2015 Reflections ~ 2016 Intentions

Elijah House

Elijah House

For me, 2015 started at Thanksgiving 2014. As was often true for me during the holidays, I was focused on what was missing in my life and feeling depressed. I was stuck in the writing of my memoir and felt the need for guidance. I thought time away might give me the direction I needed. And so I made arrangements for a silent retreat in Elijah House, a cottage in the woods at the Transfiguration Center of Spiritual Renewal near West Milton, Ohio. Last year on New Years Day, I wrote about the still, small voice of the Divine within giving me what I hoped for that weekend–clear guidance for how to write and deepen my memoir to serve a higher purpose. I set my 2015 intention to increase my awareness of the light of grace in the midst of life’s messiness.

Well, 2015 was certainly a grace-filled, messy year. My condo was no longer serving me and in January the way opened for me to move. The end of April I put it up for sale. At the same time, I found an editor for my memoir. I’d been impressed with some of her online comments about the way she works, and when I read, “I want my clients to know I’m their biggest cheerleader and greatest fan,” I knew she was the editor for me.

Cheerleader

The condo selling/home searching process was messy. I continued to work on my memoir while my condo didn’t sell and properties I liked did. My faithful friends assured me the right place for me wasn’t available yet and when it was, my condo would sell. They were right. In August, a buyer appeared and I found the perfect home for me.

The middle of September, I sent my manuscript to my editor. I told her I wasn’t in a hurry for her feedback because I’d be busy with moving. As my focus switched from writing to rehabbing my home, I convinced myself my memoir wasn’t that good and would probably never be published. I decided to be grateful for the transformation I experienced in writing it and for the healing in my relationship with my daughter. If all the work I put into it came to nothing more, that was a lot for which to be thankful.

On October 5, I took possession of the house and began the rehab process. On October 15, I moved in. By Thanksgiving I was settled enough to host a family dinner. Being in a house with a meditation room overlooking a woods and a creek gives me much joy.

Sun on trees

On November 29, I received my editor’s first comments. When I saw it drop into my inbox, I started shaking. I did a few things around the house to work up the courage to read it. I’d been discouraged by critical feedback in the past and braced myself to face the fact that I just wasn’t cut out to be a memoir writer. Oh, ye of little trust.

I headed for the recliner in my meditation room to read her four pages of comments. While most pointed to what needed revising, my confidence was bolstered by these words: “Part I, in particular, will need reworking to bring it to the quality of the rest of the manuscript.”

She went on: “…your manuscript is eminently publishable and quite astonishing. It is more intelligently written, more thoughtful, and more reflective than many memoirs I’ve read…”

I sat there stunned and thinking: she sees me very differently than I see myself. This woman from Wyoming who I’ve never met in person or talked with on the phone had seen into my soul.Full Circle

Judy brought me full circle, validating the message I received at my silent retreat about the deeper message in my memoir and the way I was to write it. In our further correspondence, she continues to change my perception of myself. And I am definitely experiencing her as my biggest cheerleader and greatest fan. Grace brought us together.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie ten Boom

And so, at the end of 2015, I stand in awe at the light of grace. As my memoir attests, my awakening has been a long one and is a process of reawakening and reawakening.

And my intention for 2016: Increase my trust in the light of the Divine within me and all of us. Be faithful to my part in co-creating a better world by risking revealing my messy true self–the one I write about in A Long Awakening to Grace.

When we’re willing to be imperfect and real, the gifts of courage, compassion, and connection just keep giving. Paraphrased from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.

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.