About time

Yes, it’s about time.

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while,” says Jesus to his disciples.

That was in my daily reading this morning, and, oh, how I do long for a retreat.  I’ve been away from the family on weekends relatively recently, but it’s been a while since it was truly a retreat for retreat’s state.  At this point in my life, I need clarity, calm, and a solid sense of direction and purpose.  This is harder to maintain when one is frazzled, drowning in to-do’s, or just downright tired.

 

Jesus was speaking to his disciples.  I wonder who speaks to the women these days.  Who tells the overworked mother to rest a moment, take an hour between nursing, grab a pot of tea and go gaze out the window . . . or sleep a few minutes.  All will be well.  Who tells the outside-the-home-working-mothers that it’s okay to be away for another day or two from the family, not to feel guilty about the piling chores and pleading eyes?  I don’t think anyone speaks up because those around us aren’t sure that all will truly be well.  But, it’s better for a mom to take some time out than to walk around getting crazy eyes and becoming more and more like a woman on edge.  Maybe I project.

 

We have to take care of ourselves.  To nearly every mother I talk to, I ask if she’s taking care of herself.  I ask about her support system.  To the women I work with and for others I know, I try to set an example.  If I can get away from my household with four kids, surely they can, too.  It’s not perfect, but it’s OKAY.

 

I wonder about those who don’t need or take time-outs for themselves.  Are they being honest?  Have they fully shut down from their inner voices that guide and protect their best interests?  Because I think that’s where dreams and hopes exist.  If we shut out that voice, we risk losing sight of who we truly are and thus risk losing our sense of purpose in this world.  Yes, being a mother is a worthy purpose, but does it give you a sense of joy — mind, body, and soul?  If not, you’re not listening carefully enough to yourself.  If so, blessings, my Mother-friend; spread that love and joy!

 

I grant you permission to take a time-out.  Find a friend with a cabin for a night or a weekend.  Pack your favorite nourishing food and beverage.  Sleep in silence, all by yourself.  For you extroverts, take a gang of mothers with you and enjoy the party!  If a weekend doesn’t work, take at least 15 minutes a day for you, and only you.  I smile thinking of my friend who locks the bathroom door for her quiet time.  Take it where you can get it!

 

As the kids get older, it gets easier to find the time, but priorities will still have to be juggled.  Seeking out a deserted place, finding the time to listen to my still, small voice, I know more clearly what the priorities are.  It takes that leap of faith to put me first that ironically grants me insight as to what is best for all.

 

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Autumn is Here

With the ceiling fan on and what feels like an open window, I seek the warmth of a blanket.  It’s time to bring out my wool shawl.

I had the immense pleasure this weekend of retreating in the woods, an annual event now during a weekend when the ground rumbles with the vibration of thousands of motorcycles.  Actually, even in the wooded hills, we could hear the rumble on our hike.  At six o’clock in the morning, though, a couple of us sat on the porch in the rockers, listening for owls in the trees.  The ground was still.  The small throw I had was just big enough to cover my arms, and when we went inside to make breakfast, I could feel the morning chill on my cheeks and hands.  It was time for a fire.  Our morning prayer sounded out, accompanied by the crackle and warmth emitting from the hearth.

That afternoon, I brought my knitting to the parlor room and sat by the dark fireplace.  With door open, the fresh breeze was cool and refreshing.  After knitting and napping a bit, the sun dipped below the trees, and a chill returned.  An hour later, I built a fire, awakening the room with comfort and warmth.  A room in which to share good conversation . . . and more knitting.

Autumn is a season of lamplight and glows from fires, gentle chills removed by an extra layer.  Extraordinary sunlight and brilliant blue skies and days so gray to test your memory and resolve.  There’s the brilliant burst of energy and color, if we are so lucky and conditions are just right.  Then there’s the falling away.  More gray than color.  More darkness.  An expected death.  Quiet.  Freeze.

In Autumn, life is still easy and the harvest abundant.  The colors truly are amazing.  We have to enjoy it while it lasts, for this, too, shall pass.

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Letting God

When a mom leaves her family and home for a weekend, it’s not a light decision.  Plans, preparations, arrangements, etc., are made for both home and destination.  What could be so important as to invoke extra work?

This year was the sixth year for the Time for J.O.Y. retreat at Camp Mitchell, sponsored by the Arkansas Episcopal Church Women.  I think each year has taught me something that enriches my understanding of my spirituality.

  1. Part of the mystery of Grace is revealed through Beauty.
  2. No two retreats will ever be the same.
  3. We make sacrifices to do what we love, but family is always a priority.
  4. Just because you don’t think it’s a good idea doesn’t mean Spirit won’t work through it anyway.
  5. When living into your call, expect to be surprised by the potency of Spirit.
  6. Not everyone needs what I need to experience Spirit deeply, and laughter goes a long way to feed the soul!

Needless to say, the time and energy I put into helping orchestrate these retreats is rewarded by the lessons and insights I gain.  I never regret taking this time apart, even if it does take me a day or two (or three) to recover afterward.

Like one retreatant said this year, society knows the power of a group of women, but we seldom honor our potential.  I encourage you to honor yourself and your peers.  Gather together with common purpose, united for something true and good, and watch what can be revealed to you.

And no matter how much planning we do, the magic happens when we do our best and then let go.  Most of the time it takes less energy than we think.  If you’re like me, you set your expectations so high you almost always set yourself up for failure.  Well, drop it down a notch or few.  I left my husband without a menu for the weekend.  He did the grocery shopping and no one starved.  We have some great friends who helped make sure the house was clean when I returned.  We never know how grace will be revealed in our lives.  But by not planning every detail, we allow room for pleasant surprises . . . or at least worthwhile lessons.  We allow room to let God work in and through our lives.

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All Things Good

I’m finding it difficult to focus on that which must be done.  I’m caught in the mental quagmire of thinking about those who are faced with life-threatening illness and preparing myself for a weekend retreat.  Some are facing the reality of their mortality, and I am delighting in the vitality of my life, the blessings of my nurturing community and ability.

Life is full of these paradoxes, though.  There is birth and death every day, but this is just what we see with our limited vision.  If we could take our focus away from the blatant physical dimension, perhaps we would be able to sense the divine spark in everything, feel the Presence that is the source of life, imbuing us with the energy and very vitality that we describe as “life.”  Energy is neither created nor destroyed.

One of my responsibilities is to trust that all that unfolds has meaning, that ultimately, everything contributes to the greater good, even if I can’t see how.  My vision and understanding are finite, very limited.  If I allow myself to trust, however, I feel like my understanding is broadened; I feel hope.  One of my other responsibilities might be to help others sense this trust and hope.  Some might call it faith.

Whether our body is overtaken with cancer or if we have years stretched before us, the truth is that in every moment, we may not know the difference.  The truth is that the only thing that truly matters in every moment is that we love and love deeply with reckless abandon.  In that, there are no regrets.  And that is a responsibility we all have.

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Living the Moment Spiritfully

Do I know if spiritfully is a word?  Not really.  For my purposes it works, and I think you understand what it means, too.

main4.jpgThis past weekend was the women’s retreat I’ve raved about before, and as ever, it was delightful, ethereal and truly blessed.  The retreat takes place up on a mountain, right on the edge.  You feel like you’re on top of the world.  You feel the natural high coming as soon as you start the drive up the mountain at the first curve.

Then, you have to come back down.  As a retreatant, you have to go back home and see how you can integrate your insight into daily life.  As someone working at the retreat, you have not only to integrate your insights but also manage the lack of adrenaline that has fueled you for the past four days, if not longer.

The book that was the springboard for discussion over the weekend, Take Time for Your Life, mentions that adrenaline is one of those things you can get in the habit of using as fuel, rather than all the healthy things that you should use, like sleep, a healthy diet and exercise.  I realize I’m just as guilty as many others at neglecting what is natural and healthy in favor of a quick fix or a bigger rush.  I mean, of course, that I’ll use a mid-day or late night coffee or soda for a pick-me-up or procrastinate and count on adrenaline to get me through.

As I make it through this day that is already filled to the brim, I realize that I have another option for fuel.  If I can take care of myself physically, then it will be easier to let Spirit take care of me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  The creativity will flow, the channel will be open, and I will be a good example for our children.  I took time this morning to sit for just under ten minutes.  That’s a start.

I make stupid choices, though.  (I use the word stupid intentionally.  In our house it’s a very bad word, one I don’t let the kids use habitually.)  I let my “things to do” get in the way of being truly present in the moment.  How often do we let the small stuff prevent us from living into our full potential?

During the homily at the retreat’s service, the weekend’s speaker asked us to take a moment to be still and think about what we wanted to ask the Spirit for.  I feel like the request is sacred, like a child making a wish, and if I tell you, I take away the magic.  Let’s just say that I hope to live every moment spiritfully.  I can use all the help I can get.

May you have a blessed day.

(The photo is from the Camp Mitchell website; a view from the grounds.)

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