Transfiguration Morning…

Blued-eyed sky and Sunlight

There is Peace here.
This morning the sky is blued-eyed — cloudless and bright…  sunlight has clothed the wetland wood across my gravel road and every green hue is alive with  its touch.
It is an August morning — the Feast of the Transfiguration — and my world awoke to this quiet beauty — the breathing of the sea-tides echoing in my chest… the rise and fall of my own rhythm — my heart keeping the beat.

I am sitting in this Quiet.
There are dishes waiting in my sink — remnants of a quick dinner before writing my paper that was due at midnight… they have been patient and will soon be clean again, but they are quiet as they wait.
The boys have had their morning meds with breakfast, the cats are resting from their nocturnal play…
In this moment nothing is clamoring for my attention.

I can feel this new day washing over my corner of the world — what is this magic that keeps us spinning through time — ever forward, ever onward? Is it this Quiet – this Foundation-of-Everything holding us all together? It is holding me here — cradling us all, just waiting to be recognized… to be known.

“If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

Inside, we’re all longing to be mystics — longing to know and be known — to sit in the Silence of ourselves surrounded by the bustle and noise of living. We’re all yearning for connection — to have Light clothe us in our innate hues and reveal our beauty to the world. Can’t you see the brightness of summer’s-light in the eyes of those around you? We’re all seeking Communion… Be gentle in your gaze — soft, compassionate eyes are the key to sight here.  Be kind, and See.

“Be still, and know…”

#augustmorning
#feastoftransfiguration
#quiet
#bekindandsee
#bestillandknow

To Be

Twin Rocks and Sunset at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea

There was a beautiful sunset last night when I went to St. Mary’s for choir practice. I stepped out of the car and just had to stop to breathe it in for a few moments…

Such a soft light … the scent of sea … its roaring rhythm echoing in my chest…

I have to admit – I am not very good at this embodied existence. I have been living with and in this body for about half a lifetime now, and I still forget it. I forget to treat myself well and take it so much for granted — even after spending a decade with it weak and frail after the stroke… You would think I would have learned a deep appreciation for how far it has carried me. But I still move awkwardly with it through this world — I can’t seem to get ahold of this “being human” thing …

But when these eyes of mine see such light, and my chest moves with the rhythm of the sea — my cheeks bit by its wind — for one fleeting moment I feel my own true presence here…

To be.

So when I see my reflection in a mirror – or look down at the strangeness of this flesh and bone that becomes so weary — that seems at once ugly and beautiful — and have no recognition of the shapes I see… When I feel so separate from this corporal existence as I normally do — so much more a thought than a self — at least I am able to catch that self in brief moments… as when the sun sets into the sea and it dances with the wind in the sand.

When this spinning world seems to pause in Time — it’s only then I am able to catch a glimpse of myself. Perhaps that is what the mystics know all the time… their true selves present in the True Light. To be human is to be the fullness of spirit, soul, and body — complete and balanced in one being. I hope I figure it out before I’m done…

Be kind — we’re all just trying to be human.


#beautyandbreath
#sunsetandsea
#beinghuman
#tobe
#softlightscentofsea
#trueselfTrueLight
#pausetime

Reasons to Smile…

Jasper and Dante

These two make me smile…

There aren’t enough reasons to smile right now. I will admit this weekend has gone by too quickly – I still don’t feel recovered from last week… Phone calls with people in tears… their loved ones in separate hospitals across the metro area because we never know what hospital will have room when they leave in the ambulance – hospitals contact loved ones at home later to let them know where their family members are… it’s a family’s worst nightmare. They watch their loved ones be driven away with plummetting oxygen levels, scared, and alone amid the EMTs and medical equipment. They are isolated at home to try to limit the spread.

We do what we can… But it doesn’t feel like enough.

At Mass this morning, sitting at the piano as the pews filled — you could feel the heavy hearts we all carried. Every face masked in solidarity and compassion for all those around us… This world needs more of the love those faces surrounding me showed. We are all doing what we can…

I will wake up and begin the week all over again tomorrow. So tonight I am sitting in the quiet pretending these moments before bed won’t end. I am escaping with stories and knitting… listening to the sound of the sea through the open window… sipping decaf coffee curled up with a snuggly blanket and admiring the peaceful sleep of these cats who help make this house a home.

In the darkness of this world, I am so grateful for the light of Home…

Gratitude and Graces…

  • Cats with nine lives – still making me smile (and the vets who saved them)…
  • Waves crashing in rhythm and roar…
  • The Professor and The Philosopher laughing together like when they were young boys…
  • My Mister and I fixing the washing machine (yay for YouTube!)…
  • Sea air on a summer night – windows open wide…
  • Early morning drives to Mass…
  • Silent prayers on Sunday mornings…
  • Sourdough bread and baked chicken…
  • Library books and warm coffee mugs…

It’s all Grace.

#coastalcats
#homeiswherethelightis
#publichealthnurse
#heavyhearts
#maskinginlove
#reasonstosmile

Soft Eyes…

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I was forced to take a “down day” today.

I never made it out of my pajamas and found myself just adding layers as the day progressed: robe, favorite purple blanket – soft and snuggly – and most recently a knitted cap — one of those known as tuques in other parts of the world. I don’t think that I’m terribly ill (though the constant chill in the house seems to have seeped into my lungs the past couple of days), but I’m definitely not “well”. It’s a little nerve-wracking to have cold, heavy lungs, when there’s such a bad flu outbreak going on right now… but I don’t really have much of a cough, and there’s no fever of any kind… I’m sure this is just the result of being chilled for too long, plus the fact that I only had a few hours of broken sleep last night, and a dash of being a bit overwhelmed with life and emotions right now — I suppose I should be surprised that illness hasn’t hit me harder. After a good night’s sleep hopefully I’ll be more myself and ready to tackle all the things that need to be done. We have movers coming in about a week…

The nice part of being forced into a “down day” is it means I can’t do much more than read – no matter how much I feel like I have to be doing something else. “Oh darn,” she said with a sarcastic twinkle in her eye. :) I’m reading a book called Books For Living right now by Will Schwalbe which has already added a variety of books to my “To Be Read” list.  I discovered that CloudLibrary had it and jumped at the chance to check it out since I’ve been wanting to read it for quite awhile. Will’s book The End Of Your Life Book Club was a really wonderful read about his relationship with his mother and the books they read together during her treatment for cancer — a book about love, caregiving, mourning, and the joy that comes from sharing the reality of a good book with someone else. As soon as I learned about Books For Living I knew I had to read it — it just took me awhile to get my hands on it (if you can consider an “ebook” having it in my hands).  So far I want to own a copy of this one as much as I wish I had a copy of The End Of Your Life Book Club. 

Days like today are nice for awhile, but by the time the sun goes down the fun is pretty much over and I’m just tired of feeling sick and tired. My health history has created a mental situation that leaves me with little patience for my body’s need to recover. I know that I should be more compassionate — patience with myself is important too — but instead of responding to my own illness like I do to everyone else’s, my knee-jerk response is one of frustration and disgust… not conducive to healing that’s for sure. It isn’t exactly a good example for my boys either — with their health struggles, they need to be given an example of compassion and patience with physical bodies as they try to heal — it takes time… sometimes longer than others (as they are learning, unfortunately). You can’t force yourself into wellness — it takes time and gentle care to heal…

Gentleness, kindness, compassion… these are major building blocks in the wellbeing of our bodies and souls — even if we rarely realize their importance. We’re all moving so quickly past each other on our life paths its easy to miss the sustenance that our souls need which we can only get from each other. You cannot experience them alone — and we do not instinctively know how to share them well either — you have to learn to be gentle… learn kindness and compassion — these skills do not appear out of the aether, magically bestowed on us like some kind of human genetic trait. I can be born with blue eyes — I am not born knowing how to look at you with “soft eyes” as my hospice teammates would say.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

Seeing other people — or ourselves for that matter — with soft eyes is a skill that takes time to develop. It begins when our mamas remind us over and over to have “soft hands” or “gentle hands” when we first pet an animal or touch a sibling — often taking our hands and showing us how to touch softly. We continue to learn how to be compassionate as our empathy skills increase — this seems to come easier for some than for others (empathy has always been an intense part of my life — this is something I didn’t need to learn as much as I needed to learn how to handle it). If we don’t learn these lessons well then we find something seriously lacking in the experience of our humanity. We might not be born knowing how to give gentleness, kindness, or compassion, but we do not thrive without them, and we cannot become completely human/humane without them either. We might not be able to describe these gifts well, but we instantly feel inhumanity present when they are missing.

In the 21st century there seems to be a sad epidemic of a lack of compassion – for ourselves and everyone around us – especially those we consider “different” from us in any way. The empath in me could come to tears thinking about this… It is so sad — for those who need our compassion, and for us — because we have a real need to be compassionate. Our souls cannot be healthy without being kind — we become twisted inside, blind to the good we can do in this world, fearful of “others” and what they “might do” to us, and we become hard — insensitive to feeling moved by poetry and song, unable to hear the whisper of God’s voice.

If someone asks you, “What happened to the world that brought us to this point?” just tell them — we’ve forgotten to teach compassion… We were so busy progressing our technology and competing with each other (in everything from whose child walked and talked first, to who has the biggest investment portfolio), we forgot to remember what makes us human. It doesn’t take much to figure out how a lack of compassion has impacted everything from homelessness to drug addiction to civic policies. Unfortunately, we don’t even have the vocabulary to speak to each other about the problems anymore… we no longer have conversations – whether in the public square or on Facebook walls – we have confrontations and debates. No one listens… there are no soft eyes surfing the internet… 

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I still have a long way to go in learning how to look in the mirror with soft eyes — being patient and compassionate with myself is probably going to be a lifelong lesson… So tonight when I’m curled under the covers with my hot tea, robe, and tuque, I’m going to focus on being patient with this body of mine as it’s trying to handle everything life has thrown at it lately. It’s been through so much already and as I begin the last couple months of my 38th year, I’m thankful this body has carried me this far…

God-willing, I’ll have many more years to learn how to give it the kindness I try to give everyone else.

I am grateful…

  1. my hubby bringing me hot tea at 4 in the morning…
  2. old robes…
  3. pajamas…
  4. homemade chicken noodle soup…
  5. books that make you think…
  6. CloudLibrary…
  7. talking about books with my sister…
  8. The Professor practicing piano…
  9. hubby hugs…
  10. learning to see with soft eyes…

It’s all Grace…

 

Hospice Heroes…

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There’s something special about the people who go into hospice volunteering. We’re just such a unique group of people — with a distinct outlook on life. My co-volunteers all come different backgrounds, we are different ages, and we’ve lived very different lives — yet, get us together in a room and it’s hard to express with words the kind of connection we seem to have… there’s a recognition of each other as having something in common in our interior worlds — these are kindred spirits in the truest sense.

It’s a special kind of person who volunteers to spend time with the dying and finds it a gift… We know that what little we do for them is returned ten fold in what they give to us — what we learn from them. Death is an intense part of life, in many diverse ways, and it is such a privilege to be allowed to spend someone’s last days with them — however many you get to have together. People who aren’t called to this work, don’t seem to understand how much we receive from it.

This morning we had our monthly volunteer support meeting — a time when we are invited to get together and share how this work is impacting our lives… to make sure we’re processing it well and not burning out. It’s a safe time to tell our stories, laugh together, cry a little together, and build relationships with other people who love working with the dying.  I’m always amazed at how different we all are — as we sit in our circle and share our lives — and yet how much love and compassion we have to give. These are some truly awe inspiring people. I have so much respect for them — for how they are trying to grow… where they are in life… and how they have allowed this work to shape them. These people are some of my real life heroes…

As I listened to them today, I found myself wishing I could share these amazing individuals with others. I would love to take them and show the world what humans can be. Rocking in my chair in the circle, I found myself thinking, “This is humanity – right here in this circle.” Profound emotion, compassion, kindness… connection, and wanting to find ways to deepen that sense of connected presence with others — this is what we are called to… small things with great love.  And the more love accompanying our small things — the greater their influence and meaning. Silence practiced in loving presence can create a deep connection — and yet it seems to be something so small that it isn’t actually anything at all! More people need to understand what a gift it is to truly connect with someone else.

Tonight, as I come to the end of this very busy day, I’m just in awe of how blessed I am to be part of something so beautiful. There are many people who work in hospice — there are social workers, chaplains, the amazing nurses, clinicians, and administrators — but the volunteers are the secret super power of hospice. These are the people who spend hours with patients — listening to them, advocating for them, encouraging them, just being with them… and loving… Hospice would not be a success without volunteers — these are the heroes of hospice, and the world needs to know… These individuals have learned so much from being companions with the dying, they have grown, they have deepened — the world isn’t worthy of them…

I am so grateful to sit among their ranks…

So much to be grateful for…

  1. Lyft drivers!
  2. the hospitality of a co-volunteer…
  3. COFFEE in adorable little Starbucks mugs… :) (I’m telling you, these things were cute!)
  4. old rocking chairs…
  5. David Whyte poetry recited…
  6. my Volunteer Coordinator — a truly amazing woman…
  7. extra time to visit on the ride home…
  8. planning library trips…
  9. surprising The Professor’s piano teacher… :)
  10. beautiful Pip — a sweet-hearted pup who let us invade her house this morning… :)

It’s all Grace…