Saturday, July 30, 2016

"between here, and gone…"

"Now I'm just wondering
how we know where we belong.
In a song that's left behind
in the dream I couldn't wake from.

Could I have felt the brush
of a soul that's passing on,
Somewhere in between
here and gone..."

For the past year or so, I've sought quiet moments alone, allowing myself to feel the passing of a friend.  When my family was off doing what they love, and I would companion with precious memories. Putting on Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Between Here and Gone," I'd give myself permission to shed a few tears of gratitude, love -- and yes, sorrow.

For such a long time, I didn't know how to do this. I'd bottle those feelings up in a shroud of guilt.  I felt guilty for my sadness. I thought that my sorrow was an admittance of failure. Failure to understand what it means that "there is no death."

My dance with the concept of death came early. A much loved puppy was hit by a car when I was 10. My dad was killed when I was 19.  At 21, a dear young friend passed suddenly. And so it went -- year after year.

No more -- or less, I have discovered -- than most of us. We all face the loss of loved ones. It is not something any of us can escape. But I believe that it's how we navigate this life lesson, that makes all the difference.

Do we see passing as death -- ending, oblivion, a dark nothingness? Or do we see it as simply a transition.  Entering a new laboratory in which we learn something new about love and trust. One classroom leading to another -- new classmates, new lessons, new discoveries.

Does this mean that I do not cherish every moment shared with someone who has gone on? Not at all. 

I remember being a young girl. I was graduating from Kindergarten.  I'd delighted in every day at our little schoolhouse in rural Iowa. I loved my teacher, Mrs. Kearns. I loved books, and learning, and her gentle hand on the top of my head as she stopped beside my desk to examine carefully printed alphabet letters.

I wanted to stay in Kindergarten with Mrs. Kearns for the rest of my life.  That was, until I learned that I couldn't check  out books from the school library -- by myself -- until I was in First Grade. I loved books. I longed to be able to go in and choose my own favorites.  To walk up to the libarian's desk, hand her my card, and carry away a stack of adventures that would inform, entertain, and comfort me in the night.

For a while I felt torn -- as if I even had a choice! Stay in Kindergarten where everything was familiar, or go on to First Grade where I had access to a library full of books - just waiting for me to choose them and take them home. I remember that summer as one of great inner conflict. And then one day, it broke. I knew it was time to become a first grader. I cried for the loss of Mrs. Kearns' daily comfort.  But I was so excited about my new relationship with the school librarian, Mrs. Abernathy.

I think of that summer often, especially when life's transitions seem to shift from the familiar to the unknown. But, I ask myself, would you deprive yourself - or a loved one - of a library card.  Would you want anyone to miss out on a new understanding of eternality, or a long-awaited reconnection with a loved one who had gone on before them?

Today I don't so much wonder "where do I belong…" I trust that question to God. I am here. That is the truth. I am spiritual and eternal. That is the Truth. I cherish my memories with great affection and gratitude. I hold them dear and look forward to seeing my friend again.  I look forward to our sharing new stories. I weep.  But mostly they are tears of joy and gratitude.  And, sometimes longing -- I wish I could laugh with him, I am grateful that I ever did, and I realize that I love him -- still. Nothing can change this enduring truth.

These feelings have taught me compassion for others,  and patience with myself. I love that Mary Chapin Carpenter sings:
"I thought a light went out,
but now the candle shines.
I thought my tears wouldn't stop,
then I dried my eyes.
And after all of this,
the truth that holds me here,
Is that this emptiness
is something not to fear."

Ah, the emptiness, that is not empty at all.  Yes, sometimes it is a cavernous feeling.  But it not empty.  It is the removal of something intractable -- the false concepts of life as limited and material.  It reveals the expansive wonder of life defined spiritually.  For me, it is an "emptiness" that represents my willingness to discover that Life is not defined by the solidness of the flesh, but the irrepressible boldness of Spirit -- of the Love that cannot be stifled or destroyed.

Today, I've taken some time to let the memories draw close. To let them blossom with a new charm.  To laugh and cry with them. To let them dance a two-step with me, and smirkingly reprove me for my left-leaning optimism. I love my friend. I look forward to seeing him again. But we are both where we belong. I am grateful for the sweet brush of his memory -- across my heart.

offered with Love,


Thursday, July 14, 2016

"lost inside a wishing well…"

"When everywhere you look,
you see regrets.

Caught up in the past,
and what might have been.

What we can never know,
will make our heads spin.

A little love, a little trust,
a lot of forgiveness..."

Every few years I seem to need to spend a day or two soaking on the message in Ellis' poignantly lovely "Right on Time." It is a musical antidote to the futility of self-doubt and regret.

There was a time when my time when every day was a battle for confidence. Not so much in my ability to carry out tasks, be creative, or express courage, but to trust my ability to pause, listen for spiritual guidance, and act with courage.

I cross-questioned every choice. I doubled back on every decision. I returned purchases within moments of leaving the store. I cancelled almost every plan. What seemed wise one day, felt foolish the next. I felt like I was on the verge of tumbling down a steep hill since every step I took had the potential for misplaced footing on loose ground.

And it all had its roots in regret. I'd been faced with a difficult choice. I'd prayed deeply. Listened humbly. Waited patiently. When clear, Love-based spiritual guidance came, I didn't question it -- I trusted and obeyed. I assumed that because the guidance felt so clearly God-impelled, that the ensuing steps would be understood and well-received. But they weren't.

Before long the doubts expressed by others, became my own. And a decision that was now irrevocable, haunted my confidence and made me question my ability to actually hear God's voice. For me, there was nothing more terrifying. If there was anything I was sure of, it was my relationship with God. I trusted it above all else. To have that shaken was beyond comprehension. I didn't know how to go forward.

It was about that time that I began to pull back from trying to be all things, to all people. I hunkered down in the silence and gave myself permission to ask all of the hard questions of the heart. I was willing to be wrong. I was willing to be told -- by God -- that I'd made an error in judgment. That I'd misinterpreted His message. That I'd been willful. That I'd made a huge mistake, and that my decision would forever haunt me. Anything but the feeling of being misled by Love.

But I got none of those messages. What I did get, was a Scriptural reminder. One that stopped me in my tracks. That on the heels of God's most precious act of love and affirmation for Jesus -- anointing him with the Holy Ghost, descending like a dove upon him and assuring him that he was His loved son in whom he was well-please -- he sent him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil forty days and forty nights.

This may seem like a strange comfort, but it wasn't. I realized that God's love for me didn't mean that I wouldn't face temptations. Especially the temptation to doubt Him. But, that I would be given the opportunity to prove my trust that His Word - alone - was operating in my heart. No matter how others might interpret His guidance -- I knew His voice, and the language of His speaking. It was Love.

As I navigated these deep waters, I couldn't help but think of those who had been there with Jesus following his baptism and anointing. Did they wonder why he wandered off into the wilderness instead of taking up the mantle of his new ministry? Did they question the direction of his path -- shouldn't he be heading back to Jerusalem?

The timing was not his to choreograph. The direction of his path, was not his decision. How could he regret choices that weren't of his to make. He trusted -- even in the face of doubt. The temptations weren't about behaviors to avoid. They were the temptation to abandon his trust in God. He was being given a gift. The opportunity to truly trust his Father's voice.

This was my first step out of doubt and regret. I might not understand what was to come or where it would take me, but I no longer doubted that God was at the helm. I would not abandon ship.

In her compilation, Miscellaneous Writings 1884 - 1896, Mary Baker Eddy shares:

"We have nothing to fear
when Love is at the helm of thought,
but everything to enjoy on earth
and in heaven."

Little by little, I let myself trust again. I learned to listen without condition. I stopped believing that a particular outcome was the measure of God's guidance. His timing became my "right on time" -- not the other way around. I was willing to sit in the space of not knowing "why," and still trust that where the voice of Love was leading me -- however unclear to my human sense of things -- was a place where I would grown to trust God more.

I discovered that the goal wasn't to get it right, the goal was to deepen into an unshakable relationship of trust with my Father-Mother God. This became everything.

offered with Love,


Monday, July 11, 2016

"how bad we need each other…"

"life, is too far to walk alone
you can't do it on your own.
it's like bare hands
digging through stone..."

For a while now, I haven't written a post unless something really catches in my heart. Today, I heard Marc Scibilia's hauntingly lovely song, "How Bad We Need Eachother,"and broke into tears. It speaks to where I am right now, and where I think our world is.

We've become so full of our own self-reliant determinism. We have computers that give us all the information we could ever want, on any subject we can think of. We have devices that entertain us in the middle of the night. We have phones with geo-locators that can give us directions to any place on earth and help us find our way home when we are lost. But they can help us find what we are still searching for.

We are still looking for a sense of belonging.  There is a distance we are trying to bridge.  We are hungry for connection.  And all the binge watching of our favorite television series cannot replace what happens when we laugh with a friend or cry with a loved one. 

That modulated voice on Google maps will never be able to imitate your mom -- or dad -- no matter what accent or vocal tone you program into its settings. It will never be able to remind you of that crazy road trip the family took in 1968, when a missed turn took you to the edge of the Grand Canyon in the middle of the night and you ate s'mores for breakfast at dawn. It will never be able to place its hand over yours on the gear shift, singing along to Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," as you drive across Kansas.

We need each other -- badly. Facebook gives us a false positive -- all the time. It allows us to be dismissive and careless with those we see every day, and then get online in the middle of the night and have our consciences soothed by all those "likes," that just keep on coming. Who needs to be kind in the moment, when at the end of the day our latest status update, photo, or "share" leads to a stream of likes, heart icons, comments, thumbs ups, and admirations.

Recently a friend was going through hell. I mean serious human hell. Her most current Facebook profile photo showed a smiling, happy wife and mother. Her latest status update was full of personal joy, professional achievement, and showed photos of a beautiful family event where she was surrounded by those she loved. Weeks later friends were still commenting about how delighted they were for her. No one had picked up the phone in weeks to call her. Everyone assumed her life was suspended in ether of her last status update.

But it wasn't. A family tragedy had kept her from returning to Facebook, and she was deeply in need of comfort and encouragement. When I learned of her situation I called her. Little did she know that I actually needed her, to need my friendship, just as much as she needed a friend.

The desire to belong is woven into our spiritual DNA. I believe it is why the Lord's Prayer is written in the language of our, us, we. It is in our relationships -- our real, living breathing, face-to-face relationships with one another -- that we discover the depth of our humanity. And it is in the midst of this humanity, that our relationship to the divine is excavated from the ego's burial of substance, in symbol.

The other day, I was sitting at my desk feeling quite alone. I love my work. I am blessed with a career that allows me to speak, text, and email with folks in the most life-afirming way. But I hadn't heard myself laugh in a long time. I missed sister/colleague/girlfriend/neighbor/citizen of the world time. I missed beating my husband in a game of Scrabble. I missed sitting with a friend while we waited for a movie to start. I missed linking arms in advocacy for social injustice issue, with like-hearted citizens. I missed driving through a new town, stopping for breakfast in a random diner, and learning something about the life of a single mother in a small rural community.

I needed human connection. I needed to feel that I belonged to a family, a community, a cause. It just wasn't enough to know that my Facebook friends liked my most current status. I needed to make eye contact, to hear the nuances in a friend's sigh, to have someone intuitively know that I didn't have it as "all together" as I was trying to project.

I grabbed my keys and drove to the library.  Checking out a book, I found myself standing at the counter talking with Melissa about her new haircut. Then I drove to the coffee shop where I ran into a few neighbors and caught up. Wandering next door I caught up with a new friend who owns a small business, before stopping in at another friend's shop where we discussed the economic plight of women in third world countries. Running into a dear friend, who had recently lost a loved one, I shared her tears -- and her gratitude that these relationships give us access to the deepest parts of ourselves.

Then I went back to my office. I was refreshed and connected. Not just to those people I had laughed, cried, and listened with, but with a palpable sense of the divine operating in each of us. We can't fake those moments. We can't photoshop the tears out, nor can we correct the wrinkles and blemishes that make each of us vulnerable to the other's humanity. 

We can't put a perfectly crafted spin on a regrettable moment, or pretend that we aren't hurt. We are forced to see the way our words might have affected someone, feel their sadness, and do what we can to alleviate suffering. We can't just soothe ourselves with the one hundred and thirty-four "likes" on a witty status update, a new cover or profile photo,  or a recently shared inspirational meme.  

All of those likes and comments can be encouraging, endorsing, and edifying, but they will never replace the tender touch, an attentive look, the intonation in a sigh, precious times spent in silence -- together.

In times of national and international sorrow, it is so easy to feel connected by linking to of an article posted by a friend, or find a sense of community in our common take on social/political issues. But we need more. We need shared laughter, heart-to-heart conversations that  make our eyes brim with tears. We need to feel forgiveness in a touch, or comfort in an embrace. We really do need one another -- badly.

In her spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"Give us this day our daily Bread.

Give us grace for today,
feed the famished affections..."

I don't know anyone who is fed by a beautifully lit photo of loaves of just-baked bread, or is refreshed by a perfectly described glass of icy, cold lemonade. We need the warm embrace, the bracing laughter, the healing touch. We need each other -- in real time.

We don't have to be afraid to honestly and candidly face the storms of being human - together. To hold one another, to listen deeply, to speak words of comfort.  Because, as Marc sings in his song

"Storms never come to stay,
they just show us,
how bad we need each other..."

And we do, we really do need each other.

offered with Love,


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"broke wide open…"

"something changed inside me,
broke wide open, all spilled out,
till I had no doubt,
that something changed..."

I know that I have already used Sara Groves' beautiful song, "Something Changed." But it is the perfect song for this post. Actually, it is the perfect song for my life. So much has changed inside of me.

There have been so many seismic shifts in the way that I think about love. Yes, love.

Recently a friend, who has known me for most of my life, asked me what had happened to the old Kate. She said that I seemed less concerned with the way other people thought about me, and more concerned with how I thought about them. Wow, did she hit the nail on the head.

It's true. There is nothing like having a friend actually notice a conscious shift as it moves from exploring in abstract, to having it become an assimilated part of our being.

On the heels of her comment, I examined what had changed, and why. And time and time again I came back to something I wrote about in 2012 in a post titled, "to be truly debt free..."

The realization that day,  that I had held others indebted to me -- owing me respect, gratitude, reciprocated affection, consideration -- was like hitting my heart with a fire hose of self-awareness and self-questioning. What had been my motives for loving? Had I only loved to get something in return? Was I imprisoned in my sense of what I was owed by others? Did I keep a running accounting of who was in the red, and who was in the black?

It was eye-opening and heart-shifting. This wasn't about money, time, gifts, or experiences. This was about love -- plain and simple. But not so simple at all. Love had become complicated for me. I'd thought I was a generous person, but I was always wondering if the love was equal.

This stanza from a long-loved W.H. Auden poem began to come alive for me. He wrote:

"If equal affection cannot be,
let the more loving one be me."

This shift, from refusing to note who loved more -- me or the other person -- was almost immediate. The awareness was like having a light turned on in a dark room, and the picture in the mirror wasn't pretty. But as soon as I saw it, I began to change.  I started loving without reason, without the tit-for-tat reckoning that I'd been saddled with for decades, I felt free.

It didn't matter who gave more. It just didn't matter. I could love because it was my divine nature, and my divine right. No one could take that from me -- even me.

In Romans, Paul is recorded as having said:

"I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

Nothing could separate Paul from loving as God loved. Nothing could take from him, his right to love generously, honestly, fervently. I believe that Mary Baker Eddy defines this kind of love as the "doctrine of Christian Science, when in discussing the above statement by Paul, she writes:

"This is the doctrine of Christian Science:
that divine Love cannot be deprived
of its manifestation, or object..."

Nothing, not even our own sense of lack -- held as someone else's indebtedness to us -- can deprive us of our freedom to love without the imprisoning sense of how much they deserve, how much we have given, or how much we think we deserve in return.

These are the chains that bind our hearts. We have the right to be free. To love without measure, to give without reason, to share from the infinite well of infinite Love.

offered with Love,


Sunday, July 3, 2016

"If I survive…"

do not cry.
Queen of Heaven,
protect me always.
Hail Mary,
full of grace..."

Those words, etched on the walls of a Gestapo jail in Auschwitz, inspired composer, Henryk Gorecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs." It could have been the soundtrack of my childhood.  Its tone -- low, sad, and sweet. If I had heard it then, I might not have felt so alone.

But actually, it was a small book that gave me hope, courage, comfort, and forbearance. I can remember standing in our middle school library and seeing the word, "Night" embossed into the faded cotton spine of Elie Wiesel's book, on the eye-level shelf in front of me.

I took it down with shaking hands, and opened it with trembling fingers.  I knew in an instant that it was my book. That he was my hero. I knew his story. Everyone did in those days. But to know that he had written a book about night -- the most terrifying time of day for me -- was a gift of supreme grace.

No, my monster didn't come with guns and swastikas. My family wasn't murdered. I did not live in a rat and flea-infested barrack with hundreds of other prisoners. But for me - a small girl with a quiet heart - my hell felt just as dark and hopeless.

I borrowed "Night" from the library that day and took it home in my plaid book bag. I remember slipping it under my pillow and knowing that even if I couldn't read it right away, it was there to remind me that I was not alone in the night. The fact that others had faced even more torturous events - had survived, had gone on to become advocates for innocence, and had rediscovered their relationship with a God they'd once doubted - was a lifeline for me.

With a small flashlight, deep under my covers, I read and I cried -- night after night. It was Elie's honesty that gave me the strength to hold on to my sanity. It was his survival that emboldened my hope.

You see, it was one thing to suffer years of abuse and then have it suddenly end when my abuser discovered his relationship to God. It led me believe that God was now protecting me, and that if I only kept a keen hold on that divine link -- I would be safe. But when a life-event triggered the abusers return to his old behaviors, I was deeply shaken. Where was God?   Nothing I did - no prayer I prayed - seemed to be able to arrest his steep spiral into self-hatred and the hatred for others that followed.

I had no one I could talk to.  No one except the authors I'd made my best friends in the night.  I still took all my sorrow to them.  Elie Wiesel, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, those wonderful Bronte Sisters…   The abuser's threats to the lives of those I loved, kept me silent and compliant. I was afraid. But I was not alone, there had been millions of girls and boys who'd faced villainous torture and paralyzing fear -- night-after-night -- in places like Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka.

Wiesel shares in "Night," a conversation that he had with another prisoner.  It gave me a safe place to take some of my own questions:

“Why do you pray?"
he asked me, after a moment.

"Why did I pray? A strange question.
Why did I live? Why did I breathe?

"I don't know why," I said,
even more disturbed and ill at ease.
"I don't know why."

After that day I saw him often.
He explained to me with great insistence
that every question possessed a power
that did not lie in the answer.

"Man raises himself toward God
by the questions he asks Him,"
he was fond of repeating.

"That is the true dialogue.
Man questions God and God answers.
But we don't understand His answers.
We can't understand them.
Because they come from the depths
of the soul, and they stay there.
You will find the true answers,
Eliezer, only within yourself!"

"And why do you pray, Moshe?"
I asked him.
"I pray to the God within me
that He will give me the strength
to ask Him the right questions.”

I prayed for God to give me the right questions. I prayed that I could let go of the "why" question:  Why me? And instead, begin to ask questions like, What can I do to protect my sisters? How can I be brave? Who am I? Where is my goodness?  The questions themselves refocused my thoughts and gave me courage and strength.

Then, in a 1981 New York Times interview, Wiesel would again come to comfort my wounded heart, diffuse my anger, encourage my hopes, and give me a path towards the freedom I longed for. He said,

“If I survived,
it must be for some reason.
I must do something with my life.”

Once again, it met me where I was, and walked me forward out of a particularly dark chapter.  I knew that Elie had also struggled with his faith. And yet, he had persisted and prevailed.

Today, with the news of his passing,  my heart is both heavy and grateful. I will miss the dream of one day meeting him. I will miss the conversations I have imagined. I will miss asking him a million questions. But I will not allow myself to miss out on asking God to help me ask the right questions for each day's journey out of darkness and into His light-filled purpose for me.

Someone recently told me that I needed to forget the past, and move on. Like Elie, I do not believe that this "forgetting," is my path. Forgiving, yes. Forgetting, no. When I am remembering, I am holding something in consciousness. In that moment it is not in the past, it is very present. By recognizing this, I can decide how to think in that moment about that "memory." And in doing so, with Love's help, I can reclaim it for good.

I would never think to tell someone to forget -- to wipe something out of their conscious awareness -- anymore than I would tell someone to forget Jesus' crucifixion, or Mandela's imprisonment. Not when we are given the opportunity to reclaim those moments for God. To deny evil its claim as a creator. By this reclaiming -- we realign out lives with one divine Cause.

Each of us will experience something that has the potential to carve out in us a space of compassion, non-judgmental, alertness, humility, courage, patience, gratitude, vigilance. For me, the dark chapters were only context -- not content. I am made up of better things. And yes, my faith was tested -- but it was not found wanting. I have been through the valley of the shadow -- but I didn't stay there. And every step of the way, God was with me. It was all for some reason.

Thank you Elie Wiesel for being there in the night. Thank you for reminding me that every life has purpose. That every moment has a reason.

offered with Love,


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"He will not let go…"

"what lies ahead,
I'm not sure I know.
But the hands that holds,
this flailing soul,
He will not let go..."

Blinding pain ripped through my body like a bolt of lightning. In that moment, I didn't know what to think, or how to think. When it retreated, and darkness came again, it was like slipping beneath the surface of a cool dark pond. And I surrendered.

Until it came again. A screaming. A crashing. Something sharp and raw that shattered me into a million shards of pain and fear. All I wanted to do was let go and slip into oblivion. "Yes, that's right. Go ahead, and just let go," it whispered in a taunting hiss. And I considered it.  That was until I realized that even if I were to completely give up, give in, and let go, "He Will Not Let Go." of me.

I love this beautiful song by one of my favorite inspirational recording artists, Laura Story. Her music is so honest and simple that it takes my breath away.

There have been moments in my life when I've felt like giving up on my own ability to hold on. Times when the hurt was so deep, or the hopelessness so unfathomable, that looking beyond a single step felt impossible.

I remember that night - quite a few years ago now -- when the above-referenced pain was unbearable. Living with it seemed too much to bear.  Each minute felt like an eternity. Each tick of the bedside clock was torturous. As I lay there, it occurred to me that I could just give up, let go, and slip away. It would be so easy. The thought of it was so tempting.

But it was at this very moment, that I felt the presence of something profoundly clear. The thought came, "As if! As if your willingness to let go, would change the fact that I love you, and that I am holding on to you. You are the very manifestation of Me, as Life. I will not let go."

This single thought woke me up from the lie of self-determinism. It wrested from my grip, the false notion that I was in charge of my life. That it was mine to sustain, to choose, or to throw away. I realized that I had absolutely no power to make that choice. God had all the power, and He was holding on to me. He would never let go.

With the realization that I was powerless to give up, the pain began to retreat. It no longer had the authority I'd given it.  I no longer believed it could inform me about whether to hold on, or to give up and let go.  It was a decision that I'd always thought was mine to make. But the fact was, I was here, I was conscious. I still loved my children. I could still be grateful. I was still able to appreciate beauty.  Suddenly, I was no longer paralyzed by the pain and fear.  I was enveloped in an undeniable truth -- Life was insisting Itself as conscious existence - as me.

I asked myself, "In all your life, have you ever actually been aware of being unconscious?" I had to admit, I'd never experienced the kind of deep blackness.  I'd never existed without an awareness of "I AM" -- which was the very thing that I was so fearful of.  It was what I thought pain was a precursor to.  But in fact, every night I'd peacefully yielded to sleep -- without any fear of never waking up again or being relegated to a dark mental abyss. And every day, I woke up feeling a sense of uninterrupted being.

I had always been held -- deeply and inextricably held -- intact, in perfection, in grace, in consciousness. Life had never let go of me. And whether I was holding on or not, I was being held.

The pain that had terrorized me, lost its power to inform or alarm me when I realized that it could not carry out its threat. My life was in the hands of God.  My awareness of being was under the sovereignty of Mind. My right to love, to be grateful, to pray and to bless was intact.

I've been grateful for two statements - in particular - from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, when acute or chronic pain has threatened to hold a deeper, darker meaning:

"No evidence before the material senses
can close my eyes to the scientific proof
that God, good, is supreme."

"Spirit’s senses are without pain,
and they are forever at peace.
Nothing can hide from them
the harmony of all things
and the might and permanence of Truth."

Nothing can hide from me an awareness of God's tender hold on my life. Nothing can close my eyes to the love of my divine Parent. He will never let go.

While searching for a photo to illustrate this piece, I came across dozens of photos of us holding our daughters when they were babies.  And an online search turned up hundreds of photos of mothers and fathers holding their infants. They all looked so beautiful -- so full of tenderness, strength, and love.

Then I looked at the same photos, but imagined the parent out of the picture. The babies looked vulnerable, their positions awkward, their bodies small and fragile. It was exactly how I felt that night -- like a flailing, unsupported naked being exposed to the unknown.  Knowing that God was always there, holding me, changed everything that night -- from paralyzing fear to feeling that I was nestled in my Father's arms.  Held in a deep and abiding relationship with my divine Parent.

Whatever you might be facing, you are not facing it alone. God is holding you in perfect peace, in eternal Life, in tender love. He will not let go.

offered with Love,


Thursday, May 12, 2016

defining humanity….

"me and you,
and you and me..."

I almost don't know where to start. I have been staring at the screen since watching Ethan Wylie's film school project, "Asdamora." Yes, it includes songs that I love. And yes, the images are lovely. But it is the over-arching message that has me holding my breath wondering what comes next. I hope you will find it as moving as I did.

ASDAMORA is an acronym for Analytic System for Differentiating Mankind and Other Relatives. Quite a mouthful. The concept of the film is brilliant -- at least for me.

I love definitions, and like the filmmaker I am often frustrated when the definition of a word includes the root word itself. For example, when the definition of humanity, includes a reference to being human. I want a stripped down definition that takes me deeper, higher -- in a new direction.

One of my favorite definitions includes the word "humanity." In her primary textbook for spiritual healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy uses it to define the word "moral." She says:

Moral. Humanity, honesty,
affection, compassion, hope,
faith, meekness, temperance."

This definition turned my life upside down. Discovering that  "hope," was an act of moral courage, was empowering. To realize that there was moral strength in "meekness," brought a new sense of dignity to my life. As each of these words became more profoundly practical, their own meanings became more important.  Over time, "humanity" became as much a verb, as a noun.

I love the word. There is something so grounded in it's practical relevance, while still holding the promise of its coincidence with divinity.

I will let Ethan's video speak to you without editorial. I hope it touches your heart. Each of the songs he has chosen, has had profound meaning for me. Each has contributed to my understanding of myself, and to my place in the greater human family.

When one of Ethan's friends shared this video on Facebook, the "cover" photo was from The Turtles' 1967 performance of "Happy Together" on the Ed Sullivan Show. For me, this song was a perfect reminder for how music can help us discover the deeper humanity within ourselves.

I was 13 years old the summer of 1967. You couldn't turn on the radio, and not hear "Happy Together." I loved this song. My girlfriends and I would sing it at slumber parties with hairbrush microphones in hand. It was as close to "our song" as we would get at 13. 

Since the neighborhood pool often played "mom music" over the loud speaker, we could often be found slathered in iodine-laced baby oil, lined up on the hot cement of the pool apron, with a transistor radio nestled between every two bikini-clad girls. And when "Happy Together" came on, we closed our eyes to the world of chlorine and popsicle-smeared toddlers, and sang loudly -- and with feeling.

So, you can imagine my horror later that summer when our family took a road trip, and the first time "Happy Together" came on, my parents started singing every word with just as much joy, passion, and animation as we did.  Albeit, without the hairbrushes. The creepy part for me was clear -- they loved it too. I couldn't believe they knew it -- much less loved it.  It shook me to the core.

I had a lot of time to think during that car trip. It was two adults and six children under the again of 13, stuffed into a station wagon with luggage, food coolers, games, and books. I thought of myself as a wise, intelligent almost-adult.  I couldn't imagine interacting with that passel of toddlers and children still in grade school.  So I read and I thought. My reading arsenal was full of Proust, Cather, Harper Lee, and my first forays into Steinbeck and Camus -- with Nancy Drew on the side for intellectual relief.

Since I was in the middle of my short-lived career as a child journalist, this seemed the perfect opportunity to observe others without notice. My parents were in my most direct line of sight for hours on end.  So why not dissect them. And here is what I discovered. They were people too. They loved singing, They loved harmony. They loved thinking about being in love. And I could tell by their faces that the song touched something in them that I'd never seen before. Today I would call it melancholy or sadness. But since I never talked with them about it, I can only guess.

By the end of that trip, my parents weren't just my parents. They were human beings with feelings.  With memories of love felt, and love lost. I started to look at others through that same lens and it changed the way I felt about my place in the world. It wasn't always comforting. At times it was very unsettling to think that the people I relied on for every decision and security -- were sometimes sad, and often uncertain about their choices. But something had begun to shift in me.  I was beginning to understand that everyone - regardless of history, circumstance, or privilege - has an inner life.  I was discovering my humanity.

with Love,


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"just turn around…"

"there's no need to feel defeated,
don't let it get you down;
sometimes the only way to get back
home, is to turn around..."

I was searching for the link to another - more familiar - song to keynote this post, and serendipitously came across Anthem Light's, "Turn Around." It spoke to me, I hope it does to you.

The other day I woke up feeling a nagging sense of futility about a situation. I'd reasoned, examined, and weighed the human details. I'd prayed for direction in choosing one course, over another. I'd listened for guidance -- but I wanted the guidance to be clear: Do I do this, or do I do that. Period.

I moved to my favorite spot at the kitchen counter, trying to still the anxiety that was building inside, when a small mountain bluebird -- one of the first of the season -- began flying into the windows that face our lake, and the mountains to the west. He was feet forward, as if to grasp a branch. His  was not a violent crashing, but more like a frustrated attempt to reach a goal. Time and again, I went outside to dissuade his futility. And each time he returned.

Then the thought came to me, "watch, and learn." So first, I watched him from my side of the glass. Then, I walked outside and watched him quietly from his point of view. And I got it. He was looking at the reflection of trees, sky, lake, and mountains in the glass. In fact, at the very spot on the window that he kept flying into, was the reflection of a beautiful piñon pine that sits just beyond our deck.

I wanted to clasp him gently in my hands, and show him that all he needed to do was turn around. Then, instead of banging himself against a two-dimensional -- although beautiful -- reflection of the original, he would be flying freely towards the real deal. He'd be able to curl his toes around the branch he was seeking, feel the shade of the pine boughs, drink from the water in the stone birdbath, and reach the feeders -- full of sunflower, nyjer, and millet seed -- prepared just for he and his friends.

I returned to the kitchen counter and asked again. What do I need to learn from this? And it was so obvious. I'd been trying to find direction by looking at the human situation, details, cast of characters, and the unfolding story. I need to turn around and consider what Mary Baker Eddy suggests in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"Breaking away from the mutations
of time and sense, you will neither
lose the solid objects and ends of life
nor your own identity.

Fixing your gaze on the realities supernal,
you will rise to the spiritual consciousness
of being, even as the bird which has
burst from the egg and preens its wings
for a skyward flight."

And elsewhere she says:

"we must first turn our gaze in the right direction,
and then walk that way. We must form perfect models
in thought and look at them continually,
or we shall never carve them out
in grand and noble lives."

I had been looking at the reflection, when I could have been looking to the original -- to God -- for the information I needed.  The truth about God was all that would really give me confidence in/about any situation.

I began to ask myself a series of questions that morning. Did I trust that God is Love? Was I planting my hopes on His care for me, and mine, and all?  Or was I measuring His love by what I was experiencing each time I flew into the window? Was I building my nest in His invariable nature as infinite, Eternal Love?  Or was I frustrated by the changeable nature of human sense, with its subjectivity -- personal opinions, cultural mores, shifting policies? 

These questions helped me turn -- and turn again.  Until I stopped being distracted by the pretty reflection, and actually felt the real deal.  It was just the reminder I needed.

Since then, I have been actively "turning around," as I move through my days -- and nights. It's made such a difference. And the little bluebird? Well, He finally did just turn around. Now he, and his partner, are building a nest in the bluebird house we put up to welcome them each spring. They feed from the feeders, drink from the birdbath, and rest - from their nest-building labors - in the cool branches of our piñon pine.

I love that we can always stop flying into the window, be still for a moment, remember where our gaze should rest, then turn towards God, and find the spiritual good that is always waiting -- just to bless.

with Love,


Thursday, March 10, 2016

"where shall the gaze rest…"

"It is well,
it is well,
with my soul…"

When I consider the Truth behind the following healing, I can almost hear Amy Grant's, "It is Well," echoing in my heart.

This healing starts with my friend Emily. One Wednesday evening, she stood up at our mid-week testimony meeting and shared a recent healing she'd experienced.

She said that during an overseas expedition she broke her collarbone. The injury required that she return home early and have it attended to by a physician. She was grateful for his/her kind care. After the initial examination and stabilization of the shoulder, Emily thanked him -- moving forward in praying, exercising movement, expecting healing, and expressing freedom.

And yet, when she later went back for a follow-up visit, the physician was not surprised by what new x-rays reported. The healing was proceeding according to his expectations. There was no exclamation of a miraculous healing. He was not at all surprised by the progress that had -- or hadn't, in his assessment -- taken place.

You may think that this sounds a bit anti-climatic, but for me it was amazing.  It was exactly what I needed to hear. Emily was fine. Emily was the one that was somewhat surprised his assessment. She was pain-free and was able to hike and bike with full range of motion. She was surprised that the x-rays and the doctor's evaluation didn't reflect the freedom that she was feeling.

But isn't that wonderful!  To realize that there was little, or no, correlation between the freedom that Emily was actually experiencing, and the x-rayed image of the bone, or the doctor's opinion. It didn't change the fact -- Emily was free.

I can't even begin to express how much it meant to me that the "body" could be reporting -- through an X-ray -- that nothing had really changed, and yet Emily was free.

It begged the question: "Where are you getting your information from?" and "What evidence are you letting inform your prayers, your hopes, your confidence?"

This realization had an immediate effect on a physical situation I'd been praying about for weeks. Yes, I'd felt the power of the Word in my prayers. I'd felt freedom from the paralyzing fear that this situation was persistent and incurable. I'd felt inspired and clear. But each day when confronted with persistent aggressive symptoms, I'd be on  my knees wondering what more I needed to know, pray, feel. 

Emily's healing gave me the courage to, as Mary Baker Eddy suggests in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"Look away from the body,
into Truth and Love…"

Suddenly it became ludicrous to me that I had been looking to the body for an "all clear." I'd been listening for its report, waiting for it to tell me whether I was whole, sound, strong, and free. 

Instead I began asking Truth and Love -- God -- what was true, and what I was capable of. Could I love? Yes. Could I pray? Yes. Was I capable of answering the phone, walking to my office, being still, helping others? Yes.

The body and it's reports of discomfort, weakness, exhaustion -- the chronic rehashing of symptoms -- was no different than that x-ray Emily had been shown, or the doctor's  interpretation of its message.  He assessed it based on his best thinking, but was it true?  In like fashion, I had been looking at, listening to, assessing, and interpreting what my body was saying -- but was it true?

When I stopped asking it for information -- and then giving weight and meaning to that information -- I was free. Free from taking the pulse of the situation, and then determining my peace, my capabilities, or how to pray, based on its report.  I stopped trying to read meaning into that report. And at some point, I realized that I was free from believing that it told me anything about my life.

Elsewhere in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy asks:

"Where shall the gaze rest
but in the unsearchable
realm of Mind?

We must look where we would walk,
and we must act as possessing all power
from Him in whom we have our being."

I realized that I could - at any given moment - get my information from God, and immediately act as possessing all power from Him in whom I have my being. And I did.

This deeper, Soul-sense has changed everything.  When we are willing to be still -- nevertheless, constant, consistent -- we are going to God for our information, and we know exactly what we need to know.  This report is changeless  -- I am well, you are well, we are well -- whole, pure, complete, strong, kindly-affectioned, God-sent, free.

offered with Love,


"I knew I loved you before I met you…"

"I knew I loved
before I met you.
I think I dreamed you
into life…"

Savage Garden's, "I Knew I Loved You," keynotes this post. It perfectly evokes the way I have felt every day since she cantered into my heart, and then off to a place I could not follow.

It's been over a month since I stood in the bathroom of our Sunday School, hoping to take a quick call before opening exercises and heard the words, "Your horse, she's just gone." I didn't have time to process what I was hearing. I just thanked the caller -- who was herself crying -- and walked back in to join my class for the opening hymn.

When it finally hit me, it hit so hard I thought I would shatter into a million tiny bits of hurt. I have struggled with missing her every second of every day since them. If I allowed myself to even consider what it means that she is not here, I am a mess. I know she is fine. I know that her life is eternal. I know that I have been blessed by every second that she has lived in my heart as a promise kept. But I have been sad. Deeply, profoundly, heart-achingly sad.

And it hasn't gotten much better, or eased up with weeks of prayer and spiritual reasoning. It has only become more profound -- not the grief, but the love.

You see, she was all my childhood dreams come true. And when she came along - all 14.2 hands of soft tan coat, black mane, forelock and tail -- it was as if God was saying to me, "See sweetie, all you needed, was to be patient. I heard your cry, I knew your heart, I've always loved you -- and I knew your dream." It was as if God was giving me back a childhood I never had.

I was like a girl for those months -- waiting for her to come home from where she was wintering in a southern Colorado pasture.  Letting her spend those months pasturing in a more temperate climate, had felt like a sacrifice.  But I knew I could wait to be with her, if it meant that she could avoid the harsh winter temperatures of our higher elevation mountain valley.

I had saved my pennies, nickels, dimes, and dollars to buy my own horse. I had named her, loved her, dreamed of our first night in the personal pen together -- where I would defend her right to join the rest of the herd. I dreamed of grooming her, saddling her, mounting her, and riding down through the lower 280, then up through the south woods.

I was eager to lift anything heavy I came across -- hoping to build up strength before she arrived so that I could carry her saddle, and heave it onto her back -- in one swoop along with her saddle pads.

She wasn't just a horse. She was everything I thought I'd missed as the little girl.  A little girl who had to prove her right -- every day -- to be sheltered, clothed, and fed. Having my own horse often seemed like a dream too big -- but it was my dream.

There have been days when I haven't known how to move forward. It's one thing to have a dream and wonder if it isn't just a silly girlhood desire.  It's another to have it come true and then have the reins snatched from your hands before you've ever even felt her breath on your cheek or the coarseness of her mane between your fingers.

On difficult days, I miss her so much it feels like a limb has been cut off. I wake up wondering what to do once the blue of dawn has colored the sky. My daughters are all grown-up. And they have cares and responsibilities of their own. I love my work with all my being, but that is nothing new -- I have always loved my work. I have never had a reason, beyond my work and my family, to get me out of bed. I am not one of those women who likes to shop, or do yoga, or redecorate, or go to a spa. 

I was looking forward to have someone need me -- rain or shine, snow or sleet. I dreamed of us silently knowing one another's heart. I wanted a soft neck to bury my face in.  A place where I could breathe deeply -- a place to pray, or cry. I wanted a reason to get up and head to the corral in a pair of dirty mucking boots.  I needed to feel my own breath mingling with hers -- enveloping  us in a pre-dawn cold mantle of oneness.

And if there is a spiritual silver lining in this moment, it is this. I have learned that there is no age when it comes to a young girl's dreams.  Especially when it comes to horses -- or dogs.  We never stop loving them, and we never get over our dreams of them. Every tear I have shed, has been a reminder that I am alive, that I love beyond the veil of what I can see. 

 And every time that I remember that I got "this close…" it tells me that the hardships of my childhood and the heartaches of adulthood have done nothing to diminish my capacity to hope. 

 Every single time someone tells me that I need to let go of this "image" of a buckskin mare waiting for me in the pasture -- I want to crawl into a stall and weep for her, for me, for us. I want to tell them that she is as alive and real to me today as she was in my dreams when I was a girl, and as she is in my hopes for tomorrow.

I know that prayer is the only way to navigate finding her again. And even though I am still scouring Craigslist for buckskin mares one minute, the next I am telling myself I need to trust that if she is going to find her way to me again -- that I need to be still and wait for a "miracle." I go to sleep dreaming of someone seeing a little buckskin mare in a pasture, and thinking of me.

I know, I know -- it sounds ridiculous, and silly, and more than one person has told me that we only get one perfect horse miracle. But the heart doesn't know how to stop dreaming, how to stop hoping, how to stop weeping.

I can't help but share this recording of Amy Grant's, "Better Than a Hallelujah," in closing. I don't have answers. But I do know that I trust that God accepts "the honest cries of breaking hearts." So, I bring Him my tears. I bring Him my humble hopes. I bring Him my broken heart. I bring Him all that I am, and all that I will ever be. He is at the core of my desire to love, and give, and hope. I trust this.

Since writing this post I have experienced so many ways that my love for horses is being realized every day.  The sorrow is gone.  Rather than searching for "my horse," I am letting myself love every horse that comes through my life with the same devotion and joy that I once thought I was saving for "her."

offered with Love,


Saturday, March 5, 2016

"we are each other…"

"we are the daughter,
we are the sisters
who carry the water.
we are the mothers
we are the other,
we are each other..."

I don't know where this post is headed -- really. I just know that when one of my daughters sent me this video of Lissie's, "Daughters," I had to show up in front of the keyboard -- and let it rip.

So, here goes. For me, this is all about having each other's back. Not just as sisters, daughters, best friends, and neighbors, but as fellow citizens on a very small planet. And yes, you are right. There is nothing new about this message. Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Friedan - most great women - have encouraged this one thing in all the women they hope with forward their legacies: Be kind to one another. You will not achieve anything on your own.

And yet, I see this terrible pattern repeating itself throughout history. Women hurting women. It breaks me. More than most, this is the one thing can make me feel like crawling under the covers for a few days, and never come out. To hear that a woman has thrown another woman under the bus. To hear women encouraging each other to unload a pile of hurt on another woman - behind her back. To hear the drone of gossip -- and trust me, there is no other sound like it -- from another table at the local coffeehouse.

Do men do this? I can't tell you -- I am not a man in a relationship with other men. I don't know what they do or don't do. This is about us. Girls, women, sisters, mothers, friends. We must stop it.

We are each other. That's not just hyperbole. Think about it. To criticize another woman is to fill your own heart and mind with a lesser sense of  womanhood.  This lowered consciousness of any woman, effects the way you feel about all women -- yourself included.

What you hold in thought is projected upon the screen of your own body, face, family, interaction with the world. If I feel disdain for someone -- even when I think it is perfectly justified and reasonable -- everything I look at through that lens is going to be colored by speculation and doubt.

So, today I am holding myself accountable. And yes, I am taking it one day at a time. I can easily attain this better version of me, in a calm, clear hour of prayer -- but can I sustain it for weeks, months, years? I hope so.  I have written a symbol on my hand - with a Sharpie - to remind me that, "Love never loses sight of loveliness," as Mary Baker Eddy promises. Even if I have to rewrite it daily, it will remind me to stop and take stock. To examine my own heart through the lens of a simple axiom:

"When you point a finger at someone,
three more are pointing back at you."

Whenever I think I am thinking something about someone else, it's not really about them. I am the only one actually harboring those thoughts. I am the one populating my inner landscape with those thoughts. It has nothing to do with the other person. They are just the screen I am projecting my own thinking on. The same with the words I speak, or the negative reactions I allow myself to indulge in -- based on what I think is someone else's behavior.

I love that Mary Baker Eddy gives us this great filter in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"In a world of sin and sensuality
hastening to a greater development of power,
it is wise earnestly consider
whether it is the human mind
or the divine Mind
which is influencing one."

The human mind loves to reason. It loves to find reasons. It loves to compare, criticize, and contrast. It loves to sort and compartmentalize -- to file people, places, and things into hierarchies. The human mind wants -- desperately -- to feel important. It's opinions are its greatest currency. 

 The divine Mind on the other hand simply knows. It just knows what is true. It doesn't need to convince, debate, discuss, and pat itself on the back. What is true, is true about everyone. What is a lie, is a lie about no one.

This morning, I read this passage from, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté, and it awakened a new place of compassion in me:

People will jeopardize their lives,
for the sake of making the moment livable.
Nothing sways them from the habit -- not illness,
not the sacrifice of love and relationship,
not the loss of all earthly goods,
not the crushing of their dignity,
not the fear of dying.

The drive is that relentless."
I am standing up to this drive. I am going to do everything - in my own life - to not be driven by a need to just "make a moment livable." I will not say something that is not kind, just because it might make me look or feel better -- in that moment. I will not capitulate to pressure, just to make an awkward moment end more quickly. I will try to never -- ever again -- let a harsh word slip, or sarcasm spill, just because it will break the tension. 

 And I will be more patient with you, because I now have a clearer sense of how demanding, and insidious the need to just "make the moment livable" can be.

We are each other. And what I want for my daughters, I want for your daughters. What I want for myself, I want for you. If I want my daughters to have clean water, I must do as much to achieve clean water for a young girl in Burkino Faso, as I would for my own sweet girls. If I want my sister to be treated with respect and dignity by her colleagues, I must treat every woman I interact with, with that same respect and dignity. If I want my dearest friend to be heard when she speaks, I must listen more deeply to my neighbor when she speaks.

There is no you and me, us and them. We are one. We are each other.

offered with Love,