What’s Your Passion?

Things can happen in the midst of activity, and it’s great at the time.  Then days pass, and other things happen, even horrible things. We can lose our focus, our sense of mission or purpose. It can help to have reminders of that which inspire us.

As I prepare to participate in stirring up the Spirit at the ECW Triennial and focus on crowdfunding, I was reminded of Nancy Frates’ TED Talk in Boston. It’s worth watching again in case you missed it last year. I’m posting it here for myself, when I need to come back to it.  Hopefully there will be others that are more current that I view daily. May we all be so stirred to do good in our lives, in our communities.

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Relationships Matter

Everyday events bring most of us into contact with all walks of life, dependent upon the paths we travel in our hectic schedules.  In a flurry, we move from one place to the next, hoping we’re not forgetting something, trying to keep all the plates spinning.

There are many who are homebound who consider themselves fortunate to greet the mail or the meal deliverer.  They might follow their daily routine, cautiously optimistic that it will be interrupted by a call or an unexpected guest.  All this if they are fortunate to be at their own home.

There are those who watch us pass them by.  We with our agendas and demands, so busy; their thoughts known to them alone.

Our connections seem so tenuous at times, the thinnest thread holding us all together.  Holding the hand of a beloved, we make visible the connection that has been present all along.  We feel what it is to be in a nurturing relationship, to be in the presence of another, experiencing the exchange of emotion, seen or unseen.

It takes a moment’s intention to smile at another.  It takes a bit longer to send a text or to call.  It takes concerted effort and time to travel to and sit and visit with someone.  Above all, it takes courage to let someone else know we see them where they are and identify ourself in all our vulnerabilities, too, to be loving and tender — to care.

Whether a moment’s or a lifelong relationship, showing that we care, that we matter to one another, can change how we move through our days and nights.  Bringing positive intention, opening our hearts to one another actually to show our love for our neighbor–not just in words but also in action–could surely change the world.

Every one of our relationships matter, and we have the choice on how we engage in each encounter.  I don’t think we realize the power we have.

 

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My Valentine

I got to awaken this morning, listening to music I forgot I had requested.  I got to open a ribboned box with a paper ring in it, one that held the place of one I would get to pick out.

I’m married to a man who never fails to surprise me, and while he may think he doesn’t, he does make me smile more often than he knows.

I am grateful . . . for my husband and for all the loves in my life.  I hope a deep, abiding love fills your heart this and every day.

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A Hallowed Walk

Wheels set in motion.  Gears turning.  In the midst of transition, whether beginning, middle, or end, it can be difficult to discern whether one is on the up-side or down.

Life is so good.  I am so blessed, and I was especially reminded of this last night.

A dear friend cannot resist the pull to this sacred holiday.  Tradition and genetics pull strongly and, in this case, to our advantage.  A festive home, wonderful and generous people, and nearly a dozen giddy children a great Halloween party make!

I realized after the third house that the older children weren’t going to listen to me, so I kept close watch on the youngest, my flower peddler turned living dead.  (She had to paint her face!)  It really was fascinating, watching the kids run, propelled by excitement and anticipation.  I don’t recall one of them mentioning the darkness or a fear thereof.  They were safe on this night to wander the streets . . . at least in their minds, I suppose.

Inevitably, my five-year-old’s legs grew tired, her bag (a.k.a. pillowcase) heavy.  She was ready to go back to the house, even as the rest of the gang rushed to the next porch light.  “Are you sure?” I asked.  “Uh-huh.”  I didn’t question much more, knowing a warm house, delicious food, and a patient daddy awaited.

Walking back, her warm little hand in  mind, I remembered what she had said earlier, running ahead of me.  “This is my favorite part!” Pure joy glowed in those words, and her little boots swiftly ran through the darkness.  At a slower pace now, we retraced our steps, and she talked with me.

Being away from home in these tender ages, I miss this most: being ever-present to the wisdom of the child.

She spoke of much in her oh-so-mature manner, and at one point she said, “Mom, do you really think God is in everything?”  I heard her doubt.  I heard questioning.  I either felt or heard a sadness.  In a body so small came this enormous question, and I lacked the theological knowledge to answer it accurately.  So I did the best I could and answered from my heart.  I didn’t want to appear dismissive, and it’s not a simple question.  She was serious, so I must be.  One of her dear friends doesn’t think God is in everything, she told me, and therein I discovered the stimulus for the conversation.  “That’s okay,” I told her.  So long as we love one another, we are doing the best we can.

We walked in silence a bit and gave our flashlight to another family that was walking without a light of any kind.  They seemed disbelieving for a moment after I offered it to them, but I assured them we were almost home, and it really was very dark in places.  They took it gratefully.  My daughter asked if I thought they would give it back.  I told her they didn’t need to.

Almost to the house, she said, “I love the up and down parts,” referring to the slope from the sidewalk to the driveways and back to the sidewalk.  “Up and downs, huh?” I smiled.  Such is life.

“What’s making that orange light?” she asked.  “The lights on the house, honey.”  “No, over there.  On the cars.”  “Someone locking their car.”  “Are you sure?” Such search for certainty.  “Yes,” I assured her confidently, seeing the car lights and the owner.  So often we lack concrete affirmation, proof for our statements or beliefs.  

Teachable moments, all of them, but I don’t know who is the student and who is the teacher.  I am still learning.

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Beautiful Mother

I dare not claim to be a beautiful mother . . . at least not 100%.  Unless, of course, to be fully beautiful also includes imperfection, insanity, and irritability.

I have old blog posts printed for my review.  I still plan to assemble them, compile them into a book.  I’d like to gift this book mainly to my mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and mother-friends.  Reading through some of the posts, I realize that my stories revolve around my experiences as a mother.  There are also essays on just being a woman in process (and I have to strike out the word “just” because removing this diminutive word from my vocabulary hasn’t happened yet.

As I’ve grown deeper into my calling in this life, I’ve realized it is my call to be a Mother.  Lord willing and community verifying, I’ll go to seminary and eventually become an ordained priest, a Mother in the church.  I already have four children.  I am and always will be a mother.  In the future, my family will grow a bit, include others for whom I am not biologically responsible but spiritually accountable.

My journey continues.

This is no easy thing, this life.  I know.  It’s not easy to be a mother in any way, shape, or form. It’s not easy being married, being a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend.  Oh, it could be a lot easier . . . if I didn’t care, if I thought only of myself, if I didn’t take others’ well-being into consideration.  But that’s not who I am.

Perhaps that’s the most beautiful thing about mothers.  They are women in community.  They care and love not only others but themselves, too.  They know the importance of respect and value deeply the child in everyone.  Their arms are open to receive, and their eyes are quick to reach the soul and convey their own.  A mother’s body has been broken in labor; if not in physical labor, her heart has surrendered at least once.  A mother knows what it is to lose herself.  A beautiful mother knows what it is to be resurrected by a power greater than she.  This knowledge is what can carry us over the gulfs of despair, heartbreak, and anger.  Wounded, scarred, and well-cushioned, we carry on, with love, with light, and with a song, whether we know it or not.

We all need a mother in our life, preferably more than one!  We need someone older to love, guide, and assure us.  We need someone our age to be a mirror.  We need someone younger to show us how far we’ve come by telling them (and teaching them) our stories.  The larger the community, the greater the net to catch us when we slip . . . unless, of course, you’re perfect.

So my book may be Beautiful Mother, dedicated to all the beautiful mothers I’ve been blessed with.  It will be about the beautiful mother I am, that I hope to be.  It will illustrate that being beautiful does not imply perfection but quite the opposite.  It will be about me . . . and you.  Yes, you.

O God, giver of life and light, may you bless us all with your creativity.  Bless our lives and our works.  Protect us.  Guide us.  Lead us to your will, that we may glorify You in all we do and in all we are.  Amen.

 

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Observations

Last night on the way to church, I was struck by a few observations:

a man by the railroad, holding a camera, looking at something across the street, waiting for the traffic (me) to get out of the way;

a sharp-dressed man in navy trousers and pressed and tucked-in button-down shirt walked in long strides up the hill of the sidewalk–hurriedly and purposeful it seemed.

Within the same block on the other side of the road, I noticed the long graying ponytail first.  Neutral-toned shirt and pants.  Comfortable. Relaxed.  The man was walking–whether to somewhere or just for the sake of walking, I do not know.  My car passed him quickly.

A banner across the street calling for people to come have fun with a purpose–raise money for a local homeless resource.

All of this a snapshot of the community as I head toward my weekly women’s group where I will get yet another portrayal of the society in which I live with all the struggles, joys, pain, and compassion.

We’re all in this together.

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There is Enough

There is enough . . . if we share.  It’s not just a lesson to the kids when they think — when they know — that they don’t have exactly what a sibling or a classmate has.  As if they didn’t have enough of their own.  There are plenty of toys.  There is plenty of food.

Unless you are deprived of something, unless others are not willing to share or have the authority or audacity to take some thing away from you, don’t you have enough?

The seemingly homeless man on the side of the road held a sign.

“I have EVERYTHING I need except money.  Do you have the COURAGE to give?”

As a matter of fact, I happen to have some dollar coins from our visit to the amusement park last week.  Let me share some of our abundance.  Let me ask him where he lives.  Let me hear that he does indeed live around here; that he thinks this is a nice place to live.  As I agree with him, I look directly into his eyes, smiling yet wondering how this could be a lovely place to live if he’s standing on the side of the off-ramp asking for money.  He did say he has everything else he needs.  Money isn’t everything.

Visiting a dying friend, before I took my leave, I said, “Love to you, my friend.”  Drugged as she was, she half-laughed.  “You said love.  How can you  . . . ”  Her voice trailed off.  I understand.  We’re not close friends.  My coming to her is largely in part of a pastoral visit, but in my visits to her, sincerity wins over any sense of obligation.  “I try to share my love with everyone,” I tell her gently.  “It’s part of our responsibility in this life to share God’s love with one another.  You are my sister.”  Eyes closed, she smiled subtly.

We do not see reality the same as one another.  Our perspectives and interpretations are different.  Ultimately, there is one Earth.  One Source.  Our time here is too precious to live in fear, in a sense of lack.

What if we believed we had everything we need.  What if we made sure that we all had everything we needed?  Sure, take care of you and yours, but where does your responsibility end?  Is there a limit to abundance?  I don’t think so.

I only hope I can live into the dream of everyone having everything they need.  Enough to live.  Enough love.  Enough is enough, gently said.

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let me smile

I do not ask to bare my teeth to you

In kindness.

Lips dry and cracked or

Glossed in rosey hue,

I frame my greeting in sentiment

Pure and true.

Without a word

I hear your ache and loss,

Your fear.

Do you dare respond with such vulnerability,

Heart wide open?

Does it help if

I also feel your dreams and joys and

See the light in you,

however dim and disguised?

Please.

Let me smile.

Accept this token given freely, not even my own.

This grace.

God’s love.

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Who Listens

More often than not, at the dinner table, someone looks down at their lap, fidgeting with their mobile device of choice.  Someone else has caught their attention.  “Don’t text with your mouth full” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.  Can you count how many times you’ve gone through the checkout line without making eye contact with the cashier?  Many of us opt for automated kiosks.  Is the energy expended in human conversation part of our decision?

We have so many opportunities to connect with one another.  Fortunately, we also have the opportunity to connect with nature, the plants and trees.  Our world can be so beautiful, but we have to be aware.

I venture to say that we are each beautiful, too.  Our souls shine brilliantly with the the Light of Wisdom.  From a twinkle of the eye to a visible aura, we each hold this gift in our being.  We don’t have to do anything; it is there.  It is about our be-ing.  We have to be open, selfless, and vulnerable.  We have to be heard.  We need others to help listen us into this beautiful being, and we need to be good stewards to others and everything around us in return.

Who listens to you?  Who calls your soul forth with the tenderness of a bonded mother with her nursing babe?  With whom can you communicate with a smile or a glance?  Can you gauge how others feel just by being in their presence?  Do you realize you have the power to share compassion with them without saying a word?

I hope you have those who listen to you, that you can check in regularly to see where you really are in this life — who you really are.  May you be one who listens.  Be fully present to those around you.  Be aware.

You are a gift to us all.

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Same Dance, New Music

Given my life story, I realize that I do believe in a Purpose. We all have at least one. I also love viewing this life as a cosmic dance; we all come together at different stages, go through the steps, however awkward they may be, and keep moving, guided by a rhythm we can hear and feel but can’t really see. Some partners we stay with for a long while. Some partners are there only a bit. Sometimes we’re a group dance, all working together in this divine choreography. I’d rather picture an aerial view of an elegant ballroom, but I know that reality is sometimes like the dark and sweaty clubs with the music so loud you can’t hear one another.

My dance right now takes me into a new room, just as large as where I was before. I’m just having to learn new steps, become familiar with my new partners. It’s still dancing. There’s just a different music playing. Fortunately for me, the music permeates from within the University like a ballroom would, I imagine. Walking across campus yesterday, I wondered if all campuses feel that way on warm fall afternoons: still, studious, alive, wise, full of potentiality. A university campus is so full of those so young, most eager, as well as those who have learned so much, most wise. It’s an electric blend, I suppose, palpable.

So we dance with one another. We share our gifts with ease, no matter how difficult the steps may be. We learn our way into cultivating our talents through practice, practice, practice. No matter where we are or what the music, whether we like it or not, we keep dancing.

And we realize that we are in this together.

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