Ready or Not

The daffodils that bloomed in full glory these past few weeks are already starting to die.  I actually started to sweat yesterday, simply walking across campus in the afternoon.  Sun blazing, birds singing, tulips flaring, spring has arrived, even if slightly ahead of the equinox (or maybe more like a month ahead!).

This Lent for me hasn’t felt very dormant.  I’ve been reading my Sacred Space for Lent 2012 and Rev. Kate Moorehead’s Get Over Yourself; God’s Here.  This has been tremendous in helping me develop my daily practice.  On an internal level I hope it is stirring something, too.  I keep thinking that I shouldn’t complain that the weather in our region at least has been so pleasant this winter; maybe it saved many from seasonal depression.  Maybe it saved me.

My life is in a state of flux right now.  To a friend recently I likened it to confetti being thrown into the air.  Either we’re still flying up into the sky, or we’re caught in a freeze-frame.  I’m praying for a soft landing, a safe settling.  Transitions are what they are, and no one says they’re easy.

So, we carry on, moving forward, greeting each new day for what it is, what we hope it to be, hopefully without setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Some words from St. Ignatius have caught my attention more than once, so much so that I’ve flagged the page so I can re-read often.  I dare myself to live so courageously.

“There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”        ~ St. Ignatius

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Spring Break

I knew I should have brought out my camera on Friday, capturing the images of the shining daffodils and the amazing blossoms on a neighbor’s tulip tree.  Everything, including all the people I saw, seemed to follow the sun, soaking up the warmth and energy.  That night after all the kids were in bed, I sat by the outdoor fire that had toasted hot dogs and marshmallows so dutifully, feeling the wind and watching the moon and stars slowly disappear behind the clouds.  The forecast had promised snow the next day.  Could it be?

The next morning, the cinders had been extinguished by the rain that came.  I left for my Quiet Day in the continued drizzle and slightly above freezing temperatures — only 35 degrees below yesterday’s.  On my way home, after spending my day amidst lovely souls and the glowing of Spirit made manifest, the wintry mix began, then the snow.  Big flakes for this our Spring Equinox.

But the warmth of our busy kitchen and fireplace that night prevented any chill.  Homemade manicotti and at least an attempt at a new tiramisu recipe (I called it tirami-soup and wasn’t a fan). Our tummies were full, indeed!  And then we settled in for our snow day and the beginning of the kids’ Spring Break.

This week will be full of its own challenges.  After my already askew morning routine, I get to take the kids grocery shopping.  At least three eating times a day for six that feels like 10.  I’m getting a preview for this summer.  I read something last night that rang in my ears — several something’s in fact.  Excerpts from Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing . . .

“We stand midway between the purely material and the purely energetic, with a full range of versatility in both.” (p. 54)

“. . . where we are is exactly where we belong and that our real purpose in the cosmos is fulfilled in the way that we move back and forth between these two planes of existence.” (p.54)

“Working within the raw materials of the physical world, we are to give ‘birthing’ and ‘body’ to the names of God so that the invisible becomes visible. We are midwives of the Spirit.” (p.55)

The book continues on, giving voice to so many of my thoughts and experiences.  Yes!  Someone else gets the same messages as me and has already traced routes through other traditions, found links and lineages.  I read on about surrender, letting go.

I rest assured that I am where I am supposed to be.  Mothers are surely a mirror through which God sees God’s self.  In other aspects, too, I have a responsibility to the energy I project, reflect, and participate in.

The sun is now melting the snow outside, leaving the ground a muddy mess, fertile, and full of possibilities.

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Solar Power

The community creeps out of hibernation, slowly but surely.  The sun’s mighty power pulls us all out of our dwelling places.  The crocuses beckon us to look more closely at the earth.  It’s time.

Cold-weather crops.  Garden planning.  Spring cleaning.  It’s time to open the windows and let the fresh air disrupt the winter residue.  If outside, we have to make sure not to be fooled by warm yet cool temperatures; sunburns happen regardless of temp.  It’s a good time to clear out some clutter.  Yesterday I cashed in $100 worth of things laying around that we had collected (aluminum cans), didn’t need (extra movies and video games), or didn’t use (outgrown jeans) anymore, turning excess into something useful (groceries, gas, soccer kleats).  I also gave back to the community with a donation to Goodwill.  To give and receive should be a daily practice, not just a seasonal thought.

And now I cut this post short because while I do want to get kids’ clothes out of the attic to take to the consignment store, I don’t want to miss this morning’s opportunity to take my youngest out in the bike trailer.  Truly, the blue skies are amazing, and the bike trails await.

This evening concludes with church and the bookstudy I mentioned yesterday.  Oh, what a beautiful day.

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Promises, Promises

When I tell my kids we’re going to do something, I might as well be forging it into stone or making a blood bond.  In their opinion, I’ve promised them something will be, and they’re counting on it to be done.  I remember those days in my youth.  I looked forward to something, usually doing something out of the ordinary, and felt the anticipation, excitement, and adrenaline mixing up a cocktail within me.  Heaven forbid plans change at the last minute.  I wouldn’t always (if ever) cry about it, but my children go for an Oscar with their dramatic displays of disappointment.   Inevitably, plans do change, and, I’m sorry, but a “maybe” is not a promise.

But let me not pretend that I don’t get that childhood anticipation cocktail these days, too.  It’s just not as frequent.  Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism as we get older so that our hopes aren’t always let down.  Honestly, though, hope and anticipation are not the same thing.  Can’t you feel the difference?

Our days here have been warmer.  I’ve seen daffodil buds and blossoming crocuses.  I re-potted most my houseplants and have spent two afternoons tidying up the yard, assessing what trimming needs to be done.  The forsythias’ buds are swelling, and I know it won’t be long before they burst into brilliant yellow, sunshine reflected.  Spring has been promised, and I know it will come.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few more frosts before then, though.  I may have to weather a few more gray days.

We’re also nearing the end of Lent.  Holy Week is just around the corner.  My practices this Lent have been a little out of the ordinary, and I made promises with myself that I have to keep to help me grow.  I also know the meaning of this time of year in my tradition.  Promises were made and continue to be kept.  Upon those promises, we ground a great faith and hope and Love.  Through these we live our days with a great compassion.

If I trust in the assurances of the greater promises, such as Spring and Rebirth, and enjoy the sprinkle of the “smaller” promises made and kept without great attachment, it would seem that being fully present in the moment would come naturally.  Another promise?  More practice.

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SpringTime Haiku for Moms

An invitation . . .
Sun beckons to come play now.
The dishes will wait.

The beautiful weather this day couldn’t keep us indoors, even after me having two fillings replaced at 8:10am.  Off to the woods we go so I can get another go at rock climbing and so the kids can enjoy the warm, fresh air and the dog a good swim.

A few minutes alone, walking along the upper trail to fetch the draws from a climb, I felt it– the presence of nature that speaks through the living things around you and whispers on the breeze.  It’s a stillness and peace, an acceptance of life as what it is, for what it is, and all is well.  All is beautiful.  Oh, that I could bring that presence into every breath.

I’m pretty sure that the potential is there.  We have within us the ability to be still and fully present.  But how quickly I forget how beautiful it can be, even in the storms, for when the sun returns again I wonder, was the green so brilliant just the other day?  Was it this amazing last spring; did the colors so vibrantly glow?  I don’t have to compare.  I don’t have to know.  My purpose is to love indiscriminately; it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like.  I always have a choice.

Will it rain or shine?
As you make each choice, you ask.
Is Love wet or dry?

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A Mindful Reflection on Nature and Ourselves

Spring awakens my senses, surging through my veins a desire to grow towards the sun, all the while digging my fingers deeper into the soil.  ‘Tis the season when the blossoming, growth and fertility all around us reflects the same within most of us, and it is a wonderful time to be alive.

Thinking of all the beauty around me, from rich earth to new green to smiling children, as I look out the door, a web of worms grows on our aging cherry tree.  The dialogue ensues.  This is a reflection of the beauty of nature, likening that to our own true selves.  Ugly worms don’t belong here.

Ah, maybe that’s why they’re in my line of sight today.

Left to its own devices, our earth has its own system of checks and balances.  There is no third party evaluation to discuss the ethics, and the consequences are known, precipitating the action.  Nature lives in balance

However, we as humans have the unique gift of free will.  We get to choose our way and find our own balance.  Where have your choices led you?  Where you are now, is all thriving?  Is there balance?  Or do you need a disaster to restore you closer to where you should be?

We receive signs, if we pay attention.  We receive assurance.  Like it or not, we are part of this “nature” around us, and I feel that if we pay attention to it, Nature will offer suggestions on how we should live, maybe even how we can make improvements.

The worms outside.  I will have to cut off that part of the branch and kill the worms to keep them from spreading before they outgrow their current nest of sorts, if they haven’t already.  I don’t like having to do that.  I apologize to the plants as I prune them back and wish insects light and love and a good next life before I squish them, apologizing after.  But I do what I feel I must to keep a balance, prevent an infestation that could further destroy the good thing I hope I have going.

Our cherry tree is on its last leg.  Already I’ve chosen a couple of its off-shoots to grow in its place, several feet away from the original tree.  Eventually we’ll have to cut down the beauty to allow room for the new trees.  I suppose it’s not unlike our love for our children.  We can’t live forever, overshadowing them.  It’s best that our ego takes back seat if not disappears so that our children can grow in their own light and live the lives they were brought here to live.

It is all an intricate balance, a web of life, not without death.  Verily, there is neither beauty nor disgust; there is just what is, and that whole is . . . just is.  I want to say it’s beautiful, but that would be me adding that which is excessive, tipping the scale.

I should take these lessons and practice them, mull them over and throughout, evaluating my own environment, removing what needs to be removed, nurturing what nourishes the whole.

Happy gardening to you, and may the music of spring sing in your soul.

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Spring Gardening

pansies_lambs_ear.jpgStorms and all, Spring is definitely here, and I guess I’d rather stay up way too late cleaning than waste precious daylight.  The kiddos and I got our jump start on gardening, getting the straw for much.  What is some straw in the garden without the strawberries?  I bought two root bundles — that means 50 plants.  Yes, we take our strawberries seriously around here, though not scientifically seriously enough.  I’m not sure about the variety we got; I need to research the Chandler kind since that’s what we brought home!

So, 25 strawberry roots are already planted.  There are two groups of three near the red raspberries and lavender (both just in their second year in our garden) in the bed by the veggiegrowing_raspberries_lavender.jpg
garden (not yet planted at all this year).  I’m
curious to see how and if flavor is affected by the nearness of the plants, but that’s a long-term project.  (I was inspired by the wine conversation in French Kiss, one of my hubby’s and my favorite movies.)  The other 19 plants are filling in unused sunny space. 
strawberry_bed.jpg
Our yard was landscaped when we bought it, but it’s largely ornamental, though good for animals/insects.  There’s lots of space we foresee filling in to make it more like an “Edible Estate.”  We have a long way to go and lots of research to do to make that happen, but it’s a goal.  You gotta have goals.

We didn’t plant today since I thought it would rain.  We’ll see what it’s like tomorrow afternoon because I just can’t wait to get all those berries started.  For me there’s nothing like a good day’s work outside to revitalize the soul.  Fresh air and a boost of vitamin D does a body good.  Now if I could just get my kids to be aware of that positive energy to dilute their angst and negativity, we’d all be better off.

Happy sunny spring days to you.

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Season for Renewal

Coincidentally, I reach for this meditation in my “book” and find the title but not the entry.  However, this first Monday after Easter presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on what renewal means . . . at least for today and at this point in my life.

I love having Merriam-Webster at my fingertips, and like a faithful friend, she offers guidance for my insight for today.

  • Make like new : restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection

First off, strike perfection from that list.  We know better than that.  I see this as the “spring cleaning” mode.  Deep clean everything, clear the clutter and make way for the energy to flow through.  Whether you agree with feng shui or not, energy is all around you, affected by what’s in your environment.  Pretend you’re trying to sell your house, making it just so for potential buyers.  Piles of junk (with various degrees of preciousness) have to go, and glass, pathways and mirrors need to be clear.  Open the windows to let some fresh air circulate winter’s stagnation.  Change your air filter.  Bring out your spring/summer clothes before you purchase anything.  We already have an abundance.  Breathe in deeply.  Is your home like new?  Do you feel vitality has been restored?

  • Make new spiritually

I don’t think this means to go out and get a new religion.  For Christians, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection.  We can take this anniversary to accept our shortcomings and move forward, resolved to love more fully into our baptismal vows.  Consider yourself a clean slate and go forth in Love.

  • a: Restore to existence; b: Make extensive changes in

Have you become so bogged down with your commitments that you’ve forgotten who you are, what it is you want or feel called to do?  Is your life just not what you want it to be, even if it seems great to others?  Take a step back.  Look at it for what it is.  If you can’t accept it, then you have to change it.  Bring your true self back into the picture.  Make the changes necessary for this to happen.  Sometimes even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

  • Do again

Smile.  Consider this your second chance.  We get our life lessons over and over until we truly get it right.  Some things, like household tasks, are just repetitive by nature and give us practice at doing things again and again without negativity.

  • Begin again

Interesting.  How is this different from above?  Consider “doing” and “being.”  I’ll take this as the being, and I’ll interpret this as a reminder to start with  a beginner’s mind in all I do.  This means that I’ll let go of all my assumptions, attachments and judgments and be here.  When it comes time to do something, I’ll be here first, then I’ll do whatever it is with a clear, new mind.

  • Replace, replenish

The example is given as “renew water in a tank.”  Remember to fill your well, especially of creativity.  Remember to charge your batteries by nurturing yourself; for if you are not wholly nourished, then you’re not living into your full potential.  Find your fountain of youth and drink from it daily.  Just make sure it is truly healthful and soulful.  Consider, too, that a regular balanced diet and exercise (as  difficult as they may be to realize) are good all around for your physical and mental well-being.

After thorough reflection and a little nap, I feel I can look at this and make a decent action plan for renewal.  The spring sun brings so much hope, warmth and promise.  Life itself is abundant.  May we all partake in this life joyfully, fully renewed each day.

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On a similar note, for the Time for JOY women’s retreat I help with for our diocese, the  keynote speaker is basing her talks on Take Time for Your Life: A personal Coach’s 7-Step Program for Creating the Life You Want, written by Cheryl Richardson.  I just started it last night, but I think it promises to be good.  Richardson is a personal/life coach, and if you don’t know one or can’t afford one personally, this book might help you gain insight and give you lots of practical tools if you need to make changes in your life for the better.

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