Breakthrough

22 January '14 by , under Spiritual Growth.

There are distinctive seasons and rhythms in the spiritual life (and in life in general), and we need to learn to move with them…  Times to actively, creatively, and expectantly wait — and times to advance.

It’s especially important to be ready for times of breakthrough in our lives — times when the clouds unexpectedly part, and we catch a glimpse of the correct way to proceed.  We need to capitalize on these moments and move decisively forward.

The Rejuvenating Power of Green

26 May '13 by , under Moments of "ordinary" life, Tools and Practices.

Green is a wonderful, healing, and energizing color.
It is the color of spring — of new life, new beginnings, new chances.
It is the color of hope.
I am reminded of the line from the Hopkins poem, God’s Grandeur:  “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things”.
And also the line from Coleridge’s Kubla Khan:  “Enfolding sunny spots of greenery…”
I had a moment yesterday where I felt invited to simply relax into the healing and revitalizing power of green.  I had just come back home from having been out for a while, and I caught a glimpse of the sunlight shining through the green leaves by my window.  The wind was blowing gently through the chimes.
And for about ten or fifteen minutes, I simply gazed at the green leaves filled with light against my window and listened to the chimes.
I think it is important to answer these invitations to beauty and to contemplation when they occur — and they often occur naturally at times of transition during the day.
For me, this moment happened when I had just returned home, and about a half an hour before I needed to start preparing dinner.
Next time this happens for you, go with it and see what happens!

Against the Wind

27 December '12 by , under Moments of "ordinary" life.

I happened to hear this Bob Seger song on the radio just now while I was having lunch at a local restaurant:  Against the Wind.

And it reminded me of a moment many years ago when I was driving a taxi in San Francisco…

It was a bright sunny day, and I was driving three very young soldiers to their ship near Fisherman’s Wharf.

They were about to be deployed to Iraq.

And this Bob Seger song came over the radio as we were heading down to the Wharf from North Beach.

And we all knew the words to it, and we sang it together:

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
against the wind

There was a special poignancy to this moment for me.  I felt a sense of profound harmony with these young men who were, perhaps, heading to their deaths — but, certainly, to danger, excitement, severe trials and tests.

And I felt honored to share that moment of communion with them.

December 2012 Skies

16 December '12 by , under Tools and Practices.

So hard to clearly read the signs of the times…  The fiscal cliff, the Connecticut shootings, the supposed end to the Mayan calendar (or the end to a particular phase of it, of history…).

Are we in the end times, or are we approaching them?

And, if so, what to do about it?   How to prepare?

By intensifying our spiritual practice with increased prayer, meditation, contemplation, and spiritual reading. By simplifying our lives, and our lifestyles.  By reducing mental, emotional, psychic, and physical clutter.  By purifying our hearts.  And by fasting as a way to hear more deeply within and to reduce our over-dependence on things, habits, vices.

By taking long walks in nature, stretching, and lifting weights — putting effort into getting physically and fiscally fit — and (as much as possible) ready for anything.

Interior Design for the Soul

19 January '12 by , under Tools and Practices.

Sometimes all it takes is another “eye”  — or even our own eye with a different type of glance 🙂 ….

While up visiting my mother for a week during Christmas, I felt inspired to help switch around some of her furniture for a more comfortable (and upbeat) look and feel to her space.

It all started with asking if I could bring some outdoor chairs in and up next to the fireplace.

This started a whole creative chain of events…

Once the chairs were in place, we found some nice cushions for them that matched the rest of the decor.

Then I noticed a cabinet that she had partially painted a bright yellow to match the dining room chairs she’d painted.  The shade of yellow seemed a bit sharp, so I asked if I could add some red to the cabinet.

I cannot go into the whole process, here, but what happened over the course of the week was a very refreshed space that only cost us about $35.00 out of pocket.  (We found a signature piece at a nearby antique store!)

But most of it involved using items that she already had — but just re-positioning them in new fresh ways.

Now she is very happy with her home and feels re-energized with many new ideas about how to make her space more fun for herself and a more accurate expression of who she is…

Unexpected Light

17 November '11 by , under Spiritual Growth.

In the spiritual life there are times of testing; indeed, of tribulation.  These times can be of varying lengths — days, months, years — even decades.

They’re times when we feel overshadowed — heavily boxed in by something:  a dilemma, a predicament, a particular set of circumstances that we cannot extricate ourselves from.

We have to wait for deliverance from above.

Yet, sometimes during these trials, we can glimpse an unexpected light — an encouragement to persevere…

Journey of the Magi / Eliot

18 December '10 by , under Spiritual Growth.

Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot (Collected Poems, 1909-1962, The Centenary Edition, Hardcover ISBN: 0151189781) Available on www.amazon.com

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

———————————————-

This is a great poem for the season, and it has very much to do with spiritual growth and change. We can either move towards change and growth, towards the truth that we see, or we can shrink back from it and try to pretend to ourselves that we don’t see what we see or understand what we understand.  We can choose to remain small and try to hide from our true stature and greatness, our true aliveness, from the full reality that beckons to us…

Here is a comment that I wrote about the narrator of the poem, Journey of the Magi, on one of the poetry websites.  I can think of other ways in which to interpret this poem, but this is something that came to mind as I read it again, today:

What I take from the sense of sadness and resignation in the narrator is that he had this experience. He made this difficult journey. He was searching for something, but when he found it, he could not bring himself to fully accept the implications. This reminds me of the ending of that Rilke poem “You must change your life”. The narrator is unwilling to do this, and because of this he cannot enjoy the reality or the fruits of a true rebirth in Christ. He remains in the liminal zone of betwixt and between, neither here nor there. Physical death would be a relief to him because he can no longer enjoy the old but neither can he truly embrace the new. To do so he would have to sacrifice the comforts of the old and the familiar and leap boldly into the new, into the arms of Christ.

The good news is that the time of change is every moment.  As Eliot says in another of his poems, East Coker, “And every moment is a new and shocking valuation of all we have been.”  As long as we are alive, we can change.  We can decide to lean into the truth, rather than away from it. And we are not alone down here; we can ask God for the help and guidance we need.

(Another possible meaning of this poem is that the narrator did change.  He did accept the new revelation — but because he had to return to his old country, he now feels estranged from their ways and practices.  He has changed, but they have not.  He feels isolated — as if a stranger in a strange land — so he looks forward to death as liberation.)

Welcome!

27 September '10 by , under Spiritual Growth.

Hi!  This is just a quick note to welcome you to my blog — and to my”Spirit-Centered Life Coach” website!

I intend to use this as a forum in which to express my ideas, insights, intuitions, thoughts, hunches, etc… about spiritual growth, psychological and emotional integration, the creative process, and life coaching — among other things.

Wishing you a happy, wonderful, and transformative fall!