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Stunned

Tears reside in the corners of my eyes, dripping down my cheeks ever so often. I don’t have to be watching news on TV, or looking at photos on the Internet of innocents, just barely beginning their own big lives. I don’t have to hear “semi-automatic” one more time. I don’t want to see terrorized parents outside a school building, waiting news of their child’s safety — or not.

Tears and a flu-absent stomach that broils and turns and is connected to a head that throbs, knowing the story has shattered…for all of us. Sending children to school today in America, a new residing consciousness of vulnerability…one we don’t want, need, or ask for.

Is there any comfort in starkness? I do not know.

There needs to be a new story…for us. How long will it be before that story comes into being? None of us know. No one can say anymore, “I never thought that would happen here.” That story is gone forever. No one can remain personally unaffected by the large mass of grief being experienced by the loss of our young children. No one can live and believe as they once did…it seems…so long ago now.

I stop my own words and share some words from Jean Houston, from a writing course I took a few years ago. About Re-Storying your Story.  Humanity is at a place in time where, being a writer or not, it must learn how to do this.

 

From Jean Houston: Finding Strength When the Story Shatters

“There are circumstances that must shatter you;
and if you are not shattered, then you have not
understood your circumstances.
In such circumstances, it is a failure
for your heart not to break.
And it is pointless to put up a fight,
For a fight will blind you to the opportunity
that has been presented by your misfortune.
Do you wish to persevere pridefully in the old life?
Of course you do: the old life was a good life.
But it is no longer available to you.
It has been carried away, irreversibly.
So there is only one thing to be done.
Transformation must be met with transformation.
Where there was the old life, let there be the new life.
Do not persevere. Dignify the shock. Sink, so as to rise.”

Written by Leon Weiseltier, Kaddish, page 226.

From Napkinwriter

Sometimes life hits us so hard, so unexpectedly, that we drop the ball and story shatters. I stood by close family friends, who in one shattering moment on a dark night on a Georgia Interstate, one woman’s life was snuffed out, who was daughter, and mother and wife, cousin  in a family that lost all those relationships and love in one indefendable freak accident in the middle of the highway, returning from family vacation. Lives shattered, dreams dashed.

A life-defining moment where, existing with the shattering, having to create a new story including what just happened to one family.

Shattering events are all around us and we are not exempt from them happening in our own life. It interrupts the everyday story is what Jean Houston writes.

Yes our personal and worldly story is in a state of INTERRUPTION.

Our shattered story needs rearranging.

Do we start with….”Once upon a time…”

God bless all the families and school personnel, who have been shattered by this latest vicious attack on our school children.

And God help us all. Please.

Image by Abbess Christine Vaulters Paintner

 

Today is Ash Wednesday. I will honor this day with much reflection. I am blessed. I am mortal. I am dust and unto dust, I shall return. I am getting older. My bones have a sense of dust. But my spirit burns bright within me.

There is much I still want to do. Sometimes I want to do it in a hurry. Today is one of those days. Last night, I made a list of all the things I want to do today, a day of release from a focused pace of writing. Yet here I sit writing.

There are way to many things on this list; apartment cleaning that has been put off, calligraphy practice I want to do, watercolor play I haven’t taken time for, doing some low carb meal casseroles and snacks to have on hand, reading, praying; tend Tom’s surgery healing and my own sore body from a fall;  sending valentines to my beloveds; there is more. I just think of them right now because I didn’t write them down. They are in my head.

But the thing is, there are too many and I am too slow. I cant’ whisk through them. I must go slow; I must embrace slow. And I received my lesson from Abbess Christine when I opened my email. I have joined her tribe of contemplatives and journey-makers and art lovers many years ago. She lives in Galway, Ireland and it would be a great blessing if I could fulfill a burning desire to visit her there one day. We are bonded together by membership in the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.

Another tribe I belong to is Cat Carecelo’s Wisdom Gatherers through Collage and Process Art. We journeyed to find the Divine Spark within us. And that spark has led to the writing of a book, I have long yearned to write, with an image guide found within my 2017 art process.

 

Tom and I will spend this rainy day inside today. I will cross each of us on our foreheads with soothing moisture cream and essential oil…meant for the living…and we will live this day, in slowness, reflection and gratitude for the life and partnership given each of us on what has been a grace-filled long road of love and family, and tasks and missions well-done.

To Do List things will get done. This Lent, I will be mindful of embracing a spirituality of slowness and being ok with that.

Guest blog and photo below from Christine Valters Paintner.

 

Dearest monks and artists,
Modern life seems to move at full speed and many of us can hardly catch our breath between the demands of earning a living, nurturing family and friendships, and the hundreds of small daily details like paying our bills, cleaning, grocery shopping. More and more we feel stretched thin by commitments and lament our busyness, but without a clear sense of the alternative.

There is no space left to consider other options and the idea of heading off on a retreat to ponder new possibilities may be beyond our reach. But there are opportunities for breathing spaces within our days. The monastic tradition invites us into the practice of stopping one thing before beginning another. It is the acknowledgment that in the space of transition and threshold is a sacred dimension, a holy pause full of possibility.

What might it be like to allow just a ten-minute window to sit in silence between appointments? Or after finishing a phone call or checking your email to take just five long, slow, deep breaths before pushing on to the next thing?

 

Chi

 

 

I am adding pages to my Souljourner at-Large website and looking for new ways to draw people’s attention to it.

http://www.susanheffronhajec.com

In particular, my intention for 2018, besides the writing and publishing of my memoir, is to develop and maintain small group gatherings that will continue to share the practice of SoulCollage and spread the knowledge of the natural healing method of Reiki.

I will also be adding an Author Page,  Write!Now  and an Island of Silence contemplative practice page for the enrichment of the quiet, inner life….one person at a time….for peace in our world.

 

Encouragement is Good

 

We never grow to old to outgrow the need for encouragement. Something that is so freely given to young children, as they learn new life skills…walking, talking, reading, riding a bike, joining a sports team, entering an academic contest, or simply succeeding at the next right thing for them.

We give this.

Today, I am thinking about giving it to ourselves and other adults around us. Encourage myself to follow a healthy food plan, not berate myself for straying into greasy or sugar treats. I can encourage myself to clean just a corner of my living space, and not find fault for the dust I see and a chore left undone, due to tiredness. I can look to a new week, in which I can set goals and create a vision for how this week can best be happily lived. Not give any negative attention to what’s been left undone, but devise a step by step, easy-step, baby step times to make the undone disappear into completion.  And I will do that.

I will encourage myself to do that.

I believe it was the Dali Lama who said that kindness was his religion. On Sunday, the dismissal hymn was “And they’ll know we are Christian by our love, by our love. And they will know we are Christian by our love.”

Will they? It is up to our and how we choose to share ourselves in the world, a world so much in need of kindness.  Mother Teresa said, “Christ has no hands but ours.” I look to see what my hands are doing.

Pema Chodron is a favorite author and spiritual influence upon this Christian. Her Zen Buddhist way of life and teaching indeed teach me much. I particularly like her book, “When Things Fall Apart.” The title was a shoo-in for me when I ordered it off Amazon.com.  Things were pretty much falling apart for me at that time. I found it and my Christian prayers both to be way-showers for me.

“Be kinder to YOURSELF.  How frequently I need that reminder. For kindness cannot flood into my world when I an unkind toward myself.

“Her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.” That continues to be a guiding scripture for me. I am That I am.

 

 

Why Must I Write?

 

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. 

Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet. 

 

Look Up to the Stars

 

The birth of our grandson, Andrew was an event no less than the creation of the stars, recounted in the Bible.

 

In fact, I gave him his birth scripture that told us about the creation of the stars, and how God made man and woman no less than the stars and gave us dominion over all creation.

 

Andrew embodies that dominion within him as I watch him grow into full manhood, now a first year college student. This dominion he carries in his wide smile, his gentle ways, and his passion for perfection and musical magic with discipline.

Andrew has studied voice, percussion, piano and leadership with this talent and he, I am sure, will have stars named after him in his life of love and service to humanity.

Dominion comes with responsibility. He carries that responsibility well. I will listen to his drum beat.