Thursday, February 25, 2016

Today is Thankful Thursday: Thursday's Reflection

Last Sunday a friend and I presented a talk about mindfulness at church. We started by inviting the group to enter into the time and space with a brief breathing exercise by Thich Nhat Hanh:
                     Breathing in, I  calm my body.
                     Breathing out, I smile. 
                     Dwelling in the present moment,
                     I know this is a wonderful moment.

I invite you to breathe gently in and out as you read these words or say them to yourself. Feel any different?

              The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.
                                    Julian of Norwich

As you look ahead to this day when could you pause for a mindfulness moment? For example, can you imagine standing at the door before leaving the house, and giving thanks for the gifts in your life? Can you imagine sending your loved ones off to their day with a blessing?

Where are the natural transitions in your day and how could you transition more mindfully?

           Keep you heart in wonder at the daily miracles 
          of your life. 
                                      Kahlil Gibran

What are the obstacles in your life which prevent you from living more more mindfully? With greater awareness?

         How we live our days is how we live our lives.
                                      Annie Dillard

Today is Thankful Thursday, but every day includes an invitation to live and love mindfully. 
                           Faithful Friday
                           Sacred Saturday
                           Sabbath Sunday
                           Mindful Monday
                           Tranquil Tuesday
                           Watchful Wednesday

An Invitation
When are you most mindful? I would love to know.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On Eagle's Wings: Tuesday's Reflection

Since returning from vacation I have been in a state of preparation, presentations, and projects. For the most part I have been present to each task and event, but by Saturday I needed to pause. 

I suggested to my husband that we drive to Wabasha, MN to the National Eagle Center, which is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. The water remains open there all year round, making it a natural gathering place for eagles in the winter time. The center houses non releasable bald and golden eagles and offers ongoing education programs to the public.

We talked last winter about making this trip, but somehow it never happened. Saturday was a perfect day -- fairly mild temperature, occasional sun highlighting the bones of the bluffs along the river.   The bare trees reminded me of porcupine quills poking up from the bare hills.  

We had a two hawk and 15 eagle day, not counting the eagles we met at the center. Just imagine coming around a curve and seeing a tree with five eagles in it or having an eagle swoop down in front of your car, as we experienced, twirling and swirling, dancing in a private performance. 

During the hour long presentation by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable naturalist, we not only were engrossed watching one of the center's eagles as he enjoyed his rabbit lunch, but we also learned so much about eagles. I was particularly intrigued to learn about how eagles molt or shed their feathers. The process happens over three years, one feather at a time. When a feather is shed from one side of the body, the next feather shed is in the same location on the other side of the body. In that way balance is maintained and so is their ability to fly. 

There is a lesson there, I think. The importance of maintaining balance in our lives, but also the patience needed to achieve a needed change. 

Native peoples view eagles as sacred, a symbol of Spirit, and they envision eagle carrying our prayers to the Creator God.

I had prayed earlier in the day that I might be able to set aside the tasks that were preoccupying my heart and mind. I prayed I could relax in the day and enjoy both my husband's company and the beauties we might encounter. 

My prayers were answered, and the eagles were both the source and the means. 

An Invitation
What feathers are you hoping to shed right now? Are you prepared to soar like an eagle?   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mindfulness. Not. Thursday's Reflection

Two stories.
1. Sunday morning, Valentine's Day, I head to the lower level to take a shower. I would have preferred to sleep in late this morning, but I am one of the presenters at adult forum between services at church, and we will go to the early service first. I have prepared my brief talk, a quick three minute one, and am not nervous, but nonetheless that is on my mind. I walk through the kitchen and down the stairs. I take my shower and dress and walking through the kitchen again, I return to the first floor bathroom where I put on my make-up. 

Great--I have time for a bowl of cereal before we need to leave for church. It is then, only then, I notice something new in the kitchen, the teeny, tiny kitchen I have walked through twice already this morning. On the window sill over the sink are four small red pots filled with fluffy, fresh herbs. A Valentine's Day present from my forever Valentine. How could I have missed them?

2. Monday afternoon I get in the car to drive to a friend's apartment. We will meet to plan a talk on mindfulness we have been asked to give at church. Yes, mindfulness. As I drive the familiar Mississippi River Boulevard, cross the river on the Ford Parkway Bridge into Minneapolis and then turn towards Minnehaha Falls Park and the route I take when I drive to my father's apartment in Edina, I think about how much I love that drive. And about the intentional decision I made quite sometime ago to choose that route, although longer, rather than taking the freeway. The changing river, little traffic, beautiful old homes, trees and green space now covered in winter white. A mindful decision, until I realize my destination this afternoon is not my father's apartment, but Ruth's apartment. I needed to take a left in the park, instead of a right. 

I laugh at myself and resolve once again to "begin again," as I think St Benedict said. I wasn't mindful. I wasn't present to the present moment, but I have yet another chance to begin again and to practice awareness. To wake up and be mindful. 

Mindfulness is not mysterious or magical nor is it something one accomplishes and can check off one's life or bucket list. Every moment is another chance to practice.

In a way when we stir ourselves awake from a mindless moment, we are offered a gift. Now every time I walk into our kitchen, I smile at the cheery green herbs in their red pots and think about the considerate. loving nature of my Valentine. And the next time I drive the familiar route I suspect I will pay more attention to where I am going and what I am seeing. A good thing. 

An Invitation
What has jolted you into a mindful moment recently? When have you realized you weren't mindful? I would love to know. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Unplugged: Tuesday's Reflection

This is me unplugged. I am tucked under a beach towel on a windy day at one of Florida's sandy beaches. What do you look like when you are unplugged? 

Our church has selected "unplugged" as the Lenten theme this year. We are encouraged to unplug from "things that interfere with our relationships and faithful priorities." 

There are some obvious ways to unplug, even though they may not be easy to put into operation. For example, before our recent vacation time in Florida, I thought about how I wanted to unplug during that time. I decided to unplug from this blog for two weeks, and I told friends and family not to expect frequent email updates. I have some presence, but not much, on Facebook and decided that could be set aside as well. 

I have a feeling, however, the invitation to unplug from what interferes with who we were created to be can lead us into a deeper dialogue with our hearts. In what more profound ways do I need to unplug? What am I holding onto that is begging for release? What about you?

I invite you to close your eyes lightly, not tightly and take a nice deep breath. Imagine standing in front of an electrical socket and holding onto a cord. The cord is attached to a long held belief, a regret, fear, or anxiety. Or perhaps an expectation of yourself or someone else. Even a routine, which you no longer recall the reason for establishing. 

Name what needs to be released. 

Take another deep breath and gently ease the plug from the socket where it has been held in place for a long time. Far too long. Continue to breathe. Pause in the stillness and the new space. Experience the freedom of movement you have when you are not shackled to that plug. Experience the movement of God within and around you as you discover the possibilities of new and creative life open to you.

Don't be scared. You can always plug back in. Unplugging is not an irreversible decision, although in some cases you may wish that were the case. But give yourself a chance to try out a new way of being. 

An Invitation
What needs healing in your life? How would unplugging be a step towards mending the brokenness? I would love to know