Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Having Faith Means Denying Thoughts

I've told myself this, "If you say you have faith, then you must do it, you must HAVE faith."  That worked for me when I left my corporate job for a life of uncertainty.  That leap of faith has opened up a whole new world for me, and I'm so glad I jumped.  But the consideration of jumping isn't over.  I still often find myself in spaces that require me to make this decision.  I usually make the jump, but I usually need to do it with my eyes closed and holding my breath because it's scary and it often defies logic.  During times I don't make the jump, it's often because I let my brain get in the way.

Here's an example of letting my brain get in the way:
I've always wanted to improve my singing voice because I love to sing.  Only Maggie W., a friend in elementary school ever told me I have a nice voice.  I tried out for a Snow White production during this time, auditioning with the song "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone and I tanked.  I was casted as a non-singing glow-in-the-dark dancing tree.  NOTE:  At other times, I'll use this as a positive example, because I did still love being in this play.  But in this case, I'm writing about the fact that this time, and many more times since then, I've been told that I can't sing.

Fast forward to about 5 years ago when I read about a voice coach at the Omega Institute.  I contacted him and found that we could do distance sessions, but when he told me it was $150 an hour, I declined.  I couldn't make that leap of faith because my brain took over.  Thoughts like, "it's too expensive," and "I won't be able to sing in front of a stranger" took control.  And make no mistake, the purpose was not that I could pursue a singing career, because I am at least a realist in this.  So I didn't lose out on that, but maybe I could have found my voice.

This window has closed for me, but it was still a good learning experience.  It reminds me that when I feel called to do something, I should do it without letting my brain take over with truly logical reasons, because a calling trumps logic.  It requires having faith and denying our thoughts. 
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  Did you recently make a decision to not "jump," to get ready for a "jump" or did you "jump" and how do you feel?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Divine Time Unites Us

On Friday evening I saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway.  To say it was a moving experience is an understatement.  His music has been a strong thread in my life because the man I love introduced me to it.  From there, certain songs and certain lyrics have stuck to me and made their own impressions.  I'm still processing the performance, including the fact that he ended by reciting the Our Father, a prayer that I pray often.  It was unexpected, but it connected the beginning of the performance to the end of the performance, a performance which all of us could do because the themes are repeatable:  life itself, the impact of each parent on us as individuals, our love and hate relationship with our home town, key relationships, and the movement of Spirit* in our lives. 

Because it is routine, without giving it any thought, today my prayerful time began with the Our Father. It was the actual citing of all of the words, over and over again, but then eventually it became a consideration of the movement of the prayer from oral tradition to having been written down.  When I considered my relationship with this prayer, I wondered if I memorized it as a result of speaking aloud the written words I read each week in the lectionary I held in the church pew, or if I already knew it before I had learned to read, simply because I had heard it repeated over and over again by others. I don't know the answer. 

What I do know is that the prayer, spoken alone, recited together with others or orated to us, is sacred.  I love this prayer for many reasons.  One, it provides solace because it connects me with others from the first word, "Our." The connection continues when it affirms that we are all imperfect, which is why we must ask for forgiveness and forgive others. This sacred space allows us to question our goodness, to see our faults, even awaken them. That's where I am now, allowing those closest to me, including myself, to see my faults. It's divine time, a waiting space, a space to be held, to be vulnerable.  It's very scary, but it brings me to another reason I love this prayer........it has promises of a better space (a heaven on earth). 

Writing "divine time" brings me back to the research that said that what's written in the gospels originated from oral teachings and that those teachings, including the teaching of this prayer, were believed to have been from logia (divine origin).  It also explained that many faiths have prayers with similar words.             

Two days ago, the morning after the show, I wrote this in my journal:  "I pray the Our Father over and over again because it grounds me.  I believe it also grounds the earth and the people who walk it.  Thank you for the creator of it.  Thank you for the believers who recited it over and over.  Thank you to the first person who wrote it down.  Who are you?  Did you know you were keeping reassurance alive, peace alive, cries for help alive, love alive?"

As usual, I have more questions than answers, but with divine time I feel connected. 
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective

1.  Are you feeling connected or disconnected right now?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In Search of Direction (Spiritual Directors International)

For a period of about two years each, I've had two different spiritual directors (see Spiritual Directors International).   These separate periods of sessions ended for two different reasons:  the first director moved away and although I could have continued the sessions via phone, I like to meet with someone in person.  The second one helped me significantly work through a childhood trauma and it felt right to stop at a point that I felt closure.  What stuck with me, however, is that she suggested I could now begin to work on the deeper part of my own self.  In other words, I had already dealt with the external forces on my life, and now it was time to know myself.
To this, my knee-jerk reaction was, "YUCK!," "Not yet!," and "No way, no how!" But it stuck with me.  And when something sticks with me, it means there is something there.  Now, four years later, I am feeling an urge.  I think it's because, in talking to other women, I realize that part of my need is due to moving through peri-menopause and towards menopause. I have read about the physical aspects, but I have yet to find much on the feeling side of this stage.
In the meantime, I hope to begin with my third Spiritual Director in the New Year.  Now that it's on my heart, I know that I will be led to the right person.  Thank you God*.     
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  What's pushing your buttons right now?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"I Wrote Three Poems" (Thank You Readers)

One of the things I've heard after reflecting on whether or not to write a book and asking the question, "God*, what else should I know?" is that if we can help just one person, it is enough.  So even though self-publishing is daunting, I knew that if I could help one person, my heart would sing because it would be enough in God's eyes.  Well, my heart is singing.  Here's why.....

The kind of book I have enjoyed reading in the last ten years (examples:  Sabbath by Wayne Muller, God is Always Hiring by Regina Brett) is the kind of book I wrote.  It is a self-help book with exercises that help us discover our inner spirit wisdom .  So it touches me to hear that the book, Sprouting Spiritual Growth:  A Memoir and a Guide to Spiritual Journaling, is moving people to curiously consider their own spirit wisdom.

Here are some comments:
  • "I wrote three poems yesterday." 
  • "I looked up the meaning of my name."
  • "I am doing the book slowly to allow for reflection of the questions.  They are written differently than what I have seen before."
  • "I realize I am also no longer coming, but I am going."         
Being read is one of the greatest gifts to an author, so please know, readers, that you have helped me, too!  I appreciate your comments, your invitations to your homes to do an author's talk, the opportunity to sign a book that you're giving to yourself or someone else, and conversation.  I've met so many new people as a result of this, and for this, I thank you!
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  How can you help just one person today?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH, super moon at dawn, PP meadow

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Integrity is Sexy (So is Silly, Honest & Kind; Litter is Not)

Recently a friend and I hiked to the top of majestic Council Rock where, legend says, Lenape used to hold meetings.  I think the face of it looks like one of these ancestors.  Whether or not it's true, what's true to me is that it feels like sacred space.  Except for the litter.  It drives me crazy, my friend too.  I picked up a lone orange lid and some paper which my friend then took to the trashcan only twenty feet away.  We then sat on Council Rock until our rumbling stomachs told us it was time to fix lunch.  But we parted in different directions purposefully. 
Before the climb, we had each picked a word to use with walking mediation for the return trip.  I had picked "integrity" and grumbled about it.  My friend said, "integrity is sexy," and the phrase stuck with me. Because we were returning in silence, we each chose a different path.  I decided to go back the way that we had come which meant I would need to boulder down and hold on to tree roots.  I was especially ill-prepared, wearing dress boots with no grip to counter the slippery leaves.  Also, I found more trash at the start of my climb down.  Because I needed my hands free, I had to throw the trash a few feet in front of me and keep doing that all the way down.  I had to laugh at how "unsexy" this must have looked to nearby hikers, but I didn't care because "integrity is sexy" was playing over and over in my head.
After journaling about this experience the next day, I picked a postcard from A BOOK THAT TAKES ITS TIME, An Unhurried Adventure in Creative Mindfulness by Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst.  The decorative side of it said "Be silly, be honest, be kind."  This seemed to fit the walking meditation experience perfectly! It will also be something I know I will come back to at some point in my journal which is good, because it's not easy to pull off, "Be silly, be honest, be kind."         
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  Consider the word "litter," literally and figuratively.  Which one defines the state you are in today?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Give Thanks (Making Comparisons)

We all do it.....make comparisons, that is.  It is part of the human condition.  I write this today because I recognize that this Thanksgiving my family was able to participate in our usual traditions.  Last year we could not because of illness.  That's why this year it was so wonderful to do the "usual" and really take notice of it.  The planner in me doesn't always like the usual.  I like to do new, try new, meet new.  This year I was thrilled with the usual.
When I ask God* what I should know about this, I'm drawn to the opening prayer of last weekend's silent retreat:  "Creator, we celebrate your overflowing love, and we give thanks to all that we have, all that we are.  We know abundance because of you."
I believe we know abundance because we make comparisons.  Sometimes the comparisons lead us to feeling that we are in a space in which life is hard and there are obstacles to overcome.  We might feel scared or alone.  This can be a difficult time to be grateful.  For me, during these times. writing down my thoughts, concerns and fears is helpful.  It's also takes me to a place of calm when I write out gratitude lists in my journal, especially during stress-filled or anxious times. I try to come up with 36 things.  I list the events, people, places and things that happened the day before.  Often it is about the time I have spent outside because being out in "The Big Book," where everything is Creator-made, is a space where awe and wonder live.  It's here that if I can't find gratitude within, I can find gratitude from outside:  the various colors, different cloud types, the names of the birds and animals the weather, the wind, what's happening in the current season, and so forth.  Don't believe me.... go within and outside, make a comparison. Either way, give thanks.  You'll feel the difference.   
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  Do you feel like you're in a space of "less than" or abundance?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Empty Days (Another Call to Stillness)


I've been told I'm a Golden Gal, defined as a woman fifty or older.  I like that term because it has an uplifting ring to it!  I must say, however, that I've been challenged these last few months with a sense of emptiness that comes with age.  My youngest is now off to college, leaving the house quiet, and while the first month was very freeing, I found the second two months leaving me feeling a little empty, especially in the afternoons.  Because I work from home, I enjoyed my kids coming and going, especially coming home from school mid-afternoon.  Now no family is with me until my husband gets home from work.

While I've added some freelance work to the work I do from home, it still leaves something to be desired during this afternoon space.  It's been suggested that I write during this time, but I do my best writing really early in the morning.  While this empty space is only a few hours, some days it is daunting.  That's why I wasn't happy when the twenty-four hour silent retreat rolled around.  Usually I long for it and love the November ones because it is right before the start of the holidays.  I had signed up for this one months ago, though, and now wasn't so certain about it. 

But of course it was just what I needed.  Twenty-four hours of silence can give us time to listen to our spirit's hunger, and for me, surprisingly, God/Spirit* said to "trust in the blessings of God's presence in our most empty days" (excerpted from the Opening Prayer the first evening of the retreat).

If you've been following my latest posts, you might have noticed a running theme which is a call to stillness.  Spirit keeps reminding me right now because it's in my nature to run full speed and fill this space.  But I haven't.  Not even at the retreat.  I didn't write prolifically like I usually do.  Instead I mostly read for pleasure and I tooled around with watercolors and then consciously left the paintings behind.  Bringing them home with me would have meant that I needed to do something with them, but that didn't feel right.  After all, Spirit had spoken.
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Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.
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Reflective questions:
1.  Do you long for or fear empty days?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at CardinalTouch.net).