Friday’s Focus—Sidetracked

The roots of the trees veined the road with some pieces poking through like bones; the roots so close to the surface it was just a matter of time before they were revealed by wind, rain, and tires and bleached white by the sun. Between exposed tree roots and ruts cut by heavy rains, driving over 20 mph made the car bounce like a carnival ride. I creeped along gripping the wheel, eyes constantly scanning the road ahead as I craned my neck out the window now and then to try and see around the bend a promise of a smoother road, but all I got was a sore neck and tired eyes.

Crawling along this stretch of road, it felt like the trees and birds were my only company. I continued to scan for holes and hills and eventually relaxed my body into the  roll and sway of the car as it dipped and climbed. Low stone walls appeared here and there broken only by a car-width dirt path leading up into the tree line. The fire numbers were the only other indication that people lived out here.

Isn’t it funny how it seems when we rush the most we find ourselves delayed even more—you’re late for an appointment and you get behind a slow driver; you spill something and you have to change your clothes; you run into construction on the road; your son forgot to fill the gas tank last night when he borrowed the car so now you need to make an extra stop this morning; it’s your turn to bring snacks for your daughter’s homeroom party but she didn’t tell you until the morning of, so it’s an impromptu trip to the market.

Or, you decided to take a side road home because you thought it would be a short cut and instead you find yourself crawling along a worn out road layered in alternating sections of gravel and dirt, and which is taking you much longer than if you just stayed on the road you knew.

I believe in being at the right place at the right time, and if I hadn’t taken that side road and forced to go so slow, would I have noticed the stream making its path down the mountain into a small gully carpeted with moss? Would I have heard the crows’ jeers and the scream of a hawk overhead as it was being harassed by the crows and chased from their territory? Would I have noticed the burst of Queen Anne’s Lace amidst a blanket of ferns? Probably not. And I wouldn’t have noticed the take your breath away beauty of the God sky as I finally came out into a clearing.

What I most likely would have noticed was a road, trees, water, birds, flowers, rocks, and clouds. Just things in my line of vision. If I wasn’t forced to slow down, I probably would have missed the beauty, breathlessness, and the God of what is behind all those labels.

Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to be late or delayed. More than once I’ve wondered if there was something unknown and unseen that causes these delays for who knows why.

So maybe this time it was to show me—remind me—that there is more to watch and look at then a clock and the next appointment and errand.

p.s. I finally made it home only 10 minutes late, but with views I’ll never forget!

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#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—Morning Lotus

Throughout history, the question has dogged beggars and philosophers alike—why are we here? What are we here to learn? What is the greatest thing that we can learn while we are on this Earth? In this body?

The answers depend upon what corner of the church we face and what God we ask them of. I am no philosopher nor do I propose to know the answer to one of Life’s greatest questions, and I don’t propose to know more than I’ve learned. Even then, I really know nothing. Not truly.

But then there came this.

One morning, sitting in stillness, the questions, the thoughts, the “what if”’s fell away and for the first time were replaced by a knowing and a feeling of undeniable truth. Surreal and yet sacred in its delivery, the questions and answers came without hesitation. The moment had been waiting and I was ready to finally listen.

What is the most important thing we can learn in our lifetime?

Compassion.

Without compassion, the love we feel for another will still have attachments and conditions.

Without compassion, the forgiveness our lips speak does not match the anger, hurt, and resentment still in our heart.

Without compassion, the understanding we have for the other person will still depend on their skin color and faith.

Without compassion, the peace that we fight for is nothing but murder and an excuse.

So how do we find compassion? Through suffering. Without personal suffering, there is no compassion. Suffering is more than having “bad” things happen to you. Suffering is going through a situation that is negative or unpleasant but it’s also the opportunity to take the situation from cries of “Why me?” to something that will forever deepen our understanding of others and our own reactions.

No one can know how they’ll feel or react in a situation unless they’ve been in it. Anything outside of that is just an opinion. To have compassion for anyone else means walking through your own fires first.

The importance of compassion is one of the key teachings in Buddhism. It is also one of the key teachings in learning to be fully human. No one is above suffering but we don’t need to perpetuate the feelings of suffering from what we are suffering from.

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—Our Dash

Changes changes
The planets are aligning
Our stars are falling,
The winter full moon
shines a light for the storm coming home.

Passages and endings make way for new beginnings, yes, but couldn’t there yet, just be one more day? For some, a death is expected while for others, it’s not. Either way, it’s a part of the bigger cycle but who cares about the bigger cycle when all you want is that one more day?

It makes us stop and snaps us out of where we are. I’ve written before about how a death can make us take stock of where we are in our living, and where we think we’ve been, but I’ve found that with each passing, the snap is fresh and the restocking feels brand-new. When my mother passed away, my life shifted in ways I could never have foreseen except by first-hand experience. It’s still so new to me and I keep sifting through my mental attic and basement; shuffling, sorting, tagging, boxing, and working through old habits, memories, thoughts, and baggage that don’t serve me any more and so I don’t want them around. It’s a process, for sure, and one with a capital “P”.

Then came news of the deaths of several musicians and actors. All well-known, all larger than life, suddenly a headline with a new date added to the end of a dash. It was shock after shock for many people. The papers reported most of the causes were from long-term illnesses so it’s safe to say that their passing was more of a surprise for us than for them, but no less devastating. Grief doesn’t care how famous you are.

David Bowie and Glenn Frey’s deaths hit me the hardest. I felt sucker punched. They were the soundtrack to anyone growing up in the Seventies. Pick any song by either of them and guaranteed there is a memory curled and wrapped around it. It was the theme to boyfriends, first loves, summer nights, great friends and days filled with the innocence of blue jeans, long hair and the freedom of a full tank of gas in that first car you bought with your own money. It was about taking the world by the balls and we were innocent and hopeful enough to think we could. No matter what, it was all going to be alright. Their voices, their music was inspired and inspiring.

“People don’t run out of dreams, they just run out of time” sang Frey in “River of Dreams.” It really is all about that dash in the middle and what you do with it. The death of loved ones and creative giants like those we’ve recently lost grabs us and shakes us and challenges us to look at ourselves and our dashes. Their music and movies are a reminder of our younger selves and who we wanted to be, who we could be. Not like them necessarily, but the best of us.

“What will be left of all the fearing and wanting associated with your problematic life situation that every day takes up most of your attention? A dash, one or two inches long, between the date of birth and date of death on your gravestone.” ― Eckhart Tolle

Last night I stood outside under the light of the moon, and stared, in awe, at the alignment of the planets and I couldn’t help but feel the smallness of my humanity under God’s dome.  I will do this again tonight, and then, when the snowflakes begin to fall ushering in this Winter’s first fury, I will come inside, sit by the fire, hug my loved one, and pay attention to my dash.

Will you?

#takingitdeeper
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Friday’s Focus—Examining Humility

Autumn is my favorite time of the year and I think a part of that is because I’ve always felt September and October were more like a new year than the actual January 1 New Year’s Day. To me, September is the month of beginnings. Even though I’ve been out of school for many years, I still think of September as the beginning of a new school year and with it new opportunities and adventures. Then there’s the changing of the seasons and temperatures and of course, moving into October, the gorgeous transformation and front row seat to nature’s fashion show.

For the first time though, this year feels different to me. I’ve noticed a deeper awareness of events and an acuteness to the days’ wanderings that feel more heightened than ever before. Maybe it has something to do with how much faster time seems to be going.  So many people I know have said the same thing and how, especially this year, time feels as though it’s speeding up and almost out of control.

No one can avoid growing older and the growing pains and warts that come along with it, but how we view this parade of changes is what can make a world of difference in our experiences of them. One way to do that is through our humility, which can lead to a deeper and richer level of wisdom and acceptance. Humility has its own quiet power in its ability to provide strength in the awareness that each one of us is a part of something else. Contrary to what many believe, the universe doesn’t revolve around us or is holding its breath waiting to make its next move based on our decision. It doesn’t work that way no matter who you are, who you know, how much money you have, or businesses you own. The Earth will still turn and the sun will rise and set in accordance to its own laws, without any help from us.

Practicing humility is not about lowering yourself and having feelings of inadequacy. On the contrary, humility is a quiet power that lies in the sublime modesty of one’s own potential and view of oneself. Some people see humility as a weakness, with feelings of unworthiness and lack of pride, but I prefer to think of it is a strength of being able to see ourselves in context and in right perspective with others, and finding that we are not lesser or better than anyone else.

By embracing humility we can we move into life’s moments with wisdom and grace by giving up the need for vanity and self-righteousness. This Autumn has become a season of deeper reds, more vibrant oranges, and fiery yellows of a changing landscape that is within me as well as around me reflected in nature, and I hope that today’s Focus will deepen your own personal Autumn and be a season of change within and without as we learn more about and practice humility.

#takingitdeeper

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Friday’s Focus—Landscapes

And it all comes down to this.

The grass will always grow through the cracks in the sidewalks and the vines will reclaim the landscape from the concrete and steel.

It’s all just a matter of time before there comes a balance again, when we can catch our breath as we stand between the wall and the cliff.

There is a balance that is always there, but it is not not always equal except maybe in our delusions. Even then, nothing stays the same for long. Everything changes and sometimes they can be so subtle it seems like nothing has changed at all.

And it’s then, when we look back, do we see that it wasn’t so much the situations that changed. Instead, it was us and our perception of our own landscapes of concrete and steel that changed and we saw the grass through the cracks in the sidewalks and the wildflowers in the playground.

Today’s focus is about the trust that things change whether we want them to or not. It’s our perceptions of our landscapes and the necessity of finding the stillness within that will determine whether we are gazing at weeds or wildflowers.

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Midnight Awakenings

The dogs are barking,
The rabbit came back,
And the fox is on the run.

The sentry caws from his post
On high
Until the shaking of the branches
Launches him into flight.

The cacophony of unrest reverberates
In my eyes and ears and has
Awakened both feather and fur
As the clouds wrap the night in its mist.

My toes tap tap tap
To the drip plip drip
Of the raindrops from the spout in the garden.

Am I dancing with an angel or the devil
In disguise?
The exquisite beating of my heart
Aches with love and devotion
Ever since I laid eyes on you.

The mid-night is velvet and its
Moon nestled like a pearl in a bed of starry lace.

In grace, you absolve me and finally forgiven,
I lay my hand in yours and I rest my
soul in the solace of your faith.

#poetry #love #mysticism #God #religion #faith

Friday’s Focus—And What If?

The universal Mind contains all knowledge. It is the potential ultimate of all things. To it, all things are possible.” —Ernest Holmes

In other words, think it, imagine it, believe in it, and it can happen. What is something that you have been wanting to do or travel to? Just because you haven’t yet doesn’t mean you won’t. If traveling is in your dreamscape, then start looking up airfares or bus schedules; sights to see; even the temperature of your destination and act as if.

Putting it out there with solid intention is the first step in telling the Universe you are ready.

If it’s going back to school, getting a new job, look into the logistics of the times of classes and how you would register. How would you commute? What would you need to wear or do you need a new backpack for commuting?

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” —Ernest Holmes

What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t think was possible?

Have a great weekend!

Friday’s Focus—Follow Your Instincts

These last few days have been a series of postponements, withdrawals, and redirects for commitments I made and tentative plans penciled in, but late last week situations arose that almost immediately tested my best laid intentions. For a few days, I was flexible and rolled with the changes but there came a point I knew it wasn’t going to last and I needed to make some decisions.

I was torn between “I can do it all!” and the more real thought, “I can do it all, but either I’m going to wear myself out or the projects committed to will suffer.” I know all too well about burning the candle at both ends and burning myself out in the process and I wasn’t keen on going down that road again. Giving my word and commitment to someone and something is important to me, but the way things took a zig from its normal zag recently in a plan still known only to God and the angels, I decided to put aside my can-do zealousness and listen instead to my instincts for guidance.

I sat and thought and prayed and listened deeply to what I wanted to do and what I needed to do, and without any hesitation and the loudest cheerleader of all, my instinct gave me the answer right away. I knew what I had to do and that my decisions were fair not only to myself but to those people and projects I committed to.

Sometimes our instincts go completely against the things we want to do and yet we hush and ignore them only to have regrets later. Maybe the next time you get a gut feeling or your instinct is kicking up about something, listen and trust it.

Whether you want to believe that whisper is your guide, God, an angel, a favorite relative that passed over, or your higher Self, listening to your intuition—that voice—is a decision that will never steer you wrong and you won’t regret. I know I haven’t.

Have a good weekend!
Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way…

Tapestries—Stories in Webs and Threads

Lately I’ve been drawn to the myths and stories surrounding the Fates and Grandmother Spider. It’s been a journey of discovery that has had more than its share of goosebumps for me on a very deep level. The journey is a personal one but there is a public face to it. A part of that public face was the creation of this poem. I hope you enjoy it.

The witch strikes a match
and she sees a soul born
threads have been woven…
Maid, Mother, and Crone

Arachne and Athena
both sit at the loom
the Gods and Nymphs watch
the lightening speed in the room.

The Fates are all gathered
beneath pale moonlight,
while the dogs howl in restlessness
and wings rustle in flight.

Destiny joins those
gathered this eve,
as the infant is born
to Earth angels, he’s received.

As dusk yields to dawn
and the babe suckles his mother,
across heaven and earth
there is yet another.

A daughter is born
to meet up with this King,
on a day in some future
he’ll give her his ring.

Free will and free choice,
do you really think it’s yours?
Or is Fate already settled
behind God’s closed doors?

Who will we meet?
Will they love us and leave?
Who will we know in our lives?
Who will make our hearts bleed?

Maid, Mother, and Crone
and the Gods upon high
all watch from above
our human struggles to get by.

It doesn’t matter to me
what the Fates have in store,
I’ll make the best of what comes,
On that you can be sure.

I’ll still talk to the Moon
and wish upon a star
watch comets fly by
and catch fireflies in a jar.

Who knows what is woven
into the web of our lives.
Do you? Of course not.
Don’t tell me your lies.

So let’s take the spark
from the match that was lit
at our birth in the stars,
and make the most of all this.

I Do

In the bright morning light of a new dawning day
The road stands open before us,
and beckons, “Come… this way.”

So take my hand as I clasp yours in mine
and we’ll walk this road together
until the end of time.

I recognized your soul and you knew me from my heart;
and now that we’re together,
God nor Devil can tear us apart.

It’s more than each other’s hand that we hold;
It’s the lifetimes of love
that have never grown cold.

Together we will each other’s company keep
until the day there’s only one,
but even then we’ll not weep.

For another life together lies beyond this, I know.
My lover, friend, companion;
Our love stays pure as snow.

Let’s take our steps together, hand in hand, heart to heart;
And I promise to love you forever…still…
never again in our love, shall we be apart.