Difficult Dust

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The other day I perceived a connection between the ashes accrued in our fireplaces and the dust that clings to us as we live into our days. I am not speaking of the dust we easily shake from our feet as we live into our values and pursue what we know to be true. I am referring to the difficult dust of our days -the dust that seems to cling to us. The dust we struggle to shake off. The dust that holds us back and prevents us from evolving into our authentic potential.

In my home we have a fireplace both downstairs and upstairs. Each has a grate that opens so that after wood has burned we can discard the ashes through the grate. The ashes gather in a protected space in our basement until such time as we remove the ashes. We empty the basement bin a couple of times a year and use the contents in our yard, garden, etc. fall, winter and spring. In this way, the ashes become part of our ecological system. They become an integral and generative part of the fabric of our life environment as we recycle them and weave them into the seasons of the year.

I wonder if it is the same with life’s difficult dust; the dust that we accrue in our mind and body experience of living. Perhaps we too store the dust in the bins of our memory and psyche until such time as our spirit returns us to the difficult dust and helps us to mine it for wisdom. Maybe in this way, difficult dust is a generative part of our heart’s learning when we become aware and open to it. As we sift through the dust of our days, we recognize all the grace that has been present all the time as we move slowly, and incrementally toward a deeper way of knowing.

How hopeful to perceive the gift and grace of our difficult dust through the heart’s way of knowing – to see that we can reconcile our past, open to our present and unfold into our future. All that we need is within us.

Heartful Being

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For several centuries now, we have overemphasized the intellect. It is fine in its place. It is not, however, the most authentic way of knowing. The most authentic comes from the heart.  ~ Sonia Choquette

We long for something more – we want to understand the great Mystery that is central to life. We want to be-long, be in relationship to something that we sense deep within. Something we know somehow transcends and exceeds the tangible world, or our ability to control it.

Our hearts open us to this mysterious life force – this ground of all being. Our hearts are present to all of our experiences. When we are still and present to the heart’s way of knowing, we connect to an authentic heart-full life – our authentic being.

Seeds of compassion and love flow through our hearts and allow us to witness life as fruitful and bountiful. From this place of knowing, our authentic being, we perceive our deep connection to all around us and our in-dwelling potential to become one with the Mystery of all creation.

So why then is it so hard to believe this – to stop doing life and start being alive to the Mystery – the ground of all being?

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare: it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.  ~ Seneca

 

Your Longing For Me

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As I read a lot of books on spirituality, I reflect on my daily practices to support and deepen my relationship to the ‘G*d of many names’. One aspect of this relationship is the way I converse, pray and imagine with ‘Godde’ as,’You’. I find that speaking with You makes mutual presence more accessible and my voice clearer. You help me to bring my whole and mature self to our encounters. I come as I am,grateful, tearful, joyful, angry, silent and You are there.

This unfolding recognition of your constant presence – the understanding that I am the one who has been absent previously while You lovingly waited – came to me as an Ah Ha moment recently in my own parenting life.

My son has a busy life. A wife, a nine-year old son, a new babe and a new home. He works hard and struggles to balance it all with any kind of attention to himself. As a result, he is highly distracted these days.

It is his custom to call me fairly regularly to chat about things – usually his things. And if I start down my own conversational path for too long it is clear he is distracted. He makes the calls because he loves me and seeks closeness to me but he enters the calls in ways that don’t fulfill his own yearning – he is not wholly present. It happened again when we were all together recently. Between the children, the pets and the home projects to appreciate, we were really barely present in meaningful ways to each other. As we parted, I felt the stirrings of my own parental longing for be-ing present to each other and the weight of the awareness that our mutual imperfection impedes this. And the knowledge that deep within we hold it all and each other in more authentic and meaningful ways.

As I mulled this over, it hit me squarely in my heart that this must be how it is for You. Suddenly, and feeling pretty dense, I felt the pull of how it is You long for my presence. All at once, I knew that as much as I long for You -You long more perfectly for me. Now, the statements – G*d is always present it is I who am absent; Be still and know that I am G*d; and Life is a dream whose meaning will be revealed when I awaken from life – illuminate with a new luster for me.

The reality of your infinite love penetrates my imperfection and offers me a sense of unconditional compassion and limitless beauty. There are no words to sensibly convey my heart-full gratitude to You. And so, I close my eyes in quiet contemplation and fall ever more deeply into You.

‘The mystery and mercy of Love is that we are its recipients despite our faults and weaknesses’ Kabir Helminski

An Ordinary Autumn Day

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This is the time of year and the kind of day that invokes lectio natura- nature as a threshold into contemplation of the divine. Autumn is underway as leaves change color and pepper the ground, and yet the temperatures remain pleasant enough for a lengthy walk outside. The outdoors lure me to dwell in nature and to be aware of the outpouring of creation’s gifts everywhere. No place else is the miracle of be-ing so abundantly clear and present. Moment by moment in nature there are thresholds for entering creation as a present and unfolding moment. Awe and wonder abound as I collaborate in a miniscule moment of the evolutionary process. And it doesn’t take long at all to construe my human self or be-ing as part of that process. Perceptions of nature offer insight into divine relationship to the world, the self and others.

Quality time within nature allows for contemplation of my kinship and community with the natural world and the source of all that is. When such contemplative time is done with respect and reverence it is sacramental. It leads away from a self-centered sense of things to a bio-centric appreciation of all that is sensible. Poets and writers have long celebrated the numinous qualities of ordinary life in all its grandeur. Lectio natura is a true Godding experience when done with attention and intention.

Such moments in nature inspire important questions about the world and its influences on me; thoughts about creation and the divine; ideas about co-creation; imagination and service; as well as, wondering about the meaning of my place in a vast and unfolding universe. Reflecting on these questions is an important dynamic of my spiritual growth.

Omnipresent, are revealing mementos of my contemplation through nature. Every window of my home affords me a perspective, and draws me toward a life beyond this world. It is the random – often times messy – beauty of the ordinary life everywhere that invites me into compassionate relationship with all created things. And all of creation calls me into companionship with the origin of all that is.

The Alchemy Of One’s Own Experience

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As I study to serve as a spiritual director, I bring my world perspective and experience as a woman with me. I acknowledge the brokenness of the world around me and in me. I see the remedy to the divisions inherent in an androcentric world perspective as the pursuit of wholeness for all through inclusion, connectedness and mutuality in relationships.

I begin by reflecting on my own experience, my own truth and I build from there. This is not intended to operate like traditional therapy where one searches one’s personal history for answers to personal problems. This is grounded in the reality that there is a social context for all of us inherent in our male-dominated culture. This dominant cultural context gives rise to feelings of powerlessness, depression and poor self-esteem in ‘others’. This social context also confers Divine meaning through exclusively male language and metaphor for God – thereby undermining women’s equal sacredness. Many organized religions deny women full participation, and overall prescribe relationships that maintain women as dependent.

Women discover that spirituality is authentic when it is intrinsically subjective, when it is brought forth, painfully, from the womb of their own experience. From there they create a new “wisdom literature” out of the alchemy of their own lives.”

Madonna Kolbenschlag

So it is that I want to affirm spiritual direction as a safe place of equal relationship between director and directee. An equality flowing from the truth that it is the Spirit that guides each of us. In this way, each of us enters the process with no more qualification or worldly status than the early disciples and the process reflects discipleship born of the worth of each person and the gifts of Spirit in each.

This reciprocity suggests that spiritual companionship expands and deepens each of us through what we offer and what we receive. Truth then, emerges from the relationship and interaction itself, and by nature, truth is a dynamic reality. As a spiritual director, I need to be sensitive to the ways in which valuing a directee’s experience and honoring the balance of power in relationships benefits all who participate.