COMMUNITY: Sage Sisters

“The key…is community,
which is so necessary for physical, emotional, and spiritual health
throughout life and especially as we age.

Ron Pevny, author of Conscious Living, Conscious Aging
For my emotional and spiritual health, after retiring from my profession as a therapist, I became intentional about building community. As a single introverted woman, this hasn’t been easy, but has been well worthwhile. In this post, I want to share with you about one of the communities I was invited to help form…the Sage Sisters.
We have been meeting once a month for a couple of years and have used resources to guide our exploration: Joan Chittister’s, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully; Angeles Arien’s, The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom; and now Ron Pevny’s, Conscious Living, Conscious Aging.
All of us have been committed to a path of personal and spiritual growth and have a spiritual practice that sustains us. We enjoy attending lectures, taking classes and workshops, participating in book clubs and spiritually-oriented groups. One of us learned to play the piano at age 65. Another married late in life and adopted two teenagers.
Jasmine Skees

Jasmine Skees

Vincenzina Krymow

Vincenzina Krymow

We are an eclectic group. One of us has travelled abroad extensively with a special interest in visiting Black Madonna sites. Another of us has the privilege of being part of the decision-making in how to share and distribute funds in a family foundation. One of us volunteers for hospice and knits prayer shawls for hospitalized people locally and beyond.  Some of the issues we give our energy to include the environment, the food we eat, how we live in community, issues of injustice for the poor and disabled, how to attain world peace. 
Cindi Remm

Cindi Remm

Our focus is on making a difference in the world. We are each called to do that in different ways. We see this time in our lives as “give back” time, but any activities we invest with our energy and wisdom must be meaningful and purposeful. It is our hope that the world will soon recognize and honor the gifts elders have to offer. We enjoy sharing our wisdom and mentoring younger people. 

Two of us are published authors.
Mary's flowers

Healing Plants

We intend to serve until we take our last breath, and at this time in our lives, we find ourselves letting go of the “do, do, do” of our younger years. We are drawn to an inward, reflective path. Crowds of people and noise have lost their allure.
We support each other in facing the challenges that come with aging consciously and with wisdom and grace. Most of us have health challenges. Our attitude is “WE are all in this together.” We’ve all had the experience of loss that comes with aging and we face together the need to “let go” of “what was” to more fully embrace “what is.”
As you can see, we are an amazing group of women. We range in age from 72-85. Even though we are older than the baby boomers, like them we intend to live and age consciously—with meaning and purpose. 

Monday—A Grace-filled Day

The special moments in which we individuals receive a grace
show how the universe loves to become personal,
to incarnate itself in time and space.

David Richo
Photo taken by Joshua Thomas of Red River, New Mexico
For our Angel Group’s meditation on Monday morning, we each said a little prayer before drawing one of Cheryl Richardson’s Grace Cards out of a hat. Then we one-by-one slowly while breathing deeply shared the wisdom contained on the card. I drew silence. It was lovely.
One of the Angels shared how she thinks of me while doing an exercise for her back. She’s a do-do-do kind of person and lying on the floor for ten minutes is an eternity for her. She thinks of how silence was so important for me on my recent retreat. Later she gave me a hug and told me she reads several times a week the personal message I wrote for her on her Christmas card.
Last week in the Spirituality Forum I attend at our senior center, one of our members mentioned Anne Lamott’s book about the three essential prayers, Help Thanks Wow. I shared that my prayer at this time is “Help!!” Monday afternoon, a friend from the group called to respond to my prayer of last week. She’d been thinking about me and called to share a spiritual practice she used at a time in her life similar to mine that helped her. She added that she sees me as a good person who deserves to have what I want in life. When we ended the conversation, she said, “I love you.” Needless to say, I was moved to tears.
I noted, “This was probably risky of you to call and share all this with me.”

She agreed, admitting she doesn’t think she has the right to interfere in another person’s life. I told her I did not experience this as interference. I felt loved and cared about and thanked her for taking the risk.

I will be adopting her spiritual practice.

Then later in the evening the phone rang again. A very dear friend of many years (the same one my daughter and I called upon for help recently) had been thinking of me during the day and decided to call. She had an experience yesterday that increased her appreciation for my listening skills.  She said, “I think you’re a highly evolved human being and I’m really glad we are friends.”  

After her call, I wrote in my Grace journal these wonderful connections made during the day and the gifts of grace these women bestowed upon me.
We all need to know we are loved and that we make a difference in the world. I’m grateful for these women extending Divine love to me in human form and to know I make a difference in their lives. And I’m grateful for the difference they make in mine.
I am truly in awe at the gifts of grace bestowed upon me on this amazing grace-filled Monday. 

An Opportunity to Practice

An intention for 2015:
Increase my awareness of the light of grace in the midst of life’s messiness.

Linda A. Marshall
On January 1st I posted this intention on my blog.
On January 2nd messiness entered my life.
As I set that intention, I wondered if I was inviting messiness in. It seems that I had.
I received a tearful phone call from my forty-three-year-old daughter who is single and has a disability. She depends on me. She’d just experienced a significant loss in her life.
I might have jumped in to try to control the situation. I’d certainly done that often enough in the past. But letting go and accepting my powerlessness over people, places, and things is something I began working on some thirty years ago.  
And, as I reminded myself, I’d made that intention. So, at the beginning of 2015, I remained calm and looked for the light of grace.
I listened to my daughter’s distress and then asked, “How can I support you? Just let me know what you need and I’ll do it.”
She was conflicted about what she needed from me. She needed my presence but my presence would not have been well received by those she had to deal with, making her situation even more distressing.
And so we waited for guidance. And then the still small voice of Wisdom within gave us the answer. “Reach out for support from a friend who cares.”
 Thank God for friends.
Karen has served as a gift of grace in the midst of the messiness in our life on several occasions. She appears in my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, as just such a gift. Once again, Karen entered as usual—with compassion, empathy, and a deep wisdom of her own.
I write this post with gratitude for the increase in my awareness of the light of grace and the decrease in the length of time it takes for me to notice. 

DEEPENING: Divine Messiness

Look for God’s realm peeking through our imperfect world.
Deb Kaiser-Cross
My friends, Kathryn, Sharon, Karen, Jennie and many others speak of feeling closer to the Divine in nature than anywhere else. Jennie, one of my writer friends, writes eloquently about it. With them in mind, I set off on Thanksgiving morning for a walk in the woods at the center where I am engaging in a personal, silent retreat, hoping for Divine guidance to deepen my memoir.
Where I experience the intimacy my friends speak of is most often in my journal. Writing letters and reflections to the Divine in my journal is my major spiritual practice. On occasion, a wisdom beyond my own emerges from my pen giving me guidance and a new perspective on life.
 But I’m curious about my friend’s experience and so, as I embark for the woods, I declare, “On my walk, I’m going to be more present to my surroundings to see if I can have their kind of experience with the Divine.”
From the windows in the back of my little cabin, I’ve been marveling at the large expanse of trees reaching their limbs to the sky. As I enter into their midst, my attention is drawn to that which is rotting—wet darkened leaves, broken limbs, and fallen trees. I chuckle at my neat, tidy, orderly, perfectionist self. The woods are messy. I probably miss my connection with the Divine in the woods because I’m not able to control the messiness.
I head for the aptly named Stillwater River at the edge of the woods. A huge rock provides seating as I gaze at the gently flowing water and journal my reflections. I much prefer the metaphor of the river flowing as life flows—around barriers, smoothing our rough places.
Once back in the silence of my cabin, I notice the messiness in my journal. In my writing, I wade through the messiness in my monkey-mind until a clearing of new awareness and understanding emerges. This weekend the still small voice of the Divine within gives me what I came hoping for—clear guidance for deepening my memoir.
Awe fills me as an awareness of the messiness of nature mirroring the messiness of life becomes clear. My memoir is about the messiest stretch of my life. I am reminded that in the midst of the mess, I have my most profound encounter with the Divine.
An intention for 2015: Increase my awareness of the light of grace in the midst of life’s messiness.