Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude: Thursday's Reflection

More than likely, you are busy today. You may be in the kitchen preparing the turkey and stuffing for dinner in your own home. Or perhaps you are baking a pie to take to someone else's home. Maybe you are on the road, heading towards family and friends. 

I promise I won't take up much of your time. I have Thanksgiving dinner to prepare, too. 
I just want to say one thing: Thank you. 

Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for offering your thoughts. Thank you for your friendship, even if we have never met. Thank you for sharing my posts with your friends and helping me grow this community of readers. 

Thank you. 

         Jewish tradition gives us a goal: We should say one 
         hundred blessings each day. When we try it, we 
         discover that it's quite difficult to find one hundred
         things each day for which to be thankful. So difficult, 
         in fact, that we spend most of our time looking. 
                             Daniel I. Schwartz and Mark Hass

And now back to the turkey. 

An Invitation
Who do you need to thank today? And tomorrow? I would love to know. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Traveling Mercies: Tuesday's Reflection

Together Last Summer
Today our son and daughter-in-love arrive from Cleveland to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with us. Their flight is due early afternoon, and I am eagerly awaiting the call that they have landed safely, and we can pick them up. I will do the happy dance when we are together again.

All morning I will whisper "traveling mercies" under my breath, hoping all will be well as our loved ones head toward us. 

I pray "traveling mercies" for all who are on the road or in the air this week. Or crossing borders of any kind. 

The writer Anne Lamott titled one of her books Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith, saying when someone in her church goes away for awhile, they are offered this blessing. "Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound."  

How simple and clear this is. And perhaps it is all we ever really need. 
            To love the journey -- yes, a specific trip, but our 
            whole life. The journey that is our life. 

            To know God is with us. No matter where. No matter 
            when. No matter what.

            To come home safe and sound. To come home to
            ourselves, the essence of who we were created to be. 

We are all travelers and all travel is sacred. We all need traveling mercies wherever we are on the journey. May all be well. 

                   May you travel in an awakened way,
                   Gathered wisely into your inner group;
                   That you may not waste the invitations
                   Which wait along the way to transform you.

                    May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
                    And live your time away to its fullest;
                    Return home more enriched, and free
                    To balance the gift of days which call you. 
                                               John O'Donohue
                                               To Bless the Space Between Us
                                               A Book of Blessings

An Invitation
If you are traveling or if others are traveling to you this week, what do you need for this time to be holy time, sacred time? 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Who Will Be at Your Table? Thursday's Reflection

A week from today families and friends all across the nation will gather to give thanks and gorge on abundant amounts of food. I have a tiny kitchen, and I am not sure exactly how I am going to manage, but I will, happily so. Our children and their spouses, the grandchildren, and my father will assemble to eat and laugh and remember and give thanks, and eat some more. 

We will remember my mother and her scalloped corn and her jello salads and her pie crust. We will remember my father's oyster dressing, which I will not be making, and how every year he asked,  "Guess how much oysters cost this year."

We will remember the year our daughter-in-love's mother and father were with us, and we caught Mary turning over the turkey dinner plate to see whose pattern this was. (Johnson Brothers). We all got the giggles. Little did we know that would be her last Thanksgiving.

We will remember the year when Ralph the dog ate the apple pie, but we still had more than enough desserts to feed us all.

I will remember driving into Ohio's Amish country to get a fresh turkey at a small Amish butcher shop and then getting up early to start the roasting, good smells filling the house even before everyone got up for breakfast. 

I remember our granddaughter Maren in charge of making place cards. 

I remember setting the table. Sometimes our tablecloth on our nine foot harvest table, the centerpiece of our home at Sweetwater Farm, was a vintage blanket or quilt. As I set the table with turkey plates, crystal and silver, I blessed the space. I offered a blessing for all those who would be with us and all those who were no longer with us. I prepared for sacred time. 

I have a folder with my Thanksgiving menus from the last 10 years or so --not that the menu varies that much--and perhaps tomorrow I will make the first of many trips to the grocery store. I have ironed the vintage white napkins and thought about how to decorate the table this year. I am beginning to prepare for sacred time. 

Yes, I know each moment has a whisper of sacredness in it, and yes, I know each breath is an opportunity for gratitude, but Thanksgiving, gathering at the table, can awaken us to our many blessings. And to the sacredness of all life. 

An Invitation
What happens when you gather at the table? How do you prepare for this sacred time? I would love to know. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In Honor of Paris: Tuesday's Reflection

Four years ago we were in Paris--a dream trip. Even though we were only there for two weeks and even though I don't speak any French, since then I have felt a bit Parisian. I feel that way about other places I have been fortunate to visit. I am a bit Tanzanian and a little bit Thai with some English Cotswold's thrown in. I am Boston and Door County and Des Moines and Key West. I am Cleveland and Chicago and Montauk Point at the end of Long Island. I am Florence and Santa Fe, San Francisco and Singapore. I am St Paul. I am even some of the places I have never been--Provence and Edinburgh, Alaska and Istanbul. 

And so when something terrible happens, no matter where it is in the world, I am changed. I may not always be aware of the wound to my being, but little by little, damage is done. Therefore, it is important for me to sit still, to breathe in calm and hope and love, and to pray for my brethren wherever they are. We are all one. 

An Offering

May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
May we find in the dissolution
         of our apathy and denial,
         the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning
          in the inner chamber of our being---
          burning great and bright enough
          to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service
          of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form
          yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we endure; may sorrow bond us and not separate us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow
         and not from its touch or its flame.
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through
         the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul's journey be revealed
         and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten
         and blessed with the remembrance
         of who we really are.
                               ---The Terma Collective

An Invitation
What can you offer the people of Paris, the world? I would love to know. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Evening Prayers: Thursday's Reflection

What is your energy like in the evening? More and more I find I am not good for much of anything at night? All I want is to get into my pajamas and watch something absorbing on television (Recent favorites include The Great British Baking Show and Home Fires) or curl up in the snuggery and read. I look forward to bedtime in a way I never did before. 

I am a morning person, and I want to do everything in the morning, including my prayer and meditation time. At night as I close my eyes, I whisper a few words of gratitude and blessing, but that is about it. However, if I return to my garret at night I often sit quietly in my comfortable chair and think about the day I have been privileged to live, even when the day has not gone as planned. 

Joyce Rupp in her classic, The Cup of My Life, A Guide for Spiritual Growth suggests the following questions as a way to let go of the day and move towards rest.
1.   How open or aware was I to the presence of God in my day?

2.   What kind of nourishment did I receive? What kind of nourishment did I give?

3.   Does anything need to be emptied out in order for me to be at peace tonight?

4.   For what do I thank God as I prepare to enter into sleep?

When I sit with these questions, I feel my body relax, not just from exhaustion, but because I let go of control and any worry preparing to perch on my pillow. Tomorrow, if I am so blessed, is another day, and I will have the chance to be the aware and nourishing person I truly want to be. 

I whisper a closing prayer and turn out the lights. 

Divine Companion, shelter me under your wings of love. Grant me a peaceful night and a restful sleep. Amen.  
                                                          Joyce Rupp

Two Evening Prayers by Marianne Williamson

Dear God,
Thank You for this day.
Thank You for my safety and the safety of my loved ones.
As I enter sleep, may these hours give me peace.
May they bring healing to my mind and body.
Where there is pain, where there are people who have no place to sleep, who suffer and who die, may Your angels come unto them and minister to their lives.
Dear Lord,
Please let the light stream in.
Please use my hours of sleep.
Please prepare me during these hours of rest for greater service to You.
May the light that surrounds me, tomorrow shine through me.
Soften my heart.
Thank you, Lord.

Dear God,
I surrender to You the day now over.
May only the love remain.
Take all else into the fire of Your transformative power.
Release me, release others, from any wrongdoing.
Dear God,
Return me to Your light.
As I now give to You who I am, what I did, who I loved, who I failed to love, please make all things right.
Take all things.
May I continue to grow in Your light and love.
Tomorrow may I be better.

An Invitation
What is your evening routine? Does it include time to review and bless the day? I would love to know. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Morning Time: Tuesday Reflections

How do you begin your day? Are you a coffee and the newspaper person? Or do you go for a walk with your dog or on your own as your first  activity of the day? 

As soon as I have made the bed, I head upstairs to my sanctuary garret. Until recently, I spent the first hour or more in meditation and devotion time. Lately, however, I have decided to use the first hours of my day for writing. Much to my surprise, the rest of the day seems to fall into place, including time for meditation later in the day. 

Before I begin writing, however, I take a moment to breathe myself open to the day with a brief morning prayer. My morning prayer is my jumpstart into the day. I offer one of my own or I choose a favorite. 

Dear God,
I give this day to You.
May my mind stay centered on the things of spirit.
May I not be tempted to stray from love.
As I begin this day, I open to receive You.
Please enter where you already abide.
May my mind and heart be pure and true, and may I not deviate     from the things of goodness. 
May I see the love and innocence in all humankind, behind the masks we all wear and the illusions of this worldly plane.
I surrender to You my doings of this day. 
I ask only that they serve You and the healing of the world.
May I bring Your love and goodness with me, to give unto others wherever I go.
Make me the person You would have me be.
Direct my footsteps and show me what You would have me do. 
Make the world a safer, more beautiful place.
Bless all your creatures.
Heal us all and use me, dear Lord, that I might know the joy of being used by You.
                                           Marianne Williamson

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more. 

                                              John O'Donohue

Beloved Friend, I open myself to be of service. Please help me be your arms and willingly hold those who need a healing touch. Open my eyes that I may truly see what you ask of me today. Open my ears that I may truly hear and respond to the cries of joy and sorrow from your children. May the words of my mouth be the meditations of your heart and may I sow peace wherever I go. Amen.

No matter what else happens in the day, what direction I am bidden or what new choices are presented, I have had this quiet moment of connection with the Divine. 

An Invitation
How do you start your day? What prayer, formal or informal, do you offer as you start a new day? I would love to know.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Turkey Time: Thursday Reflections

After doing some errands the other day I decided to drive through the neighborhood where we raised our kids, Crocus Hill, an area of homes built primarily in the early 1900's. Large, elegant homes that seemed to have the Midas touch on this sunny, and amazingly warm November day. I drove through a shimmering gold velvet curtain as leaves formed paths of gold on the streets, sidewalks and lawns. 

A gift of a day, all on its own, but that wasn't enough, for what did I see in the front yard of one of those stately homes? Turkeys! A flock of wild turkeys. Only they weren't so wild. I pulled over to the side and got out of my car to observe them. A few began to amble to the next yard --no rush. A couple others were taking a break in the shade and not about to move on my account. 

The turkey is sometimes called the "earth eagle," according to Animal-Speak, The Spiritual and Magical Powers of creatures Great and Small by Ted Andrews. Turkeys are associated with spirituality and with honoring Mother Earth. The turkey "is a symbol of all the blessings that the Earth contains" and they find "strength in numbers and thus reflect the energy of sharing." 

Medicine Cards, The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson describes the turkey as the symbol of "give-away," sharing, even sacrificing for the good of others. "Help and sustenance is given by Turkey out of the realization that all life is sacred. It is knowing that the Great Spirit resides within all people. It is an acknowledgement that what you do for others you do for yourself."

I know it is no longer unusual to see flocks of turkeys when driving in the countryside and even in more urban areas. In fact, when we drive on crazy busy 494 not far from the airport we often see a flock, but seeing them yesterday seemed unusual. 

Perhaps I needed a reminder as we enter a time of giving thanks that others are in need of our "give-away." Before the rush of the upcoming season, the turkeys can remind us to consider the ways we will share our own bounty with those in need. After all, "Doing unto others and feeding the people is the message of all true spiritual systems." (Sams, 161-162)

What a gift yesterday was. What a gift every day is. As my 92 year-old father says, "Everyday is a good day." 

Oh, and I must remember to order our Thanksgiving turkey!

An Invitation
What are your plans for "give-away" this season? How does "turkey" show up in your life? I would love to know. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Limited View: Tuesday's Reflection

I love sitting at my desk in my garret, even though the view from my desk is limited. The two windows let in the day's light, and I am grateful for that, but what I actually see when seated at my desk is our garage roof. In order to see anything else, I need to leave my desk and stand at the top of the stairs. Then I can look down into our yard, beautifully tended by my husband, and I can see the neighbor's garage across the alley.

Before our new garage was built I could see the house behind us and even over onto the next street. I saw trees and the movement of people and cars. It wasn't a rolling hills over the valley kind of view, but I enjoyed the quiet urban neighborhood view. 

I am thrilled to have our new garage, especially as winter approaches, and the garage itself looks like a cottage with its window boxes and red door, but still, it has taken me awhile to adjust to the lack of a view. Or at least a view that changes or holds some interest. 

Except, of course, for the next door neighbor's large overflowing flowering crab tree. The branches extend over our back yard, and right now they are full of bright orange fruit, lunch and dinner for the birds all winter. The branches sway with the breeze and remind me that beyond the shingled roof, there is beauty and bounty. 

Here's what the view from my window can teach me:
*   Sometimes to get a new view, a new perspective, I need to move, to go some place else, or do something different or new. 
*   Sometimes I need to let go of an earlier viewpoint or perspective. What was, isn't necessarily a reality anymore.
*   Each view, each perspective has something to offer, but I need to open to it, awaken to it. 

The other day I stood in the backyard and looked up at this tree, which is such a contrast to the other neighborhood trees. Instead, of rushing to empty and to become winter bare, this tree remains lush and abundant. Now that's a perspective I can try to adopt--to understand the ways in which I remain a tree of plenitude. 

An Invitation
What new views await you? What change of perspective calls you? I would love to know.