Saturday, December 26, 2009

All part of the picture

I finished Richard Rohr's The Naked Now this morning, and I'm feeling a little low. It's not just that "morning after" feeling you get after Christmas, or the wondering what comes next -- it has a lot to do with Rohr's statements, toward the end of the book, about what enlightenment looks like: clearly I'm not there yet.

So when I was wandering through my image files this morning, looking to see what needed to be posted here, this one really leaped out at me: I think it's the pondering quality, the between-ness of it. One project done, more on the way, and now a chance to stop and briefly evaluate where she's been and where she's going next.

Plus it has the double whammy of having been shot at the Rivendell Retreat Center on Bowen Island, where -- for four years in a row -- I used to spend a week each February on a Centering Prayer retreat with Cynthia Bourgeault. I'm missing those retreats -- have been, since they stopped 3 years ago -- and longing for a chance to go back and feel that peace again.

It seemed to me that those weeklong meditation sessions worked to jumpstart me into new insights, and that without them the road has become a rather long slog with no clear light at the end of the tunnel. But that could also be that during the holidays life is busy and routines are thrown off; meditation has certainly been less fulfilling lately... but of course, at the same time, I'm loving having the kids home and all the extra energy in the house.

At any rate, once I decided this was today's picture I took the next obvious step, which was to crop it; to remove all the distracting bits at the bottom and all the blank unnecessary stuff at the top. But I was surprised, when I did that, to discover that the image lost all its emotional impact for me. And, oh, isn't there a lesson in that!

Even the best moments in our lives -- whatever they may look like to you -- must need to be framed by the distractions, by the routine, and the dark edges of life. A tidy composition isn't necessarily a good composition, and we need the balance of busywork, difficulty and boredom to highlight the value of those rare and precious moments of peace and insight.

And what I see is that where I am is exactly where I need to be at this moment. It's exactly okay to be 60, to feel a bit restless, to be coming down with a mild cold and longing for a better cup of coffee and wishing I'd been able to make even one of the Christmas services. It's okay to be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mess and the backlog , to be wishing my camera and I could go shoot something new and different, to be missing those retreats and to be anxious about continued unemployment, both in our immediate family and beyond; to feel discouraged about the mini-wars in our family and the larger ones beyond our shores.

It's all good, it's all part of the picture, and there are opportunities for growth and change everywhere. Blessings abound: we only need to see them.


M.L. Gallagher said...

Hello Diane! Two years ago I took myself off to Tofino in January for a week of storm watching, beach walking and inner trolling.

At one point I wrote that it is so easy to feel connected to the Divine, to the universe to everything and everyone on this not so longely planet when I am alone by the sea, contemplating my world -- why can't I feel this in the city? Why can't I carry these feelings of bliss and contentment with me always?

What I realized was -- I can. It's just the busy-ness of everyday living where I do not take time out for me in quantities I need, keeps me from connecting on a spiritual moment with every moment passing through me. It's me... keeping me... from being me :)

Love your post today. Love the idea of the 'clutter' around me creating the harmony within and without me.



Maureen said...

We all seem to be channeling each other today.

I just finished listening to a chat between Phil Cousineau and Gary Null on Voiceamerica. The two talked about creativity, the subject of Cousineau's newest book, Stoking the Creative Fires.

One of a number of takeaways was this: Ask yourself daily what is the real work of my life, how is my fire, my passion, my work, will it make a contribution (not to me, which is ego-stoking, but to others)? Cousineau urges to "keep it positive" by reminding ourselves not of what we haven't gotten done but of why we want to create in the first place, because that becomes our constant source of inspiration. He says that creativity is the power of completion in our lives, a gift, our soul-life. And that the gift must keep moving.

Another point Cousineau makes: We have to be careful once we reach the completion process that we do not suffer postpartum blues. In creating something, he says, we are birthing something into existence. If that something comes out of our fire and is complete, we need to pass it on and in the process create communities of creativity that keep passing on what they create. And then think of what we want to do next, as we are witnessing others following their passions.

Null noted how people master their crisis and not their solution, adding that we cannot create what we cannot see, that we have to become the eyes of our own journey, and especially give ourselves the privilege of establishing boundaries that let us honor our own life, of our makings, and not feel guilty that we haven't met others' needs (e.g., an e-mail need).

I won't go on but I did find this inspiring. The chat is at

Joyce Wycoff said...

As I sit here, the first morning back after 4,000 miles of wanderings, I think again how blessed I am to have each of you in my life. Diane, your stimulating post, and Louise and Maureen, your insightful comments, leave me feeling filled and joyful.