Sunday, January 12, 2020

"through all of it..."


"You have been
my God,
through all of it..."



Just before leaving for Sunday School this morning, I fell - deeply - into Colton Dixon's"Through All of It." It gripped my heart, and didn't let go.

We all have testimonies of witness to God's presence and power in our lives. When I arrived at church, I discovered that it was just me in the classroom today.  Me and God.  And Colton -- still singing his song in my heart.

Sitting there, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What would your witness be, Cate?" If Colton came to you, and asked you to speak your story -- what would it be?

Isn't this the question David, the Psalmist, must have been asking himself as he wrote 150 love songs to God. I think of it, every time I turn to a psalm for comfort, courage, mercy. Who wrote this song? Why did he write it? What was the story behind it?

We know much of David's narrative -- child prodigy, the one chosen by a prophet and a king, young warrior, exiled friend, husband, adulterer, father,conspirator, murderer, brother, betrayer, shamed, sorrowing, forgiven, replaced, loved, reformed, humbled child of God. Which one of these boys/men sat down -- with quill or lyre in hand -- and wept a song of love for his God?

Each time I sit down to write a post for this blog, I think of him. I don't show up in front of the keyboard as a collection of experiences. Each time, it is with one moment of God's presence in my heart -- a moment that is asking to be praised. Asking for a witness. Asking to be written so that someone else will not feel alone in their own journey.

So who is showing up at the kitchen counter today as I write? Colton's song immediately called the girl I was at 16 out of the shadows. The one who stood in the blue light of dawn at a phone booth calling her Sunday School teacher -- just to say, "I am leaving home, I can't take it anymore." I can feel that girl's terror and sorrow, the fragility of her shaking hands and her uncertainty about the future.

Not a penny to her name -- besides the dime that had been in her penny loafers for making an emergency call. And she'd used it. And she'd used it to call her Sunday School teacher. That spiritual intervention -- from a voice within -- still stuns me. Without it, I don't know that I would be alive today.

I was still a shy 16 year old girl, without skills or resources. I was unsophisticated and had been raised in the isolation of a large family that moved constantly. To be a naive, innocent girl on the streets in 1970 -- the prospects were dire. There were no shelters for runaway teens in those days. There were no hotlines or public service announcements about what to do if you were facing unthinkable alternatives. You didn't talk about these things. How did I have the courage to call her? An older woman who'd only ever seen me as part of a big, happy family.

But my Sunday School teacher didn't flinch. She listened, and then she told me that I had to go back home and "be there" for my sisters. And I obeyed. Just like that. I turned around and walked back down the long rural road, up the driveway, in the back door, and back upstairs to the bedroom I shared with my 4 younger sisters.

The abuse didn't stop that day -- but I stopped feeling like my only answer was to sacrifice myself to the streets. God was there that day. There were many times in the ensuing months when I doubted my decision, and I doubted God's love -- but never once did I think that I had made the decision to call my Sunday School teacher that morning - all on my own.

And "through it all," -- God was there. Even in what seemed to be the hardest of times -- when my family picked up stakes and left me behind to fend for myself -- God was there. I can see that now. My high school guidance counselor saw my little suitcase and intervened -- when it was my plan to just live in the school gym through the end of the term. His pastor, and his wife -- a couple I'd never even met -- offered me a place to stay until I graduated.  And on, and on, it goes.  One moment after another.

As hard as that chapter was, God was always there. Throughout my life -- through days of sorrow and days success, nights of pain and nights of peace -- God was there. Today, sitting at this kitchen counter -- five children and five grandchildren scattered across the country, bills to pay, college tuitions to navigate, a global community in need of so much love and care -- I know God is here. For all of us.

Through it all -- God is here. So, how can we keep from singing, writing, kneeling, weeping, living our hearts' praise?

offered with Love,


Cate


Friday, January 10, 2020

"time after time..."


"if you're lost
and you look,
you will find me,
time after time..."



If this post had no other purpose than sharing my sister-in-law, Lisa Redfern's gorgeous recording of Cyndi Lauper's timeless "Time After Time," it would be enough. I hope you will listen to it in a quiet space -- when you want to feel something deeper than time.

I first heard Lisa share -- to say "perform," would cheapen what she gave us that day -- this beautiful ballad during a loved friend's celebration of life. I can't speak for anyone else who heard it, but for me, it was transcendent.

All sense of time and space receded. All that existed was our friend and her love for each of us -- and ours for her. I felt like only my skin itself was holding me in shape. For all that I knew, and all that I loved, was dancing in the air, like dust motes in the sunshine, with our friend and her friends -- and humanity itself.

Humanity felt like a verb, rather than a noun -- a collection of bodies with independent minds and stories. The dance was one of complete unity - and a dissolution of personal sense. There was not one being who had completed a "life cycle" and had passed on, and the rest of us still bumping around in skin-contained bodies -- we were all released from things of time and space. We were spiritual. And I felt it.

Later on in the celebration, we danced as a collective -- and the singing prayer, that we prayed as we danced, left me feeling cleansed, and healed, and full of childlike hope for each of us and the human mechanism we would each return to, when we folded ourselves back into skin, and clothes, and cars, and planes -- for the trip "back home."

Ram Dass once wrote:

“We are all
just walking
each other
home."
 
I've never felt the truth of that statement more clearly than during our Lisa's celebration of life and especially during Lisa Redfern's singing of "Time after Time."

I still feel it. Every day. The clock ticks, but it tells us nothing about the eternality of Life. The immortality of all beauty, and love, and grace.

We traverse space. We count steps. We measure the mass we take up. We drive miles and fly kilometers. We own acres, and build square footage. But do we? Is this all part of the distortion that says we are isolated, solitary ideas with stuff that we have accumulated -- and will one day leave behind?

Lisa's singing of "Time after Time," left me with a much different feeling. I glimpsed the substance of it all. All of those dust motes of consciousness that dance and swirl -- are simply gathering and coalescing in moments of purpose. We are not isolated solitary ideas with personal minds that control a limited number of those dust motes under a membrane of skin.

We are so much more -- and we are, "one with the earth and the sky" -- and each other. We are constantly shifting like water molecules that become visible as a cloud or rain -- but then invisible as steam and mist. One form no less - or more - substantive and real than another. We are not static, but ever-evolving. We are not born into a shape, defined by a mind that accumulates stories and stuff -- starting with a birth story and continuing with a false narrative of mistakes and accomplishments, successes, accidents, surprises, and failures. We are so much more, than what appears to be.

Through love, we are drawn into, and released from, limited and limiting forms -- existing only in shifting shapes of purpose. But we exist eternally as spiritual substance -- changeless, infinite in scope, as eternal as Love itself.  We are as irrevocable as a molecule of water's capacity to be drawn into purpose as steam, mist, rain, river, sea, breath for a fish, sacred for a Savior's last lesson, humble in falling, exalted as a prism for revealing a bow of promise.

I have, as a friend would say, "gone off the rails." I could write about what this feels like -- at the depth of my heart and soul --  for hours and hours.  Listening to Lisa singing again this morning brought it immediately into focus. But I will leave this here. If it's something you would love to ponder together -- give me a call. Or text. Or email. Or just sit quietly in a sunny corner, listen to it again -- we will hear it together. And we will dance, like dust motes in the gathering space.

Thank you Lisa.

offered with Love,


Kate


Thursday, January 9, 2020

"bend me, shape me..."


"bend me
shape me,
anyway You want me,
long as You love me,
it's alright..."



The chorus from The American Breed's 1968 hit, "Bend Me, Shape Me,"   was what came to me this morning, as I thought about my return last night to the warm cocoon of the pottery studio.

I had already spent an hour at the studio, before dinner and church -- letting a couple of vessels find their form in my hands. So, there really wasn't a reason to return. But on my way home from church -- through the dark, cold, streets of our empty mid-winter mountain town -- I felt drawn to that space again.

It was exactly where I needed to be. There is a peace there, one that is holy for me. The kiln was running, the room was warm, the steam flowing through the hot water pipes gave a soft hum to the room. And there is a lovely order for me in that space. I know which tools to collect and place on the workbench. My movements feel choreographed as I turn on the vacuum and extruder - to gather clay from the pug mill. I lay mats on the slab roller. I am ready.

It is not like any other part of my life. I have no planned outcome. I am not lining up tools to cook a meal - that I have imagined, or books to study from. I am waiting, in a quiet readiness. I am completely free of self-design. I really do let the clay speak to me about how it should drape, fall, curve, sit in my hand.

Yesterday was full and demanding. Church was inspiring and emotional for me. From the opening notes of the prelude, through the scriptural selections, hymns, prayer, and testimonies -- I felt drained of self. I didn't have a stitch of "me" left to navigate a conversation or interaction. It wasn't a bad feeling. It was just a feeling.  A feeling of being so fully emptied, that "Kate" had little left to give at that moment.

I was deeply grateful for a friend who didn't need words. He just put his arm around my shoulder and squeezed. It was perfect. As I drove away from church, I asked myself, "what do you need right now?" Well, I knew that I probably needed to make sure that the bowls I'd worked on earlier that day, had stable bottoms that wouldn't wobble after they were fired. So, since that was all I knew was needed at that moment, I headed to the studio -- assuming I would be in and out in less than five minutes.

But from the moment I arrived, the thought of holding a waiting lump of clay in my hands -- felt like a moment of sanctuary offering itself up -- like a chalice during communion. I didn't even take off my coat. I just began gathering the tools of my sacrament. My vestments were an old clay, and glaze, splattered flannel shirt.  There is something so beautiful in this simple ritual. It all leads to that exact moment when I am waiting -- letting my fingers smooth, and mold, and shape the clay into what it is asking to become.

The prayers that flow in that space are as pure, and free of self, as any I have ever known. They are a sacrament: "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."

My hands cease to be "my hands" and are, as St. Francis prayed, "an instrument of Thy peace." These are moments so holy that by the time I am finished, I am completely surprised that "time" has even passed.

Sometimes a friend shares this space. Our time together is as balanced as a church service, or the shared sacrament of communion - kneeling, praying, silence, movement, rising, singing, praying -- together. We work side-by-side. We let the quiet be as deep as the conversation. I am always moved by these times of fellowship, while serving the beauty of Soul with our hearts and our hands.

Last night I was particularly moved by how that space of sanctuary was calling me into shape. It wasn't just that I was listening for the shape of the vessel forming in my hands, but I was being shaped by the clay itself. There was a moment when the surface of the clay felt dry and intractable. Rather than becoming frustrated, I stopped and asked what I needed to be. God clearly said, "softer." So my hands and my heart softened their touch, on the clay and in my prayers.

The vessel that birthed itself was as lovely in my hands as any I have ever held. The prayer that formed in my heart was as full of gentle self-compassion, and impartial tenderness for humanity, as any I have every "heard."

We are not of this world. But we are in it. We navigate streets of asphalt. We hold hands that are soft with youth, and burled by experience. We sit at tables that have been crafted in hearts, before they are carved in wood.

I hope you will let your love for God lead you to a deeper love for all that you see, hear and feel beneath your fingertips -- whether it is the soft hair of an infant, or the clear lines of a sculpted stone. I hope that the things you love -- what your hands have handled of the word of God -- lead you deeper into the kingdom of heaven -- where all things are His. There is, in fact, no matter. All is spiritual. For, "all is infinite Mind, and its infinite manifestation."  God, truly is, All-in-all.

offered with Love,


Kate


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

"I and my Father -- are one..."


"i know,
i know,
i am, i am;

i and my Father,
are one..."



Sometimes it starts with a statement of Truth - and then I go looking for the song that I sense must be out there. Today's post happened that way. I woke up with Jesus' declaration "I and my Father are one," filling my heart. And then, Kathy Sarada's, "I am,"  found me. I'd never heard her voice before -- I will not forget it.

The world seems so divided. But it isn't. Don't be fooled. The "friend" who posted a meme that hurts your soul, is as much you, as she is herself. The hatred that fills the news each night is begging for you to give it an identity -- him, her, them, theirs -- but the only identity available is your brother or sister in Christ. Refuse to name it. Refuse to claim it.

For the last few years, one word has tried to take up residence in my heart. That word is, "idiot." It is not a word that I could ever remember saying aloud, or silently to myself -- about anyone. It has always been an offensive word to me. And yet, it has hissed like a snake almost every day for months.

When it first started, I wasn't as alert to its tactics as I should have been. It seemed justified. It seemed like the only outlet I had for venting my sorrow and frustration. It had a name. It had a face. It had a history of reasons for letting that word live. But it wasn't living in "that person," it was taking up residence in my heart. And it was an ugly tenant.

Evicting it was not as easy as you may think it should have been.  It was there banging on the pipes when I woke up each morning.  And it tried to be the last one to turn off the lights at the end of the day.  But I have been vigilant.

Once I realized that my mental or audible voicing of the word "idiot," -- to vent sadness and frustration -- was not stinking up anyone else's "home" -- only mine, I was more alert to its disguises as it approached my door. It would often come in the mask of alertness.  As if I needed to be alert to how ugly the world had become.  But I didn't need to be alert to the stench of cruelty.  That was the lie. What I really needed to be aware of, was beauty, kindness, holiness, honesty. Then anything unlike a beautiful thought, was clearly inadmissible.  And I could start with the word, "idiot." What an ugly word.


To "voice" that word -- silently, or audibly -- was my admission that I was detached from Truth.  To even think it about someone else, was to be detached from another being -- one that I shared a consciousness of our collective humanity with.  It was to separate myself from humanity itself, and thus, to feel detached from my own humanity. And it always felt like I was flailing in space without a tether.

My tethering, which was only, always, ever to God, was found in claiming that "I and my Father were one." This meant that I needed to see every being as an extension of my own family. To feel oneness with God was to feel oneness with those I had cruelly dismissed as "idiots." I am embarrassed to even type that sentence. But to completely and irrevocably evict this word from my house -- my "consciousness of Love," -- I must name it, and claim it, as the mental trespasser it is.

To be one with my Father is to be one with His heart -- to love what, and who, He loves. Impartially, universally, unconditionally. It is to know "grace" -- the unearned and unmerited favor of God.  This is where Christian Science has been a haven of rest for my weary soul. I don't have to figure out who to love. I don't have to determine what is lovable. Christian Science has taught me that love isn't a sorting hat, it is a lens through which everyone and everything is seen in its true nature.

I keep coming back to the story of the Prodigal Son and how often I have sorted myself - or others - either into the younger son's "I am a screw up, but I am so humbly grateful for Your mercy" camp, or the older son's "what about me -- I've done everything right - where's my party" camp. When who I really needed to identify myself with -- the Father.

To be one with the Father -- to feel the beating of His heart -- is to be unconditionally loving.  To love both of your sons with all that you have in your heart. To be waiting for the younger to come home to receive his inheritance, and to be sitting with your lap piled high, just waiting for the older son to realize that "all that you have is already his" and always has been. And to remind him that it is his own brother that had come home.

No matter how his younger brother had behaved, that boy was still his own Father's loved son. It didn't matter how justified the older brother felt by his younger brother's choices. Nothing could deprive him of his own expression of grace. He had every right to know himself as a faithful son -- standing at his Father's side, celebrating the return of a beloved member of His family.

So, although I could write about the healing of this crack in my heart's door all day, suffice it to say that the only five letter word - that starts with an "i" -- I am now admitting into my heart is, "image." There is only the image of God. The image and likeness of Love.  Anyone else doesn't belong here.

Everyday, I still have to ask myself, "What is the image you are admitting? What are you image-ining about your Father's son or daughter? What image is taking up residence in your heart?" And if that other "i" word is banging around, I can't afford the luxury of enjoying its rental income -- and I can't hesitate in serving an immediate eviction notice.

I will leave this here. We are one. We cannot be fooled by the lie that man -- any man -- is a liar. The lie and the liar are one -- that is because, the only lie is, that there is a liar to call ugly names. Man has only one name.  He is the image of Truth. Period.

offered with Love,


Kate


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"it's all a part of sacrament..."


"it's all a part
of sacrament,
as holy as
the day is spent..."



Oh Carrie, you never let me down. When I need a song to speak my heart, I can always find one in your catalog. Thank you for "Holy as the Day is Spent," It is perfect.

I don't know if there will eventually be a song to go with this post -- if one come, wonderful. I will have posted it above, if you are reading this.  However, this piece is not song-driven, but love-demanded. It is a post of gratitude.

Sometimes a friend's contribution to the color of our lives is profound, but deeply subtle. Her impact on me is just that -- profoundly subtle, but infinitely rich.

You see, when I met her, I was older, but she was wiser and more sophisticated in ways that I didn't even know existed. The woman I am today, wears the impress of her love for all things beautiful.

I grew up in a house without art. Or at least that is my memory. I remember there were two paintings on canvas boards that were hidden away in a box.  They were from my mother's brief exploration into the world of painting as a child. But I cannot remember any other artwork on our walls, save the refrigerator art of 8 children.

By the time I met her, my collection of artwork was limited to a few framed prints and a wooden deer that an old friend had carved from a piece of maple he'd found in the Maine woods. I didn't know, what I didn't know. And I didn't know what it meant to love -- what I'd rarely been exposed to -- original works of art in a private home.  Oh, I was very aware of museum art.  But real people didn't own paintings, they only owned prints of paintings that hung in museums.

But my friend knew that original art was accessible, and rather than make fun of my "collection," she began to introduce me to her love for the way light catches the texture of actual paint on canvas. She sowed in me a love for the rich colors found in textile antiquities.  She cultivated in my heart a hunger for original works of sculpture that could be touched and held in your hands -- rather than just look at from the other side of a velvet rope at the Museum of Fine Arts.

We never talked about it. Her cultural awareness, my naivety -- but it was always there.  This actually surprises me today.  I was shy, but I was also quite eager to learn. I think that by the time we could have discussed it, I was too embarrassed to tell her that the framed Sargent print I'd purchased at the MFA Gift shop, was the finest piece of art I'd ever owned. So, I just watched her navigate the world of real art. And I watched with the absorbed interest of an acolyte.  I wanted to know everything, and she was generous with her sharing.

I remember the first original piece of art I purchased for my own space. It was a small oil on canvas by a young artist whose work made my heart tighten -- and I loved it. From there I branched into larger pieces with a bolder confidence in my own preferences for color, subject-matter, texture.

Before I knew it, I'd discovered the joy of patronage. To find a young artist whose work delighted my soul, and to begin  collecting, or gifting, his/her original work.

I remember asking my husband once if there was anything that he had always wanted -- thinking he might describe for me a particular model of car, or a signature guitar. But he became very quiet and told me that he had always wanted to own a painting by a childhood friend who had become a fine artist. He loved his work. That sealed eternity for us in my heart. And although gifting him with that painting took a couple of years, it is still one of my favorite moments in our marriage.

Now you may think that this is a strange post for someone who writes about the intersection of the spiritual and the visceral. The collision of the inner landscape with the outward experience. But that is just what this post is about.

For me, art is a sacrament. Webster defines "sacrament" as:

“an outward and visible sign,
of an inward or spiritual grace..."
 

Yes, this is what this post is all about. It is about a woman who introduced me to the sacrament of beauty. The "beauty of holiness.:  She could have left me to my own sensibilities. But instead she shared with me her love for what had life and texture, visual pathos and poetry.  I love her.  I think of her each time I escape into the deep and sacred space of a Brooks Anderson landscape, a Melissa Miller sky, a Caitlin Heimerl vista, a Debra Myers abstract, a Nancy Pollack "equation," a Carol Carter bird-in-flight, a Lillian Sly floral, or a Duncan Martin shoreline.

Today, our few walls are lined with the paintings of artists we love -- and believe in. Some have been purchased on a "whim" and others on installment plans. While we drive old cars, and buy most other things at resale/consignment shops, we invest in art. We invest in the birth of beauty, rising from the hearts and hands of those who are boldly and courageously willing to share their inner landscape with us. 


I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the kindness my friend showed me in taking me to her favorite galleries, lunching with me at the Museum of Fine Arts - while discussing a recent exhibit, allowing me to hang her textile fragments in my office, introducing me to Shaker simplicity, or sharing her love of texture and color with me as if I were her peer in appreciating art. It changed me.

And yes, there is now a song. You may have noticed.

offered with Love - and fathomless gratitude to you -- my dear friend,


Kate


Thursday, January 2, 2020

"it's all right..."


"you can close
your eyes,
it's alright..."



There are so many version of this JT classic on YouTube. This morning I got lost while watching covers of it, by artists like Sting, Linda Ronstadt, and others -- but it's James Taylor and Carly Simon's version of "You Can Close Your Eyes," that I always come back to. It brings me such peace.

I have been thinking a lot about how naturally we trust God -- without even realizing it. We lie down at the end of a long day, close our eyes, and surrender the mechanism of the human mind's whirring, to the peace of conscious knowing. We watch our children and grandchildren drift off to sleep, without a concern that they will not wake up. We release ourselves from worry, and rest our hopes, concerns, uncertainty on the presence of Something unseen.

There is grace in this level of trust. It is not something we earn. It is not something we have to work at. It comes so naturally to us. We know it from birth. As a mother, I would lay my tiny infant daughters down for a nap, and the go take a short nap myself. There was no "what if," in the complete surrender I felt, to the rest that I knew would come. I trusted.

This week's Bible study is all about Who and What we trust. It is all about God, and His love for each of us. It is about the grace that doesn't demand some kind of intellectual understanding about the "why" of our trusting.  It is all about the inherent trust that comes from being a child, in the arms of his/her divine Parent.

I remember some years ago feeling like I was in an uncomfortable position -- physically and socially. My body hurt, and my heart hurt even more. Everything felt twisted and upside down. I prayed to feel right-side-up and in control.

That was when I came upon a photograph of a father holding his infant. The baby was being held in what is sometimes referred to as a "football hold."  The baby's head was in the palm of the dad's hand, with her arms and legs draped on each side of his arm. His other hand was supporting both his own arm, and the infant. The child was upside down, and her eyes were closed and her face couldn't have been more peaceful.

I looked at that photo, and for a split second, I could see the baby without the dad in the photo. "Wow, what an awkward position," I thought. It looked as if the baby was hanging upside down in mid air, with no visible means of support. I immediately "got it."

My Father's love for me was just as attentive, tender, and firmly supportive as that infant's. And He loved, not only me, but our children, grandchildren, global neighbors, strangers, and friends -- with the same kind of tender care. I could close my eyes and rest in the constancy of that love. My life might seem awkward and I might feel as though I am hanging in mid-air -- arms and legs dangling -- but I am not. None of us are. And, at the deepest level, we know it.

We can close our eyes -- and its alright.

Whether you are feeling under-supported, or you just aren't seeing how it will all work out, remember that in the deepest part of yourself, you do trust that there is Something or Someone that will hold you while you rest. At the deepest level, you know that you can:

“close your eyes,
it's alright..."
 


Rest your heart here.

offered with Love,


Kate


Saturday, December 28, 2019

"oh, i wish I had a river..."


"oh, i wish
i had a river
i could skate
away on..."



I hope this Sierra Eagleton cover of Joni Mitchell's "River," gives you some hint of how I was feeling the other night. Not so much the lyrical meaning -- but the "feel" of it. A bit of melancholy. A bit of "why?"

It wasn't that I was unhappy or feeling a lack of purpose. It was something unreachable. I felt detached. Not only from those around me, but from the meaning of the feeling itself. It felt deep and full of message, but in a language I couldn't understand.

That was, until a friend I hadn't seen in quite a few years, caught my eye across the room. As I walked in her direction, something said, "listen."

We embraced. We talked about "how long it had been..." And then she said the "something" that I knew was the message I was being asked to listen for. I felt it stir the fallow space in my heart.

"Thank you for your blog."

Really, I thought. I didn't even know she read this blog. Then, I stopped. She was giving me something profoundly dear. I realized what a gift her words were to me that night. I had been feeling like a stream overflowing her banks. Flooding a filed that was already saturated. I had been feeling as if all the words that spill from my heart, had nowhere to go.

In that moment, I realized that if there was only one reader who found companionship in what I was writing -- it was enough. This blog is a conversation about God's love and how I have experienced that love. And that each post was as vital and relevant as a call from a patient, or a meeting in a coffeehouse, or an appointment in my office.

I have been sharing those experiences in words that feel as real as the clay in my hands in the studio - palpable, honest, and beautifully taking shape in sentences, paragraphs, epigraphs, font colors, a photograph, a title. They were as real as each prayer and treatment God unfolded in my heart throughout the day.

So, thank you -- if you are reading this, I hope you realize how much you blessed me the other night. I hope you feel the gift that you gave to me -- relevance.

I don't know how this will inform the future of this blog. I've been writing for it since June of 2005. That's almost 15 years of unlacing my mental corset and letting my heart be laid bare. A young friend, Megan Neale, once wrote these lyrics for a song, "You're a Good Man," that she performed in her senior presentation:

“I'll write you a letter,
my heart is dripping ink..."
 
For that is how I feel everyday. I take calls, I see patients, I pray, I give treatment, I listen deeply for God's messages of Love, and Truth, and healing -- of divinity's coincidence with humanity, but all day long my heart is dripping words. I have often wondered, "how many little pomes can you post, how many experiences can you share in one day? When will you reach that point - each day - where you seem self-important and arcane? So I have retreated into a place of restraint.

I am realizing that this is not what God wants of His daughter -- to give he,r beautiful experiences and the words to describe them, but asks her to hold them back like a river restrained by self and saddened with unshared views of goodness and grace.

I don't know how this will inform the next chapter of my blogging journey. But if you are the only one reading these posts, I will be here for you -- and with you. I will be honest. I will be as "laid bare" in my sharing as I think I have always been. And I will be faithful to the God who puts words in my heart -- words that beg to be shared. Even if just with you.

I will be the river that I, too, can skate away on -- if just long enough to let myself feel the words fly from my fingertips like sparks from the blades of my skates. And, perhaps, by writing them down, they willfind another heart to be in conversation with.

Thank you dear friend -- you gave me a great gift the other night. Your words were the voice on the other side of the conversation - and I needed them more than you knew.

offered with Love,


Kate


Sunday, December 8, 2019

december 8th...


"i'm just sitting here
watching the wheels
go round-and-round..."



This day - each year - is pregnant with pauses -- for finding deeper meaning. John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels," is the perfect keynote for a number of reasons.

December 8th, 1980. Heartache. I was a 26 year old who thought she knew the world she lived in. Difficult as it was, it was graspable. Yes, as a generation, we had been through the assassinations of both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Watergate, and a confusing war that had taken our brothers and boyfriends before their time. But we had the Beatles. We had George's spirituality. We had John's imagination. We had Paul's sweet joy. We had Ringo's loyalty. We would be okay.

And then John was assassinated and something shifted for me. I struggled with finding a sense of meaning and clarity about "why?" A few years of beating at the air, and falling off the deep end. And the deep end really was quite deep. More like falling into an abyss of self and sorrow. I couldn't imagine anything -- much less a world of "all the people living life in peace..."

So what changed. I think, in hindsight, it was another December 8th. December 8th, 1984 -- and a global video conference, imagined by a group of men and women who believed that it was time:

“to live for all mankind"
 
And today, over three decades later, I have no doubt -- whatsoever -- that these two December 8th events are connected on my spiritual path.

I believe that John Lennon's passing dug deep into the soil of my heart. It was a painful cultivation beneath the surface of complacency. It was not enough to love the song, "Imagine," I wanted it to be real, alive, breathing in me, and in the world that I lived it. I was afraid that John's passing would mean the end of his dreams. Instead, I think, it stirred something in us that was sleeping.

Fast forward to 1984. I was raw with a desperate hope that felt like an exposed nerve. I tried every pain-killer to quiet its ache. Nothing was working. It pulsed and throbbed like a wound.

But somewhere, they were praying. They were listening, planning, reaching out with something that could not be commodified -- it was hope. The worldwide leadership of The First Church of Christ, Scientist was gathering its greatest resources, the hearts and prayers of its members, to recommit to its Leader, Mary Baker Eddy's vision:


“to live for all mankind"
 
Not just its own members, but all mankind. As one member of their Board of Directors put it, "the meeting reflected a  sense of spiritual urgency to address the needs of our fellow man at the deepest possible levels." They were casting their net wide - as fishers of men, and I was caught in their draught. 

Today, 39 years after John's assassination, his deep moral imagination for our world resonates like a tuning fork in our collective hearts.

Today, 35 years after the "to live for all mankind" video conference that circled the globe, a 19th Century woman's vision for humanity resonates at the core of my being.

I remember as a child hearing the statement:



“Nobody wins, until everybody wins."
 
I believe this to be true. If my God isn't All-in-all -- and all, for all; well, it's not a God I can love, trust, or worship. But He/She is. Eddy states in her primary work, and the books that guided those 1984 visionaries:


“Love is impartial and universal
in its adaptation and bestowals,
it is the open fount which cries,
Ho, everyone that thirtieth,
Come ye to the waters..."
 
Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine all the people free from persecution. Imagine all the people sheltered and fed. Imagine all the people having access to educational opportunities, healthcare, seniority filled with wisdom and love -- rather than dismissiveness and isolation.

Just imagine. Then, live for all mankind.

December 8th is a day of new birth, of fresh opportunity, and great moral awakening for me. It is a day for imagining all the people living life in peace -- and then doing all that we can to make it true.

offered with Love,


Kate


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

"we are one..."


"we were all,
looking up,
in the same direction,
in that moment,
looking up,
we were one..."



When my sister-in-law [once-removed] Lisa, suggested that I listen to Ana Egge's performance of "We are One," featuring The First Unitarian Brooklyn Choir, all the pieces of this post -- came together for me.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Each year, as my celebration of advent, I review the 24 questions in the chapter "Recapitulation," from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This chapter is the entire curriculum for those who are seeking to understand metaphysical healing through the lens of Christian Science primary class instruction.

Today is December 3rd. So today's question was:

“Is there more than one God or Principle?"
 
It's one of my favorite questions -- perhaps, because it is one of the first real "aha," moments in my study and practice of Christian Science.

Eddy's answer to that question is:


“There is not.
Principle and its idea is one,
and this one is God..."
 
Is one. Not are, one.

For most of my life, I thought that this question was asking about the possibility of multiple gods. But her answer pointed me in another direction. She was not asking if there were more than one god(s). But if there is more "out there" than one God or Principle? We are not off-shoots of divinity -- but part and parcel to divinity itself. The all-inclusive coincidence of God's wholeness as divinity embracing humanity. No separation. "...and this one is God." Wow.

Which gets me to an earlier piece of this puzzle for me. Question 1 on December 1, was: "What is God?" A question Eddy answers with: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."

Question 2, yesterday's question, was: "Are these terms synonymous?" And she assures us that, in fact: "They are..." She doesn't ask if these are the names for God. But if they are "synonymous," -- a word that means, "one directly implies the other."

For example, to say Mind, is to imply Soul. Therefore to feel the presence of Mind, is to directly imply the right to experience the presence of Soul. Thus, what we know to be true, we must be able to feel as the expression of Soul -- or spiritual sense. This is something I have written about  before - because it is such a vital part of how I understand metaphysical healing, but yesterday it came alive in a new way.

As I was deeply pondering this question again -- plumbing deeper for new insights -- my friend Kristin posted this video, "What Does Color Sound Like?" about synethesia [a word that shares an etymological root with the word "synonym"] and the artist, Wassily Kandinsky, on Facebook. It took my breath away. Oh my goodness! I am a synesthete. I had never heard either of these words before -- but that video was a window on my "soul," -- on the way I see, feel, hear, and experience the world around me. It is why poetry comes without intention or effort. I am experiencing color as words. I am hearing music as it takes shape in the clay I am holding in my hands.

But, perhaps this is also why I can hear a patient tell me that they are unable to feel peace, while at the same time, telling me that they love their children.  And, I am able to see - with absolute conviction - that this is impossible. For, if they love their child [an indicator of the presence of God as Love in their lives] I cannot even imagine - at any level - that this does not directly indicate the presence of Soul - and therefore, the sensation of peace.  It is why gratitude and inharmony - or unwellness of any sort - are absolutely mutually exclusive to me, for anyone.

On a more visceral level, this is how it feels for me:  I see a certain shade of blue, and I actually hear Joni Mitchell's song "River." I hear "River," and I feel that song's translation as a shape - in the clay I am holding in my hands. I feel clay under my fingers, and I sense the presence of Soul, as Spirit -- God moving, animating, skating my fingers through the clay, my arms around a horse's neck, the rise of words - like a murmuring of swallows above a river of ice --  swirling and lifting themselves into poetry.

It's all one.  We are all one. We are individually, all these things - colors, sounds, words, movement - working together for good, because we love - period. And we are collectively one - poetry and reader. Sound vessels and still water. We are blue and yellow - colors that compliment one another and reveal the deeper nature of the other, in hue, tone, meaning. But in the same spectral of light.

We are individually and collectively synonymous. Each one of us, directly implying the other. For example, if I say the word wife, I imply the concept husband. If I say God, I imply man. Principle and its idea - one. One directly and implicitly denoting the presence of the other.

I once asked my Sunday School class to put aside the "names" for God that Eddy listed [above] and imagine that they only had colors, sounds, textures, flavors, shapes to define the Allness and wholeness of God. What would the color of Spirit be? How would Life sound? It was refreshing. It was felt.  I actually do this regularly myself. It helps me to recognize the presence of God - Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love - in the world around me, and within me.

Practicing this re-framing, is like practicing a new language. We are translating sounds into shapes. We are hearing colors and feeling scents. We are seeing blue and feeling peace.  As a dancer translates music into movement, a spiritual healer translates love into health -- because Truth and Soul are synonymous.

I could go on and on -- and on. But I will leave this here. I am so grateful.

offered with Love,


Kate


Saturday, November 23, 2019

"home -- place or power..."


"and the question now is
why would you wait,
and be late for your life..."



Any song by Mary Chapin Carpenter would be the perfect keynote for this post. Today, I am loving her entire catalog. Her lyrics, are some of the most prescient of my lifetime. She gets me. Or perhaps, she gets us. She speaks "woman." Today, I only know that when "Late for Your Life," came up on my MCC playlist I dissolved into a pool of love for her music. Her songs are able to un-loose me from who I think I ought to be -- in any given moment.

So here goes... I have been feeling a bit like a bird without a nest for a while now. I have always been a nesting creature. I search for small spaces, circle and circle, until I collapse into the padded down softness, feather the corners, then burrow in. I've thought, "yes, this is what we do -- mourning doves, sea turtles, arctic foxes. But of late, I have been wondering, "do I have it in me to do it again -- or anymore?"

I have felt tired of the all too familiar feeling of "never forever."  I've carried with me for so long. The next house. Yes, I smile and think of paint colors.  I imagine where the Christmas tree will go, and what flowers will fill the window boxes in this house -- but it's getting old. I'd love to settle in for more than a few winters -- I'd love to feel rooted to a sense of place.

I know that this is not a spiritual perspective that will soothe the hearts of my fellow weary wanderers.  But it was where I often found myself over the past year - or two.

A few months ago, I was invited to speak to the members of an organization that advocates for the residential security of those in need. I wanted to say, "me? really, you want me to speak about home?" I felt like the least likely person to share insights on this subject.  But I have long-learned that these invitations go deeper than human experience, and often they are the first piercing of the veil of what I think I know about a given subject.  Once pierced, there is a new window on what is know in the fathomless place of Soul. So, I said,"yes."

To say that the journey from being a woman who is currently living in her 61st home, to being able to deliver a message about the spiritual nature of "home," was emotionally draining -- is an understatement.

When I was first introduced to the meeting's keynote theme, I almost cried:

“Home is not a place,
but a power..."
 
It's a familiar statement to those who study the life and writings of Mary Baker Eddy. She is credited with having said this same statement to two of men who worked for her. There have been times when I have found it inspiring, and others where I have found it frustrating and heart-achingly unreachable.

But I know this woman.  And she wasn't just blathering spiritual platitudes.  She spoke from experience.  She, too, had lived in many houses -- so I didn't ever feel like she was speaking from a sense of "oh, just get it together, this is easy."  And she was also a woman who, towards the end of her human career, lived in two wonderful homes that she owned. I have never thought that her insights were "a means to an end." But darn, I have often -- in the past -- just wanted to stop moving and finally have that sense of home security that she found.  I thought if I just understood what she was saying, all feelings of being displaced would stop.

I am quite familiar with the "power" of home. How it operates within us. How it is not something we find, but something we take with us, into every space we enter. As a young woman, I discovered that making a house into a home, was my "gift." And trust me, I have shared that gift with many  apartments, houses, urban flats, cabins -- and their owners. I am a landlord's dream. Too many times I have fixed up a house, only to have the owner decide that this would be the perfect time to sell it.

So, deepening my sense of what Eddy really meant when she said, "Home is not a place, but a power..." felt like plumbing one of my heart's deepest questions.  I knew I was being asked to dig deeper than I'd ever gone with this concept. I wasn't afraid of the task.  I was just worried that this time would be like all the others.  But it wasn't.  It happened only a few days before I was to give the talk. It occurred to me in prayer one morning that I hadn't really taken my own advice when it came to that statement. What was the context? Was there more?

So I did my research, and this is what I found in the reminiscences of Irving Tomlinson from the collection, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy":


“"Home is not a place
but a power.

We find home
when we arrive at
the full understanding of God."

 
For some reason, reading that second sentence stilled the ache of longing that was bubbling up - like hot tears - from a place so dark and deep, that I hadn't realized it was still there.

I might not be able to lock down a mortgage - but I could deepen my understanding of God. Finally, it was enough.

I've never had house envy. But, I have known home hunger. I've felt displaced -- too many times. Suddenly I knew what to do with that hunger -- be blessed by it.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus promises:


“Blessed are they
which do hunger
and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled."
 
My favorite definition of righteousness is: "to fulfill the demands of a relationship." My hunger is for a deeper relationship with God. This is where I will find home security -- eternally. This is the mansion with many rooms that my Father is inviting me to dwell in. Not visit -- but dwell. It's never too late to love our lives and to find home in our Father's household.

I will leave this here...

offered with Love,


Kate


Monday, November 18, 2019

"my cup runneth over..."


"and sometimes
I whisper
what Im thinking of,

my cup runneth over
with love..."



I love this sweet performance of Ed Ames' "My Cup Runneth Over," by Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet - from when I was a girl. It reminds me of an analogy that has been circulating on social media for the past three years. It is one that has had a significant impact on me:

“You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?
"Because someone bumped into me!!!"

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you -- which WILL happen -- whatever you are carrying inside of you will come out. It's easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

*So we have to ask ourselves... “what's in my cup?"*

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others."
 
I am so grateful for friends who continue to regularly post this analogy on Facebook. It always encourages me to check what I am carrying around in my heart.

I will leave this here without comment, and let it speak for itself.

offered with Love...


Kate


Thursday, October 10, 2019

"and when I don't belong..."


"and when
I don't belong,
you say
I am Yours..."



Lauren Daigle's "You Say," was the fire that drew me to her side this morning -- as the first snow of the season, fell gently on the last of summer's roses.

Some days I wake up without a sense of belonging in the world. Not just in big abstract ways, but in the details of the day. I look in the refrigerator for something to eat and nothing seems right -- and not just "not right," but foreign. I walk out the front door and I feel detached from the community I have loved and cherished for decades. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

I have to yield a sense of who I am based on context -- the where I live, who I know, what I do version of my self-- to something invisible and indivisible in me. This lyric from Lauren's song really spoke to me this morning:

“The only thing that matters now
is everything You think of me..."
 
It doesn't feel disorienting or disassociating when I yield to this one "thought of me," but I actually feel more connected, more fully engaged, more at peace with my place in the world. I am able to sit for hours and hours in my office and feel the presence of a community so inclusive and universal that all those feelings of "not belonging" drop away.

As I was pondering this line her song:


“You say I am loved,
when I can't feel a thing..."
 
I realized that it does not feel at all personal for me. How often do we pray that our children, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers on the border, or soldiers and refugees in a far away land can actually feel that they are loved -- truly, viscerally loved, deeply held, completely protected and defended.

How many times have I felt empty and bereft of love in my own life? Too often. But no matter how loudly it feels like that emptiness is echoing in the cavity of my longing, it is not true. And I can know it is not true. In fact, I can actually prove that it is not true.

For example: I, myself, am filled with love.  Even though it may not feel that it is coming at me, or towards me -- from someone else at that particular moment -- but it is always radiating from within me. My love for my daughters, my love for beauty, my love for honesty, goodness, innocence. These are always there -- ready to be called up as a reminder that I am not "without love" in my life.  This is consciousness of the presence of Love, is the I AM of divine Being.

Mary Baker Eddy gives us such clear direction in our search for identity, belonging, an invariable sense of who we are in the world -- and how we fit -- when she wrote:


“How shall we reach
our true selves?

Through Love."
 
What God -- divine Love -- says about me, or you, is all that matters. Everything else that might be said about us is lovely -- or not. Whether those voices are from others, or just the false voices that hiss in the night.  Either way, they don't matter.  They can just as easily bring us joy and comfort one minutes -- and the next, drive us to our knees with the weight of insecurity and self-doubt. They are fickle and unreliable sources.

But we are not limited by those voices of admiration -- or dismissal.  We each have the right to ask ourselves, where is this "message" of grandeur or smallness, belonging or emptiness, success or failure, love or fear -- coming from. If God isn't saying it to us -- we can question it.  We can decide to sit with those feelings a little longer, and let them instruct us in compassion, or we can listen more deeply until we hear the voice of divine Love reminding us:


“you are not alone,

what I say about you
is all that matters,
and you are Mine..."
 
It is enough to lift us up, to dissolve our fears, to humble our ambitions, to walk us forward...

offered with Love,


Kate


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"transitions and leaving..."


"You're lovely
even with your scars;
lovely just the way you are.

So open up your lovely heart,
don't try so hard..."



Sometimes, I can read something that touches a nerve so deep it drives me to my knees -- or to laying my head in my arms and just weeping.

My friend - and much-admired women's historian - Sally Roesch Wagner, posted a piece at the end of the summer about "leaving the lake" in which she writes:

“You must be leaving soon,” my daughter observed. “Yes, why do you say that?” “Because you just picked a fight with me.”

It was one of those golden moments when intimacy mirrors deep truths about yourself. I pick fights when I leave. “I don’t love you anymore,” “You suck,” “I don’t even like you.”

I’m in a fight with the lake right now. Stupid lake. It’s overcast and cold and gloomy and I’m mad at it. Because tomorrow morning I will leave it for another year.

Recognizing my pattern, owning it, the dam bursts and I am crying sad because I will miss this lake I love with all the 72 years my body has known her.
 
That is me. Or at least it has been me for most of my life. A family member once said, "It's not worth coming to visit you unless I can stay for 10 days. It takes you 3 days to open up, and three days to prepare for my leaving. You pick fights or look for ways to isolate yourself days before I have to depart."

She was right. I know this about myself. God bless my husband for knowing that "comings and goings" are hard for me. Whether I am going away, or he is, he knows enough to carve out space in our home for those transitions -- from being together, to being alone, to being together again.  He gives me space to grieve.  And for some reason, it is a grieving for me -- and  I have to process it each time.

So, obviously these feelings are not new for me. But seeing someone that I admire so much, willing to actually own that pattern of emotional fragility herself, was somehow heart-fissuring for me. I wasn't alone. Something of the brittleness in me -- about how I see myself -- started to yield its hardness. I could look at myself through the lens of self-compassion.

I love that God brings those wiser guides into our lives to help us through the labyrinth of self-acceptance. Sally's insight about her own sorrow when "leaving the lake," gave me permission to begin to look more deeply at my own grief about transitions.

Sometimes, I try too hard. I don't "do" some things -- like entering a crowded room -- with ease. I tend to need a job, a role, a name badge that says, "hi, I am Cate and I am here in this role..." to navigate those situations. Just walking in and finding my "tribe," is terrifying for me. But knowing that I am not alone, and that there just might be someone else in the "room" -- or in the world -- that is feeling just as awkward, takes my focus off of my own awkwardness.  It makes me look for her (or him) when I enter that room, so that I can try and make it easier for them too.

Amy Grant's "Don't Try So Hard," is like a friend looking me in the eye and saying -- "you've got this." Sally's post about "leaving the lake" will now join Amy's song like a big sister who puts her arm through mine and guides me forward, saying -- all the way, "I'm here, we can do this - together."  We can do this, because we have a God who loves us and has sent us into each other's lives as angels of mercy and compassion. Whether it's in a song, a moment of self-reflection shared with a reader, or just a smile across a crowded room.

If there is some way I can "be there" for you -- please let me know.

This blog is here to remind us all that, "we are not alone."

offered with Love,


Kate