The Heart of the Matter

For the first time since November 11, 2005, after my yearly nuclear stress test, last week my cardiologist told me that my heart has improved.

ardiogram_with_a_heart_shape

Eleven years ago, after two weeks of chest pains, I submitted to my first such stress test. I was in denial that I could have a heart problem. Years before that, I’d been told after a cholesterol reading during a health fair at the hospital where I worked, “You should never have heart disease.” My HDL, the good cholesterol that needs to be high to protect your heart, was higher than she’d ever seen. Of course, her words were more memorable than the written report which pointed out that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart disease.

But on this day in 2005, my doctor ordered me to go straight to the hospital, even after exclaiming, “I’ve never seen anyone’s HDL be that high.” It was 101. He had no answer for my question, “Then why am I here?”

In shock, I went to the hospital’s cardiac cath lab not knowing if I was to have open heart surgery or a stent. As I lay on the table staring at the overhead lights waiting for the doctor to arrive, I asked myself, “How did I get here?”

And then I knew, “I’ve had a lot of heartbreak in my life.”

heartbeat_312284

After the insertion of a stent into my left anterior descending artery, I changed my diet and began getting more exercise, and even though the doctor wouldn’t confirm that heartbreak contributed to the 98 percent blockage, I was convinced there was a connection. A few years later, an article appeared in the newspaper titled, “Heartbreak Syndrome.”

I picked up the Energy Times magazine at Health Foods Unlimited a couple of weeks ago. In their section on cardiovascular health, they had an article titled, “Living a Purposeful Life May Help Your Heart.” According to a Psychosomatic Medicine study, “People who reported having a strong life purpose had a lower risk of both cardiac events and overall mortality.” About four years ago I got serious about writing my memoir. And that is what has been giving my life meaning and purpose ever since.

hearts-illustrate-love-love-on-paper-paper-pen-Favim.com-63379

Then this weekend, I read an article from the January 19, 2015 New York Times titled, “Writing Your Way to Happiness.” Researchers were studying whether the power of writing–and then re-writing–your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. They found that writing about yourself and your personal experiences can improve your mood, reduce symptoms in cancer patients, improve health after a heart attack, and boost memory.

They attribute the vast benefits of “expressive writing” to the fact that our inner voice doesn’t always get our personal narrative right giving us a faulty view of the world that can damage our health. Through writing, we can reflect on our lives and edit our narratives.

James Doty, M.D.

James Doty, M.D.

Just last night, I listened to a Krista Tippett interview with James Doty, a brain surgeon at Stanford University on her podcast, On Being. Dr. Doty is the founding director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Into the Magic Shop

His memoir is one I need to add to my reading list: Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. Among a host of other things in his fascinating interview with Krista, Dr. Doty spoke about Heartbreak Syndrome.

 

In the process of writing my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace and reflecting on the painful struggle I went through for years, my narrative changed. When I first began trying to write it in 1999, I saw myself as a victim of circumstances. In 2012 that began to change. These words emerged from my pen while writing in my journal, “Thank God for my pain…it transformed me, broke me open, awakened me to grace, infused me with trust in the inherent goodness and wisdom of life.”

Writing a memoir is not for everyone, but whatever form reflecting on your story takes, awakening to a new, more honest assessment of your life can be a healing and transforming process. It has been for me. My faulty inner voice told me for years that there was something seriously wrong with me and that is why my life was so painful. During times of stress, that message still tries to take hold. But in writing my story, compassion for myself arose as well as admiration for the strength I’d gained.

The editing process is bringing even more fruits. Seeing myself through my amazing editor’s eyes, I am finally, even though a little timidly, claiming the intelligent, insightful, compassionate, passionate, persistent, and astonishing woman I truly am.

And now I’m being rewarded with a healthier heart as well. I am in awe and need I say, full of gratitude.

Grunge_heart

Making a Difference

I think most of us need to know we make a difference. It gives our life meaning and purpose. In my professional life, I had opportunities to make a difference almost daily. Recently a chance encounter reminded me of one such difference I had made years before. I was reading a book and not paying attention to the other people in the car wash waiting room when a young man approached me saying, “Don’t I know you?”

It took me only seconds to recognize one of my favorite former clients. The session I facilitated for him and his family is among my most memorable. He proudly told me he is twenty years sober, saying, “I can’t believe the life I have now.” It was clear he continues to embrace quality recovery. And it is gratifying to know I played a small part in launching him into his amazing new life.

Today, in retirement, with my conscious-eldering focus on “being,” it is not always so easy to know if being who I am makes a difference. And so I was thrilled to learn this week that I did.

The Angels

Our Angel Group

Our Angel Group begins our meeting with a meditation. The one we used a couple of weeks ago referenced surrender. A new member asked, “How do you surrender?” Two of us shared powerful experiences we’ve had surrendering during trying times.

This week, during our time of sharing gratitude, our new member relayed the compelling experience she’d had as a result of hearing our stories. When she heard about the peace that came over us, she decided to surrender an issue that had been troubling her. Tears streamed as she shared about the peace she, too, had found. I was deeply moved to know my sharing had made such a difference…in my favorite way…up close and personal.

I write about my experience of surrender in my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, and believe my story will make a difference, especially for those going through a difficult time. It is usually our painful challenges that bring us to our knees. That was certainly true for me. And my awakening to grace came as a result of the gift of peace that allowed me to relinquish the illusion that I had any control over the circumstances I was facing.

We humans are funny that way…thinking we can control the uncontrollable. I had a serious case of that kind of faulty thinking. Even today, after having experienced the miracle of grace in that situation where I had no control, when an uncomfortable circumstance triggers my desire to take charge, I need to remind myself that the only control I have is my response to whatever it is that is happening.

www.pinterest.com/pin/109212359689554694/

www.pinterest.com/pin/109212359689554694/

As another member of The Angels pointed out, surrender is something we need to do over and over and over.

Searching for Silence in a Noisy World

Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept. ~Henri Nouwen

spiral galaxy

Recently, in a doctor’s office waiting room, three other women and I contently read books while the lone man sitting in front of me slouched in his chair. The doctor’s technician entered, looked around, and without asking, said, “It’s way too quiet in here. I’m going to turn on the TV.” Soon, Pa, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe galloped across the screen, their musical accompaniment invading our quiet reverie.

Cast of Bonanza

Cast of Bonanza

This technician made an assumption about us. The room was not “way to quiet” for any of us, as our discussion following her intrusion indicated. Later, I asked her if she was uncomfortable with silence. She admitted she was and proceeded to describe how she incorporates “noise” into her world. She gave me a strange look when I told her, “I’m a contemplative. I enjoy silence.”

One of my pet peeves is being put on hold to loud, thumping music. A soft reminder that those I’m calling are still on the line would suffice, in my opinion. Rarely are they able to grant my request for silence. Most of the time I’m forced to wait out their jarring music while accomplishing nothing.

“Can’t people handle silence anymore?” I wonder. To me, it seems our world gets noisier all the time.

Horseshoe Falls

Often in our solitude, we can discover the miracles of life…taking our path of aloneness deep enough through the woods so we can reach that unspoiled clearing. ~Mark Nepo

I’m retired and live alone. While I need and very much enjoy the company of my family and friends, I have the luxury of a great deal of solitude and silence in my home. When I read spiritual literature, I need silent concentration to discover the deeper message. And when I write, with my contemplative style, solitude and silence give me the possibility of experiencing the inner fire of the Divine. Writing my memoir, mostly in solitude and silence, I reached Mark Nepo’s “unspoiled clearing,” making the process eminently worthwhile.

While I was contemplating writing on this topic, I heard an interesting NPR interview with Olivia Block, a composer from Chicago.

www.oliviablock.net

www.oliviablock.net

Olivia values and seeks out the loud sounds in her hometown, one of the noisiest of cities. She hears music in the tones of the elevated train’s brakes; textures in snippets of conversations, cell phones ringing, water lapping against rocks, two bottles banging together; the blending of prairie with the urban as the wind bangs rods together in a sculpture near a skyscraper. She finds this noise beautiful, often striking her in a cinematic way, helping her hear language differently.

I have writing friends who seek out noisy places or groups in order to write. It works for them. For the companionship, I wish it did for me. But because of our need for solitude, my writing partner and I found it necessary to write separately and then come together to share and give feedback.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences. ~Audre Lorde

With the advent of technology, we have become increasingly aware of the vast differences among us. Audre Lorde’s wisdom is needed in a world hurting from attempts to annihilate the differences that are feared…the diversity making us uncomfortable and others wrong.

In the face of global violence, my request is miniscule. Still, I ask consideration for those among us, like me, who find our noisy world jarring and actually value the gifts of silence and solitude. Before assuming, it’s “way too quiet,” please ask. Perhaps if we can learn to recognize and accept such a tiny difference, we can learn to celebrate the ones we fear.

Vive la difference!

How are you challenged to recognize, accept, and celebrate differences?

What request do you bring to the table?

Revisiting Beliefs

A member of our Angel Group told us she wasn’t sure what she believed anymore. And so, last week it was suggested we all share what we believe. A lively discussion ensued. I listened silently.

Then Carol turned to me and said, “Linda, you haven’t said anything. You’re our expert. What do you have to say?” She mistakenly thinks I’m an expert because I have a theological education.

I surprised the group by sharing I’m uncomfortable with discussions about religious beliefs. I see a lot of damage having been done in the name of beliefs. Historically, we’ve experienced religious wars because of differing beliefs. Even today extremist groups attempt to purify our world of “wrong” beliefs by murdering anyone who thinks differently. Our own culture wars and gridlock in Washington are a product of entrenched differing beliefs. Families can be torn apart. My son chose a more conservative path than mine and was sure I was going to hell. While I didn’t appreciate his judgment, I supported his finding a path that served his needs.

The Angels didn’t display any discord in our discussion last week, but then we are a group of like-minded women. Our differences in beliefs are miniscule, but we have a wide variety of experiences of the Divine. And that’s what interests me.

The Angels

The Angels

I find the wide variety of spiritual experiences fascinating. I’m more aligned with William James who wrote The Varieties of Religious Experiences. James was described as having been impatient with his academic colleagues and their endless hairsplitting over matters that had no relation to life. That’s kind of how I feel about discussions about beliefs. In his book, he attempted to penetrate into the hearts of human beings rather than establish dogma. I, too, am most touched by heart-centered sharing.

Varieties of Relig Exp

I also belong to an Integral Spirituality Study Group. We’ve just begun studying Steve McIntosh’s book, The Presence of the Infinite: The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. In the introduction, McIntosh outlines the values found in our country’s major worldviews along with the differing beliefs stemming from them. In Chapter 1, he expresses respect and appreciation for the strengths of each worldview–our experiences of beauty, truth, and goodness. He then holds up a vision of using these experiences as guiding principles in overcoming our belief system’s shortcomings. In that way, we can generate powerful spiritual leadership for resolving the many challenges we face in our world today.

The-Presence-of-the-Infinite-bookcover

I am inspired by McIntosh’s vision and grateful to have been given the ability to approach a dialogue about beliefs in a way that has the potential for co-creating a better world. I’ve moved forward since our discussion at Angel’s last week. That has to be an experience of goodness. I’ve grown.

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.

Facing My Fear of Conflict

“When you’re scared, you stay as you are.” ~Stephen Richards, author of Releasing You From Fear

turbulent water

Our world is turbulent. As I write this, we’ve just experienced the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. Fourteen people lost their lives. Fourteen families lost loved ones during our holyday season. A six-month-old infant lost her parents. My fear of conflict pales in comparison to what these people and many others in our world face on a daily basis. And this is the opportunity that came my way while rehabbing my new home–something I set an intention to do with joy and equanimity.

I hired a contractor and then found it necessary to fire him because the work his employee was doing was shoddy. He was using equipment that didn’t operate well. When I told him I’d hired someone else to finish the job, he threatened to put a lien on my house or take me to court. I paid him what I thought was fair for the work that had been done satisfactorily. He wanted more. His threats escalated.

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Conflict scares me so much that sometimes my teeth chatter as though I’m in a deep freeze. I recognize this as a disability because conflict is a part of life. Trying to avoid it as I do often has negative consequences. So I told myself, “Going to court my be an interesting new experience.” I reached out to friends for support.

They gave me good advice. “Make a record of all transactions, take pictures, and stand your ground.” They pointed out I had a good case and he was unlikely to follow through. But his intimidating texts continued. He pointed out how much it would cost to go to court. My hands began to shake, my stomach tied up in knots, I couldn’t go to sleep or I’d wake up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep.

To soothe myself, I’d say, “Linda, this is just your fear of conflict. You aren’t going to die and you’re not going bankrupt.”

I texted him back about mediation being a less expensive option. He liked that idea and asked me to set it up. I chuckled at that and texted him back, “If that’s the route you want to take, you set it up.” My friends and I didn’t think he would, but he did.

For me, it wasn’t so much about the money as it was maintaining my self-respect. I didn’t want to give in to intimidation. I needed to pull on my inner strength. I didn’t want to give this contractor the message he could get away with bullying women.

The woman from the mediation center told me I might hear something new in our facilitated conversation that would change my perspective, so I put my checkbook in my purse just in case.

However, the new information seemed to support my position. He’d fired his employee and admitted he’d been lied to about the job. He also said I’d been nice whereas other people he’s dealt with have been nasty. He offered to drop the whole thing if I paid him $200 instead of the $300 he’d asked for. It was tempting to accept just to be done with this.

When I didn’t accept, he returned to his intimidating tactics, noting it was time for him to learn how the small claims court system works. He asked the mediator for directions to the court building and left in a huff.

screenbean-mad

I went out to lunch with my friend who accompanied me for support. Despite being distracted by fear and uneasiness, we had a lovely afternoon.

The next morning another friend called to share her experience reporting a contractor to the Better Business Bureau. She encouraged me to do the same. I hated the thought of my complaint appearing on a webpage for all to see. Even though uncomfortable with her suggestion, I went to the BBB webpage to check out the procedure. When I read they wouldn’t be involved if there was litigation, I decided if I was going to do it, now was the time.

Early the next morning, the contractor began texting and calling. Interpreting this as more intimidation, my hands shook and my heart pounded. With a friend’s encouragement, I returned his call. He said, “Let’s drop this. Lesson learned. I see where you’re coming from.”

I asked him what he was able to see now that he couldn’t see in the mediation. He admitted his employee, whom he had trusted, used poor equipment and he understood why I hired someone else to finish the job. Perhaps seeing my complaint in writing did the trick.

This experience helped me grow in my ability to handle conflict and intimidation. I stood up to bullying…with a lot of help from my friends. For that I am grateful.

beans conquering

I can’t help but wonder for what bigger conflict this is preparing me.

If you tend to avoid conflict, I’d love to hear how you’ve learned to handle your discomfort. I’m sure I have more to learn.

A Moving Re-creation

Moving, even when desired, is considered one of the top five stressful life events because it disrupts our routine. I took possession of my new home on October 5 and immediately began to try to create order out of chaos and beauty out of deterioration. This was definitely a departure from my routine.

As I admitted in my last blog post, I find messiness difficult to live with. A bit of a miracle has occurred since my silent retreat a year ago. Walking in the woods for an hour a day gave me new appreciation for the messiness and majesty of nature. Since then, I’ve felt drawn to trees. And so I chose a house overlooking a woods. This is the view of my back yard.

WOODS

My real growth is evident, however, in that the messiness of the house did not deter me from purchasing it. The bones were good, but it had not been updated since it was built about twenty-two years ago. I determined to have fun revitalizing it — considering it a form of recreation. I had no idea it would also be a form of re-creation. In truth, it hasn’t all been fun, but I’ve been meeting my challenges assertively. This conflict avoider is being re-created one step at a time.

I moved on October 15 and set about finding just the “right” place for my belongings. With my penchant for order, I actually enjoy this activity.

My sun room overlooks the woods. I envision this as my meditation/reading room. This morning is the first opportunity I’ve had to enjoy it.

Meditation Room

I picked up James R. Newby’s book, Sacred Chaos, and found this quote that made me smile.

In the mythology of Genesis we are created out of chaos, and it is out of the chaos in our lives that we are re-created over and over again as we seek spiritual intimacy. It is a continuous cycle of God and us, co-creating new beings, out of which we give birth to dancing stars.

cosmos

Let’s dance!

Doorway to the Divine

The whole universe and all events are sacred (doorways to the divine) for those who know how to see. In other words, everything that happens is potentially sacred if you allow it to be. ~Richard Rohr

I mentioned in my last post that one of the readers of my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, challenged me to dig deeper into my story. In the process of excavating, I invited my forty-four-year-old daughter to have a talk with me.

When I trained in Imago Relationship Therapy, we learned a valuable listening skill called “The Intentional Dialogue.” We were taught to leave our own world behind, our perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, in order to enter and be present to the world of another. Listening deeply in this way gives us an opportunity to understand the other person at the level of their soul. It can be quite revealing. I decided to use this skill during our talk, which proved to be a “doorway to the divine.”

ml1gNuu

After taking our places in my living room, I began, “I’d like you to tell me what it was like for you as a child having me for a mother.”

Being in my daughter’s world was heartbreaking as I listened to the depth of her anguish–sacred moments of truth telling. And then her magnanimous soul emerged. She gave me an unanticipated gift of grace–understanding and forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.     ~Paul Boese

My daughter received an empathetic response from me as I validated her reality. I received her understanding and forgiveness, thus allowing me to forgive myself. Our future is enlarged. If my memoir does nothing else, the writing has proved to be healing for both of us. And that is a lot! I am filled with awe and gratitude.

A Holy Pause

True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. ~Michael Singer

I set a goal at the beginning of 2015 to write one blog post a week. You have’t heard from me since April 21. In addition to moving my blog to my WordPress website, I’ve needed to take a “holy pause” to work on transcending a part of me that is not okay.

c8c2b-demon

Shame Demon strikes again.

In June 2014, I wrote about my Shame Demon battering me with harsh judgments after feedback received about my character at a workshop. In May 2015, I began receiving feedback from those agreeing to read my manuscript to help me improve my writing. One of them challenged me to dig deeper into my story and especially into my feelings and motivations surrounding myself as a mother. Once again the feelings of being inadequate and unworthy surfaced. My Shame Demon attempted to kill the meaning, purpose, joy and healing writing my memoir has given me.

Michael Singer is one of my favorite spiritual teachers. In his book, The Untethered Soul: the journey beyond yourself, he speaks of the roommate in our head–the mental voice that creates problems, makes us miserable, and never shuts up. Mine resembles that Shame Demon.

Michael-Singer-headshot3

Michael Singer

The Untethered Soul

 

While we would never listen to someone who says the bizarre things our “inner roommate” says, we allow this mental voice to ruin anything we’re doing in an instant. When caught in a shame spiral, our mental voice creates even more havoc than usual. Mine was running rampant. I considered letting go of moving forward with my memoir and further exposing my inadequacies. I thought about giving up on the idea of sharing my story with the world.

Just as I did in 2014, I withdrew into myself for a time, avoiding contact with others, the very action that feeds shame. And then a friend noticed. “You seem depressed,” she said.

I let her know a little of what “my roommate” was saying. She gave me a new perspective, a different voice to consider. Gradually, I opened up to more friends. Gentler perspectives than the harsh ones my “inner roommate”  offered came forth. Even on-line spiritual resources spoke to my situation.

This reminder of grace in the midst of our frailties:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  ~II Corinthians 9a

And days of wisdom from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations:

Richard-Rohr_home-view

~ Richard Rohr ~ Franciscan Priest

“Salvation isn’t about replacing our human nature with a fully divine nature, but growing within our very earthiness and embodiedness to live more and more in the ways of love and grace, so that it comes ‘naturally’ to us and is our deepest nature. This does not mean we are humanly or perfectly whole or psychologically unwounded, but it has to do with an objective identity in God that we can always call upon and return to without fail. Some doctrine of divinization is the basis for all reliable hope and any continual growth.”

“There are two major approaches to spirituality and conversion. We try to exclude and triumph over the negative parts, the shadow parts, the ‘inferior parts’ (I Cor. 12:22), as Paul calls them. This leads us to a kind of heroic spirituality based on willpower and the achievement of some sort of supposed perfection. But if you are honest, what you are really doing is pretending–and excluding the dark side that you do not want to look at, or the people you do not want to deal with. The way of Francis included and integrated the negative–forgiving and accepting the imperfection and woundedness of life. He agreed with Paul that the supposed inferior or weakest are, in fact, ‘the most indispensable.’ 

Salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect, but much more is an organic unfolding, a becoming who you already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for the very One who created you.”

“The whole universe and all events are sacred (doorways to the divine) for those who know how to see. In other words, everything that happens is potentially sacred if you allow it to be.” ~Richard Rohr

And so once more, I was given an opportunity to grow my shame resilience. I began accepting my weaknesses, looking for the doorway to the divine, and reminding myself of divine grace in the midst of all my life experiences. I moved forward.

 

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. 
 
 
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