Monday, December 07, 2009

Pray to God and row to shore

This quote appeared in a newsletter I received this morning, and it occurred to me that I understood it differently than I did the last time I heard it, which was years ago. The question of our agency--how much do I do, and how much does God do?--has always been a struggle for me. As an independent, self-employed writer, I tend to conceptualize, plan, and produce something on my own. I work well that way, when it comes to books and articles and web content. But for the larger, life-impacting things, for organic life-blossoming possibilities, for love and healing and grace and unfolding, the lines of agency seem much fuzzier to me.

When I first heard "Pray to God and row to shore" years ago, it meant to me that the action was really all up to me. God wanted things to turn out well for me, of course, and was there for me to talk to (and listen to) when I needed the support and encouragement. But when push came to shove, it all depended on my choices and actions. So I continued to live that way, trying real hard, working real hard, taking everything pretty seriously with all the earnestness a stoic work ethic requires.

But today I heard this phrase differently. I'm glad to say there must be a lot more grace within and around me. It's certainly present in my thinking. Today "Pray to God and row to shore" means simply that my actions need to blossom naturally from my beliefs. They need to be in alignment with the beliefs so the beliefs can manifest in my life. When I believe God is good, that God is caring for me, that God is at work in my situation, I can act with gentleness, confidence, peace, patience. When I say I believe God is good, caring for me, and at work in my situation and then feel burdened and overwhelmed and work myself half to death trying to solve something, my actions are not in line with my beliefs. It's not all up to me. That's the opposite of my inner beliefs.

That's worth at least one hallelujah. Thank God for growth in grace and understanding! May your own discoveries today help you relax into these Loving Arms that uphold us all.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kinship with all life

“Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and the sea: God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent. ..When God pronounced that his creation was good, it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that his breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wild flowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes, nothing on earth is ugly.”

Beautiful! From Pelagius, in Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality, by J. Philip Newell

Monday, November 30, 2009

What redemption looks like

This morning Ruby (age 3), Henry (10 months), and I were playing ball in the music room. We sat on the rug and rolled the ball to each other in different ways, laughing and having fun. Suddenly Ruby looked at me with a startled look on her face. Her eyes were sad.

"I am so so sorry," she said. "This morning I hit mama. Mama said it is not okay to hit."

I nodded and smiled. "I can hear that you're really sorry," I said. "And mama is right--hitting isn't good." I asked her whether she wanted to call mama and say sorry, and at first she said yes. But then, just as suddenly, the cloud of contrition was gone and she wanted to play roll-the-ball some more.

I've had those moments of self-realization when a regret for a word, an action, an intention washes over me like a wave. Being able to confess it and put it in context--out loud with another person or silently, in my heart, with God--is one of the instant, saving graces I'm so grateful for. Whether we go to confession, pray, or simply share our feelings with a friend, something lightens, a little light shines in, and we are released from that which had us bound just moments before. Nice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Being named

Hello! I hope you're enjoying the changing seasons wherever in the world you find yourself. Just a little while ago I ran across this simple but profound verse:

    Watching gardeners label their plants

    I vow with all beings

    to practce the old horticulture

    and let the plants identify me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Loving the Earth

Happy 83rd birthday, Thich Nhat Hahn! A favorite quote:

    Walk and touch peace every moment.
    Walk and touch happiness every moment.
    Each step brings a fresh breeze.
    Each step makes a flower bloom.
    Kiss the Earth with your feet.
    Bring the Earth your love and happiness.
    The Earth will be safe
    when we feel safe in ourselves.

Thich Nhat Hanh
Source: Kiss The Earth
Found here:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The art of giving

I just read this on the side of a box of Celestial Seasonings tea...but I love it. :) It's from Letters to My Son, by Kent Nerburn. Wisdom pops up everywhere:
    "Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields blossom and others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than how it is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart wil have peace."
Beautiful! May our harvest joy be multipled through great sharing today. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Unearthing the seeds of stress

On Friday, I was talking to a friend about the way we externalize stress in our lives. She wiped her eyes and said, "I just had a good cry. For some reason whenever I feel really stressed, the tears start flowing. That's frowned on in business because people think I'm weak. I'm not--I'm just stressed!" She asked me how stress shows up for me and I thought about it a minute and said, "Appreciation is the first thing to go for me. When I get stressed, I stop noticing the little things around me."

Our conversation has been popping into my head all weekend. As I push hard to get chapters completed on my current project, I realize that I am continually choosing whether I notice the little things around me right now--the candle burning, the quiet in the house, the breeze from the open window--or let the pressure from the deadline rush me toward some future goal. When I let my awareness be controlled by my worry of that eventual time, my eyes stop seeing and my ears stop hearing what's right here, right now. My edges get harder. I push myself to move through things quickly, not valuing the moment, which requires open hands and eyes and ears, and a soft heart. Losing touch with appreciation means the volume on my heart gets turned down while my brain barks orders. No wonder I feel stress!

I wonder whether there's a way to get things done, to honor commitments, to work from love and fullness and awareness, without letting stress be the controlling factor. If stress makes me leave the gentleness at the core of being, it's not helping me. It's worth thinking about today, at any rate.

And I say, if you need to cry, cry. Let it all out and reconnect with your life right now. It loves you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The simple power of plain speech

I have always loved language, and languages. Words carry power. They really are creative little packets of energy that can cause things to happen. The more I learn about my own words and phrases--and the intentions behind them--the more I understand what I am creating in my life. This is happening slowly, over decades, but I can see it (alleluia). :)

The more I notice the power of speech, the more I want to use it clearly, simply, effectively. This is a good desire for a writer, but it's also more than that. It's a need to manifest what's true--to use words to bring about good for all, as much as possible. To be congruent in feelings and actions--and to be able to speak about it in a framework of language that flows naturally from the essence of the desire and hope. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

This learning about words draws me inward and down--inward into my own heart and mind and spirit and down to the clearest possible denominator of meaning. You and I will be closer when we can speak plainly, truthfully to each other. When we spiral up and out--mostly because of fear of judgment or of being misunderstood--we pad our language, we make it sound high-brow, we work on eloquent turns of phrase.

We "dialogue" instead of "talk." I'd rather laugh, love, fall on my face, and get up and do it all over again--joyfully, sloppily, imperfectly. Maybe we'll laugh together--I hope so. But let's not use our words to create things we don't want or--heaven forbid--separate us. Today Love beckons. Let's accept. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A daily guide for Ramadan

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to pass along this link to a gentle site called, now offering daily reflections throughout Ramadan. The author also has made available a downloadable e-book that is very clear and centered. These reflections are for people of all traditions and bring me into a feeling of celebrating spirit in harmony with others throughout the world. Beautiful!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The vital space of doubt

Today is Alfred Lord Tennyson's 200th birthday. Reading about him this morning, I discovered this quote:

    There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.

I find beauty in all traditions and practices of faith, but the point Tennyson makes here strikes me as integral to a real, growing, embodied living out of an alive, aware, and owned faith. If we are just parrotting the views of our parents, our tradition, our region, our particular demographic, we are only participating in response to an external framework. We haven't owned it; the living out of our faith is not coming from within us, from a seed of transformation we plant and nurture. In my own life Love has grown greatly through doubt--pushing and prodding, asking "why?" and "why not?", and listening, discerning, and testing over time. For some reason I was willing to risk shaking my fist at the ceiling and yelling at God (literally...I know that's not a pretty picture), and even today continue to risk leaving groupthink, again and again, in spite of the sense of belonging the journey might cost me.

Knowing what I believe and in what and whom I believe and how that belief frames my life has always been important to me...and doubt opens up the vital space for me to explore, push, create, and show up as part of Life's arising. I, for one, need that.

Happy Tennyson's birthday!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How will you see today?

This morning I felt a need for refreshment and I picked up John O'Donohue's Anam Cara, a beautiful, spacious, and deeply kind book of Celtic spirituality. In the chapter where he writes about the senses as being the thresholds of soul, he says

    Vision is central to your presence and creativity.

He describes--in a tenderly gentle way--the different kinds of eyes we may use to engage (or not engage) the world:

  • The fearful eye, which sees all as threatening;
  • The greedy eye, which sees everything as something to be possessed;
  • The judgmental eye, which separates and compares;
  • The resentful eye, which begrudges others what they have;
  • The indifferent eye, which holds control and distance;
  • The inferior eye, which sees everyone else as greater;
  • The loving eye, to which everything is real.

May we know today that our seeing is a sacred, creative act and that as we look upon the world with love we are blessing it, and it, us. :)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

One more today...

Hi again, I'm not sure why this popped into my head today, but I decided to prepare a book I wrote back in 1992 (during the heartbreaking L.A. riots) and post it on Scribd as a free download. I was still a "baby" writer in those days, but it's interesting to me that the thought--on Oneness, the light within, overcoming differences, and a desire to dissolve separation--is the sweet essence of the way I live today. Wonderful to see! If you feel so moved, please take a look and let me know what you think. Namaste. :)
Getting Over the Rainbow

Healing the Space

Hi everyone! I hope you're having a beautiful day in your part of the world. I just posted a new meditation on Scribd called Healing the Space. It is a gentle meditation with a blessing for the physical places we encounter. You can use it anywhere--in your house, in the country, in the forest...wherever it occurs to you. :) Peace.

Healing the Space

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seeing it all

Last night I took my older son to the immediate care clinic in the middle of a severe allergy attack. His eyes were swollen almost shut; he had hives and splotches everywhere; he looked like the losing prizefighter in a 12-round match; and most upsetting of all--he was suffering.

Immediate care centers being what they are, you are asked right away if you consider anything you're experiencing to be life-threatening; and if not, you wait. And wait. And wait. We sat with a dozen other people--all equally discouraged, hurting, upset, and worried--waiting for our turn to see the doctor. After a little more than two hours, we were ushered into a small room where we waited another 30 minutes. By this time, the Benadryl had begun to work and the cold wet towel my son had been holding to his face all evening had helped; the swelling had gone down and what was left was a still splotchy face and neck, bright red eyes, heavy fatigue (due at least in part to the medicine), and stopped-upedness.

The doctor walked in with lots of swirling energy, took a look at my son, noticed his eyes, and said, "looks like pinkeye" all in about 10 seconds. From that misdiagnosis, we worked backward, trying to push toward her the details of living with this allergy (from my view, as the mom, and his view, as the experiencer); what we thought about it; what we wondered; what we hoped.

She wasn't really listening. She adjusted her initial diagnosis a bit--it was an allergy-related conjunctivitis, she decided. But she was completely missing the point. He was suffering He was hoping someone would give him some indication that this suffering could end. He didn't want another drop for his eyes--he wanted this not to happen anymore.

The doctor had walked into the room, summed up the situation based purely on what she saw--which was simply what stood out to her most in that moment--and never listened to the full story in the room or the past or possible future of this story. We were never real whole living beings to her (even though she was friendly enough) and her mind never opened enough to let her heart suggest a couple of things that might have really helped.

I write this hoping that when I am called to make quick judgments--professionally or just in my daily life--that I can remember to take a deep breath and listen and receive what is present, to understand the story that is arising to be heard, before I diagnose the situation and act. There is a soul to be honored. There is a need to be met. And the answer isn't just to prescribe eyedrops to make the red go away--it's a need of the heart, the mind, the spirit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An earth meditation

I've just returned from a weekend at Grace's House, the solar home on 40 acres beside the Abbey of Gethsemani in New Haven, Kentucky. The house is one of the retreat properties of the Merton Institute's Bethany Spring--nestled between hills, forest, and lake in a perfect, peaceful spot. I created the following earth meditation one night while I was there...these photos don't really capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the land, but they do help you glimpse at least the doorway in to the experience. :)

Let Your Longing Guide You

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

May the light of your soul guide you


From John O'Donohue (1954-2008)...may the light of your soul guide you, dear:

    May the light of your soul guide you.
    May the light of your soul bless the work
    You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
    May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
    May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those
    Who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
    May your work never weary you.
    May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
    May you be present in what you do.
    May you never become lost in the bland absences.
    May the day never burden you.
    May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams,
    Possibilities and promises.
    May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
    May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
    May your soul calm, console and renew you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Walking Two Dogs

I just had an interesting object lesson a few minutes ago. For years now, I've had Georgie and Edgar. Georgie is an 8-year-old Newfoundland, and Edgar is an almost 14-year-old Bichon. When I take them outside on their leashes, whether we're just going out to the backyard or going for a walk in the neighborhood, they almost never want to go the same direction. Invariably I am pulled in two directions, or trying to compensate for one sniffing or squatting while the other pulls ahead. Always it seems I am the tension point between two desires--Georgie wants to go one direction, and Edgar the other.

Tonight it occurred to me that it's not fun to be that point of tension, trying to manage everyone else's wishes. How do you decide whose desires are more important? Is it more important to drag Edgar along to keep up with George or to hold George back so Edgar can take his sweet time? Either answer produces inner tension because I'm aware that one dog isn't getting what he or she wants. One has to be pushed somehow to meet the other's need. In a peer-to-peer relationship, they might be able to work that out themselves. But as the one trying to coordinate it all, I am responsible, so I have to choose. And I'm never comfortable because I am busy trying to keep it all balanced and as even as possible.

Of course, unseen in this push-me-pull-you dynamic is my own desires, which are probably acting the loudest of all without me noticing. Am I rushing them both because I've got other things I'd rather be doing? Am I letting them have their sniffy doggy moments, finding out which bunny has been in the yard today? What if I directly admitted how I felt about being pushed and pulled this way and just led them in the way I wanted to according to my desires? Wow, there's an interesting thought. And perhaps a key insight into some other puzzles in my past. LOL!

So tonight, seeing now a thousand stars shining in through the open window, I offer you this little flicker of light. The next time you feel torn between two choices, people, events, or priorities, ask yourself about the unspoken third voice that is waiting to be heard. It's the voice of your own desire that will clearly tell you what feels right for you in the moment. Then you have the choice to act on it or not, but at least you won't be unconsciously yanked along at the end of anybody's leash. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Joy within joy

It is a beautiful morning here in Indiana...I am sitting in the sunroom, drinking coffee, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees, watching the patterns of light and shadow move on the floor and wall. Peaceful, relaxed, enjoying.

Sid the cat has another idea. His idea of joy is a good healthy scratch on the head, between the ears. In fact, he'll climb into my lap and do quite a few calisthenics in order to achieve his goal. He flips around, he butts my hand (holding a full mug of coffee) with his head. He looks at me and meows. He's very persistent.

At first I resist. I want to sit quietly and witness all the beauty going on around me. I don't particularly feel like being bullied from my reverie by a three-year-old cat.

And yet, as I watch him persist, a little bud of admiration begins to smile within me. He really is a remarkable cat. And what an honor that he would choose me--choose my lap, choose this moment, need my hands--to help him find his joy. I give up my idea of nonmovement and pet his head, and he pushes his face into my hand, smiling and purring loudly. I have never seen a more appreciative cat. I laugh and continue petting.

I realize after a moment that I am experiencing joy, too. It is not the peaceful, introspective awe kind of joy I was feeling before Sid moved into my lap, but it is a rich, full, connected joy that comes from participating in the joy of another and knowing you had a part in making it possible. It is interesting to me that one kind of joy makes me want to avoid contact (because I will have to leave the quiet spot of wonder I have found), while the other joy draws me into contact (often, perhaps because of my introverted personality, against my own preference). How nice to realize that there is joy along both paths--and the one that is not my natural choice may be even richer for me because it draws me into relationship.

May you experience joy within joy--inwardly and outwardly--today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Which shoes will you wear?

This morning I walked into the sunroom and noticed (odd how things just pop into your noticing like that) four pairs of my shoes by the back door. Four! The first thing that washed over me was the sheer extravagance of that. Do I really need four pairs of shoes? Three of them were sandals, and one a pair of boots for taking the dogs out in the rain and mud. And what's more, there are other pairs upstairs in my closet. Shoes with heels; shoes without. Fancy shoes, comfortable shoes.

The shoes have different personalities. The ones I'm wearing are made of hemp. Very light, soft, comfortable.

As I slipped my feet into the shoes, I thought of the way in which we put on our attitudes for the day. Will my approach to life be natural, soft, comfortable today? I hope so. May you choose the day you hope to create in much the same way you decided what to put on your feet this morning. It's all the same choice, you know. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Song of the body

Mary Oliver's new book of poetry (just made available in paperback) is Red Bird, and this poem is the last one in the volume. But it's beautiful, lifting up a key idea that's been gleaming at the center of my attention for the last few weeks--the tender interplay between body, mind, and spirit. So much of religion seems like it wants to cast off the body and value the soul or spirit; so much of practical life ignores or tunes out the call of spirit; but it's really a both/and--and that is the recipe for joy and peace. I'm learning that, g r a d u a l l y. :) Here's the poem:

    Red Bird Explains Himself

    Yes, I was the brilliance floating over the snow
    and I was the song in the summer leaves, but this was
    only the first trick
    I had hold of among my other mythologies,
    for I also knew obedience: bring sticks to the nest,
    food to the young, kisses to my bride.

    But don’t stop there, stay with me: listen.

    If I was the song that entered your heart
    then I was the music of your heart, that you wanted and needed,
    and thus wilderness bloomed that, with all its
    followers: gardeners, lovers, people who weep
    for the death of rivers.

    And this was my true task, to be the
    music of the body. Do you understand? for truly the body needs
    a song, a spirit, a soul. And no less, to make this work,
    the soul has need of a body,
    and I am both of the earth and I am of the inexplicable
    beauty of heaven
    where I fly so easily, so welcome, yes,
    and this is why I have been sent, to teach this to your heart.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How to weed a garden

It's a beautiful rainy morning here in Indiana...the windows are open in the sunroom as I write this...gentle thunder rolls a few miles away...heaven...

Yesterday the weather was completely different--sunny, hot, with a wonderful spring breeze just when you needed it most. I spent part of the afternoon outside weeding the rose garden, and the following meditation (done in PowerPoint) was the product of the experience, several hours later:
I hope you're having a rich, lovely holiday weekend wherever in this world--or any other world--you are. Namaste. :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The solid nature of love

This morning early, as I was quietly beginning the day, I heard the thought "love never dies" in my head, and I was curious about it. I know that the world shows us otherwise, with conflict and breakups and people sometimes doing less-than-honorable things to each other. But as I made my bed, I thought about the people I have loved and have been loved by--some continue in my life, and some do not. I thought of my dad (the second anniversary of his death is next Monday), and realized that even though I still miss him, the feeling of love is still there inside--stronger than ever, really--real and solid.

I invite you to take a few quiet moments today to reflect on people, experiences, places, and ideas you have truly loved. Sense where that love for them is in your body, explore it in your being. Find it and know it's there. Maybe you will discover, like I did, that the love truly does remain, whether the recipient of your love is in your daily life right now or is real, love is solid, love grows and remains forever. Like a collection of beautiful pearls--or an indescribably exquisite castle--love builds within us and around us always, never diminishing, never fading.

What a nice thing to know!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This is the day

...when anything and everything is possible. I feel it. What is that loving desire, that baby of an intention, that is taking shape in your heart just now? Turn and open your eyes wide, beloved, and let the image arise...feel it glow and shine within you...and at just the right moment, filled with gratitude, plant it in the soil of your life, knowing that it is for this moment you have come, the dream is yours to realize, and all of creation--this one Great Soul we share--is waiting for it to blossom.

The blessing is so big there's nothing you can say but "Thanks," whispered, with awe.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I am grateful to the earth

by Pablo Neruda, from the poem This Is Where We Live*

    I am grateful to the earth
    for having waited
    for me
    when sky and sea came together
    like two lips touching;
    for that's no small thing, no?--
    to have lived
    through one solitude to arrive at another,
    to feel oneself many things and recover wholeness.

    I love all the things there are,
    and of all fires
    love is the only inexhaustible one;
    and that's why I go from life to life,
    from guitar to guitar,
    and I have no fear
    of light or shade,
    and almost being earth myself,
    I spoon away at infinity.

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

* Stavans, Ilan, ed. 2003. The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, 480-481, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The point at which all things meet

A big little thought this morning: Today is a coming together of all roads within your very own soul. All people you have ever known or been, all places you have ever visited or lived or thought about, all experiences you have had and have yet to have, come together in you in perfect harmony. All deeds, acts, smiles, hopes, fears, relationships, experiences, dreams, joys, and sorrows are the unique imprint your soul has made, is making, and will make upon this earth and all beings who are part of this One Soul.

Love your story today, and feel the richness you bring to this very moment. You are the point at which all things meet, and that reality, true for each and all of us, can only bless forever.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The task today

Our task today, I think, is

To load paper in the printer,
straight and uniform,
having tap-tapped it into a perfect white rectangle,
almost feeling the coolness of the gray, two-toned plastic
against the side of our hand
half-see the gleam of the green ready light
silently sipping its juice.
More than half-asleep, we are
lulled by the clocks and rhythms
of modern existence
when suddenly--
and with no hope of return
a gust of wind from the forest of Borneo
leaps from the pages
we are lifted into the sway of the trees,
enfolded in a symphony of leaves,
inhaled into the fresh, moist, loamy earth.
We rise rise rise above the canopy to azure blue skies
we eagerly lean toward mountains, the earth's exposed roots
and awake joyfully to the memory
full of moonlight, knowing
that we once were and are
and forever more shall be

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy anniversary

Good morning, dear. In my heart this morning I overheard the angelic choir singing praises about your recent accomplishment... congratulations! Remember to take the moments you need to really celebrate your anniversary today. What, you don't remember? Today is the anniversary of the day you smelled your first flower. On this day, many years ago, you really, really felt the rain on your face for the first time. One time, decades ago, on this day, you smiled at someone not because they deserved it, but simply because they existed, because they were there, and because you are made of love.

On this day just out of reach in your memory, you did just the right thing for a person you barely knew, and that changed the whole trajectory of their path. They are happy today in love and life because of you and your unaware act. On this day Buddha smiled, Christ gave him a high five, and Lao Tzu sat under the cork tree, nodding. Everywhere you go today, dear, watch for the celebration in your wake. Trees come alive, flowers blossom, people smile, all because of you.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dissolving separation

I received this small prayer in an e-mail newsletter this morning and it struck me how the prayer continues to reinforce the idea of separation--that God is great and "out there" and we are small and unworthy. I understand that the foundations of many traditions are in different ways based on this idea, but there are other ways (more helpful, nourishing, loving ways I think) of understanding the Divine that do not require a one-up, one-down mentality. The greatness of Universal Love and Light, the essence of all being, the love that loves you, expresses through you in beautiful, colorful, and varied ways, the unlimited creativity, freedom, and choices in your day. Through you, the Divine blesses, plans, works, laughs, cries. Through you, in you, and with you, more light comes into the world. Through you and with you--and in the world of your creating, because of you--God smiles and loves and laughs.

Here is how I would revise this prayer, from a perspective that does not separate, but joins. I am sure Divine Love receives both poems with great love, but listen to how one prayer lifts the person praying, while the other reinforces the idea of separation from God (which hurts...and isn't real):

    You Give Me Strength / You Are Our Source

    Anonymous author

    Lord God, thank You for loving me / Lord God, thank you for loving us
    Even when I turn away from You. / Your love shines through us in every moment, blessing each and all
    I am grateful for Your constant care and concern. / So close we are One, we gratefully and freely share your life and love with all beings
    Though I feel unworthy of Your great love, / Happy and at peace knowing we express your joy
    I thank You that through my weakness / We give thanks that whether we see your greatness in our lives or not, it is there...
    You give me strength, / You are our source, our all
    And in my wandering You show me the way. / And in this eternal moment, we rest, love, create, and abide in you.

Amen and amen. Blessings on your day, bringing light, love, and joy into the world.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Already loved this morning

So, here you are. Nice to see you!
Sit down, relax, and tell me...
How has God loved you already today?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Love from the inside out

Spring arrived on the calendar in Indiana a few days ago, but just this morning the dogwoods realized it. Huge, white blossoms--erupting with such joy you can almost hear them--buoyed me to work this morning. I found myself thinking about joy and beauty and blossoming, and realized that it's all love, opening naturally as part of the miraculous process of life, growing, growing, growing, and sharing--ultimately fulfilling the purpose of adding to the Alleluia! of life.

The dogwoods are definitely singing this morning.

I thought, too, of how hard we work at love, perhaps at first fighting it; then allowing it; then abandoning ourselves to it (alleluia!)...and then, for many, challenges, hurts, perhaps a feeling of loss, betrayal, disappointment...

The dogwoods could not/would not have blossomed earlier this week, on the day spring arrived by calendar. You could have stood beside them yelling "Wake up! You're supposed to be blooming now!" but it wouldn't have made any difference. They don't know about calendars and expectations. They don't respond to judgment--as far as I know--for when and how and where they blossom. When it's just time, perhaps they feel it with a delicious sense of readiness, increasing joy, and then...blossoming alleluia!

Love for us bipeds might be easier if we let the natural course of life and love flow within her own banks (which are in reality limitless). If we just for a moment relax our tendency to grab and make and push and evaluate; if we could simply take a deep and filling breath and receive, opening our eyes and minds and hearts; trust, joy, and celebration would be our natural blossoming, our Alleluia!.

I'm just going to let myself blossom naturally today, in whatever timing love and life presents. How about you?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A pebble for your pocket

When I was a little girl (okay, I still do it sometimes today) I used to gather small stones, just picking up tiny little red, cream, and smokey gray ones and putting them in my pocket, carrying them with me wherever I went. This evidence of my loving wonder of the mystery and beauty of the natural world was a comfort...I could feel the stones at the ends of my fingertips during difficult schoolwork, when schedules were full, when parents were agitated. Little pebbles of peace, my unfailing connection to the natural world.

This morning I have a little pebble thought for you to carry in your pocket as you go about your day. I think it is worth touching again and again, turning over and over until it becomes a part of you:

    This does not end, and there is no that.

Amen and amen. Enjoy the beauty all around's for you! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

La bella luna and the realm of all possibility

This morning I took the dogs out very early in the pre-dawn darkness. As we walked along the edge of the forest, I was aware of a sense of life preparing, ready to spill over with new growth and beauty. I could smell it--the scent of spring. Here in Indiana any minute now the redbuds, dogwoods, and pear trees will begin to erupt joyfully. I can't wait!

I looked up at the stars and realized there was not a single thing obstructing the way between us. I looked directly at stars and they looked at me. I turned and looked at the moon. Even looking through the trees, I saw the moon clearly, and it saw me. Our connection was uninterrupted. No buildings, no rules, no delays, no "sometdays", no financial obstacles, no limitation at all came between me and the moon and the stars.

This was a profound realization! If an ordinary human being has a direct link to the celestial bodies, what joy and peace and comfort are ours! If a sometimes struggling, sometimes forgetful, but loved child of God has an indestructible and neverfailing link to his or her beloved Divine Parent, what security and joy and love are always there for us!
Look up and in today, and reach for that feeling of transcendence deep within your soul. It is there, and strong as ever. Soon it will blossom in God's love with the fresh breezes of spring.

Monday, March 02, 2009


This morning early, before the sun, I took the dogs outside. As I stood on the frozen grass trying to convince myself I wasn't freezing, suddenly something bright and orange and shining caught my eye. It was the reflection of the porch light in Edgar's ID tag. It flashed once, twice, and then it was gone.

Driving back from taking Cameron to school a few minutes ago, the rising orange sun edged up over the trees and bathed the faces of houses with a brilliant light. As I passed by, I noticed that looking straight on at the houses, I couldn't see the reflection in the same way. There is something about being in the right place at the right time in order to witness the awesome nature of that reflected light.

It's a precious thing, the ability to be awake and aware, capturing the reflected light of creation in a sparkling moment of awe. Whether you have the chance to see light caught in a two dollar dog tag, shining from the windows of passing office buildings, or gleaming out at you from the eyes of one you love today, recognize the soul-expanding gift of your witness and whisper a small thanks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

When someone you love is hurting

In this economic time, people all over the world are praying for guidance, hoping for security and stablity in a time that seems to be pitching and swaying like a boat on turbulent waters. Watching the world markets rise and fall, hearing the headlines filled with alternating hopeful and then discouraging stories of revenue reports, job losses, housing markets, and bailouts does not help us find a sense of peace and calm. We all know people who are anxious and worried--maybe to the point of exhaustion, illness, or utter hopelessness--and perhaps we are sometimes those people ourselves!

A phrase that has been arising in my mind and heart a lot lately is "It is for this time we have come." (This comes to me from the story of Esther, when Mordecai encourages Queen Esther to speak on behalf of her people to the king.) I think that phrase has a lot to do with the hope borne in this country and catalyzed by the Obama presidency, but it also reflects our response to the needs of our earth, the globalization of our community, and our search for meaning and purpose. It is for this time we have come. We have gifts, talents, love, compassion, vision, connection, faith, and energy to invest. Perhaps right now we don't feel we have a lot of money. But there's much to give and receive. It is still an abundant universe.

Today Hazelden's Today's Gift e-mail offered something that was clear and simple and uplifting, and I'd like to pass it along. The idea is from Douglas Bloch's book Listening to Your Inner Voice(I'm paraphrasing):

    When someone we love is hurting, we may not be able to make the problem go away (we each have to do our own inner work, after all), but there are very definite ways we can help support our loved one as he or she seeks peace, guidance, and change: (1)We can affirm that there's a purpose behind the situation--it is here to bring some kind of healing or it wouldn't be happening; (2) We can imagine her surrounded by love and light, protected and embraced with goodness (this is true because God is Love); and (3) we can know that that the God is with her, right now, in this circumstance, and wants the best and most loving thing for her. All is truly well.

Welcome your blessing as you love and hope and walk in faith today. It is for this time we have come. The love that sustains, leads, and accompanies us will not let us down.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Overflowing Good

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about the 23rd Psalm, and the deep comfort it offers us in times like these. Specifically the words, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup overflows..." has a huge amount of resonance for me (for some reason when I reflect on this Psalm especially I always hear the old English in my head).

Instead of outer "enemies," in my life I recognize that thoughts of worry, fear, and anxiety about the future are the obstacles that keep me from recognizing the presence and power of God in this very moment. God is annointing our heads with blessings--countless blessings--right now. Are we receiving them? How are those blessings running over into our lives? Where are the blessings we receive flowing naturally beyond any limits and spreading out to bless others through our day?

I love the idea that we can notice where our cup is already overflowing and it will give our hearts courage and our minds peace. God is working right now, and somewhere in your life, your blessings are overflowing. I invite you to notice where, say thanks, and relax and let God do the blessing! That's what I'm going to try to do today. :)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

If Wendell Berry were on Twitter...

I recently started posting to a Twitter account (it appears here, to the right, and on my business site, reVisions Plus). My intention was to find out what all the excitement was about and determine whether Twitter was a helpful tool to add to the social networking/online communications system we're creating at the nonprofit where I work (KDP). I enjoy the short, brief, "You are here" kinds of posts, and I like hearing what others are doing in bite-sized chunks.

It occurred to me just now, as I updated my Twitter feed, noticing the icicle across the yard melting so quickly it is dropping a near-constant stream of water on the ground, that I would love to read Wendell Berry's Twitter posts. They would surely point to the sacred in a pure, crystaline way, like the thinnest skiff of ice on the surface of a flowing stream.

Each word has power and clarity. Every phrase is its own living image, stirring your mind and heart, calling your own memories into the sunlight. Behind the imagery and the rhythm is a swirling essence that makes you glad you've surfaced at precisely this moment, with the soul-nourishing task of reading a Wendell Berry poem. He would Twitter about the catch of the light just now on that disappearing icicle. He would tell me about the face of the finch peering in just before finding the filled feeder. And he would wrap it all up in the arms of a natural world so vast and solid and eternal that I wouldn't need to worry about anything for the rest of the day.

I'm looking forward to the day Wendell Berry begins to Twitter, but I realize I may wait a long time. He's busy on the farm, at the desk, describing the steam of the morning and the easing of the day. :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Forgiveness is freedom

This morning after I dropped my son off at school I was driving through the snow-covered countryside, waiting for the sun to begin brightening the day. A thought occurred to me that I want to pass along: Maybe forgiveness is as simple as releasing the negative mental image we hold of another person.

It's the difference between rejecting the person ("he is so rude!") and naming the behavior ("boy, that was a rude comment"). When forgiveness arises, we realize that the image we were holding about that person isn't the full truth--there may be another, truer way we can see the person. We can say a quick prayer and ask to see the person as God sees him or her. That makes all the difference and things shift--because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. :)

Asking for this mental freedom also gives our thoughts the breathing room to show us when we're actually projecting our own stuff onto the other person--maybe it's our own image we're seeing, pointing out places in us that are ripe for inner work in self-love and acceptance.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Just because we are

This morning as I was driving in to work I was thinking about my dogs, Georgie and Edgar, and how they must just sleep all day while I'm at work. I wondered what they think about, whether they talk to each other, what their inner days look like. From that thought I wandered into a sense of grateful appreciation for their presence--they add so much to my life!

Thinking of how much I value them and how much richness and love they add to our home, it occurred to me that I don't expect them to "do" anything in order to earn my love. Oh, sure, please don't pee on the carpet, Edgar. But overall, they don't have to work; they don't have to perform tasks; I simply love them for their presence, because they are.

If we are capable of that kind of love and appreciation for our fellow beings just because they are, is it such a stretch to think that what God loves most about us is not the amount of effort we expend in being Good (or how successful we may or may not be) but rather the fact of our being, that we are companions in this life, that we share this sacred moment and recognize and appreciate what we have? Sometimes I get these little glimpses and think this life of faith is probably much easier than I make it. Walk in the garden with God today. Or snore contentedly, sleeping in God's arms. Or muse about what you'll have for lunch with a glance toward the Divine, knowing that all Good is ours just because we are and because of whose we are.