I really enjoy musicals, I also enjoy walking in nature and spending time with my family who I love. These things are a part of who I am in only small measure. The deeper me, the one full of experiences in this life is sometimes more difficult to get to know. Sometimes I am full-out in the sun, clear and bright. But there are places, experiences within me that are beneath the water or hidden under the protective overgrowth of scars that keep me walking through life pretty happy. Every now and then though, when a bump in the road suddenly appears, I get thrown off kilter.
Breath is life, without it we literally can’t exist. Inspiration filling us revives as the exhalation emptying creates release. Our yoga classes always begin with the breath. Feeling and deepening the breath. Then to just be, to sit with the breath as we feel this body we inhabit. Noticing tension or heaviness we can breathe into these spaces with our imagination. We become fully present as we focus on breath and body. And then, sometimes, a wondrous awareness occurs. Emotions may rise, joy or sorrow, strength or fear and connections occur to let us know a deeper part of ourselves that has been hidden away, waiting to be revealed.
This week I had the opportunity to explore some of those places within as I moved from breath, to body, to awareness, in Gestalt Pastoral Care class. A new opening to grace as I shed tears that washed away debris and allowed light to reveal a new knowing of myself. The song from “The King and I” began running through my head this morning, “Getting to Know You” “Getting to know all about you, getting to like you, getting to hope you like me. Haven’t you noticed, suddenly I am bright and breezy. Because of all the beautiful and new, things I’m learning about you, day by day” Written by Oscar Hammerstein II in 1951, in the play a teacher is singing to her new and foreign students. But I sing it to myself with joy and anticipation to greet the child, teen, adult within me and uncover the beauty and mystery of my life. I learn that deep sorrow and pain can be a wonderful teacher and that I am never alone on the journey. We can walk the road together.
May you get to know and love yourself.
Ripe tomatoes hang waiting in the fall frost in the bed right next to tall swiss chard and a zucchini that has gotten out of control. The harvest in my garden this season is scarce compared to last year. I could blame too much rain, the snails that demolished the early green bean crop or the early fall parching heat. But those are just factors that I can’t control. I could have adapted had I given the garden the attention it required. I was an absent gardener this summer. I planted and visited but did not provide the attention needed for an abundant harvest. It is a blessing of the sun, the rain and the hardiness of some of the plants that I have a harvest at all. We will be eating zucchini everything for awhile and fresh tomato sauce will grace our table for some months. But I will miss those fresh green beans.
Attention, care and time for self (body, mind and spirit) when lacking can also reap a crop of stress and diminished energy. If left too long physical symptoms arise as warnings like dry, limp plants seeking water. It happens. Life happens with all of it’s highs and lows pressing in on our awareness to create the things to do lists. The lists get longer and the days get shorter and our harvest basket of life is not full. What to do?
Time is relative, check this out by attempting to meditate for 10 minutes. Set a timer and sit to breathe. Breathe in and out slowly and focus on the breath. 10 minutes becomes a long time. And in that 10 minutes of quiet and focus on the breath you have calmed your nervous system which in turn benefits your whole being. Add a physical activity prior to your meditation time, a 20 minute walk or yoga! Incorporate your spiritual practice as well, a reading or prayer. No equipment required just 30 minutes.
Once a week do something that provides for your whole self wellness. What helps you relax, what inspires you, what brings you joy? Give it an hour or two. Then practice a short time of meditation daily. The garden of your soul will grow to support your body and mind as you move through life with attention and intention.
May your week be full and ripe with opportunity for growth and peace.
The woods declare the Glory of God. This was the thought that came to me as I took a walk this weekend. It has been my experience that everything is a lesson but I find that nature is an exceptional teacher. Each stroll or view provides new insights into who I am and where I fit in the creation. Each meditation on the beauty in the stillness speaks volumes better than the A – Z in my old Britannica Encyclopedia.
Take a walk with me in these woods, silent except for bird and cricket song. The scent of pine occasionally breezes by. The soft floor of old leaves, moss and acorns provides a silencing of footfall and a gentle ground to stand. Some trees are so tall, high above our heads as they reach for the sunlight. Others, small and thin sit in their shadows with anticipation of growth. Some of the larger trees bear scars of natures effects, broken branches, leaning and bent in unusual growth. The sun which covers the tallest of tree tops filters down to gently touch the ground in a mosaic of light and dark. The smallest trees and bushes receiving only a small ray of the warmth. It is peaceful, it is beautiful, it is in some places rough and dark.
What did you notice or feel? I became aware of challenges. I wondered did the slow growth and protection of the small struggling trees create a stronger taller tree in the end? I think, they can’t uproot themselves to move into the sunlight so they must grow upward. I see children, ours, who struggle in shadows, I see elders, bent and scarred yet still tall and strong with the experiences of growth brought about by things they could not control. And in their lofty stance protecting the little ones. In the sunlight I felt the Creator of it all dappling down and calling each one to grow. It was then I thought, the Woods declare the Glory of God.
May today provide an awareness of God in nature and an insight into challenges.
After a busy summer of courses and camp, vacation and travel I finally returned home this weekend. The road tugged me homeward through the changing landscape of suburbia through city to rolling hills and lakes. To get there requires many bridges, two very large and many smaller over various bodies of water. I became excited when the car radio reported that the new northbound span of the Tappen Zee bridge had just opened. I have watched it’s construction rise up from the water with each trip I took to Long Island. I would be one of the first to drive it’s span over the wide Hudson River. It was beautiful and impressive in structure and form. Very different from the rusty steel cantilever bridge it will replace. This much larger steel cable bridge with shining towers supporting the road was higher and longer and much smoother. The old bridge had served its purpose for a time but like most things created and made by man it was not safe to travel for much longer.
Bridges cross over otherwise difficult to traverse terrain to get us where we are going. They vary in form and function but serve this similar purpose. They are not only made of wood, steel and concrete and stone. Sometimes they are made of flesh and bone, ideas or words. Any time there are difficult crossings in life it is our nature to seek help, a bridge to get from one side of trouble to the safer shore of healing, love, freedom, rest. But sometimes there just isn’t a man made crossing. Moses faced such a time leading his people across the Red Sea. No bridge in sight, raging waters between them and those who would enslave and kill, he trusted in God and the waters parted. No bridge needed but the way made passable by divine intervention.
I have been blessed by many human bridges who offered help and I hope that I too may serve others in the same way. But when there is no bridge in sight, human help fails and the way through seems too difficult to manage I turn to the One Divine Creator who is eternally trustworthy, to lift me above the chaos and fear so that I may journey home in safety.
May your travels be lifted by bridges of hope.
Picture credit PEXELS
Clicking the computer on yesterday morning the artsy screen saver announced that it was yet again my birthday. At first I thought that amusing, but as I do at times I pondered the meaning for the day. My attempt to change it to the correct date failed as I am not the administrator and don’t have the password. And so the day began. One small thing after another reminded me … I am not in charge, not even today when the computer still says it’s my birthday.
The day’s events can at times throw us out of synch. As I am a person of routine it is a challenge for me to be off schedule, and as the day went on the feeling became more and more uncomfortable. And I remembered my birthday. A new day, a new person? When Jesus talks about becoming born again he is talking about our ability to change course and turn to the life God had planned for us all along. Not that each day’s events are organized in God’s humongous binder with checklists and things to do, but that our lives were created to be good, to be well (healthy in mind, body and spirit) to be love and to love. When we surrender our own self-serving desires to the Divine Creator’s hand the sculpting that takes place is wondrous and more than our own plans had envisioned. Patience is required as sculpting the art of life can take time.
Today, a new day, the moon will hide the sun. We know the sun is there and that even though hidden we can’t look directly at it. This overshadowing is temporary and causes many interesting effects of shadows on the ground and animal behavior. I will keep my eyes on those things today. Like the earth and it’s creatures, changes for me can create unusual events, but I know that behind the shadows the Divine Beloved Creator is shining on my day, on your day for all of us. The Administrator of creation whose password is love. Today indeed is a new day, I was born yesterday !
Peace, Wellness and Blessings,
My yoga practice is much like my faith practice. There are days that I can flow through with grace and ease. The path seems lit with promise and I know the way. Movement through breath and asana (poses) is a lovely dance that stirs up joy. Then there are days that are hazy, what seemed clear yesterday is distant across the far horizon of a day. I stand at the edge and choose to wait and see.
I step to my mat, thankful to God for the day and my breath. Practice becomes waiting. No flowing here with ease but holding on to each movement as the breath moves me deeper. As each movement of body, stretch with breath, release begins. The haze begins to clear and as muscle and bone remember how far they can stretch so too my heart and mind recall that the promise of yesterday is still the promise of today and tomorrow. Looking at the horizon while grounded on this far shore becomes an act of faith. What will happen there is unknown to me but known by the One who is my guide, who goes behind and before me.
Here I wait, not frozen but flowing I dip my toes into the day and wade into the promises of Love. May your day be blessed as you wait.
What are your stories? During our recent trip to Oklahoma my husband and I were driving on our wedding anniversary. We were determined to make it home to New York on that day, not because of our special day but because the check engine light was on in the truck. We had some great advice from a mechanic and the prayers of many friends that we would not get stuck somewhere along the way.
We chatted a bit, turned on the radio and saw a sign. A literal sign “Rough Road Ahead, Slow Down” So the road was rough but the travel was a blessing. And that’s how our lives have been at times, so far. As we got bored of the same news story for three days and repetitive music stations we began to tell our stories to each other. It was amazing that after 38 years we still had some things to tell. It began with a simple question and ended with a wonderful truth.
As each of us spoke taking turns in remembering childhood and adolescent experiences, God’s presence at the time and in the telling became obvious. Though joy and trial of growing up those times seemingly most difficult held the image of God’s Grace. And we know that does not end, it’s a lifelong journey that we still travel toward maturity in love. WE began to remember our life together, family, work and children. Such a full and wonderful life. Mistakes are made, wrong turns confuse and engine lights warn us of impending trouble but God is here, now, loving us. Loving all of us.
There is an old children’s hymn “Tell me the stories of Jesus, I love to hear. Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here”. written by William H. Parker, specifically for Sunday School. Jesus loved to tell stories. Parables that weave simple and complicated truths about God, ourselves and relationships with both. I believe he still does. Because I believe that word ‘IF’ is a mistake. He is still here, loving us, and if we take the time to tell them, living in our stories. If you are uncertain about God’s love, tell your story, write it down, tell someone else. I pray you see God’s love in your life through the joy and the sorrow. Because He loves all of us. And that is the truth.