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“I think I’m becoming unfinished.” Mark Nepo  wrote in Things that Join the Sky and the Sea

Sounds True Publishing
Bolder CO 80306
© 2017

** I really like this quote

From: page 2, Quieting the Thieves

…he stepped out in the rain…his “to do” list in his shirt pocket had become soaked from the rain, and the ink from the line items had all run together and become blurry…the tasks themselves had blurred, and he liked that interruption. Now they were unreadable and forgettable even though we often carry those lists right near our hearts, so important we think they are.

Now, he sees them as the thieves they are, demanding we have everything in order before we live, fingering them like worry beads. They are, in fact, the greatest thieves. As he feels the rain drops drip down his neck, he begins to sense that he, like his to-do items, is becoming unfinished, and he is good with that.

I like that. Let’s just take the bully out of our To Do lists and fuel them instead with our Spirit for life! Then the check mark we put beside the items will be worthy of its mark.

 

This was a picture waiting to happen. We were having a wonderful visit with Lois in the woods in her cabin on Lois Lane in upper New York state near the Fingers Lake area.  We had been neighbors for a brief time in Newton, North Carolina. Lois and I walked the street together on occasion and she always came up with charming, if a bit surprising, tidbits to share.

We still keep in touch, particularly around big sports events, where Lois faithfully waves the Notre Dame flag and colors and checks in with us on how the mighty Green and White are doing.

The table above, was placed near her kitchen window, overlooking a wide green expanse to the back of her property. It was very common to see the deer come from the woods into the open space and even play together before retreating. I believe Lois sent Tom and me  on a journey to dump some feed back there for them among the natural foliage.

A healthy start to the new day — coffee, an apple, a pair of specs to read the Good Word.  I am pretty sure she still does this.

 

 

 

.AND NOW in 2018, I am happy at being 75!  Here is a little background I posted a few years back on Lois…

 

“It’s a sin to look so good at 70!” That is what my neighbor friend Lois called me next door to see.
“Sue,” she said on the phone. “Come over here and see what my sister got me for my birthday.” Out the door I went and she met me half-way across the front yard, sporting and showing-off her new t-shirt her sister gave her for her birthday.

It is true. She really did look good for 70. She still does, today, about five years or so later. She called me to wish me a happy birthday, for I have reached the same number in age this year.
I asked her how her t-shirt was. She said it was a little faded. I told her that what was important was that it was the t-shirt fading, not her.

Not her, indeed. We were neighbors in North Carolina for just a couple of short years, but we became close-knit friends. We didn’t spend that much time together, really, because we were busy with our businesses and gone from home long hours each day. But she and Jim moved into the home next to ours shortly after we had arrived, and together with Terry, the builder of both homes and his wife Judy who lived across the street from both of us, we were just good old “drop-in” neighbors, who shared some special times together.

Now the three homes are owned by others. I wonder if they built the same type of community we easily formed over a very short period of time. Somehow, I suspect not, but I could be wrong.
Lois, far from fading, had to be on the move…..always. She and I sometimes walked the neighborhood road together. Then, when I was away managing a fitness business, she would be on hiking trails, on kayaking ventures, and I don’t even know what else. If Jim was outside, you would find him mowing grass on his John Deere tractor or sitting on his front porch thinking about things. But Jim was most comfortable inside around the poker table. Lois needed the fresh air….and action!

Or a good joke; and she and Jim had plenty of those.

Today, Terry and Judy live in Wales, his homeland, we returned four years ago to our Michigan family area, and after Jim’s death, Lois returned to her beloved upstate New York home where she owns a cabin at the top of a long, wind-ey and steep hill in the Finger Lakes area on, none other than…..”Lois Lane”, of course.

A regular hiker in the summertime, she adds the snow shoes for her winter treks. Today, she told me she went to the sports store just to look at cross country skiis. She came home with the whole package and was probably going to be too busy skiing later to call and wish me a happy birthday.
She is in love with her Irish Notre Dame team who have gone unbeaten this year and is anticipating the big national championship game soon to light up the TV screens across the land.
Our first meeting came, when she and Jim pulled into their driveway, after having newly unpacked. I was on our deck and waved to the new couple appearing to be in “our age range” and welcoming them to the neighborhood.

“We are really friendly,” I warned her. “But you probably won’t see us much because we’re gone a lot on business.”

“Hey, hey, wait a minute,” she called, not missing a beat or sending me a hi either. She took a few quick steps in my direction and said, “I want to ask you: Do you play bridge?”
That was our introduction to each other.

Well, I don’t, but I thought that was the funniest thing. She, an ardent die-hard fan of the game, was drumming up her newest table of her favorite game. That’s about the only inside sport I think Lois likes. I told her she would have wished my aunt Kate was her neighbor, for they surely would have had the greatest tourneys going between them.

So I could tell by today’s phone conversation. She’s not fading. She’s still lookin’ good but somehow I think she has overcome the sin of it all and resides in the state of grace with her humor and her constant on-the-go activity. She’s just that good.

I’m happy about being 70. I feel good. And I drummed up a couple of pictures of lookin’ good so I can do right by this new gift of life given me. Blessings and God’s Presence abides.

 

I am thinking of Lois and the stars at the same time. For He calls you by name, Lois and he counts the uncountable times you have served in His name. Good friend, happy joke teller, mover on God’s green earth and water passages. You are His glory, made manifest. And He is with you in your present challenge, telling you, in the words of the saint, “All is well, so very, very well.”

Tom’s and my  prayers and love to you.

(very personal, because I know you look for Napkinwriter)

 

My post today is my most beloved poem of all the poems Joyce Rupp has written. It touches me deeply at the soul level as being the poem of my own birth. Indeed, gathered together am I from history-held mysteries.

These past couple of months, I have been in prayer and healing ministry for so many of my family members and friends suffering from illness and grieving the loss of a loved one — each one “so ordinary, so unique, so simple, so complex”…

Each one given the gift of life and each one exploring the ways to live that as a life of love.

Each of us is surprised into life and each, the blessing of eternity passed on.

I seek out this poem often, to bless myself and the others that I love.

A Star in my Heart is a beautiful read.

 

 

From A Star in my Heart – Joyce Rupp

Revision date: 1/8/2018

gathered together am I
from a history-held mystery,
a bundle of memories am I.

caught from smiles and heartaches
of faces and places past cherished
given in love from the heart of life.

from kisses and love making,
from caring and growing,
from vibrancy and vitality,
the gathered memories
of my own named person
have been gifted into existence.

surprises from seeds and secrets,
gifts from unknown voices and events;
here am I, so ordinary, so unique.
here am I, so simple, so complex
knowing that the seed of my self
has the touch of gathered memories;
gleaned from the ages of another time,
seed and sperm seeking, making known.

a birthed bundle surprised into life,
light filling the center of a new spirit;
the blessing of eternity passed on:
urgency always to seek the face of God,
first gatherer of all good memories.

Joyce Rupp – A Star In My Heart

Lura Media –

 

 

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