Wednesday, December 30, 2009

for today...

"...shaped by our suffering and polished by our joy, we become the Earth, knowing more and saying less." -- Mark Nepo

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cherry blossoms? Really?

While tidying up my studio this morning, I ran across this little parable/fairy tale written during a recent group supervision session. While I realize it is not quite cherry blossom time, I thought it appropriate as we begin the new year and consider what undiscovered adventures await us and where we might find freedom in letting go.

Once upon a time there was a beautiful pink cherry blossom. She was stunning in her splendor – light, extravagant, playful. She wanted to swim in the air, but nevertheless clung to the branches – hoping she could live and bloom and grow for a good long time.

Alas, the blossom spent vast amounts of energy worrying about what would come next. Would she fall? Would she soar? Would she die? All the blossoms around her were letting go and gently floating through the air. They seemed oblivious to what might lay beneath them.

“How ridiculous,” she thought. “Don’t they know you have to fight for what you want?”

“Really?” chimed in the branch upon which she clung. “All I do is sit here, come rain or shine, and beautiful, amazing things happen to me.”

“Like what?” asked the blossom.

“Like green leaves and blooms and purple sprouts and colors changing and covering me in pink light until I am so full I don’t know what to do. And just when I think I can’t hold another thing, the load begins to lighten – slowly, but surely – the weight dissolves and I grow and morph and change into something new.”

“But if I fall from this branch, I will die and turn into mush.”

“Yes, you will change forms, but you will become food and molecules. You will transform into something new and life giving.”

“But will I be as beautiful as before?”

“Who defines beauty? Beauty is in your heart, not your color or weight or size or smell. Give it a try. Let go.”

And so the blossom let go and she was filled with the greatest exhilaration of her existence. She was free in those moments as she floated to the earth. Free as a bird. She was swimming in the air and nothing else mattered in the world.

So... will you consider the possibilities and undiscovered adventures awaiting you in the coming year? Is there something you need to let go? I know I'll be pondering this over the coming days.

plum blossoms © lucy, 2007

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Did you celebrate well?

December 25 has come and gone, and today I sit pondering…what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? The world tells us we are to be filled with joy and wonder. We are called to celebrate the birth of a Savior. How does one honor a Jesus who has been lost amidst the shopping bags and the self-importance of the “chosen” few who claim to know THE Christ.

At Anchors and Masts, Tess speaks of Christmas as a time for families. As I spent the weeks leading up to the holidays listening to individuals who struggled with going home or not going home, I became increasingly aware of the damage we do to each other and ourselves in the name of family and in the name of Christ. We seem to forget that Jesus’ own genealogy was filled not only with God's faithful, but also “adulterers, murderers, rebels, conspirators, transgressors of all sorts, both the fearful and the bold.”*

We seek impossible perfection. We say, Put on a happy face. Go to church. Celebrate with your family – even if it hurts. So, I ask again...what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well? My family experienced a fabulously messy Christmas this year with lots of tears and gales of laughter. I had a little meltdown in front of a visiting nephew - surprising and amazingly good. It opened our hearts to see and know that we’re all human and no one is exempt from life’s hard times. My ancestral crew doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell portrait (although heaven knows we’ve tried at times!). We are a messy, wonderful, wild, American family complete with our own rebels and transgressors, both fearful and bold!

One relation would give anything to be with us and can’t. Another holds a perpetual scowl in our presence. A devout Christian refuses “real wine” communion, then ladles on spoonful after spoonful of Port sauce at dinner. We make small talk. We cry and shout. Laugh and play games. Show love and gratitude. Display our rough edges.

Christmas Eve, I oohed and aaahed over the sweetness of the Christmas pageant, then wept sobbing tears, because it was too much to bear. A brief while later I was bursting with gratitude and joy for the gathering around my table. My heart was filled to the brim and broken wide open all at the same time.

Obviously, Christmas brings up LOTS of emotions (at least for me!) It is a great metaphor for life. The mess and the beauty. I love it and I hate it. I overflow with joy one moment and I burst into tears the next. Bottom line – Christmas is hard and Christmas is wonderful. I think I felt every emotion possible in the last three days. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted today and just a little bit weepy with no solid answer to my own question… what is this thing called Christmas and can we celebrate it well?

*Kathleen Norris - "God with Us"

Friday, December 18, 2009

How do you define SOUL?

Peaking in on Country Parson's "breakfast conversations", I realized as a person who has a website titled "diamonds in the soul" , and practices "soul collage" & "soul care supervision", I should probably wade in with my own thoughts on Soul. A scholarly theologian, Country Parson, offers great questions and ponderings on the topic. He is joined by thoughtful readers and replies with often thought-provoking responses.

In his recent post, the line that jumped out and speaks of soul to me is:

" (soul) continues to grow and change embracing the wholeness of life." -- CP

My ultimate response developed into this (partially whole) definition of soul:

Soul (whether in an earthly or heavenly body) is "instantly recognizable" as the truth, wholeness, & fullness of our uniquely created essence.

So, what do you think about that? Do you have your own definition of soul? I imagine I will continue to develop and refine this growing and changing concept. In the meantime, I'd love to know: How do you define soul?

photo december, 2008 ©lucy

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Surprise Tribute

Sometimes I wish I could plug a recorder into my brain during the night, especially those early morning hours just before waking. I swear some of my best ideas and writing emerge just before dawn, but once I open my eyes they drift away like ash in a windstorm. I also wonder – often – about this crazy universe and how much we can’t even begin to comprehend in relation to our thoughts especially. I’m talking about those goose bump generating moments when you think of a person you haven’t thought of in years and seconds later the phone rings and it’s him/her on the line. Or when a topic is bubbling in your brain and then you find three other bloggers have written about the same thing at the same time.

Early this morning, I was creating a post in my brain about being known (or not) by others. My thoughts drifted in and out through recent events. Monday night I was at a dinner honoring the faculty and participants of the transformational program at the Recovery CafĂ© (a place of healing for those in recovery – days, weeks, years, hours – from a variety of addictive behaviors.) Having facilitated a program there on deepening spirituality, I felt as though these people knew me in personal and meaningful ways that people I have known for years don't fathom. Last night, I was with friends I have journeyed with through child rearing, parents’ deaths, divorces and day to day mundane events for 20 years. They see me through a completely different lens. I doubt they would ever consider referring a client to me since they know so many of my personal foibles. In both instances, I am known and I am not.

So, imagine my surprise to wake up and find an e-mail pointing me to this tribute. Maureen at Writing Without Paper is indeed a skilled writer. I found myself perusing her words (my words, in many cases) and being fascinated by their arrangement. While I have never met Maureen in person, she created a unique profile of me that feels very intimate, accurate and revealing. Wow! I felt very “known” as I read her words. I also loved how she left space for not knowing me with this prose: "I figure I still have a lot left to learn before I can imagine saying I know her, even remotely."

Part of my story includes a tension of wanting to be known deeply and also carrying a layer of protection that keeps others away from my heart (sometimes intentionally and other times automatically). It is just one of the many paradoxes in my life. So, today I find myself feeling quite honored by Maureen’s tribute AND feeling a bit shy about pointing you in that direction. However, if you know anything about me at all, you know a little shyness rarely keeps me from taking the leap into new territory. So, please pop on over and read Maureen’s wonderful weaving of prose and meet me in a way I found quite fascinating. (I hope you will leave comments for her to acknowledge her amazing gift of Writing Without Paper.) Thank you, Maureen!!!

My question(s) for you today is: How do you feel about being “known”? Do you hold your own tensions on that subject? Do you leap or lay low? I’d love to know!

collages by and of lucy circa 2007

Monday, December 14, 2009

from Diamonds in the Soul

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." --Howard Thurman

Have you ever watched someone closely as they talk about their passion? A physical and emotional response often accompanies their stepping more fully into life. The heart pumps stronger. The color of the skin flushes brighter. Worries seem to fall away. The step becomes bouncier, and in response, you may find yourself wanting what they have.

I remember a few years ago, my family was on a tour of the Walla Walla wine country. Our guide was a geologist who studies basalt and loess (fancy words for rock and dirt). As our group stood on the side of a mini-Grand Canyon, the guide warned us to steer clear of the rim that has been known to spontaneously disintegrate. In the flash of a moment, however, he muttered, "What the heck," and charged off the side of the cliff. With this movement he became a young spirit romping through the tall, probably rattlesnake-infested grass to show us what he needed to communicate. While we gasped from our safe viewpoint and wondered if we should follow, the earth became more than just dirt and the man transformed from a middle-aged person into a passionate being who made even the most inert of objects (rocks and dirt) become exciting and interesting. It was truly a gift to behold and experience.

Oh, that we could all find what makes us come alive. The Thurman quote above could be considered my personal mission statement. The offerings of Diamonds in the Soul are geared to help individuals come more alive - spiritually, mentally, emotionally, creatively - and find or move closer to their personal passions. I invite you to look around my site, consider gifting yourself with a workshop, or coming in for a chat...."Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Join me today, won't you?

Blessings this holiday season!

"Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place." - Henri Nouwen

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday: Honoring St. Lucy

Today is the feast day of St. Lucy - patron saint of the blind. It is becoming a tradition for me to share my own Tale of Lucy on this festival day. Please join me on this Sacred Sunday in honoring all of the Lucy's in your life.

Perhaps today is a good day to write your own tale. All one needs to start are these magic words: Once upon a time...

There once was a beautiful girl with pools of deep brown eyes. She lived in a normal house in a quiet neighborhood and some would say she led a privileged life. From the outside it looked that way, but on the inside she felt as though she were locked in a tall tower. No one could climb the tower to reach her. In fact, no one ever really tried. Only the evil gremlins communicated with her and all they said was, “Sit still. Look pretty.”

Although she was, in deed, quite pretty, she never felt that to be true. And as far as “sitting still” went….well, all she really wanted to do was play and skip and laugh and shine. The gremlins were quite envious of this playful behavior and in their resentment, they cast a spell over the beautiful girl. They used sweet sounding words tinged with bitterness that gently lulled her to sleep. But, just before she went into a deep slumber, the girl realized that she was being tricked. She knew something was terribly wrong and deep in her heart she clung to the dreams of her childlike nature.

Alas, the spell still took hold and the young girl was silent for many years during which time she became bitter and resentful just like the gremlins. She was crabby and spiteful and often pushed her companions away with her nasty demeanor. One day, a very brave friend looked at the girl and said, “You are Lucy. Lucy Van Pelt. Charlie Brown’s nemesis.” Hearing the name and making the association was like being struck over the head with a large stick (or awakened from a deep dark sleep.)

The name stuck and the young girl (who was no longer so young) realized slowly, but surely that she was not really Lucy Van Pelt in character and she still wanted to play and skip and dance to music and to have her heart touched by those she loved. She came to learn that the more she knew about herself, the more she wanted to love and care for others in return. And so, she began to play again; and she started to shine; and music followed her everywhere she went.

Birds gave her special messages and dolphins danced along her path. She was full of light. It was as if she had her own magic wand and she could use it to help others see their own light. She glistened and glowed. She transformed back into who she had always been deep inside her heart. She played. She skipped. She did the gratitude dance. And one day, she learned that her new name, Lucy, meant light. She was not only Lucy Van Pelt, she was also St. Lucy—Patron St. of the blind.

She was playful and beautiful and her pools of deep brown eyes could see clearly now. When she was scared and under the spell of the gremlins, she would pull footballs out from under unsuspecting victims, but when she was grounded and filled with love, she was St. Lucia. She was Lucy in the sky. She glittered with diamonds and pearls of wisdom. She was magically fulfilled.

Today, the girl-turned-woman loves both her “Lucy’s.” They make the completeness of who she is. The dark and light. The serious and playful. The crabby and kind. She needs them both. And so, you see, the gift of Lucy (given to her by a very brave friend) was one of the greatest gifts she ever received. For without that gift, she would not be Lucy of the light and there would be no diamonds for her to share with the world.

Today is St. Lucy’s day. Please join me in celebrating the Light!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

lucy's magic kitty

“At the name of Aslan, Lucy got the feeling you get when you wake in the morning and realize it is the beginning of spring.” -- C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ripple Effect - Part two

There is lots of wrestling going on in my brain and body these days – imagine that?!? Yesterday was a self- proclaimed, self-care day. I visited my chiropractor, my spiritual director and my hairdresser. I snuck in a quick nap with Aslan purring on my chest, then headed to a client meeting and after to the local, highly acclaimed, hard-to-get-into pizza place, Delancey, for dinner with my husband and daughter. When a friend called in the afternoon to ask how I was, I proclaimed, “Today was a good day.”

I struggle with not wanting too quickly to put the cherry on top of this crazy ice cream sundae called life. I have really wanted to be pissed off at God for the last couple of days, but God’s pursuit of me is making it really difficult. My spiritual director and I talked about this quite a bit yesterday. She suggested that perhaps my long-ingrained anthropomorphic view of God is finally starting to disappear. I want to be angry at some controlling guy in the sky who pulls the strings and makes things happen for better or worse. Instead I am being greeted by scripture that sings of the earth holding me and I hear and feel the love of Jesus in the comforting words of supportive bloggers, beautiful voices uplifted in song, a purring cat, the glorious sunshine and “random” other places.

My spiritual companion and I also talked about songs of lament and how the Psalms are filled with them. They have their own rhythm of wailing and crying out to God while ultimately coming to a place of hope or rest. It is a pattern I have experienced myself in writing or verbally processing. By exhausting the dialogue in my head (the rants & raves & miscellaneous thoughts I might not dare to share out loud), I usually find I come to a place of peace – not necessarily resolution. There is a difference!

Most of my last post came through stream of consciousness journaling. Not wanting to rush to a place of calm waters, (because I needed to feel and share the tumultuous rhythm) I drew short of sharing where my lament finally landed. After a couple of days to let it settle, I wanted to share it now:

…and then the ocean returned to its smooth placid existence in the cove along the deserted beach. The gentle ripples returning & spreading out to sea. The same water now touching another on a far away shore. Interconnected.

Who can assess the ripple effect of one tear poured into an ocean? One drip pounding subtlely time and time again until rock has been eroded. Perhaps my love, my tears, are the drip that will erode the heart of stone. My own? Another’s? Who knows?

It’s ok to sit in the mystery. My world has been rocked. I sit in Advent and wait. I know not for what. Redemption? Reconciliaton?

Thank you for waiting alongside me. Your ripples wash over me like fresh rain drops. I am soothed and comforted knowing I am held in this gentle embrace.

What are you waiting for this Advent season? Are you willing to wrestle with the echoes of your own mind? Are you content to rest without knowing what will come next? Are you aware of the gentle ripples touching your days? Advent is a season about being awake. Might you find a new way to open your eyes?

photos ©lucy - glendolough 10.09

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Ripple Effect

“…I know in my bones the ache to find the words, I know, as well, the ache of uncertainty about which words.” --Scott Cairns

Since my return from Ireland on October 26, I have been struggling with this “which” of words. On the heels of one of my most incredible life experiences, I was greeted only moments after arrival in Seattle with the news that my beloved beautiful boy was in jail, charged with a very serious offense. Needless to say, I was (and am) devastated.

In both events (Ireland & 'the news'), my world has been rocked. I sit and wait during this season of Advent to see where the ripples might land. Can that be enough? Yes – for me, for now – the waiting must be enough. Still…I ache to find the words, so today I share a few regarding “the crime.”

I am ever so grateful no one was physically harmed – no death – no hospitalizations – no rape. But, laws were broken. Stupid, careless, foolish mistakes were made and now a young life – my son’s – will be imprisoned for as many as four years. They say it could have been much worse – 15 years or more. Can I be grateful? Perhaps later.

No one was physically harmed… the words linger and I am struck with the ripple effect, because the emotional toll is high. I can’t begin to process the damage for myself, so how can I weigh the cost to the rest of my family or anyone else? The ripple is high. It is exhausting. Like the waves of the ocean, even the gentle ones leave me with a queasy feeling if I stand or float in them too long. And, then there are the rogue waves that come out of nowhere and pick you up and thrash you to the ocean floor where all equilibrium is lost. Which way is up? Where is the bottom?

I once danced with a rogue wave in Hawaii. Even after I was safely out of the water and had survived the experience, I could not accurately assess the damage. Removing my swimsuit, the sand came out of nooks and crannies I didn’t know existed – little grains of evidence that the wave had had its way with me. Later, I walked by a mirror after showering and caught sight of a giant bruise disguised as an enormous eggplant tattooed on my butt. I don’t remember how long it took before I could sit comfortably again or when the ugly mark finally faded away.

Today, I have more questions than answers – many of them surrounding this season of Advent, as well as the circumstances of my life. It’s odd, but there is a simple peace in knowing that today waiting can be enough. I am grateful for this space. I have struggled with the words and will continue to do so. Your loving witness alongside makes the waiting a little easier.

Blessings to you and yours.

bermuda waves ©

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Zen Kitty or...

...10 things I love about Aslan

Aslan is our adopted kitty who came to live with us in September. He has quickly made himself at home and won over the hearts of all who live with him. Today I share just a few of his endearments.

1. His coat is so thick and cuddly, he really does look and feel like a miniature lion.

2. He has nearly perfected the dance of a circus dog - spinning on his hind legs while waiting for a treat.

3. I adore the way he makes my husband laugh when they play together. Hubby tempts him with a peacock feather and Aslan repeatedly makes flying leaps into the air.

4. He is a true Zen master focusing solely on the now. I shall need to study him more closely!

5. When I am in the kitchen, he stretches his paws up the counter as if to ask “What’s up?”

6. He is quite the conversationalist when he decides it is dinner time. We share several words together as he not-so-patiently waits for me to get his food down to the floor. His meows sound much like Please – either that or Hurry Up!

7. He greets me at the door when I come home and watches curiously through the window when we are outside.

8. He seems to know when I need extra attention and sticks close by my side. One of his favorite spots is the middle of my chest. His fluffy tail is a great nose tickler.

9. When he decides I have been on the computer too long, he sits next to my chair. When I acknowledge him, he hops into my lap, onto the desk and proceeds to drape himself across the keyboard.

10. He is the kitty version of my golden dog, Curry, sharing unconditional love with me.

Do you have a loved one (furry or otherwise) who deserves a little tribute? There's no better time than now to share!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lady Wisdom

Ancient wisdom greets me with bright eyes and wrinkled skin.
She comes with grayed hair, radiating golden light
like sunflowers on a bright summer day.
Wisdom comes in the platinum locks of a precious child,
In the single tear of a caged young man.
She sits on my heart until I feel her weight;
Until it sprouts wings and takes flight, leaving me lighter than air.

Wisdom has roots that reach deep into the ground,
wrapping around the stones of my heart.
She is blue sky and flowing water –
streams mingling with tears of sorrow and joy –
pouring into an ocean of emotion
where one drop cannot be distinguished from another.

She greets me with her kind eyes – her warm heart.
She holds me with her gaze and promises she will never leave.
I’m always here, she says.
I am in the bloom of a single white blossom shared by a friend;
In the candle flames throwing light into the darkness;
The song carried in the air sings my tune.
I feel her within the chill of my bare toes;
the warmth and taste of coffee through my lips;
The brilliant pink and gold splashed across a raw canvas.

Wisdom greets me everywhere I be.
The ticking of a clock; the whisper of the breeze; the sounds of silence.
She is there when I open my eyes; focus with my ears;
touch with my hand; inhale through my nose;
know in my heart.
My soul cries out for her and she meets me – unfailingly.
Always there. Always present.
Wisdom greets me with hair of gray and crown of golden sunflowers.
Child. Maiden. Mother. Crone. Lady that she is.