Friday, July 23, 2021

"hold them up..."



"hold them up, 
hold them up, 
never to let them go..."

Walking back up the hill from Newfound -- to Owatonna -- this morning, I was pondering a few things.  One, my gratitude for the beauty of this place - lush with love and filtered light.  Two, an upcoming wedding - that I had just heard about from a friend.  Three, God.  And not in any order -- but more about how these three things coincided in my heart.

And as I continued up the hill, a favorite James Taylor song, "Never Die Young"  came to mind.  It's always been a reminder that we have a spiritual responsibility to wrap our mental arms around every relationship, and hold them close -- hold them in hope, hold them up. 

Just before I reach the top of the hill, I looked to my right and saw the above image.  It made me cry.  I had to ask myself: do I twine myself around every couple I know and hold them that dearly and tenderly in my heart?  Do I uphold the highest sense of partnership, friendship, marriage, family - when I think of them?  

I remember when my husband and I were first married. There were so many people that questioned our union.  Too soon?  Too many opinions to overcome?  Too old to start over?  

I remember one person lamenting that I'd never reach a 50th anniversary, starting over at "this point in your life." As if time -- measured by a number of years -- validated love.  

Rather than feeling like our community was wrapping its arms around us, it felt like an axe hacking away at our prospects. But rather than letting it put distance between us, we leaned in closer and grew stronger.  After that, I swore I would model a different kind of response to hearing about someone else's "new love."  Have I been consistently faithful to this vow? I hope I have.  I pray I have.  I am sure I can do better. 

Coming upon those two trees wrapped in a single vine was a most profound reminder for me.  To love God, is to love what He loves -- His child, His children, His plan.  We are each planted by our divine Parent to grow in proximity to those whose lives we will bless and be blessed by -- whether it is for a moment, a season, or a full life chapter.  

Some relationships will be like trees with roots entwined so deeply, that they hold eachother up in a storm.  Couples whose branches are so interlaced -- as they reach for the sun, day-after-day -- that you cannot tell where one stops, and the other starts. 

Other trees are not root-tied, but provide shelter to one another during tender growing years.  And others are like an aspen grove that covers the side of a mountain -- a single organism that only appears to be ten thousand individual trees.

And when we twine our loving prayers around those who are in loving relationship, we are included -- as encircling vines -- in that tenderness, collaboration, joy, unity, and affection. We are no longer looking at something from a perspective outside of the goodness it represents.  But are, in fact, actually - now - part of that beautiful love, because we are embracing it within us.   

It is not our job to figure out how, or why, individuals find their way to one another.  It is our job to trust the divine to plant each of us in a place, and within an ecosystem, that it will bless us -- and that we will be blessed by -- for however long it takes to learn and grow in partnership, fellowship, community -- Love.  

It is our privilege to wrap every relationship in the purest expectation for each blessed union.   Since: 

"our expectation is from Him." 

Today, I am sending each parent and child, mother and daughter, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, sisters, brothers, partners, colleagues, friends -- so very much love.  

Mary Baker Eddy assures us that: 

"all nature teaches God's love to man..." 

Today, nature is reminding me to hold them up, and hold them close -- all of the "thems."  

offered with Love, 

Cate

Saturday, July 17, 2021

"catching the unseen..."



"and He will raise you up
on eagle's wings..." 

Watching a lone eagle this afternoon reminded me of how it feels to settle in to the place of prayer - listening for God's voice to lift me higher.  An eagle doesn't just sit on the edge of a branch or a cliff, with her wings tucked -- waiting for the thermal to lift her up.  There is a moment of reciprocity.  A moment when she lifts her wings and steps off into what cannot be seen, but is felt.  It is as real for her, as the granite beneath her talons.

Once there is this moment of connection -- the opening of her wings and stepping forward, uniting with the ever-present current of air (or thermal) she catches -- there is flight. There is a choreography that cannot exist without this unity.  The thermal cannot be seen without the form of the eagle to give it visibility, and the eagle is motionless without the invisible current that lifts her.

I love this relational aspect of prayer.  Yes, God is ever-present and always speaking, guiding, directing, protecting us -- and for this I am so forever grateful. But there is something so beautiful, and sweet, and powerful about the "dance" of opening my heart, and stepping into the "presence" -- of actively listening.  This is not a petitioning, but a celebration of Soul.  It is song, and dance, and poetry. It is the marriage of lyric with melody and movement. It is pure and refreshing.  It is both comforting and inviting. 

This kind of prayer isn't asking for anything. For why should we need to ask,  when our all-powerful, Father-Mother God already knows all -- and loves us, so much. This prayer wants nothing but to be one -- to dance -- with the Divine.  This is not the day-to-day "rushing about madly,"  while knowing that God is "in charge" kind of praying.  It is something quite different. 

This is the prayer of sitting quietly in the lap of the Father just to feel His arms around you.  It is feeling your heart beating along with His. It is to be so still that His breath stirs the downy hairs at the nape of your hopes. It is to be known - with such tenderness that you sigh more deeply into His care with each trusting release.

I never doubt that the thermals of Spirit will be there when I step off the ever-crumbling ledge of human control or worry -- the undulating edge that my life often looks and feels like.  Those moments when thunderheads blacken the horizon, and I think I can neither see a divine plan -- before or behind. When it looks as if lifitng my wings will put them right into the path of a lightning bolt.  I do it anyway, and there is a rush of peace when I feel that invisible current under my heart -- lifting it above doubt and despair.  It is not unlike the rush of love I feel when I look into my daughters' faces and remember that God trusted me with His precious child.

When it seems as if I'm falling out of grace.  I pause for just a moment, and shift in this space of listening.  And I can feel yet another current of God's love carrying me out of the descent. 

This is what prayer feels like to me.  I love riding these thermals of Love -- in joyful celebration of Her unseen ever-presence.  It is how I remind myself that what is unseen is often more powerful than what is not. It is to be raised up, "on eagle's wings."

offered with Love, 

Cate



Friday, June 11, 2021

"only Jesus..."

 

"and I, 
I don't want to leave a legacy,
I don't care if they remember me;
only Jesus..."

I just wrote an entire post about my evolving relationship with Jesus over the past twenty five years -- and how the Angel Studios production of The Chosen has impacted that relationship -- and  it disappeared.  So...

God must have wanted me to hold it close and only share it one-on-one, or in a much more intimate setting.  I will do that. If you have not watched The Chosen, I can't recommend it highly enough.  If you have questions about my own journey - please feel free to call.  In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy this link to Casting Crown's beautiful song, "Only Jesus."  It says it all for me today.

Sending each of you -- all my love, 

Cate


Sunday, May 23, 2021

"we're not that different at all..."



 "Why can't they understand 
the way we feel?
They just don't trust 
what they can't explain.
I know we're difference, 
but deep inside us, 
we're no that different at all.."

Dateline: May 20, 2021.  Religion News Service. "Sixty years after she stepped into the jungle to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat, Jane Goodall, the world-renowned primatologist and conservationist, has won the 2021 Templeton Prize, established by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton to honor those who use science to explore humankind’s place and purpose within the universe."

I felt tears spring to my eyes as I read the news this morning.  Jane Goodall has had a profound impact on the way that I live my life and how I few all conscious beings. 

I remember thinking of her groundbreaking work as a primatologist, while sitting in a darkened theater with our young daughter watching the Disney's animated film, Tarzan. and I always think of whenever I hear Phil Collins' beautiful song, "You'll Be in My Heart," from that same movie. 

As Sir John Templeton's granddaughter, Heather Templeton Dill, wrote of Goodall: 

“Her discoveries have profoundly altered the world’s view of animal intelligence and enriched our understanding of humanity in a way that is both humbling and exalting. Ultimately, her work exemplifies the kind of humility, spiritual curiosity, and discovery that my grandfather, John Templeton, wrote and spoke about during his life.”

Humility, spiritual curiosity, and discovery.  Aren't these the defining attributes of every great thought-leader.  

My own spiritual heroes, Jesus Christ and Mary Baker Eddy, brought these same qualities to their desire to understand the law of Love and the impartial and universal application of that law in the lives of all conscious beings.  

I am so deeply grateful for the progress that humanity has made in recognizing that although, on the surface, we might seem so different, we're really not that different at all.  Spirituality dissolves the differences we define as race, gender, species, genus with the consciousness of God's All-in-allness. 

I have learned more about unconditional love from our non-speaking family members -- the ones who navigate this experience on four legs -- than I have from most humans.  

So today, I am deeply grateful for the legacy of respect and compassion for all creatures, that Jane Goodall has left to us as a record of our ever-evolving history of what it means to be conscious beings sharing the same spiritual landscape. 

offered with Love, 

Cate


Friday, May 14, 2021

"it's all i need to know..."




"God is Love,
God is Love,
if it's all I ever learn in life,
it's all I need to know..."


Outside my cabin, I could hear a group of girls serenading a boy's cabin just down the hill. Their sweet voices lifted into the night sky like fireflies turning into stars. I closed my eyes hoping to capture some of their joy as it rose over the tall pines that stood like sentinels watching over us all.

I was reaching for joy, but it seemed so beyond my grasp that night. I'd received a call earlier in the evening that shook me to my core. Sorrow and bewilderment circled like coyotes looking for a place in my heart. I was on full alert, but tired. I needed a companion in the watch. Mindy Jostyn's beautiful, "God is Love" was a friend in the dark.

I let her remind me through the night that if I took nothing away from this experience -- but an understanding of what it meant that God is Love -- it would be enough. The hope of healing was alive in me. But what that healing would look like seemed elusive. In some ways, I didn't even know what to hope for. Would I stop feeling sad? Would the pain disappear? Would my heart cease to ache? Would someone tell me that the call I'd received earlier had never really happened?

I'd been sitting in the dark for hours, when I suddenly felt an overwhelming desire to read from Mary Baker Eddy's primary text on spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I had a long history with finding healing and comfort in her pages. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. I turned on the lamp and opened my dog-eared copy randomly.

My eyes fell on these words from a longer sentence:


"...the proof of healing, 
a sweet and certain sense
that God is Love."
 

It washed over, and through, me like a dam breaking upstream. The proof of healing wasn't going to be seen in a changed physical picture. I wasn't going to hear different news, or wake up to a different report. But I would know this healing. I would have absolute proof of healing.  I would feel it in a "a sweet and certain sense that God is Love" filling my heart -- filling my life.

I turned off the lamp and returned to the stillness of the night. I listened to Mindy's voice -- and I knew I was healed. I felt it. It started as a glowing ember at my core. I felt Spirit breathe upon its presence - all the hope, trust, and affection I held in my heart. Before long, I could feel that "sweet and certain sense that God is Love" radiating, warming, and filling every dark corner of the night. I was healed. I had proof.

Elsewhere in Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy assures us:


"The depth, breadth, height,
might, majesty, and glory
of infinite Love fill all space.
That is enough!"
 

And it really was. It was enough, just to know that, "God is Love." I could actually feel that it was the most important thing I would ever learn in life, and that it was all that I would ever really need to know.

On the surface of things, nothing had changed. But deep within my heart I actually felt it -- that sweet and certain sense that God is Love -- and it was all the proof of healing I needed.  I have returned to this experience many times since that night.

In fact, just today my heart was heavy. The news was overwhelming. One alarming report after another. One disturbing account immediately on the heels of the last. The information was coming rapid fire. It felt like I had been praying -- without ceasing -- for days. I couldn't even imagine what healing might look like when there was so much to be healed, and so many issues to be prayerfully addressing. 


 As I stood at the stove waiting for the tea kettle to boil, the strains of Mindy's "God is Love," washed through my heart like the soundtrack from a favorite film. I recalled that night, over a decade earlier, when I had felt so engulfed in grief. And I remembered -- the only proof of healing I needed to feel was:

"a sweet and certain sense
that God is Love"
 

I closed my eyes, quieting the clamor of the human mind.  And there it was -- the feeling. That sweet and certain sense that God is Love filling my heart. It was all the proof I needed. It was enough.
 


offered with Love,


Kate

Saturday, May 8, 2021

"all you have to do is call..."




 "you just call out my name, 
and you know wherever I am, 
I'll come running to see you again.
 
Winter, spring, summer, or fall
all you have to do is call,  
and I'll be there;

you've got a friend..." 

This Mothers' Day, I am thinking about a dear friend and mentor. I am celebrating her in my heart of hearts.  Her recent passing has been one of the hardest losses in my life.  She taught me what it meant to mother a world -- as well as daughters, sons, those who call this office for support, neighbors, and "strangers" on the street.

There were so many times over the course of our friendship when I felt very alone in the twenty-four/seven demands of this work.  There were so many Mothers' Days -- both before and after children joined our home and family -- when my heart was confused or broken, hopeless or overwhelmed -- and she was the calm voice at the other end of the phone.  

Today, I would have given anything to hear her voice.  I listened to favorite songs, hoping to find some comfort, and it was finally Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" that unlocked my heart and allowed my tears to flow freely.  

I could tell you hundreds of stories about her kindness and grace.  I can't open a page in my life's story - at least not in the past 35 years - that she hasn't touched.  And I am not exaggerating, not one bit.  Whether directly or indirectly, her voice left its soft imprint on almost every facet of my heart since we met.  

And the lovely part is, she never tried to do that.  She never asked me to give her credit -- in fact, she would have been horrified if I had.  But I am more compassionate, less self-focused, infinitely more kind and honest because of her love, example, encouragement -- and gentle rebuke.  

And in all the years of our friendship, I never felt special to her -- or even wanted to.  I felt peace.  I felt hope.  I felt seen.  I felt innocent in her heart and in her eyes. 

There was a time, many years ago, when I was so lost and frightened that I didn't know where to turn.  The situation was beyond imagining.  I was a young mother with very young children, no money, and suddenly facing homelessness -- I was paralyzed with fear. We hadn't spoken in a couple of months, but at that time things were simply wonderful.  Soon after however, our family circumstances had shifted drastically.  And I was embarrassed and overwhelmed.  No one knew how bad things were -- and I wasn't about to tell them.  In my life, I was supposed to be the one helping others - it felt beyond the pale of the ego to imagine asking anyone for help.  

Then one night, when we were at the end of our options, God said, "call her."  Oh how I wanted to.  I just wanted to hear the calm in her voice.  I wrestled for hours with: Should I? Could I? What would I say?  This was long before cell phones, and I was grateful that our temporary housing had a phone in the room.  The children were fast asleep and I was alone in the dark.  I picked up the phone and dialed her number.  

When she answered I couldn't speak at first.  I just started weeping.  For the first time in almost a month I felt not-so-alone.  Without asking any questions, she spoke to me of God's love.  She encouraged me to trust.  She said that she knew how much I loved and trusted God.  Then we hung up because it was a long-distance call and I didn't think I could pay for more than a few minutes.  

But it was like Love had switched on a lamp in the room.  I felt peaceful and calm.  I knew the answers would come.  I knew God had brought us together as a family and would sustain us. I could feel the trust that she knew was there all along. 

The next morning, a cashier's check arrived by courier.  My friend had sent enough money to give us room to breathe.  We had never talked about money the night before.  I had not shared with her our financial circumstances.  But she knew.

That same morning, I was led to a solution that completely turned our situation around.  Within days we were back on our feet, housing restored, and a path forward that only hours earlier I could not have even imagined.   It was a pivotal moment in our lives -- and it was filled with clarity, purpose, and an opportunity to serve in ways I hadn't considered before. 

I was soon able to pay my friend back the money she had so generously sent.  But, as often as I told her how grateful I was for her generosity, kindness, and compassion that dark night - she always reminded me that it was God who had moved us both towards eachother in a moment of Love's opportunity.  Her humility and grace were unbounded.  

Since her passing, I have felt every emotion I never expected to feel.  I have felt loss.  I have felt sorrow.  And, I have felt a broader sense of Life and a deeper sense of what eternity is. I have wept tears that have had no clear reason or meaning -- except that when they have dried, and my breathing returns to "normal," I feel a love that is present and substantive.  I feel as if my feet have been washed with those tears. 

I am not going to include quotes in this post. I am going to let its message pool in my heart.  

For all the ways she nurtured, and corrected, and encouraged the best in me - I am more grateful than I have words to say or write.  

offered with Love,

Kate 




Tuesday, April 27, 2021

"the hope experiment..."



"hope has a way 
of turning it's face to you
just when you least expect it.

you walk in a room,
you look out a window,
and something there 
leaves you breathless..."

Last night, my sister and I were asking ourselves - and eachother -  how it was, that a child could go through horrific experiences, and still retain a sense of hope, curiosity, and compassion.  Long after we'd ended our call, I continued to ponder this question.

I couldn't help but think of Sara Groves' beautiful song, "It Might Be Hope" . I woke with it playing in my heart this morning.  

I think hope is one of my favorite words - perhaps because it feels like the most profound expression of Life to me.  And, I love the shape of it in my mouth.  It settles my heart.  It allows me to breathe when I have been holding my breath for too long.  

It is the word that sustained me through a challenging childhood.  Later it would keep my dreams of motherhood alive, in the face of unimaginable loss. It has given me the courage to continue "showing up" when I have wanted to give up and just disappear.  

Why?  What is hope?  Where does it come from? These are the question that kept me awake under the light of a full moon last night. 

Then, this morning, someone shared this: 

"During a brutal study at Harvard in the 1950s, Dr. Curt Richter placed rats in a pool of water to test how long they could tread water.

On average they'd give up and sink after 15 minutes.
But right before they gave up - due to exhaustion, the researchers would pluck them out, dry them off, let them rest for a few minutes - and put them back in for a second round.
In this second try - how long do you think they lasted?
Remember - they had just swam - until failure - only a few short minutes ago...
How long do you think? Another 15 minutes? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 

No! 60 hours!
That's not an error. That's right -- 60 hours of swimming.
The conclusion drawn was that since the rats believed that they would eventually be rescued, they could push their bodies way past what they previously thought impossible."

It hit me with such a profound sense of clarity. This is where indominable hope finds it ground - in the heart of someone who has faced drowning and has, in some way, been saved. The saved never forget that they have had the experience being saved - however briefly or incidentally.

Each healing -- big or small -- leaves a seed of hope in us. Each fear overcome, each time a hand reaches down and lifts us from the bottom of the well, dries us off, and allows us to catch our breath again -- we have been given the gift of hope. And the next time we face a moment when we feels as if we are drowning, we will remember. We will hold that memory of being "saved," and tread water a little - or a lot - longer. And our becomes a more resilient and insistent.

As a child, it was my younger sister who always gave me a reason to hope. Time and again she would lift me up and remind me to breathe.

Today, I am realizing that each time we encourage a friend to stay the course, each time we show kindness to a stranger, lift the lonely, bind up the broken-hearted, remind those who feel like giving up - that the are not alone -- we give the gift of hope. Hope that perseveres. Hope that sustains. Hope that heals. Hope that treads water until it is saved again. Hope that teaches us how to swim on our own. Hope that buoys our faith and enlarges our trust -- in God.  

I will leave this here. May you feel hope. 

offered with Love,

Cate

Sunday, March 7, 2021

"enough..."


 

"all of You 
is more than enough
  for all of me..."

I hope you enjoy this video of Chris Tomlin's beautiful song, "Enough" - I trust you will see how it relates to this story from a number of years ago:

It happened just last night. We were sitting in church. I was conducting the service, and in preparation, I'd pulled together the readings straight from the questions that were pressing on my own heart:  "What do I really need - vs. want?" and "When will I know that I have enough?"

Using those questions as my starting point, I'd felt divinely led - as if on a journey through the Bible, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I was searching for the message God intended for our worship service - and for me.  I'd felt inspired by Scripture.  But my initial questions still loomed large.

Once I'd finished readings the selections, and we'd joined in silent prayer, I led the congregation in praying aloud the Lord's Prayer. And it was this line, "Give us this day, our daily bread" that I found myself focusing on with genuine hunger.

After singing the second hymn, and reading the announcements, I opened the meeting for the sharing of gratitude, inspiration and testimonies of healing.

And that was when my friend, Andrew - sitting on the sofa in the half-light of a late summer evening - shared a stunning idea. It was one that answered my question, so perfectly, that it was as if I'd posed my query directly to him,  he'd taken it to God, and come back with the perfect response. 

Andrew started his remarks by sharing gratitude for what he was learning from the inmates he visited during his volunteer work at a local jail.  And then, he referred back to one of the statements that I'd read - twice actually - from Science and Health,  as the definition of the word, "enough:"

"Unfathomable Mind is expressed. 
 The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, 
 and glory of infinite Love fill all space. 
 That is enough!"

It actually took my breath away. It was as if little prickles of energy - and a million fireflies - were lighting up my insides. I actually think I may have gasped.

This was the clear and simple answer I had been listening for.  As I'd prepared for the service, there were two words that had kept poking at me:  "need" and "enough."  
 
 I knew what I most needed.  Again from Mary Baker Eddy:

  
"What we most need is the fervent desire for growth in grace, 
 expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds."

And this had long become my answer the question of "need."  When suggestions came from within, "I need to know what is next," or "I need to feel thus and so: peace, comfort, love, in order to be - you name it:  happy, satisfied, joyful.." Whenever those false "needs" would project themselves as conditional to my peace, with Eddy's direction, it had become my practice to claim, "No, what I actually need is the burning desire for growth in grace - expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. 

But the answer to the questions, "What is enough?" "When will I have enough?"  "What would enough look like?" Well, for those questions, I didn't seem to have an answer that satisfied my hunger for something simple, clear, comprehensive, practical - and most importantly - spiritual. 

But Andrew's answer met all of those criteria - perfectly.  And I claimed it, immediately, for myself as one of my five smooth stones for taking down the Goliath suggestion of: "never enough."

I have since discovered that it is truly one of the most wonderful spiritual tools to have at the ready. When the inner critic tries to say I don't have enough, I never will have enough, or that I wouldn't know enough if it bit me on the backside, I can confidently go back to:

"The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, 
 and glory of infinite Love fill all space." 

Do I need more money, more information, more praise, more entertainment, more comfort -- more, more, more? No, what I need - what I really,  truly, and practically need more of is growth in grace -- patience, meekness, love and good deeds.  

And the depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love filling all space is exactly what will meet that need perfectly.  In fact, it is the only thing that can, or will, ever satisfy what I most need.

That is my answer to what is "enough." And it will always be enough.  Love filling all space.  Love governing every heart.  Love filling every moment with opportunity for spiritual self-realization.  Love satisfying every need to trust more, and worry less.  Love redeeming every "wrathful and afflictive" experience as the perfect opportunity to entertain angels unawares.  Love filling the earth with the gladness of growth, the affluence of freshness, the height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite beauty and grace.  

Yes, it is enough. It is always enough.

with Love, 

Cate


Friday, February 12, 2021

"farther along and further in..."

 


"farther along and further in;
I think I'm finally listening,
to some kind of spirit murmuring;
I've never heard before...

Mary Chapin Carpenter's new CD, The Dirt and Stars, includes a song that I've loved every time I hear it.  "Farther Along and Further In" speaks to me in a very profound way. 


About 5 years ago, I struggled mightily with the gospel invitation to "cast your net on the right side."  I've written about this in another post, but I thought I'd revisit it today as a follow-up to how that single spiritual injunction has shifted my entire life and work. 

The story (from 5 years ago) goes like this -- the Cliffnotes version:  I was asked to give a talk about that scripture, but I just couldn't, in good faith, speak inspiringly about a citation that I felt forwarded a sense of reality that was filled with dualism.  

Right or left, right or wrong -- it just went against everything I had learned through the study and practice of Christian Science.  

As I drove the last quarter mile to where I was scheduled to give that talk, I turned to God with my whole heart.  "If you want me to give this talk, you will need to inspire me - now."  

With that God said to me, "what if casting your net on the right side, is not about right or left, but about inside..."  I got it immediately.  It is about casting your net deeper - in the kingdom within.  

Within 10 minutes I knew exactly what I needed to share.  But it wasn't just about giving a talk, it was about changing my life - my moment-by-moment responses to the call to decide, choose, respond.  But also my professional life.  To turn to the books that I love -- and that define my practice of spiritual healing -- not as the place where I will find Truth, but as encouragement for turning more deeply within for those answers of Truth.  

Since then, my life, my practice of Christian Science, my every response to the call to live with grace, is about turning within.  Entering the still space of the kingdom within.  This is where I find the "I am..." of the I AM.  This is where the Spirit dwells.  

Not in someone else's inspired writings or words, but in the only place where real revelation, reason, and the demonstration of Truth is cultivated and takes root. 

Does that mean that I don't read the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and the other writings of Mary Baker Eddy?  No.  I love reading how others - who were seeking a deeper and more centered relationship with God -navigated that same path.  But their writings, and the words of other inspired spiritual seekers, should be sending me deeper into the kingdom -- the only place i will find God - the I AM. Not drawing me out.   

17th Century Japanese poet and Zen master, Matsuo Basho, once wrote:

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise, seek what they sought."

I read their writings, not to follow in their path, but to find encouragement for staying true to my own path in seeking a deeper relationship with the Divine.  To know God myself.  My search is for God, not for a fellow searcher.  I love the company on the path - but the journey is mine alone.  

So, I go deeper.  I go further in -- and in going further in, I find I am farther along.

offered with Love,

Kate 

"impossible things..."



"You heal the broken-hearted,
You set the captive free,
You lift the heavy burden,
and even now, You are lifting me..."


Ahhh -- friday afternoon.  A welcome milestone, set in a week that has seemed like one spiritual demand being placed on top of another. I could feel that I needed something to really lift my heart. Chris Tomlin's "Impossible Things," was perfect. I found myself singing along, hands raised, body moving -- shouting His praise.

In Chris' Facebook post, he introduces this song of praise with these words:


"During times of trial,
we must retrace the steps of our journey
and remember, God has already done
the impossible in us through His Son."
 

Yes, we have the right to remember what we have already witnessed - and experienced - of His power. I remember an afternoon almost 20 years ago when I was feeling so overwhelmed I didn't want to leave the Borders Bookstore Cafe where I was hiding out from my life. There, everything was orderly, someone made hot chocolate that was the perfect temperature, no one spilled juice on my books, or started crying to be held -- the minute I closed my eyes in prayer.

I wanted to give myself ten more minutes before heading back into the storm that was our home with toddler twins. I stood up and walked over the the nearby magazine rack. The latest edition of Oprah's magazine was on display. I picked it up and returned to my neat little table. The last page was always a note from Oprah. I liked reading them first. This one was about the past.

Oprah explained that there had been many years when looking back at her life's journey was fraught with anxiety and pain. The timeline was punctuated with milestone moments. One day she realized that each of those moments was one of abuse, heartache, and fear. There were few, if any, good milestones on that timeline. So she resisted looking back. That didn't mean that the past didn't haunt her, just that she didn't choose to visit it with intention.

That changed the day that she discovered that her timeline was not something she felt in control of. She decided that she would draw out that timeline and put those milestones in place, but that she would go right back to those memories and find something good -- some indication of God's presence in each of those "chapters," of her life.

She said that it took almost a year, but she did it. She reclaimed each of those milestones for God. This so resonated with me.

I will never forget one of the examples she gave. She said that one day she decided it was time to revisit the sexual child abuse she'd suffered at the hand of a family member. It took her a very deep dive into that chapter of her life, but she finally found it, the presence of God. She realized that even in the midst that dark time, she knew that what was happening to her was not right. She had the wisdom to know right from wrong. It was enough to redeem that dark time. Her timeline was forever rewritten.

That was enough for me. I decided to do the same thing. I drew out my timeline and I placed the milestones along the way. And like Oprah, I discovered that mine were all hauntingly dark and negative. Then I took the next few years to go back and reclaim each one for God -- for good.

That chapter after my dad was killed and my family was so desperate for resources, became a chapter filled with creativity and care for one another. The moments that had haunted me with heartbreak became life pages filled with comforting friends and self-discovery.

In the book of Revelation, John promises that:



"The kingdoms of this world
are become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of his Christ; and he
shall reign for ever and ever."
 

Right where the world has tried to stake its claim on our hearts, we have the authority to evict the usurper, cast out the trespasser, and reclaim that real estate on our timeline for God. My timeline was like a volume of Grimm's Fairy Tales when I started -- ogres, demons, bad choices, and very few happy endings. Today it is filled with parables of intuition, testimonies to humility, stories of spiritual growth, forgiveness and grace. If I can do this, anyone can.

In each of our lives, there are moments we want to forget. Moments when we coulda, shoulda, woulda -- if only we'd known better. There are moments when we have felt helpless or hopeless. But these self-repeated false versions of our life story only ratify the world's claim that we are self-creators and that God is helpless in most instances and completely absent in many. So much for an omnipotent and omnipresent God.

We don't have to consent to this hi-jacking of our lives. We can take each moment back for God. And when we do so, we bring that moment back into our present conscious experience, and rewrite it forever. This becomes the current edition. And this is the one we can remember without fear.

Yes, God has done "impossible things" in our lives. Some of those impossible things might seem like life-altering events, and others may only seem like another day when the sun rose again in the east. But it rose. It was there. And you glimpsed its light, you felt its warmth, you were inspired by its constancy -- it was enough. You don't need to have dramatic miracles -- only those moments we you felt the presence of good -- however faintly -- and you knew you were there.  The milestones have been set in order -- like cairns that stand the test of time.

Here, the timeline becomes a lens through which every moment is alive wth possibility for redemption and the promise of impossible things -- remembered.

offered with Love,


Kate

Sunday, February 7, 2021

"i was a free man in Paris..."


"I was a free man in Paris,
I was unfettered and alive..."

Whenever I hear Joni Mitchell's  "Free Man in Paris"  I think of a story that was shared with me over a decade ago. It was related to me as a true story, that has led to more than a few healings since I first hear it.

As the story goes, there was a slave who was promoted to the position of valet. He served his confederate, industrialist master faithfully. He was quiet, elegant, and unassuming. When his master would go on business trips, he would travel with him. Because he was a slave, he didn't sleep in the hotels where his master stayed, but remained outside or in quarters provided for servants.

Soon he was traveling the world with his master. On a particularly cold Parisian night, he finished his duties and returned to the entrance of the hotel where his master was staying, expecting to wait till morning for his master's first call. Bundled up at warmly as he could be, he huddled out of the cold in the alleyway next to the hotel.

Soon the doorman wandered over to where he was and asked him what he was doing. He explained that he was a slave and that his master was a guest in the hotel. He went on to say that he would wait there until his master needed him the next day.

The doorman looked at him and said, "Sir, this is Paris. Slavery is illegal here. You are free." The slave, waking up to the reality of his freedom, walked away. He never went back. He accepted his freedom.

You see, slavery was still legal in the United States. But in France, slavery had been abolished in 1794. He was not in a place where laws of slave ownership would be enforced. He was -- quite literally -- a free man in Paris.

How often to we walk around thinking that we are in a "country" that has laws that we are enslaved to, and under the enforceable jurisdiction of? That we live in a body with laws of decay and decline. That we operate in a world where laws of socio-economic privilege and penalty prevail. That we are under the thumb of educational hierarchies and intellectual tyranny?

We stand huddled against the cold wall of a building, thinking we are slaves and that if we were to leave, we would be hunted down, shackled in chains, and imprisoned for life. When in fact, we live, move, and breathe in Him. We are not citizens of a land where "enslavement to the most relentless masters" is enforced, or enforceable.

We are citizens of the kingdom of God. We are free men, women, and children in this safe place where slavery has been abolished. We do not live under the tyranny of laws that say we must subscribe to heredity, caste, class, health-predictions, educational hierarchies, socio-economic predestination.

We are free. We can walk away without looking back. I promise.

Not long ago I was struggling with a physical challenge that seemed to make movement very difficult. I was mentally slammed with all the reasons why this was not only reasonable, but expected -- at my age.

One Saturday, as I started a cleaning project, I put a favorite Joni playlist on my iPod - and yes, I still have one of my daughters' old discarded iPods. The first song that came up was "Free Man in Paris." I immediately thought of the story shared above. At the same moment, I bent down to clean under a table, and felt an all too familiar pain.

But this time I didn't just keep moving through it. Or huddle in the cold light of acceptance next to it. I decided to walk away from it. I was not mortal. I did not live in a "country" where the laws of birth, maturity, decay, death were enforced. I was not trapped in a body that was defined by those laws - or enslaved to them. I was a free woman in the kingdom of God.

Every step, every bend, every swipe of the dust cloth was a step away from the feeling that I was waiting for a false master to tell me where I could go what I could feel, and how I could experience my life.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy assures us:


"The enslavement of man is not legitimate.

It will cease when man enters into his heritage of freedom, his God-given dominion over the material senses. Mortals will some day assert their freedom in the name of Almighty God."

We answer to one Sovereign, one Law-giver, who is Love. This Love is omnipotent. There is no opposition to His supreme statutes of freedom and liberty. This is where we live. This is the country of our citizenship.

offered with Love,




Kate



 



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

"we have done this hard thing..."


"there at the table
with my head in my hands..."


I wrote the following post on the day of the inauguration in 2017.  I was bereft.  Clarissa's message of hope has given me courage and patience throughout the last four years.  These were some of the hardest years of my life.  There were times when I didn't think I would survive them.  I have.  We have.  

I have had my trust in human decency tested.  I have wept in horror, and I have felt deflated by the complete disregard for our responsibility to one another.  I have prayed through long nights of pain and sorrow over the separation of children and their parents at the border.  I have been on my knees more than on my feet.  But through it all, I have trusted that with God, only good was possible.

Returning to this post today - four years later - has been important.  I am not the same person who wrote it.  I am softer.  I hope I am kinder.  I pray I am more resilient,  I know I am more trusting.  I made it.  There were times when I didn't think I would.  But here we are.  We have done this hard thing.  

I know I have used Carrie Newcomer's beautiful, "You Can Do This Hard Thing before. But it is the only song that feels right for keynoting this guest post by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, which speaks so perfectly to the challenge of these times -- and what we are capable of.

I am sitting here at the kitchen table.  It is well before dawn on the day of Martin Luther King's birthday. I just couldn't sleep. This week will make unique demands upon us for a deep spiritual poise.  I could almost feel the heart of humanity pulsing in the quiet. I believe that many of us are wrestling with some hard questions about this moment in history.  After hours of prayer, I opened my laptop, only to discover this remarkable piece. It was the perfect answer.

I can't remember -- in more than 700 posts on this blog, stretching over 12 years -- ever re-posting someone else's piece in its entirety. But Estes' article, "We Were Made for These Times," copied below, says it all so beautifully - and with such profound grace - that I needed to share it with those I love. I hope it edifies your hope, strengthens your resolve, and reminds you that you, too, were made for these times.

We Were Made for These Times
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
 

"My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for."

I am so grateful to Clarissa Pinkola Estes -- author of Women Who Run with Wolves -- for sharing her heart, her wisdom, and her compassion with us through this piece. I will let it seep into my heart and refresh my holy purpose.  We can do this hard thing, because we were made for these times.

offered with Love,


Kate