Sunday, November 30, 2008

welcoming advent - day 1

“Give us, we pray, the grace to surrender to being found.”
--Richard John Neuhaus

I have had a wild morning with God. I wish I had the gift that my friend, Tess, has of putting together lots of details into a formative description ☺. I shall, however, try because it feels too important and too crazy (or wild) to not record this. I have to tell you though that stuff like this happens to me all of the time. Does that sound arrogant? Does that sound like I am special? Oh wait, I have gotten ahead of myself, have I not?

So, as you can see by looking at my new bookshelf in the sidebar, I have quite a few books that I currently have open next to my bedside. I used to be a serial reader and could/would only read one book at a time, cover to cover and then, of course, count the pages and record my accomplishment. (Can you see the performance seeking perfectionist pop through there?) Anyway, I have ceased to use that method and now find myself in the midst of all sorts of knowledge (which I love), but the main problem becomes remembering where I read something!! This post as much as anything is an attempt to record the events of the last few hours and how they have come to be my Advent focus.

Last night I finished my first read of Patti Digh’s “life is a verb” and was left with this challenge:

“What, if you did it consistently for thirty-seven days (and perhaps beyond), would create positive vibes, intentional joy, good karma, fantastic direction, and deep expansiveness in your life?...Whatever it is, however small, do it. Decide on It, the Thing You Will Do. And then, do it.”

I also decided to jump ahead and read the first day of Advent readings from “God with Us.” Here is the primary thought that I underlined :

“The great question is not whether we have found God but whether we have found ourselves being found by God.”

This morning I awoke quite early (not really my personal decision ☺) and chose to quietly read another chapter in Christine Paintner’s, “Lectio Divina” and this is what greeted me:

“Awareness of God, at its deepest level, is not so much something we do as something we are.” --William Shannon
The chapter was on 'Contemplative Awakening and Awareness' and ultimately I found myself entering into centering prayer which "Lectio Divina" points out is “a method designed to facilitate the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift…It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.”

As this post is already becoming a bit long, I will simply say my 20 minutes of centering prayer were definitely in kairos (qualitative) time versus the clock watching of chronos. It was a special time of “being” rather than “doing.” It was a time where I “found myself found by God.”

And so, upon reflection I realized that all of these little hints had been working together to offer me my discipline of Advent (which I did not even know I was looking for ☺.) And here, it is: for the next 37 days I am choosing to give myself the gift of 20 minutes of centering prayer each day. Now, here is where things get really cool. Today is November 30. There are 31 days in December and The Feast of Epiphany (the final feast day of Christmas) is on January 6—roughly speaking 37 days!!! How awesome is that?!??!?

I look forward to sharing this continuing journey with you, but mainly I look forward to the ways that I know God will surprise me (or not…I am holding lightly to expectations) over this 37 day Advent season.

Oh, I have to share one last little piece: the music. Yesterday while reading People (I’m not a spiritual diva by any means ☺), the recommendation for Enya’s “And winter came” jumped out at me. While I have been writing, I downloaded it. I was not surprised to see that the first song is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Can’t wait to see what else is on there!!

There you have it – my Advent beginning. What will yours be? Will you allow yourself space to be found by God? What is the gift you will give to you? How will you surrender for the next 37 days?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

early morning musings

I write to live - anything less is death.

The human heart carries so much pain. It’s capacity for joy is unlimited. We shield ourselves from ourselves. We try to hide from god. Our pain runs deep like hidden riverbeds beneath rock surfaces. We become brittle until we break or explode or implode. Without meter or rhyme, we forge on never knowing if tears or laughter will burst forth. It is tenuous—this life. To embrace the moments. To feel the depth and agony of pain while soaking in a perfumed tub. To experience gales of belly laughs while playing a silly game. To fill my stomach full to bursting with too much wonderful food. To know the ache of my head from stress and a little excess wine.

The capacity of the body is immense. The capacity of the heart – infinite. Just when we think it will break, joy emerges from the ashes. How? Why? I do not know. It is grace. The grace of God. Learned. Given. Received. I do not understand this God. This life. I need to feel it. I need to share it. This depth. This groundedness that I do not understand. The both/and. Not either/or. I am not sad or happy. I am both. I am filled with delight AND terror & grief. Both/and. I don’t understand yet I know it to be true. I have been described as Full. Full of shit—maybe…sometimes. I am also full of Love. Delight. Laughter. And a capacity to not only endure, but also Live a life that others might shrink from or shut down & back away.

My capacity is immense. My pendulum swings far and wide. The depths sink beyond comprehension. The word from the Lord says, “Others would have given up long ago. I chose you for this life. You will dare to stay there. You will dare to risk life. You will give your life to live it.” I would not trade this life for any other. Nope, this one is mine. I might, however, trade a few moments ☺. My tapestry is rich. I do not understand it and I do not have to understand. When I come to this still place—I Know. Pure and simple.

Lead me into Advent, Lord. Let me celebrate the incarnation. It is life. New birth. It leads to death and resurrection. Let me celebrate all of it. It is the gospel. It is the cycle of life. Birth. Death. Resurrection. Over and over and over again. The capacity of the body is immense. The capacity of the heart – infinite.

Be sure to order your own copy of Grace Unbound. Check it out here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Oh, I feel blessed and filled with gratitude this morning. The sun is brilliant today and there is frost on the roofs. My family will begin to gather today for the Thanksgiving feast of tomorrow. We will be joined by more family and friends. Ah, it is a good feeling. Soon I will go begin the pumpkin pies and my house will fill with the aroma of my childhood. I remember coming home from school on this day always to the smell of baking pies. A little taste of heaven.

There is much to do in preparation for the arrivals and I am hoping to get outside for a walk on this glorious day. I am also keenly aware that there are people who do not have enough food, will not share their day with anyone and may not even have a roof over their heads. My heart grieves AND I realize that if I surrender to my grief and become melancholy or paralyzed then I fail to acknowledge the moments for which I am so very grateful. It is a hard balance to follow. My hope is that I will be able to do both – grieve & remember AND celebrate with gratitude. I invite you to join me in both!

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
--Mary Oliver
see full poem here

Don't forget to reserve your own copy of Grace Unbound. Check it out here.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Grace Unbound: New Reflections on an Old Subject is a creative combination of words and image. Containing original works as well as some old favorites and over 50 stunning photos by amazing photographer, Bill Hughlett, this small 7 X 7 book will make a great gift for yourself or others. Grace Unbound contains thought provoking and reflective images like those you have come to love and appreciate here. It is simple and complex. It is easy to read and it will make you think. I hope you will decide to give and receive this gift of Grace.

As a dear friend recently stated upon entering an exciting and scary venture, “the deed is done.” The first printing of Grace Unbound has been ordered. Yippee!! So, for those of you who said you wanted a copy (or a few), it’s time for you to receive your special deal. If you indicated your interest prior to this order (there were about 14 of you), then your cost will be $18 per book (including shipping). Congratulations!

For those of you who are now ready to place your order for this amazing collection of meditative thoughts and images, the price is $20 (plus shipping). Discounts will be given for orders of more than three ☺.

If Grace Unbound is meant to be received for delivery before Christmas, orders need to be placed no later than Friday, December 5 for regular delivery.

To confirm your order or to place a new one, please send me an e-mail at Check, Money Order or Paypal will be accepted.

I can't wait to hear from you!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sabbath. Rest. Delight.

I do not know much about Sabbath. I am learning how to Rest, and Delight is finding more space in me and with others. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by people—a community even—who are willing to look at things in new ways and break out of molds that have held them for most of their lives.

This morning I awoke very early and spent some quiet time in prayer and contemplation. The Bible verse for the reading today was this: For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11)

I was taking it in and really feeling the expanse of God’s love until I reached the words “for those who fear him.” I ponder why those words must be there. Who made the translation? Is fear required to receive the expanse of love? I tried to convince myself that a little “healthy fear” is good for everyone, but my mind continues again and again to the damage done when we are hammered and shamed with a fear-based God. And, how the God of love never leaves us. While a fear-based God is not the topic of this post, I wanted to mention that because it seems relevant to the way I spent my evening last night—my Sabbath. It was an evening where the presence of an expansive, loving God was very, very present.

Eight of us were called together for Sabbath—to light the candles, share food and wine and enter into a time of delight. I can see the evening unfold in my mind, but something stops me from putting it onto paper. Somehow, in this case, words seem to limit the experience. I do, however, feel the great desire to mark this occasion for those times when I might not remember so vividly. The evening was a true blessing and will continue far longer than the flame of those Sabbath candles.

As I opened my computer this morning I was greeted with the sweet aroma of last night’s Sabbath once again. It seems most apt to share these words of our host that arrived in my inbox this morning.

"Just settled down to do some Meister Eckhart meditation and the first one that popped up as I randomly opened the book was this:

God's peace
prompts service among brothers and sisters.
In that way one creature

sustains another.

One enriches the other,

and that is why
all creatures are interdependent.

That is so evidently real tonight. I am grateful for you all and our mutual sustaining and enriching.

So that was the first meditation I read, and it is now the last. Want to soak it in."

Me, too. I want to soak it all in. My hope is to continue to learn and experience more of Sabbath, Rest and Delight. That hope is for me, for you, for the World! It is a hope as we consider entering the season of Advent which begins one week from tomorrow. Amen & Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

purple passion

here's that purple theme again...

Your Passion is Purple!

You've got a ton of passion, but you don't always wear it on your sleeve.
If something truly excites you, you let your inner intensity shine through.
But otherwise, your passion tends to morph into energy ... which you never lack.
You're a balanced woman, knowing when to turn on the fire in your heart.

What Type of Passionate Woman Are You?

I'm passionate about Grace Unbound. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


“But for most art there is no client, and in making it you lay bare a truth you perhaps never anticipated: that by your very contact with what you love, you have exposed yourself to the world.” ---from Art and Fear

My days are full and good. Exciting even. The book is coming to fruition. After yesterday’s initial brief announcement, there are requests for more than 20 copies. Oh my. This makes me really nervous. I feel exposed! What if they don’t like it? If they feel ripped off? What if they don’t “get it”? What if it looks horrible? The voices battle. The inner critic says, “Dump it!” The strong me says, “Spread the word!”

This book is me. It is my form of grace. My grace is sufficient for you. Grace has supervised this project. The molding and shaping throughout the book. Add more pages. It’s not enough. Will it ever be enough? And so, I stop and declare. This IS enough. I get to choose and this feels right. It feels sufficient…maybe even more than sufficient ☺.

I see the trails of my life throughout this book. Soltura. Family. Amazing Grace. Beauty. Form. Movement. Sunday School. Mars Hill. The bus. Formative moments. Brazos and Lakebay. It’s all there. Mexico. Bermuda. Seattle. Texas. The desert. The beach. Night and day.

This is the beginning. Oh sh*t, here we go again, Lord. You are amazing beyond words and I am scared to death. Is it fear of failure or success? What if I am successful? It is my dream and it terrifies me! And, it thrills me! My chest is tightening. Breathe. Be still and know that I am God. Slow down. Breathe. My grace is sufficient for you.

photo by lucy from seattle sculpture park 11.17.08

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lucy has a Book...almost!!!

Exciting works are in progress here. (At least I think so and hope you will, too.) With this post, I am delighted to announce the upcoming release of the first ever, super spectacular, wonderful collaborative work of my dear hubby and Me!

Grace Unbound: New Reflections on an Old Subject is a creative combination of words and image. It is done in the style that has been dubbed as "zine". Containing original works as well as some old favorites and over 50 amazing photos (most which have never been shown elsewhere) by amazing photographer, Bill Hughlett, this 7 X 7 book will make a great gift for yourself or others. This zine contains both thought provoking and reflective images like those you have come to love and appreciate here. It is simple and complex. It is easy to read and it will make you think. It really is quite lovely if I do say so myself.

Grace Unbound will be heading to the printer at the end of this week if all goes well. Watch for updates and let me know how many copies you would like ☺. Pricing details will be up soon. Please note that pre-orders and multiple orders will receive significant discounts!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it! You're gonna love it, too!!!

(Oh and by the way...this is really scary for my alter ego to put out there, but I know it is definitely worth the risk!!! ☺)


Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Moment of Dawn

"There's a sun in every person--the you we call companion." --Rumi

Sometimes it is hard to know where the beginning of the thread is. Or maybe it is more like tiny pieces in a mosaic that look indistinguishable until you stand back and see the picture as a whole. Barbara used the metaphor of a movie to comment on my last post:

"We don't see the big picture. We each only play a bit part in that movie, but one that is key to the movie's completion."

And so the thread continues and more thoughts bubble around in the stew. This happened when I read Mind Sieve's reflections on Veteran's Day. It is a moving post and well worth taking the time to read. It was the last line that has stayed with me:

"Should we look away and save our hurt at the loss of others while our families remain safe....or should we watch and realize that their losses are our losses as well?"

It is my belief that once we begin to look into the eyes of another as though they are our own, we cannot look away...unless, of course, that is how we treat ourselves. Do you look away from your own hurt and suffering? Or do you choose to enter the suffering, so that it can begin to heal? Again, I believe that our threads cannot be unentwined. Our piece of the mosaic is not easily distinguished. We never know how our bit part may affect the outcome of the great movie.

So, in closing, I would like to leave you with this parable to consider. It is from the Talmud and I ran across it this morning in The Book of Awakening.

A Rabbi asks his students, "How do you know the first moment of dawn has arrived?" After a great silence, one pipes up, "When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog." The Rabbi shakes his head no. Another offers, "When you can tell the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree." Again, the Rabbi shakes his head no. There are no other answers. The Rabbi circles their silence and walks between them, "You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of another human being and see yourself."

Blessings to you this day. May you see yourself in the eyes of another. May you experience the first moment of dawn.

"face of sagada" found here
"dawn" by lucy

Thursday, November 13, 2008


"Being true to who we are
means carrying our spirit like a candle
in the center of our darkness." --Mark Nepo

What does it mean to weep for “the poor”? After spending my last two posts commiserating of the woes of having a teenager, today I was confronted by two articles about random attacks on 16 year old people. A young man at a county fair is beaten because of the color of his skin. Girls walking to school in Afghanistan have acid thrown in their faces for wanting an education. It makes me sick. It makes me mad at the seeming selfishness in my own home. It makes me sad to feel my own heart that wants to turn away from the violence. Yet I cannot turn away. Once I have seen it or read it or heard it, it is imprinted on my heart.

Everyday I sit with people and hear stories of hurt and rejection. Parents that refuse to hug their children. Others that use demeaning words and shame to control. Men and women who are beaten or sexually abused. Some that can name their pain and others that can only feel the emptiness at the center of their chest. No one is immune. Everyone has a story and a hurt that is exclusively their own. So, what is my part? How can I help? Sometimes it all feels like too much. I think of the theme that God never gives us more than we can handle. At times I feel strong, because I feel like I have and do handle much. Other times, I find myself feeling small and weak because I live such a privileged life. Could I handle being hungry? Cold? Physically abused?

I consider what the election of our new President means for me. Reading the post at Mind Sieve I am challenged again (and still) to know what my part is. How will I speak? How will I live out of the gifts that God has given me? How will I carry my candle into the darkness? Some days it feels like enough to listen to one person at a time and help them see their own gifts so that they may go out into the world a little better equipped. Sometimes I feel like I am living into my full self. And other times…well…I feel at a loss. I wonder what will ever be enough.

Originally, I stopped writing there: I wonder what will ever be enough, but that feels hopeless and dead. If I stop there, then evil wins. If I turn away and refuse to listen, others are left alone. When I consider things globally, it quickly moves beyond my scope and I do become paralyzed. So my personal challenge is to learn how to keep moving forward. One step at a time. One moment at a time.

Today my first step was to ponder and not immediately turn away. The next step awaits…maybe it will be a big one. Most likely it will seem small. Can I let that be enough today? Could you?

photos taken 11.09.08 in my neighborhood

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teen Power

Wow! I am amazed at the power of one brief teenage interaction (as mentioned in my last post). I mean think about this…that post contained personal information about the great author Kathleen Norris, coupled with photos filled with innuendo, talk of French food, soul experiences and other adventures. Good stuff, all!! So who warrants the conversation in the majority of the numerous comments?? The teen, of course! Hmmmmm.

Just a little update. The “outburst” seemed to kind of clear out her pipes (or “whatever”) and she morphed back into a reasonable human being for now…Oh wait, she’s sleeping now...and it is a moment to cherish! Anyway, I really appreciate the camaraderie and thoughtful comments shared by so many of you.

My son (who is swiftly nearing the end of his teen years) has turned into quite the man of wisdom. Here are a few of his words on the topic of children…

“Well, you know, Mom, that’s just the way it is. Having kids is really hard. People think it’s gonna be fun and it is for…well, however long it’s fun for…and then it’s just hard.”

Teens. They really are powerful!

self-portrait by my girl

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Just for Me

In response to my last post, I loved Kate's words about writing "to clarify me and because it feels good." So, as my wonderful weekend rolls to a close, here are some of the moments that i want to hang on to (or clarify) for ME!

Things to remember:
  • Wearing my heart covered rain boots always makes me feel better.
  • Catching up with an old friend who is also a joy-filled young dad is a great way to start a Friday.
  • Having lunch with a friend is wonderful food for the soul.
  • Quiet time can lead to amazing inspiration for new creative works (more details later).
  • Soul collage is good, hard work.
  • The veil really is thinner this time of year.
  • Cafe Campagne provides a little taste of Paris right here in Seattle.
  • Kathleen Norris is a regular person. She sometimes doesn't journal for weeks and has been known to resort to watching "America's Next Top Model" for respite.
  • Soltura sisters are the best family outside of family!
  • My beautiful boy celebrated 8 months of hard earned sobriety this weekend.
  • Having an amazing live-in photographer has its perks!
  • Blogging buddies come to the rescue when you need them most.
  • God is good.
One thing I would like to forget about this weekend, but probably won't:
  • The wrath of a 16 year old daughter who says our home is hell on earth. We have the worst family ever. She detests living here. We are boring, have no passion and respond like robots. (I guess, there goes my nomination for mother of the year. Sigh.)
So, there you have it. Hmmmm. Glad I wrote the gratitudes first or that last one could really take its toll. Nevertheless, I may need to sleep in my happy boots!!!

Thanks for reading and I hope you had a delicious weekend and a great start for the week ahead. Peace.

If you are wondering about the photos, you'll have to forgive my sense of humor. After leaving Kathleen Norris' delightful spiritual & inspirational talk at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), we noticed that we were right across the street from "The Lusty Lady" and that the SAM sign was missing one of its lights. Teehee. I couldn't resist!!!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

I. I. I.

"You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes."
--from Art & Fear

Yesterday, I sat in my pajamas for several hours. I pondered the lack of response by readers at this space. I listened to the rain. I ate Halloween candy. I tried to nap. I read a little. I decided to give up writing...I. I. I.

"We have met the enemy and he is us." --Pogo

I have met the enemy and she is I! Think I'll get dressed today and go walk in the rain .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

wage love

Saturday night I had the privilege of attending Sabbath dinner at a friend’s house. He is a man who has struggled with his anger and not being able to connect with others in a loving way. The focus of the evening was to put away politics, the market, and other worries that keep us from finding delight in who we are. We began the evening with the lighting of candles and listening to a beautiful song by Kate Wolf called “Give Yourself to Love.” We then broke bread and shared wine in an act of communion as we began the shared meal.

The purpose of this post was not to write the details of this Sabbath evening, but to recall several moments that I have encountered during the last few days. Our host shared with us a picture of him at less than one year of age. He was being held in the arms of a loving aunt. As he shared this photo, he recalled that her arms had been a place of safety, trust and love for him while growing up in a household devoid of affection. As he spoke, my own mind turned to my beloved kindergarten teacher and I could feel her warm embrace and my own sense of safety and love when I was wrapped in her enveloping bosom. Being in her arms was a beautiful and pure experience of unconditional love—much as I imagine my host received from his aunt.

Yesterday, I listened to another story from a woman of a different culture. She is one of several daughters in a family that values boys most highly. She had been raised to believe that she was nothing. She spoke of many years of emotional abuse--first at the hands of her parents and then for 30 years with a self-centered husband. Somewhere deep inside this woman, however, there was a spark that kept her alive and reaching for the love she knows is available, but does not believe she has yet found.

All of these stories led me to wonder about what it is that keeps us searching for love. What are the moments that give us hope in the midst of chaos and hurt? What is the impact of a simple hug or cradling in the arms? What is the power that lets us know love exists?

The woman of this story believes she is searching for God’s love. She knows it is there. She believes it to be true. She wants to believe it in human form so that she can believe it to be true of God. Again I wonder…can the two be separated? Is that not what being incarnational means? Jesus was God incarnate. Is it not our greatest mission in life to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves? Do we not share incarnational love when we give ourselves unconditionally to another?

So, that’s what is on my mind this morning. Yesterday, Abbey of the Arts offered a beautiful post called, Wage Peace. My challenge to you (& me) today is to Wage Love. You never know when you might be someone’s spark that keeps the hope of love and life alive.

“Give yourself to love if love is what you’re after.
Open up your heart to tears and laughter.” --Kate Wolf

photos from st. severin church & musee d'orsay -- paris 2.08

Monday, November 03, 2008


A dear blogging Canadian friend captured my heart this morning with her post which I have audaciously copied verbatim. It is one that I would love every voter to see and take to heart (regardless of party or candidate affiliation!) Please get out and vote if you have not already!!!

[photo by Callie Shell]

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but rather the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.

-- Vaclav Havel

Sunday, November 02, 2008

a thinning veil

this weekend has been one of both beautiful and still celebration as well as deep sadness and grief. sometimes i wonder how i put one foot in front of the other and other times the joy grips me and i am overcome with delight.

one of this weekend's blessings came in the form of this picture of my mother. it was sent to me by my sister and to my knowledge i had never seen it before. there is something about the photograph and the caption that my sister wrote, "she just wants to be a little girl," that has brought me a sense of peace and connection with my mother that i have not felt for quite some time.

mother died almost 5 years ago and mentally left several before as her mind was taken over by the dreaded alzheimer's. this weekend as i have spent time near my little altar, it has felt like the veil between 'here and there' has indeed been thin. something about this weekend reminded me of these words from richard rohr's daily devotion:

"surrender is something that is done to us.

you can't pick ahead of time which dragon you'll slay. the opportunity always sneaks up on you, and then all you can do is be ready."

am i ready? who knows? i think that is all i can share for now. it may or may not make sense to you readers. i am not totally sure it makes sense to me, but i do know that i wanted and needed to further mark this honoring of ancestors and the beginning of a new year.

there may be more later...or not. wishing you peace.