Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Lenten Prayer

“People who pray stand with their hands open to the world.” (Henri Nouwen.) Their arms wide open to the world. May my heart break wide open so that the world may fall in. Come all who are weary and burdened. Come. Let me be with you in this. Let me be there for you. (Words I penned yesterday morning as I continued to meditate on what my Lenten practice would be this year.)

I am continually amazed at my need to get out of my own way so I can hear God. While it is only recently that I have become more aware of the practice of Lent, I decided this year I would be prepared and consider well in advance what my Lenten practice would be. I read up on Lent a bit and even ordered a daily meditation book several days before the season was to begin. I considered giving up wine or sugar, exercising more…you get the picture. And then I ran out of time to think about it (hmm) and left for Brazos de Dios on Ash Wednesday.

No phone service. No internet. No i-pod or t.v. No interruptions from the outside world. Only ten people with the sole purpose of re-discovering the truth and beauty that lie deep inside each one of us.

That is my work, my joy, and (finally I realized) my Lenten prayer (my Life prayer)—to be fighting with and on behalf of truth and beauty for myself and others. Seeking the beauty and glory that we may not be able to see in ourselves. Digging through the armor of lies we believe—“I’m not good enough.” “My feelings aren’t important.” “I am nothing.” “I don’t matter” etc., etc. Fighting the battle alongside each other. While I know we must do it for ourselves, we do not have to do it alone. We can travel this path together—learning from one another.

My heart is filled with joy and my cup overflows. This Lenten season I choose to give away Me. Thankfully, gratefully, joyfully. My Lenten practice is not giving up drink or sugar or reading and exercising more, doing more, but rather I choose to be present to the world and to those around me. Living intentionally and bringing myself fully. Fighting side by side the battle that is ours together.

I invite you to join me for I cannot do this alone. Together let us seek the beauty in each other and break through the armor of lies that keep us in bondage. Together, let us move toward Resurrection this Lenten season (and always).

Monday, February 26, 2007

Boys and Bears

"We live our deepest soul's desires not by intending to change who we are but by intending to be who we are." -- from The Dance by Oriah

Angry, scared young men raging at the world.
Pain held deep inside.
Fists of steel swing toward connection.
Seeking emotion long ago hidden.
Rage wrapped tight in silence.

Confusion and fear plague the young faces.
Voices speak, “Get the F away!” and
“Please don’t leave.”
Slowly shifting, hands reach out and hugs hold tight.
Determination reigns.

Child and Man merge into one.
Hand in hand—reaching, fighting, touching, holding—
Fists that push and punch, open to embrace.
Their world softens, gentle as a teddy bear.
Little boy. Brilliant man. Mighty warrior. Heroes All.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On the Road Again

Heading off to Lubbock, Texas early tomorrow morning to do the work I love to do. This week I will be helping facilitate a workshop for young men/teens. Check it out at here.

During the coming days I hope you will:

dance as though no one is watching you.

love as though you have never been hurt before.

sing as though no one can hear you.

as though heaven is on earth.

That's what I will be doing!

Monday, February 19, 2007


"What I like about art is the very thing that makes people fear it. It enlarges us. I am a better and more honest woman for having taken to the page today and admitted my locked-away feelings of the years. I am larger and better and softer and kinder and more open than I was resisting knowing what I knew. It is always this way with art. We say the unsayable and in saying it we name not only ourselves but also the human condition. By being willing to characterize our lives in art, we begin to have the character necessary to make living itself an art. We rise to the occasion that life offers us." --Julia Cameron, The Sound of Paper

These words brought tears to my eyes this morning as I felt their trueness. May you find a way to express art in living today.

painting by Claude Monet

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dance or Die

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

And dance like there is no tomorrow.

What are we to make of this life we are offered? Daily we are faced with choice. Get up or stay in bed? Smile at the sunshine or decide it is too bright and close the blinds? Are the birds singing a joyful song or is it noise that hinders my sleep? Each minute is a choice. Will I choose to rejoice with gratitude for all I have or will I weep from pity at what I think I deserve and do not possess?

Choice. It faces us every minute of every day and often we are pushed to our very limits. The point where it feels like we can take no more. The edge of life where a choice must be made. Dance or die.

“Death pushed me to the edge. Nowhere to back off. And to the shame of my fears, I danced with abandon in his face. I never danced as free. And Death backed off, the way dark backs off a sudden burst of flame. Now there’s nothing left, but to keep dancing. It is the way I would have chosen had I been born three times as brave.” --Mark Nepo

There is room in life for both rejoicing and weeping, but not for dancing and death. Today there is a choice to be made. Dance or die. What will it be?

photo by bill hughlett

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hearts Aching with Joy

“We are ignored even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” II Corinthians 6:9-10.

To breathe in ALL that God offers is to live an embodied life. This morning, I was drawn to the above verses written in my journal at a time that felt more like the whirl of a hurricane than a peaceful spring morning. These days I continue to be drawn to the wonder of the simple things like breath and waiting. I live in awe of this quiet existence. I am doing work I love. People I care about (both far and near) surround me with their love. I feel healthy and strong. My heart is filled with gratitude for this life and at times I wonder if I should feel a little guilty for being so happy.

In God’s graciousness, however, I am reminded of the times (present and past) when my heart has ached and broken. Somehow, there is rest in remembering the suffering. There is release in realizing that through God’s grace and compassion, I can find calm in the midst of the storm and know it is o.k. to have joy.

Lord, today may I breathe in ALL that you offer me, knowing that heartache and joy are both who I am.

“All spiritual warriors have a broken heart—alas, must have a broken heart—because it is only through the break that the wonder and mysteries of life can enter us.” Mark Nepo

award-winning photo by bill hughlett

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Perfect Valentine

It's absolutely wonderful to be married to a man who "gets" me! This is the quote that came on my perfect Valentine card:

Then a great peace came over me...
and I seemed to hear the pines and the wind
and the rocky shores say to me, "You...lover of the wild, are part of us..."
---by Sigurd F. Olson

I love you, Wheatboy!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dancing in the Water of Life

"January 25, 1964. I am aware of the need for constant self-revision and growth, leaving behind the renunciations of yesterday and yet in continuity with all my yesterdays. For to cling to the past is to lose one’s continuity with the past, since this means clinging to what is no longer there.

My ideas are always changing, always moving around one center, and I am always seeing that center from somewhere else.

Hence, I will always be accused of inconsistency. But I will no longer be there to hear the accusation." ~Thomas Merton, Dancing in the Water of Life, p. 67
--from antony

I love this quote. It reminds me so much of where I live my life both personally and in the therapeutic world of counseling. It is possible and often necessary to take a look at the past to see from where we have come, but I appreciate Merton's words of the futility of "clinging to what is no longer there." To cling is to be stuck with no forward movement. Change is evidence of growth and maturity, and there is also a playfulness and freedom in Merton's words: "But I will no longer be there to hear the accusation." Beautiful.

Inconsistency or change? It is my belief that with each new day and encounter, we are called to change, to grow, to dance in the water of life.

Forever changed.
We are forever changed by each other.
Bumbling, blessing, crying, laughing,
raging, pushing away and holding together.
We mark each other with indelible ink
and move a little closer to glory,
as we taste the Gospel together.

Thank you, friends, for being a part of my dance and my "inconsistency."

photo by bill hughlett

Waiting for Ruwach

I had a lightbulb moment today and found a new connection for the three words (waiting, breath & spirit) from my previous post. It occurred to me that while I have been pondering a new way of breath, God has been waiting for me to make the connection. I wonder how often that happens? I usually think that I am waiting for God, but today it feels a bit more mutual.

Something I had temporarily forgotten is that Breath and Spirit are both translations of the Hebrew word Ruwach (also translated as wind). In my "moment," I had the sense that I am being called to a new way to consider the Holy Spirit. I'm not exactly sure what it means but it feels really good and very freeing. It feels like new breath, a sweet wind blowing and the spirit of my heart lifting high. It feels whole, connected and embodied.

In my Awakening the Creative Spirit class a couple of weeks ago, I kept saying how whole and full I felt and the word "embodied" seemed very important. I did a word search and landed on this definition of embody--to provide a spirit with a physical form. This names the fullness I feel.

My dolphin studies also say when dolphin shows up it is time to breathe some new life into yourself. And, then today I ran across the tradition that the early Christians viewed dolphin as a symbol of salvation. Breath. Spirit. New life. Salvation. Coincidence or new possibilites to consider? How will I choose to view Spirit--inside a box or wide open in the world?

(A little aside here--there was a dolphin prominently featured in the Seattle Times this week AND my friends in Mexico called to tell me some wonderful dolphin my dolphin totem continues to inspire.)

One final thought (for now) is that almost three years ago, I received what I believe was an amazing prophecy and these words have been stirring within me recently:

Feel the wind. The wind blows hard. The wind is blowing our family in a new direction. Guide the sails through Me.

A new way to breathe-- To experience the wind-- To feel the Spirit?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Simplicity of Paradox

How do simple words contain such complex meaning? My last two posts (unplanned, by the way) have been entirely about the paradox of simplicity. A twenty-five word post reveals both the simplicity and complexity involved in actually living out the “simple” words. In another post, an “ordinary” day moves into the extraordinary. Simple? Yes. And, there is absolutely nothing simple at all about it. Paradox. Small things becoming larger than life. Ground, cold and barren, suddenly sprouting new life. Sun shining brighter than normal.

This is a simple post about the complexity that is percolating in my mind. Words of waiting, new breath and spirit permeate my waking and sleeping hours. I have thoughts and ideas about what they are telling me and just when I begin to write, another image appears and the idea morphs into a new one. So, for now, I will wait.

Will you consider waiting with me? I’d love to know what images these "simple" words (waiting, breath, spirit) stir in you.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Attitude is Everything

Be kinder than necessary,
for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,

Love generously,

Care deeply,

Speak kindly, and

Leave the rest to God.

--author unknown

Simple words are powerful words.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Beauty in the (not so) Small Things

“Beauty is the physical manifestation of the Mystery—God, Spirit, the Divine—that surrounds and beckons to us every day of our lives.” --The Invitation by Oriah

I lead an ordinary, extraordinary life. Yesterday was an amazing reminder to me. The sun seemed to shine a little brighter. The morning found me snuggled in bed—reading, writing, and listening to music. It was heavenly. Then I ventured out to work. The air was crisp and clear, springtime starting to tease. I had the privilege of sharing a young woman’s story and being with her in her struggles. There was something so good about knowing she had not been alone for an hour and neither had I. The Divine was present.

The day led me to a local outdoor mall where I made a return rather than purchasing something new. It felt good! I stood in the sunshine for a little while and pondered the possibilities of the time before my next appointment. Ultimately, I decided on coffee and a bagel at Starbucks. My bagel was fresh, my coffee was hot and the banter of baristas and customers was light. It was heavenly. And, the day got even better. I ran into a friend I had not seen in years. We stood in the fresh air, catching up and sharing stories.

All day long life brought me delight. I laughed out loud when I saw a sign for the “Dolphin Apartments”—a sign I had driven by 100 times but only noticed yesterday. I had tea with a friend and her soulful, rescued dog, Petunia who taught me much about relaxation and enjoying the moment. I saw Mount Rainier rimmed in pink clouds. I heard my daughter laugh. I knew my son was safe. I sparred and joked with my husband. I spoke to counselors and social workers. I corresponded with friends and read provocative blogs. I could go on and on about the “ordinary,” but you see, those things do not feel ordinary to me. They are beautiful and extraordinary--“physical manifestations of the Mystery.”

Blessings to you this day. My prayer is that you (and I) will see and experience the beauty of God in all that comes our way. Peace.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Budding Spring

what is awakening as we move into spring?
there is something about the depths of our souls, the bare bones of our branches, the seed that lies deep within the ground...waiting to sprout.
the beauty emerges with each slight movement...and while, we certainly do not want to rush spring, there is hope in the new buds that wait to blossom.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lucy and Shabbat

art by sulamith wulfing

St. Lucy greeted me this morning as only she can—with surprise, delight and light. Today she brings discovery of the light of Shabbat. (The Hebrew word that is the basis for Sabbath and sabbatical.) Not being Jewish myself, I was delighted to discover it is a woman's mitzvah to light the Shabbat candles. In other words, it is a woman's privilege to bring "good" into the world through light. I love this! I, as a woman, can bring light into the world as no other can.

There is something very holy, sacred and sensuous as I think of candles and light, springtime and growth. With spring, the days are getting lighter; the ground is awakening and making space for new life to push forward to the surface. There is newness in the air. The soul is awakening from the darkness of winter.

Images of water (often associated with creation and passion) and patterns of new breath and rhythm continue to appear in both my dreams and waking hours. My journey for now seems to include the questions: Where is God calling me as I approach this new spring? How will I breathe new life and spread my light in the days to come? How will my creativity and passion express themselves? All exciting possibilities to consider. What new candles are you being called to light?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Current life events led me to turn to last February’s journal. I am both sobered and hopeful at where the seasons of life continue to lead.

New soil. Springtime ready to grow, but there is nothing in the current ground of my heart. It is empty. What little green sprouts will choose to grow there—weeds or beautiful wild flowers? It feels so desolate right now. A hurricane has come through and decimated the land. There is trash and death all along the shore. The birds and wildlife have not returned. Desolation on the beach—the same beautiful, glorious beach that held sparkling diamonds only moments before.

When will life return? What will the resurrection look like? Even those small words feel hopeful for now. I know I cannot rush springtime. Growth and restoration take time and great care. Who will care for me in this time of grieving?
--February 27, 2006

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Shimmer (Dance of the Dolphins III)

Shimmering water beckons woman to a new dance.
Sister of Eve heeds the call.
Whole and embodied, her spirit is home.
Dormant no more below earth’s surface, passion ignites.
Breath’s rhythm shifts.
Born of joy-tilled ground and watered with tears of sorrow,
Golden light embraces her womanly body. And thus,
She,too, shimmers. She glows. She dances.


The road to freedom and kindness is long and hard, but it is well worth the journey!

photo by bill hughlett


by Naomi Shihab Nye,
Words Under the Words

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Dance of the Dolphins - Part II

"dancing dolphins"

One of the most delightful aspects of dolphins is their call to playfulness and dance. Both aspects are a part of life too easily forgotten amidst busyness and productivity. As I remember laughing with the dolphins weaving across the bow of Georgia J and wonder where I am being called today, the following poem speaks loudly of my dreams.

The God who only knows four words

Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words.
And keeps repeating them, saying,
"Come dance with Me, come dance."

I am that child, and with the dolphins as my reminder, I dance.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dance of the Dolphins - Part I

Dolphins are pursuing me. Though I live on dry land in Seattle, I realized yesterday that for the last month dolphins have been pursuing me. They traveled along our sailboat seemingly in our first moments at sea and often throughout the trip. They have danced with me in my dreams and words throughout the month. Yesterday, they showed up fully in written form: First, through the story penned by a writing group friend, and next in a blog I visit occasionally. The power of their presence is palpable.

I am curious about this presence and felt the need to start this conversation. Since I am heading out the door this morning, this entry is only introduction and a reminder of dolphins. In one of yesterday’s readings, dolphins were referred to as “the carriers of messages of our progress.” I am excited to explore this thought. Other themes in the dolphin readings were breath, life, playfulness, sexuality and spiritual practice. Lots to ponder!

While the traditional part of me thinks this may sound a little whacky, my whole essence speaks strongly of connection to God through nature and creation. I am excited for the possibility of what God and the dolphins may be saying to me. I would love to hear your thoughts as I ponder this dance of the dolphins.

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21

fyi--that is my leg in the photo--proof of the dolphins pursuit!