUECK DOHERTY – Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a Russian-Canadian Catholic social worker and founder of the Madonna House Apostolate. She was a pioneer among North American Catholics in implementing the Church’s social justice teachings and encouraging contemplation! A prolific writer, she urged Christians to take time apart, enter the poustinia and encounter the Divine in silence and solitude. Thursday, March 5, 2020, 6:30 to 8:00 PM Lenten Series Workshops at Oldenburg Franciscan Center $15 http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org/programs.html

MIRABAI STARR – Mirabai Starr is a writer, teacher, and bereavement counselor who seeks to honor all the world’s faith traditions and to honor contemplation. The experience and connection of between loss and a longing for God is the ground of her spiritual life and the basis of her writings. Her first book, a translation of St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, was released the same day her youngest daughter was tragically killed in a car accident. Mirabai coped through writing, contemplation and seeing the connection of all. Since that first publication, she’s written several books on mystics. Her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of Women Mystics will be the basis of this Lenten Series workshop. Lenten Series Workshops at Oldenburg Franciscan Center $15 http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org/programs.html Thursday, March 19, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Blessings,

Christy

(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual companioning, group companioning, SoulCollage©, the Labyrinth or Reiki, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual companioning, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)

All Good Gifts

What if we were always grateful instead of just one day or one month of the year? We have one day in November where we stop and give thanks. Typically it is a day where we consume too much food, experience the usual uncomfortable family dynamics and for some, a frantic day of shopping.

We eat and consume and buy and consume. What if we stopped for a moment and considered the non-material gifts we have? What if we ate substantially less and shared our over abundance to a local pantry or homeless shelter? What if we did all of this year round and not just one day or one season?

What if we shopped locally year round and supported local businesses? What if we remembered charities and non-profits throughout the year instead of giving only on Giving Tuesday? What if donated monthly to the local food bank or agency supporting children and families involved in child welfare?

I decided to recall what I was thankful for every day this November. I posted on social media the people, places, things, gifts, talents, experiences, etc. for which I was grateful. Some days came easily. Other days required some more reflection and thought.

On one day I expressed gratitude for some individuals who hurt me because without them I would not have learned resilience and independence. Not an easy thing to say or do but on this particular day, I was mindful of how independent I am. I don’t always understand why things happen the way they do and I don’t necessarily believe everything happens for a reason as if somehow preordained by some controlling force outside myself. On this one particular day I was able to express gratitude for this particular painful incident.

Let me share some of things for which I was thankful: trees, wildlife, the owls in our woods, a warm bed at night, people who “get me and my Sheldonness, good health and peace of mind, cataract surgery in 2017 and new eyes to see, no absolutes, no black and white rules which means less judgment and of course, the Big Bang because I’m made of star dust (and so are you!)

I’m also grateful for Francis, Clare, Teilhard de Chardin, Rohr, Starr, Richardson, Oliver, Bourgeault, Delio, Phillips, Pope Francis, Dalai Lama, MLK, Pema Chodron, Buddha, Ghandi, and Jesus. SoulCollage, Enneagram, Myers-Briggs and lectio divina, centering prayer, and zen.

Thankful for eagles and hawks, and for veterans who served in our armed services, for baseball, my peer supervision group for spiritual direction, and my tribe of friends. Profoundly grateful for those with whom I companion on their spiritual journey. Grateful for adventures like backpacking in the Rockies, space camp, zip lines, swimming with dolphins and stingrays, and parasailing. Grateful for the life of Sr. Pat, an Oldenburg sister I only recently got to know, who suddenly left this physical world for the world of spirit. I am grateful I learned to laugh with Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, Scooby doo and others.

In gratitude for clean sheets, bubble baths, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup – not all at the same time! The smell of freshly mown hay, summer breezes and starry nights and for firewood to keep us warm on winter nights. Grateful for music and musicians and for our fur babies – Duchess, Duke and Dobby.

I am grateful for you and your support of my musings. Thankful for followers to this blog and for those who follow me on social media. I am grateful for the prayer support and love of brothers and sisters on the spiritual journey. I am most grateful for the love and support of my husband and best friend.

For what and whom are you grateful? How do you express gratitude to the people in your life? Perhaps over the remaining weeks of the year you can begin a gratitude journal. Every day write one thing for which you are grateful.

I’m reminded of the song “All Good Gifts” from the musical Godspell: “We thank thee then O Father, for all things bright and good. For seed time and the harvest, our life our health our food. No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above.
So thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love.
I really wanna thank you Lord!

Blessings,

Christy

This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction and spiritual companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual direction, or to experience group spiritual direction, please contact me. If you, your faith group, your church or your book club would like to know more about spiritual direction, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought, or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)

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