Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Towards Greater Detachment

I wake up to a beautiful blanket of falling snow - big, fat, gum drops of flakes that take my breath away...

I look out with awe, from my perch on the couch, with warm coffee and a newspaper in hand, stealing glances every so often, hoping it will not go away just yet...

I don warm clothes and go for a long walk in the falling snow, on this day before the start of Lent, reflecting on what I shall focus on, and what attributes I wish to more deeply cultivate.

I reflect on deep conversations and walks with a soul companion which transpired last weekend, out in the Virginia country home where she resides - where the stillness and the dark of night are so incredibly pronounced, and the quiet is only interrupted by the conversations of neighboring horses, cows, and goats.

We cover so much ground and territory - holding nothing back - washing it down with copious libation, into the early hours of the morning...

I sleep under a skylight feeling that angels and sacred beings  are reaching down and touching me through this opening, doing their healing work while I toss between various levels of consciousness.

I tell my soul friend that I have been moving through layers and layers of detachment - slowly stripping away all that does not belong and that has held me back in some way or another, for what seems like an infinity.

I tell my dear friend that it is all about preparing to die, for in the latter half of our lives nothing else matters. We must let go of all attachments that we have - to outcomes, to relationships, to preconceived notions of what success and a life well lived looks like and whatever else others, or society has deemed worthy of attaining...

And so, I let go. I let go - again and again - and for the first time I truly sense I am getting somewhere and am beginning to embody the inherent freedom that lies in letting go. I could not have imagined being where I am ten years ago - or five - or even two - but here I am nonetheless - even though I also acknowledge that I have yet quite far to go...

I think of all these things as I continue walking - laden with the heaviness of very wet flakes cleansing my heart and soul in preparation for the beginning of a sacred season of 40 days of what I hope, will culminate in inner transformation.

With every step I leave behind the heaviness of the past - moving carefully and yet diligently towards a future that has not yet revealed its face but that is truly on its way.

Everything I have done and experienced has contributed to my becoming the person that I am right now, in this moment...

I think of wine and lives and hearts and tribulations shared in the darkest dark of night where it seems even time can stand still. It is a sacred time and holy encounter - of soul communion - bread broken and shared - the cup of wine offered for spiritual cleansing, and the witness of soul to soul confession with the reception of Divine absolution.

I am open to where this coming season of Lent will take me just as I am receptive to the advice and suggestions freely given to me between bites of dark chocolate and a good bottle of merlot. I am also reminded that gratitude is the key the opens the door to everything: To every gift under the sun. And so we recite our responsorial  prayer of "Thank You!" to every challenge we revisit.

I am grateful for all that is and was - and ever shall be in this incredible journey towards greater detachment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A 1000 Ways to Give Thanks

I begin a journal of writing down 1000 things I am grateful for - 1000 reasons to give thanks and to touch the sky and kiss the earth...

I am moved to do so, after reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are...

We miss so many of the opportunities we could be grateful for - for they are truly the simple things that fill our quotidian life and endeavors - a smile, a touch, a good cup of coffee, the sunrise, a walk through the woods, or your neighborhood, precious time spent with a loved one... There is such beauty in simplicity and often, it is so easy to miss...

And it takes a snow storm - no - a blizzard - to slow me down - to show me the way of simplicity, of gratitude, of the exquisite beauty of a storm raging without any checks and balances, with nothing to corner it in...

When it ends, everything is blanketed in stillness... There are no paths or streets - and no demarcations between one dwelling and the next... All of our self-imposed separations have been erased... There are no "Jews or Greeks, or Gentiles" as scripture notes - there simply is no "you" or "me." We are all ONE in this winter wonderland!

I sit in the whiteness of it all - stretching forth and holding court - with no beginning and no ending to its borders, and I take up my pen in hand and begin my list...

I write... I put down my pen to paper to begin my exercise... I am slow... I, who wrote so many stories and "books" dating back to the dawn of my own life, now find this process so clumsy. It is slow and awkward. Even difficult. This is what word processing has done to me. It has eliminated skills and softened calluses, and yet its potent message is simply to slow down. I HAVE to, in order to write. But I must also slow down to relish the space and time in between and enter deeply into the Present Moment...

And why write this list?

Because...


"One act of thanksgiving
when things go wrong with us,
is worth a thousand thanks
when things are agreeable
to our inclinations.
~ St John of the Cross

Thanksgiving creates an attitude of gratitude... And for that, I read recently - we need "altitude." We must soar above our problems and biases, and our stubbornness. We must learn to relinquish our closely guarded inclinations. As the Bhagavad Gita teaches, we cannot solve the problems we have at hand if we are not willing to look at them from a higher perspective.


"Thanksgiving creates abundance,
and the miracle of multiplying
happens when I give thanks."
~ Ann Voskamp

I read that we fail as human beings when we choose ingratitude over thanksgiving...

"The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything.
He who has learned this, knows what it means to live.
He has penetrated the whole mystery of life:
Giving thanks for everything."
~ Albert Schweitzer

In order to live a life of thanksgiving, we must first be present to all that is. True joy is only available to us when we let go and allow ourselves to be fully embraced by the present moment. It is here that grace dwells. And joy is embodied. We cannot see it - feel it - touch or taste it anywhere else...

And thus, one small act of thanksgiving becomes radical and counter-cultural in more ways than I could ever begin to list here.

To live a life of gratitude as Ann Voskamp notes, is to: 


"Make every moment a cathedral of giving glory...
the moment into a cupola of grace, 
an architecture of holiness - a place for God. 
That makes NOW a sanctuary."

As the hours upon hours of snow falling and its aftermath creates my own cathedral and sanctuary of Divine Presence, made manifest in simple acts of gratitude, my life slows down to the crawl of the Present Moment... This Holy Instant... This Sacred Moment which is neither here nor there where I am Eternally Home...

And how could I not give thanks for that?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Call to Greater Silence

This New Year is calling me to greater Silence...

I awaken several times this week, as the first rays of dawn trickle into my bedroom - slyly coaxing me to rouse - beckoning me to meditation and quiet contemplation, and to the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, in solidarity with monastic communities everywhere...

I move about this day - in total Silence...

Everything I seem to stumble upon in my reading brings me back to the importance and necessity of Silence in this point and time...

From those first rays of dawn to the first inkling of twilight - my day progresses - with its many domestic duties gently unfolding and spilling into each other, in total and simple Silence...

I speak not a word, to anyone - save for my prayers, internally voiced, which I lay at the feet of the Divine...

It is truly delicious for me in every way!

Yes, I feel a call to greater Silence, to Quiet, to drawing more deeply Inward, and to spending less time online with its many distractions...

In the evenings, after dinner, I sit down with a cup of tea and choose to read instead. Lord knows I have accumulated enough books to populate a library many times over, so there is  certainly enough reading to entertain me for the rest of my life!

Silence beckons, and in the richness of its embrace, I strive to LISTEN!

I Listen, I let go - I create space...

I remind myself to bless circumstances, people, and every troublesome thought that arises in my mind, and that is not to say this is an easy task, but it is necessary to my own growth and well-being...

I bless the spaces between myself and those relationships in need of repair. I bless those souls that have come and gone in my life - and those I must now release...

In the Silence I cleanse my body and my heart - to make more room for the Divine to reside and for whatever is to come...

"The quieter you become,
the more you are able to hear."
~ Rumi


In Silence   

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
To speak your
Name.

Listen
To the living walls.
Who are you?
Who
Are you? Whose
Silence
Are you?

Who (be quiet)
Are you (as these stones
Are quiet). Do not 
Think of what you are
Still less of
What you may one day be.
Rather
Be what you are (but who?) Be
The unthinkable one.
You do not know.

O be still, while
You are still alive,
And all things live around you
Speaking by the Unknown
That is in you and in themselves.

"I will try, like them
To be my own silence:
And this is difficult. The whole
World is secretly on fire. The stones
Burn, even the stones
They burn me. How can one be still or
Listen to all things burning? How can one dare
To sit with them
When all their silence is on fire?"

~ Thomas Merton

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Year of Mercy, Compassion, and Grace

I wrap myself up in blankets and don toasty slippers on these cold winter days...

I drink tea, and move slowly, and I think of what I would like to birth this year...

There are so many things I would like to do and experience, but now is not the time for that. Now is the time for entraining with the rhythms of nature - it is a time for slowing down, for practicing self-care, and for nurturing the soul...

Somehow, I sense this year will be different. I choose to dedicate it in a different way than I have in the past...

There is much to do - much to clear - different directions to take - and all will unfold in its own time and in divine order...

I embrace the long dark evenings and let go of what does not serve, in so many ways...

I warm my hands around one cup of tea after another, and reflect on the attributes and values I want to cultivate this year.

Like Pope Francis, I want to focus on the embodiment and greater reflection of mercy. But in order to do that, I must exercise greater compassion and grace...

The energy of this year already feels different...

If I spent the second half of last year cleaning and clearing out my house and putting it in order - it is now beckoning me to take it to the next level even as I reach physical goals I had set for myself.

Throughout it all, through whatever uncertainty there is - and what may come - I find myself humming to myself...

All shall be well...

All is unfolding in divine order...

Everything is as it should be...

I will continue to open and embrace whatever comes my way and whatever I am given...

I will lighten my load and footprint even more...

May I cultivate greater compassion, and mercy, and grace - and Love. Yes, always love!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Open Wide to the Future

I do not end - and do not begin the bookend years the way I have done in the past - not in how I spend my time, not in the rituals I have regularly engaged in - not even in the food I normally make or eat!

All about the year ending and the one beginning is different...

I am aware of profound changes taking place - in my life - in the lives of many dear ones - and in the energy fields that surround us - and so much more...

The latter half of this year witnessed a cleansing for me - of home - of body and spirit - deep changes I did not plan and could not have foreseen...

All of it has resulted in a "lightening" of the load in my life and home - and as I begin this year - I realize it must go even further!

I've detached from so much - and find it so much easier to do so...

Profound insights come to me that significantly alter my perspective - my understanding, and my deep "inner knowing..."


All shall be well...

I dedicated this year to Mary and the Divine Feminine in all its manifestations - and to Mercy - for Pope Francis himself has deemed it the theme for his Holy Year...

I step into the New Year without fanfare - in the quiet - very simply - but with my arms outstretched and my heart open...

And I remember these simple words, by a Jesuit whose writings on spirituality nourished my soul four decades ago. It becomes emblematic of the year that is to come - MY Holy Year!


"Spread your arms wide into the future.
The best is yet to come!"
~ Anthony de Mello, SJ


Friday, December 11, 2015

I am at Peace With All That IS!

"I am at PEACE with ALL that IS!"

This mantra arises in my heart, barely just a week ago, after a magical weekend of seasonal and holiday music and a warm visit with a very dear soul friend of the heart...

I drive through the countryside, on a magnificent and brilliant afternoon, after stepping out of place and time, inhabiting a place in-between here and the Other Side, for barely 24 hours...

I AM at Peace, with ALL that IS!

Truly...

I am peace with my life, my relationships, my home, my family, my friends - with my limitations, what I did not accomplish - and where I am in my life...



I am at peace with whatever the future brings, with what I cannot undo, with what is yet to come...

I am at peace with the joys, with the sorrows - and with all that I have gained and lost...

I am at peace with everything - for it has made me the woman I am today - and have yet to become...

In the twilight of my life, as I journey towards the darkest deep of Night - pointing towards the tunnel of the Infinite Light I will someday traverse, I give thanks for all that is...

Any slight variation to the course of my life - and I would not be who I am. I would not have had the experiences, or the insights, or the breakthroughs that I have had.

I might not have had the treasured companions I have been blessed with or the severed relationships that were instrumental in midwifing my soul's birth and continual development...

All shall be well...

It always is, in retrospect...

Regardless of how much times remains in my life - whether it be many years - or not so much,

I AM at PEACE with ALL that IS!

And my heart sings! And my soul soars heavenward with so much gratitude and JOY!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sanctifying A New Year with Joy and Grace

I usher in my 60th birthday with a number of special practices...

On the eve of my birthday, I spend time in a nearby church, praying and setting my intentions, not just for the coming year, but for the remaining days of my life...

I awaken with prayers on my lips - of gratitude - impregnated with my with intentions in the early dawn...

I make haste to make my way to my yoga space, to begin my practice of sanctifying the coming year...

I walk a personal labyrinth, and set my intentions once again in the early morning - which is sunny and brilliant after a grey day of rain...

Ten years ago, on my 50th, I visited the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, overwhelmed by the energy of centuries of fervent prayers poured over those worn stones, illuminated by the most brilliant and exquisite stained glass...

And while I was not able to visit France this year, and I am grieved by the terrorist attack on the city of Paris, I join in solidarity with all the souls sending prayers from all the corners of the earth...

I move through sixty sun salutations, and am struck by what memories arise in my mind. Though I have done this practice many times before, it has been years since I had physically been able to resume it once again. But this year I am stronger and more fit than I have been in a long time...

Even the memories of difficult years no longer hold me captive - they do not hold any sway over me - I let them arise and run through my mind and disintegrate and I realize I no longer need to revisit the past. This practice divides my life into "B.C." and "A.D.," and from now on I will focus on my remaining years, and my path towards Eternity...

I had shared recently with a dear friend, that from now on my life would be dedicated to not only finding joy and sharing it with others - but to not allowing anyone to take joy away from me as well...

I linger on the last decade of my life - it's memories more recent - but now also relegated to the past. It no longer has any power over me...

I step into my power - I step into a current of joy and grace and give intent that it permeate all aspects of my life...

I spend part of the day with friends - sharing a meal and precious time with one - and a splash of excellent scotch with another...

All shall be well...

I marvel at the gift of an angel from a dear friend - her stance is so reminiscent and evocative of the Warrior 2 pose. My friend reminds me that the extended arm in the front beckons to the future, while the arm in the back harkens to the past, while the stillness we seek is to be found in the middle, inviting us always to live from the Present Moment...

There is no past - and no future - there is only the Present Moment...

I resolve to live there - to spend as much of my time in the Present as is possible...

This is truly the gift of turning sixty...

"We must always change, renew and rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden." 
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



Friday, October 30, 2015

In the Autumn of Life

The leaves are softly falling, each one of them gracefully giving up it's spirit, creating a kaleidoscope of colors...

We must die to what we were, to become what we are meant to be...

I reflect on turning 60, two weeks from today, and realize I have been filled with trepidation at arriving at this milestone because of all that has been left unsaid, and undone, and all the paths that have not been traversed...

Several friends in their 60's, and one on its doorstep tell me that this is the best time of their lives and encourage me to not only open to that which brings me joy but what makes my soul sing. Yes, there is still so much to do...

I read a blog entry on the autumn of life and it bids me not to fear the autumn of my years, for on its threshold I must indeed marvel at the treasure of acquired wisdom that I have assembled through many trials and tribulations...

It is truly my time to choose how I will spend my time - because I have paid my dues, many times over. I have no one's life to live - but my own. I do get to choose the trajectory of my remaining years...

Ancient Egyptians were only allowed to sail into the afterlife if they answered affirmatively to two questions:


"Did you find joy?
Did you bring joy?"

And so, I let go - of preconceived notions of how my life should go - of how I have begun my days for the last couple of years. I let go of what I must do for others, to bring more light into the world, in order to rediscover it in mine...

This does not mean that my work ends - but I get to choose when and where my resources go.

I arise on a Tuesday morning, knowing there are tasks I must get to - but decide that I will not fulfill my own previously imposed deadlines. Instead I pray, and continue my practices down at the banks of a river that has seen many seasons in my life...

I pour out my oblations and sanctify taking a different fork on my path, and am enveloped in Light and a lightness of being that has evaded me for a while...

I breathe in the crispness of the air, and marvel at the beautiful scene before me - clouds reflected on rushing waves, captured in pictures I spontaneously take, which look more like an impressionist painting than a still life...

I sit in my meditation space and call upon on the pantheon of saints and sacred beings on the other side, and their fortitude, as I release and let go of all that I have done to sustain myself in a monetary fashion. I let go and surrender to the course of Divine of intervention and guidance, and wherever it will lead me...

There is something freeing in all of this, in spite of being unsettling as well...

In the afternoon, I go to see an inspirational movie, sitting nearly alone in a matinee, and feed my soul...

The course of this week has been different than it has been for nearly two years. I have done much, but now is my time - I choose with whom, and where - and how I spend my life...

For years, so much has fallen away - relationships, connections, work, and while I have lamented it all, I now realize it all played a part in what is unfolding...

I sit this morning and receive so many insights, still bathed in Light and a lightness of being and know that this course that has been set into uncharted waters is precisely the right one...

I sit and hear that I was being led here all the time - all throughout the different twists and turns of my journey...

I choose... I have paid my dues... And in the time that remains for me, I will deepen my connections to the Divine and do something beautiful for God...