Sometimes you are up and sometimes down. There is not telling when it will happen but I do have a pattern. If I have a day when I have nothing to do I am down. Now understand, there are plenty of things that I could be doing. There is laundry to do, floors to clean, dusting, and I could go on and on but that’s no what I want. I have no pattern to my days and I am not used to that. The interesting thing is that when there is no pattern I actually do less and that makes me feel bad.
We need consistency in our lives. If there is no visible pattern then we need to make our own. Patterns help us to find calm. When there is no pattern we are at sea. It is so easy to crawl under the covers and cover our heads. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to get up and move forward. I really spent the day doing nothing. I hate it.
The bottom line is it is up to me. I am the one who has to find a pattern. I can’t wait on someone else to do it for me. It is part of the healing process. I have realized that it takes strength and effort but it has to be done.
Patterns are part of our lives. Even if we can’t see the pattern it is there. It can be an erratic pattern but it is there. Now I just have to find it. There is a pattern to each life. God will help to provide the pattern and I will wait to see it. Sometimes we are too close and need to back away. We many not be able to see it but God can.
Today is Shrove Tuesday. The term shrove is the past tense of shrive which in old English has to do with confessing and being forgiven or shriven. This Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of lent). Most people would think of this as being the last hurrah of Mardi Gras a big festival day in New Orleans. For those who are not in liturgical churches lent is a season of penance and fasting. Society pays little attention to most of this.
I love the seasons of a liturgical church. I love how the colors on the altar change and the mood of the music is different. I think that it is somewhat like those who depend on the seasons of the year for their livelihood feel when seasons change.
Lent calls for some change to be made in our lives. Many people give up something, sweets, alcohol, smoking or some habit they would like to change. I am more inclined to take on something….working to be more kind, reading something spiritual, visit someone I have neglected….whatever I seem to have forgotten or put off.
Lent is a time to take stock. A time to look inside ourselves and change what needs changing to make ourselves see the beauty of Easter. The more you observe Lent the more meaningful Good Friday and Easter become.
Dogs know how to relax. It is evident in the two bassets that I have. Never lie down to sleep unless there is something soft to put your head on (not to mention your whole body.) Nothing deters them from the comfort they deserve. Their relaxation is almost instant and complete.
If only we could learn to relax so easily. I know (at least I think) that their minds are not cluttered with all the garbage that we have floating around in ours. So maybe it’s easy for them. All the things that I try to unclutter my mind help but I don’t use them enough or even properly. Meditation helps at the moment but I can easily start right back with whatever was the worry at the time. I can distract myself with TV programs and that helps until I turn it off. I need to practice more and work at it to attain the kind of relaxation that they have. Maybe I can never get that good but it is necessary to try.
Pets are a wonderful thing. I even had a goldfish for years in college that I carried back and forth to home during breaks. I love cats but my husband is allergic so we haven’t had them. I do love dogs. It is wonderful to have someone greet me at the door with wagging tails and happy faces. (yes they do have happy faces) They do sense my moods and are more affectionate when my mood is down.
I will keep looking at my dogs relaxing and remember to continue my efforts to achieve calm and peace in spite of what is happening in my life.
The fast paced world that we inhabit is hard to navigate. There are so many things that we no longer do. Just sitting on a porch in the evening and rocking back and forth is so calming. Time to rest, greet neighbors and feel the breeze. No sounds except crickets and the wind in the trees. Heaven.
Instead we enclose ourselves in our homes avoiding silence and simple thoughts with electronic noise. Continuing to clutter our already overloaded minds so simple thought is overwritten. I wonder if this era in time will be known as the over-stressed era?
So many of us suffer from the results of this lifestyle. We have irritable bowel, high blood pressure, acid reflux, depression, anxiety and a host of auto-immune disorders. We were not created to live this way. The rise in emotional and mental disorders in frightening. Our inability to grasp why this is happening and acceptance of our mental stress is appalling. Mental disability still has its stigma. If we are going to survive without either killing each other, committing suicide or staying forever in the darkest of places something has to change. We are in the midst of an epidemic.
Each of us must start by finding that quiet space where peace can be found. A sacred space. Whether it is found in meditation, prayer, nature or wherever our safety lies we have to make a beginning. Things can be changed one person at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time.
For me the safe space is prayer and meditation. My peace comes from the Lord. But if I turn away from him there is no peace. It is up to each of us. Seek sacred space.
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
I often think about the song “what a difference a day makes.” The song is not talking about all of life but it is so true. One day everything can be fine and in 24 hours your life can be totally different. That happened to me at the beginning of 2017 when my job was done away with. The problem for me was it wasn’t a job but a ministry. I lost my identity.
A lot worse things have happened to others. Loss of a loved one among many things. When this kind of thing happens we are blindsided and have to restructure our thinking. I am beginning to realize how long that takes. I know that at some point the pain of this will lessen. It already has some.
There are people who seem so strong that nothing can rock their world. I am not so sure that they aren’t vulnerable as well. It is possible that nothing has ever happened to reach their core. There are some people that I am sure have strength that doesn’t come from themselves. People like Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They are what Quakers call “centered.” This is kind of strength that we all need. This comes from seeking something more than ourselves. My only experiences with this kind of centering have been fleeting. I know that the way to connect in that way with God (or whoever works for you) is to spend time with him. In the kind of rushing world that we live in it is so easy to do other things. It requires the kind of life change that (for me) started this thinking.
Now, again, I am focusing on the things that matter. I have no idea what the future will bring but my only way forward is with God. I have to reach out and seek the connection that never fails.
This week has been sort of up and down. For me it wasn’t a normal week. This week we celebrated Thanksgiving. I used to love this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I find myself with mixed feeling.
As we grow older things are not the same as when small children were around and there was a sense of excitement building. My children and even their children are grown and flown. Don’t get me wrong. This is what parents want. My children are gainfully employed and some of their children are beginning careers. However, it is an adjustment. The Christmases from those younger days are past. Family doesn’t all live near and other priorities prevail. I am blessed to have loving children but they have priorities of their own. My husband and I encouraged them to form their own traditions. We do see the nearest ones during the holidays but one daughter and her family are far away and can’t always be here. We do go there when we can.
I guess the bottom line of all of this is that time moves on and our lives change. Change is the only constant. Even though the changes can make me sad at times I am still grateful for what I have. So many people really suffer through the holidays. Grief crops up in a big way for those who have lost a loved one or if life has had some bad turns during the year. There are so many pictures of happy families and perfect Christmases that hit you in the face and remind you of your losses. The ads begin earlier and earlier each year.
I am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect Christmas. At least not like the ones in the ads. The problem is that the perfect Christmas happened 2000 years ago and the conditions would never be shown in an ad. What we are longing for is right in front of us. It is the birth of Christ. It was not in a beautiful home but in a stable. If we can spend our time with that in focus it changes everything. Celebrate that Christ was born to show us the way to God.
Not too long ago I belonged to a circle of women who met once a month for dinner and a program. We held the meetings at someone’s home and a light dinner was provided by the hostess. After a while ideas about diets began to be popular and things changed with the group. It was expected that the hostess would try to accommodate the dietary requirements of the members. One person became a vegetarian and that was pretty manageable. Then someone become a vegan and it got a little more difficult. Then someone didn’t eat carbs and another went gluten free. It began to feel as if water was the only choice for dinner. The group decided to eat out and let everyone make their own choices. Strangely enough, people who were on restricted diets seemed to eat whatever when eating out.
I have noticed that this is a growing phenomenon in society today. People are choosing various eating methods in order to be healthy. For people who have allergies or celiac disease or diabetes or other serious problems, it is logical to avoid certain foods. We have long known that most of us eat too many carbs and too much sugar. But we seem to have reached the ridiculous.
(How many of you have seen the movie Notting Hill where a dinner guest objects to eating carrots because they were murdered?}
I have friends who have been vegetarians or vegans for many years. They manage their diets well and usually manage at dinners without any fuss. I also know people who claim to be one or the other and really don’t understand how to manage it well.
Just as recent converts to a faith are the most stringent so the most recent converts to a diet are rabid about maintaining it. This kind of thinking makes me decide to not have people to dinner as they have few manners about pointing out their restrictions. As the group decided, it is easier to not do it. We have become picky eaters and outspoken about our desires. Others are often left feeling that they are not in step if they don’t follow.
Eating healthy is important for many reasons but let’s not be so obsessed as to make others uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their own choices. There is some implication in one of the two Genesis stories that vegetables should be our primary choice but it is up for interpretation. (Have you realized that there are two stories?) I have felt for a long time that moderation in all things is the key to living. Extremes cause problems. It’s up to you.