Sunday, December 2, 2012

ADVENT MUSINGS

It is the first Sunday in Advent, a season in the church calendar that is largely ignored by all the frantic pre-Christmas consuming and celebrating.  I have a tree up early this year, because I will be away for THE day and love the lights and baubles and smell of the Frasier fir.  Yet I love Advent, the season of waiting... season of trust in the inward and the unknown.  It is the time of darkness before the light returns at the Solstice and the birth of the divine child in all of us is declared once again.

Advent is a season that is pure metaphor. In the awareness it brings, it requires patience and the willingness to sit silent with mystery.  I have no idea what my life will bring forth next.  I have had losses and accomplishments, endured pain, inflicted pain on others, participated in both ugliness and beauty. What I see, looking back is that I was/am only a temporary vessel for Life (or Presence or God) to pass through. Every disappointment and failure has ultimately been redeemed, and I have no clue how that Grace happens; it just always does.  I can accept that I am not meant to know.  There is peace in that powerlessness.

I see more clearly these days that the "seasons" in the practice and tradition that I choose to follow are not rigid requirements and are not meant to indoctrinate me with literal "beliefs" but rather gentle gifts of space and time that invite me to participate, to let go of my mental gyrations and cravings for satisfaction now.  When I am quiet and allow myself to wait in complete confidence, I know that the gift is already given and will be birthed into awareness not in my needy ego time, but in Holy Time.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

ON TRAVEL AND STAYING PUT

I will be spending the next couple of days preparing for a week at a much loved retreat center and visiting with old friends and old home territory on the way.  I am looking forward to the road trip up through the Shenandoah valley, the Pennsylvania countryside and all the beauty of the Eastern seaboard. Much of my life was spent in that landscape.. school and college, my children born there, dearest of friends made, sweet times and terrible losses through the years..a precious history.  Yet, when I lived in those places there was always an underlying restlessness, the yearning for something else that I have written of earlier.

As I sit here early on my porch looking out at the mountains and mist in the cool August morning with the low sounds of doves and faint crow calls, I realize that I am finally home in spirit.   Folks have asked why I travel so little.  My answer is always, "I'm where I would go if I were going somewhere." In the years I have left I am satisfied, most of the time to go deep into this one place, this heart's home I have been blessed to find.  I have a theory that we carry a kind of home landscape in our hearts for all of our lives and when we find ourselves in it, it feels completely right. 

It is a privilege, in this crazy world, to be able to choose my life. I am blessed to be able to go on retreat and experience beauty and quiet and wonderful teaching so I look forward to packing the car and setting out.  It is not, however, the old search for new people, places and things to satisfy my craving for more of something new, shiny and better.  It is instead a revisiting of beloved people and places from my history and the chance to steep in teachings that I can bring home to enhance the days here, bringing me home to my center.  The question then becomes, how well do I inhabit this place, this life that have left?  I love that question!



  

   

Friday, July 13, 2012

RAM DASS WAS RIGHT


                                     

This forest where I live was once a temperate rainforest and seems to be returning to that state. Shower after shower of sometimes drippy, sometimes steady rain has been with us for days.  The mountains have disappeared in the distance, and clouds are in the treetops just down the hill.  Green is heavy everywhere. A damp chill in the air is feels nice after the brutal and unusual heat of the past weeks, but I find myself wishing for some Carolina blue and a sunshine relief from wetness and fog. What is here though is moisture that fills the water table and my pond, causes weak trees to fall and mud in the barn..mixed blessings.

While I have loved my adventures and my curiosity, I am finally bone weary of discontent, of wanting to be somewhere else, someone else, in some other time doing some new thing. In my seventieth year now, it seems a good idea, even an opportunity, to plant my contentment right where I am.  In adulthood, I have lived in six states, eleven houses, had a couple of husbands and untold numbers of dreams, notions and impulses, some followed to fruition and many more discarded. I have tried numerous paths to God, only to learn that just stopping where I am is where IT is.  

As I talk with friends I find that many of us have had this experience of lifelong chasing the next shiny thing into the daydream and losing much of our lives in the process.  I have stayed in this beloved place that I am married to for many years now, but the restlessness still aggravates. The seductive fantasy of a new love beckons.. a smaller more manageable property, a new medium for working with color, a new poetic form and on and on.  It has been fun but now seems fragmented and exhausting.

In some things I have been faithful and gone deep. Those times have been the source of real joy and learning.. loving what I have and knowing the fullness of enough.. looking around and really experiencing the grace that is my life.  In the years I have left, I want to cultivate the ability to surrender, to settle in, to look closely and clearly at what is in front of me now even the changes, even the losses.  I want to experience the essence that is only found in the stillness of here...

the rain, the drippy green, a sleepy dog and the fog..

Friday, January 6, 2012

DRINKING POISON

I often refer to watching the news by the title of this post.  I am torn between my addiction to knowing what is going on and my certain knowledge that the blah blah blah of the talking egos is not only bad for me but really awful for our country.  We are told to be very afraid, to detest folks who disagree with us and that we are really stupid people who have no capacity to understand complex issues.  I do think that watching and reading only one side of things is intellectually lazy and try to take in intelligent views of the other side of the political fence.  I need to remember that the operative word here is "intelligent" and that the reality show for ratings, whatever the political shade, no longer has no ethical boundaries and information gained there is always suspect. I really care that this wonderful land that I have lived and thrived in for almost seventy years is a good place for generations to come.  Sometimes the insistence on short term gratification seems overwhelming, and I just want to give up and let those who will live in it deal with it.  I have beloved friends and family members who seriously disagree on the way to accomplish a good future and I hope to continue to love and listen and learn so that I do not become a crabbed old crone who thinks she knows everything.   Also..will turn off the tv more often I hope.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

THE NEW YEAR AND JOURNAL KEEPING

I like to begin with a fresh journal for the new year but this morning I realized that I have many blank pages left in the book I have been using.  I had made a journal in the fall that I love, a quiet rose brown cover, pale rose pages and decorative painted paper that suggests a rose garden.  I put it out for sale praying that no one would buy it so that I could use it for my winter mornings. It is still in my studio. this morning before dawn the path down the hill was dark and temps in the twenties so I decided to write a bit in the "old" journal begun in the fall.  I ended up writing my new year intentions in it and realized that I needed to just continue until I filled the pages and promised myself the rose journal in the spring. On the way to the barn I stopped and looked at the fresh book.  I turned to the back inside cover where I place the name of each book and saw that the title I had given it was "Quiet Waiting Journal." I knew immediately that the book was intended for my daughter not for me.  She is going through a time that will require much patience and she loves pink and roses.  Whatever she uses it for, the intention of "quiet waiting" is for her.

Many years ago a wise woman, Jan Lowry, suggested that I keep my journals as "letters to God".  I have done that, beginning early on "Dear God" and moving on through parental names to a more intimate and comfortable salutation these days.  I have poured my inner world onto the pages, pleading, raging, thanking and laughing mostly at my ridiculous dramas and self-told tales.  I have worked through divorces, brain tumors and IRS audits, upheavals and joyful moves.  I have worked out plans and poems on those pages. Because they are letters, I am surrendering my life's gifts and detritus over and over to a greater power and presence than my little theatrical ego.  I am so grateful for this "divine therapy" that joins my other practices of Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps.

Not everyone writes or wants to.  I do not have a rule about writing every day and sometimes things are so painful that they have to be written about in retrospect.  I will send the rose journal to my daughter for her "quiet waiting" period and she can do with it what feels right, even if it is only to have it around.  What is clear however, is that my plans and notions of what will be right and my need for "freshness" in the new year have nothing to do with what needs to happen and I am most blessed when I am open and move at the pace of guidance.  When I can do that I learn.