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.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 $15http://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 $15http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org/programs.html Thursday, March 19, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
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!
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.)
We returned from vacation last week. We decided we would travel by train to Grand Junction, Colorado, rent a car, and spend time in Monument Valley, AZ and New Mexico and return by train. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, actually, it was a little more involved and more adventurous than I had dreamed. Our outbound train was almost 5 hours late in arriving in Grand Junction which meant cancelling reservations in one place and trying to get them in Grand Junction so we could pick up the car because the car rental closed at 6 and our train wouldn’t be in until well after that. Whew!
I learned – again – for the umpteenth time – there are simply some things out of my control. I prefer to have a plan and for things to go according to plan. Not this time but oddly, I was okay. Something about the pace of traveling by train with the multiple stops and never quite getting up to speed created a more laid back approach even as I prayed for a cell signal through the Rocky Mountains to reserve a hotel room in Grand Junction with a shower and a comfy bed! Our roomette on the train – seats which converted into beds – was better than sitting up all night in coach. It was a little bigger than a phone booth but I doubt Clark Kent would have been able to change to Superman in it (for those of you born after the early 1980s ask your parents or grandparents about phone booths!) A shower and comfy bed was much needed.
Thankfully, our hotel sent someone to pick us up at the train station around 9:30 when the train arrived. I just love the West! Our shuttle driver wore bib overalls and a small brimmed cowboy style hat with a feather in it. We were in mountain country and I loved it! With a smile, he loaded our luggage for our 10 minute ride from the station. Once in the room, we collapsed in the comfy bed!
The next morning our bib overall wearing driver shuttled us to the car rental place to begin the next leg of our journey to Monument Valley. Utah is lovely and it should have been a nice 4 1/2 to 5 hour drive to Monument Valley, AZ turned into almost 7 because Utah department of highways was blasting. Yea, the kaboom kind of “let’s blow up rocks and stuff” blasting. Apparently, rock blasting is Utah’s answer to orange barrels season found elsewhere in the nation!
A prayer for cell signal and I made a call to our guide for our Hunts Mesa camp out. He would wait for us at the visitor center in Monument Valley. We were about an hour and half late getting there. Then the fun REALLY began!
I never knew a Chevy Suburban could climb rocks and sand but our Navajo guide, Tony, showed me it was possible. We only had to travel 7 1/2 miles from the visitor center to the top of Hunt’s Mesa but it would take us 2 1/2 hours. Once we made it to the top of the mesa, the tour began. Tony dropped us off so we could watch the sunset over Monument Valley.
If Monument Valley looks familiar it is because it has been the other “character” in numerous western movies, five with John Wayne directed by John Ford, and even a few non-westerns like Easy Rider, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Back to the Future III and Forest Gump. A word to the wise, if you want to take a picture of the spot where Forest Gump stops and announces he’s tired, please pay attention or have you life insurance paid! We encountered a woman who simply didn’t want to leave the middle of the road until the very last minute. We smiled and waived as she took the pic of our rental car traveling along on US 163!
The bouncy, white knuckle drive to the top of Hunts Mesa was worth the trip. It’s almost as if time stood still in this valley. There are no utility lines or poles. Words don’t describe that it was like sitting on a rock atop the mesa watching the colors and shadows shift and change. Mesmerizing. Magical. Breath-taking. Magnificent. Sacred. That’s probably the best word. This truly is sacred land.
I felt deeply and profoundly moved within my spirit by something ancient and healing. I felt the sacredness of the place. The vastness is breathtaking. Science tells us Monument Valley’s rock formations which lie within the Navaho/Dine Nation, are eroded remains of their Rocky Mountain ancestors, formed by sandstone deposits and geologic uplift and then shaped by wind and water.
I felt the spirituality of the land. We were on our tour October 3 to October 4. I hadn’t deliberately planned to celebrate the Transistus of St. Francis of Assisi atop Hunt’s Mesa but it turned out that way because of how we structured our vacation. I watched the sunset receiving images of light and shadow and even wrote a bit in my journal.
Once the sun set, Tony guided us back to the camp for a hearty steak dinner with corn and potatoes and Navajo tea. The heavens were truly telling of the glory of God that night! We saw billions and billions of stars in the night sky including the Milky Way. We just don’t see the stars like that in Ohio even away from the lights of the cities. In the higher altitude we were closer to the stars and away for the light pollution of big cities and saw more stars in the night sky. We slept in a tent in comfy sleeping bags. Sometime in the night, I heard a light cool breeze dance through, kiss the tent with her gentle breath and move on. The next morning the valley seemed cleaner and brighter.
As the sunrise kissed the landscape, I recalled the John Michael Talbot song, “Sunrise/All Creation Waits” from his 1981 Troubadour of the Great King album, an album I played and played throughout college and after.
“Sunrise in the morning Let all creation greet the dawn And praise the Lord who created Brother sun to open our eyes
For all of us would be blind If not for the light of our Lord
For all of us would be blind If not for the light of our Lord” – John Micheal Talbot (c) 1981
As the colors, light and shadows emerged and expanded, I recalled the moment immediately following cataract surgery in 2017. I saw so many things I never knew I was missing. October 4, 2019 I stood atop Hunt’s Mesa and felt immense gratitude for new eyes to see the amazing landscape of Monument Valley. I also felt heartfelt gratitude to the Creator for new spiritual eyes of the heart to see and walk with others on their spiritual journeys. This landscape in Monument Valley held a spirit of place and timelessness.
Questions for reflection, journaling or contemplation:
How do you experience “spirit of place”? What do you feel? What places are sacred to you? Journal, collage, draw or paint your place of Spirit.
When was the last time you felt gratitude for being able to “see”? What do you see with your spiritual eyes? What have you been “blind” to but now you see? Who or what opened your eyes to see?
What do you hear with the ear of your heart? Who are your companions on your journey? Your spiritual friend(s)?
(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.)