Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"You can do this hard thing…"

"You can do this hard thing,
you can do this hard thing,
It's not easy I know,
but I believe that it's so,
you can do this hard thing..."

When I first heard Carrie Newcomer's "You Can Do This Hard Thing," I was reminded of how much it means to have someone believe in you.

Sometimes we are placed in situations where we don't have the time or the space to decide how or when to act. These are the moments when doing the hard thing is not hard at all. We race to the bed of a loved one. We stop the bully in his tracks. We swim, because sinking isn't an option.

But there are other times when we must choose. Times, when presented with a course of action that is not urgent, we hesitate, justify, or simply avoid doing that hard thing -- because it is hard.

I have been on this threshold many times. In some cases, I've stood there paralyzed for many years. I've convinced myself that if it were "right," it would be easy. If it were right, I wouldn't be hesitating. If it were right, I'd be eager to do it.

I remember, some 40 years ago, standing on the precipice of a decision for many months. I had been offered the opportunity to move to a new city -- a move which had the  potential for wonderful professional and personal growth. On one hand, I was very afraid of leaving all that was familiar. And on the other hand, I knew it was time. That said, driving away from a town I loved - one that had become home for me - was painful. I remember the night before I was to pack my car and get on the road. I sat in the middle of my empty apartment and like Jacob, wrestled with the decision until the breaking of the day.  And like Jacob, I felt as if something in me was out of joint.

When I finally loaded up the car, and began the 3,000 mile trip across country, I could barely see through my tears. I made it over the first state line,  and pulled into a small inn for the night. I was sure that by the next morning, I would turn back towards "home." I could imagine unlocking the door to my old apartment and curling up in a ball in the corner of the bedroom until I could refurnish it.

This was many years before cell phones, and the closest thing to "call a friend" was a pay phone in the lobby of the inn. At midnight I padded down in my robe and nightgown, dialed the now long distance number of a loved one, and quietly placed the required number of quarters in the slot -- hoping that the sound wouldn't wake up the other guests. When she answered, I burst into tears and explained that I just couldn't do it. I thought she would be thrilled to hear I was coming home. But instead she said, "you can do this, you need to do this, i believe in you."

We talked for another few minutes until she said that I should call her when I'd reached the next state line sometime the following afternoon. I did. Her belief in me was exactly what I needed to find my courage in continuing along the long, hard miles in front of me. In the months that followed, whenever I felt overwhelmed in that very big city where I knew no one, it was that call which echoed in my heart.

Whether it's been a decision I knew had little support, facing a serious illness, navigating a heart wrenching disappointment, or an unexpected sorrow,  it's the feeling I had that late September morning as I headed west -- that I seem to go back to - over, and over again.

The hills of eastern Pennsylvania were a patchwork of green and gold, russet, and a red so deep you could almost taste apples and cinnamon when you looked at it. The sky was a brilliant September blue and the air was brisk with the promise of a first frost. I slipped the sound track from The Sound of Music into the 8-track on the dash and found Julie Andrews' singing "I Have Confidence." I sang it at the top of my lungs as I put the car into gear and hit the interstate.

I was so young, so uncertain, and so naive -- but someone believed in me, and they had faith that I could do this hard thing -- and I did.

Since then I have come to discover that there are a host of Biblical pioneers encouraging us from the pages of scriptural history. I think of Ruth, who ventured, with her recently widowed mother-in-law, into an foreign country and culture. Moses, who returned to what was familiar but as a new person with changed values and allegiances. Or Mary, who witnessed faithfully at the foot of the cross during her son's crucifixion.  These men and women are my heroes.

I turn to their stories - often - when facing the hard things. I like to think that they believe in me. That they know me as  their sibling -- sharing an indissoluble relationship with our common Parent. They have put their journeys on record as encouragement to all of us. And each time we do the hard thing -- in the face of resistance or fear -- we contribute to that chronicle of courage.

I love this verse from Carrie's song:

"here we stand breathless
and pressed in hard times
hearts hung like laundry
on backyard clothes lines.
Impossible just takes
a little more time.

From the muddy ground
comes a green volunteer.
In a place we thought barren
new life appears.
Morning will come whistling
some comforting tune for you:
You can do this hard thing ..."
We all have a divine Parent who believes in us, encourages us, and knows we can do all thing through Christ who strengthens us. Our lives bear witness to this. Our stories -- like those of spiritual pioneers before us -- lift a lantern to those who are standing on that threshold, feeling paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. We can be their: "you can do this hard thing…"  And they will.

offered with Love and with encouragement,

offered with love,


Friday, September 11, 2015

"Like a small boat…"

"Like a small boat
on the ocean
Sending big waves
into motion
Like how a single word
can make a heart open..."

When Sam asked me to write a post using Rachel Platten's "Fight Song," as the keynote, I was intrigued. I'd never heard of Rachel -- or her song -- but once I did, this post gave birth to itself. I just got out of the way. Here what fell on the page:

I'd spent so many years trying to prove my worthiness. I'd chased a sense of belonging -- to family, church, and in the communities I've lived in. Enough.

I refuse to fight any longer for a personal sense of validation. And actually, I have discovered that I don't need to. I am enough. In her song, Rachel sings, "a single word can make a heart open…"

That is the line that simply took my breath away.  You see, once upon a time, not so long ago, I had a life-altering experience that supplied the "one word" I'd been waiting for. The word was "no."

I had been holding my breath, waiting for someone to to take note of my worth -- for way too many years. I'd done everything - shy of standing on my head - to get a thumbs up. Then one day, I got a clear, decisive thumbs down. And it was wonderful.

Sure, the first moment or two was filled with "what did I do wrong?" "Give me another chance -- please -- I'll try harder to win you over. I promise, I'll do better next time." 

 And there were many times in the following days - and weeks - when I thought it actually meant something about me that I didn't measure up. As if looking through any human lens could serve as an accurate assessment tool for measuring a person's merit. For weighing worth, validating value.

But I soon came to realize, that it never would. It never could. And it just didn't matter. Really. I knew I had given "it" my honest, genuine, authentic all, and it was still not enough -- for him/her/them.

That "no," was the key to my freedom. It released me.  It wasn't a "no" to my dreams and desires, only a "no" to their participation in it.  I was free to be empowered from within.   

In the wake of their "no," I could begin to look in another direction. And I chose to look towards my relationship with God for any - and all - meaningful information about my peace, my purpose, my place in the world. That relationship was intact and unwavering. My trust in His love for me was sound. 

Like a small heavy-keeled boat, I was secure in my spiritual seaworthiness. I was deeply grounded in an unsinkable certainty that I knew Him, felt His presence, and was filled with His grace.

What I also learned through this experience, was that a clear "no," is sometimes the most wonderful version of "yes." To know -- without a shadow of a doubt -- that permission from others is just not going to be yours, frees you to stare unflinchingly into abyss of the heart. This is the province where God is Sovereign -- enriching your affections for what really is yours.

Nothing that is truly ours, requires someone else's approval or permission. When we feel inspired and impelled by that deeper demand from within -- we are driven to find ways to live those desires moment-by-moment. We stop asking for permission.

I think that, for me, parenting has been one of the most powerful examples of this. For such a long time I thought that I needed to have a child to be a mother. But mothering is a verb. I could mother colleagues, nieces, neighbors, countries, causes. I didn't need to wait for the validation of a baby. I didn't need someone to choose me as the adoptive parent of their infant or child. I could mother -- nurture, encourage, support, cherish -- without hesitation, without apology.

Whatever it is yours to do, you know it in your heart. You don't have to think it into being.  You don't need to poll the opinions of others to find consensus.  Your purpose springs from that sacred place in you that is so deeply aligned with divine Love that nothing can extinguish its primordial fire. 

Are you impelled to heal -- then heal. Are you kept awake by a desire to write, to keep bees, to partner, to coach? Then do it -- even if the "doing" begins with simply and importunately  praying for the integrity and success of that industry, institution, activity in the world.

If you love the thought of being in a marriage and you have not met Mr. Right -- so? Love marriage. Love the office of husband so much that you would never criticize, demean, or undermine that office in any way. No matter how it is being carried out by those around you. 

 Uphold the best view of that office in your conversations, interactions, and in support of your family members and friends. Nothing can make you think of that office in any way that violates your highest sense of its potential to bless -- not even someone else's behavior. You own your right to uphold your highest sense of husband, boss, mother, friend, world leader, global citizen. Take possession of it and defend it.

Don't wait for the validation of the "right" person, place, or thing, to live your relationship with whatever God is impelling in you. Don't wait for permission from an employer's "hiring" to live your desire to do, what it is that you love -- whether it is to exercise a skill, share a talent, or support an organization's mission. Their "no," may just be your "yes" in finding a clearer, brighter path towards the realization of a deeper sense of what it means to fulfill your divinely-designed purpose, to answering your highest calling.

Mary Baker Eddy says, on the first page of her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that:

"Desire is prayer,
and no loss can occur
from trusting God with our desires…"

These desires -- which she clearing identifies as prayers -- are,

"God's gracious means
for accomplishing whatever
has been successfully done
for the Christianization
and health of mankind."

I'm learning to trust this truth. To act upon it without permission from anyone -- but God. I am discovering that when the eyes of my heart are fixed on Him, I cannot be disappointed. I am empowered by His reign in my heart -- enriching my affections and governing them.  

You may not be a big ocean liner filled with folks lining up to party with you, you may find that you are like a small deep-keeled boat, happy to do what boats do.

Offered with Love,


Saturday, September 5, 2015

"I shall not want…"

"From a need to be understood,
from a need to be accepted,
from a fear of being lonely,
deliver me, O God..."

It was long before dawn, when I woke with this one truth, "I shall not want…"

It came before sentience. It came in the space of a silence deeper than "no sound." It came as conscious existence. It was not thought, but known. And it brought with it a feeling of being deeply satisfied.

I let my heart steep in it for a very long time. It felt like the purest truth I had ever known.

When I finally rose to greet the day it refused to be put aside for other thoughts and concerns.

After a few hours, I opened my computer and launched my browser. Going to Youtube, I typed in "I shall not want," and this beautiful song by Audrey Assad, "I Shall Not Want," brought me to tears. It spoke to every feeling I'd experienced in the stillness of that early morning.

As I stood on the back deck watching the first migrating birds arrive on our lake, I was reminded of Jesus' encouragement to:

"Behold the fowls of the air,
for they sow not,
neither do they reap,
nor gather into barns;
yet your heavenly Father
feedeth them."

What tender care for the human heart. That morning, I didn't need food, or clothing, or shelter. I needed ideas that would inspire, spiritual facts that transcend the evidence of the senses. I needed the gifts of grace, the compassion that heals, and the mercy of a loving Parent.

On the heels of that sweet avian reminder, I heard this promise from Romans:

"O the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom
and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable
are his judgments,
and his ways
past finding out!"
I didn't need to "want" a knowledge of Him, or His wisdom.  It was not something to be searched for - and found. It was not something I lacked, and needed to go hunting for.  It was mine by simple reflection -- in stillness.

And so I did just what Jesus suggested. I watched the fowls of the air. They circled the lake, and then flew directly into the stillness of the water.  All that they needed lay just beneath the clear surface -- and it was immediately evident and available to each of them from that vantage point. They weren't landing thoughtlessly and then digging around -- stirring up surface and muddying the waters.

It occurred to me how often my frantic "searching" had muddied my own spiritual clear-sightedness.

But when I stand still -- nevertheless -- in the simplicity of one simple spiritual fact, such as: "God is All-in-all," and I allow that Truth to inform every other question or concern -- there is no want.

My freedom from want comes, not from what I think I know about my circumstances and resources, but from what I know to be true about God -- our divine Source. There is no want, because there is no lack in the Allness of All. Where there is no absence of God, there is no absence of good.  Realizing this one fact, I am consciously holding good in my experience - immediately.

In the All-in-allness of Mind, there is no lack of wisdom -- in anyone. In the All-in-allness of Love, there is no lack of acceptance. In the All-in-allness of Life, there is no loneliness or loss. In the All-in-allness of Truth, there is no dishonesty or misunderstanding. 

 In the All-in-allness of Soul, there is only beauty, peace, and the discernment of truth. In the All-in-allness of Principle, we can only experience the ever-presence of balance, order, and fairness. And in the All-in-allness of Spirit, we trustingly yield to the one divine Source of all motivation, intention and action.

Filled with an abiding conviction that our divine Parent loves and cares for us, we are playful. The "future," is not something to worry about, but is a divine surprise unfolding right before our eyes from an unfathomable well of goodness. And we are free from the finite wants, which will always fall short of His more abundant, infinite plan for us.

I think of the young King David, the Psalmist, who wrote those words, "I shall not want." His own path from ambitious self-volition to childlike trust was lovingly chronicled for us in Scripture. I am humbled beyond measure by his courage and honesty. What a journey of grace.

And since all fear has it's basis in the supposition: "what if God is absent," to be free of lack-based want is to be delivered from fear. To be free of want is to dwell in the spaciousness of God's immanence. To be free of want, is to rest our hopes in His eternal kingdom. A kingdom of still waters, tender mercies, and amazing grace.

offered with Love,


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"Nothing new…"

"Old Mr. Webster
could never define
what's being said
between Your heart
and mine..."

Alison Krauss' "When You Say Nothing at All," has been one of my all-time favorite songs for almost thirty years. But it speaks to a different place in me today, than it did the first time I heard it.

In those days, it was all about "him." Today, it is all about Him. This song reminds me that my relationship with God is not in words, but in the Word. It is not found in a particular scripture or a string of quotes -- however much I love them. It is in, as Mary Baker Eddy suggests in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that:

"sweet and certain sense
that God is Love."

It is a feeling -- not a sentence. It is an indwelling sense of trust in the unseen.  It is that which is insensible to the senses. It is a silent, abiding confidence in His promise:

"Lo, I am with you alway…"
There are days when my heart is too full to speak -- or write. Days, when the best I can do, for everyone in my life, is to simply deepen into that sweet and certain place of abiding trust that God is Love. This is the place where my heart finds its ground in free fall. This is where I land when I completely let go of self-determinism and human thought-taking. This is my home in yielding to the divine.

Recently I woke with a heavy heart. The voices of "human reason" were relentless -- and, they made sense. Everything they suggested -- when weighed in the scale of "should haves" - left me feeling negligent, stupid, "Kate, you've-got-your-head-in-the-clouds" naive. I couldn't seem to drown them out with words, sentences, or inspired "thinking."

I lay there with a weight on my chest and a tightness in my throat that was almost unbearable. Words, words, words, -- tumbled around in me like an aggregate of stone and sand in a churning cement mixer. That is, until I remembered to feel. To just feel the power of the Word. I slowed my breathing. I closed my eyes. I moved my focus from my head to my heart and became very quiet -- silent actually. Not just silent in a "no noise" way -- but silent in a "no words" way.

And there it was -- that sweet and certain sense that God is Love. That feeling of "God with us." A feeling that -- no matter what was swirling around me or in my "head" -- God was with me, just because I loved.  Because I felt love. Period.  I let myself feel the love I have for my daughters, my love for camp, my love for my work. I didn't think about my work, I felt my love for my work -- without reason.

It was enough.

I was free. And with this freedom, came the joy of just being -- well, me. The me of God's creating. The me that He inspires, sustains, and calls according to His purpose. Moment-by-moment.

There are many statements from Mary Baker Eddy's writings that have fed and sustained this quiet sense of spiritual self-assurance in my heart.  I'd love to share just a couple of them here, with gratitude and love for her ongoing spiritual guidance.

"The infinite Truth of the Christ-cure
has come to this age through a “still, small voice,”
through silent utterances and divine anointing
which quicken and increase the beneficial effects
of Christianity.

I long to see the consummation of my hope,
namely, the student’s higher attainments
in this line of light."


"In order to pray aright,
we must enter into the closet
and shut the door.
We must close the lips
and silence the material senses.
In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings,
we must deny sin and plead God’s allness."

I am learning that there is a quiet that is deeper than "no sound." There is a quietness of the heart. A quietness that is the felt presence of God.  It is a stillness.  Rather than a straining and a striving for the right words in "thinking about" God -- it is the actually feeling of God's presence.  It is a spiritual sense of Love that fills the breast. And there are no words -- at least none that I know of -- that can describe its meaning or weight.

In a piece that Eddy chose to include in her last collected writings, The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, she begins with this brief statement:

"I have nothing new to communicate,
all is in your textbooks."

This sentence was a sobering discovery some years ago. Now it is a beautiful gift. If she had nothing new to communicate, why did I think I needed to find something new to say, or a new way to say it. It is all in my textbooks -- the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures -- and this realization has given me a more laser-like focus on the richness of those source materials.

It has given me permission to be quiet - to simply share my experiences -- when it seems right. And to be so quietly transfixed on those primary texts, that perhaps anyone who walks into the room wonders, "what is she gazing at -- so lovingly." 

And the funny thing is, that these texts only send me back -- even more deeply -- in search of that feeling of "Immanuel, God with us" -- the sovereign ever-presence [that] delivers the children of men from every ill…"  

For me, this is the holy place, the healing place, the transforming and redeeming place.  The place where God and men do meet.

offered with Love,


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"I will…"

"Who knows
how long I've loved you,
you know I love you still,
will I wait a lonely lifetime,
if you want me to, 

I will..."

This post is not for re-posting. I will not be sharing it on Facebook. And there are dozens of love songs that I could have used to keynote this piece. But none of them said enough -- and most said too much.  Allison Krauss' "I Will," comes closest to saying everything and nothing -- all at once.

This post is written to put on record the heart of a man who loves genuinely, selflessly, and intuitively. He is my husband. It is to put on record for his children -- and their children -- his legacy of grace.

He is kind -- inimitably so. He is generous -- and in this time of "me first" social politics -- it would seem, to a fault. He loves me in ways that none have ever seen, or will ever know -- until today.

When I was a child, I never knew what it felt like to have  unconditional love or support. Everything was earned. Everything was reciprocity-based. Babysit your siblings, and you were shown appreciation.  Be accommodating, and you might know some kindness. Share your wages, and you would be fed. Do unto others, or nothing was done for you. 

I became a sponge for approval. An achievement junkie. I became addicted to proving -- to anyone and everyone -- that I was likable, deserving of friendship, worthy of the company of others.

As I have sought to become a woman of integrity -- and it has been a difficult, painful journey -- I wanted nothing more than to give my daughters the kind of support that I hadn't even realized I was starving for. I dreamed of being the kind of parent who put their children's successes above their own. I wanted to be the mom of my dreams.

Asking my daughters to live through a divorce and remarriage was devastating to me. In its wake, I felt a greater sense of failure than I could ever have imagined. I almost didn't survive my own self-doubt and sorrow.  I would not be here today if it hadn't been for my husband's constant reminder that I was - by divine design - inherently good. And that I was made so, not by my own efforts, but by the very nature of my one and only Parent who loved me without variableness -- God.

Over the last decade my husband has given me a glimpse of what God's love actually looks and feels like -- up close and personal.  He has helped me discover the coincidence between divinity and humanity.  He has put our children's needs, dreams, and successes so far above his own that it has taken my breath away.

And he has put my need to parent -- in a way that redeemed my own childhood -- ahead of everything else.

He has loved the part of me that was broken, shattered, vulnerable, and fragile.  And in doing so, he has given me a view of myself that is whole -- deeply grounded in spiritual integrity. There is no part of my life that is at variance with my desire for growth in grace.

I love him for what he has taught me about selflessness. When his sense of duty and service-to-mankind urged him to take a job in a distant city, he lived out of his car so that all of his earnings could come home to serve the greater needs of our family. His weekends were spent traveling to another state to care for his mother, and he spent every spare moment working a second job to support our home, and our children's education.

He rarely takes a moment for himself, often working through the night. And I've never heard him turn away from a friend -- or stranger - in need. He listens without judgment, he gives without condition, and he serves without any need for recognition or appreciation.

If I am becoming a better friend, mother, healer, and neighbor, it is because he has given me the rich soil of his unconditional love to grow in. He never ceases to encourage me to turn to God more fully, trust Him more courageously, and love more generously.

His love for all five of our children is knee-buckling. He has never complained that all of our resources go towards making their lives better, their dreams more achievable, and their potential for blessing the world around them more possible -- every day.

I am blessed. He has given me the gift of redemption. Through his generous love, he has allowed me to walk away from self, and into an ever-higher sense of who I can be as the perfect, pure, innocent, honest child of my divine Parent.  He has shown me that I am not a product of my past -- but the promise of God's love.

This post contains no quotes, it tries to make no connections, I am not seeking to say anything pithy or profound. It is simply an utterance of love. I testament to a man of great kindness, integrity, and selfless devotion to family, friendship, community -- and to God. Most supremely to God.

I am grateful. Our children are blessed.  He has been a gift of grace.

offered with deep love and gratitude to Love,


Thursday, May 21, 2015

wait, never doubting...

"Sunshine on my shoulders
makes me happy,
sunshine in my eyes
can make me cry,
Sunshine on the water
looks so lovely..."

Here in the high Rockies we've seen very little of the sun this spring. It's hard not to miss the feeling of "Sunshine on My Shoulders," that John Denver sings about in this lovely performance.

I actually love these cloudy, rainy, snow-spitting spring days in the mountains. But I also enjoy the bone-deep warmth of the sun on my shoulders.  I know that whatever unfolds in this valley is going to be beautiful.  Often I will ask nature, "what do you have to teach me today?" And then I wait. This morning was no different.

Lowering clouds of blue-black slate, the weight of moisture in the air, the soft filtered light of an impending storm -- what was it's message. I stood silently at the reed-lined edge of our lake, and saw the play of almost-light upon the water.  Then the question came, "why don't you doubt the sun?"

Hmmm, I thought. I haven't actually seen the sun for days. All sensible evidence would point to a fading, a dissolution, a failing. But I had never even considered the possibility that the sun was in decline.

Every glimmer of light, every sprouting seed, each flower reaching towards the southwest reminded me that the sun is where it has always been. Diffused light, soft shadows, the barest warmth -- it is enough.

I have been thinking about this today in light of Mary Baker Eddy's statement on the first page of her "Preface" to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"The wakeful shepherd
beholds the first faint morning beams,
ere cometh the full radiance
of a risen day."

This is my purpose. To stay focused on the presence of light. To know -- with all my being -- that it portends the full radiant presence of the Sun. Or, as Eddy elsewhere encourages, to:

"wait, never doubting"

Why? Why, if the light seems to be fading, the warmth to be retreating, the clouds overpowering, do we not doubt?  Well, I think it's  because we know that you can't just get a little piece of the Sun. If the light is at all present, it is all present.

So it is with God's presence. If we are at all aware of the presence of good, it portends the full and undiminished presence of all good, of complete health, of undiminished joy and peace.

You can't get a little bit of God. You just can't. The only measure of the Infinite -- is infinite. The only portion of All-in-all -- is all.

So, whatever tries to convince you that God's goodness is absent in your life: illness - parading itself as the absence of health, pain - marketing itself as the absence of peace, hatred, anger, fear - suggesting themselves as the absence of Love -- don't buy it. Keep you heart transfixed on whatever glimmer of God's goodness you can see, feel, hear. And never forget what it portends.

Just as the darkest shadow is really only an indication of the brightest light -- the darkest storm is only the opportunity to feel the central calm within.

And if you wait -- wait upon (serve), not wait for -- never doubting, you will discover a light that never fades, a warmth that never cools, and an unwavering peace that comes from a deeply radiant kingdom -- the consciousness of Love's ever-active presence -- within.

with all my love -- and with Love,


Saturday, May 16, 2015

"not even that far…"

in the name
of Love.."

I woke up that morning in great pain -- again. But also with The Supremes 1965 hit single "Stop, in the Name of Love," playing in an an endless loop.  Yes!  Perfect. That was exactly what I wanted.  No,  it was what I needed -- for it to just stop.

It had been going on for way too long and I was tired, discouraged, and ready to be free. I had children to care for, calls to take, a community to support. I wanted to be purposeful and free to serve.

As I lay there in the silence of pre-dawn, I asked God what I needed to understand. What shift in my thinking needed to take place? What Truth was already present and graspable? I stilled the chatter of human thinking, and just listened.

The first thought that came was:

"Thus far,
and no father..."

I let that inspiration -- that angel message -- seep in slowly and find its ground. And because I was feeling very confident about this Michael-like spiritual assertiveness, I was a bit surprised when Gabriel gently whispered:

"not even that far." 

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines angels as:

"God's thoughts passing to man,
spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect;
the inspirations of goodness, purity and immortality,
counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality."

And then she defines two different types of angels - Michael and Gabriel - thus:

"Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength.

Gabriel has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love.

These angels deliver us from the depths.

The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. To infinite ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death."
Michael had been helping me hold the line, but Gabriel pulled me back from the battle. I had been wanting the pain to stop and was ready to go to war.  But what I needed to understand, was that the pain had never started.

Just as in coming out of a dream, when I woke up to this fact I no longer had a battle to wage. God had never left me vulnerable to injury, disease, or fear. God's presence had been continuous.

I could see this truth so clearly when I realized that I had never stopped loving my daughters. And because I knew that I could never have created that love myself, it was the perfect indicator that a divine power was always at hand - and at work - in my heart. God presence had been perpetual and persistent. That was enough.

I was now awake to the ever-presence of God -- of Love. The pain dissipated in the same way that the terror we feel in a dream disappears when we awaken from the dream. Just as darkness cannot survive in the presence of light, pain couldn't exist - even for an instant - in the atmosphere of Love.

In Pulpit and Press, Mary Baker Eddy reminds us of Jesus' promise:

"The kingdom of God is within you.”
"Know, then, that you possess sovereign power
to think and act rightly, and that nothing
can dispossess you of this heritage
and trespass on Love."

We are not the gatekeepers, Love is. We aren't in the business of kicking pain out of the temple, Love maintains an environment where pain cannot breathe, cannot gain purchase, cannot survive.

I did not need the pain to stop, I needed to understand that it never started. God had never left me. His ever-present ministering Love had no contests. He doesn't win the war, there is no war.

with all my love -- and with Love,


Thursday, May 14, 2015

"to love first…"

"And while others think
of reasons not to love,
we love,
because he first loved us..."

I hope you will let Cheri Keaggy's "Because He First Loved Us," touch your heart tonight.

Recently I woke knowing that it was time for a deep shift in my understanding of what it means to love. It felt like a profound un-centering, a need for an adjustment of the mental aperture. As if my oneness with God -- with Love -- was calling for greater clarity, and I was a bit out of focus.

Having felt this kind of invitation to "grow in grace" before, I knew I was standing on holy ground.  I also knew that I  needed to be still -- and listen.  And gratefully, the guidance I was seeking came gently.  I  was reminded of an experience I'd had late one December night when I needed spiritual direction and comfort. 

The memory was clear. I'd been visiting Mary Baker Eddy's last former home and I remembered seeing a framed painting of Jesus in her small bedroom.  I had been moved deeply by the realization that it was his example which she'd turned to for inspiration and encouragement during her own long, dark nights.

On the heels of this memory, came a statement from the book of John:

"We love him,
because he first
loved us."

I knew immediately where the shift in my understanding of Love needed to take place. What followed was a sentence from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"The miracle of grace,
is no miracle to love."

Grace, in Webster's Dictionary, is defined as:

"The unearned and unmerited favor of God" 

In an instant the veil over my heart parted, and I could see beyond what I'd long-assumed was "enough" love.

As a child I had experienced things that, I became convinced, were unforgivable. And yet, through long nights of prayer I'd been shown how to forgive.  For years, even the very thought of being free from feeling victimized was unimaginable. And then suddenly, it wasn't.  It was my truth.  And with that freedom came the ultimate surprise -- I felt the will to love. And it was genuine. In a heartbeat, I could love those I'd feared -- something that had seemed unreasonable only moments before. It was more than I could have dreamed, and I was satisfied.

But Love's capacities are infinite, and so must be our capacity to reflect of its fathomless depth. And on that recent morning I woke knowing there was more. But I didn't know how to find it. So I became very still. I asked myself, "what represents the greatest love to you?" And without a second's hesitation, I knew.  It was "trust." To trust, and to feel trusted. 

I'd felt it in my daughters' unquestioning trust that I would always do my best for them. And even more so, I felt it every day as I considered God's trust in me, and my capacity to love and care for His precious children. I have felt it in His mercy when I have fallen short. And in the redemptive power of grace during my darkest moments of self-doubt and fear.

And yet, I had somehow thought that I could actually love, without trusting. Oh yes, I could forgive, and I was even willing to love.  But trust, when I felt that the person in question needed to earn my trust? Unimaginable. I believed that trust was something I could parcel out or withhold. But that day I found myself asking, "Kate, who do you think you are actually you withholding this trust from?" And the answer was -- myself. I was depriving myself of loving fully, extravagantly, unconditionally.

The moment I realized that there could be no real loving without trust, I felt the old boundaries of what I thought was possible shatter around me, and my heart had room to stretch into a new space.  I could love first.

Love loves. It can't be shackled by another person's behavior. Love is not conditional, it doesn't need a reason. Love doesn't wait for the permission of circumstances. Love trusts.  Love completely and unflinchingly trust the absolute sovereignty of Its own irresistible agency working within the fathomless depths of each human heart. Again, I was reminded that:

"The miracle of grace,
is no miracle to Love."

Or to us -- by reflection. Forgiveness is only the first step. But to truly love, we have to trust in the presence and power of Divinity operating as humanity. 

 Jesus taught us how to live this radical kind of trust in countless ways. Mary Baker Eddy says that he "acted boldly against the accredited evidence of the senses." 

 Everything he experienced in his last days, must have screamed that he'd surrounded himself with disciples who were undeserving of his continued faith in their fidelity. Yet he entrusted the future of his beloved ministry to these very men who had -- only days before -- forsaken, doubted, and denied him. It brings into clearer focus for me, Eddy's statement:

"Out of the amplitude
of his pure affection,
he defined love."

Tonight, I am so moved by the way Grace never leaves us self-satisfied and imprisoned within the false boundaries of what we think we are capable of. Love calls us from the chrysalis of where we have become comfortable with "enough," and shows us something we hadn't even imagined was possible. Where once we crawled -- now we stand ready to fly.

offered with Love,


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Slipping through my fingers…"

"I watch them go
with a surge of that
well-known sadness,
and I have to sit down
for a while..."

Confession time. I was a mess. Blotchy face, burning eyes. And although Meryl Streep's performance of Abba's "Slipping Through My Fingers," from the film "Mama Mia," does it to me every time, I didn't need a prompt that night. All I needed to do was think of the girls turning 18 on Saturday, and it hit me once again.

You see, being their (and their sister's) mom for the last 18 years has been everything I ever dreamed of. Caring for each of them, growing with them, nurturing their dreams and watching them become the young women-of-substance that they are today, has been the most extraordinary gift of grace.

And I say gift, because they are just that -- a gift. As an adoptive mom -- who was asked to return her first child to his birthmother -- I understand the heartache of surrender. And because of this, I have never taken for granted what it meant for my daughters' mothers to have chosen adoption as a parenting plan for their beloved children. I have never forgotten that the girls' first mother was - and still is - a selfless, trusting, generous young woman. And I will never forget that choosing to let me care for her daughters - as their second mom - was the greatest gift I have every received.

On Saturday, I will surrender them to their own majority.  They will be women.  They will have been in my heart's womb for 18 years. They have grown stronger in the graces of Spirit, and I have been stretched into newness of heart -- one of deeper spiritual love and trust. The shape of my place in the world has expanded. I no longer see things through my own eyes alone, but through the lens of our children's relationship with the world they will navigate, inhabit, and bless.

Yes, the are slipping through my fingers -- but like water, they will continue to carry forward their own spiritual vision for serving humanity.  They will nourish, and refresh the world they share with their fellow beings.  That said, I still needed a focal point as I moved towards this milestone in our journey together.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy encourages her readers with this promise:

"Willingness to become as a little child
and to leave the old for the new,
renders thought receptive
of the advanced idea.
Gladness to leave the false landmarks
and joy to see them disappear, — 
this disposition helps to precipitate
the ultimate harmony. "

Today, I am holding on to this promise for dear life. Letting go of this chapter is not easy for me. I have loved it so much. I have loved being a mommy. I have loved doing their laundry, packing for camp, always knowing where they are, celebrating their victories, and sitting with them when their have hearts needed shared silence. I have loved our road trips and rodeos -- my funny little girls.  I have loved putting them first. I have loved them. I have love them with every fiber of my being. I will always love them  I will always be their mommy.

But you know, no matter how I tried to justify those feelings of melancholy, I couldn't reconcile them with what I know to be true, spiritually. In Truth, our children are not our children. They are His/Hers.  In fact, we are actually all the children of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the relationship that is changeless. This is the timeless role that we will play in one another's lives. This is the landmark I must fix my gaze on, and walk towards.

Again, I have found clarity in Science and Health. Eddy gives me something pure and clear to chart my course. She says in her definition of "Children," from the Glossary:

"not in embryo,
but in maturity..."

We are each fully formed in Love.  This spiritual maturity has been my touchstone throughout their childhood.  It has shaped my sense of what it means to parent.  It has allowed me to trust their wisdom and my own childlikeness.  We are, none of us, "in process." We all stand at the growing tip of spiritual self-discovery. They are ready. I am ready. And like the small bluebird babies that will soon stand on the edge of their world, and leap into flight with wings poised and courage undaunted -- so will we. As Meryl says in the above-linked clip:

"I wouldn't have had it
any other way.
My, God,
look at what we've had..."

I agree, with all of our ups and downs - tears and triumphs - I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am ready for this next path on our journey together as children of one supremely wise and loving God.  I am so grateful that we have been blessed with all the spiritual tools we will need to navigate these steps forward with Grace. As Eddy says:

"Press on.
The way is narrow at first,
but it expands as we walk in it."
- Mary Baker Eddy

If the steps we have taken together - so far - are any indication of the path we cannot yet see, the view will be beautiful, the companionship rich, and the days big with blessing.

with all my love -- and with Love,


Friday, April 17, 2015

"kindness matters…."

"In the end,
only kindness matters..."

What we behold -- what we focus on, and call another's attention to -- matters. Yesterday I was overwhelmed by the volume of unkindness I was observing on Facebook.  Sarcastic jokes, cynicism, and outright mean-spiritedness in posts, shared links, and comments. It seemed as if there was a moratorium on basic human kindness. Jewell's "Hands," came to the rescue again.

Over and over again that one line, "in the end, only kindness matters," flooded my heart. How many times have I been saved by its reminder.  Even when I've felt justified in rebutting something posted that I believed was untrue or unwarranted, I have been led to ask myself, "Is what you are thinking of doing kind?" If it's not, then I know I will regret it.  Kindness -- doing unto others as we would have them do unto us -- always wins the day.

And yet, there seems to be an unwritten rule that if we believe someone has made a mistake, done something regrettable, or admitted a wrong, we have every right to call attention to it, publish remarks about it, and repost the negative opinions of experts, pundits, or journalists.

But isn't this just what Jesus addresses when the woman who was "caught in the very act" is brought to him for judgment and eventual stoning. At first he tries to stay out of the verbal and punitive fray. When asked to weigh in on the moral wrongness of her mistakes, he stoops down and writes in the dust. But when pushed to respond, he says, "He who is without sin among you, cast the first stone."

He doesn't say, "He he who has never committed this particular sin, cast the first stone." But any sin.  It's so easy to see sin in terms of a hierarchy of offense. As long as we think someone else's offense is worse than our own, we seem to feel fully justified in calling attention to it.  But isn't this act of publishing of someone's failings, the same as casting a stone at them.

And isn't this what the Master absolutely refuses to do. Even after everyone who has felt the condemnation of his own conscience leaves the square without casting a stone at the woman, Jesus himself assures her, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." Go, and no longer feel separate from God's love, direction, protection, guidance, discipline, and care.

I have made mistakes in my life. And I have felt the stones of harsh criticism and cold disdain hit me squarely between my shoulder blades. I have known the sorrow of feeling misunderstood and judged for my mistakes. Those were lonely days.  But, I have also heard the invitation to cozy up with the jeering crowd, take aim, and toss a stone or two myself. And I have to tell you, nothing is more sickening than hearing the thud of gossip against the back of someone's reputation or peace-of-mind.

The stone lifted - and cast - is heavy. It weighs down the heart of the one who lifts and throws it. And don't be fooled. Just because our modern stones don't break bones, it doesn't mean that they don't break hearts.

Yesterday I saw something posted about a public figure that was so cruel and ugly, it -- quite literally -- made me nauseous. It was shocking to me that anyone would want to publicly attach themselves to unkindness. And sadly, it was posted by someone I respect and care deeply about. I was baffled -- it seemed incompressible to me.  I just couldn't understand why. I contacted my friend, who said, "well, it was based on something that actually did happen." 

Ah yes, "caught in the very act."

Well,  if "caught in the very act," wasn't enough justification for Jesus to join in throwing stones -- why has it become so for us? Do we think that we are contributing to the public good by calling attention to someone's failings? I am sure that the crowd in the public square that day, thought they were protecting the sanctity of their community values by stoning the adulteress and setting a public example. But Jesus didn't buy it, so why should we?

Do we think it makes us look clever, well-informed, or wise to remind the world of another's mistakes or failings? Is it okay because these people are just symbols to us -- symbols of culture, society, government, commerce? It reminds me of the young man on trial for the attempted murder of a classmate.  He said that he'd learned all about shooting-to-kill in a video game.  And that because the characters aren't real, it doesn't really hurt them. He said that after a few moments, they just get up and the game continues.

But, this is not a game. Our public figures, celebrities, the community member we watch from a distance, and then stone for their mistakes and faltering steps -- are real people. They have feelings, and families, and friendships.

Aren't we better than the self-righteous crowd in the square - standing with stone in hand. Just because someone has been "caught in the very act," doesn't mean we can't be true to who we are and respond with respect, humanity, kindness, and grace.  We have the right to our spiritual integrity -- our focus on good, our contribution to healing, and to blessing "even our enemies."  Another's behavior doesn't justify our retreat into a mob mentality of casting aspersions or stones.

When we carry those stones around in our hearts -- they weigh us down. Put them down.  Instead, let's seek out - and call attention to - the good in humanity. Let's focus on something worthy of our time, energy and devotion. 

You know, I don't believe I have ever decided to not be-friend, vote for, or welcome into my heart someone because I had read, or heard, a negative item of news or gossip about them. I can't imagine you have either.

Let's follow Jesus.  Let's refuse to get caught up in a season of stoning.  Let's turn our attention to the enduring, the good, and the true in ourselves and others. Let's appreciate what is beautiful, honest and humane in society, and watch it appreciate -- grow in value -- before our eyes. This is putting on the mantle of kindness.

And in the end, only kindness matters.

offered with Love,