Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Love Letters From God... From July-into- August's Moon
Blessed New Moon!
This moon-th Ordinary Time continues in the Liturgical year with many feastdays, and in the seasonal year the "dog days" of july and august continue. The traditional summer harvest festival of Lammas was also this moon-th, a time of reflection on the harvest happening in our lives, taking stock of things, gratefulness, and also mourning or regret and seeing changes we needing to make. There was also the traditional mourning of Tisha B’Av this moon in the Jewish calendar. And on an a lighter note, from here, "The Secret Society of Happy People has declared August as Admit You’re Happy Month, a charming notion which I think is worth promoting. “We’re hoping people will take this month to think about how much time they actually spend telling their family, their friends and co-workers about the things that make them happy,”"
Personally much of this moon-th passed by in kind of a haze, mostly becuase i was detoxing from a big (big for someone with EI anyway) chemical exposure, which takes awhile. My body and mind has been foggy during most of this moon, i even forgot to pay a couple bills on time (which is something that hasnt happened in a loooong time, so that shows what a real daze its been) and it cost dearly. There was also the stress of thinking i was going to move, and then delaying the move in the end, for a bit anyway. And my partner has been stressed too from overwork, so much so that it was perhaps a co-in-see-dance that he broke his arm recently and is being forced to take some time off. And yet something has also been happening, slowly throughout the moon, coming to a head lately. Something about joy. For my partner he doesnt need coaxing, he tends to jump into joy pretty easily, is even now taking a pleasant journey to a nearby island by where he is to boost his spirits since he has some time off, which is really good thing. Myself I have some issue with a focus on joy sometimes becuase i see it can happen at the expense of compassion, safety or security (see Table Tales post). But joy is more than escapism i'm slowly realizing, there is joy that is so healing. And its been like this little but insistent bird outside my window coming back and back this moon until i would listen.
It started with my feet. Sounds silly, i know. But i finally found some decent walking shoes this moonth (no small feat when you have kind of strange feet, they grew weird becuase of a toddler injury). And its been such a gift that was given becuase i find myself slowly remebering what its like to walk just to walk, to unwind, to explore. I'd lost that over time, and have so badly needed it back. Then there was the gift of light. Ive had my windows all sunblocked since we had some horrible heat earlier in the summer and shading the windows is my only hope at all w/o having AC. But recently, its cooled off for awhile so the sunblocks came down and i nearly cried the impact was so huge having light through all the windows again, both when the curtains were open and when the curtains were closed and glowing from the light. I need that so much, both the sunlight and moonlight, that healing glow. And i've also gone back to looking out the window by my bed before rising, it makes a real difference in the start of the day.
Funny how all that stuff had slipped away when things got stressful. Funny how joy can slip away before you even notice, the liitle but vital things that help our spirits. And i've been realizing just how core joy is, how it smooths the edge of life.
Many folks have no problem focusing on the wings of joy and what it brings. Myself i have focused more on the roots of security, since they are what has been more elusive in my life and feels the deeper need. But bit by bit i have been realizing just how core also is joy. It doesnt negate the need for safety, for security, for peace, for relief from pain, for so many basic basic things.... but it still shifts things somehow. Shifts them in a way that is subtle and deep and precious. I've been a slow learner at this. Joy i'm realizing is different than a mere detached sense of fun, of ignoring what needs to heal somewhere and escaping into something instead. Real joy is different, its a feeling of life's hidden kindness and freshness that gently reaches out and holds you. I was posting on this before and trying to find words and all i can think of as an image is that joy is like water, subtle yet deep, like water it seeks out the little openings in your life and seeps in to soften the edges there so you can suddenly deal with them better. And subtle as that is, it really does change things somehow. I think this is something most of the the great saints and Christain mystics and such understood so well and so deeply early in life, but for some of us we learn pretty little and late.
What cinched it was the co-in-see-dance that happened most recently. A few days ago i was out cleaning my for now unsunblocked windows, and i found this mystery orange and black feather, it was gorgeous. Today i found out it was from a Northern Flicker...was thinking of the song His Eye is one the Sparrow this afternoon (had recently posted on it) when i heared a commotion at the bedroom window. There was a whole flock of sweet little birds on the ground outside, and one big bird. The big bird was the Norther Flicker, which is a bird new to me and has the feathers like what i'd found. After seeing those birds i went to the other bedroom window accross and saw a blue jay mega upclose. I was surrounded by birds. It was right around the new moon time i think too, though until tonight i'd forgotten it was today. Something about all those birds, and also having that song His Eye is On the Sparrow in my head, is kind of driving home this stuff about joy. No words, just a feeling. That joy is precious, a healing balm, and its gifting often the dearest of co-in-see-dances...
And from Melissa of Tea With Milk (also from the US), comes this thoughtful post this moon-th, from here:
This Summer has whipped past me like the wind (public school kids start back today—thankfully we homeschool) and I’m not ready to be done with it...Last night I was thinking on what to write, and my mind was in a whirl. I can’t seem to settle and it’s evident in how my brain’s been working/or not working lately. But I got to thinking about the different things I’ve had to deal with on an emotional level this Summer. My whole family was sick (shingles/chicken pox), and I’ve watched the decline of my friend with ALS, while also being concerned with a childhood friend with lung cancer. Two of our elderly neighbors died and we’ve seen suffering up close and personal.
The Summer has been full of pain.
So, here are my thought processes….awhile back, someone somewhere wrote that they believed that everything that happened in a believer’s life was first sifted through God’s fingers. I loved that. It made sense and put certain things into perspective that had puzzled me before. I believe that God is sovereign, which means that to me, He’s the ultimate authority. There is no other. And while I know He put certain things into play when He created, I also believe that He allows things to happen in the here and now. Yes, He’s all good, but also, He is the One who disciplines and rules. His Word stands above all others.
So, when I look at pain around me, I believe the Lord has allowed it. We’re not always blessed only by the good stuff. But if we’re paying attention, we’re sharpened by the bad. We’re strengthened and made tough. Without trials, we’d be big wimps, and would be of sorry use by the Father. If my life was filled to the brim with sunshine and roses, and if I never faced disappointment, I’d be of no use to a friend who’s grieving. But if I’ve withstood a hardship, I’m better able to comfort and soothe.
So to me, it’s all from God, both the good and the bad. And like I said, since I believe He is sovereign, then He’s let every bit of it happen. And I can deal with that. On the flip side, if I believed that the evil one could get at me and whup up on me without God’s permission, I’d feel totally different. The way I see it, God let the devil get to Job. I’m no Job, but seems like God has to give permission. And if He does that, there has to be some darned good reason.
From Melissa of Those Northern skies (also from the US) comes this very moving post, from here:
Gardening and planting seeds reminds me that there is a time that runs outside of my own time; a time where God arranges the seasons for everything. I am not patient person. Gardening has changed me. I am not more patient than I was before. However, the longer I garden the more I demand of myself that I endure the process. What I mean by enduring the process is that I do not cheat and buy full-grown plants and allow myself instant gratification. I want to plant the seed and watch the unfolding of life as God designed it to unfold.
To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Favorite seed quotes:
“Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. -- Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” Friedrich Nietzsche
The ultimate wisdom which deals with beginnings, remains locked in a seed. There it lies, the simplest fact of the universe and at the same time the one which calls faith rather than reason.
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."...Henry David Thoreau
Krina of Queenheroical, another wise and regular contributer here, sends word she will return next month.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Love Letters From God... From June-into July's Moon
This moon has seen the feastdays of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, several feastdays of the disciples, the Celebration of Our Blessed Mother in her connection with Carmel (Carmel means "garden of God", i love this so much), the Summer Solstice, Fourth of July in the US (and other various equivalents of celebration elsewhere) . In ancient cultures they also called the july part of this moon "the dog days" because of the high heat (it was named such after the "dog star" sirius because that star is especially visible/close this time of year) . So fire is kind of the theme i suppose of this moon--the fire of the sun, and of the night sky too (fireworks on the 4th of july etc) , and most importantly the fire in our hearts with the focus on the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and MAry this month.
I've been reading this moon a book from the 50's called The Silver CHalice by Thomas Constain (another amazing vintage book gift from my partner, he seems to find the really good ones). It's about the early Christians, explored through the eyes of a humble young artist who was given the task of buillding a case for the cup Christ drank out of at the last supper...the Golden Chalice, the Holy Grail of later legend. And of the themes there is this fire of the heart. All through the book you see folks undergo such suffering and persecution, and it's the fire of the heart (Holy Spirit, Grace) pulling forth their deeper humanness and compassion and something else too i dont know what...something beyond words there that you can feel, that holds them through it. Ditto for the movie Cold Mountian, also co-in-see-dance-ally seen this moon-th (on the 4th of July), same theme carried across in a different way. And i'd like to go into that theme becuase its turned out to be the theme for this moon underneath it all. In my part of the post this month i am including pictures, because it sorely needs it, the words alone do not express it well (if anyone posting here would like their post pictures included with their words here too please just let me know). So to begin...
This little winter baby is wilting in the heat here. Overwhelmed is more like it. I have had someone i know betray me this moon-th which for some reason hit especially hard this time. I've had some ear damage happpen on july 4th from a piccolo pete going off right next to me (long story, my ears are weirdly sensitive and damaged really easily) that is misearble and im praying isnt going to be permanent--in essence it means there is never silence now becuase of horrible buzzing. Ive had buzzing before but never like this. This has been a big blow, as silence is one of the things i cherish most. There has been the whole "foot saga" thing still, something else im praying wont be permanent, i deeply miss my walks. There has been the depressingness of place searching again, the depressingness of seeing over and over that what should be a given---safe air, safe areas, peace and quiet---we are brainwashed to think are "optional luxuries" somehow, that the greed and inconsiderateness of profit and pollution and loudness are more important than the kindness and accountability of "love one another". Thats what it comes down to really. And its such hogwash. Folks like me who are HS (highly sensitive nervous system) and deal with EI (environmental or chemical sensitivity) are simply the canaries who this stuff impacts first or more readily perhaps, but it hurts all of us in the end. The housing search also brings up a lot of father stuff for me, brings up an unhealed past so lacking in the providence and protection and stability of true headship. Its a wound so many of us share really.
So in essence this month has been about really feeling pretty wounded.
At the same time something has been unraveling. I had a dream a couple years ago mentioned before, and its been at the center this moon-th, a gift of this dream whispering gentle lessons. The dream, it had a very prehistoric feel to it. A feeling not like folks tend to see prehistory as but rather the overlooked/downplayed side of softness and smoothness and simpleness and beautiful and kind "realness", such is as in images that will be upcoming here later. The conflict part of the dream for me was that i didnt have white gloves (perfection, unwoundedness). I longed for them so much in the dream, but was told to still dance without them, without "healing" first. Because, i have been slowly realizing this moon...
It doesnt matter what stage of healing we are in,
What matters is that Grace reaches out her hand to us
and that God holds us close within His.
This is BIG stuff for me.
For so long i have simply believed what we are all so subtly handed, in both the new age and Christian world too: that life perfection (both Melissa and Natalie had some great thoughts on this lately btw), and physical health and strength, and also emotional healing, are just so key. It sounds so innocent but its not. Its a false goal that sets us up to fail and so we carry around this weight on our shoulders---we have to "heal ourselves"/"perfect ourselves" somehow, get rid of those pesky imperfections or wounds. Its not that aiming for perfection is wrong , and its not that healing is wrong either... but rather that there is such judgement there when we "fall short". And it hardens our hearts both to our own frailties and the frailties of others, causes us to judge and deny and hide them rather than them helping us grow and bond as we are meant to through them.
The thing is, we are supposed to reach out to the wounding of ourselves and others in kindness not judgement (back to "love one another"), arent we? I feel wounds are meant to open us, and others. Wounding is a part of not only being human but of being sacred too--just look at the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, those hearts didnt come from happy skippy perfect unwounded lives. Peace is not from perfectness and wound-free-ness--thats not peace its rather the harm of detachment. Peace has heart, vulnerable imperfect and woundable heart, at its center. Heart is where Grace can reach out to us. IN our wounding and imperfection, not in spite of it. Thats what the not having those full white gloves in the dream meant i think, and i have just really really needed to feel that, am so grateful for the gift there from this moon-th.
Something about some images from prehistory (upcoming) help express some of this where words can't. Take the first one, the one that's up top of the post. It's from here ( "illustration from a Danish book on prehistoric textiles. This clothing is based on British and Danish burials").
Its pretty simple this image, the simplicity of living with the seasons so seamlessly here in prehistory. It says something that my words arent able to say. It reminds me of the "practical beauty" stuff from the beginning of this moon-th too, and that feels so connected here. Not detached or cluttered knick knacky beauty but soft, human, simple, feeling, real, tangible, "without gloves" beauty. I cant explain why this draws so much but it does. Something happens to us, something very harmful i feel, when we lose our heart centeredness, our focus on our simple yet sacred humanness. We are not God, but we are still created in His image as His chiildren. So this humanness we are given, it is precious.
I guess that's why i get so drawn to prehistory, such "realness" there, an understanding of the fragileness but preciousness of being human. Realness is deeper than we think, its a taste of heaven. We think of heaven as bodyless and senseless sometimes but that just doesnt make sense, we are embodied, our body with its heart and senses, in God's image. Heavenly form may be more fine or subtle or perfected but i suspect it still has these things, that they are part of sacredness. I feel deep truth in things like this qoute from the Talmud: "Three things give insight into the (pleasures of the) world to come: Shabbat, the sun, and bodily functions (senses)".
And i feel such an embracing of "realness" in some prehistory, something we later seemed to shy away from more. Hard to explain. Ive noticed that many indigionous people (native americans, aboriginees etc) refer to themselves as "the real people". To assume your culture is what is most real is just the height of arrogance. But i do understand a little of the words chosen here maybe. They look back at their ancient ancestors, who held such realness in the way they lived. They look at progress of other various races later and think realness has been downplayed and pushed aside. Its true--but this is part of the human story, not a particular culture. We have this "realness" in us and are meant to live more "real" direct lives, but we have all lost this to various degrees. So that is why i get so drawn to prehistory, and embracing of realness i feel there. Make that such misunderstood realness.
We have so many assumptions about prehistory. Realness means more sesnistivity and beauty i feel, not less. And so many of us have all these misguided assumptions of the opposite, that all the behavior and clothing back then was mostly crude and unrefined, and also that the women were mostly thin and wirey like our modern ideal, and the like. And its just not true, there is some of that, but much of quite the opposite--images such as these are based on very real finds. I definitely feel a realness and beauty in these things. And with the size factor, the asssumption that larger women found carved in figurines, or shown to us by clothing shapes and sizes found, are all from pregnancy as some have assumed has not born the scruntiny of closer looking either--ampleness found has been from women in various states of life, not just those pregnant. Two fav prehistoric figurine finds btw, cant resist, are here and here--such a wonderful feeling there!
But back to misguided assumptions, more than this we have some assumptions about perfection and healing that just arent true either, as was mentioned before. So in that vein onto the next image, which is shown at the end of this post. Its an image of a dress reconstructed based on iron age findings,and it's from here. Such smoothness of line and softness of feeling, i am deeply drawn to this stuff. It too says something my words just cannot. Its all one piece notice (best to press it for a close up to see), the hood/sleeves drop down when you are hot, up when you are cold, still part of the dress either way, seamless, flowing with change in one piece. Reminds me of Ann V's "one piece life" stuff in feeling, from here...
"A swath of broadcloth in a single, solid shade, artful quilting is the hallmark of the “one piece.” No patches of colors, joined with countless seams, overpower delicate stitches. Single stitches that would have faded away, lost, on a many-seamed quilt, now gather on center stage. I soundlessly applaud...
A one piece. No fragmenting. No tearing. No seams.
My existence yearns to be just that: a life of one piece.
“Now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. They said therefore to one another, ‘Let us not tear it…’ (Jn 19:23).
Too long, the fabric of this life of mine has been torn up into secular and sacred. Yet such a dichotomy is mere façade, mirage.
"The Bible makes no room for the idea of the secular. In biblical worldview, there is only the sacred and the profane, and the profane is just the sacred abused, unkempt, trampled down, trivialized, turned inside out. It is just the holy treated in an unholy way.” ~Buchanan
The Gospel, Jesus, comes to say life is meant to be all one piece. Jesus embodied the human and the divine. I can live a one piece life, an ordinary life that is wholly sacred, because the Holy Spirit resides within, this body now being the very house of God. Jesus very first miracle, turning the ceremonial cleansing water into wine for a wedding feast, thundered truth and shattered myth: there is no divide between holy and sacred....
I need...a sanctuary. The kitchen sink will suffice. (significant edit there)
...I desire to live bare foot: all is holy ground. Time to forsake the scissors and give up cutting and piecing. I am taken with the wonder of white stitches on seamless white cloth.
With a one piece shawl wrapping me, I set out for a one piece life."
However. A pretty big however.... i feel more and more that we do this not by white unstained gloves (the white gloves are just really symbolic for me right now because of that "life with gloves" dream), but rather by very wounded and very imperfect lives simply opening to Grace. Its such a perfect plan that we arent perfect. So perfect that we are designed to... in all our simple beauty and faltering feelings...truly need Him.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
Next from British Columbia, Krina reminds us of the precious and treasured side of these "dog days" of summer, from her sweet post here:
Between all the pregnancies, babies, toddlers and the business of growing up various people (including myself) I seem to have misplaced summer – scratch that – I have lost entire seasons of the year. So much of my time has been spent running up and down stairs, closing doors, working on the steps to this parenting dance. Entire seasons have slipped through my fingers – past and gone. But summer came this month – summer in its sweltering heat and bright blue unlimited way came to my door and invited me to play – and so I have tasted the forgotten joy of it.
Summer is not my favourite season – I do not bear the heat well or glory in suntans. But I love its ease. Sandals in place of cumbersome socks and boots (or better yet – bare feet clapping the warm earth), light skirts and shirts, and shorts. It is light and easy to be out of doors in the summer.
In so many ways I feel like I am entering summer’s door with our children – through into the days of chumming and play – the growing years – water, sun, dirt. I am a summering parent these days –in this short season of growing them up toward the trials, tests, and triumphs of the coming seasons. There is dirt under my nails, and ground into my skin but the blisters and soreness have past, I have grown accustom and more knowing. A journeyman parent, woman, child working under the master.
Not all is ease in summer but it is easier to look wide.
Thank you Father for these precious few summer days.
From the US Melissa shares her blessings and learnings from this moon-th too, really taking "one day at a time" to heart in her wise post here:
The past month has whirled by in a blur, so my post for Wendy’s group is a tad late. June found us in the thick of the Chicken Pox and sickness with my husband too. We’ve run the gamut of emotions, but every need was met, even though we weren’t always so tickled at how the Lord worked them out. While we’d have liked work to have been more steady with my husband’s shop then, it was a huge blessing for our kids to make such efforts to help pay the bills. I’m guessing that was good for them too, and we’ve got to encourage them and even allow them to take part, even when it bruises our parental pride a bit.
If anything I’ve learned this past month, it’s just to let go. To not be so caught up in doing things my way. To come to the realization that my plans aren’t always the best. That one day at a time means just that. And above all, I’ve gotten to the place of admitting to myself that nothing happens but that the Lord sets it into motion. We can stick our fingers into situations until we’re blue in the face, but we don’t have the final say. When folks get sick or die—when tragedies happen in addition to the joys, it’s because of God’s hand in those situations. There are some who’d argue this with me, but I’m not buying it. If God is Sovereign, then we’re all living in His playground. And I believe that’s the way it is.
To take a deep breath and let this sink in has been huge for me. And what a wonderful break it’s been for me to quit thinking that what I do is so doggone special. I’m just a speck. Just one little speck.
And thank goodness we are specks, so much easier to be led and held...
(To be a part of this post, or to comment, please just leave mail in the the "abbey mailbox": ) )
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Love Letters From God... From May-into June's Moon
May into June is the moon that holds the deep holiday of Pentecost (see Holy Spirit image above), or White (Whit) sunday. And after that feastday early this moon its kind of a quiet moon in a way. In fact, after Pentecost begins "Ordinary Time" (one of two ordinary time seasons of the liturgical year). And yet the ordinary as we know is deeply sacred, the sacred ordinary. In fact, june is the month for honoring the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary. Though that jumps slightly ahead of this moon, as those two honoring days are tomarrow and the next day respectively. But still, all of june is kind of a "heart month" in general, being a traditional time for weddings.
In fact, the word honeymoon is inspired by this moon, as one of the traditional names for this moon is the "honey moon". From here: "There is an old song that has the line "Honey moon, keep a'shinin' in June" and the familiar term "honeymoon" comes from the song or is related to the same idea (June weddings, one would suppose). But just exactly what is a "*honey* moon" anyway?"And one answer she got was "Brewers claims it is from the practice of the ancient Teutons of drinking honey-wine (hydromel) for thirty days (a moon) after marriage." That's all i could really find on this moon being the "honey moon". But i cant help but think of the Song of Solomon (4:11) connecting honey and love, "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue". This moon is also a time of themes of birth, the feast day for the visitation of Mary and Elizabeth was this moon.
At any rate, i'd say this has been a "heart moon" for me in a sense. In the sense of trying to get closer to the heart of things. Near the moon's beginning i found out i had to move again (see other blog), and it got me longing so deeply for Alaska, the place my fiance and i hope to eventually settle. It doesnt look like we'll be moving there quite yet (though he is there half the year working, which makes the separation hard). But even though i may not be moving there yet, i was SO excited at the thought, ready to just drop everything and go. And i later realized that the excitement and draw was also for a deeper reason...
All my life i've been drawn to the traditional inuit, and even more so to the pre inuit dorset culture, and to the original siberian cultures they all came from. There is a certain simplicity that happens when your natural world is more blended in tone, when your possesions are relatively few, when your art is on your everyday things, and when your needs are so at the surface. The important things become the hearth, warm arms, mates, children, meals, nature, prayer, dreams, the true magic of life. And most important of all, in all these things at the heart of them, is such a feeling that God truly is here, and truly must be heard and followed, an intensification of the feeling of this... such as i imagine was felt in the ice age (which according to biblical history happened after the great flood, see here). Of course these are ideals of these times and places, but our ideals of times and places do have impact, and do spring from somewhere. They mean something.
Anyway, i suspect it is the ideals of the ice age and such that are underneath my lifelong draw to Alaska. And the longing is incredibly deep for these ice age ideals, for lack of a better phrase. The draw is also to something seemingly different but actually feeling connected to me...the archetype of the mythic Avalon. Avalon reminds me of some of the islands of lower Alaska/upper Canada, so there's that...but it more the feeling thats there, the "true magic" of a simple sacred life. I keep seeing the image of the "domestic monastory" as being kind of like Avalon in its softness and simplicity and depth (one guiding image of the feeling is here). And like those ice age sacred places too. Places where you can feel the warm heartbeat of things.
When i couldnt move to Alaska i turned to the day to day living part of this, the trying to simplify more my life and environment where i am. And i cannot even express how deeply my body reacts with relief when i simplify. Its been a bit of an unspoken conflict there with my partner since he likes to collect and hold onto things and i like to only hold onto what is actually needed and actually personally precious and let the rest go--then what is left you can truly "keep" and care for, it "becomes real" to you rather than the clutter of lifeless things (see other blog). So that's what i've been doing this moon. But the deeper thing is that a solid decision has happened inside somehow. I believe in headship with all my heart, and that sure involves following. But i also believe in conviction--true conviction, not just a whim, and i think one can sense the difference becuase they dont come along very often and when they do something sits up and takes notice.
And this simplicity thing for me is a true conviction. I know if i ignore this conviction i will be misearble and this will affect my loved ones too, so this inner decision around this has kind of "clicked" this moon. And its been like this huge weight of relief has fallen off my shoulders with this. I've spent so much of my life feeling strange that i like things pretty radically simple deep down (prefer a snowy white landscape to a riot of colors in bloom (visually anyway), prefer few possesions, dislike chit chat in conversations and knick knacks and clutter in houses, dislike "busyness" in life...or too many sounds or smells or bright colors, i prefer one thing at a time there ). Ive known this stuff was a true part of me, but ive still been wondering off and on in my life what must be wrong with me since many others cant understand these tendencies. But its really been clicking that this is just who i am--and we are created to be who we are with the natures we have for a reason. Ive realized that part of it is physical nature too, that i'm an HSP, which means you have an extra sensitive nervous system that processes things around you differently than others and so you are easily overwhelmed by stimuli.
Anyway, that real simplicty decision "clicking" somehow i am treasuring so much, so grateful for this moon. I know it wasnt my doing, it was a gift. And it is a bead in the necklace.
Which brings up the next step, turning this inward. It seems to be far easier for me to get rid of outer clutter than inner clutter. Not sure how that might heal. But as a start, ive become very drawn to something Me has been doing, making little poems to express things. Something about little poems feels really good to me, like a heartbeat. Simplicity to me means not spartanness but heart. Its not about doing without comfort and beauty but rather with doing without the distracting clutter that drowns out the heartbeat, the heart of things.
Anyway, my inner de-cluttering needs healing with a capitol H and i'm drawn to the poems. So for the other co-in-see-dances i thought i'd put them in poem. (The details of these things are on the other blog)
as the clutter cleared, gifts appeared
God's hand is there
a doll from Jenny,
an apron from Virginia,
a dream or two,
a flower from my partner falling in my path
a butterfly coming by as i gave away boxes
a heart in my cheese as i write this
a nest of squirrels upon the roof
and a home that is feeling more like Avalon
seeking its homeland to root
focus doesnt mean setting intent
it means stepping onto the path
that holds and guides you
Geez louise i cant end with the poems for some reason, there's more. I really need help with this inner clutter/simplicity thing. Anyway, here is the more. But they do feel like more "beads to the necklace" at least...
I was skimming over the posts of the last moon on the other blog, seeing if anything jumped out, and it did. Above i'd linked to a quote that to me gave the feeling of the "domestic monastory". Well i'd really like to include that qoute. So i'll just paste in part of the post its mentioned in:
There's been kind of a guiding image though really, and its one i'm starting to feel more as more is taken out, sorted through, given away, allowing what's left to "shine" more. Its an image i came across awhile back, when sweet blog friend Natalie ( Isabella in the 20th Century/The Homespun Revolutionary) sent me a wonderful book she thought i'd like, Lark Rise by Flora Thompson. I do this thing with books sometimes, ask if there's a lesson for me there and then open to a page, hoping i'll be led to the right one. The passage i opened to in this book took my breath away, left me saying "but that's it, thats exactly what i long for!" It was this, and it stayed with me and has become the "guiding image" right now, so just thought i'd share it:
"These younger Asheleys had one child, a son, about Edmunds's age, and the children at the end house sometimes played with him. When Laura called at his home for him one Saturday morning (their cottage was a bit apart from the rest) she saw a picture which stamped itself upon her mind for life. It was the hour when every other house in the hamlet was being turned inside out for the Saturday cleaning. The older children, home from school, were running in and out of their homes, or quarrelling over their games outside. Mothers were scolding and babies were crying during the process of being rolled in their shawls for an outing on the arm of an older sister. It was the kind of day Laura detested, for there was no corner indoors for her and her book, and outside she was in danger of being dragged into games that either pulled her to pieces or bored her.
Inside Freddy Ashley's home all was peace and quiet and spotless purity. The walls were freshly white washed, the table and board floor were scrubbed to a pale straw colour, the beautifully polished grate glowing crimson, for the oven was being heated, and placed halfway over the table was a snowy white cloth with paste-board and rolling-pin upon it. Freddy was helping his mother make bisquits, cutting the pastry she had rolled into shapes with a little tin cutter. Their two faces, both so plain and yet so pleasant, were close together above the paste-board, and their two voices as they bade Laura come in and sit by the fire sounded like angels' voices after the tumult outside.It was a brief glimpse into a different world from the one she was accustomed to, but the picture remained with her as something quiet and pure and lovely.
She thought that the home at Nazareth must have been something like Freddys..."
The other thing that stands out in the moon-ths post almost feels like a continuation of this. Pasted in again, this one from the feastday of the Visitation:
I really like the thought of Mary's journey today to be with Elizabth for the special season there. Its also occuring to me how "lightly" she must have lived otherwise too... I doubt they hired a "U Haul" caravan for their journey to Bethlehem, or to Egypt and the like. I imagine they lived comfortably but simply. Poverty of spirit as they say. Which is basically i think about clinging to life, to God. I disagree with some of the views on this stuff in that i dont think that means you have to be detached though--i feel letting go of excess is key but it can still mean that your simple things left have "life" and that you should indeed bond with and care for them, should truly "keep" them (as in keeper of the home). Those things left have "life" because of this: you are only using what you need and love then, and so its not a block between you and God, instead you can feel His hand easier through your few things, its why they feel alive. Its why it helps bring you to the heart of things.
If you are surrounded by clutter on the other hand--inner or outer clutter--its so much harder to feel God come through in what He gives you i think, you just see "stuff" rather than the life of His hand actually giving it to you there. I may be babbling here, i find this kind of hard to express. But its the image i have, the draw that comes up so much, when i think of "letting go". Maybe instead of saying letting go it might help to say instead, "So God, what would you like me to have, where are Your hands wanting to come through?". And THAT is what will remain.
At any rate, the thought of Mary living with poverty of spirit can really help us do this more i think, and i know i've needed it so much...been sorting and giving away with a passion lately, both out of necessity and longing. Longing for a cleansing that is more ocean like than desert like. Desert spirituality seems to be about drying things up, barren land, parchedness, it just doesnt feel very soft or feminine to me, its harshness and dryness feels more suited to a warrier in spirit. But now the ocean, the rain...it cleanses not to create barrenness but to give birth, and i love that so much...
So, another rambly oceany post this moon-th here i guess.
I like the image of the beads in a necklace forming becuase that can actually come from an oceany place and yet reach more clarity over time...like the sea slowly smooths and shapes its rocks and shells. It is a clarity, a simplicity, i so deeply long for.
I never cease to be amazed at co-in-see-dances. No sooner had i written the above when i found Krina had put her post up, which is about "rounding corners of time and finding pieces of myself left by the wayside". What an amazing image, and so much like the ocean's rounding of her stones and shells to reveal the essence, shed the excess. Wow, i love this! So next Krina from British Columbia shares her reflections of this past moon on her blog QueenHeroical. From here:
Continue long enough in one direction away from an object and it is bound to eventually loom up in front of you. Little that passes by remains forgotten, and this month I have been the recipient of the past, even my own past. Threads entwined.
- Joining Facebook, discovering there remains a wash of people who remember
- Being contacted by a mentor teacher friend I hadn’t spoken to in a decade or more
- Buttons on a wire speaking volumes about past moments and past fingers
- Photos of times long past, sooner forgotten, -- of a girl I had thought erased by time and pain and a desire to forget and finding her still breathing, still hopeful, still aglow inside me.
- Hearing T.S. Elliott transcend time and bring his words new to my ears, (Poetry Archive)
The list could continue but the point is made. I am rounding corners of time and finding pieces of myself left by the wayside. I find I have new hands to hold them, new open eyes to see, and stronger arms to carry them forward. I await now for what they might unfold before me.
("editor" insert: now why cant i express simply like this? its just so beautiful...)
And from the US, Melissa of Tea With Milk looks back over this moon in the form of old journals and new inspiration, good stuff from here:
It’s been interesting for me to read my older journals lately. Seems I’ve tended to focus on finances, esp. on the lack of them. This year, I’ve tried to be more faithful…to have my eyes intent on the Father, but still, I’m so flawed. But this past week I received something in the mail quoting the writing of one of my favorites, Catherine Marshall. She talks about how little we trust God to answer our prayers, so we make our praying directed at little requests. That we can handle, but big miracles seem too huge and unavailable. She says we limit God and have Him visualized in a way we can handle, when in fact, we cannot. He truly is totally amazing, but we’re too afraid to admit even that.
Mrs. Marshall says:
“However, those saints who have had the most experience here tell us that God uses our most stumbling, faltering faith-step as the open door to His doing for us ‘more than we ask or think.’ We decide to ask His help with some small immediate need. Our asking is like stepping into a tiny anteroom. Taking a hesitant step forward, we discover that the anteroom leads into the King’s spacious reception hall. To our astonishment, the King Himself comes forward to meet us, offering a gift so momentous as to be worthy only of the King: a lifetime gift of a friendship with the Lord of Glory.
‘You asked me for money for this month’s rent,’ He smiles. ‘Sit here at My feet and we’ll talk about the rent, but also of other matters too. I have much to say to you. If you accept My friendship, you and I have years of joyous interchange ahead. I’ve so much to teach you. It’s going to take eternity to handle all of it.’”
I’m going to try to pray big from now on. At least I want to stretch my spiritual muscles. I put God in a box with no surprises. Maybe our season of manna is partly about our limited prayers? I don’t have a clue, but would love a life of God’s abundance in my experience….not to get more stuff, but to feel Him more often right alongside of me. To have a relationship that’s all about closeness and hearing that still, small voice more clearly. To see prayers answered more often. Again, not so I can accumulate goods, but because God wants to answer them. I believe He longs to, but our faith—my goodness, it’s weak.
This is my love letter. Learning more about trusting, and growing. I think I’m excited!
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Thursday, May 17, 2007
Love Letters From God... From April-into-May's Moon
Blessed New Moon!
I was going to skip posting this moon, but then i found myself writing, really missing this moon-thly reflection...
This moon has brought the bridge of spring into summer. The Marian focus of May Day (see a very common French May Shrine above, they really do May Day right), the purifying focus of Beltaine (same day, but the way its celebrated in ancient Celtic traditions). Kind of the two sides of "in like a lion out like a lamb" in feeling there. And with that two-side-ness, well there is also something a bit unstable this time of year, movable, like the weather itself now can be---and so its all flux-y this time of year both in a disorienting way and a helpful way too.
On my end, i found the I've been kind of depressed and slow, kind of unfocused, this moon-th. The whole water fiasco (tank etc needs replacing, no running water, headship issues up around it too, see here and here and here) may be part of it. The summer heat ,especially when i have to close the windows due to noise and fumes (far too often), may be part of it. My partner being out of state working, another part. Knowing i really need to move again at some point now that i know what summers are like here etc, another part. This part sounds like a long litany of complaints and i am sorry for it. I've just had a hard time getting enthused about much, or focusing much, this past moon. I seem to have fallen behind on almost everything.
This last moon has still held real treasures though. May day was this moon, i always love that day. Reflected on a line of "squirrel co-in-see-dances" then, and it turned out to mean something looking back now. The squirrrel stuff (see here, at the end) was all relational stuff i kept seeing in my path from them...mating, grooming. And that's been a big part of this moon...
Because all through this moon, its been an embracing of a lifelong call to abbey-ness, to a peaceful and private life. I have longed for that so much, since i was a little girl. And suddenly it became very concrete and calling this moon when a blog friend encouraged sharing a memory i had of a little chapel in the moonlight (see here). Remebering that brought SO much up, and things shifted in its wake, including the blog. It kind of turned into a little virtual "abbey" of sorts, matching the abbey-ness i'm trying to open to in the rest of my life.
Abbey-ness. Peace. During this moon i kept feeling (and still do) something slowly growing and shifting here. I keep feeling that peace is not about seperation so much as it is about harmony. I know for some this is obvious but for me, especially as a deep introvert, its rather a wake up call. That peace is not about seclusion as much as its about a lack of conflict and chaos. And a knowing you are safe and respected and cared for, that there is harmony in your life and in your relationships. Harmony respects the boundaries you naturally have. This is far different than seclusion, it is what some have called "sharing solitude"--being with others but still being able to be centered (a challenge for an introvert---so when it happens it is deeply precious). THAT, not seclusion necessarily, is peace, is harmony. This harmony theme came up in a dream this moon as well, an inner spring dream, see here.
Remembering dreams again has also been a HUGE gift i am grateful for this moon. Kind of ironic with my feeling so lifeless and scattered lately, but my dreamlife has deepened. Though maybe its not so ironic. Things have been slowing down in general lately, even in blogging. Actually, thats changed quite a bit looking back. The flood of comment interaction has stopped (leading to both sadness and relief) by setting up a separate mailbox instead. And also the complusion to write in itself has slowed way down lately.
A theme running through the moon has also been water. Knowing the abbey-ness i seek is definitely not about the dryness and aestetism of desert spirituality, but rather is oceanic. Then there have been the physical issues with water, leading to me having to carry water in. Though physically difficult, there is something primal about it, its like going to the well. And water, always precious, is becoming even more so. Water is becoming more..personal. And with the inner spring dream, though it was speaking of a seasonal sort of spring (though on an inner level), i keep seeing a water spring whenever i hear the word spring. Makes me remember i actually have a native american ancestor whose name meant bubbling spring, or something similar.
These reflections are kind of scattered and floaty i know. But so has the moon been too. Maybe there is a gift hidden in scatterings and floatyness though, and i think there is...
From the US, Me of Those Northern Skies also shares her reflections this moon-th, thoughtfuly exploring "same but different"-ness. (Looks like she intuitively feels the "two-side-ness" of this time of year too!) From her post:
When we had C, we chose not to know her gender before birth. My MIL was adamant that we have a boy even though we both wanted only girls. Because my MIL was so insistent, I mentally prepared myself for a boy. I cried when I held my little girl. I am not an even crier. I didn't cry at my wedding or on my honeymoon or...
When we had K, we chose to discover her gender. There were several reasons for the decision but I will say this for those who wonder. It is fun to do it both ways. Both ways create a sense of expectation. I cried when I found out she was a girl. I had once again mentally prepared myself for a boy and for the same reasons.
While I was pregnant with K, I couldn't imagine her in anyway but just like C. She very quickly disabused us of that idea. Where C was fussy and hated to nurse. K was a champion nurser and much more laid back unless her limits were stretched. Interestingly, while in most ways (keeping in mind that K is still very much in the terrible two/three stage) C is still more uptight and K is still more laid back.
However, it is easier to get C to change her mind than it is to get K to change her mind. Not that change is easy for either of them. ;)
C was never a particularly cuddly baby although she did liked to be held all the time. Was it a function of being a first-born with novice parents or a function of who she is? I would say a bit of both. Even now, C likes to have you near her so that she can keep a running commentary pouring into your ears.
K was much easier to put down and seemed to enjoy having her own space and yet she is the physically affectionate child. Sometimes I beat myself over the head with the fact that it is my fault that C isn't physically attune to affection. I was depressed a great deal during her first year and so I often think maybe I distanced her.
I was put on anti-depressants before K was born and I was much more affectionate with her. But maybe that is simply hindsighting as Madeliene L'Engle would put it.
K is much more phsyical in her approach to life - much more physically gifted than C.
C is a global learner, K seems to be much, much more analytical.
I could go on and on about both their physical and emotional differences. But I won't bore you. However, I will say this.
They love each other passionately. The first person they want to see in the morning is their sister. And they stick up for each other and comfort each other against their 'unfair' parents. And because they love each other passionately. They fight passionately and sometimes dislike the other passionately. But it is the love that always wins out.
The fact that they are different is a never-ending source of delight and amazement to me. It is a journey of discovery both for them and for me.
And I will say this I am very, very glad God made them different. Sometimes I wish they were the same, it would be nice to be able to use the same methods on both. Easier for a slow-learner like me to apply what I learned from C to K. But most the time, I am just plain glad. Having two of me running around wouldn't be any fun. It is much more fun to have a foil for our personalities.
As different as they may be, they both own my heart.
(And best of all is her heart in hand pictures there, see here...)
Also from the US, Melissa of Tea with Milk takes a very honest look at how the stresses of life can lead us to leave our love letters from God unopened. From her all too relatable post:
"...as another month passes, I’m afraid I’ve been almost too busy in my head to see God’s blessings. This isn’t anything new, but it frustrates me when activity clouds my perceptions of the Lord working in my life. This could be my regular monthly posting—God’s Love Letters that don’t get opened, I’m afraid.
But I’m not going to take on a whine. He’s there whether I’m paying attention or not. And I’m thinking this past month has been one of me being tested a bit further. Being let go to stretch and grow. Not always comfortable, but necessary so as to be usable. Not that I’m keen on being usable, you know. I’d rather be safe than tweaked sometimes. To stay in my zone, not coloring outside the box.
My children are the ones who are challenging me now. They’re not into any trouble, but just living their lives. When they work, I have to trust them to the Lord’s care and that’s been hard for me. When your little ones are under your roof all day, it’s easier to feel content. But when they dash off across town in their own car, and work late, you have to gather up some courage and let them go. And I’m ashamed to say that even writing that brings tears to my eyes since I try to stuff down how hard that is for me.
A month of growth. Pruning and needing lots of watering. Prayer is the water, and I need to drink in more.(That is such a strong image...prayer is the water...)
And from British Columbia, Krina shares a very moving tribute to both motherhood and sewing, more intertwined than many might think : ) From her sweet post:
I remember my first foray into the world of making – I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and I sat outside under some kind of makeshift gazebo-esque lean-to befitting the old growth forest atmosphere where my mother and step-father lived far far away from the world in their tiny cabin. I held lightly to the handle of the machine, letting my hand rise and fall with the smooth, slow, rhythm of the hand-crank. Each fall heavy and purposeful, elegant and glorious as I watched the needle push and pull thread through the purple gauzy fabric. Straight lines, straight long stitches steady as train tracks – shugga, shugga, pause, shugga shugga pause, shugga shugga .... reaching the end, reaching back to lift the foot up off the fabric, metal clinking goodness, I twisted the fabric back toward me, the foot falls again loud and sure and I backtrack, once, twice, three times and then finally I pull the fabric away – cutting it away from the thread. In my hand, I hold the teeny sleeve, the ruler wide strip of cloth and gleefully turn it outside right and behold the perfect little party dress – her first handmade slip of a dress, my Barbie, my doll, my outlet would be the belle of the ball.
My hand sat upon that crank many times, through Barbie clothes making, jean altering efforts to fit-in, through giggle fits and tears. I began making things first because she encouraged me to, my mom finding things for me to do during those visits in the woods, then I made things because there was little else, and gradually I learned new things, I followed patterns, I made patterns (rudimentary basic crudely based on what I saw patterns), and it was all just something I did.
But then it stopped. I stopped. I got to a time and place when I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was young and foolish and young, I wanted, I coveted what I saw around me and nothing I cranked out “compared” to what I saw and so I stopped. As I got a little older and became a mom, I tried time and again and I made things periodically, and I enjoyed it, but it was a rare occurrence and often motivated out of need for something rather than want, desire, play.
But this month ... these months ... have seen a change, seen me change my perspective, opening my eyes to the beauty of the weave, the simple joy in a stitch, a quiet contentment in my spirit ... I am making again ... for the first time without purpose or cause ... except my own. This month I have ordered and anticipated and eagerly received boxes of wool, mohair, cotton poly fuzzy joy in small round bundles of yarny bliss. I have build bigger and better looms, had my husband fabricate wooden needles with big eyes, found inspiration in a sister who loves to make and build and try as well (that’d be you, Lisa). And I am happy in it. Co-in-see-dance-ly, my mother continues to bring me all sorts of odds and ends she believes I can make things with ... she brings me jars full of clay wind chime pieces and fabrics and this and that, still finding me things to do, as if she knew I needed them even before I did.
I am not living the life I planned, I am not the classroom teacher I went to school to become, I am not even the mother I dreamed I could be ... I am becoming something much more ... I feel I am becoming the her I am intended to be ... a gift richer than I deserve or could hope to receive.
Thank you Lord, for these and all the gifts you have unknowingly bestowed upon this feeble frame. Thank you for sheep and goats and their fabulous wooly, hairy wonder ... for sisters with talent, for that singer sewing machine (which sits on my shelf as reminder, as inspiration), for my mom and her unwaivering belief in who I am. Thank you seems such a feeble word ... but thank you for walking me along this path for guiding hands on cranks, pulling threads through fabric, for pulling me out from my gloom and dark places ... for hands and the will for making.
(Wow, this calls of the old testament, the foundations being fashioned carefully like a garment...)
(Comments for anything on this blog are warmly welcomed in the Abbey Mailbox : )
Monday, April 16, 2007
Love Letters From God... From March-into-April's Moon
Blessed New Moon!
I've noticed something about my own posting here...i often get a little nudge to a few days before the new moon...and if i wait, then it ends up after the new moon...i cant seem to do it simply during. Maybe its too sacred a time then exactly at the new moon. At any rate, at this new moon we look back on our (still ongoing) Easter season, the time of spring, of cleansing, of renewal and birth (and i feel some of that in the image above). A couple blog friends have mentioned they even prefer Easter to Christmas. I have to say i'm a Christmas baby all the way, but this really is an amzing season, both becuase of Spring and becuase of remembering our Lord's sacrifice for us, His offering of blessed new life.
As i sit to write now, i find it hard to find words. Until it hits me what this past moon has been about for me really..seeking a sort of silence, not silence of God, no rather a stilling of the buzzing in my head. So great a need its been for this stilling and silence that my computer seemed a goner after it died down malfunctioning in a co-in-see-dance...and then in another co-in-see-dance "came back to life"...but not before i had realized the true actual need to use my online time more wisely. And so blogging has slowed for me, a lot has slowed, over this past moon-th.
If i were to pick one thing that does stand out with a healing solidity, with a heartbeat (rather than with that ol' buzzing in my head) then its the healing image of "fairy bells". On that post was the original image i was drawn to, and reflecting on it later was written "And so.. when i wrote the title post for the last post, "Fairy Bells", i didnt even know what it meant yet, only that it wanted to be said. Then later after i wrote the post i looked closer at the chapel image there (the same chapel i will hopefully make into a banner here) and noticed one bell was "missing". That, it suddenly dawned, was the fairy bell. A bell still there, and yet less weighty, less visible....and yet for all of that, still so strongly there. There in a healing way i have no words for, just a draw. Kind of "Holy Spirit" feeling. And anything further, I dont even know, only, again, that i simply feel something there. Something about those "fairy bells" of the Holy Spirit, and about living in a "bluebird abbey". Not alone, not as a hermit....but still with peace." So fairy bells. And to unravel a bit...
For as long as i can remember, from girlhood really, i have had this hidden longing for an "abbey" sort of life. Not your typical modern real life abbey--as so few of them are actually even contemplative ones for women anymore ("thanks" Vatican II), and then there is that whole celibacy thing which isnt for me, and i feel marriage is a deep part of a sacred life. No, I'm talking about a more subtle abbey. A refusal to let one's peace and center be stolen, a refusal to drown in "busyness" and a good "presentation", a refusal to take on burdens and "buzzings" of the type that stand as a block between you and living a sacred life. I'm not talking about a denial of one's true work or duty (the draw of deepening "woman's skills" for instance has slowly become so strong i can taste it) , but rather a denial of a rushing and distracting busyness and small talk (fun silly stuff and laughter is precious, but that annoying small talk for an introvert is just draining) and whatever things that we dont necessarily need to be part of when something else is actually calling.
I guess it doesnt have words yet really, is still forming, and all i can really see with any solidity through the mist is...fairy bells. This abbey sort of life i long for, it has fairy bells. Subtle, magical, full of wonder, and of softness, the kind our hidden little giggling and weeping inner little girls would know the sound of, even if those entrenched in a distracted rushing sort of life can't hear them, or ignore or discount them. Fairy Bells. The precious subtle sigh of fairy bells. All i know is things must be slow enough somehow, must be soft enough, must be open enough, must be something enough, to hear the fairy bells.
The fairy bells (wow, mistyped as fairy tales, smile) as mentioned also feel connected with the Holy Spirit for me. I know this runs counter to how many see spirit, but i am feeling this for myself none-the-less. And this moon-th also held some really treasured co-in-see-dances it feels there (see April's posts on the other blog for details on of all of these): a gift of fairy topped jewelry box that happened to have carved "Spirit" on its bottomside, spirit bell photos from my blog friend Me, a realizing of the impact of a "fairy style" visio divina that had started before Yom Kippur.
And in the broader abbey vien itself, i keep remembering how my housewarming book moving here had been a 1940's book "Pilgrim's Inn (or "The Herb of Grace"), where the inn had formerly connected with a healing monastery and now was offering healing to the family living there in their own kind of "domestic monastery". Singing was key there too, just as it feels to be for these fairy bells. Singing is also key to a little special area that has formed by my desk over the past months, a gathering place for many gifts i have been given lately that all happen to have music notes on them... its amazing and precious that these past months SO much of what has been gifted has co-in-see-dancilly had music notes upon it. And last but not least here, the day before my partner left for out of state summer work (an emotional day) I accidentally opened up to a former post i'd done on the "domestic monastery", which felt like a compass of direction, another little co-in-see-dance. And the domestic part feels as important as the monastery, the song as important as the silence, somehow. It feels to be where these things meet somehow, that "fairy bell" place.
Well, in my head there was buzzing more to say, but i don't want to write about the buzzing anymore. At least i'm trying not to, lol. Really, i'm just seeking the sound of the fairy bells...
Thank you God, for the precious miracles of this moon-th!
Also from the US, Melissa of Tea With Milk shares her post this month too, a post i found very encouraging really, from here:
"I really look forward to (these New Moon postings)... Gets me in the mindset of paying attention to blessings. As for now, the Lord is having me slow my pace. Not that I’m ever like the chicken with its head cut off, but I do get anxious. In the book you read, I’d be the one who appears calm on the surface but has to drink numerous cups of hot tea to settle her stomach. The floor pacer. I’ll force myself to be strong, but I’d rather be the leaner than the one leaned upon, you know? Put me in a dire situation and I’m your man, but afterwards I’m a mess. I’ve been thinking about this, and I believe the Lord would have me face this, and I try too hard not to acknowledge it. I believe that with our eight children, I’ve got to appear all-put-together to the outside world. Well, to those folks I live with too. My husband isn’t one to slow down and rest. He will, but would rather be doing something even when he’s supposedly idle. Me—I need rest. I crave quiet and am up against the challenge of finding that peace married to a busy man. One who’ll go to work sick because he can’t stop. My habits have become a mirror of his habits. I push myself physically when my spirits are worn to a frazzle.
I’m so grateful to realize this. I jokingly tell my husband that I’m a tender flower. I’m dead serious, but have trouble even admitting it to myself. Seems weak, and I know I’m anything ‘but’—yet the world would have us always be on the go and making its brand of progress.
The book The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge has been wonderfully healing for me during the past couple of days. She has characters who admit to weaknesses, both physical and emotional. Their bodies can’t always catch up to what the world hurls at them. I think that’s comforting. That the women have to rest in the afternoons, or are sympathetic with another woman’s frailties. Too bad the modern world scoffs at that mentality.
Anyway, that’s where I am now. The Lord’s gently steering me to be careful of myself. To live more gently and to expect maybe less of myself in any given day. I don’t have to take on the world’s problems, and it’s OK to let Him shoulder them. And you know what makes me cry? All the time? When someone does something extraordinarily giving to me (Patricia, I’m talking to you, you hear?). I’ve appeared strong to my real-life friends/family for so long, I don’t think they even think of me of having times of being fragile. That quote by George Eliot is so apt: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Amen."
Amen : )
And from the US as well, Me of Those Northern Skies shares her thoughts on the humble but oh so nurturing simple pleasure... of slippers : ) From here:
"My much-beloved and in need of replacement slippers...
I've never been a wearer of slippers. Actually socks, shoes, and other protective foot gear are avoided. As frequently as possible, I resort to shoes that I can just slip on. In the house my habit was to go barefoot. When one lives in a cold dry environment and one has dry feet the harsh environment means runnels and cracks at the heel, ball of the foot, and toes.
A couple of years ago I started wearing socks, it helps. Then, in 2005, my parents got everyone slippers for Christmas. My feet thought they went to heaven. When I realized how nice it is to walk without aching heels - I was converted."
Never underestimate the impact of the humble foot lol, they are after all what walk us through our life....
From the UK, Sarah of A Bend in the Road shares her lovely love letter to God this month, as well as from. From her post:
I gave my life to Jesus when I was 12ish (I can't actually remember the exact time/date, I'm hopeless at recording and remembering important dates). I remember I was at the side-altar in church when we were part of the Church of England. I wanted Him so much in my life, but for whatever reason I didn't understand His love for me. I kind of puddled my way through Christianity in a vague sort of way. I'm sure I was saved, I'd repented, I believed truly but there was something missing.
In the summer of 1991 I went inter-railing (back packing with European rail ticket) with an acquaintance from University. We had an interesting time, we didn't really know each other very well. She was kind of strange. I remember we were eating ratatouille out of a tin (like you do;)) sitting on a wall in Paris when she told me I was going to hell for not being a Catholic. Lol, I was kind of stumped. "But all who believe in Jesus go to Heaven, denomination doesn't matter", I said. But she seemed quite pleased that I had a one way ticket to the pit and she swung her legs happily - I should have pushed her off the wall. I think that she might have been getting back at me because I told her off earlier for using Jesus' name as a swear word (I hate that). Chuh!
After this she kept trying to dump me. I woke up on the train one morning and saw her striding purposely across Venice train station platform seemingly without a care in the world, I legged it after her. Then she left me standing on the banks of a canal in Venice as she floated off on a boat waving to me! So there I was not a word of Italian with a vague idea that she had gone to find a room at a convent for us that night. Praise God I found her in the end, Italy is no place for a foreign young lady on her own - the men are SO forward! Man alive, I tell you loose pants and high cut tops are the order of the day for the demure young lady alone in Italy!
Anyway, sometime later I was standing in a beautiful Catholic chapel in Venice - I SO wish I could remember which one. My 'friend' (in 'yeah right' inverted commas), wandered off (again) and I was left standing in front of a crucifix not really thinking anything in particular - except perhaps "why me Lord?". When suddenly I was flooded by love, absolutely overwhelmed. I knew Jesus loved me, I'd never truly known it in my spirit before, I knew it in my head but I never really knew it, you know?
Oh my! I felt like I was walking on golden light. When I got home I was like some cartoon like love sick person, floating around, vague smile on face, not knowing it was raining, laughing when I stubbed my toe. He loves me, He loves me.
And so He does.
This is my love letter to God, because I have had a love letter from God:
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19"
("Editor's Note" lol: That amazing verse was sung in my very favorite sunday school song. As a teacher way back when i would treasure hearing that verse every single time, and the draw only grew as i got older. And back to the song, to kids it's so fancy schmancey becuase there's alot of clapping in it. So, ahem...
We love, because God first loved us
We love, because God first loved us
We love (clap clap)
We love (clap clap)
We love (clap clap)
Because God first (clap)
Us (clap clap)
Sorry, couldn't resist : ) )
And from British Columbia, Krina of QueenHeroical shares her healing thoughts on the precious gift of the wind, from here:
"Taking it out of the context of what it may carry, wind is about as simple a thing as can be imagined and yet ..
I hear the wind among the trees
Playing the celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Day of Sunshine
As winds come whispering lightly from the West,
Kissing, not ruffling, the blue deep's serene.
Lord Byron, Childe Harold
The breath of the whole world rolling over my cheeks, brushing my hair aside, inconsequential am I to the wind, but how it fills me to full sail.
Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind. Maxwell Bodenheim
Whether it is coming in through the windows thrown open to the spring cheer or blowing upon my face as I walk along the street, the wind has been brushing my mind clear, reminding me that there is a great wide world beyond these doors, beyond these stagnant thoughts of mine and I am bid come and join in it , for ...
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
PS I decided to turn comments off here too just like at the Bluebird Abbey blog. But comments for anything on this blog are warmly welcomed in the Abbey Mailbox : ) One comment got through before i turned off the comments so left that one be--and i had to smile that it was one from a comic relief type blog--because fairy bells love laughter!
(Image from Cicely Mary Barker )
Monday, March 19, 2007
Love Letters From God... From February-into-March's Moon
Blessed New Moon!
This post is a bit later since the new moon fell on the Sabbath this time. And it really means something perhaps that it did fall on the Sabbath... this past moon-th after all has been including Lent, which is a time of quiet and withdrawl in some very real ways.
This past moon has brought for me some 'reconciliation' with Lent (see posts on the bluebird blog). What i am cherishing so much about Lent now is its understanding--rather than denial--of our pain and grief. The humanness of these things, the part-of-life-ness of these things. These things that even our Savior shared. He was left alone in that garden of Gethsemane, humanly alone anyway. Yet in Lent we learn to not be alone in our suffering in a sense, by learning we "all have something broken", and this has been moving something.
Yet it being Lent, i guess i shouldnt be surprised that this has been a rather difficult moon for me really. Physically i've had a lot of flare ups and migraines, and also spring allergies kicking in. And inwardly i've been kind of depressed and tired a lot. And i've noticed in many others also some real challenges or sadnesses, or simply a need to withdrawl more. And again i'm realizing this shouldnt be a surprise, Lent is about not running from things like this.
There definitely has been some real co-in-see-dancing looking back this moon-th, and it's something i sense i will be treasuring and am deeply grateful for. It is co-in-see-dancing through the gift of birds. As a "wendy birde" I'm slightly biased about loving birds, lol. And it was red tail hawks in particular that were here this moon-th. It all started the previous moon when my partner and i were speaking of when one of us passes, how that is just a "pause" before we hoped to see each other again. And right then, right as we were saying that, we saw a red tail hawk--rare for this part of the city, and also having special significance to my partner especially, as he has long loved red tail hawks.
And it didnt stop there, all through this past moon now we have been seeing them, kind of an affirmation it kind of feels like. Its so strange, we'll be out walking and see them and be standing there in awe and other folks will walk by and not even notice the birds. The week after the above encounter we saw (likely the same male) hawk perched on a pole, at one point looking right over at us, and then (as part of hunting something on the ground) flying over and coming down to the ground within about five feet of us (neither of us ever imagined seeing one so close). Later that day we saw him with his mate flying side by side and then hovering in place for several minutes right above some treetops (likely spotting something). And now this past weekend we saw the couple doing a mating type circling together, it was amazing. And something about this all has just really stayed with me. Maybe i'm wrong, but something about it feels like a promise, a you are loved and wont be alone promise.
There have been more "gifts of birdness" too. Finding sweet robin feathers this moon-th for one, and for another finding a single bluejay feather right by my door on a particularly sad day. The really moving thing there is i wasnt going to be going outside that day (high allergies) but something fell so i had to... and then i saw the feather (gotta love that little nudge). There has also been an inner gift of birdness through a dream last week where i was flying (more like hovering). And an artistic gift of birdness in the form of a very healing female musician (birds ARE music) picture that came just this weekend from Me (there is more in that, but i think it will unfold more later).
And speaking of Me (of Those Northern Skies, in the US), she is the first to share her moon-th, with her reflection on the simple and healing pleasure of naps. From her deep and tangible post:
" I write often on my blog about my poor ability to relax, to simply be. While, I don’t nap often, naps are a place where when I need to, I can let go. Naps are one of the most satisfying and simple of pleasures. Below I write about three types of wonderful naps.
Naps provide healing:
When I first went to college, I was as most freshmen – busy. I felt the need to be active and involved in every way. By the time Thanksgiving break came, I was exhausted. The family Thanksgiving that year was at my aunt and uncle’s house. I don’t properly recall but I think I arrived there the day of Thanksgiving. In fact, I recall little of that day. After lunch I lay down on the floor in a room adjoining the main room and promptly fell asleep and slept solidly for over two hours. By the time I woke up it was dark and the clock in the main room was broke and said it was seven at night. I was disoriented to say the least and I was the butt of some good-humored jokes, but I was well rested. I have a photo that someone took of me. I was lying on my stomach with my head on my arms. I was wearing a favorite pair of black shoes, stonewashed jeans, a black turtleneck and a red cardigan. My hair was short with big curls. I am sure my attitude glasses were somewhere nearby.
Naps provide dream time:
I got married while in college. After I was married, we moved into an apartment off campus. It was an old house that had five apartments: one in the basement, a first floor full apartment for the caretaker, an attic apartment, and the second level was split in half front to back so that there were two long, narrow apartments. We lived on the second level in the left hand apartment if you faced the front of the building. There were two wonderful things about that ugly outdated bowling alley of an apartment we lived in. First, the bathroom had a grate in the wall that was about a foot and half wide by about two to two and half-feet tall. Flip a switch and you had wonderful radiant heat. What a treat on cold winter mornings. If I ever build I will find out what today’s code equivalent is and have one!!
The second was the windows, our apartment was on the north side of the house. Altogether it had, ten windows. Two in the kitchen, two in the living room, and one in this funny little walk-in closet we had and five in the bedroom which faced the street (yes five). Two were to the street, one was in the angle corner (the house didn’t have square corners but about a six foot angle side before the next wall, and two on the north-side proper. Across the street from our house was a business that did something with metal so there was always lots of banging, clanging, and welding. It could be quite loud on summer nights (as they did, of course, have a night shift). On the other side of the business (less than half a block from our apartment) was the railroad tracks. A person, can get used to the railroad tracks. We lived there for two years and it go so that one didn’t notice the trains unless you were trying to talk on the phone (or something managed to vibrate its way off the wall or off a shelf). But back to naps.
When we moved hubby’s old bed from CA, we could not fit the frame into our vehicle so all we had was the box spring and mattress, so those lay on the floor in the apartment. Because the windows were tall and came down low, the box spring and mattress put us eye-level to the window sill. Yes, a nap is forthcoming.
One winter, we went to a wedding on a Friday afternoon, hubby came home from work, we attended the wedding, then we came home – it was one of those very dark grey winter days with a very thick snow falling silently. We went to bed and slept. It was a deep warm aware but silent sleep. It lasted for four hours and we didn’t wake until it was completely dark. We ate and went back to bed.
Naps provide security:
Just before I got pregnant with K, my MIL bought us a Sleep Number bed. While I was pregnant, I went to visit my parent’s. On the way home, C and I had a number of trials and mishaps. I got home and put her to bed. Then I crawled into bed myself. In a Sleep Number bed, you can set the mattress firmness so soft that you can sleep on your belly when pregnant or curl up in a hole like a dog. I was curled up deep in a hole. And nothing felt better.
Later after K was born, I napped with her. Nothing is warmer, sweeter, or more heart achingly tender than sleeping with your child lying on your chest. It is a deep bonding experience...
In Sleep we lie all naked and alone, in Sleep we are united at the heart of night and darkness, and we are strange and beautiful asleep; for we are dying the darkness and we know no death. Tom Wolfe"
Next from British Columbia, Krina (of QueenHeroical) shares another precious layer of her ever deepening circle of peace and quiet. From her very poetic post:
"The space within becomes the reality of the building.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
An interval of time
An area set apart
A region beyond Earth’s Atmosphere
A region between all astronomical objects
A three-dimensional expanse where matter exists
A blank area between type
An interval between the lines of the musical staff
Freedom to assert identity
Intervals in telegraphic transmission
Area rugs: setting apart an area, reshaping the space through which we move daily ~ making it a place now to sit and play board games, read books, do school and be
A portable music player with ear phones: to create a little “me” space while I move through the goings on, breaking up the tedium, filling my head with beauty and praise -- ultimately centering my mind and bring more calm and peace to the day
Book shelves: creating enough room and transforming my thinking space
His Word: taking me beyond the weighty pull of my own minutia, my pool of stagnant water, my broken cisterns and inviting me to play out in His space
Piqued Interests: calling me to set out and learn and to work towards, in an effort to spend this identity; this uniquely created being, to use it and not lose it
Space, I am learning, can be found in the chaos: looking down and down and down into and between the smallest of particles all crowded together to make that which seems solid and finding there is still -- still space-- space through which He moves freely, expectant, and eager; waiting for me to join Him."
Next from Britian, Tess (of Anchors and Masts) shares the reality of loss and the healing of memories. From her truly contemplative post:
"I am so thankful for so many good memories of people I’ve loved.
This month some of my friends (both face-to-face and blogging friends) have lost people dear to them. It’s difficult in the immediacy of loss to feel anything other than the “gummy arms” of grief around you.
I was thankful to be of service to a technophobe pal who asked me to scan in some photographs of her friend who had died after a long and debilitating illness. She wanted to take copies with her to the funeral. The photos helped the grieving husband to remember his wife as she had been before illness took her from him, long before death did.
The anniversary of my father’s birthday reminded me of his wonderful sense of humour. He died of a sudden heart attack many years ago. A neighbour brought round a cake she had kindly baked to help feed all our visitors. When we finished the cake, we saw that the plate she had put it on was from a charity advocating healthy eating to prevent heart attacks. She was embarrassed to realise what she’d done, but we explained how Dad would have roared with laughter at the irony.
I had my garden remodelled a couple of years ago with money left by my Aunt, and I’ve remembered her so much as all the new growth has sprung up the last few weeks. She was an indefatigable gardener herself, creating a beautiful green space from rubble when she bought her first (and only) house. Her visual sense, self-discipline and love of creatures was evident in that garden.
And on Mother’s Day in the UK yesterday, I thought of my Mum’s warmth, sense of duty and her wacky sense of humour. My sister and I sometimes think she is influencing us from the afterlife as we feel compelled to do the sort of weird and wonderful things she did to amuse us. I’m talking about being seized with a sudden desire to put a newly washed pair of underpants on like a hat and dance around the living room… No wonder I’m eccentric!!
My very earliest memory is as a very young child crawling through my parents’ garden eating chives that were growing there, convinced that because I was crawling, I couldn’t be seen. They say that as you grow older you remember more and more about the early part of your life, and I’m looking forward to that. I hope I don’t lose my loving memories completely.
Just a quick edit after first posting this: thinking about memory I’ve realised how evocative smell is in bringing back times, people and places. When I was very little we lived next door to a small tomato nursery and when I occasionally come across a tomato that smells as they should, rather than of nothing, I am immediately transported back to those tall fragrant plants with their furry stems. And the smell of freshly-ground coffee from the shop Mum used to wheel me past in my pram (accompanied by my imaginary friend, a pink pig called Henry!). The smell of the city the first time I visited New York. My first really sophisticated perfume: Guerlain’s Shalimar. Church incense. Cannabis smoke (well I was a teenager in London in the late 60s… and yes I did inhale). Frosty air. Roast dinners. Frying onions. Fresh-baked pain au chocolats. Oh yes, I’m on a roll here…"
And back to the US again, Melissa (of Tea and Milk) shares about the holiness of housework, and the need to really keep things in perspective by counting one's blessings. From her very wise and thoughtful post:
"I was using the following quote tonight with my Mother’s Hour group and this part of it just jumped out at me.
“It will not be a muddle of dreary duties that are mercifully interrupted every now and then by pleasures: it will be a related whole; it will have unity.”–Dom Hubert Van Zeller’s Holiness for Housewives
Every time I pick up that book, and I mean every time, I come away with the best feeling deep, down inside. Here he’s speaking of the life of a homemaker and mother. And while I can get in a grousing mood about my life in general, this author seems to have a wisdom about how the lot of a housewife tends to pan out. I always get lifted up after reading it. My mindset adjusts and I feel a joy for who I am and what I’m doing. Truly I could underline his whole book since it’s so full of treasures to mull over. But to look at homemaking not as drudgery, but the job the Lord has chosen for me, really tends to color my outlook in a positive way.
I guess this is one way the Lord has blessed me lately, and even in the last month. This writing is for the New Moon, and that’s a wonderful starting point. I’m so thankful for second, third and fourth chances when I mess up. Monday mornings are good for that, as is the turning of a new calender page…and this writing for Wendy’s group. Just putting this down helps me to stay focused. It can be so easy to complain. Life’s not fair, the kids needs are too many, there’s not enough money to go around—on and on I could go. But honestly, if the Lord’s in all of it, and if there are no coincidences but what the Lord allows, then it’s all good. I just have to stay on top of my attitude so that I reflect the person He wants me to be. Not always easy, but do-able.
And it's all too true...
(Image from here)