Of Caterpillars and Hope…

Tiny Teddy-bear Caterpillar

Our first “teddy-bear caterpillar” sighting of the year. He was crossing our gravel road when my sister and I stopped to pet him, and he curled up into himself — protecting his softness from the harsh unknowns of the world. He was gently carried to a place of green far off the road, and we continued our evening walk.

Today, I found myself envying this tiny one’s ability to freeze and bring himself a sense of safety — in his little world everything stopped — there was time to just be still. I, too, feel like curling up for a period of rest — I find myself unable to think, unable to function well, unable to ponder this journey. I am tired…

It’s a night to yearn for peace rather than marvel at it… My eyes burn with the build up of fatigue and emotion from this past summer. A couple days ago we had to evacuate since the state park I grew up hiking to from home became the site of a wildfire… Thankfully the winds pushed it the opposite direction from my childhood home, and we had firefighters from districts all over the state as well as civilian volunteers from the area, come to conquer the flames. They won. We survived our evacuation adventure – five of us at my other sister’s place, with five cats (and two fish!) – no one really slept. It was so wonderful to return home safely — and we’re all so grateful! Not everyone was able to return to their home safe and sound…

Tonight I am weighing the balance of my losses this summer alongside all the ways Light shines in my world — all the Goodness that simply is… Life is hard… but it is good. There is Hope. Tonight I will sleep — and tomorrow I will hope again.

Veni, Vidi, Amavi.

It’s all Grace.


Of Silence and Soul-Fruit – Take Courage…

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It isn’t often that we have the opportunity to take a day for reflection and the cultivation of quiet. Today was not that day — today I took The Philosopher to a doc appointment, rescheduled an appointment I would have had, and was able to spend some time with my sister and her boys (definitely the highlight of the day). Quiet was not in the cards by any stretch of the imagination today.

But I am still internally processing all the silence my soul rested in yesterday. Many times when you attend a retreat there will be conscious periods of quiet… times when you can welcome Silence in as a soul-friend. You can learn a lot from Silence. During one of these points we were journaling after the reading of a poem – answering questions, listening to what bubbles up from inside when you ask a question and simply wait for your internal response. I found myself looking at the question from a broader perspective.

We were exploring the idea of knowing when you’re going in the “right direction” in this work of hospice… But in the quiet, my heart took the question and expanded it. When do you know you’re going in the “right direction”, period? What does it mean to “go in the right direction? In my mind’s eye I saw a compass, but a compass is useless unless you know where you’re going. And so often in life we feel like we’re in the dark — we don’t know where we’re going, we don’t know exactly where we are, we can feel so blinded by the circumstances of life  — by our sorrows and struggles — we don’t feel like we can even see our hands clasped in front of us in prayer. How do we know we’re going in the “right direction” then?

Deep within me I heard an echo of an old childhood song taken from Galatians 5:22…

“Love,  Joy,  Peace,  Patience,  Kindness,  Goodness,  Faithfulness, Gentleness, and  Self-Control…”

These are known as the Fruit of the Spirit… (Sometimes I wonder where this fruit is in the world today…)

Any gardener will tell you that fruit only grows where there is enough light. If the Light of Life is our goal — truly living it — we must be able to find it even we can’t see… I realized that following this soul-fruit can help us feel the Path even when our eyes are blinded by life’s Dark moments.  You don’t have to see to know love, or peace, or kindness, or joy — all these Fruit are easily recognizable to us… but they don’t grow out of nothing. They require Light and Nourishment – like everything that grows. Even if we feel lost in our inner darkness – if we “follow the fruit” we can know we’re moving toward the Light – moving in the “right direction”. As we strive to experience them more and more in our lives, then we can see where we are, what we should be doing, and what direction to go — even if we don’t necessarily understand why, or what is around the next corner.

“Embrace your grief for there your soul will grow.” Carl Jung

Mother Teresa suffered deeply from an interior darkness, but the Fruit of the Spirit remained a constant in her life. This is why everyone around her could see the Light of Life living in her — even when she couldn’t see it herself, and she was able to trust the direction her life was going, even when she didn’t understand it. She could follow blindly because she trusted blindly… she knew Love.

Love is not tame — but it is Good…As C.S. Lewis put it:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

“Courage, dear heart.” The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

We can Trust that where the Fruit is — there is the Light… take courage

I am grateful…

  1. loving, slobbery kisses from Little One…
  2. Little Boy getting a haircut — he always looks so much older every time it’s cut!
  3. Dr. Thom… I’m so, so thankful to have found him and his osteopathy…
  4. The Philosopher doing so much better after his appointment today…
  5. gluten free pumpkin cheesecake from my hubby! :)
  6. clean kitchen…
  7. healing touch…
  8. Pat-me snoring beside me on the couch… :)
  9. journals and silence…
  10. teddy bear stuffed and put together waiting for his baby boy snuggles!!

It’s all Grace…

Blessings…

In between the rest of the happenings of the day, our family took a brief excursion to a park down the road from our house. We’ve lived here almost a year and didn’t realize it was there, so when my hubby saw it on google maps today we decided to give it a visit after our Chinese food lunch. :) We didn’t stay very long – just long enough to check it out — but it was a beautiful day, and it proved to be a lovely little park with a pavilion for picnics that might come in handy later. There was a huge grassy area, and then the paved area went right down to the Clackamas River — it even had a boat ramp to make the river easily accessible. Who would have guessed this charming piece of greenery was back behind all the industrial zoned area near our house?

Sometimes there are hidden gems where you least expect to find them.

Isn’t life like that? We never know what blessing may be hiding for us in the most unlikely places. Sometimes a lightning strike during one of life’s darkest storms can reveal the beauty of our surroundings in a completely new way. We have to keep our eyes and ears open or we never know what we could miss. Those brief moments of encouragement can give us the momentum we need to get to the top of a mountain we may be climbing, or across a particularly troubled sea… life is full of hardships and difficulties.When we’re soul-tired and weary, life’s hidden gems remind us there’s more to our journey here than just the struggles…

It’s also important to remember that we can be that blessing in the lives of those around us, and little things can make a bigger difference than we realize. A kind word or deed, a smile of encouragement, taking the time to notice the humanity in someone else — this is how we bless others. Giving someone the gift of hearing them and seeing their perspective, rather than just projecting our own understanding on the words they say — or fulfilling an unmet need — these little things can be soul-shaping for those we encounter. And it is these small things done with great love that shape our own souls as well — these are the things that change us — that help us grow in the Fruit of the Spirit as Galatians puts it.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22)

We grow this fruit in the garden of our souls as we learn to bless… doing small things with great love. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.” It is love that is the key — love, real love, is what transforms an act of pity into an act of charity… of mercy… “Be merciful as your Father is merciful…” (Luke 6:36) Love is what creates the fullness of a blessing when we give to someone else. We need to learn to truly love one another so that we can be the blessing someone needs — so that we can be a reminder for others that there’s more to this journey here than just the struggles we all face.

So thankful for the little things…

  1. sunlight on the river…
  2. crisp fall air and a gentle breeze…
  3. wildflowers my boys brought me…
  4. hot coffee…
  5. Pat-me cuddles…
  6. gluten free gummy bears…
  7. snuggly purple blankets…
  8. sweet and sour chicken…
  9. watching ducks…
  10. slow Sundays…

It’s all Grace…