Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Themes of Having

I've been noticing--in my own stories and the stories of others--the themes of "having" and "not having." It's a theme that connects to the time of year (with Thanksgiving right around the corner) and also to the voice of our larger culture, which often expresses itself in the need to acquire more, be more, master more.

Themes of "having" often include subthemes of gratitude, fullness, completion. Or, if the theme of "having" is really about having too much or having something that's unwanted--too much responsibility, too much work, having an illness, having a crisis, or something else that has been foisted on us without our choosing it--the subthemes might be about our ability to set boundaries, our questions about our own agency in our lives, or our sense of power (and its illusory twin, powerlessness) in the universe.

In connection with the idea of having, I always go back to an article a friend sent me years ago about the Hebrew reading, "Dayeinu," (pronounced die-au-noo) that means "It is enough." The reading is used during Passover as a remembrance of all God did for the Israelites. But a meditation on "It is enough" is a reminder to be thankful for everything we have, no strings attached. When we begin to notice what we already have (health, family, hope, warmth, food, humor, fuzzy socks, a dry home, four-legged friends, and more), we connect to our abundance and gratitude begins to flow.

When the theme is about having too much of something I didn't intentionally (or consciously) choose, there is another phrase that brings me back to a sense of harmonious awareness. It's from The Princess Bride: "As you wish." :)

Friday, October 27, 2006


Where in your life have you fallen down? Whether you fell physically, emotionally, or spiritually, chances are that it was a memorable--and changing--experience. I've been thinking about falling lately. The act and the recovery.

When you fall, it is generally a surprise, something you didn't see coming. Perhaps you tripped over your own feet. Or stumbled over something someone else put in your path. Or maybe you had a door, an opportunity, slammed in your face. It might have been due to inattention on your part (or misunderstanding, or blindness, or pride), or it might have been the ignorance, insensitivity, or limitations of another. Or it might have been an angel experience with a message: "Here's a new place where you can grow."

A fall is always humbling. Our face is in the dirt. We are forced to admit our imperfection, our fallibility. We begin to get up, looking around. Who saw me fall? No one? Whew--okay, now I can go on with life as normal.

But something inside is different. Others may not know we fell, but we know. We know we are capable of falling, whether we believe others caused it or not. Ultimately we were the ones who took the dive. And we are the ones responsible for getting up (or not, if that's what we choose to do).

As I've gotten older, I've become much more comfortable with my own falling. I don't hide it anymore. I tell people about it, because for some strange reason I really enjoy the knowledge that I'm human just like everybody else. I've also discovered that each fall is a sacred point of learning--I discover important things in those moments in the mud. Finding those lessons is a work of grace. And I still fall, pretty much daily. I fall from my place of peace and stability. I fall off my own pedestal (thank God). I fall into inactivity when I say productivity is my goal. I fall into my own realization of powerlessness and then reach out to my Source for a hand up. Each getting up is an act of trust, a stepping out, a choice for hope.

And it makes each event in my life--whether I'm falling down, getting up, or riding high--a meaningful encounter with the truth of what I'm learning just now.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Letting go

I have a feeling I've written about this before--maybe more than once. But I was on the phone with a friend this morning and I found myself talking about how much of mothering--at least in this stage of mothering--is about letting go. Letting go of Kelly and Tony and Ruby as they create their own wonderful family. Letting Christopher go to explore college and be in what sounds and looks like real love perhaps for the first time in his life. Letting Cameron go up to his room after dinner every night so he can talk on the phone to the young lady who has suddenly brought a blush to his complexion.

Letting go means I have to love my own life, simply because it is my own. I loved the time my days were filled with the needs and laughter of my children. But I also love the fact that their lives are now their own--happy, vibrant, full of possibility, with their own friends, interests, talents, and more. I am quickly moving into a time when I will be much less in demand--even Cameron will be driving before I know it--and I'd better be really in love with my own life by then. I think God gives us lives not to simply give to others (a tough lesson for women like me who love caring for our families) but to also enrich, enjoy, and expand them for ourselves.

I love to write, cook, read, listen to music, learn about God and others. I'm fascinated with Jung and dreamwork; I love to garden and watch things bloom. I adore my animals--and, of course, my kids and grandbaby. I love them all, but not because I need them to fill a hole in my life or keep me from being alone with myself. I actually love alone time. I love silence. I love watching old movies. There's a lot of me that just enjoys life--whether or not I am doing something for my children or not.

If I never let go, I wouldn't be able to see, feel, and appreciate that.

Enjoy your letting go today!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Forgiveness: How big is your story?

Rabbi Irwin Khula is being interviewed on The Today Show right now about the forgiveness of the Amish community in Pennsylvania after the horrific tragedy of the schoolhouse shootings. The rabbi just said something amazing and beautiful. In answer to Matt Lauer's question, "Is forgiveness a religious issue?" He said, "No--I believe there's a fundamental, powerful yearning in all humans for connection. Forgiveness becomes, 'How big is your story?' If you start your story at the violence and proceed from there, you're going to find it difficult to forgive. But if you can expand your story to include all of this person's painful life, his woundedness, his illness, his family, you will be able to see how much led up to this moment.'" And then, with understanding, forgiveness is within reach.

There's a line in A Course in Miracles that has been one of my favorites for years: Seek to understand another and you cannot fail to love him. When we can expand our view, letting the story be bigger than the horrific act, our understanding brings compassion, we begin to grasp the struggle, and ultimately, we may find ourselves connecting--and then forgiving--in a profound way.

[note: I've cross-posted this entry on Practical ~faith~ as well.]