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Why this journey?

Life is a series of choices. We don’t often think of that but just getting out of bed in the morning is a choice. We are so used to routine that it doesn’t seem like we made a choice. It’s just what we do every day with little thought. How different life could be it we could be fully present for each of those choices. It is interesting to reflect on one’s path in life. It is so easy to see the places where I stepped off the path and usually paid for it. Sometimes the slip brings an instant outcome. Sometimes life continues and only with a long look back can we see the result of the choice.

I have always wanted to learn to live each day in the present moment but I haven’t mastered it yet. If only every second of every day I could remember I am alive now!  How different my whole life would have been.

You see, I am a worrier. I cross bridges and explore every good and bad outcome for each crisis or major event that comes up. I can easily picture myself with a fatal illness or catastrophic problem. The real question is how I have managed to live for 76 years and not learned how to let this go. It is time to move on. This is my journey into change. My first step into a new way to really live each moment.

I know that I have a tough road ahead of me and will struggle with my resistance to changing habits and applying all the advice and wisdom I have been given. I worried as a child. My grandmother used to tell me to sit in a chair and worry as hard as I could and get up and see if anything had changed. Her wisdom (she died at 100 ) was there for me as long as she lived. I heard it over and over but never learned how to do it.

The practice of faith was not absent in my growing years. God was a part of my everyday life. I was baptized in the Presbyterian church that my parents attended and each Sunday was in church with my parents or my grandmother (she was Methodist) I saw my grandmother read her Bible each day and pray as she rested after lunch and again at night before bed. Her connection to God was strong. Was Her consistent time spent with God the thing that brought her such peace? Many of my adult years have been spent in God’s ministry. Interesting that all that energy and action didn’t have a deeper effect on my way of being. One would think that Bible study, leading church events, teaching yoga and meditation would have had more impact.

So many human quirks that have been around since Adam and Eve have been given titles and are seen as present in many of us. In today’s world, my worrying would be given the title mild anxiety. What I do is not unusual nor can it be considered a psychiatric diagnosis. It seems to me that the recognition of garden variety anxiety has given some relief for those of us who worry. I am not the only one and will certainly not be the last.

Added on to this propensity to worry are the major changes in our way of life. It seems to me that sometimes ignorance is bliss. (note: I say it seems that way). Today we are bombarded with information. The world seems to be more dangerous day by day. To quote Dr King “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” We can see the result of this on the streets of our cities. Have we been desensitized to violence so that nothing is too abhorrent to do?

All the electronic devices have added noise on a former unprecedented level. Is there silence anywhere? Do we understand the effect on body and mind of constant noise? Do we ever just sit back and think? I see this pattern as actually increasing worry or anxiety in the future. There is no time to just be.

All that having been said this writing will record my progress (or lack thereof) of a journey into change. I cannot change the world but I can change myself. I believe in the butterfly principle and maybe if one person finds a different way something will change.

Nightmare?

dirty kitchenI woke this morning remembering the dream I had just before waking. For some reason I had provided a banquet for a large number of people and now was cleaning up mostly by myself. It was a combination between a home and a commercial kitchen. Some of the things I was cleaning seemed to be someone’s treasures and required special handling. I had been cleaning for the whole night and now was almost done but exhausted. I woke feeling that I had been working all night.

When we have dreams that we remember it is interesting to think about what they might mean or where they came from. Sometimes it is evident as something you did during the day is connected to the dream. Those dreams make sense.

I have no idea where this came from. I cook for one other person and he helps clean up after we eat. I don’t know that I have ever been left holding the bag after some group dinner.

oillampsThe dream connect me to a recent Gospel read in church. It was the parable of the bridesmaids and the oil. Some of them were ready and some were not. The ones who were not ready were closed out of the banquet. The whole time I was cleaning up after the banquet I felt that I had to hurry because something else had to go on in that place in the morning. Is there a message there for me about preparing…….about being ready?

What is it that we are to do to be ready? God calls each of us to His plan for us. We each need to do keep faithful in prayer and study so that when the plan is revealed to us we are ready.

A safe place

winterSince daylight savings time is gone for a while the night comes faster. One minute it is light and the next the curtain comes down. I really don’t like getting up in the dark so I don’t like daylight savings time. As we head into fall I have more trouble waking up in the morning because it is dark. I am a person who needs light to function. When we lived in the northern US I realized that I have mild SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I spent a lot of time on the glassed-in sun porch.

I suspect that this affinity for light is part of my challenge with anxiety. I am not a night person and want to be in my comfort place when the sun is down.  I loved going out at night in my 20’s and 30-somethings but now prefer to be home at night.

Even though I enjoy traveling occasionally I am somewhat of a home body. Home is such a special place. You would think that feeling that way that I would have lived in the same place for years. This is not so.We have moved so much over the years that home can be wherever I put my things and make my own. For me it is easy to make a home wherever I am. It is a feeling instead of a specific place. You could say it is where I hang my hat. Having a safe place is what each of us needs. When we don’t have it we suffer.

safe place

The real safety comes with God. Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. With God there is a safe place.

I wish for everyone a safe place of comfort and love.

 

 

Memories

memoriesToday has been a good day. Tomorrow is my birthday and two friends took me to lunch to celebrate. Another good memory made. Memories are precious things. I hope that each of you have some good memories. In the dark night when I can’t sleep I try to pull up good memories to lean on. Whether from my childhood or more recent those memories are mine and no one can change them.

Memories are unique things. Our minds pick and choose what things we remember and what we let go. Sometimes our recall is faulty and if we talk with someone who was present for that particular memory their version may be vastly different. Or they may not remember it a all.  Of course as we age we have more to remember and I hope that I am not unfortunate enough to lose memory.  I do seem to have selective memory now and yesterday may not be as clear as it used to be. My daughter says that as we age our RAM memory is full. I think this is true as the memory seems to come …..just a little slower than before.

Psalm23artWhen I was visiting people with memory loss connecting with them was not easy. I would always read with them the 23rd Psalm or say the Lord’s Prayer. Those things never seemed to go even if they didn’t remember their family. God’s love and care for them remained with them in these words.

How important it is for us to steep ourselves in God’s word and God’s love. Sometimes these are the only things that remain when all else is lost.

Waiting

GriefYesterday emotions rose up and got me. Since not being a parish nurse I have felt the loss of being there for people in times of crisis. I think that part of my person is connected to being a support for others. In a way I have lost some of my identity. At the moment all I am doing is cleaning house, cooking, working in the yard and trying to continue on this journey.  It is hard to feel as if  you have lost part of yourself. Tears come when I think of this. It is very difficult when you have found your perfect place and then lost it.

I have plans to begin mediation training in January and I am hoping that helping people resolve their differences instead of going to court will fill some of the void.

I do love working in the yard and cooking but really who wants to build a life around cleaning? There are only two of us to cook for and that limits us.I enjoy the garden (I use this term loosely) but it is large and overwhelming. I do spend time with friends but nothing seem to replace what I had. I need to get used to the fact that nothing ever will.

waitI know that God has some other way to use the skills that I have acquired over a lifetime. I just wish God would hurry and tell me what that is! I will keep plugging along and wait on God’s timing. I know that grief comes and goes and I am just in a wave of it and it will pull out to sea again. Life will continue.

If you want to make God laugh….

laughing GodIf you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. I was at church this morning and the minister said “God is not manageable.” This is so true but I don’t think we really get it. So often we are tempted to try. Awhile back there was a book out called “The Prayer of Jabez” ( I think that is right). It seemed to me that the book was saying if we say certain prayers and do certain things everything will be well for us. ( If  I got it wrong I’m sorry) The trouble is that we can’t make God do anything. There is no formula that we can use or computer code that we can design to manage him/her. We are not perfect and there is no way that we can measure up. We just have to accept that there is God’s grace.

We want so much to be in charge. That is when we feel safe. If we have OCD this is even more critical. We are compelled to organize our world or we can’t cope. That’s why the idea of God is so difficult to grasp. How can we depend on an unmanageable God?

A friend of mine did refreshments after church today in honor of the day (she said) her son went home to glory. We often question why did God let her son be killed in an auto accident? Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory answer to that. We come right back to the fact that we can’t make God the way we want. If we try we are putting God in a box of our own manufacture. God may not be the God we would make (if we could make one). God says “I am that I am.” Certainly cryptic enough.

grace blogWe cam’t spend our time trying to understand the ways of God. We can only spend our time having faith that we are loved and are children of God and covered by grace.

aging gracefully

ageMany people say getting old is not for sissies. They are completely right! As we age we have to learn to accept the fact that we can’t do all the things that were so easy in the past. Even though I am quite active and do heavy gardening and walking there are some things that are not the same. One of the things that is hard to prevent is losing core strength. That’s what puts us at risk of falling. With yoga I do balance exercises but I can tell a difference in how sure I feel. I have learned to make sure that I hold on to something if I am at risk. Things like this make me see how I am aging. Am I sorry? Well I would like to live longer but I don’t think forever. That would be a dubious choice.

young at heartWhen my grandmother was alive she would say that God gave her a hearing loss so that she could opt out of any conversation that she wanted to by turning off her hearing aids. She also said that she could’t see as well so that she didn’t have to see what she looked like. She was good about putting a positive spin on things.

Even though I can have days with mild anxiety I try to keep the same attitude. After all, the alternative to growing old is not being here. Not an acceptable choice.

The thing that is difficult is seeing those you love losing strength and having health issues.  When we love someone we don’t want to watch them fade. There really is not a wonderful way to die. Some people would rather go suddenly and not face pain and sickness. Some people would at least like to have time to put things in order. Most of us are more afraid of dying than of death, With death you are either with God or know nothing. So what is there to fear?

olderWow has this become a depressing blog but I don’t mean it to be. I think living with all of this is part of life. If we are blessed to live long enough we will face these issues. Accepting that we are human and having a limited time here reminds us to make the most of each moment. Enjoy each phase of life and treasure what it offers. If I am lucky I will see a great grandchild. Who knows?

Infinite intimate God

moses chI have been pondering images of God. How do we see God? If asked I am sure many people would see Charlton Heston (too old for most of you) coming down the mountain with the ten commandments. Some might say the softer image of Jesus in the garden. Our image as children usually changes as we become adults.

There have been interesting books written about this in recent times. In the past I read Models of God by Sallie McFague a theologian who was at Vanderbilt University. She offers some different images than what we normally think about: God as friend; God as lover; God as mother. She says that if we can’t move away from the masculine patriarchal God as our ONLY image that we will never have peace in the world.

Today I read some thoughts from Richard Rohr, A Franciscan  who writes many thought provoking meditations. He wanted us also to think of God as mother. He quoted Marcus Borg, a controversial theologian who died just recently.

“Marcus Borg points out many other good reasons to identify and honor the female (as well as non-gendered) images of God throughout the Bible:

  • Male images for God are often associated with power, authority, and judgment. When used exclusively, they most often create an image of a punitive God. God must be appeased or else.
  • Male images for God most often go with patriarchy—with male primacy and domination in society and the family.
  • Male images of God most often go with domination over nature. Nature is often imaged as female (“mother earth”) and domination over women extends to a rapacious use of nature.

Female images of God suggest something different. God is the one who gave birth to us and all that is. God wills our well-being, as a mother wills the well-being of the children of her womb. God is attached to us with a love that is tender and that will not let us go. And like a mother who sees the children of her womb threatened and oppressed, God can become fierce.”

infinite-GodI think Borg has some thought provoking ideas about embracing more than one image of God. We have to expand our thinking and stop putting God in the “masculine” box. God is so much more than that. God is much more than we can ever understand