Project Labyrinth

Labyrinth b. August 2020

Solvitur Ambulando “It is solved by walking”. This quote is attributed to St. Augustine. Walking prayer. Walking meditation. Peace in every step. I’ve experienced the peace of walking a labyrinth and after attending a Verditas https://www.veriditas.org/ facilitator training workshop in January, 2020, I knew I had to build one in our backyard.

If you’ve attended a workshop or retreat, you’ve probably experienced that burst of energy which follows where you are ready to make changes in lifestyle or begin creating from what you’ve learned. I’m no different. Even though it was still winter, I was ready to start building! Gung ho! Here we go! Let’s do it!

Wait . . . how do I do this? What will I need? Where will I put it? Can I persuade my husband to not only agree to tear up the backyard but to help with the heavy lifting? Should I contract with a landscaper to do it and what will that cost? What kind of materials should I use? So many questions!

In many ways I feel like I birthed this into existence. I carried the intention in my heart for months. It started with a seed of an idea – I knew I was going to bring a labyrinth into existence this year but I wasn’t sure it was going to be in my backyard. Yet, here it is August 11th, the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi and there is a new baby labyrinth blessing my space. Along the way, I participated in an online workshop through Veriditas. Lars Howlett facilitated a 3 day workshop for building temporary labyrinths for labyrinth facilitators. We had “class” online for a couple hours and then we were given “homework”. I learned a great deal about constructing labyrinths and even more about myself.

I learned that sometimes I need to remove my “thinking cap” and trust the process. Relax, I heard that small voice. Just breathe. I also learned that you will eventually use geometry some time in your life and you should remember the difference between radius and circumference!

Giving life to this labyrinth involved quite a bit of labor – back breaking, labored breathing, sweaty labor. At each stage, I documented creating it’s creation by taking photos. We started with a patch of grass and several steps and weeks later, we had the labyrinth in the above photo.

I’ve walked my baby labyrinth a couple times. Because it is a 5 circuit heart of Chartres labyrinth, I’ve quickly learned I need to SLOW DOWN to navigate the turns which is an excellent lesson for my life. Slow down. Breathe. If I don’t take the turns slowly, I become a little dizzy and disoriented. I’ve learned I must navigate what appears to be an abrupt turn with deliberate patience and intentionally or I will become disoriented.

I’ve written elsewhere https://listening-heart.com/labyrinth/ providing some background and information about labyrinths. In a nutshell it is a tool for a sacred experience. It is a container for the Unknowable. As we walk inward, we release and let go of whatever – stress, worry, fear, anger. We enter the center and receive from Source all that is good and holy. We may hear a word or get a feeling. We allow ourselves to relax and just be. We take the same path back out of the center, returning and bringing with us what we received.

When I walk my labyrinth, I know I am not alone. Hundreds of thousands of fellow pilgrims throughout history and currently throughout the world have walked this path. One step at a time.

On evening of August 20th, my ladies group will meet for the first time face to face since the big lock down. We will meet on the back deck, engaging in social distancing and wearing masks. Please join us between 6 PM and 7 PM EST from wherever you are as we bless the labyrinth. Send your healing thoughts, prayers, and energy of Light and Grace.

Now, more than ever, we should walk the labyrinth. We should walk for peace and compassion. We should walk to slow down and breathe. We walk to let go, to receive and to return to a wounded and confusing world. One step at a time. Walk. Release. Receive. Return.

Be well. Be safe. Blessings.

Christy

P.S. For all who embrace Catholic Christian feast days, be blessed on this feast of St. Clare of Assisi. St. Clare wrote to her dear friend Lady Agnus of Prague to gaze upon Jesus, consider him, contemplate him and as one desires, imitate him. What this means to me is to look and see Jesus’ love which surrounds us and consider the events of his short life and what that means for persons of faith. Contemplate and remember the unconditional compassion he had for others, for those on the margins, for the lost and lonely and for those who made mistakes. Remember his great Love and Compassion and keep it in your heart. And if you desire, as you feel called, imitate Jesus in all that you do. Be just and kind and loving. Forgive. Love others. Love yourself and love the Creator by whatever name you call Him/Her.

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 or can be done via Zoom or other virtual platform. 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 prayers, vibes, positive energy and support.)

Go gently . . .

I have avoided writing for some time now. I suppose, like most people, I’m fatigued. Zoom fatigued. COVID19 fatigued, Change fatigued. Decision fatigued. Why are you so racist? Fatigued. Wear a mask and avoid people fatigued.

I’m tired. I’m grumpy and if there was a dwarf named angry, I’d be her too!

And I don’t have answers. I only have more and more questions. I seem to lack the energy to pick up those questions, pull them apart and chew on them.

I have lots of opinions based on my critical analysis of what I read and hear. Thinking, analyzing and critiquing are my go tos when I’m fatigued and overwhelmed. And I tend to stay there. I tend to get stuck in the thoughts.

I won’t burden you with my thoughts and opinions about COVID19 or race relations. I’ll refrain from sharing my thoughts and insights. I’m afraid it will only further divide or I will be subject to even great scrutiny or it will sound defensive. I don’t feel right about it right now. Maybe later. For now, I’ll do the work through journaling, SoulCollage, reading and other things.

I think the uncertainty of what to blog in this somewhat public space is that I’m still ruminating with things and I don’t feel completely free to express myself. Simply put – I feel incredibly vulnerable in this space at times.

And alone – I feel alone with my grief, rage, uncertainty, insecurity, and abandonment. In one respect I’m no different from the rest of the humans on the planet, I suppose. I think some are able to consider it less than I do. Yet, I look at my situation and count the many blessings I have. I still have that lingering anxiety and fear. Pema Chodron suggests we lean into fear and anxiety, embrace it with compassion and develop a heart of the bodisattva for ourselves. Jesus teaches to love our neighbor as ourselves.

In a nutshell, it seems we need to show compassion to ourselves, to our wandering minds, to our aching hearts, and even befriend those naysayers in our minds and hearts. The message is – Be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Just take a step.

We started the process of creating a labyrinth in our backyard a few weeks ago. There is the practical pieces of how and what materials and laying it out but there is also the spiritual aspect of the construction. Labyrinths have existed for thousands of years and labyrinth is an archetypal a symbol of a journey. At one time, labyrinths graced the floors of cathedrals throughout Europe where pilgrims could walk them symbolizing a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Their journey began with taking a first step. The path toward the center is the same path to return.

I sent an intention at the beginning of this process asking for patience, perseverance, hope and above all Grace. Hope that we will complete the construction. Hope that it will provide a place of peace and a walk of peace for me and for those with whom I share it. And Grace for the project.

Go gently. Take one step at a time. Set your daily intention for patience, perseverance, hope and Grace. If I can provide company and companion you on your journey, please reach out. I remind you that you are not alone and in doing so, I remind myself.

Peace and all good. 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 or can be done via Zoom or other virtual platform. 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 prayers, vibes, positive energy and support.)

Transition and Liminal Space

Redtail Hawk in flight (c) Christy Wesselman, 2020

It seems Nature is oblivious to the chaos and fear surrounding COVID19 and the violence of the past weeks. I’m envious. I envy Nature’s ability to be above it all and to carry on with the business of being what they are. Songbirds sing without a care. Squirrels scamper and chase one another around the large oak tree in our yard. And redtailed hawks glide on the warm spring air without so much as a wing flap.

It seems a little anti-climactic to say the past several weeks have been extremely difficult. I’ve avoided blogging perhaps because I’ve been sorting through my own thoughts and feelings. I considered several topics and finally abandoned them.

My heart and soul cries out for retreat, reflection and rest. The retreat I planned to attend the second week of June was cancelled due to It. I can’t even bear to name It (COVID19). I was looking forward to 7 days of silence and daily spiritual direction with a director. Seven days of prayer, meditation, walking, SoulCollage card making, prayerfully walking a labyrinth, journaling, reading and even napping. Seven days for rest and spiritual regrouping. “It” took that from me like it took so many things this year.

So many emotions about “It”. So many more about the current state of unrest and discord in our world. I’ve done my fair share of shaking my fist at the Cosmos in anger and frustration feeling overwhelmed and powerless to effectuate a “fix”, to heal deep wounds, or to abate fear. And I’m not likely to join a crowd of people in peaceful protest at this time. (That is a whole other blog about protests, petitions, fighting city hall and so on for another time.)

I heard an inner call this morning to simply stop, pause and take a mini-retreat on the back deck. I stared at a blank page in my journal for a while and began to write without a care for punctuation or spelling. I wrote to get it all out. Most of my journal entries are streams of consciousness with half sentences and random thoughts that would make no sense to a reader. That’s okay. They make sense to me – sort of. I suppose it looks like nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind! It doesn’t matter. I took a writing course in which they told us that the page always listens. My pages got an earful today! They listened.

Friends, I don’t have answers for what is going on in the world today. My gut feeling is that as a culture, a nation and a world we are in a time of transition, a time of liminal space. Think of a door and the part in the middle that is neither on this side of the door or the other side. It’s the part of the doorway which contains the threshold, the space in between. It’s the space of transition, of letting go, of going through, and of welcoming what is not known on the other side.

Human beings are not very good with change. Yet, all of life is constant with change. Change, even if it is good, is still a challenge. Positive change, like the birth of a child, a new job, a new relationship, can be welcomed with joy and also a bit of fear of the unknown. Negative change or the type of change that is not expected or welcomed is also a challenge. Change like diminishment of ability due to aging, the death of a loved one, ending a relationship, or loosing a job are met with fear and apprehension and feeling “stuck”.

I’ve experienced several times of change and liminal space in my life both positive and negative transitions. I have a couple of “go-tos” which help me navigate and find my way through these times. They are the voices of musicians and poets, the writings of saints and mystics and the images of artists and photographers. If you aren’t familiar with Carrie Newcomer, you must acquaint yourself with her https://www.carrienewcomer.com/home Her latest album, The Point of Arrival, contains a song “The Only Way Through Is In” https://youtu.be/oYAtWQB25JY with the line “the only way out is through and the only way through is in”.

We have to keep walking. We have to try to step through the doorway. Sometimes it’s painful as hell to let go of something we loved so much. Walking through liminal space with all the fear and uncertainty and no answers is just too much. We immerse ourselves in the unknowing and the sensation of falling without a net. I believe we are being called to let go of what we know, of old ways of thinking and being and to reach through the doorway to something unknown. We are filled with anticipation and fear and excitement and —- hope. Who and what do we seek to be our guides during this time?

I’ve been in liminal space before and I came through it. It wasn’t easy and there were times when I wasn’t pleasant to be around as I cried, bled and walked through those doorways which seemed much wider than a regular door. I leaned it and I learned. I came out of it with growing edges, some which had been softened. I nurtured and healed with prayer, meditation and healing arts like journaling, SoulCollage, labyrinth, Reiki, and photography. Those healing arts helped me and that is why I became a facilitator for those processes because I know they work in as much as I allow them to work.

God blessed me with wonderful spiritual directors/companions including those individuals in my spiritual direction training program. (I personally prefer the term companion because it seems to be less hierarchical, less top-down.) The word companion, for me, creates a sense of freedom and nonjudgment. There is a dance with the Mystery of Grace from deep listening on her part and honest, vulnerable sharing on my part. A soul friend or companion listens with the heart and somehow through Grace provides what is needed.

I really don’t have fixes or answers to correct the mess. Here are my suggestions for self care during this time of transition: pray, meditate, take walks in nature, avoid numbing out with alcohol or other substances, get a journal and write in it daily if you can starting with things for which you are grateful. Practice the pause even if it is just 5 minutes of noticing your breath. Find a labyrinth near you and walk it – prayerfully. Here is some background about labyrinths and some tips for walking one. https://listening-heart.com/labyrinth/

Create something – a nature collage, sidewalk art, or learn SoulCollage®. I’m offering an online workshop via Zoom on Saturday, July 18, 2020 from 9 AM to Noon

Find yourself a trained spiritual companion who will deeply listen, hold space for you, and journey with you in this liminal space, this time of transition.

Journal Questions: What do you do for self-care during this time? Have you experienced liminal space in the past? What self-care practices have you added during this time? For what are you grateful? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to embrace? Are there specific areas of spiritual growth you desire? What is your vision for the next 6 months, year or 5 years? What wisdom would you give to your younger self 10 years ago to prepare for times like these?

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.)

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.)

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