Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Knight's Journey

"it takes courage to become who you truly are." e.e. cummings

Yesterday I had the privilege of joining in the celebration as seven amazing and brave men completed their first Soltura workshop, The Knight's Dilemma. I am forever blessed by this beautiful experience.

The energy in the room was palpable. Laughter. Tears. Words of power and clarity filled the air. Humility. Wonder. Delight. Grown men’s faces transformed into tender little boys. Gratitude reigned. Awe. Thankfulness. I am not sure I have ever felt so ultimately received by a group of “strangers”—strangers that I was uniquely and individually connected to through their extended friends and family.

My heart filled with joy and I found myself speechless for words that would not come. It was energy. Pure energy. I did not suffer from stage fright or self-consciousness. I felt fully me. Accepted. Welcomed in love and it occurred to me that this is the ultimate hope for the world. For as these men were able to wholly embrace themselves; they were able to more fully extend their love and graciousness toward others.

They fought long, hard and well. They surprised themselves and challenged the facilitators at every turn. They were gracious, frustrating, lovable, eclectic, and endearing. It was such an honor to step in and witness their transformation. Belly laughs bursting to life. Heads held higher and words spoken with more clarity. Humility and love shining from their faces. Beautiful, wonderful, unique men. All so different yet all the same. Seeking what they had forgotten & resolving or at least understanding a little better the battles inside that keep them from living freely.

Today is a new day and these seven Knights will march forward with their armor much shinier and less rusted than it was only a few days ago. I stand in awe of their bravery and courage to seek something better for themselves and consequently the world in which they live.

Bravo, Gentlemen! Well done!

(stock photo)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Joyful Work?

Recently as I read a friend’s words discussing the struggle of living a contem-
plative life versus one of more perceived compassion toward the world, I found myself getting anxious that I do not do enough to help the world, the poor, the marginalized. As I read on, tears came to my eyes when I sensed God speaking directly to me saying, "Don't you see how your gifts extend into the world, so that others may find their way?"

Words such as these can be hard for me to receive. While I have never understood much about asceticism per se, I have a sense (for myself) that if it feels too good (i.e. if I find joy in my work), then there must be something wrong. I see myself as not working hard enough or doing the "right" things. These are long-ingrained messages that I have only recently started to challenge.

I LOVE the "work" (and it is difficult to even use that word) I do with Soltura and at Mars Hill. My heart fills as I see men and women come to have more self-awareness, compassion for themselves and begin to understand what truly brings them alive in the world.

The psalmist said, "Harden not your hearts,” and it is when my heart is open that I see change happen in my world. Can I be satisfied with changing the world the way I am best equipped or must I be a woman doing big, radical, self-sacrificial things to be effective?

And so my challenge, and question perhaps, is can I allow myself to do the work that brings me joy without feeling that I must embody suffering along the way?

A wise man prompted me to remember one of my favorite quotes and suggested perhaps that is where I am already living. Hmm. Guess I'll keep pondering ☺.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." --Frederick Buechner on vocation

Where does your deep gladness meet the world’s deep hunger?

photos by lucy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Season's Rhythm

My daily life has a new rhythm and I am not sure what I think about it. The biggest change is that I have enrolled in adventure boot camp for the next four weeks. As I sit here at day four, finding new muscles each time I move, I wonder what I am doing. My body screams pain right now, but in the early morning (Camp begins at 5:30 a.m.) I begin to feel new strength, endurance and vitality as I push through bicep curls and obstacle courses. It is a surreal experience as we gather in the dark and fog, do our thing and return home before sunrise.

I am exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. I find, however, that my brain is not so engaged once I return home to try and read or write as I normally do in the morning. It is hard to think of God when muscles beg to be the center of attention. I have thought a bit about the Ascetics, particularly those who practice self-mortification. In my current state it really seems counterintuitive that bringing more pain to the body could bring you closer to God. It certainly removes thoughts about the rest of the world, but as I said earlier, I find it difficult to settle in and rest with God when my body yells, “take care of me.” I realize, of course, that a strenuous exercise program is not necessarily the same as a strict ascetic practice, but once the blood does flow back into my brain, I can’t help but ponder thoughts such as these.

Today, however, as I returned from taking my children to their respective schools I was compell-
ingly drawn toward the aesthetic beauty of the sunflowers pictured here. They gleamed with their brilliance from a neighborhood community garden. As I looked more closely, I saw that some had started to bow their heads as if in prayer while others lifted their faces toward the sun. Their rhythm was a reminder to me of my own rhythm…this new place I find myself as fall enters in with new work, school schedules and, of course, adventure boot camp. Will I raise my face toward the sun or gently bow my head and rest?

What are your rhythms as the seasons begin to change? Are you drawn to ascetic or aesthetic thoughts? Eugene Peterson speaks of the ascetic and aesthetic movements as being the “no and the yes that work together at the heart of spiritual theology.” I’d love to read your comments on this post.

photos by lucy


tears weeping
shoulders stooping
time to sleep
time to rest

shedding the shouldered burden
fading into compost
feeding the garden of life
regeneration & rejuvenation


tired of holding face to sun
departing for a season
may others carry brightness now
regeneration & rejuvenation

inspired by christine's poetry party.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


"The voice of God flashes forth flames of fire." -Psalm 29:7

excerpted from a dream:

it unnerves me to be seen
candles at my feet
tapestry boots aflame
lighting my path

candles at my feet
burning away the dross
lighting my path
singed but not ruined

burning away the dross
tapestry boots aflame
singed but not ruined
it unnerves me to be seen

Monday, September 24, 2007

Forget Everything

I am back, but not feeling very prolific with my words, so I will share those of another.

Forget Everything
By John Squadra

If someone says, “To be enlightened you must
fast and pray all night,”
Have dinner and go to bed.
If you see a sign, “This way to salvation,”
run the other way.
If someone says, “This book is the truth,
you can buy it from me,”
Take your money and buy grapes and roses.
If someone says, “He’s talking tonight,
thousands will be saved.”

Go for a walk…listen to the birds
and watch the clouds, and leave
your backpack, your Bible and your Buddha
under a tree and hope
they will be gone when you return.
Where we are going you can’t carry anything,
not even your name.
If there is logic in the above,
be afraid, it’s a lie.

But if you feel something in your chest
as beautiful as the grass beneath your feet,
be grateful…open your arms
and forget everything
you ever thought you knew.

Source: This Ecstasy

as seen at Northwoods Contemplative

photo by bill

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

dedicated to my sister...

...this poem is about is about is about us. i love you.

"Passion ignites my heart,
filling me with the desire
to be one with others.
With great enthu
I see myself as an important player
in life's drama.
My love is needed,
my joy is required,
my faith is essential."

-V. Thompson

Monday, September 17, 2007


There is a quietness and stillness about me today. Entering Fall. Saying good-bye to summer. Preparing my nest for winter. Starting a new journey with the students at Mars Hill. A new group of women coming to Soltura this week.

New. The leaves must die to prepare a way for the new. Anticipation. Holiness. Stillness. Excitement. What will this fall bring? God whispers the answers when we are still, if only we are willing to listen. There is a quietness and stillness about me today. May I be willing to listen. Amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Give us this day...

This is a prayer I ran across several weeks ago and wanted to share here this Sunday morning. It is by author Paulo Coelho. Blessings to you this day!

Lord, protect our doubts, because Doubt is a way of praying. It is Doubt that makes us grow because it forces us to look fearlessly at the many answers that exist to one question. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our decisions, because making Decisions is a way of praying. Give us the courage, after our doubts, to be able to choose between one road and another. May our YES always be a YES and our NO always be a NO. Once we have chosen our road, may we never look back nor allow our soul to be eaten away by remorse. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our actions, because Action is a way of praying. May our daily bread be the result of the very best that we carry within us. May we, through work and Action, share a little of the love we receive. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect our dreams, because to Dream is a way of praying. Make sure that, regardless of our age or our circumstances, we are capable of keeping alight in our heart the sacred flame of hope and perseverance. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, give us enthusiasm, because Enthusiasm is a way of praying. It is what binds us to the Heavens and to Earth, to grown-ups and to children, it is what tells us that our desires are important and deserve our best efforts. It is Enthusiasm that reaffirms to us that everything is possible, as long as we are totally committed to what we are doing. And in order for this to be possible…

Lord, protect us, because Life is the only way we have of making manifest Your miracle. May the earth continue to transform seeds into wheat, may we continue to transmute wheat into bread. And this is only possible if we have Love; therefore, do not leave us in solitude. Always give us Your company, and the company of men and women who have doubts, who act and dream and feel enthusiasm, and who live each day as if it were totally dedicated to Your glory.


photo from google images

Saturday, September 15, 2007

a grievous task

As I sat in my living room last night and listened to a friend talk about her experience reading the book of Ecclesiastes, one point in particular stuck with me. It was a phrase she mentioned regarding “this world we must live in until the resurrection”. What I heard was “until heaven gets here, we must endure what is before us.” NO. My internal sensor yelled. I don’t just want to endure and I don’t want to wait. I want to live and I want to experience heaven here and now! Is it possible? I say, YES! (Not, of course, the sugary sweet, angels floating on clouds & playing harps thing ☺).

“And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of man.” Ecclesiastes 1:13

Seeking and exploring “all that has been done under heaven.” What? Seeking and exploring. Broadening our horizons. To see. To see much is grievous. To live in the dark, is that any less grievous? It hurts to have our eyes opened to the world.

It is a grievous task to seek all AND it is glorious. It is in the seeking and exploring that life happens. Not in simply enduring until the end of the journey. The seeking and exploring speak to heaven and hell on earth. Both/and. So when we take on this grievous task, it is severe and serious. It demands great skill (or at least desire) and resiliency. We are tested and stretched. We must become flexible so that we may bend without breaking. Flexibility defined says that after bending we may not return to our previous shape. (I believe in most cases that is probably not a bad thing.)

It is in the seeking and exploring that we become flexible and more present to “all that has been done under heaven.” Sitting and waiting can atrophy us. (Please know, I am NOT talking about contemplation here.) We become rigid, unchanging and ineffective. To avoid this, we must move. We must journey. Up and down the winding path. In and out. Fluid like the water of a flowing river. It is the journey in which we are cleansed. Washed. Nearly drowned at times. Making splashes by refusing to be complacent. Shedding tears of beauty and tears of sorrow. Journeying with wisdom through the grievous task set before us.

Let us not simply endure and wait. Let us choose to live and experience life here and now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

floating through this life

"as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creative Spirits deep embrace."
--Denise Levertov (found in "Praying with the Elements)

God is a process. Hmmm. Not sure from where those words popped out, but I think I'll let them stay. Yesterday's quote spoke of being a work of art in process. Recently, images of floating feathers have been appearing to me with some frequency. I did not notice that until I wrote a new pantoum while working with my collage. I realized that my previous pantoum also had the line "floating through this life" in it. There is also a very small feather in the collage. Hmmm. Well, I think I will stop here for now as there seems to be more pondering to do.

gratitude. grace. falling in love.
can you look or will you close your eyes & weep
for grace & compassion
a blanket of roses and deep green slumber

can you look or will you close your eyes & weep
falling. running. floating. splashing.
a blanket of roses and deep green slumber
the rose of conviction

falling. running. floating. splashing.
floating through this life.
the rose of conviction
gratitude. grace. falling in love.

photo by bill

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

a masterpiece unfolding

What would it be like if you lived each day, each breath, as a work of art in progress? Imagine that you are a masterpiece unfolding, every second of every day, a work of art taking form with every breath.
-- Thomas Crum

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Yes, it is September 11 and, yes, I assure you that I will spend a great part of my day honoring the events of 9/11/01, and, yes it is MY birthday. Some might say that a woman of my age (which I will not disclose) should be traded in for a newer model. Forget that, I say!! These are the best years of my life! I hope you will join me in celebrating and fill my comment box with Happy Birthdays!!! (hint hint)

Best wishes to my readers whoever and wherever you may be!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creative Challenge

Christine at Abbey of the Arts has a way of getting my creative juices flowing. This time it is through a challenge issued by Magpie Girl. The assignment is to take a photo and alter it. Mine took on the form of a collage. I began my thinking too much and planning it out...the results are in an unfinished crumple on my desk. Then I just started ripping away at a couple of magazines. (I gave myself a short time limit and let the images find me.)

My creative time allotment for today is nearing an end, so I can't spend as much time with this image as I would like, but I have a feeling it has lots to say to me. I'd love to know what you see. And if you're up to it...take the challenge here.

collage by lucy

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Last fall I was introduced to the French Pantoum form of poetry by Christine during the Awakening the Creative Spirit program. Recently, she re-introduced it here. This morning I revisited my journaling while thinking of peregrinatio and this is what transpired:

pilgrimage without destination
feather floating on the breeze
floating through this life
let the mystery be

feather floating on the breeze
slow down on seeking answers
let the mystery be
gently hold the light

let the mystery be
floating through this life
gently hold the light
pilgrimage without destination

photo by geezer dude

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Graffiti Wisdom

the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

...but from there it can go on.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rabbit Wisdom

For some reason this made me laugh out loud today and has stayed with me most of the afternoon. It seemed so simple and profound all at once. I'd love to know what you think.

"Hallo, Rabbit," Pooh said, "is that you?"

"Let's pretend it isn't," said Rabbit, "and see what happens."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


“I’m only lost if I’m going someplace in particular.” Megan Scribner

On a recent night as I lay awake in bed, a gentle stirring suggested I attempt to finally complete Thomas Merton’s, The Seven Storey Mountain. I say “finally” because it has not been an easy read for me. As I was walking the next morning, I thought about Merton and my interaction with his autobiography and realized that is how his journey to the Trappist monastery was—it was not easy. One of the beautiful things about Merton was his ongoing willingness to follow God’s promptings even when he did not necessarily consider himself a follower.

One of the final quotes that resonated with me (and there were many) appeared in the epilogue.
“In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we were going.
In another sense we have already arrived.
We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and in darkness. But we already possess Him by grace, and therefore in that sense we have arrived and are dwelling in the light.”

The words ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ come to mind as I read this passage. The yin and the yang. Dark and light. I am reminded of a tapestry that is continually woven with the changing of texture and colors. It may not yet be finished, but it already tells a story. We are fully in Christ and we are nowhere near Him. The both/and. Already and not yet. We are on a pilgrimage with no specific end in mind for we cannot comprehend what the “end” will be like. AND, there is a deep knowing in our soul that speaks to the end even in the present moment.

In Praying with the Elements, Christine Paintner writes of the term: Peregrinatio. (Personally, I just love the sound of the word!) It refers to a journey initiated by an inner prompting, going where the Spirit leads to seek the place of your resurrection. Peregrinatio seems like the most apt word for Merton’s journey.

As I sit on my porch writing, I wonder about my life and how open I am to be on a journey without a specific destination in mind. It seems to be those moments that are the least planned that lead to the greatest surprise and joy. When I think of jumping into the lake with my young charges, I think of peregrinatio. It was not planned yet it felt like baptism. It was holy. It was resurrection.

I pray that I will be open to the subtle promptings in my life this day and every day to follow. Where are you being asked to step into Peregrinatio—the journey with no specific end or goal in mind? Where are you being asked to trust the mystery of life and experience the beauty and wildness of the unknown?

photos by geezer dude

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Young at Heart

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” -- Mark Twain

Who says you can’t be young again? Saturday, following my sister-in-law’s wedding, I was able to do just that thanks to my two young nephews, Will and Wyatt (ages 9 & 7) and my sweet little cousin, Graham (7).

After attending a fabulous reception at Sparrow in Denver, the large extended family headed out to our Uncle Tom and Aunt Katie’s house on a small private lake. (They were the original tomkat long before Cruise and Holmes). With brothers, sisters, cousins and parents enjoying the scene, much laughter and camaraderie ensued and a good time was had by all.

My favorite part of the day (other than the wedding, of course) came when Graham asked if I would like to go for a paddleboat ride. His sweet voice and big blue eyes were persuasion enough, and it was a glorious day, so I jumped at the opportunity. Soon, Will and Wyatt decided they should come along too. Three of us struck out in the paddleboat while the fourth followed in a rubber rowboat. Our destination was the floating trampoline near the center of the small lake.

Once we arrived at our target, we tied up and all clambered onto the trampoline. “What now?” I asked.
“Huh?,” they responded puzzled.
“This is IT?” I said somewhat dismayed for I was anticipating a greater adventure than sitting on a trampoline.
“Well, we could jump in the lake.” One of them said tentatively.
“Sounds good to me.”
They wondered if I was bluffing. “We’ll go if you go first.”
And that was all I needed. I gave a hearty “O.K.!”, stood up and dove into the lake--clothes, jewelry, contact lens and all.

I’m not sure which was more delightful—the feeling of freedom as the cool water lapped around me or the surprised looks on the faces of the three little boys. Very soon, however, I was no longer alone as Will and Graham followed my lead.

On the shore, rumors were stirring. Someone thought I had been pushed in. Another thought I lost my balance and fell. Rescue plans and worried parents headed toward the shore. My husband zoomed in with his giant camera and quickly realized that all was well with the world. His wife was gaily laughing as she played in the water like a child.

There’s nothing like a spontaneous and joyful move by an adult to stir the curiosity of children. For just a moment in time, we were all the same age, laughing and playing in the water without a care for the world of adults. It was pure heaven. Who says you can’t be young again? Try it some time; it might just add years to your life.

photo by bill

Monday, September 03, 2007

Wedding Joy

This Labor Day weekend, I had the privilege and honor of witnessing my beautiful sister-in-law's wedding. If you are a praying person, I hope you will share your blessings and prayers for this lovely couple's future together.

Soft violin and guitar music waft through the late morning air—gentle strains of classical music with just a hint of folk performed flawlessly by the two cousins. Natural beauty and talent merge in the midst of the beautiful garden setting. Sounds of family and loved ones gathering fill the air: children laughing, a newborn crying, grandparents marveling at the sight of their offspring.

The day is sunny and warm. Summer is waning, but fall has not quite arrived. The wedding goers in their finery cross paths briefly with the tourists clad in shorts and tennis shoes as they enter the botanic gardens. It is a beautifully amazing day but none is prepared for the absolute stunning brilliance of the bride herself.

She is radiant and glowing. I am not sure there has ever been a bride more lovely. She is a woman of confidence and surety. She has waited a lifetime for this moment. The day has been planned with care and perfection for there is no doubt in her mind that this is where and with who she wants to be. There is no hesitation as she enters the garden on the arm of her father.

Breathtaking is the only appropriate word. There seems to be an audible sense of awe as she walks down the short stone pathway toward her groom. He is the handsome equal to her glowing beauty. All eyes are on them.

The female minister, a cousin to the bride, reminds us of what we already know, this is a day that has been thought through with great love and care. We are asked to take a moment and be present to our surroundings; to be witnesses and participants of this joyous and solemn occasion.

As the vows are exchanged, the groom’s voice catches as he speaks to his bride of her beauty and his love and honor for her. There is not a dry eye in the party and all can sense this is a moment that has been ordained by God. Sanctity and beauty resonate throughout the gardens.

Following the vows, the new family is united and honored—bride, groom and grown daughter of the bride. The maid of honor is standing tall and beautiful beside her mother. For me, she is eternally three—a little girl with flowers in her hair. But in this moment, she is a grown woman rejoicing that her mother has finally found the happiness she so richly deserves.

The new family takes communion as the witnesses pray blessings for their future. The earth seems to rejoice along with them. The clouds have offered a bit of shade from the midday sun. The grass gleams greenly around us. A slight breeze blows. God has consecrated this union. Softly, the violin and guitar usher the newlyweds into the beginning of their life together.