It Felt Love

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How did the rose

Ever open her heart 


And give to this world 


All her beauty? 


She felt the encouragement

of light against her being, 
Otherwise, 


We all remain Too 
Frightened.

Hafiz

As a Two on the Enneagram, this reflection speaks to my heart as I endeavor to grow in self-acceptance and compassion, and learn to value my own needs. This allows me to give and build authentic, strong relationships from who I am, and not from what I do – a more real loving presence. It becomes far easier to help others from a deeper place of humility and altruism.

My theology and spiritual practice nurture and support the growth of my own agency, sense of providence and connection to community. I am more aware, more open and more present; I experience joy in others’ wellbeing and happiness as separate from my giving. I open myself to carefully sympathize so that I not get caught up in emotional whirlwinds. I open to receive from others with grace and love knowing that this nurtures them as well as me.

I now learn to love myself separate from what I give to others. I adhere to a loving-kindness practice that focuses equally on myself as to others and, I realize that love is found within myself that facilitates love for others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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L.O.V.E.

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Let others’ vulnerability emerge

This is my personal reminder as a Spiritual Director and Chaplain about my purpose, my call to ministry as such. It is a touchstone for remembering who and what I am. It also reminds me that to offer implicit and explicit presence, I must be prepared to give up protective habits to expand my capacity to see and hear Spirit in others. I live service of the Divine by opening toward, and drawing lessons from, all that I see, hear, or experience. On occasion, I add an S making it, let others’ vulnerability emerge safely.

At its heart, this work is all about surrendering the small self and connecting to the Divine in everything and everyone. To fortify spiritual resolve and find inspiration in my work I must humbly seek to be grounded in ‘not knowing’. In the end, Spirit often works through me at those moments when I am able to just be and let go of any notion that I am doing something.

I recently offered Reiki to a patient who was actively dying. I had visited him for several months on a weekly basis. I was blessed to be present to his thoughts, his belief, his unbelief as he moved closer to dying. There was great beauty in his vulnerability and much grace in his softening as he died. And there was that moment in being with him and offering him Reiki, where I sensed his spirit’s presence to my own in a divine energy exchange. I experience this as a dance of life that is never more fully present then when life is ending. I honor his journey as incomparable to the journey of the other, and I am blessed to appreciate that the path towards the original source of light extends through every other ray that comes from it.

“She who binds to herself a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But she who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

William Blake

 

CONSOLATION

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If you look up the word consolation in the dictionary you will come across a definition that most likely reads something like what follows here. Consolation -comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment; a person or thing providing comfort to a person who has suffered. Suggested synonyms are: solace, sympathy, compassion, commiseration, empathy; relief, help, support, moral support, encouragement, reassurance. Hmmm, that just about covers the myriad ways I feel as I search for Easter in me and enter Eastertide – one of my favorite times of the year.

I love that Easter – like Christmas – is a time and place in the Christ story where the presence, life, witness and wholehearted openness of the women disciples is central to what transpires. They are not the only places in the gospels where women are vital but they are the only places where the centrality of the feminine spiritual thread is undeniable, inarguable and inherent to the truth of what unfolds.

It is easy to be with all of the Mary’s at the tomb as they pour themselves out in grief weeping the kind of tears that exhaust and deplete one. And, it is glorious to imagine how it was for Mary when she hears him, recognizes him and turns from within, surrendering herself to the awesome truth and weeping anew. This crying is like spring rain – it replenishes and refills all that is. This weeping is as the birthing waters of her soul as she enters through faith and unknowing into a unitive experience of G*d. It is precisely her desolation and bereft heart that readies her for her consolation and the healing balm and wholeness that are alive in the sacrament of Love. ‘Resurrected life is transcendent life, breaking through our partial selves into a new wholeness of belonging.’ Ilia Delio

Mary’s turning from within to see and to know that Love is stronger than death is what makes her the Apostle to the Apostles. “Mary Magdalene, may we be anointed with the gift of spiritual love that is wine and fragrance, and may the name of the Savior spoken with love be a spreading perfume which draws us to the royal banquet, for the nourishment, healing, and liberation of all humanity.” 

It is so lovely, and so natural that she would be the one to illuminate this spiritual knowing that leads to nurturing the love of God within us and among us. She surrendered her broken heart allowing it to burst – and burst it did – wide open. She enters the flow of power with by giving away, by sharing, by letting go, encountering an infinity of trust and mutuality found in the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

“It’s impossible,” said pride.

“It’s risky,” said experience.

“It’s pointless,” said reason.


“Give it a try,” said the heart.

 

Soul’s Gift

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«Our soul cannot live without love, it always wants to love something, for our soul is made of love, as I made it because of love» (Saint Catherine of Siena)

There is a sweetly luminous space in my own heart that I do not see. Even when I am deeply self aware of my gifts and edges, my motivations and desires, much of my-‘self’ is hidden from my consciousness. Perhaps it is for the best that I am somewhat obscure to my- ‘self’. Maybe those around me, maybe especially, those who love me, see this luminous space within me better than I do.

In this way, to be loved is to be seen and understood in ways that are surprising to me – gifts of the soul. I always tease my husband that this explains why he is with me! He sees things in me that I do not – indeed, I often say, “I am glad that you say that – I don’t see it”. As a wife, mom, sister and friend I can never fully know the significance of my presence in the lives of those I touch. I am sure that this too is a gift – a gift of mystery.

I think there is a beautiful, humbling and quiet grace in this notion that others see my light in ways unfamiliar to me. And it invites me to trust that it is the light of my secret heart that draws me toward a deep belonging to those who love me. It is there, within my secret heart that the spirit of love and friendship gently glows. Love, as the deepest part of my soul’s connection to all that is, graces me with embers that catch and reflect light like prisms for others’ love to see.

The Kindess of Humankind

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It is easy of late to look around and wonder, what’s happening to the world around me? From political tension and hyperbolic rhetoric, to racial tensions and polarizing fears, to social injustice and attacks on personal agency, I am confronted by the realities of a dangerous world where people suffer. And I am challenged to wonder, what I can do in this moment to be the change I want to see in the world? I choose to enter the world each day soul first as a spiritual director and chaplain intern. I choose to bring the kindest presence I can to each person I encounter.

Kindness, remember that? ‘Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.’ I remember seeing that as a bumper sticker. And, isn’t it that simple? And, isn’t it that complex? Henri Nouwen reminds me in his reflections on kindness that I am a participant in humankind; I have my immediate kin, my next of kin, kindred spirits through others, and the kinship I offer to all I meet. For me, this reflection on the root connections of kind and kin is the universal, unitive call of being fully human. This is the heart of belonging. This is the gift of seeing others in both their distinction from me, and their connection to me.

Humankind is called to be kind to one another, reaching out and treating one another as valued, respected kin. Each day in the story of my particular life, I am called to this kindness toward the other. And it is in this way, through the actions of my particular life on any given day, that I ‘risk to become’ the change I wish to have in the world.

Just For Today

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As a Reiki practitioner I am accustomed to gathering myself  in a process of entering the moment and aspiring to be fully present, to relinquish the emotions and thoughts that bind me just for the time I am with another.  It feels like a wonderful way to enter this particular day and to reach for the path forward from here.

So, I begin today by remembering a powerful expression of the kinship of humanity and the belonging such kinship invites if we let it.  An invitation and reminder to be fully alive and fully present to each ‘other’.

“First they came for the ________, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a ________ Then they came for the __________, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a ___________. Then they came for the _________, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a __________.  And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Having considered my kinship with humanity I open my mind to the gifts of the spirit of truth and my heart to the soul of wisdom.

May I authentically live with the responsibility to protect the dignity of all beings and open my heart to the challenge of being a channel of divine compassion. Love is the key to unlock the secrets of benevolence, empathy, and life. May I live to transcend this mortal coil through the power of perfect love.

May I have the wisdom to enter the truth of  absolute relatedness. . And may I open to Wisdom in its intimate wholeness, its unitive perception of reality; one that welcomes everything within its compassionate, benevolent, exuberant embrace. May I seek this path of healing towards wholeness that begins from a different starting point of trust and indissoluble intimacy; one that draws me deeper into unitive ways of being and births an understanding of ‘peace as an inherent quality of heart.’

A celtic prayer:

The blessings of heaven – the blessings of earth – the blessings of sea and of sky on those I love this day and on every human family the gifts of heaven – the gifts of earth and the gifts of sea and sky. In the silence of my heart let me give thanks for the gift of this day and pray for the life of the world…

This Again

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Recently, I have found myself in life situations whose scenarios are all too familiar and challenging for me. Those encounters where my spirituality as it graces my presence in the here and now, meets an all to familiar pattern of exchange that pulls me backwards, heels dragging, into that place where I am overwhelmed by my emotions. I see it approaching – rushing toward me -and just as it hits me my heart whispers ‘this again’. These are the moments where I connect powerfully with feeling out of control or simply out of sorts. I cannot reconcile what is happening alone.

In the past, my pattern was to verbally process these kinds of encounters. This invariably led to a kind and supportive person seeing my side of the situation and encouraging me to feel right in my emotional response. Such affirmation about my role in my personal patterns no longer works for me as a balm in the aftermath of these encounters.

Now, I find the ability to hold these moments in kindness and compassion toward myself and the other involved through my contemplative practice. It is in my contemplative prayer that I am able to move deeper, beyond the encounter itself and touch a deeper reality. I sense, and come to know, my emotional responses to patterned scenarios of my life as transient and not real. I know in my heart that what is real is coming from within me not outside of me. And, I begin to see that this is true as well, for the other in these challenging moments.

Slowly, over time, I am less shaken by ‘this again’ and more open, more able to accept and attend to my encounters from a place of kindness and compassion. I am not able to prevent or control patterned scenarios though I am able to not allow or permit them to take root in my mind and heart.

Most important of all, I can actually offer a silent prayer of gratitude for these difficult moments. Could it be that I am slowly beginning to really know in my heart that my imperfection and failures are welcome pieces of what is?