"We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them."
~ Charles C. West ~
It's so easy when we are not in pain ourselves to be flip about other people's pain. "They're exaggerating," we think, and we may be less than graciously patient. Give us the pain though, and it is entirely real, and the realness of it interferes with everything.
Halloween is about the fun side of fear, the giggly, pretend, have-a-thrill and be somebody else for a day guts and gore kind of good time. It's for children and adults who like to dress up. It's for candy and jack-o-lanterns and ghosts and spooky sounds. It's the beginning of the "holiday season," and the official end of summer longings. It's a marker in the year, and here we are again.
"Let nothing divert you from your duty to your body."
~ Mose Velsor ~
The expression, "We don't know what we've got till it's gone" is so true that it bears consideration in advance. In presentations, in order to identify real value, I ask the audience if they'd trade their eyesight for a million dollars, and the answer is always, unequivocally, and enthusiastically, "No!" Because it's our eyesight.
And yet, I am guessing that I am not the only one who fails to wear protective eye ware when injury is not only possible, but imminent.
"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day."
~ AA Milne ~
Somehow, over the years, I have come to think of fall as something that is here and gone in a flash- maybe because that's how it seemed when I was living in more Northern Climes. But here in Virginia, it's a long, slow, lingering process. It's gracious and subtle. While some trees are empty of leaves, others are still green, and those that seem to have reached their peak peak further as the days carry on. It requires care to see the subtleties, but they are there, and feed the spirit.
And all of life, like the fall in Virginia, is a process; not "here and gone in a flash," but slowly and subtly shifting in a way that is smooth and easy. Nature is like that, and, much as we may think differently, so are we.
In the last 18 months, I left a job where I had worked for over eight years, moved to Montana, moved to Santa Fe, my father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, I moved back to Virginia, and now we have purchased a farm and are in the process of renovating it. And there have been angels and challenges every step of the way.
I am grateful to a small group of women in Livingston Montana who made me feel welcome, a large community in Santa Fe, NM who generously included us in their lives, a few individuals who touched my soul in ways that have changed it forever, The Transition Network who entrusted me with leadership, my drive by neighbor here in Lexington with her cheery daily hellos, the practice of 5rhythms, the steady friendship of my husband, and the Grace of God.
That we survived the adventure at all and grew from it in the ways we have is a deep blessing, and one I do not take lightly or for granted.
I acknowledge where I have been and who has been there with me.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."
~ John Donne ~
Our great original ideas are often surpassed by even better ideas presented by others. Being open to community input, being willing to work with all those we encounter, and listen to them, and compromise, and consider all kinds of points of view makes for a good life. We are made rich by interaction.
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."
~ Rabindranath Tagore ~
The world is full of happy surprises if we stop looking for things to be a certain way and open to clear sight. There are colors and textures and tastes and sounds that abound and are pleasing. There are unexpected smiles and kindnesses, and moments of traveling light reflecting off of surfaces and trees. There are delicate sensations, and power in the body, and curiosities that lift our spirits, and provocative conversations that inspire our minds.
Earth is heaven, and heaven earth when we wake up and tune in.
I'm not sure there's really such a thing as a happy ending. There are cycles that complete to our satisfaction, and goals that we achieve, but everything that happens is ultimately part of a continuum. There are no endings that aren't tied up with beginnings, and no hope that is not tied up in some way with despair. There is no healing without wounding, no growth without struggle, and no birth without death.
There is no point of arrival, and I have nothing to prove.
"The gale that breaks the pine does not bruise the violet."
~ Austin O'Malley ~
The ego in action is an inglorious thing to behold. It's selfish and unbecoming.
Let's be about LOVE instead, about what's best in us, and enjoy the grace and communion that comes with generosity of the spirit, authenticity of expression, and humility of the heart.
I catch myself being all about myself and consider what I can do for others instead.
I knew this likable guy named Jack once. He was tall and blonde, with a smile that warmed the room, and an open-ness about him that felt good to be around.
In spite of his charm, Jack struggled with the disease of alcoholism and addiction, so it was with great joy that those who knew him celebrated his one-year-of-staying-clean-and-sober anniversary.
Shortly thereafter, Jack started drinking again, and he was found dead in his house, having hung himself. Few deaths in my life have struck me the way his did. He was such a brilliantly bright light! And he had a baby on the way, and seemingly so much to live for.
Life is filled with mysteries like Jack's death that I cannot comprehend, and the answer, as always seems to be love NOW, live NOW, and take nothing- nothing- for granted or for certain, because the only thing for certain is that we just... never... know.
I get in trouble when I fancy myself a teacher, because I aim to impart wisdom in that role that is the result of what I've been through. I do far better to share stories from my life and let others draw their own conclusions about what things mean.
We all require the perspective of our own point of view.
"The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual... (a) mobile Walden Pond."
~ Edward McDonagh ~
If I don't resist it, driving can be soothing. It's the movement of my position by rolling wheels from one place to another, and the freedom of choice whether I listen to music or sit in silence, allow or disallow fresh air in through the windows, and how I adjust the seat heat and AC. It's a place of peace if I let it be that, and if I am able to surrender to the traffic and the rumbling road.
The answer is not success. It's not wealth or fame or even influence. And it's not in the future when this, that, or the other thing happens or doesn't happen.
The answer to everything we seek is in acceptance and gratitude, which sounds all fine and good, but what does that even mean? It means stop gunning for the future and whining about the past, and appreciate the sacred beauty of wherever you are right now!
I love the fall and am aware of a self-centered fear in myself that it won't come! Or that it won't come the way I want it to and feel like I need it to... And I'm also aware that this is an annual pattern in me. I get all locked up in catastrophic all-or-nothing thinking- that it will never cool off and that this year is the year the leaves will just dry up and fall off and won't display any of their glorious autumn splendor.
It's simple fear that something I want to happen isn't going to happen, and I try to avoid my disappointment in advance by fretting over it. What insanity!
I wonder if anyone out there can relate?
"Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it."
~ Hannah Arendt ~
In my own stories, I am always looking for the lesson. What did I learn? What can I take away? What is the point of what has happened?
And yet, the stories I most enjoy listening to are not the ones designed to teach me at all, but the ones that spin a yarn and create an experience that I can relate to and laugh about.
Life is not always about the lesson. Sometimes it's just about sharing the ride.
"You learn something every day if you pay attention."
~ Ray LeBlond ~
I am not a fan of onions because anytime I eat them, the taste lingers beyond my desire for it. The flavor overstays its welcome. I am done with onions before they are done with me, and maybe certain experiences are that way as well. They take their time to process when we are ready to close the door and move on.
We suffer for the assumptions we make. We think we understand who people are without being curious about them. We come at things from a position of knowing when our knowing is severely limited by our own personal experience, and we close our mind to new possibilities by insisting that the information we have is the only access we need.
The longer I live, the less certain I am about anything.
"Happiness is an occasional brief glance into how simple it all can be."
~ Robert Brault ~
The answer is generally simpler than we think. Life feels complicated, so we approach it as a problem, or as a series of problems, that need figuring out and fixing. But perhaps that's not really the case. Perhaps life is just what happens and who we encounter and how we show up in the world... today.
Life is simple. I complicate it with my complicated mind.