Monday, May 30, 2005

Beautiful stranger...

Tell me it's happened to you... a complete stranger catches your eye in a public place and you can't seem to turn away. Something about them is so utterly beautiful that you just want to rest your eyes there and take it in. It's not about being attracted to them, it's about appreciating their uniqueness. It's not about a male/female thing... it's about recognizing beauty wherever it may reside. It happened to me on the bus this evening. A young man, perhaps in his twenties, was sitting next to me. His skin was the colour of dark caramel and his hair was dark with loose curls. He wore a turquoise scarf wrapped around his neck. But what seized my attention were his eyes. I have never seen eye lashes like those. They seemed to reach out clear across to the other side of the bus. Upper and lower lashes alike were dark & thick. He was talking on his cell phone and spoke a rich, melodic French that I didn't recognize at first. Was he Moroccan? Algerian perhaps? I don't know for sure, all I know is that I wish I had picked a seat across from him so that I could admire those eyes without straining my neck.

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

Running Man...

More than 99 percent of the population will never run a marathon in their lifetime. I am a bona fide member of that 99 percent. Hubby, however, has secured his membership in the elite "less than 1 percent". Today, he completed his fourth marathon after running the National Capital Marathon. Although the race didn't go quite as he'd hoped, he still succeeded in posting a personal best (or a "p.b.", as they say in runners' lingo). To me, the fact that he finished the race at all is worth celebrating, as is the discipline & dedication he has shown throughout his training. Needless to say, I'm very proud.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Turning to the Dark Side

So, now I know. I know how Anikin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader... and it ain't pretty.

(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

You're not crazy...

...this blog does indeed look different than it did yesterday. I just felt I wanted something a little lighter & brighter.

One of those days...

Today's been one of those days... You know the kind: the energy is just not there. My body feels unsettled and it seems like I'm always a few steps behind a full breath. I feel like crying, but there's nothing I need to cry about. I stayed home from work and I slept... and slept... and slept a bit more. There was a time when I wouldn't have allowed myself to stay home, but thankfully those days are mostly gone. Today, I strive to listen to what my body & spirit have to say.

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

Small word, big meaning...

Trust: small word, big meaning. These words of wisdom were offered to me by John (of no fixed address). Both John & Tim (see previous post) are two of the many teachers God has seen fit to place in my life. But back to the trust thing... This statement lingered with me last evening as I took part in a small group discussion on "Trust in the Workplace". I belong to a group of people who get together every 6 - 8 weeks or so to explore issues related to spiritual awareness in the workplace, or as some people put it - Humanity in the Workplace. The discussion on Trust took us to many unexpected places... from its relevance to the work environment, to its impact on our personal lives. It seems that Trust does indeed have very big meaning.

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

Gift of the homeless

A homeless man gave me some food yesterday. There's a role reversal that doesn't happen every day...

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

Three Chilly Saints

Got this tidbit from my sister this evening. She found it on the Old Farmer's Almanac. Interesting, since she is neither old, nor a farmer. Yet there she was.

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

New space...

"When was the last time you did something for the first time?" That's the question that was put to us by Linda Edgecombe at a seminar I attended this past week. Sadly, I couldn't answer.

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

Meditative space...

I have a friend who recently wrote in his blog "Good meditation has nothing to do with religion." We are both meditators and share an appreciation for the benefits of maintaining an ongoing practice. In this instance, however, I disagree with him. By referring to good meditation (as opposed to... what, bad?), I think he's missing the point. Meditation is all about non-judgement... all about letting go of concepts such as good or bad. Meditation just is.

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

Occupying my space...

I attended a workshop with Peter Block last February. Over the course of our time together as a group, he invited each of us to “occupy our space”. This idea struck me as meaningful – something more that just an invitation to pay attention. What does it mean to occupy my space? How is it different that simply taking up space? I'm reminded of this every time I attend a workshop or a seminar and the majority of people slink right to the back of the room. You know, the church pew effect? Why are we so afraid of occupying the space we're given?

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.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

In the beginning...

Here it is, my own little corner of cyberspace. Who knows what it will become... what I will become? All I know is that I want to start writing again. And the best way to do that, is simply to start writing again.