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One Alice chose to leap from the solid ground and follow the white rabbit, that’s when things got interesting. All the hesitating at the edge of the cliff? Everyone does that. It’s the leap that makes waves, makes changes, makes things happen. Creates the resounding ripple through the universe.

The past two weeks, I’ve felt the urge to mutter, “curiouser and curiouser,” hourly. Things have been really intense, and I retreated inward. I had a lot to process – about the decisions I’ve made –  emotionally, that I’d already processed mentally. Mental processing? Psssht! A snap. Emotional processing? Another matter, altogether.

It’s like I am finally able to sit back and see all the threads woven together now. Things that were coming to an end are buttoning themselves up, and resolution is everywhere. And all of that is GOOD. All of that is also accordingly intense.

I’ve been snappish like an old dog on a hot August day – testy, nasty, and plain-old no fun to be around. I’ve craved silence and solitude. I’ve longed for a hermitage somewhere, where I could go and let the wind blow through my hair, and the sun beam on my head, and let all of this stuff just assimilate itself into who I am today, now, in this moment.

The past two weeks, God (in infinite wisdom, I am sure) has taken the opportunity to make the things that are coming to an end SO uncomfortable that I am battered. And that’s okay. I know that the reason I need the battering is because I am so damn stubborn. I am learning, in no uncertain terms and in a way that I will actually remember later when I’m doubtful, why leaving this job is a good idea. Why it is an absolutely fabulously wonderful plan to go out on my own. Why it is so important, so necessary, to stop all my procrastination and dithering and just embrace the me I was always destined to be. Why it’s so damn important to just get on with it already.

The past two weeks have been bruising and horrid so that there was no way I could ever look back at this and fashion for myself some story of martyrdom – so that I’d always remember the honest gut-wrenchingness of it, and know that I made the right decision. So, I’m grateful. I’m applying salve to my wounds, but I’m grateful for the wounds.

The past two weeks have been liberally peppered with all sorts of affirmation, too – for every instance of negative reinforcement, for every single “Ouch! Quit it!” in the old situation, I’ve been given a balm that grows out of the new situation. People have come forward to tell me how wonderful it is that I am doing this (not what I was going for, but thanks all the same – it’s helped). People have affirmed my abilities. The universe has supported my plans with reinforcement from all angles. And I’m grateful.

I was not in this appreciative and magnanimous mood last night. Last night, I was a terror. I was annoyed, and short, and nasty to be around. I was mean to Jeremy, who did not deserve it, and mean to the cat, who never deserves it. I was not fit for polite company, and I was getting sick of myself and the mood in which I’d enveloped myself. So, I did something smart. I walked out the door, determined to return in a better frame of mind.

I walked out across the streets. It was dark, and cool and breezy. It helped to blow off the head of steam I’d built all day. It was quiet. I wandered down the alley behind the shop. I crossed “Love Bridge” behind the place where the farmers’ market is held, and I went to the river. I went to the water. I sat there, in the calm dark and I just listened to the river rushing past.

I brought my journal, thinking I’d purge some of this bleck out of me. The universe is wily and doesn’t pull any punches – as soon as I started recounting my day and bemoaning my state (whine, whine, cry, cry, poor me), my freaking pen died. I am like the best Girl Scout ever created – always prepared, except today. No extra pen. I had to laugh. I did laugh, out loud. Just me and the river and the biggest spiders I’d ever seen in my life.

So I walked around, and let the peace of it seep into my soul. I checked out the abundant and abnormally-sized arachnid population. I watched them at work. I watched them skittering back and forth, weaving patiently through the night, hoping that somehow (having faith) they’d benefit once all these strings had been drawn together. (If you knew me, you’d know that watching spiders usually gives me the heebie-jeebies. But these were outside spiders. That’s their house, and in their house, I’m fascinated by them. In my house, I’m terrified. Illogical, I know.)

I came home with a measure of peace. I hadn’t found a cure-all, but I’d soaked up some measure of solace. I could be nice. Mission accomplished. I could even laugh at myself.

And tonight, I started thinking about where I got all of the ideas for how life should go, and why – for me – certain things scream of “settling,” and why there’s something within me that just won’t abide it. Why I couldn’t just accept my lot, and be content with what I’d had. Why I’d so often felt like a square peg shaving away at its corners to try to squash itself into a round hole. And I remembered. Thoreau.

Thoreau’s writing has always really hit me where I lived. I couldn’t dismiss it the way I could other messages. It was always like he’d written it all, just for me. So I pulled it out, and I reread it – you know the one – THE passage that got to you. Everybody’s got one – if not Thoreau, someone else.

Here’s mine (bear with it, and remember, that the chaff cradles the good stuff):

To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?

We must learn to reawaken and to keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. (Thoreau, “What I Lived For,” Walden)

Thanks, Henry David Thoreau, for daring to be thought a nutter by everyone you knew. Thanks for writing it all down – all the discovery and the struggle and the enlightenment you found. Thanks for fanning that spark within me – that carpe-diem, seize-the-day, life-is-short, burn-brightly spark within me.

I’d rather be speeding down the rabbit hole into the unknown than standing on the edge, looking down and wondering ‘what if.’ I’d rather be hurtling into life, fully present and engulfed by the living of it than seeping away slowly. I’d rather be doing this than what ‘I ought to be doing.’

And every single time I doubt that, I am going to open that book and read that passage. Seize the day people – take chances, dance in public, go after what you want, wring out the pleasure from each moment. Be a brilliant flame. Light the way for others. Don’t look back. Grab your resolve, wry grin in place, and rush, headlong, deep into the moment.

 

 

Maybe I’m not as lapsed a Catholic as I thought, or maybe there is just something ingrained in me from all the religious education classes I went to for all those years. Maybe it’s just something inherent about this time of year…this is Holy Week – the week preceding Easter, and all those miraculous happenin’s.

Probably not uncoincidentally, this morning I woke up pondering miracles. Reading through the blogs I follow, two of them were talking miracles in one way or another. It spurred further thought…

The dictionary defines Miracle as: an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause; such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God; a wonder; marvel.

What interested me, though, was the history of the word – the etymology, where it came from. Miracle originally described something that was an “object of wonder.” That’s important – nowadays, most people figure a miracle happens when tidal waves crush a home, but miraculously the toddler and the dog are found safely suspended in a tree out of harm’s way. There is no denying that is miraculous – but focusing on the big and showy has blinded a lot of us to the other miracles.

I’m talking about the “objects of wonder” – what I think of as the quiet miracles. The subtle ones. The ones you see and notice when you’re paying attention, when you’re focused, when you’re feeling that inner quiet just long enough to see through the eyes of wonder.

When I see something happening amidst a crowd – when I’m the only one who sees it. When I set my busy down long enough to let God get my attention. When I set my worry aside long enough to hear a new thought, to look in a new direction.

I know that I do not take enough time to simply revel, to marvel, at the world around me. When I think about all of it – really think about it, and let it touch me – I am speechless in amazement. At how everything fits together, at how each piece is perfectly within the whole, at the swirling veins on a leaf, at the intelligent look in my cat’s eyes, at the sheer weight of creation.

This week, I am going to seek that inner quiet and spend time contemplating those quiet miracles. I am going to spend time being in love with the world, and let myself get carried away with amazement. I am going to look out through child’s eyes, and see it all new and fresh.

It may be Holy Week for the Catholic Church, but it could be holy week every week for all of us if we let it. If we allow quiet. If we allow ourselves to reimagine our selves and our world anew. To see one another with quiet wonder, to honor the small miracles that we are to one another.

 

 

They left me

with your shadow,

saying things like

Life is not fair

 

& I believed them

for a long time.

 

But today,

I remembered

the way you laughed

& the heat

of your hand

in mine

 

& I knew that

life is more fair

than we can

ever imagine

if

we are there to live it

— Brian Andreas,  www.storypeople.com

 

I have lived here all of my life and have endured, to date, thirty-one Wisconsin Winters. I used to enjoy them more (I also used to own and wear snow-pants). The older I get, the harder it becomes to look at brown, brown, brown for nearly six months in a row, to feel the shrill bite of wind on my cheekbones day after day, to see the sky shrouded in mourning gray for weeks on end.

It used to be that, around March or so, I’d finally get weary of the limited palette around me, and start to long for the verdant greens of Spring – but this year, I was already longing for them a month ago, daydreaming out the window and remembering the way that the first gentler breezes of Spring carry the smell of new life with them.

I’m not melancholy, precisely – it’s more that I’m inspired to be introspective during these winters. You can’t really help it – going outside is not appealing most days, so that means you stay inside – with everyone else who is also not going outside, together like this, for months. *Sigh*

I get a little maudlin. I start missing the people I’ve loved who’ve gone. Which leads me to think about all of the good times we had together (which is a good thing), but which makes me miss them so much that my skin hurts with the ache of it, and I cry in the shower so that no one sees.

And I don’t bemoan the unfairness of life, the unfairness of them leaving me behind (or at least I try not to). As Dani says, “I didn’t ask ‘Why me?’ when any of the good things happened, so why should I ask ‘Why me?’ when the bad things happen?” And she’s right. All of the ‘Why me-ing’ in the world has never brought anyone back to us, never undone a flat tire, never unspilled the milk.

So, instead, I try to be present in the missing of these people I love, and let my sorrow – my ache over the holes they’ve left in my life – be a testament to being human. To knowing, in the most inescapable way, brevity. I tell stories about them to remind the others I love that our sorrow is shared and that it is sacred to share the joy in the remembering, too. I let the Winter inspire in me a desire to spin tales out from the past, and bring them into the present, invoking the power of the love I have for my dearly departed in each breath.

And then I step back and realize that this is what it means to know that life is more fair than we can ever imagine – we get this shot at it. We get to make each and every day of our time here into whatever shape and color and tone and vibrancy that we want to. We get the opportunity, in each moment, to fill that space with a creation that comes solely from us, original and infinite.

The trick of all of it is to be present in it – to miss and mourn my loved ones, bringing them forth in time, and learning them anew. Feeling the pain and the joy of it as a part of what it means to be human, to be ephemeral, to be inescapably brief – but not to let it keep me from moving on and moving into the coming moments with vibrancy and awareness and intensity.

It means that, even in the cavernous yowling morass of the bitter Winter, when every time I turn around I see and hear another mopey-moperson bemoaning their fate from birth to today, I choose to turn it around. To feel the feeling in the moment, and let it be part of my present, and then let it go so that I can move on. To dial-down the volume on the moaners and the ‘Why me’-ers around me and recast my pain and my challenges in a new light.

To see not the oppressive steel-gray skies and scudding snow-laden clouds, but instead, see the way the Winter light falls soft on everything, turning the very air into shimmer and translucence. To see not the dour countenances on the pedestrians trudging past the window, but the child on the sidewalk in the bright red jacket whose mittens hang from strings threaded through her sleeves, face tilted up, mouth open, tongue out, waiting and giggling as crisp lacy snowflakes christen her face.

The idea of home has always captured my heart and imagination. I have always been fascinated by those people who are adept at creating inviting spaces where you immediately feel welcome and at peace. And being on the Path of Reiki Mastery, I was naturally led to think about the energetics of those people and the home-spaces they create.

My grandparents’ house was like that for me – I am certain that the love I felt for them colored my perception of all of it, but that has been one of the few places where I immediately felt a calm and sense of peace just walking through the door. Their home was in many ways, very World War II generation-ish, and maybe that held part of the mystique for me. More so, they had a loving home, and welcoming hearts, and when you walked in their door, you were greeted warmly and fed and coddled – no matter who you were.

I have not had that kind of home space since I first left my parents’ house. Time after time, I had this impulse to just wait it out and keep things in boxes. I never allowed my energy and self to fill a place in a genuine way. And for the past two years especially, it was more like prolonged “camping” – and in many ways I felt like a squatter in the apartment we shared with our roommate.

As Wittler and I prepared for our new glorious abode, minus the roommate, I started to give a lot of thought to what it would mean for both of us to create space where our presence was felt, and where each room was filled with welcome and warmth. And then I came across this from Denise Linn:

Our homes are mirrors of ourselves. They reflect our interests, our beliefs, our hesitations, our spirit and our passion. They tell a story about how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. A home is more than a place to lay your head and seek comfort from the elements. It is a place where you can interface with the universe. It is a crossing point in time or space that can attract or repel energy.

Your home can be a place of renewal and hope. It can be a sanctuary within which you can retreat and recharge during the changing times, and oasis of peace amidst turmoil. Homes can be places of healing and regeneration. Not only can your home help to strengthen and heal you, but your home can be a template of harmony within which you and all who enter can be invited to step up to a higher level of spiritual frequency.

…Like an echo heard throughout infinity, your home can be a transmitter of luminous energy. The energy radiating from your home can be like a small stone dropped into a still pool of the universe, whose ripples will be felt at the farthest shore of the cosmos.

(from Sacred Space, by Denise Linn)

And then, I realized that we were already creating that homespace together – Wittler and I – through our commitment to one another, our genuine enjoyment of one another, our similar commitment to acting lovingly in a sometimes harsh world … All of that combines with our optimism and positive outlook on things, our sense of shared burden and willingness to reach out to others. Our homespace is creating itself beautifully out of who we are, and who we are becoming.

Dani recently “reclaimed” her space at the shop, making it into a place that she found soothing and relaxing – a place that she found sacred. As she did this, I found myself really relating to what compelled her to do it, and to need it. And all of the people who walk into the store, or come for a group and gather in that space comment on it, and bask in it. When they do that, they are basking in her.

Instead of allowing worry about how our home appears to others, I am going to focus on wanting our home to appeal to us – and allow it to grow its own energy and beauty and peace out of that. And rest secure in the knowledge that this is how those homespaces I’ve so enjoyed were created, and know that we are creating ours with every moment and breath, with every shared laugh, with every conversation at the kitchen table, with every meal prepared and consumed in love.

And even more, we will bask in it. We will be at peace in it. And those who will enjoy that space will find us, and come to bask, too.

 

Faith is reason grown courageous. 

Sherwood Eddy

I have always struggled with my faith. I struggle with the very idea of faith – much less putting faith into my life as a practice. I was raised to believe that God helps those who help themselves – and I come from a family of hard-working, do-it-yourselfers, to whom asking for help is anathema.

I remember in college, reading about Dorothy Day – a socialist reformer turned devout Catholic. I really connected with her story, because at one point in her narrative she says, “I could not go to God on my knees.” She could not conceive of surrender – the idea that she must do for herself, that she was the only one on whom she could reliably depend, was too ingrained. She struggled, and eventually she came to a point where she was able to have faith.

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
St. Thomas Aquinas

I remember that one sentence, out of all of the things that we had to read for that class. I could not go to God on my knees: I could not arrive in supplication; I could not allow myself to rely on that which was outside of myself; I could not have faith.

In recent years, this struggle has come to the forefront for me. I do believe in God – one who is loving, forgiving, patient, etc., etc. I do believe in mystical experiences, I do believe in miracles. I do believe that God has the power to and the ability to intercede in people’s lives. I guess the problem might be that I have a hard time conceiving of that God ever noticing me enough to intercede in mine?

Whatever my hang-ups, of late, I have been presented time and again with situations that demand my faith, first – and then what I long for materializes. Maybe that doesn’t sound difficult, but it is for me. And, I find it ties into what I am facing on my path to mastery: if you have faith, you do not worry; if you have faith, you can honor others; if you have faith, you have no need for anger. Aack.

In honesty, I long to have the kind of faith that would leave me with the certainty and security of knowing that, like the lilies of the field, I will be provided for. I long to have the sensation and knowing that I am held in the palm of God’s hand – safe, loved, and protected…treasured.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about this. I am trying to discover how to bend, to trust, to allow – instead of being so stubborn, so myopic, so determined to do it my way. Especially since when I do let go of the need to control, things FLOW – things go perfectly, and I am cared for – things materialize, and I have to struggle so much less than when I try to do it all on my own.

Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence; faith is daring something regardless of the consequences.
Sherwood Eddy

It seems like such a small cost, doesn’t it? Just have a little faith, and invest that faith. For me, that is like asking me to hand over limbs. It’s so safe here, behind my intellect and reason – so safe trusting in only me; no one can disappoint you if you never give them the opportunity to do anything for you. It’s also a very lonely and isolating way to live. One of my refrains is that “I am tired of feeling like Atlas – I am tired of holding up the world.” It’s exhausting to never trust anyone enough to allow them to do things for you – it’s bone-wearying to try to be the God force of your own life.

Along with the soul searching, I have been trying to put my faith into action in my life. I actually used to be rather good at this, but I also used to be very optimistic, and kind of naive. Then, I went through a divorce, and all of that changed for me. I became much more skeptical and cynical – much more negative, and so unwilling to allow people into my sphere, my trust, enough to disappoint me. At that time in my life, I just couldn’t take anymore disappointment. I would have rather been driven to my knees by the sheer weight of the world, rather than bend them willingly in faith.

If I purport to be actively walking on a path to mastery, then I cannot allow myself to continue this faithlessness with consciousness, and I recognize the need for a shift. The question is how? How to willingly bend, how to let go control? How to master the fear that relinquishing control creates? How to have faith that I can allow it all to fall out of my hands, and into God’s?

I have been presented with some very strong lessons in this in the past year (a kind of wonderful-terrifying, fabulous-frightening year). Situations kept coming to the forefront. On the one side, I stood there, with a white-knuckled grip on things, and deeply unhappy. In order to obtain the things I deeply wanted, I came to see that the only way to get from here to there was to have faith, and to take a leap – a nigh impossible task. The fact that I did it at all is due to the fact that I cannot stand the idea of being a hypocrite (I’m always telling people to take risks and really live their lives – how can I do less?) and that the potential happy outcomes were beyond enticing.

Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive. 

David S. Muzzey

The most confounding part of all of it is that I have had burning bush moments – times in my life when I knew without a doubt that I walked with the Divine, that God was a presence and active force in my life. I have seen the joys born out of having faith in that Divine wisdom and will and power, and experienced them firsthand. So, why is it so hard to bend to that faith time and again?

All of my questioning, all of my soul-scouring searching, all of this struggle . . . and at the end of the day, I must face the fact that I already know what I must do – get out of my own way, get out of God’s way, and allow. To stand in the knowledge that faith has moved mountains in my life – and that if I can relinquish control long enough, my entire reality could shift.

Namaste,

One Seeking Faith

 

Ahh, Mother,

I walked awash in your light,

gently enshrouded

tenderly kissed

all of the nights of my life.

 

A silent witness

to every howl, sob and sigh

to each time I’ve stood –

as solitary as yourself –

and stretched my arms wide

spun circles in dewy glades

closed my eyes

and rejoiced,

knew what it meant to feel blessed.

 

And hail their queen, fair regent of the night.

Erasmus Darwin

 

I should have spent today in bed.

Today was a day to spend ensconced in creamy white sheets – the cotton ones my mother bought for me, the ones that feel deliciously smooth on my bare legs.

Today was a day to spend propped up on pillows clad in my favorite pillowcases – the ones my great-grandmother embroidered with the blue thread that remind me of crisp, clear fall skies.

 

To lie there,

lissome, languid,

And contemplate.

To stare at the ceiling without even seeing it.

 

To think.

To push aside plans, and release clocks and schedules.

To open my heart to dreaming,

To drop slowly, stone after stone, ideas, forms, thoughts,

subtle meanderings

Into the stillness inside me.

 

To get nothing done.

To be away.

To let everything take care of itself for one day,

To let the phone go unanswered,

The mailbox go unchecked,

The to-do lists go undone;

to just be.

 

To respect the cozy haze

To allow myself to ensorcelled by my own energy

To be mellow.

 

Today, even books (my weakness) would have felt intrusive.

I wanted to sit,

Allowing silence to press in

To circle round,

To embrace me –

To transport me.

 

To be contemplative.

To feel prayerful –

With each breath,

Each movement of my fingers along the embroidery –

To read the Braille of those stitches and divine meaning.

 

To revel in a state of happy-aloneness,

Knowing the comfort of never being alone.

To commune with myself,

With God.

 

To honor my own body and mind

To allow respite,

To enjoy rest, and the act of resting.

 

To enjoy my quiet heart,

To not speak, and not need to speak.

To listen, instead.

 

To be prayerful –

To praise on each breath

And honor with each movement.

 

To be prayerful –

To think about the things for which I have no words –

The things that need to be felt to be experienced.

 

To be prayerful –

To have a peaceful heart

A quiet mind

A resting body

A listening spirit.

Come have a look through my kaleidoscope eyes. Come walk with me, as I make my way down the Path of Mastery (complete with fits and starts and pitstops and potholes). Our very impermanence is what makes us burn so brightly, and struggle so valiantly, and feel so deeply – it’s what makes us seize the day, and the moment. Come in, settle in, share a moment with me.

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"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then." (Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)