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Today's Gift 7-26-15 I complicate things as soon as I get back inside but I do retain the gifts offered by my labyrinth walk this morning. I have been resisting walking and movement lately. I don’t know why. My inner critic ramps up her demands and judgments, but I dig ins with many ways of refusal So today, I decided to combine two of my practices of the quiet and walk our backyard labyrinth while I was saying my Sunday rosary. Sunday’s rosary is dedicated to the goodness and protection of Amy, my youngest grandchild. Each daughter, and their husband and my three grandchildren receive the blessings of Mary and the rosary on their designated weekday. IMG_6859 Upon entering the labyrinth, I am in my second decade of the rosary and I notice very bright fresh yellow and white miniature daisies greeting me. Just one patch It is enough to lighten my mood and willingness to step further along the path. They remind me of the fun times I have with Amy and how proud she was to fix our breakfast yesterday of egg salad, of which she proclaimed she is the best at making. I like the self-confidence and image she has of herself at the tender age of seven.  All of this is gift to me. Circling to the center Soon the circular pattern of the paver bricks lead the way both to the center of the labyrinth and to the calming peace of acceptance of being right where I am on the path.  No hurry. No worry. Just a breathing time for my soul.

The labyrinth Tom and I created a few years ago is daily present for my sight. And even when I gaze upon it from my kitchen window, it reminds me of gratefulness and I don’t know how this happens. It just does. It reminds me of a Oneness, which I might not even be feeling at the time I look upon it, but that is its constant message to me. And grace.

Now, as I walk, I pray. Random thoughts pass through and like in the practice of Centering Prayer, I hold on to none of them. I just notice them and let them pass. This leads to further stillness. Some kind of knowingness arises within as I walk that I am at a loss of words to explain. But then I don’t need to explain this. I only need to walk it. I know I am on my way to the center.  The center represents that elusive thing I seem to “grab for” in my daily life….some kind of certainty, some kind of acceptance.

On the labyrinth this peace comes as I notice the blades of grass, as I listen to the birds, as I feel both the heat of the sun and the breeze, however slight on this day when the temperature and humidity are rising. What drops away?  The plans for the day, a lot of the complexity of what seems to be my makeup — both a blessing and a bit of a curse….they begin to get left behind, perhaps to return once this labyrinth journey is complete, perhaps not if I am lucky.

WestBend Laby4West Bend WI labyrinth I have not walked.

I  have a personal story connected to the labyrinth, having discovered it through Lauren Artress’s book, Walking a Sacred Path. I had no clue that somehow that labyrinth path would lead me to training with her and walking labyrinths in many marvelous places including Chartres France, facilitating retreats, walking with groups, walking alone, and at last partnering with Tom to build our own backyard labyrinth.

Chartres Labyrinth

I think most of my walking experiences are somewhat commonplace. I rarely feel any profound “breakthrough” dramatic experiences while I am on the labyrinth, but I have witnessed it happening to others.  Journaling after a walk is a revealing time when you may not know how the flow of your pen or pencil is going to inform you. Perhaps an image flows onto the paper that you feel you are only co-creating with.  A simple walk to the center and then back out again.  Being present with the present.

Cairn watching over the building

Is it easier to listen on the labyrinth than it is in the rest of your life. One writer, Travis Scholl in his book Walking the Labyrinth, says that “underneath the surface….is a stillness…between everyday’s noise and walking it is finding the voice speaking in whispers underneath the whirlwinds of sound ” (in our lives).

I think that is true for me.  I see a tiny toad (or is it a frog, I don’t know) on the path on the way out.

As soon as I return to the house, I find the noise again…. in my head….in my peace turning to impatience….get my camera, take a photo of the daisies, find Ted Steven’s Animal Speak and see what he says about the meaning of frog,  finish two decades the rosary, blog,  fix left over pizza for lunch, continue your workshop preparation, oh yeah, write two thank you cards, and for goodness sake play with Zentangle today….noise, noise, noise.

Bird on the arch

Maybe I’ll take an evening walk on the labyrinth tonight and see how this day went.

napkinwriter:

It is two years later now and Tom and I repeated this story today. He is home healing well, after a surgery on his ear today and on the back of his neck two weeks ago, and removal of those stiches today.

The doctor and other medical personnel had come upon this blog and were delighted that it was written about their work. I received nice recognition for it. For a moment, I had forgotten that I had written it.

Tom’s pie choice today was strawberry rhubarb.

Originally posted on Napkinwriter:

Velveteen Rabbit

Tom’s skin cancer IS under watchful eyes, skilled hands, and caring nurses’ hearts at the University of Michigan Cancer Center and Mohs surgery clinic.

His last procedure was a little-more time consuming than the first few, so as he sat in the waiting room to return for final stitching, his early morning breakfast fuel ran out. So I dashed a floor above and got him a blueberry doughnut to hold him over, returned the elevator to the wrong floor, regrouped and got back to the original starting point, he had been taken back to the operating room.

After some time, the nurse came out to tell me it would be a little while yet, he was doing fine, but had to wait on the doctor (they were doing numerous procedures on many patients throughout the morning), I asked her to tell him his treat would be awaiting him.

She said…

View original 1,105 more words

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…where ever you’re going, I’m going your way.”

Yes, Moon River, crooned by Andy Williams, was our song and it truly turned out that we went many “where-evers” in our 50 years of love together.

Tom and I have been counting up the places we’ve taken residence in over the years, places rented or owned, places with deep roots, places that held only a passing fancy….and it counts up to around twenty, give or take a few.

The leading is love and the work is daily commitment to our family values as first and foremost in our lives.

The rewards are many, springing up upon us, as from the tiny mustard seed…..if there were days where love could have seemed that small, they were overshadowed by the largeness, the extravagance of a God who fueled our lives with mighty love that always found the path forward together, sometimes dimly lit and danger-ridden, but most often shining brightly before us with no doubt about the way.  “Moon River, wider than a mile….”

Two drifters, off to see the world, there’s such a lot of world to see.”  And we’ve been blessed to see much of the world…we’ve been  “dream-makers” and we’ve had our our touches with “heart-breakers”, and it all fits the quilt pattern of a beloved bedspread. Pieces have come together in what can be called a grand life.

Joy radiates from the gifts and lives of our children and grandchildren. We are healthy and in good shape for the shape we’re in! We live life in a home we love, and we strive to give back, because we have been so richly given to.

Sometimes, daily life….a piece of cake….maybe so, maybe not.  But we feast together and know that we are each “after the same rainbow’s end, waiting ’round the bend….

my Huckleberry friend, Moon River and me.”

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Janet Conner - Soul Vows

Who ever thought their soul would have a bucket list?

Janet Conner, famed author and Unity on-line radio host personality, does. And with an expert track record in tuning herself and her reading and listening audiences into “soul-land”, I will take her at her word.

She offers a pretty intriguing invitation and challenge: “Have you taken your pulse lately? There is a Divine Presence alive and well and growing, something that marks out a rhythm of what is holy, important and good for you in your life. It knows the life of the Divine is your life and so is the Love and Presence of the Divine.”

I like lists and I do pretty well with directions and recipes. Many years ago and one day at a time, I learned through the Twelve Step Program how to thoroughly follow the path which promised I would not fail. It opened to a full life, but for the grace of God, I would not have today, without the guidance and companionship of many of the members.

I’ve known Janet Conner for five years now and besides being authentic in her words as an author, she seems to companion her readers and followers all along the way of discovery, in her books, in her Internet seminars, with her news on Facebook and in her on-line Unity discussion programs with radiant guests that make the hour fly by.

And what Janet wants to companion us with is purely ……soul inspiring.

In fact, there are soul-writers writing in soul journals all over the globe since the publication of her first book, Writing Down Your Soul. I, along with many other writers, built in a daily practice of quiet time and writing down questions or just filling a page with stuff. Then we listened. For what? For God to answer. Yes, and when the message came (and it always does), we had blank space on the left hand side pages of the journal, reserved for God, and we wrote what we heard.

This was my introduction to Janet Conner around  2010, from an article written from her in Daily Word, Unity’s monthly inspirational booklet, which I had read faithfully since the 1970s.

I continued to work with Janet with her Yearly Intention Mandalas, which she wrote about in her second published book, The Lotus and the Lily.  Again, much more soul work with recognizing the bang-ups of life, the gifts in the pain, and some power-shaking methods of finally forgiving self and others.

The design of the mandala focuses on the inner conditions you intend to live that year and statements or images of manifestations of good you wanted to appear in your life. Really, really BIG things you have no idea how they will come about. Just put them on there, said director Janet.

Janet Conner - Intention MandalaMy 2013 Intention Mandala center with BIG manifestations images (not shown) on circumference

I have lived each yearly mandala I have made over the last five years now with astounding manifestations that have appeared that I, by myself, could not have produced.

I trust that my soul is at the center of this all.

In Janet’s latest book, Soul Vows, she recognizes the vows she formally makes to her soul as lifelong companions whose beauty and depth she can never exhaust. Thus, the pulse she speaks of needs to be recognized as both human and Divine.

She calls this union….”the new I”.

“The vows, themselves, were always breathing and living in a space of vast consciousness. They were always big — It is us who have slowly expanded our consciousness to meet them”…and then to make this just a little more puzzling, but thrilling, she adds, “filled with paradox.”

Janet considered her soul vows of over fourteen years, faithfully said upon rising each morning, to be the most important prayer of her life. Yet they had a startling change within her as the meaning of “the new I” came upon her. Their deeper nature called upon her to unite the Divine, living Presence into the human part of the vows. Within her book, she is that guide I talked earlier of needing. She presents a great map of the journey to the divine union through soul vows.

So what about that bucket list? Does my soul really want something of me? When Janet asked that same question, she looked to the fingers of her hand and her soul voice proclaimed, “Yes, I want 5 things:

1)  To connect with Source   @) to commit to values   3) to serve a purpose   4) to express itself   5)  to create a life”

Janet Conner - soul wants 5 things

Janet Conner, in finding her soul-partner publishing company, has dedicated both her writing and teaching life and her very living of life to soul communication. I witnessed and partook of many graces of her purpose, journey, and passion to be open, vulnerable and sharing of the deep messaging type of pilgrim she is.

Path of a Pilgrim

In general terms of this bucket list, I don’t see one which honestly does not resonate in my own soul and which has not been present as a type of large, overriding value in my life  when I was busy in the details, messiness, pain, joy and grace of “life goes on.”

I’ve always sought a center. These are very centering ideals. They serve anyone of contemplative nature and even assist those who value a noisy, raucous life style. “There are many gifts, but One Spirit.”

I, for One, am paying attention to my soul’s bucket list. When its happy, I’m happy.

Janet Conner - Soul Writing

Christine and Stuart

I have lost too many good friends over this past year in a very sudden, unexpected way. I grieve each of them. This  is a repeat of the words of honor I had nearly a year ago for my friend, companion writer and photographer, Christine Whitelaw. We had each dreamed and opened to the possibility of my visiting her in Australia one day. Instead, I have had to make do with walks on the beach with her through her pristine photography.

I love you Christine and I hold your husband Stuart and your sons in my heart as the anniversary of your “old life left behind and your new life begun” wherever you are.

The Subject Tonight Is Love
August 1, 2014 by napkinwriter

Photography by Christine Whitelaw (c)

I was introduced to the poems of Hafiz by my writing companion/mentor/friend, Janet Conner in Writing Down your Soul, in her books and e courses and her on-fire essence of purpose and intention in your personal life. http://www.janetconner.com
Christine, too, quoted Hafiz on occasion and the poem she selected below gives us a glimpse of her acceptance of the “impermanence of the body”.
She posted these words on March 20, 2014 by dadirri7 — Christine completed her travels of this mysterious existence quite abruptly on July 2, 2014.
She wrote:
“More on life and death from Hafiz: do you like the idea of being simply “a midair flight of golden wine”?
Deepening the Wonder by Hafiz

Death is a favor to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity,
Deepening the wonder in our senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And are surely just traveling through.
If I were in the Tavern tonight,
Hafiz would call for drinks
And as the Master poured, I would be reminded
That all I know of life and myself is that
We are just a midair flight of golden wine
Between His Pitcher and His Cup.
If I were in the Tavern tonight,
I would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long.
Death is a favor to us,
But our minds have lost their balance.
The miraculous existence and impermanence of Form
Always makes the illuminated ones
Laugh and Sing.
(from The Subject Tonight Is Love, poems of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)
http://www.amazon.com
My last words on Napkinwriter from Christine were posted on June 28, 2014, five days before she passed in response to my post on our 3 day family vacation on Mackinac Island in early June.
http://www.napkinwriter.wordpress.com/
Just for the Family Record, June 28, 2014 archives
dadirri7
“what a fabulous holiday Sue, I loved the butterfly house, and the pic of you three in rain gear … truly such fun and love to remember!”

Christine's LotusPhotography by Christine Whitelaw

Christine and I entered into our friendship through words…blogging…..and our hearts met across time and space, she in Australia, I in Michigan.
Through the permanence of words, we now transcend the impermanence of the body.
I remember the fun and love of our friendship.

Longtime-Mariage-Cropped

Praying in Color Image by Sybil MacBeth

Some thoughts from Sybil (guest blog, featured in Praying in Color), and Sue, Napkinwriter and soon to be wife of 50 years.

Reply Note from Sue to Sybil about her following post:  Congrats on your continued journey. I am trying to do the same for Tom and me, approaching our 50th in less than 2 weeks. So far, what I’ve come up with is a box of note cards for him and one for me, to write a love note to each other, upon reflecting upon our journey. These are to be done ahead of the time we leave for our return to the site of our honeymoon — the Smoky Mountains, and then read one day at a time.

I said I would do 50 stories in 50 days on my Napkinwriter blog, (www.napkinwriter.wordpress.com) but the 50 stories will be stretched out through the end of this year, I believe. I remember, regarding COMMUNITY, that a dear priest friend of ours said that was exactly what marriage is, and that we had better let others in or our marriage would not succeed. That is a Truth we have well-lived. I love your “ground” words. I am going to play with that. I also am going to post your blog as my guest blog today, hopefully assuming your permission.

Longtime Marriage  by Sybil MacBeth
Posted on June 10, 2015

Sunday was Andy’s and my 46th wedding anniversary. We have been married for 70% of our lives. When we said “I will” to the beautiful and daunting vows in an Episcopal church, Andy was so young his parents had to sign a permission slip for the state of Maryland. “Yes, little Andy has our blessing to go on a lifelong field trip with Sybil.” It was a crazy thing Andy and I did. If we had been older we would have had the sense to be more scared. But we were convinced we were supposed to take this journey together.
I’ve been trying to write a post about our longtime marriage, but everything I write seems sappy or self-righteous. A few phrases and their visual images offer a playful, but succinct summary for me.
MARRIAGE is:
a playground,
a training ground,
a campground,
a feeding ground,
a breeding ground,
a battleground,
a fairground,
a background,
a foreground,
an underground,
Holy Ground.
But another word that keeps popping up in my brain is community. Marriage is community. Without the myriad number of people in our lives who have encouraged us, chastised us, guided us, loved us, and prayed for us, we would not be together today.

As a tight little twosome, we do not have the energy, creativity, or wisdom to weather the changes and challenges of growing up and living with another person. Support and training have come from both likely and unlikely sources. Family, friends, Christians, non-Christians, married people, single people, divorced people, old people, children. Clergy, therapists, authors, colleagues, alcoholics, addicts.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV) For this journey, God has given us teachers and angels with many different faces. Our marriage is not just about the two of us. It is a communal undertaking.

FROM SYBIL:  Thanks for the reply, Susan. You are welcome to post it on your site. Love the name–napkin writer. Cool idea for your 50th. I learned the most about marriage from a nun and a priest in Cambridge, MA when my husband was in seminary and we were in a marriage growth group they ran. The “religious” know about living in community and they taught me a lot. Peace and joy to you on your 50th!

Susan Heffron Hajec on June 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm said:
yes, we met our wise friend through Christian Family Movement on a rather earth-shaking retreat filled with much new knowledge for “us-marrieds”!!!
Also, I guess you must have been quite young, as I’ve just seen a beautiful profile picture of the present you. Enjoy life and I believe we are fellow dancing monk-esses. I love Christine and we are discerning a pilgrimage to Ireland in 2016, inviting all miracles in to allow it to happen. Thanks for reprint permission.

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Today, as I was posting on my Peace In Our Hearts and Around The World Facebook page, two words in this step jumped out at me as if it were the first time I was seeing them.

“improve our………..conscious contact with God…

STEP ELEVEN. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out……Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Having had 36 years and 13,140 “one-day-at-a-time” days (throwing in a few extras for the Leap Years that occurred over this time), it surprises me that something new pops up in the literature and practice of The Twelve Steps after all this time. But it does and it did today.

In truly countless meetings I attended from the late 1970s into the early years of 2000, I learned how it works, as Chapter 5 states which is often read at the beginning of meetings. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has truly followed this path.” The path this refers to is the path of the 12 Steps for recovering addicts, no matter the substance of choice. Repetitive reading of this chapter did no harm and hearing it aloud among companion recovering brothers and sisters imbedded the Truth of the miracle mission of founder Bill Wilson in our own personal lives.

True…..we stood at the turning point. We knew this well. We were on the path of the 12 Steps, one day at a time, that would free us from a life impossible to live if addiction ruled our lives.

So, today, many years later, and on a continuing and increasing lifestyle of contemplative prayer and practice, the words that surprise me are: IMPROVING OUR……

Many who sat around the tables had trouble with the word GOD, having to substitute the word Higher Power, for it. Or the masculine pronoun of HE for God. I could get by all of those. They were not barriers to the step for me or the practice of it. What I thought this step promised was ACTUAL conscious contact with God.

My end wish is that I do have that ACTUAL contact, but I will settle for sobriety AND improved conscious contact with God. I have that all the time.  And conscious seems to be the operative word here.

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