Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent: Tuesday, Week 2


Today's Readings:
Psalm 27
Isaiah 4: 2-6
Acts 11: 1-18

Monday, December 11, 2017

Advent: Monday, Week 2


Today's readings:
Psalm 27
Isaiah 26:7-15
Acts 2:37-42

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent: Sunday, Week 2

Today's Readings:
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
2Peter 3: 8-15a
Mark 1: 1-8

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Advent: Saturday, Week 1


Today's Readings:
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Ezekiel 36: 24-28
Mark 11:27-33

Friday, December 8, 2017

Advent: Friday, Week 1

Today's Readings:
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Jeremiah 1: 4-10
Acts 11: 19-26

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Advent: Thursday, Week 1


Today's Readings:
Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Hosea 6: 1-6
1 Thessalonians 1: 2-10

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Advent: Wednesday, Week 1

Advent readings for today:

Psalm 79
Micah 5: 1-5a
Luke 21:34-38


I've felt for some time now that my morning meditations had an emptiness to them. I assumed it had to do with the relentless busyness of my new role -- managing a community podcasting station is a very time-consuming activity.

... and then I thought, well -- maybe it's my reading material (I always read before I meditate); maybe I needed something new and different to read. So I thought I'd try something I hadn't tackled before: Ram Dass's Be Here Now, and I ordered a copy -- which arrived yesterday.

It wasn't at all what I expected, so I'm not sure I ordered the right book. But what I see as I flip through is the same sort of messages everything else I've been reading has been giving me, so I have this sort of been there done that response; it's not meeting my needs.

So then I thought -- I've been away from my faith a long time. Not that I've lost it, I've just been so careful in this blog not to inflict my Christian leanings on anyone; not to mention words like Jesus and God. But have I been depriving myself in the process? Because faith for me was always very rewarding, full of juice and relevance.

And at that point I remembered that ten years ago, when I first started this blog, I did a series of Advent meditations. Maybe I needed to take some time off and just re-publish those. So I went back and looked at them, and then I realized that we are in a different lectionary year. The official readings for most mainline churches are broken out into 3 years -- A, B, and C -- so that over the course of a three year cycle we basically get exposed to the entire Bible. The readings I used for the meditations in 2008 (the year I prepared these) were for year C, but now we're in year B. What to do, what to do...

So I've decided I will use the same images, but update the words to the readings of year B. It works for today, at least, so perhaps it will work for the rest of Advent as well? We'll see. At any rate, I invite me to join me on a faithful walk through Advent. And if Bible readings are not your cup of tea -- well, then, come visit after Christmas, when I'll be back on the old spirituality-not-religion path again.  Farewell for now: I wish you a joy-filled Advent, rich with compassion and generosity, and the merriest of Christmases. -- Diane

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent: Tuesday, Week 1


Today's Readings:
Psalm 79      Micah 4:6-13
Revelation 18: 1-10

Dressing for the season


At one with nature, we ready ourselves
for the season, dressing our surroundings
in the red, white and green of holiday cheer...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent: Monday, Week 1


Today's Readings:
 Psalm 79     Micah 4:1-5
Revelation 15: 1-8

The space you're in


Whatever it is you're waiting for
may be a long time coming.
I hope you'll spend that time appreciating
the space you're in right now.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Changing roles and opportunities


It can be hard to accept at times that at different points in our lives
our roles and opportunities may vary widely;
that there are periods when we're meant to be on the move,
and others where true wisdom lies
in staying put and enjoying the community we've built.

Advent: Sunday, Week 1


Today's Readings:
Isaiah 64: 1-9         Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9       Mark 13: 24-37

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pleasures of the present



We spend so much time worrying,
Hoping to protect ourselves 
against an uncertain future...
What if, instead, we spent that time
Reveling in the pleasures of the present?

Friday, December 1, 2017

A private complaint


Sometimes, when life is really making you crazy,
it's good to go someplace private
and just squawk it out of your system...

(Note: in the worst days of my first marriage, 
I used to go out and sit in my car and scream)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Peace after turmoil


On those lonely days, it's nice to see
another being steaming by, even from a distance --
but it's also kind of refreshing, 
after the turmoil of the holidays,
to have the whole landscape to yourself... 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It's all one


There may be two kinds of people in the world,
two different ways of doing things,
two sides to every story, 
but from a distance, it's all part of the same picture.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Challenges of consumption


It's easy to get love backwards
when we get too caught up in Christmas shopping...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dream a bit


As winter's chill begins to settle in our bones,
the memories of summer travels keep us warm.
Close your eyes, and dream a bit
of warmer times gone by, and those to come...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Last hurrah



Wandering round an island far from home,
Searching for coffee in an all-island power outage 
after a fierce November storm,
I found this lovely straggler --
A last fading reminder
Of a summer now long gone...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Appreciating beauty


There are so many different ways of being beautiful in this world.
I hope someone appreciates yours.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The light that calls you home


In following the light that draws you inward, and onward,
may you find that it is also the light that calls you home.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving for the bad stuff

Thanksgiving is a little different this year: because our daughters have other plans, we're spending it alone; just the two of us, no cooking, no shopping, just... gratitude.

So I thought I'd take some time to talk about the blessings that have been brought into my life as a result of bad stuff that's happened. I know -- it's an odd approach to take, but it's where my brain went this morning.

We are so much more than the stories we tell ourselves, the losses we regret and the mistakes we have made, the pride we take in our accomplishments and the many ways we set ourselves apart. This being human is both a challenge and an opportunity to learn, and so today I want to remember how grateful I am for everything -- both good and bad -- that brought me to this moment.

So here's the bad stuff I'm thankful for:

1. Being raised by a narcissistic mom, which taught me both humility and empathy: fastest way I know of to develop those vital mirror neurons!

2. Early heart problems, which have made me both less fearful of death and more able to reassure my daughter as she deals with similar challenges.

3. A painful first marriage and divorce, which taught me to look beyond surface beauty to the heart that lies beneath, introduced me to meditation and Buddhism, and helped me to discover my own resilience; that I could go to the roots of my pain and still survive.

4. The challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, which helped me to uncover my own capacity to love.

5. The hard work and subsequent betrayal of working for the Church, which helped me to discover a deeper faith that goes beyond what I found in the pews.

6. The death, abandonment and betrayal of my father, which freed me to reinvent myself apart from what I imagined to be his expectations.

7. The financial ups and downs of life, which have taught me to be frugal, to be grateful, to be willing to let go, to be generous with what I do have, and to trust that what I have will be enough.

But what about the good stuff, you ask? Oh, my -- too numerous to mention: my husband, my health, my daughters, my home, my friends, my community, all the opportunities to serve and to create that come my way, and all the blessings of this amazing life -- including you, dear readers. Thank you for your continued presence, your willingness to listen and return for more, and for the grace you carry out into your own lives. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Running around in circles


Ah, the wisdom contained in a simple road sign --
If you find you're running around in circles,
maybe it's time to slow down!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Identity


Isn't it amazing, how easy it is for us
to get caught up in our identity?
Who are you, really, underneath?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Islands in the sea of life


We are, each of us, islands in the sea of life.
There's the popular side that the tourists know and love,
and the dense, dark, private side
that even the natives fear to explore...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The illusion of safety


We work so hard to create the illusion of safety --
retreating to our caves at the end of the day,
building fences to define our territory
and keep the world at bay, hoping against hope
that the water won't rise, the sky won't fall,
the earth won't tremble, and illness, pain, and loss
will walk some other shore, just not our own...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A grand adventure


Life's a grand adventure
when someone you trust 
is very much in charge and keeping you safe.
So if, then, we believe in Something Else
that's in charge and keeping us safe,
doesn't life become a grand adventure?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Trapped in our fears


It's all too easy to get trapped in our assumptions;
to assume the world is black and white,
and that all the fears our mind projects in relentless iterations
will ever be released or solved by worrying about them.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

When life intervenes...


Life has a way of intruding upon our reflections.
Don't think of it as a distraction,
but rather -- a completion.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Our hope for years to come


"They fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day..."
It's curious, isn't it -- the way those old familiar lyrics
keep popping into our heads...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Beautiful day



Sunrise over the mountains:
A beautiful way to start the day. Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gathering in gratitude


I see these boats and hear that old familiar hymn:
"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing..."
Thanksgiving must be on its way --
what are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Holy Ordinary


When we open our eyes and really see
the beauty that surrounds us,
we begin at last to realize
how irresistibly holy the ordinary can be.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day


Aching today for all who served
and never quite recovered from the trauma...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Build up your stores of patience


Each year, the golden Autumn with its falling leaves reminds us
that losses will inevitably occur, 
and yet -- each loss has its potential to bring new opportunities,
if only we build up our stores of patience and trust
and quietly await the replenishment of Spring.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Deep within


This is what it feels like at the depths of your being:
the peace, the warmth and color, the sound of your heart beating
like the pounding of the waves against the sand --
it's always there, waiting, deep inside you...

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wandering attention


Why, in Autumn, do we already find ourselves
dreaming of spring?
What will it take to place our attention
back on the beauty that is here, and now?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Getting along


It's true. Our skin may be a different color,
we may choose a different way to propel ourselves through life,
but we're sharing the same space,
and the waves that knock you about upset me, too.
Couldn't we at least try to get along?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Standing in the balance


It's all part of the picture, isn't it --
the dark parts and the light, 
the colorful and the gray,
the wild waves and the stillness,
the standing up and the lying down...
It's the balance of them all that makes life pleasing.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Darkening shadows


It seems to grow more difficult with every passing day
to ignore the darkening shadows above our amber waves of grain...

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The glory of a foggy day


The glory of a foggy day --
it makes it so much easier
to sit without distractions...

Friday, November 3, 2017

Snow in the night


Icy white crystals 
weighting my hydrangeas:
Winter has arrived...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Many paths to wonder


So many different -- and glorious -- paths 
to reach a single destination...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pondering the arc of being


Everywhere I look
there are reminders of the arc of being:
what rises falls to rise again;
what ends will soon begin again;
what's lost lives on, if only in reflections...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Masking


Instead of asking, "Which mask shall I wear?"
consider which mask you might remove...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Beauty, or duty?


What is it that you see here?
The glorious result of summer's labors?
Or a to-do list that's getting out of hand?
Beauty? or Duty? Which is it that you choose?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A living invitation


Now is your time to shine, to glow;
to serve as a living invitation 
to a deeper, fuller life.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The stillness that fuels our souls


By taking time to rest on a still golden morning,
we're reminded of who we are,
and where we feel most centered. 
The stillness fuels our souls for the day ahead.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Responding to the longings of the heart


No problem can be solved 
from the same level of consciousness that created it. 
Albert Einstein

Knowing that I'm coming up on a period of time in which I'll be too busy to paint, I've spent the past week working hard to spend time in my studio, playing with paints and canvas.  I'd been away from it for a while, so I was working up to it gradually, walking through some simple exercises, trying to get out of my head and back into the groove, hoping to replicate -- or at least emulate -- some of my recent successes.

But nothing was working. Everything seemed forced, labored, and ultimately unappealing. The colors were wrong, the shapes were wrong -- nothing was going right, so I was feeling pretty discouraged. 

So, when yet another avalanche of catalogs appeared in our mailbox, I found myself thumbing through them, looking for inspiration, and I found myself drawn to an odd little glass platter. So drawn that I decided to try using its design as inspiration for a painting. What you see here is the result.

I know -- completely different from anything I've done before, right? But OH so much fun to create -- plus I got to invent a new tool, and try out another new tool, and explore some new techniques... it was altogether a very satisfying experience.

Will I try something like this again? You bet! Will it be as successful, without a specific instance to guide my design choices? Who knows; only time will tell. My painting has been through several phases since I began (almost 5 years ago now; how time flies!) and some of them have only lasted for a couple of iterations. But my theory is that each phase and style will somehow feed the overall process. 

Perhaps someday they'll all come together someday into something totally original -- and perhaps not. The truth is, it really doesn't matter. I started this path because it looked like fun, because I was really drawn to color. It still is, and I still am, and -- when it really comes down to it -- that's ultimately what matters. 

As the only child of a narcissistic mother, I'm an inveterate people-pleaser, no matter how hard I've fought to be independent from that trait over the years. Painting has become my opportunity to wrestle that into submission, and it's been an amazing gift. Whenever I've slipped into trying to replicate something I know people like, it's been an abysmal failure. It's only when I paint what feels good to me that I succeed. (Note that I'm at least self-aware enough to define success as "I really like this one" instead of "That sold! Yay!")

So the other quote that occurs to me this morning, as I sigh in happy contemplation of this painting, is one often attributed to Einstein, though its actual origin is apparently unknown. That's the one that goes "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." I'm not exactly sure how it applies here, since I was doing what I THOUGHT was the same thing, but NOT getting the same results. But perhaps the quote really resonates at a deeper level than that. The "same thing" I was doing was the people-pleasing, and the different result I was hoping for was satisfaction, a feeling of joy and accomplishment. 

Which, I think, is the lesson here. However much we crave the approval of others, true joy ultimately comes -- at least for me -- from exploring a creative response to the longings of the heart.