Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lenten practices


One of my intentions for this Lenten season was to write every day. I'm doing that, but not always coming up with something to publish; I think that's okay.


My friend Tricia and I have a collaborative Lenten creative practice. Every week, we each write a haiku and take a photo; then we create diptychs of her haiku and my photo, and my haiku and her photo. Here's the first week:


Back in Advent, Kate, my boss and rector of the church where I work, and I had talked about doing another weekday meditation/prayer series for Lent, and adding healing to the mix. We've been extremely busy, though, and suddenly Lent had begun. The solution: Offer healing for half an hour before the start of each Wednesday evening program.

The program is called "Listening for God" and continues last year's theme of mindfulness. Each week, I'll offer hands-on healing from 6 o'clock until the soup supper at 6:30 pm, which is followed by the talk at 7. I'm so excited to share my gift!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Holding the light

Everything is energy, vibrating at different frequencies. When two different energies come into contact, one will align with the other. This, I explained at a talk a few weeks ago, is how crystals work. When my energy comes in contact with the crystal's energy, my energy will align with the stronger, steadier vibration of the crystal.

Lately I've been wondering: What if I could become a stronger, steadier vibration so that people's energy could shift in a positive way just from being near me? What if, like a crystal, I could hold the light purely?

Of course, I'm not pure — I'm human. But I believe we each have a divine core. As we go through life, we accumulate junk around that core. For years, I've been trying to shed my junk so I can live from my pure self, from my soul. It's a long process, but I see glimmers.

Holding the light helps me shed more junk. Holding the light helps me be centered in my heart, rather than distracted by the chatter of my mind, and it helps me be clear. Holding the light helps me share my work as a healer.

And holding the light helps me be a better person. I never have to apologize for my behavior when I'm holding the light and acting from my soul.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Holding the light

I used to think I could transform the world in some kind of grand gesture, affecting many people at once. Then I learned that the best way to change the world is to focus on my corner of it — starting with making myself the best I can be. From there, I can affect the people I come in contact with: I can smile at the person working at the gas station; I can let a car turn left in front of me; I can offer an ear or a hug to a friend having a bad day.

It turns out it's easy to do those things when I come from my heart and soul. It gets harder when my mind gets mixed in — my mind that says, "She didn't smile at me. Why should I smile at her?" And "I need to get to work; get out of my way!" 

But I'm human, and sometimes I get bogged down in worries and stress and pettiness. So the question is, how do I stay clear so I can spread good in the world?

I know some pieces of the answer, and some I have to figure out. But it seems that the overarching answer is "Be the light of God." In Advent, my goal was opening to the light. Now my goal is holding the light — being a clear container so that I can hold the energy of love.

That doesn't mean I actively love everyone; I don't love the woman at the gas station or the driver opposite me — but I can come from my heart when I'm interacting with them.

When I come from my heart, interactions are more satisfying. I feel happier. I feel calmer, more centered.

Today I'm focusing on staying in my heart. That's easy to say, sitting here drinking my tea by the fire; we'll see what happens when I venture out in the cold, snowy world and head to work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

searching. finding.

In December, I told a story at church about finding light in the darkness. My story began when I was 10 years old. My mother told me one day I was too negative; hurt but honest, I realized she was right. I headed out for a walk with our Siberian Husky, determined to find something positive before I went home.

I had no idea where to begin.

I started with the weather. If it were sunny, that would be a positive thing, I thought. But it wasn't sunny. In fact, everything was soaked from a recent rain. I walked on, looking around — past the little pond and up the hill across the street, to the tall grass along the roadside. Suddenly I noticed the way the light caught in a drop of water on a blade of grass, and I thought, "That's beautiful."

I learned some important lessons that day; I learned that if I can't find light inside of me, I can look outward. It might be physically small, as small as a drop of water, but it will be there, somewhere.

Winter, this year, is hard. It's cold. We've had something like 100 inches of snow in 4 weeks. The days, thankfully, are getting longer, but there are no signs of spring outside. We're in a deep freeze — 14 of the past 18 days have been below freezing. People are cold, tired, drained. Worried about ice dams and roof leaks. Sore from shoveling paths and raking roofs.

A week ago, I started paperwhite bulbs by "planting" them in stones and water. Paperwhites are gloriously gratifying because they shoot up impossibly long green leaves and gorgeous clusters of white flowers. Seven days in, the green shoots have gone from about 1/2 inch high to 2-4 inches high, and several of the bulbs have buds bursting forth from the leaves.

In this cold season of still-long nights, when my depression tends to spike, having paperwhites growing is an anchor. It's a constant visual reminder that no matter what it looks like outside, spring will come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bloom where you're planted

When I was 17, I decided I would live in Italy someday. The person I felt like in Italy was more me than the person I was back home. You know how different friends match different pieces of you? Italy matched more pieces of my soul than the United States.

But "Bloom where you're planted," the saying goes. At 41, I haven't lived in Italy, and I'm firmly planted in New England. Now I'm figuring out how to integrate the different pieces of who I am.

In my heart, I'm a writer. I'm a healer. I'm a photographer. 
In my soul, I'm a partner with my husband.

Those things sound easy enough to integrate, so where does the problem come in? I think the problem happens when I think.

When I think, I'm in my head, not my heart or soul.

In my mind, I should have a full-time job that pays very well.
In my mind, I shouldn't have depression.
In my mind, I should be perfect.

See that? See those shoulds? Yikes. It sounds like I'm using a lot of energy on thoughts that aren't helping me move forward.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I was raised Catholic and although I haven't considered myself Catholic for many years, I often give up something for Lent. My mother told me once the thing you give up for Lent should be difficult. One year I gave up picking my nails (which might sound trivial, but at 15, was a serious commitment). One year I gave up chips, my favorite snack. Another year I gave up alcohol.

This year, in thinking about a Lenten practice, I decided I don't want whatever I do to feel punitive. I don't want to focus on giving up something — rather, I want to focus on something.

Last Advent, my amazing boss Kate, an Episcopal priest, and I led weekday guided meditation and prayer at the church. The theme was "I am open to the light of God" (if you're not religious, just drop "of God" — "I am open to the light" works perfectly). Each week connected with the Advent themes of the adult formation program, a version of NPR's "The Moth Radio Hour": light/darkness, expectation/birth and giving/receiving. We interspersed a chakra/aura guided meditation with scripture readings and silent meditation.

For Lent, I also want a theme, and I've settled on "I am holding the light of God." My Lenten practice will be writing, thinking about ways I can and do hold the light.