There are new words now in our language and we have all learned them, regardless of whether or not we even speak English. They arrived suddenly one day and like company that stays too long or is purely obnoxious, they are still with us even after several months. For some the arrival has brought fear, anxiety, chaos and even death. We are all facing a strange, unknown threat and most of us are doing our best to “follow the rules” as to not become ill or even worse, to make someone else ill and perhaps be the reason for their demise. No matter who you are or where in the world you live, you are probably experiencing at the least some sort of stress. I’ve spoken to many people who seem to have some sort of new physical ailment or one from the past that has reappeared. It is not uncommon. Besides many of us find ourselfes wondering whether or not that sore throat or queasy tummy or ingrown toenail might be a sign that the enemy has found a weak spot in our defense. It’s simply an extremely daunting, challenging time and we, as American are at our best in times like these but I don’t know if any of us understood how long this time might last.
The Easter Holiday brought the following message to my inbox:
Haven’t seen you lately so here’s an update. I have been working out 2-3 times a day, lost 25 pounds, almost all muscle now. Took up learning Mandarin and have become quite proficient. Have finally got to finish War and Peace as well as all of the works of Tolstoy, Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut which I have always wanted to get to. I’ve taken up the guitar and have Smoke on the Water down pat. Have tried to write a few songs, sent them to a music house and they tell me some guy I never heard of, Post Malone, wants to record them. I have also become a concert pianist and expert at ice sculpture. It’s been very boring but we all do the best we can. Happy Easter, stay safe and may the force be with you.
I so appreciated the humor and I am sure anyone reading this has also found some relief in the humor that has come along. I, on the other hand had to reply that the skills my husband and I have honed have been a little more mundane. He has taken charge of the cleaning, including the vacuuming. I am his “new” supervisor.
About forty years ago, we had a friend who won the “sexiest man alive” contest in upstate New York. It was I recall, a lunchtime event and several men were called up on a makeshift stage and questioned about why they should win the title. As you can imagine, there were many creative and somewhat risqué answers but our friend won with not only his good looks (which he had) but with the simple statement that he loved to cook and he did the cleaning. He was unanimously given the title. I’ve tried to convince my hubby of fifty-two years that there is nothing sexier than a man who likes to cook and clean. It just took a pandemic to push him into the role I always thought should be his.
Again, humor has come in many many forms and for the most part, I have let it feed and nurture me. We had one email that said a couple had decided to not have children and they were going to tell them after dinner. But, the winner for me so far has been:
It was LOL for at least two days and it still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. I don’t know who this lady is but I would love to meet her and I would love to have her as a friend.
Also don’t miss John Krasinski’s YouTube segments called Some Good News. It’s the kind of news I wish were published by our mass medial. It’s kind, funny and uplifting.
In one of my favorite books, Spiritual Insights for Daily Living by Elizabeth Fenske, the March 25th reading tells of an old Arab folk tale where Pestilence once met a caravan in the desert on the road to Baghdad. “Why must you hasten to Baghdad?” Asked the caravan chief. “To take 5,000 lives,” was Pestilence’s answer. Later, they met again and the caravan chief said, “You deceived me, Pestilence, instead of 5,000 life’s you took 50,000.” “Nay,” replied Pestilence, “5,000 and not one more-it was fear who killed the rest.”
I know, we all feel like we are living in a Twilight Zone episode. I know I do. I keep thinking any day now, I will wake up from this dream, this bazaar state of the world. Fear! Anxiety! Stress! Grief! Loss! Most of us are facing all of these emotions. Most of us are fairly familiar with them but not on such a continual constant level. Being who I am, I look for ways to see the silver lining in all the events of my life; sometimes to the annoyance of those around me. In my first book Creating Positive Affirmations, Living an Intentional Life, I write that, “We cannot control the wind but we can decide how to set the sail. The wind may blow you all over the world and take you to places you do or do not choose but it is your attitude during the journey and when you arrive that will determine every aspect of the adventure and you can determine that mindset by carefully choosing your self-talk.”
I am not proposing that you ignore any of your emotions. As Rumi says, “Welcome and entertain them all. Be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Then, take steps to move through those negative feelings. Most of us know what is required to lift ourselves out of the pit but sometimes we need a reminder and many times we need a friend.
Here are some of the tools that help me. I share them with a hope they may also lift you to a “better place.”
The list can be endless. You know what you love. You know what nourishes your soul and feeds your heart. Have hope. Have faith. If it’s simply too windy for you at any point, lower the sail and take shelter in a safe place and wait. The time will come again when we can all raise our sails and embrace the adventure of this life.
Affirmation: Sacred time is an integral part of my spiritual well-being.
In February of this year a group of four women gathered to talk about holding a woman’s monthly morning retreat at our church, St. Michael the Archangel. The process actually began after Christmas during my stay in the North Carolina mountains. For me, it is a very spiritual place and during my week there, God spoke to me. Actually, I think it may have been Mother Mary but whoever wanted my attention, they got it. Oh, not at first. “No No No,” I answered but after the third morning of no, I gave up and said, “OK, if you want this to happen, send help.” Here’s the story.
I awoke the first morning and as I journaled, I got the inspiration to create a woman’s monthly morning retreat. ”NO! I do not have time. I don’t want to spread myself so thin.” There!! The second morning, the message arrived even before I sat for my quiet time. “NO! I cannot commit to a monthly engagement. I like to travel. I couldn’t possibly be available.” The third morning, I woke up with the same message. Again, I refused. “No! I couldn’t do this on my own. I would need help.” That was all the spirit needed, that tiny, “maybe.” I imagined the person I would like to help with such a project and within an hour, I received an email from that lady, even though we did not communicate regularly. The rest is history. I contacted her and she immediately answered, “Yes.” I think she has a more willing spirit than I. We asked a few other women and two more agreed to help. Then I contacted the church. It seemed like a good idea since we wanted to use their space. They agreed. We put a few notices in the bulletin and on February 15th, eighteen women showed up. It ran for two hours and the feedback was very positive. We scheduled four more sessions. The next one for March 21st.
As all of you know, the world has stopped turning. We will not be gathering for a morning retreat or for lunch or to play. We are all doing our best to follow the recent National guidelines for stopping the spread of the corona virus and yet, it seems even more important, more relevant to bring our intentions together and to invite the Holy to bless our lives, our country and the world. With that in mind, I am presenting a @Home Retreat. As of this writing, there are about two dozen of us who will take an hour and a half to pray and to listen to the Divine. I’m sharing the format in case anyone who reads this is interested in joining us. If you know me personally, you are welcome to email me for more information, otherwise all you need to know is below.
The agenda is below but I want to emphasize that it is only a model and it is not written in stone. Please feel free to adjust it to your needs and perhaps the guidance of your guardian angel.
It is very important to recognize that you cannot do this “wrong.” If you finish early or late, that’s just fine. If you decide to read something you prefer over the suggestions, that’s fine. This is a time of NO JUDGEMENT. It cannot be viewed as, “right or wrong,” “good or bad,” or “successful or unsuccessful.” It is simply time you have carved out for yourself to develop a closer relationship with Our Lord, with the Divine. It will be different for each person and that’s just fine.
There is a great power in silence.
Triangle Women’s Monthly Morning Retreat
Home Program: Saturday 3/21/2020 9:30-11:00am
*Prepare your space: Find an area where hopefully you will not be disturbed for your quiet time. Perhaps you want a blanket for yourself (or a teddy bear?).
*Gather your supplies: Timer (preferably not a phone, try to make your space – media free), note paper and/or journal, pen.
*Create an “altar”: Put a few meaningful items out, include a candle.
*Opening Song – Your Choice, sing one or listen to one.
Lyrics for Amazing Grace:
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home
*Opening Prayers – The Sign of the Cross/Our Father/Hail Mary/Glory Be or your choice.
*Intention: This is a reflective, healing time and we ask that it be filled with the love of the Holy Spirit, the care of Mother Mary and the guidance of all our guardian angels. We are here to learn from one another and to support each other on our journey towards a closer, more intimate relationship with Our Lord.
*Write out a prayer request or a few and add them to your “altar.”
*Reflection – Think of one thing you’ve added or deleted from your life for Lent.
*Scripture Reading – Lectio Divinia – Slowly read the following daily scripture three times. Read the passage slowly and carefully.
Gospel for this day, March 21st: LK 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
*Journaling Time – What did you hear God sharing with you? What do you want to share with God? (10-15 minutes)
*Centering Prayer – 10 to 20 (recommended) minutes of silent time (you decide.)
*Centering Prayer – Guidelines
*Closing Prayer –
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
*Sharing a Word Exercise – choose a word from your reading or your quiet time (your sacred word?) and share it here. Feel free to share any other thoughts or insights you have gained from this sacred time.
Affirmation: I find the can in cancer.
In 2007 Nancy Emerson, Susan Moonan, and Terri wrote, Finding the Can in Cancer. They were a group of women who were influential in the early stages of what was then called, The Duke Cancer Patient Support Program. Nancy Emerson was a woman with a mission. Her mission was not to let cancer become her identity. It was a part of her life’s quilt but not the primary thread. She and her co-authors shared a vision of hope and presented a message of living life to the fullest, not sitting back and waiting to die. They already knew what Jimmy Buffet sings about when he croons, “I want to die while I’m living than live while I’m dead.”
Recently cancer has been even more present in my life than usual. My hubby was diagnosed with an aggressive-rare form of neck cancer (two words no one wants to hear when cancer is being described.) My dear traveling buddy also is presently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and my young, sweet neighbor is being treated for stage four lung cancer. Along with them my friend, Dr. Carmen Wagner is also being treated for lung cancer.
Carmen, is a brilliant business woman who has been involved with the health industry for most of her career. She has decided to use her organizational skills to create a cancer support group here in Cary, North Carolina. She too wants to focus on living life to the fullest and gathering and sharing information that will help people be the healthiest they can possible be. Her goal is to look at the whole person. One cannot heal the body without addressing the issues of the mind and the spirit. There’s a quote from the Mayo Clinic that says, “Three fourth of our patients are passing on the sickness of their minds and souls to their bodies.” How is that for a wake-up call?
How many of us have the power to control our minds to overcome disease? Even the holiest of holy die. Life has a way of bringing us to our knees and maybe that’s one of the most important “tools” we can sharpen; our ability to connect to the Divine, our ability and desire to find The Holy and to fully understand that we are, “spiritual beings having a human experience.” Perhaps, our greatest tool is to grow our faith in a power greater than ourselves, greater than anything we can even imagine. A power that can create a galaxy and a flower, a human and a microcosm.
After the initial diagnosis of cancer, what I found to be the second scariest event was the day I was released from treatment. I know I am not alone. I know too in many ways I was one of the lucky ones, to be released at all. However, a few years back, Duke changed the name of the DCPSP to the Duke Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic. They finally recognized the need for cancer patients to receive care that addressed all the issues they had gone through during their treatment and perhaps with which they would continue to deal. For example, people who had undergone the type of chemotherapy I had undergone, needed an Echocardiogram every five years. I had been out of treatment (yes, luckily) for over 15 years and had never had an Echo! There’s a thread of cancer that is always with you even after you’ve been told you are “cancer free.” Ask any cancer survivor what come first to their minds when they have a headache, a backache or a shoulder pain? These concerns and fears need to addressed and alleviated. Education and support are essential to continued healing and that’s exactly what Carmen is focusing on, as is the Survivorship Clinic at Duke.
The basic health care rules apply whether or not you’re in or out of cancer. Exercise, eat healthy, get a good night’s sleep and stay connected to friends and family. These are proven ways of maintaining optimal health. The way you approach them really depends on the individual. People go crazy trying to figure out the best approach to their diet. In today’s world there are so many options and every one of them is touted as the “best” diet.” You’ve seen them. You’ve read about them. I don’t have to list them. The only way to know if they’re for you is to try one for a time and see how you feel and how your body responds. It’s not an easy path. What is good for one, really is not good for all. But is there any one thing that’s good to help cure the sickness of our minds and souls?
It’s Lent, 2020 as I write this missive. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time to focus on prayer, fasting and alms giving according to the tradition of my Catholic faith. It’s forty days to broaden our perspectives, to learn more about ourselves, to grow closer to our God and perhaps change our relationship to ourselves, the world and Our Lord. It’s really all up to us and our intentions and that, I believe is the cure. Oh, you may not heal yourself of every ailment you have and yes, you will still die. Let’s face it, no one gets out of this life alive. We do, however, get to choose how we live. We get to choose how we perceive what we are experiencing. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to us, this gift of freedom of will and thought. Dr. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen writes that sometimes in our pursuit of becoming whole, we still may not be cured but be assured, we will be healed.
What choices can one make to assure they will be healed? There are many just like a diet but two of the most important one can learn are to forgive and to love. Don’t hold onto that hot coal of resentment expecting it to harm anyone other than yourself. Do whatever it takes to heal your heart of hurt, anger and bitterness. Write about it, paint about it, meditate on it, pray. Don’t give up until you are whole once more, until that wound in your heart and soul has scared over. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it and don’t expect it to happen like a one and done. It may appear over and over. You may need to make a conscious decision maybe many times before you find peace. Forgiveness and love, the two cornerstones of a healthy, full, enriched life. Truly, if your life is full of peace and love what else could you possibly want or need to live it to the fullest?
Dr. Wagner, The Duke Survivorship Clinic, and the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat that I have been leading for the last fifteen years all focus on finding the positive outlook in life. We recognize the pain and challenge and then we choose to look for the, “can in cancer.” It’s there. It may take the help of others seen and unseen to discover it, but even in the most difficult of times, one can find a way to see the blessings. They are there in the faces of our loved ones, in the calls and cards from our friends and neighbors, in the prayers than encircle our whole being; mind, body and spirit. May your cancer journey help you to see the “can”, the blessings and may they lift you up to a place of gratitude and possibility.
“The world is not as dangerous a place as we imagine it to be.” I am so grateful to my friend, Susan, for inviting me to join her on this pilgrimage. Her desire to see and experience the world and her willingness to share it with me, dragged me out of fear and into love. It’s not the first time she has led me this way. It was she who led me to walk the Camino in 2017. I can fall into fear very easily but she reminds me that “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” We said our prayers and then stepped out into a whole new world. She would tell me periodically that “You knew you weren’t in Kansas any longer,” when you had warthogs on the front lawn, elephants crossing the road, baboons climbing out of inn windows and monkeys waiting to steal your breakfast. We were in a different world and I had conquered my fears, again. It’s a gift I gave myself. It’s keeping me excited and enthusiastic about life, about the future, about our future. It’s a reminder of a phrase I heard while at the Haden Institute, “God loves me exactly as I am but She loves me too much to leave me there.” Thank you, God! Thank you, Susan.
In fact at the Haden training this last weekend we were handed a picture of a tree and the title was “Contemplative Practices.” There are several branches: stillness, generative, creative, activist, relational, movement and ritual/cyclical. It would appear according to this diagram that almost any form of activity can fall into a contemplative category as long as one is wholly present to their actions. I’m sure that’s true but I still feel most of us will benefit from finding a way to silence and stillness. It’s a busy noisy world out there and “in here” and to take some time and just be, can be life changing. In fact, it has now been scientifically proven that the part of brain that deals with stress changes with meditation and we respond with less tension and anxiety.
Ron DelBrene’s book was for me like discovering a magic lamp, with a genie inside. The genie popped out and I was asked to make a wish, only one. Oh, what was so important to me that I would want to focus on it all the time? Ron suggests you find a short phrase that you use as an all-day prayer. He recommends it be around six words or so. You then repeat it throughout your entire day. You can say it at a red light, standing in line, waiting in a doctor’s office, walking to you employment, in the shower. Anywhere, anytime is the perfect time. You “rub the magic lamp” and you actually ask, “God, what prayer would best serve our relationship?” You take some of that quiet time I just mentioned and you listen. What phrase comes to mind? For now, that’s the prayer. Sure, you can change it. You can tweek it but for now, own the words that you have been gifted. Breathe in, deep breath and let them settle into your heart and your spirit. Give the prayer a few days to take root and then be prepared for when it begins to blossom. That’s when you’ll know the “genie” has heard your one wish and it is being manifested. The prayer isn’t for anyone or anything other than yourself. Selfish, you think? Remember the Prayer of Saint Francis? “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Until we change ourselves to be centered in the gifts of the Sprit; love, joy, peace, hope, compassion and generosity, nothing outside of us will ever change. Let God take up full time residence within, you only need ask, and then throw away that lamp because now the miracle of finding God within will bring about the miracle of revealing God without and I believe life will never again be the same.
|Susan & I beginning the journey|
Affirmation: Even though the walk along the Camino has ended, the journey continues.
|Roads Scholar Camino Tribe, May 2017|
I attempted to share a bit of our trip on the local Camino blog site in case someone else was interested in going with Roads Scholar but the conversation quickly turned to how much more it cost to go with a tour than it would cost to go on one’s own. I don’t think the people who commented had a clue; I don’t believe I would have ever gone “on my own.” I almost didn’t go with the group. Yes, it cost more than a solo hike but for me, it was worth the expense. I had many moments beforehand of wondering what the heck I had signed up for. We walked 60 miles in 10 days. We walked up mountains, through forests, through small villages and in the rain and through the mud. We didn’t get a certificate and we had a lot of guidance, thank God! But I left with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and an amazing storehouse full of memories that will last me a life-time.
|The Rosaries in Finisterra|
Remember the blessed Rosaries I collected? I mentioned them in the last blog. My first night with the group, I explained that I had been given a “message” to bring Rosaries and I knew that sounded weird but I had collected about fifty of them from a lot of different people. “Please take one or two if you like. If you don’t want one, that’s fine too.” The rest of the Rosaries walked the Camino with me. When I was finished, I again passed the bag around with the same instructions. Between our group of twenty-three and the other people I met on my trip, I came home with 5 Rosaries. I was in awe of how many people I met who wanted to talk about their faith. If that happened, I eventually offered them a finger Rosary and everyone accepted; the tapas tour leader, the taxi driver, the hotel receptionist, the German pilgrim in Finisterra. I didn’t feel any pressure to give away the Rosaries. I just let it happen, and so it did, and it was so rewarding to share this small gift of my faith.
The journey didn’t end in Spain. The journey hasn’t ended yet. The first Camino synchronicity that took place was about a week later when I arrived at my daughter’s home in London. When I had visited her in March I walked to mass at the local church as is my practice. As I was leaving mass a very nice lady introduced herself and proceeded to walk along next to me. She was very gracious and said the next time I was in London, perhaps I’d like to come to her home for tea; she lived close by. I contacted her when I arrived at my daughter’s and made arrangements to meet up. I mentioned in my email that I had just come off the Camino. As we walked along, I asked her if she’d ever walked the Camino. “I have walked the Camino for three weeks every year for the last eighteen years.” I had goose-bumps. When we arrived at her home, she had all the original tour books for the path, before one had access to cell phones or computers. She had them in English, German and French. She also had a walking stick engraved with El Camino. My new friend worked for the non-profit, L’Arche. An organization that helped mentally disabled adults transition to independent living. It’s a world-wide organization. She then went on to tell me she had two American Gurus, Richard Rohr and Marshall Rosenberg. As you may already know, Richard Rohr is someone I follow very closely. He’s appeared in my writing quite a bit. I didn’t know about M. Rosenberg but I downloaded one of his books and read it on my eight hour flight home. He is the developer of the Non Violent Communication process. If that wasn’t enough of a synchronicity, when we went to a communication session to help our grandson, one of the five recommended books was….you probably guessed it, Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC.
It led me straight to an available slot in the fall session at the Hayden Institute for training as a spiritual director. Yes, even when I’ve finished walking the path, the Camino journey continues. This image that I now carry in my mind and heart leave me feeling excited, hopeful and awed. It’s such a marvelous gift and I feel so blessed to have received it. Thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you!
Affirmation: I let go of affection, security and power.
Lee Smith, one of our beloved North Carolina writers spoke at the Olli program at NC State University this April. Her topic was, I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool. She spoke for one and half hours and never missed a beat. She was funny and clever and very entertaining. I took out my phone at one point, not to check my messages, I hope she knew that, but to write down one of her shared quotes, “Expectations are the breeding ground of resentment.” This, I felt, deserved some reflection.
I’m preparing for a walk along the El Camino de Santiago in Spain. I’m going with my friend, Susan Auman. We are going with Roads Scholar.
We are not walking the whole 500 plus miles. We are “only” walking about 50 miles or so, the last part of the famous pilgrimage. After my adventure last year with Isabelle to Alaska I realized how important it was to me to step outside of my comfort zone. This is way outside of my zone and it’s been an interesting journey before I’ve even packed the suitcase. (More about that later.)
I’ve read the information packet and I’ve watched the movie, The Way, with Martin Sheen. I’ve got my plane tickets, hiking boots and hiking poles. I’ve got new walking pants that roll up and my old Outward Bound hat. I have sunscreen and Biofreeze. I’ve spent the last few weeks dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s.” I have had moments of complete panic and moments of total calm. At one point, I called Roads and spoke to a woman named Gale. I told her how anxious I felt and that I wanted to speak to the guide; that was not going to happen, she told me. Then she asked me what I was anxious about. “Everything!” I replied. At some point in the conversation she reminded me that millions of people have already done this. They’ve walked the entire path. She also reminded me that this is a pilgrimage and “a spiritual journey.” With those words, the anxiety seeped out of me. It was like I had been in the dark and she came in and flipped on the light switch. I’d like to tell you that I’ve been calm ever since but that would not be true, although I have been calmer and that’s been nice.
After listening to Lee Smith, I’ve tried very hard not to have any expectations for my trip. I have prayed that it be “uneventful.” I think that’s what people mean when they speak of “traveling mercies.” If you’ve been watching the news lately, it appears travel is filled with situations that are far from pleasant and may even be life threatening, or deadly. Of course, that describes most of life, don’t you think? I however, once again, get to choose on what I want to focus. I have asked my Guardian Angel to go ahead and pave the path with grace and ease. That practice brings me peace. I expect this to be an adventure, perhaps one of my life’s most daring after breast cancer. This adventure however, I’ve chosen.
As I sat quietly one morning trying not to mentally pack (again) and to stay in the moment, I received a message, “Bring Rosaries.” I haven’t had a lot of direct communication with God or in this case, Mother Mary, but I was very sure this wasn’t my idea. When I rose from my sitting, I sent a note to all my Catholic friends asking for Rosary donations. I felt I wasn’t supposed to buy them. I believe I am to bring the prayers and energy of my dear ones from home onto and into the walk. What a wonderful response I’ve gotten. Some came with notes wishing us well. Some are from the Vatican, recently blessed by Pope Francis. Some are homemade by the ladies of St. Michael the Archangel. Others belonged to loved ones who have passed away. There are even finger Rosaries. Who knew there was such a thing? I’ve already given a few away. I know the dear ones I gifted will be holding us in their prayers as we walk along. I like knowing that. It makes me smile.
When I heard Lee Smith’s quote, however, it was not travel that first came into my mind. The reason I believe it resonated so loudly with me is because I recognized the frustration I’ve experienced over the years with several important relationships. I’m guilty of expecting people to behave in a certain way or to respond to me in a certain manner and they don’t always meet my expectations. I’ve got some amazing people in my life and I’m not proud of judging them as wanting because they didn’t live up to my expectations and perhaps because I didn’t even let them know what I wanted. I’ve been on the other side of this also and it’s a very exhausting experience to try and meet someone’s expectations whose needs are quite extensive but who doesn’t want to appear needy and so doesn’t tell you what they are.
The phrase I have adopted this year to begin my meditation with is, “I let go of affection, security and power and accept this moment exactly as it is.” I say it before I begin meditating and have to say it several times during my quiet time. “I let go.” How powerful is that? When I stop attaching my wants and desires on my loved ones, I give them permission to be whoever they are and I am then called upon to love them and accept them exactly as they are. Perhaps, once I can achieve that state, I can also allow myself to be the best I can be and not feel an obligation to create someone else’s happiness, or even comfort. As I examine this new phrase, I wonder how much of my life has revolved around my expectations and if that’s served me well or not? I think there’s a difference between expectation and hope. The first is about the destination and the later is about the journey. I can be guilty of focusing on the destination when It comes to every aspect of my life not just my relationships or my travel but my faith, my material possessions, my health, my social life. None of that has brought me happiness or contentment. It’s time to let go.
Maybe by letting go I will make more room for God in my life. Perhaps by letting go over and over again, just like I do in my mediation, I will finally be content and peaceful. I think my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella began the day I signed up for this journey and the lessons I am to learn and share started showing up almost immediately, including in Lee Smith’s talk. Although one of my affirmations is, “The best is yet to come.” Well, who is responsible for that? Perhaps that too can refer to the journey and not the destination. I’ll let you know as I walk along. Look for an update or two but don’t expect too much!
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
An Irish Blessing
|My Rosary Collection|
Affirmation: I am a Journaler.
Why Journal? Why put pen to paper? Is it true that writing makes a difference in one’s health and can even speed up the healing process? What other benefits arise from sitting with a notebook or a pad or perhaps some colored pencils or markers? Are there techniques that help one become a more consistent, insightful writer? These are the questions that arose as I prepared to present Healing through Writing at the 2017 Cancer Survivorship Summit here in Raleigh, NC.
If history is any indication of the importance of keeping a diary, it appears there is little doubt that most successful endeavors were meticulously recorded. In the past an adventurer or explorer never seemed to leave home without a notebook and pen or pencil. Certainly, Lewis and Clarke would not have been able to share every important detail of their expedition if they hadn’t been charged to write down everything that they encountered. Why then shouldn’t we write? Aren’t we all on an adventure? Aren’t our explorations as important as any explorer’s? True, our journeys may take us less out into the world, than in towards our minds, hearts and souls but those may be the journeys where we discover the most relevant truths of our lives.
Free Writing – Put the pen to the paper and just go. Whatever comes to mind. My experience has been that after writing my “stream of consciousness” for a few pages, a gem or two appears towards the end of the entry, not always but enough to make me feel like the time was spent well.