Tag Archives: Spirituality:Finding Mine

Journey of Spirit, mind, soul and religion.

Sign Of Love

Out of the corner of my eye I thought the sign said, “I’m Courageous Inside.” Cool, I thought. I stopped, and upon closer examination realized it was of course the predictable, promised “Gorgeous” hook often used when the outside of a house looks a little old, or sad.

I walked on smiling. And thinking, well, maybe this is the message I needed today. It showed up on the furthest-away-from-my-house block in a glance, and fits lovingly into the narrative that I have been hearing in this year’s Advent season. After all, we tend to hear the message we seek, or need. And God seems to usually (if not always) find a way, sometimes creatively, sometimes abruptly, to reach us when we get out of our house.

I plan to affirm and say this out loud sometime today.

I am courageous inside.

Maybe one of these words, courageous or gorgeous or another from a surprisingly and unsuspecting place, will meet and lift you as your sign of love. I’d like that.

Ode to Upper Las Virgenes Canyon

On Tuesday, I stood on the ridge.  Wind whipping across her curves and mesas; wind lifting my spirits beyond weight of concerns, or the 4 million busy souls of L.A.

I saw the long view of her horizons; contours of dull and golden-brown hills against gradients of grays, layers of inversion and atmospheric blues.

I focused on the daring pose of a lone, dying tree.

I breathed in dust and sage; it smelled to me like precious incense intended as prayers to the gods.

I imagined, as if I were a child again on the Midwestern prairie; pretending that I was a trail hand, working for Gil Favor, eating beans on a banged-up tin plate. Or hero in Dodge City, not as Kitty, but as a dark and mysterious cowboy riding into town on her (I mean his) bike (I mean horse).

I brought my thinking and gratitude back to where my boots are.

Buffered by the canyon’s earthy shield from a racing 101, I stood and listened for a while to the quiet, more quiet than home. Stillness is spiced by the shy song of a California Towhee’s “cheep”, or slight rustle of wind that makes the brown grasses dance, or my own sigh as I breathe deeply the luxury of these languid moments in open spaces.

The wind. The wind. The wind.

By Friday I hear that the wind is ripping fire across the grass-bearded face of these hills. It knows no boundaries. It casts embers and sparks far beyond itself because it has no regard for its effect; no respect or prejudice for land, or home, or life, or dream. My heart hurts, sinks, flips around in my chest as I hear of the horrific losses of life. And the wind and the fires go on. It is not done yet. Not contained. People try their hardest, but people have to wait for the Santa Ana winds to die down. To wait for the other side of the wind.

The wind. The wind. The wind.

I pray. For the land. For the creatures. And most of all, for the people. And, with an eerie resolve, I know I will walk this canyon again no matter the extent of blackened char or scar of her hills. I will not wait until her growth is new and restored. I will walk when the season takes me there, and I will listen for the lessons she has for me then.

In the wind. From the wind. With the wind.

Emancipation

Emancipation © twyatt2018

Emancipation © twyatt2018

I felt the stone in my heart melt like hot mercurial goo, a molten lava creating new continents of understanding; the beginnings of a new world where I was no longer a freakishly bulbous figure of too much.

I sensed a fresh scent in the air from a fresher shore of truth, shaped from the essence of all of God’s creation. I could see and be seen as knitted into this perfect weave of beauty; a part of, a coaptation of God’s magnificence and love.

I dared to step further and sink into this new earthly perspective where everything I had deemed as the imperfect physical me began to settle perfectly as is. Then, as I emerged wearing the same sixty-three-year-old coat, with deep pockets still stuffed by all of the worn-out stories that I was told about me, and that I have told and held onto about me, I notice a new lightness.

I am no longer weighted down like a round, red and white bobber by my size or shape or stories. I see and recognize that what felt before like walls and counter-weights has served me well, if not conveniently or elegantly. And, the physical attributes that I had wished all of my life to be changed? They now appear as a loving tether; a natural and useful link in humility, and lift of a kite.

I take yet a deeper breath; a more focused look, and I notice.

Acceptance seems to have settled-in beside me. She recognizes and welcomes the bundle of me as I have been, and as I am now.

Grace points me to a lifetime of experiences uniquely my own and perfectly fit between the grooves of hardship and learning. Failure and growth. Shame too, but then comes wisdom from within, the sacred and most convenient place I always look last.

I looked again. I felt again, this new idea of all is well. And a word rises from that broken stone; travels from this freshly cracked open heart, through a constricted-by-tears throat, and emerges with a gasp to open air.

Emancipation.

Note: I cannot attest to being able to hold onto this feeling of such sweet and full emancipation much after it’s first appearance. But, I am grateful for the brief reveal and taste of a new freedom. And pray it, if only but for a moment, comes for others too; by God’s love and in perfect ways and timing. It really is all about Love.

The Disease of More

The disease of more lives entirely outside of the now.

The disease of more is fueled by whatever it can grab to feed and keep its destructive combustion aflame, be it food, alcohol, money, time, even love at times.

We all have it in varying degrees.

Some of us have a natural aversion and properly tuned central nervous system that responds and shuts down fueling the fire before significant harms are done to others or ourselves. Others, like me, may yet have a few ounces of aversion left in some areas of life; a fragile awareness of what negative consequences lies just on the other side of continuing but lack (or ignore) the signal to stop in time.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of debates about the root cause of this disease of more, with as many questions and propositions on why one person seems to have a working fuse to halt harms while another does not. I have spent most of my life searching in Bibles and psychology and experimenting in practices and programs to try to change the disease in me. The discontent. The want. The never enough. The disease of more.

That loop of debates, read, in my head or talked about isn’t very helpful to me anymore. It has become an illusion of solution and yet another manifestation of the disease itself – this trying to understand and corral the cause and change. This plotting by prayer or self-willed idealized fasts of foods, thoughts, or behaviors fades as anything other or more-than chasing and killing an obsession with an old reed when the weight and swing of a new sword is surely needed.

What IS helpful for me today is to understand the broader problem, as played and patterned in many forms, and as simple as the disease of more. And to invite ways and support of willingness into my life that center and re-center me to the present. And to love.

Today I am finding that the Buddhist practice of mindful breathing does both. It busts the illusion of a possession or position in life being condition of peace. It removes the condition and makes room for God to meet me in perfection of the present. It is a doorway to my self and my God, where in the simple act of mindful breathing, I return to what God placed in me in the beginning as truth.

The present is perfect and perfect is Love.

“Our breathing is a physical formation. It is the door through which we go home to our self and reconcile ourselves with our self. The object of our mindfulness is our in-breath and out-breath, nothing else. We identify our in-breath as our in-breath and our out-breath as our out-breath. It is easy.”–The Path of Emancipation, Thich Nhat Hanh

“We have to trust the power of understanding, healing, and loving within us. It is our refuge. It is the Buddha. It is the Kingdom of God existing within us. If we lose our faith and confidence in it, we lose everything.”–The Path of Emancipation, Thich Nhat Hanh

The Treasure of Lent

The word ‘treasure’ has been showing up in my morning readings; from different places, in different context. It finally catches me, slows me down enough to notice and ask:

What treasure does God have for me, long for me to accept?
What treasure lies in Lent for me this year?
What treasure lies in me?

And I wonder, what if I create a Treasure Box for Lent?  With paints and glued-on plastic hearts and maybe some buttons, and fabrics and ric-rac trim.  And maybe secret away little notes on scrappy pieces of paper in the box as Lent reveals her treasures.

“Is that okay?” I ask myself.  “To walk into this time before Easter with more a notion of creating something fun than sacrifice?

Yes.

Then, as eagerly as I ran to find the cigar box that I have had stashed away in my art supplies, ‘the achiever’ showed up all worried, just like when I am choosing the next blank-paged journal, that it might not be the right box? Asking performance questions about if I should or could finish it by a made-up deadline of Ash Wednesday?

“What is wrong with me,” I think. “Have I so quickly fallen into the trap of accomplishment without even the slightest glance and allowance for the process? Don’t you remember that God is more in the process business than outcome?”

“Go easy,” I hear. “It is the creating and discovery with God in the unknown that reveals the treasure.”

And so, I begin.  And invite you too, to listen for what might guide you from the grip of thinking (too much). What art, song, dance, sport might loosen sometimes-strident, merit-based ideas of faith and move us towards the gentler wonder and mystery of the unknowing, the un-thought? The yet-to-be-created, the undiscovered?  To listen for and explore how you might be called to discover your treasure of Lent.

“I am the Treasure, and the Glory of My Presence glistens and shimmers along the way.” – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

“Lead us to the heart of life’s treasure that we may be bearers of the gift.” – Sounds of the Eternal, A Celtic Psalter by John Philip Newell

* Just a little note of support: It is never too late to begin a practice of prayer and play; to not put too hard of a deadline on yourself to start, do, finish, accomplish. Each day is a new beginning, and each response of the heart is a sacred journey.