Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Fatigue has taken a strong lead and I am stumbling in my attempts to stay in step. I'm forgetful. I'm baffled by simple decisions. Concentration & focus elude me. I've been down this road before, and this time I need to listen carefully to these signs. I've been caught by surprise though. My life is not in crisis; in fact, it is overflowing with wonderful opportunities and blessings. Of course, what the body registers is: stress. The body doesn't differenciate between "good" stress and "bad" stress. It's all the same to my body.
So, I need to put First Things First and go into self-care mode. It's hard to do that in our society. It takes courage, and I pray I will be given what I need to make the decisions I need to make. Nothing drastic, but difficult decisions nonetheless. Reducing commitments... seeing a doctor... taking time from work... letting go of guilt... putting myself and guilt-free, non-planned time on the top of my To-Do list. Better yet, ripping up the To-Do list completely! One step at a time...
Luckily, we have no plans this Christmas. What a blessing! No commitments, no obligations, no plans. No matter how wonderful this time of the year can be, I can't tell you how excited I am to have nothing to do this Christmas. A friend once said that his wish for me was that I would experience boredom, just for a while. I'll resist the temptation to add "Be bored..." to my list and I'll try to surrender to the experience of self-care. Now THAT would be a true gift.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
They are the future waiting to be born.
Fear not the strangeness you feel.
The future must enter you
long before it happens.
Just wait for the birth,
for the hour of new clarity.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
How powerful!! I came across this quote yesterday and was struck by how it described what the season of Advent is all about. Today, for me, Advent is not about waiting for the birth of baby Jesus, it's about waiting in anticipation for the beginning of a new Way. I believe that's what the message is all about. That's why I should pay attention to the story of a baby born in a manger over 2000 years ago.
A lot has happened since I last posted here... Most notably, I've entered a new decade of life! Perhaps that's why I'm feeling especially reflective. Naw, that's not it. Advent always puts me in this hopeful mood!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
The fact is, I don't really follow any band closely. I hardly listen to the radio or to CDs. I was trying to remember the last real rock concert I had been to. I was horrified when I realized it was April Wine's Farewell Tour (before they came back). Then I remembered I had seen Genesis in concert at the Skydome in 1990-something. OK, so that was a bit better!
But, allow me to get back to Bono... please! First of all, the concert was FAN-TAS-TIC... My ears are still hisssssing. Just when I thought the crowd couldn't cheer any louder, somehow they did. WE did! I allowed myself to be carried away by the experience. I was amazed at the effect Bono has on his fans - men & women alike. All he has to do is suit up and show up... and he is adored. He saunters around that stage like he owns it... like he knows something we don't. But whatever he has, he offers us every ounce of it. He stands there, opens his arms and drinks in our energy, then he pours it right back out for us in his singing. Stunning. Absolutely.
I got a real kick out of watching the crowd react to him... of watching him react to the crowd. It was like being involved in a love affair. It was completely anihilating. Yes, there are other band members... and they too are appreciated by the masses. But there's just something about Bono that is mesmerizing. His heart & soul, his entire being, comes out in his performance - or so it seems.
OK. I think I may be hooked. Will it last? Maybe it's just the intoxicating effect of sharing the energy of Bono... or maybe it's just lust. Whatever it is, in this moment, I am one of them.
p.s. I now know his real name! :-)
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
It's very humbling to speak to John. He has a no-nonsense attitude and, despite his situation, he always has a smile and a friendly greeting to offer. As I approach, he croons his usual greeting: Heeey, pretty lady! I tease him about his Toronto Maple Leafs hat, which he tries to hide under his hood with a sheepish grin and his dazzling blue eyes.
Good luck, John. Sorry we've judged you. Here's hoping you don't have to spend another winter on the streets...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Indeed, spread the Good News. Change IS within reach!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Come with me on a journey of exploration; let's link arms in a trajectory whose direction and destiny we'll discover as we go along. Enter into the experience of searching, seeking, exploring and, I hope, discovering. Participate in the task rather than remain a mere observer.
This is the invitation that is extended at the beginning of Quantum Theology (2004), a book I've just started reading. I first discovered its author, Diarmuid O'Murchu, in June 2004 while on silent retreat at Stillpoint. Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to hear him in person at a public lecture here in Ottawa.
When first reading his work, I remember being utterly amazed at what this priest was daring to say. His words echoed so many of my unspoken thoughts! In Reclaiming Spirituality (1997), I heard him say: Increasingly, I find myself in sympathy with the spiritual seekers who claim that formal religion, with its trappings and power games, is proving to be a major obstacle to spiritual growth and development. (p. 31) Could I ever relate!
I consider myself a Catholic-in-exile (for now). I have a deep desire to follow the teachings of Jesus and I honour him as my Beloved Teacher and my Guide. Every day, I pray for the ability to Love as He did, and to Trust in God as He did. Several years ago, I was encouraged by a priest to forget about everything else and simply allow myself to "fall in love with Christ". He sensed that formal religion - with all its doctrines & rules - was indeed getting in the way of my spiritual growth and development. I don't go to church these days... I fully trust the path I'm on and know that God is walking with me, wherever I may be. I haven't completely given up on the church, but admittedly, I don't miss it. Luckily, God doesn't take it personally and can handle my choices.
In response to this choice, O'Murchu offers me another challenge:
(Reclaiming Spirituality, p. 79)
(...) most people who become disillusioned with religion do not confront the pain or discomfort religion is causing them; they simply opt out. It is easier to move away rather than face the challenge, guilt and fear which the confrontation might involve.
And so, I accept the invitation that is extended to me. I will keep an open mind and an open heart. Here's to entering the experience as a full participant. I'll let you know what I find there...
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
A friend suggested that perhaps word got out that I was handing out Sour Chews. What's wrong with Sour Chews??!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
The Legend of Lacey
The great lady Lacey she comes once a year
Her story’s so sad it’s caused many a tear
No one knows for sure how she came to depart
But it’s legend she died of a still broken heart
She’s elegant, classy, so please have no fear
She simply comes looking for one who was dear
She comes in October on All Hallow’s Eve
It’s all part of healing, of trying to grieve
Her beauty and might give glimpse to her strength
Her eyes and her spirit show she’s suffered at length
Oh how she remembers that knock at the door
That told her she’d lost her beloved to war
She remembers him dearly, from a time far away
But nor sadness nor grief has led to dismay
Her courage and faith keep her hopeful each year
That she’ll find him, she’s closer, she feels him, he’s near
So tonight if you’re careful, you may see or hear
Lacey praying or calling, but be there no fear
She’ll be searching as always, with love and with grace
With beauty and spirit, and a gown made of lace.
(Steph – October 31, 2004)
Monday, October 24, 2005
Last summer, my friend Stuart was chatting with his buddy Mike about a surprising statistic he saw on Natural Resources Canada's Energy Star web site. If every household in Canada replaced just one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent, the reduction in pollution would be the equivalent of taking 66,000 cars off the road. "How hard could it be to get everyone to change one lightbulb?", he said. And there it was - the proverbial lightbulb moment. It was the birth of Project Porchlight.
Project Porchlight is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit organization and our ultimate goal is to distribute one free compact fluorescent (CF) lightbulb to every household in Canada. This Saturday, Oct. 29th at 11 a.m. we launch our biggest event yet in Ottawa South. Join us for the party and help us get the ball rolling! Hosted by Alex Munter, our first local community launch is taking place in the parking lot of Giant Tiger at 2480 Walkely Road. Join us and see what all the fuss is about!
Change IS within reach. No, really. I mean it! :-)
Monday, October 10, 2005
When my life was in crisis, I remember keeping a gratitude journal. Every night before going to bed, I would write a short list of five things that I was grateful for that day. Somedays, the list reflected the basics: food, shelter, warm bed, functional body... Other days, I was able to expand my outlook and could appreciate the colour of the trees, a encouraging smile from a friend or the support of my family. I wonder why I stopped doing that? Too busy to stop and take notice perhaps? I tend to give thanks more frequently during the day now, but I don't take quiet time to reflect and develop an awareness of the many blessings I have in my life. In honour of Thanksgiving, here's my list for today - in random order:
- my evolving relationship with God
- my somewhat-dysfunctional-yet-oh-so-loving family
- my home & neighbourhood
Yeah, I know. This is the big stuff, but what better day to say it OUT LOUD!!
What are you grateful for?
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
For a stunning account of the ongoing impact of Hurricane Katrina, check out Operation Eden. I arrived there through the randomness of the world of blogs, and spent some time taking in one photographer's personal story. It was time well spent.
As I begin to feel restless and whiny because of this cold-that-will-not-end, I am reminded that, just for today, I have everything I need. I have the opportunity to rest in my cozy home... I have immediate access to clean drinking water (or juice, or tea, or my heart's desire)... I am a short bus ride away from medical attention... My voice may have dropped an octave or two, and my nose may be raw from the blowing, but tonite, I will find sleep waiting for me under my favourite quilt.
I offer my prayers to those whose stories are still unfolding. I'm sure you wish that all you had to be dealing with was a cold-that-will-not-end.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Hubby completed his 5th marathon today. Yay for Hubby! He didn't reach his goal and is struggling to find the best way to fuel his body throughout that gruelling distance without becoming nauseous and wanting to throw up. In his words, his tactics are all there - he just needs to figure out the nutrition part. So he'll keep on trying, and I'll keep on cheering him on.
The dangerous thing is, every time I see one of these races - and the insane people who run them - I think to myself: could I do that if I really wanted to? What's to stop me, save for a degree of insanity?
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Fifteen years ago today, I was walking around in a blur of white lace & flowers. It was probably around this time of day that Mom stopped me and thrust a ham-on-kaiser sandwich in my hand, in the hope that I wouldn't collapse from hunger as I walked down the aisle.
Through easy times & difficult times, here we are - Hubby & I - still married after 15 years. We're two of the lucky ones... we almost didn't make it here. On our 10th wedding anniversary, we had dinner together but were living apart. In those dark days, a 15-year celebration was far from my mind. But God's plans are much bigger than what my mind can imagine. Through His grace, we were given the courage to give our Life together another chance. Like I said, we're two of the lucky ones! As I look back, here are a just a few of the things I have learned (in random order):
- the wedding is the easy part; it's the marriage that calls for a daily decision to accept the other as they are (and hope that they do the same!)
- it's OK if the garbage doesn't go out for another week
- it's important to have individual interests, but it's essential to carve out time for togetherness
- let Hubby & his mother be as they are - they'll be just fine
- when Hubby & Mum-in-law are making dinner in the kitchen, it's best to stay in the living room
- when you strive to remove obstacles (such as control and judgement), Love really does grow exponentially
- raising your voice gets in the way of the message, and being silent gets in the way of your Voice
- some of the best talks are had when walking hand-in-hand
- we both have the right to make mistakes, and the opportunities to make amends
- intimacy takes many forms
- Life doesn't get much better than a Hubby I love, a good book and cup of coffee at Bridgehead Coffeehouse.
Monday, September 12, 2005
If you are a Bell Canada customer and are making a long-distance phone call using your calling card, always... ALWAYS... dial into the Bell service at 1-800-555-1111 in order to complete your call. Do not assume that the local telephone service will advise you that your Bell service is being blocked and that you are now tapping into the services of the local carrier.
A 3-minute payphone call to Ottawa from Philadelphia, using my calling card number directly, ended up costing me a whopping $23.12. At no point was I advised that my Bell Service could not be accessed and the call was automatically interpreted as a collect person-to-person call by the local carrier. I made 5 such phone calls during my short stay in Philly, luckily none of them lasted longer than five minutes. Ouch.
When I contacted the Calling Card department at Bell Canada to enquire how I was supposed to know that I needed to dial 1-800-555-1111, I was told it was written right on the front of my calling card. I guess she was referring to the calling card that I never carry around because I've memorized my PIN. Ouch. Ouch.
Caveat emptor... Although I haven't been scammed outright, I certainly do feel duped. The good news is: now I know - and it won't happen again.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Taking it to a whole different level, this same message came through loud & clear on Thursday evening as I sat and listened to Dr. David Suzuki give a talk as part of a fundraiser for USC Canada. It was my first time hearing him in person and I'm still processing the experience. I can't say I like hearing what he has to say - I don't think many people do - but I know I have to listen anyway. He speaks with great passion and conviction... and he doesn't mince words. I can see why some would find him difficult to accept; he certainly has no love for economists and SUV owners!
I find it baffling that our society, in general, values the intellect above all other faculties. Our brains... our ability to make decisions and shape our future... these are the things that set us apart from the rest of God's creatures! And yet, when scientists from around the world - the best of the best - issue a dire warning to humanity as they did in 1992, no one pays attention. For some bizarre reason, we continue to believe that we are separate from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we ingest: the elements that give us our very life.
David Suzuki's message can be overwhelming. The predictions of scientists seem too incredible to believe. After all, scientists & engineers were the ones who predicted that the city of New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen - how could we possibly take them seriously?!
Hubby & I bought toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper today. We refilled on our chemical-free cleaning products, we picked up a staple-less stapler and two more Compact Fluorescent bulbs. It may not be much, but it's something. There are many ways to plan for future health...
"If you drive an SUV, you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror because you don't give a shit about the environment." - David Suzuki (to his audience at the USC Canada event)
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
In a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, "holds office"; every one of us is in a position of responsibility; and in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities.I came across this quote as I was going through some papers yesterday. It was hurriedly scribbled in a notebook during our visit to the JFK Library in Boston this past summer. It struck me then, and it struck me even more this time.
We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.
John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage (1956)
In light of ongoing heavy criticism of government happening in the States, as well as the particularly toxic parliamentary session we had here in Canada this past spring, I am reminded that I have a responsibility too. I've never really been politically active (other than making sure I vote in elections), but I'm realizing that I have stronger opinions on issues then I've ever had before. I just don't know what to do with them! Often, as my awareness grows, so do my feelings of utter powerlessness. And anger. I am angry that poverty exists to the extent that it does - how did we ever let it get so bad?! I am angry that politicians don't see that the state of the environment is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed... NOW! Without that, there is nothing else. I get frustrated and overwhelmed by my own inadequacy.
JFK's quote challenges me... am I up to it?
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
There can be no war on terrorism, especially not using military means. It just doesn't make sense. And today, physical weapons were not even needed to kill hundreds of people just like me. All it took was a rumour.
Man, our world really needs a hug right now. My heart weeps...
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Andy's has become part of my weekend routine ever since I moved to this neighbourhood. Why would I make breakfast at home when I could go to Andy's with a book, a friend or a Hubby, and have someone else cook for me - all for a whopping $4.30 plus tip?! Not surprisingly, Andy's is also a meeting place... less than two weeks ago, we stopped in for a quick breakfast and ran into friends we hadn't seen in much too long. We'd been trying to coordinate getting together, but to no avail. Yet we all found time for breakfast at Andy's.
Whether I was reading a book, sharing time with a friend, or just listening to the ambient sounds of Life and conversation, Andy's had become a home away from home. Andy & Mona: enjoy your well-deserved retirement and know that you'll be missed. But you still have four more days and you can expect me at my usual time!
Monday, August 22, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
As scary as it feels, I want to answer YES. The mask just gets too heavy to carry around... And the interesting thing is that, many times, I realize that the mask wasn't needed anyway. There are those blessed days when my insides DO match my outside... when I am confidently rooted in the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God. I look around and, as my friend Zio says: It's All Good.
Feeling our pain moves us into shadow, where we reclaim the denied parts of ourselves. This leads to developing a voice that grows increasingly authentic and full-throated with each newly claimed aspect of our identity. We are no longer speaking from a foundation of self that is riddled with fault lines. The more unified we are, the more authenticity our voice contains. We voice ourselves into being. (Helen LaKelly Hunt in 'The Hero's Journey", Spirituality & Health, October 2005)
Thursday, August 18, 2005
A few days ago, I too shared a deep shame with another and was rewarded with tears of relief. And now that it's out, and I can step back and look at what I'm carrying inside - a nagging sense that I will never be enough just as I am. When accepting a compliment from another, there is often a silent, critical voice that says: ...but if you only knew what a fraud I am, you wouldn't say that. Now that it's been out-ed, I can better see it for what it is: an illusion... an illusion based on unrealistic standards set by no one else but me. And so, the task of simply letting go of that illusion begins. It won't be easy; that false voice has been deeply whispering those un-truths for a long time. But it's time to give way to a stronger Voice.
This reminds me of something I wrote a few years ago, when reflecting on the God of my own understanding...
You are the Voice that whispers;
You are the Voice that roars;
You are the Flame that dances with joy and rage.
A heartfelt thanks to those who have the courage to speak their Truth...
Monday, August 15, 2005
I tried to teach my 19-month old niece the song Viens voir l'Acadie this morning. Unfortunately she was stuck on "moo-moo, e-i-e-i-ohhh!" Maybe next year.
In the meantime, learn more about my culture - either in English, ou ben encore mieux, en français.
Have you hugged an Acadian lately??
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Did you know Philadelphia has one of the (if not THE) most extensive Mural Arts programs in the U.S.? I did a walking tour yesterday and was amazed at what I saw. One of the most fascinating was a series of mosaic murals by Isaiah Zagar, using everyday, cast-away objects. Such expression! As my own neighbourhood of Westboro is showing signs of murals here & there, I'm inspired about what this artform can add to a community...
And the biggest treat of the day? Last minute tickets to see the Bolshoi Ballet perform Spartacus!! It was performed at the Mann Centre for the Performing Arts and I was there. What an adventure, considering that we didn't know it would be an outdoor venue and we didn't even have our tickets before we asked the taxi driver to drop us off out there. What an amazing evening of dance, music and new friends.
Oh yeah, and I did a workshop on data and variation analysis. That IS why I'm in Philly afterall... :-)
Monday, August 01, 2005
My second first impression :-) is the architecture. Wow! So many phenomenal buildings... No wonder I feel light-headed: I've spent most of the afternoon looking up! Or maybe it's a simple case of dehydration.
Went to see the Liberty Bell. Not too sure what all the fuss is about. It's a bell - and it's cracked t'boot. The security to get in to see the Bell was incredible... it rivalled Parliament! I suppose it's because it's the same entrance way as Independance Hall, where the Declaration of Independance was signed. In any case, I've been in Philly for less than 6 hours and I've seen the Liberty Bell and the LOVE sculpture in JFK park. You know, the one with the LO on top, and the VE on the bottom? Pretty cool.
Time to go and cool off now. Did I mention it was sweltering in Philadelphia?!
Sunday, July 31, 2005
The breath that is
Why is it so difficult for us to live in the moment?
To embrace what is, instead of what was or what will be?
Why can’t we just listen, stop, enjoy
the breath that is near, that is here?
The breath that was is gone.
The breath that will be is not real.
What’s real is here, is what is.
Written on a sunny Saturday morning after pouring myself a cup of coffee, while listening to a mystery bird sing outside my window. July 2, 2005
Friday, July 29, 2005
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I'm struggling to remember what we spoke of when I last saw him. If I had known it would be the last time, I would have paid more attention. Was that the day he had the hiccups that wouldn't go away? Was that the day he grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze before I continued on my way? I wish I could remember...
I'm feeling very sad right now.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Whole Foods Market: Located just a block from our hotel, this store offers organic food & natural/environmentally-friendly products as the norm. With our tiny kitchenette, this place has been a God-send. We gotta get one of these in Ottawa!
American Apparel: I bought $130.00 USD worth of sweatshop-free T-shirts here, only to find out that they have a store at the Rideau Centre in Ottawa! I now know of at least one place where I can buy clothes guilt-free (other than the reckless spending, of course...)
Apropos Shoes: Made in Lawrence, MA (north of Boston), these shoes are light-weight, immediately comfortable, fully machine-washable and affordable. I bought two pairs!
Automated City Toilet: Yes, you read that right! For $0.25, you get guaranteed cleanliness and a disinfected loo, right there on the street corner. Complete with muzak, to enhance your "experience". Did I try it? Well... I really, really had to go! :-)
Funny how none of these were in the tourist brochures we picked up...
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
My first day or so in Boston was plagued by this subtle, downward-tugging feeling of disappointment... and my vacation had hardly even begun! I felt hyper-critical and short-tempered. What was that all about?! Why the heaviness? I certainly didn't want my entire holiday to be coloured with this feeling, so I acknowledged it & did a quick scan. Here's what came out:
- Our road trip got off to a late start and took longer than expected. Late departure. Heavy traffic. Torrential rainfall on the I-90. Late arrival to our destinations. It's not what I expected.
- Our hotel room in Boston looks nothing like the picture on the web site. Yes, we have a kitchenette and a Queen-sized bed, but it's not what I expected.
- The greatly anticipated lecture by Joan Chittister was a bit disappointing to me. Her words, as always, were powerful and thought-provoking, but admittedly, I was underwhelmed by her presence that day. She read from a prepared speech and, as a result, it felt (to me) re-hearsed and re-done. It's not what I expected.
Plans are OK, but I need to remember that I'm NOT the Master Planner. I want to be open to whatever today's experience will offer. And it may fall short... or it may blow me away beyond my wildest delight! Like yesterday's *un*expected treat of meeting Richard Rohr (new link!) on the way to my first class. I recognized him, introduced myself and we chatted informally all the way to class. Even had a chance to introduce him to Hubby. I didn't even know I had the possibility of expecting that! :-) Amazing what can happen when I just let go of expectations...
Saturday, July 09, 2005
My "academic career" started off this morning with a lecture by Joan Chittister, OSB. Her talk was on Responding to Evil: Being Christian in America Today. She certainly doesn't mince words. Her reference to "economic pedophilia" (child slave labour being used to feed our insatiable consumerism) was especially shocking and, in my opinion, entirely appropriate. That is her goal: to shock us out of our complacency so that we may find the courage to stand up and speak out against injustice and modern "evil".
All for now... more later. To my family reunion-ing Down East this weekend - sending you LOVE.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Wisdom reigns in the rooms of recovery
No longer alone, we love and we laugh
The walls come down and the work gets done
And the Truth will set us free.
For your courage, I thank you Ruth
You are what it's all about
The walls came down and the work got done
And the Truth has set you free.
50,000 stories to be told
100,000 hands to hold
Higher Powered by one Authority
Words fail me - this is the real deal.
Wake up! The free ride is over
Get out there and give it away!
Trust God. Clean house. Help others.
Yes indeed - this Truth has set me free.
- created by jag
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
I am troubled but what I don't know. Was this scarf embroidered by tiny, child hands? Was this colourful cotton skirt sewn by a woman owned by her boss? And I get confused... I don't know what is safe anymore. What price am I willing to pay for fashion? So, I think twice... thrice... and put it back. Back on the rack.
A few keystrokes on Google and I learn that there is such a thing as buying clean clothes (and it has nothing to do with laundry). Oh, the pressure! It was so much easier when I didn't even know what I didn't know... and still, I don't know enough. On second thought, I think I'd rather not know.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Me: Two for War of the Worlds, please?
Her: I'm sorry, that movie doesn't open until Wednesday.
Me: But it was listed in the paper!
Her: It's the listing for the week ahead. Anything else you'd like to see?
As we looked at the marquee, we remained underwhelmed. Hubby's message was clear - a shrug of the shoulders followed by the words: You decide. And so I did. I knew very little about the Travelling Pants, only that a co-worker had found it "delightful".
As we entered the cinema, I quickly scanned the seats. Please let there be at least one other man in here? Hubby deserves to hold on to his dignity, after all... We were in luck - I saw at least two other men. OK, so maybe this won't be too much of a chick flick after all?!
Oh, it was a chick flick alright. I give this one a full "CF" rating... At one point, Hubby offered his sleeve as he heard me sniffling and snortling (Note: bring tissue...). At one point, I looked over to Hubby, whose eyes remained open throughout the movie, and thought to myself: This is what Love is.
Of course, I'll never hear the end of it. :-)
Friday, June 24, 2005
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Can one distinguish between water and wave?
Who is to say which is fire or flame?
Where does one end and the other begin?
It's just not that simple, says the unfocussed mind.
For water and wave are the same at the source,
Just as fire and flame share a spark.
Yet without wind, without movement, the two stay the same,
Forever as one, sees the unfocussed mind.
And so it is with me and my God
He and I share a source; She and I share a spark.
And Spirit breathes movement into my life
I am never the same, with my unfocussed mind.
Can one distinguish...
Who is to say...
Where does one end...
The unfocussed mind will never comprehend,
For these mysteries belong to the Heart.
- created by jag
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
As written by John Cassian, a 4th-century monk sharing the teaching he had received from the Desert Fathers: “The living Spirit of God dwells within us, giving new life to our mortal bodies. The all-important aim in Christian meditation is to allow God’s mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality, but the reality in our lives; to let it become that reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, to everything we are.”
Today, the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) carries on these teachings by promoting a practical experience of this living, vibrant spirituality. And this weekend, I will be joining Christian meditators from across the country at the National Conference of the Canadian Christian Meditation Community, right here in my own backyard. If you're curious, join us for a public talk on Friday evening with Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB - Director of the WCCM. He is an inspired speaker and will be giving a talk on "Return to the Centre: The Universal Quest for Silence and Stillness".
OK. Way too many links in this post! So be it...
Friday, June 10, 2005
p.s. Just stay off my lawn and don't block my driveway!! :-)
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
When I first heard that millions of dollars were being spent to build a new War Museum in Ottawa, I had an uneasy feeling. I remember thinking: Imagine what that kind of money could do for Peace? Why not build a Peace Museum instead? I know we must never forget, but must we continue to glorify war? But I never really said it out loud. I didn't think it was a very popular view, so in my usual way, I set it aside and put it out of my mind. I didn't realize there were others who felt so strongly, that they simply could not set it aside.
In the days leading to the museum's official opening, the media featured some of the more "controversial" exhibits - ie. the pieces that dared to boldly state that war takes a horrible toll on ordinary people. It makes them killers; it makes them sick. I'm thinking primarily of the portraits of Kyle Brown and Clayton Matchee... and that of a traumatized Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire... In a weird way, I was heartened to know that the dark side of war had its place in the museum, as it should.
But the members of the Committee for an Expanded Mandate for the Canadian War Museum want to take this further... They believe - and I agree - that Canada also needs to remember those who dedicate their lives to creating a culture of Peace. We need to clearly show that Peace takes courage too. We need to go beyond the War Museum's seemingly short-sighted mandate: Educate. Preserve. Remember. and add a 4th objective: Transform. Or perhaps even, Transcend. Why not? Canada has not only been shaped by war; in fact, its identity is more closely tied with Peace - a far more transformative power, in my opinion.
With this new perspective in mind, I now look forward to visiting the museum. I want to see for myself how we could make room for Peace. And once more, I learn that I need not silence my voice for the chorus is already underway...
Saturday, June 04, 2005
I first went there in October 2000 when my life was in crisis. I was on medical leave from work, Hubby and I were separated, and I just needed the world to stop spinning out of (my) control. A friend suggested Stillpoint and I've been going ever since... Now, when life is abundantly good, I go there primarily to reconnect with the One who really is in control of my life and to give thanks. And to sleep. :-)
Speaking of which... back to this world. G'nite!
Quote-of-the-Day: "Noise lets us ignore our most difficult struggle and our most precious possession: our true and profound selves. " - Rabbi Boruch Leff, in The Value of Silence
Friday, June 03, 2005
I've often wondered how Catherine Barry got through that winter... or even IF she got through it. Inexpressible grief that I simply can't relate to - losing her husband, James Tierney, and her infant son within 5 days of each other. What could possibly have brought on such loss in the life of one young woman?
And what of the nameless mother who lost both her sons on June 30th? At only 23 and 20 years of age, James & John Hagarty no doubt provided her with strength and support following the death of her husband only seven years earlier. Again, why such loss? What the heck was going on in Springtown, Ontario in 1873?!
There's no teasing a storyteller quite like an old cemetary. It'll give you the basics and leave it up to you to fill in the blanks. Names, dates and family ties - those are the only strands available to me as I attempt to weave the story: a story of life, out of the facts of death.
I find old cemetaries to be especially spiritual. Why are some tombstones still standing strong, while others crumble like the bones beneath them? Does anyone still care? What will be left once the stone has turned to dust? I can only hope that what will remain are memories and legacies, passed on from one generation to the next. And as I stroll amongst the names, dates and family ties, I ask myself: what story am I creating with my life? What will my legacy be?
Stars in boundless sky
Speak to my union with All.
Burning. Longing. Love.
- created by jag, inspired by experience of God
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Today didn't turn out anything like I'd planned. I guess that's the point of these retreats: to let go of my plans and make myself available to whatever God has in store for me...
I went for a long walk down a nearby country road. Almost an hour and a half of walking and I didn't encounter a single car. And I'd like to set the record straight: there is no such thing as silence in nature. There is so much life happening at any given moment! Being able to quiet my own mind - even for short periods - allowed me to become fully attentive, fully present to my surroundings. Birds... butterflies... flowers... foliage... My favourite flowers were the Wild Columbine. God's palette for wildflowers in this region leans towards a white-purple-yellow combination. With their blood-red flowers, the Columbine would continuously shock me back to the now, should I ever be tempted to stray into thoughts of yesterday or plans for tomorrow.
And speaking of tomorrow!... I'm hoping to have a "no-reading day". Time & space to allow for original thought, creativity, prayer and meditation. God willing, of course!
Quote-of-the-day: "God wills life to be a journey through four seasons, every climate, all the topographies of the soul so that when we have finished it, we can say that we have truly lived it. Well. Whole. With integrity." - Joan D. Chittister
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I'm writing from the silence of Stillpoint. Beautiful day. Sunny day. Sleepy day. My mind is having trouble keeping up with the silence of the surroundings. I have the best of the good rooms: two large windows with one overlooking the Madawaska River.
I walked to my Prayer Tree this morning. They've added a hammock swing this year. Two of my stones seem to be missing. With one for each visit to Stillpoint, there should be nine in all; I only found seven. I'll replace them before I leave, and I'll add one more to mark this stay.
I saw the most puzzling thing: four butterflies resting together in the crook of my Prayer Tree and feasting on what appeared to be a small pile of animal feces! I've heard of "dung beetles" , but the existence of "dung butterflies" is news to me... And right where I usually climb and sit and have a chat with God, no less. Luckily for me, they've added a hammock swing.
Nature surrounds. Nature abounds. God's wonders never cease...
Quote-of-the-day: "My heart is tuned to the quietness that the stillness of nature inspires." - Hazrat Inayat Khan
Monday, May 30, 2005
Every once in a while, I see a complete stranger - male or female - and am tempted to tell them how beautiful they are. But I'm simply not that free... yet. Maybe someday, when I don't care so much about what other people think.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
(Spoiler alert: If you plan to see the movie and don't want to know anything about it in advance, skip this post!)
We went to see Star Wars III today. It was better than I expected. I've never been an avid Star Wars fan or follower, but Hubby wanted to see the movie and I thought it would be a fun escape on a damp, grey day. Sure, some of the lame dialogue was still there, but - much to my surprise - so too were revelations of deeply spiritual truths. As my own spiritual path takes me to new places and schools of thought & reflection, I have to say that I am appreciating Yoda's wisdom more and more. I love the way he gathers his strength by closing his eyes and breathing, summoning the courage and the power that is available to him as he becomes still, silent and centred. A practice that we could all learn from... IMO, Yoda also provides the fundamental truth that is the key to the transformation of Skywalker to Darth Vader: Fear of loss is the pathway to the Dark Side. (Or I should say: Fear of loss, to the Dark Side, a pathway is...) It is the need to possess that leads to destruction and misery. In this case, it was Skywalker's fear of losing his beloved - his need to possess that person forever - that opened the door to the forces of the Dark Side. Codependency run amuck.
The movie also offered a reflection of the struggle we all go through at one time or another... the struggle to do what we believe to be right. Anikin Skywalker's transformation was not an easy one; it was emotional, wrenching and ultimately, devastating. I think many of us can see a tiny bit of ourselves in that. When we are being pulled in different directions, how do we discern Truth? And how do we learn to trust our intuition when we are being guided by Fear?
Visually, this movie was spectacular. Everything from the grandeur of the scenes to the subtle nuances of the facial expressions are noteworthy. In one particularly haunting instant, we see Skywalker's eyes transformed following a particular vicious killing spree. I couldn't help but think that - although this was dramatized - it's probably true. How can someone be the same after killing others? In today's all-too-real wars, how many soldiers will come back transformed - never to see the world in the same way?
And so the epic ends where it all began... Except that, now, we know.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
On 99% of mornings, I wake up and think nothing of getting ready to take on a day at the office. I enjoy my job and I genuinely like and care for the people I work with. So on those mornings, like today, when I wake up and the debate is already raging on in my head - I'm not feeling like my usual self... Should I go? Should I stay home and rest? What will people think? Do I care? - I know I need to get out of my head and listen to my intuition. Something is not right and I'd best take heed.
So, here I am, struggling to let it be alright that I feel crappy. I don't know why I feel crappy - that's just the kinda day it's been...
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
A reflection on Trust (or lack thereof) is very timely, given the current atmosphere on Parliament Hill. What does it take to restore Trust in an entire institution? Can it be done? I believe Trust exists between individuals, so where does the re-building begin? I'm also wondering why many people are so eager to distrust Belinda Stronach's motives in her surprising decision to "cross the floor" and join the Liberals. What is it that brings one to harshly judge and mistrust someone they don't even personally know?
If you ask me, we don't trust enough. I'm not talking about blind trust here, coloured by naiveté and an inability to acknowledge dangerous situations. I'm simply talking about an ability to trust that people are making the best decisions they can with what they have at any given moment. Who am I to judge them? And in a spiritual sense, I guess I'm talking about a foundational trust that all will be well when I live with awareness and presence, with compassion and Love. Some would call that Faith.
Obviously, there's so much more to Trust... So much meaning for such a small word.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Tim usually sits on the corner of Albert & Metcalfe Sts. He knows that corner. He knows when and where the sun ray will fall as it bounces off the office towers. He knows how the cold wind traces its way through the maze of tall buildings. I was chatting with him as I was waiting for my bus after work. I noticed an apple on the ground behind him. Is that your apple? He looked back, took the apple and offered it to me. No, you keep it Tim! He responded with a toothless grin and said: I can't eat it. I have no front teeth. Too bad for him - it was a tasty apple.
Lesson learned: Gifts can come from the most unexpected places. Accept them with grace and humour.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
May 11 - Three Chilly Saints. May 11, 12, and 13 are the feast days of Saints Mamertus, Pancras, and Gervais (or Gervatius). These three are known as the Three Chilly Saints not because they were cold during their lifetimes, but because these days are traditionally the coldest of the month. English and French folklore (and later American) held that these days would bring a late frost. In Germany, they were called the Icemanner, or Icemen Days, and people believed it was never safe to plant until the Icemen were gone. Another bit of folklore claimed, "Who shears his sheep before St. Gervatius's Day loves more his wool than his sheep."
Considering that we'll be going from +25C earlier today to -1C overnight, that Old Farmer seems to know what he's talking about. I wonder if he also knows that Saint Pancras was martyred by beheading in the early 4th century and is now the patron saint for, among other things, headaches.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Technically, every time I wake up and greet a new day, I am doing something for the first time. The next 24 hours are a blank canvas just waiting for me to create my masterpiece. Problem is, too often, I find myself painting pretty much the same squiggles as the day before... or the week before... It's been a while since I've done something completely new. Until yesterday, that is.
I was in my yoga class doing a half-headstand to the best of my ability. I have never dared to go further. My teacher came up to me and asked: "Do you want to go up? I'll hold you!" I was just about to offer my instinctual response of No thanks! This is enough for me... when that question from earlier in the week popped into my upside-down head. If I do this, then I'll be able to answer the question! So I went for it... I didn't stay upside down too long, and I did have help, but I did it nonetheless. I didn't let fear have the final answer. After I came down, my teacher asked me how it felt. I didn't hesitate: That felt... new!
Here's to creating a new space... no matter how small.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
And for many of us, meditation is very much about religion. Religare: to bind fast. It's about reconnecting to that mysterious life force within... that force some call God... that force that calls us simply to be. As a practitioner of Christian Mediation, meditation is a form of prayer for me. Richard Rohr, founder and director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes:
"Prayer is whatever calls us to detach from our own self, from our own compulsions and addictions, from our own ego, from our own place. We are all too trapped in our own places by virtue of the egocentricity of the human person. In prayer the Spirit entices us outside of our narrow comfort zone. No wonder we avoid prayer: We have to change places."
See more about what my friend has to say about meditation at waldencabin (recently chosen as one of the 10 best blogs in Ottawa by Alex Munter of the Ottawa Citizen!).
One thing is certain: Meditation - it's not what you think.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
My hope is that I will be able to fully occupy this space. I want jag e*space to be a place of honest questions and authentic answers. There will no doubt be words like God... confusion... meditation... spirituality... Jesus... dialogue... discovery... If these kind of words offend you, then you may want to find some other space. If you think I intend to preach to you, then you may want to find some other space.
Welcome to jag e*space.