When In Doubt, Meditate Under a Slide

Never, and I mean never, allow anyone else’s ideas of who you can or can’t become sully your dream or pollute your imagination. This is your territory, and a KEEP OUT sign is a great thing to erect at all entrances to your imagination…Stay in a state of grace and gratitude for this resplendent gift that is always yours to do with as you choose. ~ Wayne Dyer

My husband tuned into Wayne Dyer on PBS last night. It was the first time in years that I’d listened to or read any of his advice about finding one’s passion and keeping true to that call by remaining connected to God.

I was in the kitchen sewing up a project for our son that lives in Ohio. It started as a gigantic scarf, and became a pillow after I found that the store was all out of the yarn that I was using for the project. I thought it was kind of funny that as Dyer was chirping on about the joy of being the best at whatever you do, I was stuffing the lumpiest, bumpiest pillow ever. I am proud of the mistakes though, and oddly, will miss the kooky look of these first few projects as my knitting skills improve. In any case, I worried less about our son as I worked on the ScarfWhoReallyWasAPillow, and I think he will know that I’ve missed him when it arrives in the mail later this week.

In the little bit that I listened to of the PBS show with Dyer, I heard something new and interesting which is that the man who wrote “Amazing Grace” was in the slave trade business when the song was written. It turns out that the powerful transcendent experience of writing the song eventually led him to become an abolitionist. I found some interesting links with that history here and here.

Hearing Dyer talk was reason to laugh at more than my knitting skills, it was a reminder of the funniest preschool story about one of our children. Our second born marched to the tune of his own drum from the time that he was a baby. To this day he continues to stand firm on various issues. Not long before he started preschool his father had been practicing meditation as advised by a book on tape that he’d listened to by Dyer. It involved sitting cross ways, meditation fingers connected, hands on knees, and a combination of chanting “oom” and “uum” or something to that effect.

So, after a typical first day of weeping and fretting while my second born baby spent his first day in school, I was thrown off when the teacher greeted me with: “Kate. We need to talk.” She explained that when it was time to line up and go to lunch, Will was missing and after an extensive boy hunt, he was found hiding under some play equipment.

After I apologized to the teachers and promised he would be lectured on following the rules and staying in line, we picked up his brother and went home. At some point later on in the afternoon I sat him down and asked him why in the world he was hiding, and he explained in his incredibly squeaky voice: “I didn’t like all the bumping. Dad told me that if I ever got scared to go off by myself and pray, so I was under the slide meditating.”

That’s my boy. Believe me you, it was the first of many boycotts to come. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that rather than tell me that he got scared when he heard them yelling his name, he explained his moral ground first.

But isn’t that great? Whether it is by meditation, or prayer or knitting or running a race – wouldn’t it be great if we could have the sense of a three-year old and have no apologies because we want to just follow our heart where it takes us? Unfortunately, as adults, being bumped by life takes more than ten minutes under a red slide, but I suppose we need to start somewhere, eh?

Need inspiration before going off to do something with three-year old abandon? Have a listen to Eva Cassidy singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow to get you in the mood.

Forgiveness Friday: Quotes on Meaning

Life has meaning only if one barters it

day by day

for something other than itself.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’m in a bit of a lousy mood.

I could blame it on my continued disregard for Judge Richard Cebull and his racism.

But I won’t.

I could blame it on my puppy for dropping a load in my office.

But I won’t.

I could blame it on ________ or __________ or ____________.

And believe me, considering I really have little reason to be feeling or acting sour, it’s tempting to blame it all on anything but my state of mind or lack of motivation. I have a very, very good life and the blessings that this life includes should be all of the fuel I need for a wonderful day. Some days it takes more effort to see them than others.

To that end, I googled the word “meaning” and found these interesting quotes:

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
Muhammad Ali
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
Maya Angelou

The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.
Winston Churchill
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Benjamin Franklin

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Albert Camus

Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
C. S. Lewis

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.
Tony Robbins
You see, it’s never the environment; it’s never the events of our lives, but the meaning we attach to the events – how we interpret them – that shapes who we are today and who we’ll become tomorrow.
Tony Robbins

I am quite serious when I say that I do not believe there are, on the whole earth besides, so many intensified bores as in these United States. No man can form an adequate idea of the real meaning of the word, without coming here.
Warren Buffett

Shame on You and Your Racism Judge Cebull

One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as

complex human beings. 

~Franklin Thomas

Sorry Franklin, we ain’t there yet.

In response to an article I just read in the Huffington Post about disgusting and outrageous racism against our black President Barak Obama, (Richard Cebull, Montana Federal Judge, Admits Forwarding Racist Obama Email) here are some quotes that reflect the reality that we are not much further than when we began.

Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity. 

~Desmond Tutu

Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.  ~Author Unknown

The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.  As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. 

~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

If a white man falls off a chair drunk, it’s just a drunk.  If a Negro does, it’s the whole damn Negro race. 

~Bill Cosby

Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught.  I have a two-year-old son.  You know what he hates?  Naps!  End of list. 

~Dennis Leary

Lazy Monday in Iowa

Yesterday I didn’t write anything. I did reply via Twitter a few times.

I also sent a few thanks to people who commented or “liked” a blog post, and left comments on a few blogs.

But that isn’t writing…that’s just water cooler chat, right?

What did I do all day?

I actively didn’t write. Oops.

I sat at my desk all day: from 7:30 when I shooed the last boy out the door, until 2:00 when it was after school pick up time.

Today it’s hard for me to conceive that I indulged almost all of that time playing games on Google+.

The

whole

day

long.

I started a farm, I started a city, and I spent most of those hours on an imaginary island clicking grass lumps, that became bushes, which then became trees. The more exciting moves were when I clicked bears, who became cemetary markers, which with some extra effort on my part, became churches.

Do you want me to continue to explain that there was a way to combine churches to create cathedrals? No? Thank God. I’m embarrassed and amazed enough as it is.

I will say that I read quite a bit early on and I listened to NPR the whole time that was capturing virtual bears, so you can now wipe the sneer off your face.

It is now 10:05, and I’m already running circles around my Monday vacation. I’ve cleared away bunches of things on the desk, read and cleared a bunch of email, worked a bit on learning to tweet more effectively, read both the Methodist and Catholic Gospels for next Sunday, and am showered, dressed and fluffed for the day.

So – off I go to do a bit of recycling, a stop at the library, a stop at the Art Museum, and a stop for a bite of something and a few minutes to jot notes about the letter that is in my head that I’d like to send to Maurice Sendak.

Oh. And I had an idea for a poem last night that came from watching a fellow in the pew ahead of me on Sunday. He had prayer cards in his hand and I was interested in how and when he grabbed them – he seemed to hold them tight during most of the mass except for the homily. I noticed that the most tattered one was of our Bishop. What a lucky guy (Bishop Amos) to have someone with such intense loyalty.

So, I’ve now fessed up on my inaction, what have you avoided or blown off lately? Or, even more interesting, how have you spent your time doing exactly the opposite of what you know you “should” be doing?

Outta here. Latah.

David Prays About Shame

King David Action Figure

Reflections and comments from Larry Broding in his lectionary site named Word-Sunday.

Psalm 25

The Path of the Lord

By David.

1 To you, YHWH, do I lift up my soul.
2 My God, I have trusted in you.
Don’t let me be shamed.
Don’t let my enemies triumph over me.
3 Yes, no one who waits for you shall be shamed.
They shall be shamed who deal treacherously without cause.
4 Show me your ways, YHWH.
Teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth, and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation,
I wait for you all day long.
6 YHWH, remember your tender mercies and your loving kindness,
for they are from old times.
7 Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.
Remember me according to your loving kindness,
for your goodness’ sake, YHWH.
8 Good and upright is YHWH,
therefore he will instruct sinners in the way.
9 He will guide the humble in justice.
He will teach the humble his way.
10 All the paths of YHWH are loving kindness and truth
to such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, YHWH,
pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12 What man is he who fears YHWH?
He shall instruct him in the way that he shall choose.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease.
His seed shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of YHWH is with those who fear him.
He will show them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever on YHWH,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me, and have mercy on me,
for I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged.
Oh bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my travail.
Forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many.
They hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Oh keep my soul, and deliver me.
Let me not be disappointed, for I take refuge in you.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, God,
out all of his troubles

How smooth or rough has your spiritual path been over the past year?

Psalm 25 presents us with a different tack on the spiritual life. As Christians, most of our spiritual focus is on the afterlife. Yet, God meant his life to be realized in the present. In other words, the struggle of the spiritual life has its own rewards in this realm. As we walk the path of the Lord, let us realize (and enjoy)… faithfulness and love, for (God) is with us now.

How do you feed your spirit every day? How have your efforts given you comfort, even in the tough times?

Forgiveness Friday: Faith is Suspension of Disbelief

My Dad. Actor, director, tech guy and teacher.

Transcendent faith only works when we willingly suspend our disbelief.

That is why God invented a lot of things, but I’m on a Maurice Sendak roll, so today I am celebrating charcoal pencils, watercolors and the printed book industry.

The suspension of disbelief is a theater term. According to my father, who is King of all that is Drama,  entertainment should be the obvious goal of a show. Not all directors or actors agree with him, but they should. He is King.

A good show suspends our disbelief that, whatever. That our bills will get paid, our kids will ever grow up, that our nation will thrive despite ourselves. If a show is done right, even the intermission is a buzz of non-rememberance that the snow piling up outside the box office door is anything but that: just snow. But inside, a real or fanatical story is put to stage by real people, and hopefully, the audience is engaged in most anything but their worries and doubts. For a few minutes anyway. It is a few hours of possibility.

Maybe an interesting lesson is taught in the meantime, or a cool story is told – but for me, the gift of that time in the dark for the audience is that we are forcefully faithful. Why else pay the ticket price if you aren’t going to try to believe in something? For a while anyway.

Okay, I guess this post actually is about theater, and that’s okay. Maybe some other day I will draw out (pun intended) why I put the work of Sendak in my same personal category file of favorites which includes Samuel Beckett, Alvin Ailey and Juliet Child.

Instead I’m going to hunt up a photo of my second favorite actor, who I can only guess agrees with my sermon of the day. Here he is suspending your disbelief, if you care to have it gone for a short time:

Whoopsie. I can’t find my photos of Bud Thorpe, my father’s student who went on to study and act with Samuel Beckett. The Count works just as well I hope.

And here is a quote to keep it real:

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Worried Wednesday: My Promise for Maurice and a Post from Brother Bob

Belief:

Holy Moses. This day took some turns and now my plan for an hour or two to write a post is down to about twenty minutes.

So here are some rambled thoughts…

Maurice Sendak is, simply wonderful. Please join me, if you want to anyway, in praying for him. Pray for anything. His health. His life. His death. (I know that he’s a bit elderly, but doing well in the health department last I heard). His family. His career. His legacy.

Or, pray for his fans. Which would be me.

I made a decision today after spending a long time studying a traveling display at a local library that is about his work as a children’s author. I knew a lot of what I read about his books, and how great that I learned quite a lot more!

The decision?

I am going to write him the most beautiful and heartfelt fan mail that he has ever received. Well, since 1989 anyway, which is when I wrote him last.

I’m not sure how I’ll put this into letter form but I want to tell him that since hearing an NPR interview with him last fall, I’ve prayed for him several times that his final chapter in life is the sweetest one ever. This isn’t how death always goes, but I want it to be a smooth slide none the less.

I’m also going to ask him to pray for a particular intention for me.

And, I’m going to promise to pray for his brother Jack during this Lenten season. Not sure at all why or what that will mean to him as a Jew, but it doesn’t matter. I didn’t know he had a brother Jack, and now I know that he does, or did, and I’m going to pray for the guy.

And trust:

I read a great post this morning about surrender, which by the way is what I have always loved about Sendak’s work. It is so joyful. Honest and joyful in the end.

The post was from a blog on my reading list that has gotten swept away from my attention because I have signed up for so many others. So glad I grabbed a look see this morning, as it related to what I was thinking yesterday, which was that getting anything out of Lent this year is going to take a lot of trust.

So, here is what I read in a blog named Spirlaw, a blog on spirituality and the law, which is written by brother Robert Sylvester, C.S.C. :

Mother Mary Francis, the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Roswell, New Mexico, makes a simple and useful point.  She says it is easy to say “I believe in God” but harder to say “I believe that God is in control.”

This says to us: to believe is one thing, but to believe and trust is quite another. To believe and to trust exceeds the boundaries of self, and all the anxieties we encounter.  Such belief and trust is liberating – it makes life easier.

This brings to mind St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in which he admonishes us to abandon life in the futility of the mind which can alienate us from God. Indeed St. Paul reminds us that we are called to put away our former self, our old ways of life in favor of life in and with God through Jesus Christ.  (Eph 4:17-24)

 

Belief and trust.  A frame of reference for the Lenten journey, or anytime.

 

Loving God, grant we pray that we may do more than believe, but that we may believe and trust.

Nice eh?

 

Worried Wednesday: Vulnerable in Aisle Nine

In mass this morning I was trying to come up with an analogy about regret and how cluttered our life can become, which in turn stands in the way of experiencing joy.

After a bit, our puppy came to mind. My youngest son and I enjoy many things about little Paul, but what makes us laugh most is his commitment to being a thief. The driving force behind his gathering of funny items is all about the theft, as he tends to take his booty to his pen and lay among these items with a limited amount of chewing.

If you’ve ever watched a Dauchund run, you can imagine how funny it is to watch him make a run to his pen on his stubby little legs. The click-clack of his nails on the wooden floor completes the experience. The items that he has gathered include shoes of course, along with the usual: socks. Who would guess that his favorite steal would be undies (eww, sorry). He also snags up pen and pencils, which I suppose supports my joke that he and our other dog have day jobs as journalists. Other interesting objects of Paul’s eye have been a refrigerator magnet, a ball of aluminum foil, and on four different occasions, the contents of my knitting bag – needles and all. As a matter of fact, when I’m knitting he sits near me just waiting for me to get up for a potty break and goes in for the kill as soon as I walk away. The funniest robbery was when I found my wallet and all of its contents in his pen, with a credit card laying about as if he had just ordered a crate full of chews in my name.

And how this relates to Lent and Ash Wednesday? In his sermon, the priest commented on how odd it is that we hear a reading in which Jesus encourages us to be private with our prayers and good works, yet how can we be private when we have big smudges of ash on our foreheads for the remainder of the day? Perhaps, he mentioned, when we catch a look at ourselves in a mirror or a window reflection we might be reminded that along with needing to be truthful that we are vulnerable to temptation, as Christians we are called to help tidy up the mess that others make with their own lives.

Just as I clear Paul’s little pen of things that don’t belong, we can take comfort in the oddity of the ashes that we are in part advertising a need: “Yo, vulnerable in aisle nine!”

And, like Paul, there is every chance that my feet will pad toward temptation of some sort as often as his little claws click toward some item left unwatched.

So, there we have it. Here we go.

One Word, One Photo: Down

Down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mississippi River from midway on historic “Government Bridge” ….neutral territory to Iowa and Illinois I suppose!