Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Being A Journey Junkie

A dear friend, Owen is back with his blog about his journey from being a Prostestant Pastor to becoming a person of the Roman Catholic faith. I commented on his new/old blog today that I think I am a journey junkie. Except I spelled it journey junky....ah well, my journey does indeed feel junky at times. C'est la vie. None of it is headed towards the junkyard but to that wonderful journey dwelling place in the sky. Hah.

While in the mall yesterday I met two different women whose journeys and mine have intersected on occasion for over 20 years. I have a deep desire to be present to others and yesterday was a beautiful opportunity to do just that. I see these women only a few times a year and yesterday they filled me in on where their journey has taken them since we last talked.

One of the women was our babysitter when our daughter was a newborn. She loved our daughter as much as possible without being her parent. We have watched this woman grow from teenagehood to being the mother of 5 children of her own. She is PASSIONATE about motherhood. Her own disturbing scars and bruises of childhood haven't deterred her as she pours her heart and soul into mothering her children in the opposite direction that she was mothered. With her youngest in school she is now pursuing a career that will enable her to care for them if anything should ever happen to her husband. He is not so enthusiastic about her growing independence. No amount of assurance on her part that she is not planning on leaving him (or killing him for that matter) will lessen his discomfort that she will soon be able to provide for her family if he cannot.

When I saw the radiance on her face as she told me of her 97% average in school I could not help but be thrilled for her. I encouraged her to do what she must to achieve her dreams. Career or no career will not guarantee a melding of two hearts into one in her marriage. We must be our partners' greatest cheerleader not their greatest adversary. I found out the hard way that the world will not recognize the education that managing a home and children for 20 years gives a person. When my turn came to provide for our family after a 16 year absence in the workforce I had to settle for a minimum wage job because no one took my homemaking skills seriously. My training as a journalist in 1980/81 did not hit their radar screens either. It was a radical wake up call. It made me wish I had either taken courses over the years or worked part time to keep in the loop. I used to believe that being a full time homemaker was the only viable option for any woman. I do believe it is a calling but I no longer believe it is the only calling a mother can have. Sometimes I just shock myself that I can change opinions that were once set in cement. I have come to learn that cemented opinions of mine were often poured in concrete out of fear. (That's another post for another day.)

The other woman worked alongside her husband when my husband was one of their employees. This woman worked hard. She took the brunt of her alcoholic husband's outbursts. She not only worked beside him day by day ( on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week) but she also managed a home and raised 3 kids. The one Christmas that we shared found them with a few meager gifts wrapped in newspaper under the tree. The tension in the air was so thick it was hard to breathe. The dad took refuge in the basement in his booze. The unpredictability of his actions set us all on edge. It was as if we ate our turkey dinner cautiously, not knowing whether we would need to pick up our plates and run at any given moment. We were newlyweds and I had my own alcohol problems. It was much easier to point fingers at his though than entertain the notion that I might be a fellow pilgrim on the same journey.

His wife eventually left him. She waited until the kids were about grown. When we moved back up to this part of the world I met her daughter in the mall one day as she was shopping with her young daughter. She introduced me by saying, "Remember that Barbie doll in my hope chest? This is the woman who bought it for my twelfth birthday." It turned out it was the only Barbie doll of her childhood. A cherished possession and a cherished memory. I have no memory of buying it for her. I just remember this scared little girl who walked on eggshells lest her dad erupt in anger. I often invited her over to bake cookies or let her puppy play with our own. I remember that I identified with her tense little body that held itself closed in on itself. She had a wariness in her eyes which said that a flight or freeze mode might be necessary at any moment.

Her mom must be about 60 years old now and yesterday she told me that all three of her adult children have come back to God in the past few years. With tears in her eyes she was full of gratitude to God for being bigger than the pain of years gone by. She has been such a woman of prayer for so long. It was thrilling to hear what God has done in this family's life.

Isn't that what we all hope for? That no matter how deep the pain or how rough the road that God will be bigger than it all? That God hunkers down in the painful places with us as we journey towards wholeness and healing? And maybe that is what fuels my being a journey junkie. I need companions on the journey. When I follow your journeys I gain strength for my own. When I see healing in your journey in places where I am still waiting for it, I feel encouraged to keep my face turned towards the Truth. Some of you are hunkered down with me right now, waiting and praying as I journey towards wholness and healing. Thank you.

Hi, my name is Hope and I am a journey junkie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

In The Moment

It's been 16 years since all of my siblings and I and our families have been together. The summer we moved from southern Saskatchewan to northern Alberta my parents hosted a family reunion of sorts. Not only my siblings but all my cousins came and it was good. My kids were all preschoolers then and I didn't look any farther than bedtime on any given day. It was a different kind of living in the present. Demands on my time made living in the moment the only viable option.

This Christmas is the first time that we have to juggle schedules and find a day when all of us will be home and we can have our own family Christmas. I have a new appreciation for why it thrilled my mom to have all her kids gathered around her. The thought of my own family gathered around the 'hearth' pleases me to no end. I know that the day will most likely come when getting everyone together won't be possible. I cannot imagine going 16 years waiting for it to happen again.

In my husband's family every Christmas his father says a few words to us all. With 10 siblings and over 35 nieces and nephews, some married with families of their own, we are quite a crowd when we gather. My father-in-law always talks about how a time is coming when we won't be able to be gathered like we are. That someone will be missing. He talks about being ready to meet God. There were many years that I felt like he was trying to lay a guilt trip on us all. Especially since he believes membership in his church is the only way to get to meet God. But a few years ago I told my daughter to appreciate having come from a tradition that spoke of spiritual things...that cared for the spiritual well being of each member of the 'tribe'. That particular year we were all thinking of a young nephew who had been killed in a plane crash. Last year saw the death of one of my brother-in-laws in a tragic accident and at Christmas Dad didn't get up and say his piece. The pain was too raw that people were missing.

This morning I am sitting here feeling a bit nostalgic. I want to be present in the moment for different reasons than the ones I had when preschoolers filled my days. That inner presentness that speaks of the worth of every moment and every person in it. The kind that acknowledges that God is in the midst of it with us, always, whether our loved ones are present or not.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Advent Prayer

I went on an Advent retreat today - a time set apart to learn and grow, a time of solitude to hear God speak to my heart. A blessed time of preparedness for the light to break through the darkness. In one of my times of solitude I wrote the following prayer. I share it here in all its honesty and vulnerability.

Oh God, you know the darkness within. As my compulsions become less and less satisfying and more and more frantic I sense you calling me to give them up to the Light. It is hard to trust that you are enough. My head knows it but my heart feels scared to receive the truth of it. My body wants to be kept in a cocoon, safe from what scares me. Yet you beckon to me with whispers of freedom, to learn what it truly means to live, yes, truly live, in my body, connected to both mind and heart.
A symphony of movement that carries no burdens, is hampered by no fears. "Be light," I hear you say.

I want to trust that this light will satisfy me on every level. But I am scared. And I am tired of being scared. Being scared feels heavy and rough and hard. And alone.

I am scared that the voice of perfection will drown out your voice of love. So I do not try. I long to but turn my body away from you, scared to expose my naked soul to the light of your love. I am turned more towards the dark than the light yet there is a glowing red ember of your love within me. You are waiting to breathe your life into it. The darkness does not own me. It is not stuck to me but I to it. It is I who must move away.

As I enter into the Advent season I choose to turn towards the light, naked of soul before you. My cupped hands offer you the darkness within. It does not want to have the breath of light upon it but I cannot carry the burden of it with me on the journey. You want me to kow what it is to fly free.

My head knows you are the great comforter but these dark places have been my comfort for so long. They have become dry in their nourishment. I must suckle at them no more.

Bread of life feed me. Be my nourishment for the journey. Be the light for my path.



My mom has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The doctor sent her straight from his office to the hospital yesterday and within 5 minutes she was hooked up to 4 different machines. He told her that the CHF was a result of untreated high blood pressure. Her blood pressure was 190/120 when she was admitted.

I think about how Father Charlie talked to me a few months ago about the possibility of being a vehicle of God's grace for my mom by telling her I loved her at the end of our weekly phone conversations. I told him I couldn't. I wasn't willing. I didn't think she deserved it in light of how intense my anger was towards her at that moment. I wanted her to pay for her screw ups for a while yet. If they were causing me such intense emotional pain then why the hell would I want to let her off the hook?

It's amazing what a 24 hour time period can do to change a person's mind.

I am more than willing to extend grace now. This does not mean that I deny the effects of her actions or inactions in my life. That would make a mockery of not only sin but of grace as well. I do feel God is extending grace in this moment to me so that I may extend grace to her now. I give God thanks that I am writing this while she is still alive to receive it.

I was an adult before I heard the words "I love you" from either of my parents. And I have never heard it come spontaneously from their lips. Growing up I was so confused as to whether my parents loved me or not that I often asked my younger brother if he thought they loved us. He didn't know either. I often stood outside their closed bedroom door, wanting to knock and say "I love you", or ask if they loved me but I didn't have the courage. I didn't want to risk the possible rejection.

Before I hung up the phone tonight I said to my mom, "I love you." Over the years of saying this to her in person my mom has progressed from replying, "Me, too" to "I love you, too" said in a voice laced with a hint of hysteria and warning bells. A tone of voice reminding me in code that we don't talk like that in our family, it's too touchy feely and unpredictable. Tonight her reply was heart felt when she told me that she loved me, too. We both know that although death comes to us all, death may be coming sooner than later now. The uncertainty has shifted places.

I have always thought my mom would live to be an old lady. And who knows, she may yet. At age 67 she has a ways to go before I would consider her elderly. Her mother and aunts lived into their 90's. What prevented my mom accepting treatment for her high blood pressure was that her own mother, at age 90, began treatment for high blood pressure and experienced terrible side effects from the medication. She was convinced that the side effects were permanent and she didn't want to live with them so she took her own life. My mom and her twin sister didn't want to chance that fate so they took the risks that went with high blood pressure over the alternative.

There is much left unsaid between my mom and I. I'm praying that God gives me wisdom to sort through what must be said and what is better left unsaid. Lord have mercy.

Friday, November 25, 2005

This is the best quote I have read in a while:

"It is striking how the Scriptures come alive depending upon how much I need them. I am often neither spiritually awake enough to have them slice me open or desperate enough to have them heal me."
~ Gregory Floyd in A Grief Unveiled

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cracked For Good

I've been mulling over what a brain stretching, faith filled tension has existed since I stumbled onto the blogsphere. In my little corner of the world it's pretty easy to simply stay in a cocoon and not go out of my mental comfort zone unless I choose to. I can hang with people of the same mindset or simply stay snug in my own, thank you very much.

Reading your blogs has stretched me in uncomfortable ways. I've been intent on being right for as long as I can remember. The answer to feeling safe in this life could be found in being right. Having teenagers cracked that assumption in half but I was seriously still trying to keep it intact. Thanks to all you folks out there, the assumption is cracked for good. It's still not very comfortable and I don't always embrace it, but it sure makes me think. If nothing else I have gone from God fits in this box to God doesn't fit in a box box. :)

Reading your blogs has forced me to see that being right at all costs might feel safe but it's an ugly place to live. Being right has often meant to trample on someone else's story in order to feel good about my own. I don't mean it's wrong to have a set of beliefs that I don't apologize for, but I have come to see that I need to hold those beliefs in an open palm up to the Light.

As I have journeyed along a fairly crooked path I have tried to distance myself from where I have been, after I've left it. It was too confusing to embrace the good things about a spot on my journey when I was moving on. It felt like I was both right and wrong and when you are set on being right that doesn't work very well. Black and white thinking resists the shades of grey that real life exposes.

For the record my path has taken these twists and turns in the past 25 years: atheist, highschool; acknowledge there is a God while a newlywed; non Christian yet an elder in a church; near death experience, realize there is no pretending to be a Christian; newly Christian, newly sober, AA and Al-Anon involved; newly Christian, evangelical fundamentalist hard core; charismatic dabbler. Homeschooling mother submerged in its culture; head covering, dresses only conservative Christian; home churched; return to institutional evangelical fundamentalism minus head covering and dresses; presently Catholic. Dizzy yet? You put your own spin on what being any of the above means and there you have it so far. I could write a whole series of posts on any of those places on the journey and how God kept showing up in spite of myself. Wherever I have been on the journey I have often felt the (insecure)need to feel as if I am at the head of the pack.

Have you ever rounded a corner and ran smack dab into someone? I would have been fine except I kept running smack dab into Jesus in the lives of people whose journeys I would have previously dismissed. He kept showing up in places I was sure he wasn't. And I don't mean places you might think. I mean in the lives of people whose spiritual path was different from my own or whose spiritual path has them in places I used to be. People I would normally feel threatened by. And when I find His story in the lives of those I want to distance myself from it gets uncomfortable living in my skin.

I have lost count of the number of times I have read someone's blog and sputtered because where I would have once dismissed them and their journey, I saw God. What was God doing there? Dismissing them would mean dismissing their story and ultimately dismissing God. And oh, I know the sparks that fly when anyone wants to dismiss my story. I can't have it both ways. So often I have read something on a blog and found it didn't fit my preconceived ideas yet it contained that indelible ring of truth which meant I had to make room for it instead of tossing it out for comfort's sake. "Just how small is your God anyway?" pushes against my edges continually.

It's been hard to honour Jesus when I find him in places I was too prejudiced to think He could be. I recognize Him there but I still struggle with feeling I have to let go of what I believe to make room for your beliefs. I realize I've labeled people and their traditions, as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. In having to face all this I find that seeing Christ in everyone means that the next time I round a corner and run smack dab into Jesus that instead of saying "It can't be You." I simply acknowledge, "Oh, it is You."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Food For Thought...

courtesy Love Barbara

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
~ author unknown

"There are two days in every week about which we should not worry,
two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of those days is Yesterday, with it's mistakes and cares it's faults and blunders, it's aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.
We cannot erase a single word we said we cannot undo a single act we performed.
Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow, with it's possible adversities, it's burdens, large promise and poor performance.
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow for it is yet unborn.
This leaves only one day, Today.
Anyone can fight the battles of just one day.
It's only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities,
Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down.
It's not the experience of today that drives us mad.
It is remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring
Let us therefore live but one day at a time."

A Lick And A Prayer

Okay. I sit down to type, lift up my prayer concerns first and burst into tears. I don't know how often we pray about things we could take action on ourselves but this time these are things I can do nothing about. Where to start?

My mom. She has noticed increasing shortness of breath over the summer. My mom is an all round martyr. She hates hospitals and doctors. She was the kind of mom who never went to bed when she was sick (but could pass out on the couch drunk). She survived breast cancer twice - once when she had 5 kids at home ages 13 to 3. In a time where there were no support groups, no counselling, nothing. The second time 17 years later. She told me once that if she ever got cancer again she would not be telling us. She said she was never going into a hospital again. She never talks about her health.

I have talked to her twice in the past two days. She is so short of breath that she had my dad make the bed and do his own cooking. She is talking about it and worried that she has emphysema. This is not the kind of talking my mom does about her health. There was a hint of booze in her voice Sunday night. She's been worried enough about her breathing that she quit smoking cold turkey about a month ago. She has an appointment to see the doc on Friday but I tried to encourage her to get to the doc asap. We'll see. My mom is only 67. ((((((Mom))))))

Oldest son has his vehicle stolen from the parking lot at work on Sunday afternoon. Someone drives it out as his buddy is driving in. Yesterday one of his coworkers saw it being driven around town. When he tried to stop them they tried to ram him. A short while later the police find his vehicle on fire. (((((Oldest son))))))

Only daughter has money worries that come with being a student trying to live on meager student loan and too much month. Wishing I could wave a magic wand and do something about it. (((((0nly daughter)))))

Yesterday we went to town and I used a scooter to get around Wal-mart. This was a reality I would rather have pretended didn't exist. We usually hold hands and visit as we shop. The aisles so crowded it wasn't possible to manouever down some of them. Shopping single file is no fun. Some days I have perspective and am able to take in stride my physical limitations. Other days I don't.

Okay. There are good things happening too. I don't want to end on a negative note. My husband found a doctor who is willing to be a sounding board and review all my medical stuff. He's thinking pulmonary fibrosis. The other really wonderful thing is that one of my posts, that I expanded and submitted, has been accepted to be published in a book about home schooling. How cool is that?!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Two Prayers

This prayer via is what spurs me on to keep seeking wholeness and healing. I see it as a gift not only for me but for my children and future generations:

"If you mold her (your child) completely in this way, you will save not only her, but also the husband who will marry her, not only the husband but the children, not only the children but also the grandchildren. For when the root becomes good, the shoots are outstretched toward what is better, and for all these you will receive the reward. Therefore, let us do all things so as to help not one soul alone, but many through the one."

~ St. John Chrysostom

This prayer is what I am praying today:

Prayer For Openness

Spirit of freedom,
open my mind and my heart.
Lift the barriers,
unwind the strong grasp of my demands
when I want everything to go my way.

God of spaciousness,
reach into my inner space,
sweep out all the old clutter,
enlarge my capacity to receive.

Bringer of truth,
empty me of whatever impedes
the growth of our relationship.
Help me recognize and accept
your sources for my growth.

Creator of the seasons of life,
soften my resistance to emptying.
May I welcome each inner season
as a catalyst for my transformation.

Faithful Friend,
deepen my trust in you.
Ease my doubts, fears and discouragements.
When I am feeling vulnerable,
remind me that you are my safe haven.

Diving Mystery,
may I be ever more rooted in you.
Draw me into solitude.
Entice me into endless encounters
where I experience oneness with you.

Holy Whisper,
open the ears of my heart.
May I hear Your voice within the silence
as well as within the noise of my life.
Re-awaken me so that I can listen to you
whole heartedly.

Bringer of Good and Giver of Growth,
we yearn to be open and receptive
to your generosity.
May we trust your presence amidst the cycle
of emptying and filling.

~ Joyce Rupp in The Cup Of Our Life

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Seeping out my fingertips

I've come to the keyboard several times in the past few days trying to write a post. I type for a while and then delete it all. I feel disconnected from myself. Unable to reach that place of authenticity inside. The place where my heart seeps out the ends of my fingertips to find its way onto the keyboard. It's very frustrating. Eventually I will find my way again. Today's just not that day.

So here are a few links to new(to me!)blogs I have been reading:

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Mere Catholics

The Dark Madness

The Torn Pages

Thoughts On The Way To The Abbey

Finding Pasture

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wearing My Ammonia Halo

I like what I see in the mirror tonight. There was a time in my life when I avoided looking in the mirror as much as possible. Self loathing whispered in my ear with every glance and I hated both my inner and outer view. It took until I was in my thirties to learn good hygiene habits and to consider self care a possibility. It is almost always a sure bet that if my outward appearance ain't too hot you can bet my inner voice is suffering too.

I've been practicing saying to myself in the mirror, "I love you just the way you are, don't change." I look myself in the eye long and hard as those words hang in the air. I know that accepting myself as is is the first step in any true change happening. I've never stood still in my journey for very long so I am not worried that change won't happen. God loves me too much to let me stay put. If God loves me in this moment surely I can love me too.

I've been talking to my body as I practice good self care....I start at my feet and thank God all the way up. For the feet and legs that have held me up all these years, being grateful for my dough boy belly that grew big and round with child three times over. For arms that rocked babies and mixed cookie dough. Caressing my skin with lotion as I dry myself off.....being thankful for it all. It's surprising that what I once would have dismissed as vanity I now see as loving myself. Wonders never cease!

Tonight I dyed my hair at home for the very first time - using a product that my mother must surely have used as that ammonia smell is unforgettable. I have no memories of my mom being grouchy while walking around the house with her ammonia halo. I wonder if doing that small bit of self care made her feel better about herself. She wasn't so good at it in other areas. I think we do our families a disservice by always putting ourselves last. When my daughter got to be about 12 she started questioning me one night as I was setting the table....why did I always put the cracked plate at my place at the table....why did I give up the last piece of whatever it was so that they could all have some. There was a trace of hostility in her voice as she asked these questions. Her words forced me to look at myself. Oh man, I'm typing all this and cringing. I'm hearing those voices in my head telling me that it is virtuous to give everything up, even my own identity, for my family. All those versions of what I used to think made a Godly wife and mother.

But I knew when my daughter questioned these things she was challening me to examine my worth. Would I see myself as an equal or as a less than person. And I knew that my example would have a direct impact on her and my sons. On my future son-in-law and daughters-in-law. She forced me to look in the mirror and see myself in the human race as Jesus does - as an equal.

This post is headed in a different direction than I thought it would take. It's been nearly 10 years since my daughter challenged me that day. It's taken that long to journey towards consistent good self care. Tonight as I'm wearing my own ammonia halo I'm thinking about my mom and my daughter and how cycles have been broken. And I thank God.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Gift of Tears

Her face resembled the 'wound up tight' picture that I drew for Father Charlie last week. I noticed a warm and cozy Tigger blanket with her luggage when she arrived for registration. The kind I like to curl up in. So before opening prayers Thursday night I sat beside her. I recognized the tightness in her face, the look that said she didn't know what was coming down the pike for the weekend and how the uncertainty of that unnerved her. We talked of her blanket, her husband that had given it to her, the girls who waited for her return home. As we talked I got the faint whiff of alcohol on her breath.

And as the weekend unfolded so did she. It was beautiful and heart wrenching too. Tears were under the surface so much of my weekend. The pain in women's hearts touching the pain in my own. To see transformation happen is a gift. To see this woman break down in uncontrollable tears showed me her courage. So many times in the weekend I wanted to put my own head on the table and sob. The tears a mix of the pain I felt radiating from those around me and my own.

In the quietness of my heart I prayed for this woman all weekend. Thank you for your prayers for me during this time. With a few time outs for much needed sleep I made it through. My own heart touched with reminders of His grace every time I turned around. I got a card from a complete stranger on the spoke of things only God knew.

"His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."

You Go Girl!

My older sister told me last night that I had incredible temper tantrums when I was a little kid. She said the kind where I pounded the floor with my fists and screamed and hollered. It made my day to find this out. It means I didn't sit passively through my childhood. I had spunk. My memories are of being obedient and good so that my mom wouldn't have her own tantrums. There is a part of me that whispers to that little child throwing a fit on the floor, "You go girl!"

When I was packing for the retreat this past week, I used a suitcase I received for my 18th birthday. That was twenty five years ago and I decided I was packing it for the last time. In the years before I left home I heard my mom often say how she was looking forward to when us kids grew up and moved away. This many years later I can understand that her words came mostly from the weariness of bearing the brunt of responsibility for the active parenting in our home. But as a kid all I could hear was that she couldn't wait to see me leave. So when I got luggage for my 18th birthday it only reinforced that message. As I have been working through childhood issues I know it's time to let go of the actual suitcases too. It is rewriting the script of hearing my mom's words of "(Out)you go girl" echoing in my head to being my own cheerleader and saying to myself "You go girl!"

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fully Present

I'm in the midst of trying to get ready to go to a retreat tomorrow. It's hard to explain but I'll try. I'm one of a handful of back up speakers - people who will step in if one of the main speakers gets sick or something comes up that they can't give their talk. The talk part is easy. I have always enjoyed public speaking. I get such a distasteful feeling in my mouth when people talk about ministering to other people but the only way I can say it is this....I will be part of a team whose mission is to be fully present to the 25 women who will be experiencing this retreat for the first time.

The days are long. I'm not real sure I have enough spoons to make it through the weekend. Honestly, on my own strength I don't. I'm hooped before I even begin. But I have prayed the last two years that God would give me another chance to work this particular retreat. That any suffering or sacrifice on my part I would offer up to Him. I'm not good at being other centered. This retreat is often life changing for the women who come. Jesus becomes real and personal to many of them for the first time even though they have lived in some kind of relation to the church their whole life. I have witnessed incredible healing in some of their lives. The kind that makes your spine tingle and makes you cry at the same time. I have always come away from this retreat wowed at how ready God is to work in our lives when we least expect it. Mine included.

If you would pray that I have enough spoons to see me through the weekend I would be grateful. That I would keep out of God's business and that the needs of the women there would be met would also be a prayer request of mine. Thank you. See you Monday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lord Save Me From Destination Thinking

Just when I think I've learned something I get to see I'm not where I thought I was. I've had moments when I was sure I had the answer how to lose weight for good. Or how to parent. Or be totally surrendered to God. You pick the topic. On just about anything I've thought I've arrived at some moment in my life and haven't been able to keep the answer to myself. "Would you shut up already," I tell myself. You'd think I'd learn. I haven't. Today my mantra is this: "You are on a journey. Stop panicking because you haven't arrived. Relax in the journey." Oh, God if only I could stomach myself today. I can't.

It reminds me of those Sunday mornings when I would be a screeching ninny and then have to go to church and paste on a smile and say how fine I was. One Sunday morning one woman asked me how I was and I looked at her and whispered, "Bitchy." Relief flooded her face as she told me she was that way too.

In all seriousness. It feels like there have been huge leaps forward in my faith journey lately. Pure gift. Today it feels like it is all slipping through my fingers and it will all be a precious, but distant, memory. Lord have mercy. And the next time I leave some trite comment on one of your blogs just remember I must have been in destination mode when I wrote it. God, in His mercy, will remind me that I'm on a journey and the destination is by His pure grace.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Believe In You

A fresh powdering of snow graces the landscape as I type. It's been several days since the temperatures rose above freezing. This is the first winter of my adult life that I am accepting its coming. Not quite celebrating it, but accepting it. Life cannot be all about springtime and summer. That sounds like such a sappy mantra but I think I get it now. Without the change of seasons none of them would seem so glorious. Learning to accept the season I am in instead of hankering after another one, could be one of the reasons I am content despite the weather. I am learning just a bit what it looks like to live in this moment only. Oh, I do look over the sides of the boat to the distant shores but am content with the here and now. At least for today. I've cried more lately than I have in a long time. Tears that are welcomed as part of the season I am in. On the flip side I have laughed more too. I am full of hope. Hope that as the ground is freezing around me my emotions are thawing like it's springtime.

My husband loves music. Give him a song that has depth and he is happy. Sometimes words fail him. It's not unusual for him to put on a song to say something to me. He gets it that life is about relationships. As I was sitting here typing the other day he reached over my shoulder to put on this song by Amanda Marshall.

Amanda Marshall
Believe In You
Written by - Marshall & Bazilian
From - Tuesday's Child

Somewhere there's a river
Looking for a stream
Somewhere there's a dreamer
Looking for a dream
Somewhere there's a drifter
Trying to find his way
Somewhere someone's waiting
To hear somebody say

I believe in you
I can't even count the ways that
I believe in you
And all I want to do is help you to
Believe in you

Somewhere someone's reaching
Trying to grab that ring
Somewhere there's a silent voice
Learning how to sing
Some of us can't move ahead
We're paralyzed with fear
And everybody's listening
'Cause we all need to hear


I will hold you up
I will help you stand
I will comfort you when you need a friend
I will be the voice that's calling out

I believe in you
I can't even count the ways that
I believe in you
And all I want to do is show you
I believe in you
And there are just so many ways that
I believe in you
Baby, what else can I do but believe in you...believe in you
All I want to know is you you

This is a man who has believed in me when I couldn't believe in myself. He is a man I believe in when he can't believe in himself. Sometimes we lose all hope and can't believe in each other or ourselves. Tears fell as I listened to this song this morning. Half of the month my husband works out of town in an ER ward and today is one of those days. He sees so many people on a daily basis who have no one to believe in them.

So for my dear dreamer and drifter from one who was paralyzed with fear: I believe in you.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

If Everybody Did

Note* You just gotta laugh with me on this. Today when I sat down to write I closed my eyes and simply typed away so that the gist of what I wanted to write would flow and I would be content with what Anne Lamott calls a "shitty first draft". That is until I opened my eyes to correct what I knew to be a blatant typing error and found I had been typing with one of my hands one key out of pattern all the way through. Looking it over I thought to myself, "Aunt Helga, I might just learn how to speak Norwegian yet. It looksl ike I can type it with my eyes closed!" I actually went back and decoded it all so there you have it. Enjoy.

In the last few weeks I've tossed several apple cores out the window in the pre dawn light. It's been a little freeing. You would have to know how I have berated my family for doing likewise to understand how out of the ordinary that is for me. In fact any family member reading this will be clapping their hand over their mouth to know I actually did such a thing. I'm guilty as charged, dear. When anyone in my family throws an apple core or banana peel out the window I remind them that the fine for littering here is 200 bucks. They've always responded with telling me that the banana peel is biodegradable so they're really just helping the enviroment. In turn I remind them of the book we used to read called If Everybody Did. Full of pictures of what the world would look like if everyone did things like walk across the room with muddy shoes or throw stuff on the floor instead of putting it away, I loved to read it aloud when they were little to get everyone to pick up after themselves or at least picture the ditches with mountains of apple cores or banana peels staring back at them.

Not too long ago I thought of that book and about how much energy I have spent living by the law - even ridiculous ones I made up myself (this is so embarrassing) like not being sure it was okay for my kids to pick up the odd pebble off the road because after all, that gravel belonged to the government. God help me lighten up. Or at least give me some relief from this spiritual constipation I keep suffering from. I thought about how wonderful it would be if people could laugh at themselves a bit more. Or extend compassion when they really were wanting to lash out with whips of judgement. Or if everyone did something silly together to lighten the journey. How I need to embrace these things first and then do likewise for my neighbour. And what if everybody did?

Today some words got flung my way much like an apple core thrown out the window or a banana peel left to decompose on the highway of life. The kind of words one speaks that just pop out unexpectedly. They weren't meant to harm but they left me and him gasping in horror that they were said at all. Words that had me covering my face in my hands and sobbing those gut wrenching sobs. That I was able to cry at all about the event his words triggered is freeing. There have never been tears cried because of it ever. And the tears just flowed without my inner censor putting up a wall. And they were flowing in front of someone. Those were redeeming things in the midst of it all. Afterwards I joked that the money he had just given me to buy his Christmas present would buy a whole lot of duct tape. I was able to acknowledge how much the comment hurt and I was also able to acknowledge that he hadn't meant to hurt me. He simply hadn't been thinking. That's a long ways from me lashing out at him in anger like I have been known to do when hurt and treating him as if he was out to get me. He's having a harder time forgiving himself than I am.

I think the wound-up-tighter-than-a-corkscrew spiral inside me got a little looser today. I don't plan on becoming a habitual throw-my-apple-core-out-the-window rebel but today I did throw a bit of the pain I've kept inside out. Now just imagine if everybody did.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wound Up

One hundred and fifty miles later my day is coming to a close and I am glad. Headed in one direction this morning to see the doctor and the other direction this afternoon to keep my appointment with Father Charlie. I feel like I got the full meal deal with my physical, spiritual, and emotional selves looked at in one day.

I so wanted to do a perfect step 4. I kept feeling blocked when I sat down to write. I got the worst of things that were plaguing me down on paper but that was all I could seem to do. The worst of things were the most embarrassing of things. They were like weights around my neck, so they were easier to just put down on paper and be done with. I went in this afternoon feeling like I was deceiving myself, playing games, not being honest because it hadn't been a seamless flow from head to paper. Maybe I was supposed to simply be thankful for what did make its way onto paper and the incredible revelation that came as a result? Could I settle for progress instead of perfection? Yah think?

Nothing seems to fizz Father Charlie and for that I am grateful. He read my stuff, including a print out of my blog post of the other day, and simply took it in stride. Thank you, God. He talked about a person bringing their emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual levels into tune. That I was in the tuning process. That suffering abuse makes tuning take a nose dive and I am in the process of bringing them into tune in a way that makes life doable. Not perfect. Not even perfectly in tune. But in harmony enough that life is enjoyable. I still want someone else to connect the dots for me and bring it into tune without having to go through the process. "Nothing doing" is Father Charlie's silent mantra. He knows he is not the conductor of my life.

At one point today he had me draw a picture of how I was feeling inside. I drew a red egg shape with a tight black spiral in the middle. I felt like I was keeping my emotions wound up tight. Close your fist as tight as can be and you have the idea of how wound up I felt inside. As I started drawing the spiral in its tight circle the tears started coursing down my face. I felt SO wound up inside. How big would I draw the spiral? Would it reach the edges of the red shape? But then it would be poking through the red and that would be painful. Would I close the spiral or keep it open? He asked me to sign and date the drawing and then give it a title if one came to mind. Then he asked me to take it home and put it on my fridge. He talked of how important it was for me to honour my feelings in that way. To look at the picture and reflect on it. He said he could see all kinds of things in the picture but that he wasn't going to tell me them. It's my story, my emotions. My journey. And in that moment I just wanted him to tell me what he saw so I could accept his interpretation of my feelings. "Nothing doing" was his unspoken response.

I have hidden behind words my whole life. Drawing how I felt instead of speaking it outloud was a new experience. I was unprepared for the unleashing of emotions. He told me he still drew pictures of his emotions when he needed to and he still hangs them on his fridge. He's at home with the process of being fine tuned.

It's been so many years since I had a drawing on my fridge. I have no memories of my drawings on the fridge of my childhood. My fridge is graced with a one woman, one piece art show tonight. The pictures will change from time to time but I think the show's going to last a lifetime.