Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tidbits to Share: Retreats, Getting Hooked, Sacred Art, and Acedia

I just wanted to share some things with you tonight:

1. Are you looking for a spiritual retreat? Look at this resource, called Find the Divine. It includes retreat properties for sale, plus many other features. Talk about a dream---running a retreat center---I think that many of us would probably like to do that---I know I would.

2. Two posts about "getting hooked" into fear and panic, especially with the economic, cultural, and spiritual climate today. One is Christine Kane's. I found it through Lori-Lyn's blog and Lori-Lyn's story that was written so beautifully called "Apples. Stars". If you have to pick, read Lori-Lyn's.

3. Another is a blog that I've recently rediscovered called "Dragonfly Reflections" by Kelley. She is doing 100 Days of Sacred Art. Kelley was a part of Sacred Life Sundays but I lost track of her blog and was thrilled to find it again.

4. Kathleen Norris' new book "Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life". I can SO relate to this book. Acedia is a topic that is difficult to understand---this is one reason that the author has taken an entire book to write an appropriately rambling and profound meditation on it. Acedia is sort of like depression in some ways, except that it's primarily a spiritual condition (unlike depression), but many people suffer from both (like me).

Don't let the four star ratings from many Amazon reviewers discourage you; this is a five star book. Unfortunately, it was put through Amazon's Vine Program early on, a process which tends to distort book ratings. I am a Vine member, and so I know that when people get something for free (which we do), the reviewing audience is different than those that would actually pony up good money for a hardback book. I see the audience for this book as intelligent, thoughtful, and creative people who struggle with depression and melancholy, who have a strong spiritual and psychological approach to life, and who are fascinated by the idea that wisdom from desert monastics could provide interesting insights that would help them to overcome a difficult orientation to life. This is a very personal book, with much autobiographical material as well.

I have been swimming in this book for days, and postponed finishing it because I just don't want to leave behind the insights I get from reading it and the empathy I feel with the author.

5. Tonight I am having a fantastic Friday evening listening to the frogs chirping outside in the forest. Nothing like it.

~Photos from my rose garden, taken by LoveHubbie Mark

Thursday, September 25, 2008

BE BRAVE: Post 16: Back to Blogging

I'm back to blogging after a what feels like very long 17 day hiatus. It's felt like months. I miss all of you. I've been keeping up with your blogs, but having some trouble commenting as I like to. And of course, been stalled totally in my blogging.

I easily recovered from the gastroenteritis I had days ago. But I'd had two group activities around the same time that shook my sense of self and made me wonder about fitting in, being separate from others, how I relate and project my own feelings onto others, and more. It made me wonder about what I have to offer others, and this self-questioning made it hard for me to blog. I contracted my life and withdrew into myself. To process, to heal. I'm fine now, but I think this was just something I had to go through.

I say "had to" because I really am determined to try to figure out a way that I can form local community. And in order to do this I'm going to have to overcome the obstacles I've built to being with other people. At this point, I would almost say I'm desperate for community. I absolutely love the fantastic community I have here online, and it has changed my life; it is incredibly precious to me. I just would like to be able to have local companionship sometimes---say if I want to go out to eat, or go for a walk, or have tea with someone. As much as I enjoy being alone (and I really, really do, because this is where I gain energy and feed myself spiritually), I also enjoy being with others, so have lately been taking steps that are new and challenging to me.

Then, as I've encountered the inevitable obstacles I've been stopped flat by my fear, instead of being resilient and persevering. Instead of taking things lightly. I have such a strong inclination to stand apart from others, and to take other people's reactions very personally. To perceive rejection where there is none. Or to be rejecting myself and yet to see it as my being rejected.

It's just been a lifelong inability I've had to connect in a group. In the past, I've sometimes joined "instant communities"---communities that are already there where I'd certainly be welcomed regardless of who I was (like churches or multi-level marketing groups) as long as I tried to fit in and act like everyone else. Find out the rules, and then conform. Agree. Nod. Act like everyone else. That was be easier for me than going out and learning about myself in a group, building the overwhelming skills of relating to multiple people at the same time, holding my integrity and identity enough to disagree with the group, facing rejection without it devastating my self-esteem.

But I'm too old for that short cut now. It's not even really a short cut, of course, but a false path to what I want.

I feel very comfortable with who I am and know that not everyone will like me. I'm totally okay with that. I've studied group dynamics and have a lot of head knowledge about how to relate to others. It's just that the doing of this, the persevering and the sorting through situations and groups and people, dealing with the emotions---this has been something I've not pushed myself to do. Because of this. Because of the growing up I'd have to do.

So now I'm being brave. And working on growing up. And back to blogging.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Healing Energies and Flowers and Love

I am actually enjoying the recovery from gastroenteritis. I feel just delighted at my growing ability to control my bowels and the utter lack of vomiting. I don't mind the rest. I don't even care that I can't eat solid foods. Today as I got my daily exercise getting up off the couch to walk to the bathroom, I tripped over the hem of my long nightgown and fell AGAIN, this time landing on my right knee. I didn't even mind that too much. That's how nasty that gastro-e is.

I do have to cancel things and ask people for help. But I have lots of time to sit, rest, sleep, and when I'm really feeling ambitious, watch television. And think.

Here is a homily that will move you, I'm thinking, no matter what your beliefs. This is about love. It touched me greatly.

I am starting my nine-month Tend the Fire spiritual formation program tomorrow at my local St. Placid Priory. I am hoping to be up for the drive by then. Just under twenty-four hours from now. It begins with a six-hour retreat, which doesn't sound too strenuous. We shall see. I'm just so wanting to be there. In between now and then I'll try solid food and do what it takes to get there, whatever that might involve.

The reason this is so important to me is that I'm looking to "form" rather than "find" my spirituality. I don't want to adopt someone else's way of being a Christian (which is my new-found spiritual path) and end up being an American caricature of a mean-spirited spiteful nasty person. I've been there and done that, years ago. At this time in my life I'm wanting something fresh, and to continue my journey to grow in love, that's all. Just love. Love.

Then on Wednesday I get to go to Patti Digh's first book reading for her book "Life is a Verb". It is a beautiful and inspirational read, and a stunningly gorgeous book to see and feel and smell as well, illustrated entirely by Patti's blog readers, which include, btw, Rick, Leah, and Kate I. WOW! If you haven't purchased your copy, it is worth it. I will be having dinner with Kate I and some wonderful other bloggers beforehand, so it is a double treat. Even if I only have sweet tea and plain rice, I will be thrilled to be there.

So please pray for a speedy recovery for me :) And Lori-Lyn, maybe some long-distance reiki?

~Photos by LoveHubbie Mark

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Not Being Nauseated

Today I am enormously thankful for not being nauseous.

All day I was not nauseous.

It was because of the wonderful, blessed medicine I am taking.

Yesterday I began the day by having uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea. It continued on and on, for hours. It ended up in the emergency room with me getting fluids for dehydration. It turns out I had bacterial gastroenteritis, probably caused by my eating some contaminated produce (that's LoveHubbie's guess) from my garden. LoveHubbie noted that I'd been eating tomatoes right out of the garden, even ones that had fallen on the ground of the garden bed, which was fertilized by our chicken droppings...yumm! I had done this with good intentions, having read that it was healthy to eat unwashed organic produce to build our immune systems...I will not make this mistake again!

But anyway, all day long it felt so sweet not to be nauseous. I realized how this is how I feel pretty much all the time. I realized how many people there are that do NOT feel this way, especially those having chemotherapy, pregnant women, other people who are ill, etc. and how seldom I think of them or of my good state in life.

So today I just enjoyed the sweetness of not being nauseated.

Most of the time we walk around blessed out of our socks and don't even realized it. It was a sacred, sacred day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sunny Day at the happyluau

It was a sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest, and I was inspired to make you a video. It is 7:57:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Keeping My Balance

I hardly know lately if it's Sacred Life Sunday or Be Brave---they are both the same here and seem to whirl by each week. Each day is sacred and special. Each day seems to require extraordinary bravery.

Tonight I was going for a walk along my driveway (the one you all know so well) but it was pitch black in the forest. (Pretty dumb, I know.) I had procrastinated with my walking, but ended up going anyway, because I'm so determined to get my steps in every day. So I turned my ankle and fell and landed in the brush off to the side. I laid there for a while wondering what to do, if I was injured, and if I could get up. Wondering how long it would be, if I just stayed there, until someone noticed. Things like that. And just laid there.

After a while, I felt okay, all would be well. And then I got up and came in.

So here I am. Okay, for the most part. Realizing that life is like this. We have to keep going on. Get up. Walk on. How watchful we have to be to keep our balance. How easily we can be injured. How sometimes we are protected. How sometimes we are okay when there is no good reason why we should be.

Nothing profound today. Just grateful to be okay, to be able to get up, to be able to keep walking.