Monday Meditation ~ Harvest

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.

Blessings,

Sue

 

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Monday Meditation – Challenge

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.

 

Monday Meditation – Summer Intentions

I remember a school assignment to write a paper about “What I Did on My Summer Vacation”.  There would be a lot of excitement and anxiety about sharing this in front of the class as each student would think about what to share.  Some I think would struggle with truth telling.  As a child I knew others would have stories of grand vacations, some to other countries and some to great parks where they would camp out in tents and have amazing adventures.  At the time I would be a bit envious of these kids who had great stories to tell.

My memory banks have stashed away in an unknown space which stories I shared with my peers, but they also hold some of the best stories that grew me into who I am now.  I know that these would probably not be the tales I shared at the time but as an adult they hold the glow of fun and adventure, they are worthy of remembering.

I remember walking through a rushing creek on slippery rocks with my cousins, then catching minnows in the calmer pools of water to use for bait to fish.  For a girl whose backyard was a parking lot, this was an amazing adventure!  I had summers with family in Vermont and Connecticut where endless green hills and deep pine woods called me to explore.  I swam in an icy lake whose true depth is still a mystery.  There were battles with mosquitoes and leeches and bike rides up hills so high my legs ached for days afterward.  There were times alone in the woods that I heard a silence that completely overwhelmed me.  The beginning of summer was marked by a “sugaring off party” when Grandma pulled saved snow from the freezer, boiled the new spring maple syrup from my uncles farm and poured the golden hot sweetness over the snow.  Sisters and cousins drooled with anticipation sitting around the table with forks to roll up the candy out of long tin pans.  The bonus were the home made donuts and pickles that Grandma made to balance the mouth watering sweetness.

Summer begins this week and so I think about the intentions I have for this time.  As an adult I can choose.  So I choose to find adventure in teaching yoga, battle mosquitoes at camp, hike a few hills and look everywhere for the sweetness of relationships with family and friends.  I will spend time with grandchildren enjoying catching fireflies, looking at stars and playing chase in the grass.  I will reflect on past and present as I take in every moment.   Growth is born of our reflections and intentions.

May your summer be blessed with the adventures of the everyday.

Sue

Monday Meditation – Just That

I find at times that deep meditation is difficult for me.  There are others as well who are revved up by life or just their metabolism who find it a struggle to quiet the mind.  It begins just fine.  I breathe in and out slowly and set a mantra or focus point for return when distracted.  Then the thoughts begin.  Ideas and things to do begin dancing around as I struggle to maintain quietness of mind.  Some days it’s just a no go and I let go.  Meditation is just that.  Letting go of my grip on trying and just being.  So what if all these images and words fly into my time of supposed peace.  Like dreaming I think these things say something to me, so in the moment I resist pondering and just observe.

I return to the breath and the image of sitting on the shoreline watching.  It is here, when I release  judgement on the thoughts jumping in, truth presents itself as  guide.  Minutes dissolve as awareness becomes.  Birds chirping outside the window, the clock ticking, the cool air brushing past my arm are all in this present moment of bliss.  My awareness tunes in to God and the presence within me of Holy Spirit is filled to the top with peace, love, joy.  Perhaps it is just a moment but that is all that is needed.  Just that, a moment of being, silence, presence.

Have a blessed week of presence,

Sue

Monday Meditation – Wondering Momentous

How many times we say or have heard, “If I could only go back in time but knowing what I know now”?  It’s crossed my mind and my lips on many occasions and opens the door to wonder.   How would it look or feel to actually do that, to go back in time and not rush through life as a series of tasks?   How would it make a difference in who I am now and how would those in my family, especially my children be changed?  I remember being a child and looking into the night sky wondering how many stars there were.  It would fill me with awe and a tinge of fear.  My newly forming ego didn’t want any questions left unanswered.  Wonder would continue but for a while was overshadowed by fear.

Now this fear was not like running away from a hungry bear or any real threat of danger.  This fear was one created by the culture I lived and grew up in.  A slow creeping kind of fear that I might not measure up, I might fail was the first I am aware of.  Being a student in a school where perfection seemed required was one perception I held.  As I grew and struggled just a bit in school, the culture of consumerism also jumped on board.  My family did not have what others did and so hand-me-downs were the norm.  One new outfit a school year was exciting until I realized I couldn’t wear it every day.  I began to want things I didn’t have.  And I grew.  To college student, new nurse, wife, mother and friend, all of these mini-identities held a special ongoing competition for my attention to control and perfectionism hence creating fears of their own.

It wasn’t all bad or all fear, if it had been I would have succumbed and been lost.  All along the way there was faith.  Faith in a creator God who was good, who created good things, kept my head just above the water until I chose to dive deep.  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;”  1 Cor. 13:11a    As I grew, through life experiences of love, sorrow, trials and joys, a longing was bubbling up through the wondering that continued.  The wondering turned to questioning and study.  The study became filled with conversations between God and myself in prayer.  Slowly a wonderful crack in my perceptions of fear and finality let in some light to shine on the mysteries of life.

Being a Grandmother is teaching  me some new and wonderful lessons, not the least of which is to just love every moment and enjoy the mysteries.  It’s easier now to just love and not worry.  Looking into those sweet faces, so similar to my own children’s  is like looking at the stars in a mirror.  There are so many amazing possibilities for their lives.  They are beautiful and sweet, funny and loving.  There is the answer and no need to wonder.  It is Love.   Just Love.  I did a lot of that when my children were young.  There are so many memories of sweet baby kisses and sticky hands hugs that fill me with joy.   And so I would not want to go back, I don’t have to go back.  God was there all along helping us all grow.  He was loving me through sweet times of growing and some sticky situations.

I am happy for my now grown children and who they have become.  They are making their own way now and will most likely repeat some of my mistakes but that’s how they learn.  I let go of fear and swim in the beautiful night sky of wonder.  I let go of the worldly ideas of how life should be and enjoy each moment as it is.  Every life change and event is momentous and filled with wonder.  I love to wonder momentous.

He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.  Psalm 147:4

Monday Meditation – Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  [2Co 1:3 RSV]

 

Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy.   I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips.  And believe me, I have done this.  Or, I can turn to what I know is true.   Love.

Another word for Comfort is Contentment –   Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga.  It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress.  The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain.   Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief?   “To be or not to be” content is really the question.

It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”.   He does use the word “Love” 217 times.  “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction.  He goes on with stories of what that looks like.  It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan.    It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.

In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love.  I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind.  Here I come to the truth of Love.  Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed.  I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others.  Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.

May you find peace and contentment this week.

Sue

Monday Meditation – Presence

I watched a bird this morning.  Standing at the window my coffee cooling with the passing time, I watched.  It is often like this for me after a busy week.   When days run circles around me my mind begins the dance of things to do.  My usual peaceful morning walk through the garden brought to mind all that is to be done in this place.  There is weeding, planting and supporting what has been planted that I should get to.  I dream of what the finished landscape I am creating will look like adding more plans to the purpose.  Then I come back to myself just as I begin the tasks- of -the -day list looming long.

So I stood at the window to watch and breathe.  I feel my bare feet on the carpet, happy for the ability to stand and feel and the freedom to choose this moment of peace and grounding.  That’s when I saw him.  A busy Cowbird walking all over the lawn in circles with something already caught in his beak.  It made me wonder what he was looking for and what would he do with it when he found it?  Would he drop what he had possession of for something better?  Every few steps he would cock his head to bring one eye closer to the ground for a moment and then march on.  He covered an area of damp morning grass with a keen eye and intent steps.  So like me this morning.

I hold in my heart and my hands the promise of a day and set my mind to focus on each moment as it comes.  The cowbird will continue to search for something better because that is his nature.   I can move beyond my nature to release my grip on the day and open to the lessons that are right outside of my window.

May you have a blessed day and week of Presence.

Sue