Friday, April 7, 2017

Ending of a Season

It’s been a long time since I have written here. My hiatus happened not on purpose but by happenstance. At first I was struggling to find topics to write on, then it was simply life had too many other things that needed my attention more and my intention to start writing here again got pushed back further and further.  During this hiatus I took some time to read a book that I was interviewed for clear back in the fall of 2013. I also took some time to do some deep reflection on how I was spending my time. The result was the discernment that it was time for Chaplainhood to come to an end.
Just like nature, I believe that our lives have seasons, times that we are supposed to be doing certain things and then our time in that season is over and we need to move onto the next season of life. For me, Chaplainhood has been one of those seasons and I have come to realize that my time blogging here has come to an end.
As a chaplain I am a firm believer in the power that storytelling can have. Chaplainhood has been my personal storytelling exercise. It has helped me come to know myself better and find healing of soul. However, I would have never taken this journey had it not been for Twylla Alexander. And so it seems fitting that this last post here at Chaplainhood, tells the story of the very beginning and gives recognition to the person who helped give birth to my public storytelling journey.

 In 2013 I received an e-mail from a stranger, asking to come interview me and walk my labyrinth. This is how I came to meet Twylla and be a part of her journey to interview 50 women, one from each State here in the United States, and walk the labyrinths that they built. For Twylla it was a personal journey that she writes about in her book Labyrinth Journeys: 50 States, 51 Stories. For me, it was the start of learning how to tell my story as a bereaved mother in a very public way. I do not know if I would have helped write Still A Mother: journeys through perinatal bereavement or taken on sharing myself so openly here at Chaplainhood had it not been for Twylla. She gave me the opportunity to tell my story in a whole new way and in doing so helped me find my courage to keep on telling it.

I have just finished her book and in doing so have “met” 49 other women who share their own journeys and stories of courage, strength and wisdom. One of the reasons this blog has taken so long to write is that I found myself slowly savoring each chapter of this book. Labyrinth Journeys is a book that could just as easily be consumed in a day letting the full journey wash over you. I choose to journey through the book slowly letting each story sit in my soul and found myself connecting on many different levels with the wisdom and life lessons shared. The writing itself is conversational having the feeling of sitting at the table with Twylla over a meal, hearing her weaving these women’s tales in and out of her own personal story and journey. Labyrinth enthusiasts will find a quick connection to this book, but it is not just for those interested in labyrinths. Anyone who appreciates a good telling of wisdom, life lessons and sharing life’s journey with others will find this is an inspirational read.
I will forever be grateful to Twylla for including me in her journey and book. But deeper than that, I will forever have gratitude for the seed of courage she planted in me in asking me to step out of myself and tell and entrust such an intimate story to a complete stranger (who quickly was no longer a stranger to me).
Where does the next season of my life take me? I am still working on figuring that out. I know part of it is to be more focused on being mom as we head into the next set of growing up transitions with C. Part of this next season will also be starting a new journey as an instructor of Taijifit. This music and drama girl, who thought she did not have an athletic bone in her body, is till trying to figure out how she came to be excited about teaching a fitness class. However, given that Taijifit is considered moving meditation it fits with my contemplative self and I am excited to help others discover it’s benefits. As I fully embrace this next season of my life, who knows maybe the occasional contemplative poem will pour out and find places to be shared.

Wherever life takes me, I am excited for the journey. Thank you for reading here at Chaplainhood and being journeyers with me. I have been blessed to share it with you. As we part ways here at Chaplainhood may you find the space to share your own story as you make your life journey. PEACE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Finding the Center

How is it that we have lost our center?
Become taken up with either/or ideas such as:
         This or That
         I'm Right You're Wrong
         My way or no way
         Are you on the left or are you on the right?
Have we become so entrenched in our place of belief that
there is no room for any other perspective?

Have we forgotten that many times the truth is
somewhere in the middle.

How is it that we have forgotten that the center
        Is where we find common ground
        Is where we find a voice of respectful conversation
        Is where we encounter respect
        Is where there is courageous love
        Is where we come together to work for the good of all humanity.

Lord, I too have gotten lost on my own journey to my center, to the center of you. I too have gotten drawn into either/or thinking instead of looking for the both/and.  Help me to remember that finding the center does not mean staying silent, but rather is where I find strength in you to speak up.  Lord, help me to find my way back to the center.  Amen

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sighs and Groans

There seems to be a feeling of great uncertainty hovering around.  You can pick your arena of uncertainty – health issues, financial issues, relationship issues, politics.  And I am certain the list could go on.  I don’t know about you, but when I am facing uncertainty, is when I feel the need to pray deepen.  I also seem to have the experience that it is at that time I am so weary that I can’t muster the energy to create words, but to only sigh – great – big sighs.  For this time I simply offer this poem prayer.

Sighs……just sighs.
Partly because I’m oh so tired.
Partly because there is so much going on in my head,
And in the world,
And in life.

It seems all I can do is sigh and groan.
Those are the only kind of prayer I can seem to offer right now,
When I can’t make clear the chaos of the words and feelings in my head.

Thank you God for hearing my sighs and groans,
For knowing me and my prayers that are in these sighs and groans.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sacred Pausing

I am sure I have written here about taking time to step way from all the activity and engage in what I call “stop days” where all the activities and to do’s are put on hold. Forgive me if I am sounding a bit like a broken record, but I find myself remembering the blessedness of this once again.

I am in the middle of one of those “stop days.” Actually it has been more of a “stop weekend” induced by a projected ice storm. I’m a Colorado girl, snow does not phase me much, however you start talking ice and my deep respect for its slippery, fall and accident inducing ability kicks in. Plans got cancelled for both Saturday and Sunday, including church. Our family was gifted with an entire weekend together in the house.

And it was a sacred gift. I don’t remember the last time we were all able to stay in our jammies past 8:00 am. Or the last time that the schedule only included hanging out, games, baking, TV and movies. Basically just being together with no rush to get through one activity to get to the next place we had to be.

Jesus and the Bible talk a lot about Sabbath and taking Sabbath rest. In my belief it is one of the most important spiritual disciples for maintaining holistic health. Yet it is the one discipline I seem to have the most trouble practicing. It is hard to silence the I really should be doing ____, you can fill in the blank. The doing begins to take over the connecting.

And especially right now, I have come to believe the connecting is critically important. Deep and healthy connecting happens in this pause space. Whether it is connecting more deeply with God or with those most important to you in your life, or maybe it is connecting with the person we don’t know that well, but we know we need to reach out to.

It is when we can put away the busyness that distracts us, that helps protect us from being vulnerable that true connection happens. It is in this space of pause and rest and connection that we can find strength and courage for the journey ahead. It is in this space of slowing down that we connect or re-connect with our source of hope, faith and love.

So today I am grateful for a weather-induced pause. Funny thing is, the ice storm was not the impending doom it was supposed to be, I could have shifted gears and started moving back into my business, but instead I allowed myself to stay on pause, with out guilt. And I know not only myself, but those I love most dearly are all the better for it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Inspirations and Motivations

I am starting 2017 by participating in a challenge. I never thought I would ever participate in any type of challenge, let alone a fitness challenge. I’m just not the type. I have discovered that part of growing is trying new things – so here I am starting a fitness challenge through Taijifit(TM). There are different ways to participate. I am committing to showing up in the online class or the recorded Facebook-live post every day in January. I am committing to engaging in creativity by posting a picture or video each day of me doing a specific move. I am challenging my point of view by creating pictures or video of how I see a specific principle of Taijifit in my week. I am on Day two and having a blast!

Today in class, our teacher, David-Dorian Ross, spent some time discussing the idea of motivation and inspiration. He proposed that they really are two sides of the same coin, and I tend to agree with him. At the end of class he asked us to reflect on what inspires and motivates us. This seems like a good way to focus my thoughts for my first blog of 2017.

I am, by nature, a worrier and a bit of a control freak. I like to know what is going to happen and have a plan. If I don’t…well… then I can worry with the best of them. I am working on this and am hopeful that 31 days of Taijifit will help with some tools to keep the monkey-of-worry at bay. Here is where part of my inspiration comes in: I am deeply inspired by those who can be spontaneous and seem to be able to handle the worst that life throws at them with grace and while exuding inner peace – somehow keeping the internal chaos under control. What motivates me is that I know my tendency towards worry and stress is not healthy for my mind, body, or spirit.

This is where my intentions for 2017 come into play. I call them intentions, because I think it gives more space for them to develop over the course of the year. There is space as I grow and change for the intentions to grow and change with me. This is my intention for 2017, to create space. I want space to reconnect with music – all kinds of music (hey, if you have suggestions of what I should check out, leave a comment with a suggestion). I want space to explore color and incorporate color in my life; I want to see where this journey will take me in my spiritual health and perspective on life. And most of all, I want to create space to just stop.

I think this last one will be the hardest for me, but probably the one I need to do the most. We are a busy family with lots of things going on. It is rare there is a day without at least one thing on the schedule. For me, part of this stopping is making space for what I call “stop days”. These are days where there are no limits on how much TV is watched; we can get dressed or not; we are just together with no agenda or schedules. It is space to just be, to let our bodies and brains wind down to a state of true rest.

This year I want to find a better balance between doing what I am called to do by God and being who I am created by God to be. Doing is action. Being happens in the space I create between the doing. Being is where my contemplative spirit finds room to grow. It is the balance between doing and being the practice of my faith and spirituality find its completeness.

I’ll ask you the same question that David-Dorian Ross asked us in class today – what inspires and motivates you? And I’ll add one of my own: how does that shape your goals or intentions for this next year?

Come join me on the journey, it should be an exciting one.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Imperfect Path

It is cold and snowy, the kind of day that usually keeps me indoors and using my finger labyrinth instead of my out door one. But for some reason today is different, even though it is covered in snow to the point I can barely see the path and only in places at that, I am drawn to go out and walk Hope’s Labyrinth.

It is quiet out here, the earth blanketed in snow and I feel connected in a very quiet and peaceful way to this abiding beauty. I’ve never done this, walked the outdoor labyrinth without being able to see the path. Taking my first step is very much an act of faith, faith that I will remember this path that I have walked thousands of times before.

Walking today feels so much different, I find myself focused on each step, my feet searching to find the remembered path. My heart is unusually calm and unconcerned about finding the “right” path. This is a bit unusual for this perfectionist. I had expected to be a bit distressed if I found myself making a less than perfect path on my labyrinth journey. Perhaps all these years of labyrinth walking have finally taken root in my heart. That I have finally learned that it is less about how the walking is done, what the path looks like and more about the fact that it is just being walked.

I now understand why I have never walked my labyrinth in the snow; I was too busy worrying about not being able to see the path. Today perhaps I was ready to finally let go of following my preset rules about walking the set out path of the Hope’s Labyrinth. Perhaps the blanket of snow helped me to see that Hope’s Labyrinth is more than just the path, but it’s entire 14 ft. x 14 ft. square area is a place of sacred quiet. It is a place to let go of all of my set out notions of how things should be and let myself find the freedom and connection that comes in just journeying.

I finished my walk, short as it was. It was really cold! I stopped at the entrance and looked back on my footsteps, the circles uneven and the turns unequally taken. And it was beautiful, because it was my path, chosen and walked by me. Its imperfection beautiful. I took a picture to remind me of today’s journey. To remind me that Hope’s Labyrinth really is a labyrinth for all seasons.