Find your sacred space

overloadThe 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.

sacred spaceEach 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.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

Coping with life and those who judge

care kitEvery day is different. There is no being prepared for what comes next. I am sad. Sad for two members of my family whose life has been disrupted each in a different way. Concern for them and wishes for some peace and foremost in my mind. It causes my worry to raise its head. Life definitely changes from day to day and we have to find ways of coping. The younger we are the less coping skills we have.

Things that happen to us teach us and we learn the skills we need. Some people are lucky enough to not have things go wrong in their lives. However, this means that they develop little ability to handle things when the fall apart.

The only people who can really understand what someone else is going through is a person who has had a similar experience. When people don’t understand they can be judgmental. For so long there has been a stigma for those who struggle with any sort of mental issue. Sometimes I would love to make them have the same problems so that they will get it. For many years those with AIDS struggled with abuse and being ostracized. It is still happening with mental issues. I is amazing how hatred can be born.

price

I think that people often wonder why those who struggle just can’t pull up their socks and fix it themselves. It is just not that easy. Everything can’t be fixed. That is a hard lesson to learn. You can’t judge others. You don’t know where they have been.

Remove the mask

tiredYesterday I wrote about long term commitment and the benefits of it. When I think about it I left out something important. It is the ability to be yourself. No mask, no costume. nothing to hide the real you.

Most of my life I have been adaptable. It is something I learned early on from my father. He felt strongly that we should do our best to not make people uncomfortable. …..especially in social situations. This required not making anyone feel out of place by what they were wearing, how they spoke etc. I was a genius at adjusting language and conversation to fit my audience. I sought out people who seemed on the outside and tried to help them feel included. This is not a bad thing and it certainly is a kind thing.

This kind of thinking also led me into being the peacemaker. I do’t like conflict or discord at all. It can be very hard to always try to keep the peace. I’ve realized that this made me very tired. It is a lot less enervating to be yourself.

Somewhere along the way I forgot who I was. I was always wearing a mask, always being part of the group. I never voiced my own opinions if they were contrary. I wanted everything to go smoothly. … everyone to be happy. When my children were growing I smoothed most arguments. I was still playing a role.

true loveManaging children at home led to more peacemaking and avoiding conflict. As our marriage grew I began removing the masks and the other personas and was free to be me. Total acceptance of who you are frees you. Unconditional love allows you to be totally open. It’s not that we were not ourselves in the beginning but now there are no closets unopened. Time has opened them all.

 

Center down

day

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.

god-in-the-middle-of-itThere 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.

Sadness and Joy

sad bearThis 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.

Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872; Old Stables of the 'Dolpinn' Inn, LincolnI 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.

Seeking a new perspective

harassThe news today continues to follow the sexual harassment scandals. This is all so sad. It is sad for the women who are coming forward…..they have held these things inside for so long. I am sad for the people who are being accused…life has changed for them. I am not sure that life hasn’t changed for all of us.

This seems to be the next phase of female emancipation. For many years since women entered the work force there seems to have been an unwritten rule that some men in power could use that power to their advantage without fear of repercussions. In my young adult years I knew that many actresses had to sleep their way to the screen. It seemed to be the norm. The women seemed to accept it as a way of life. I am sure that some women took advantage as well.

That time has come to an end. The veil has been lifted and the actions are coming home to roost. The trouble is when people are talking about things that happened years ago there is no way to get at “truth.” Memories can be faulty and it is possible to push away those things we don’t want to see in ourselves.

I think since Pandora’s box has been opened we will see many more disclosures about abuse. This will be a major shake up for communication in the work place. We will be discovering new ways of relating to each other and hopefully things will be better. It may take a while to work this out and bring about another change in male perspective.

soulAnyone, male or female, who is in power can use that power for good or ill. Power can be a heady thing. Power is one of those things that we think will fill that hole that only God can fill. It has been sought instead of God since time began. Putting our priorities in the right place and seeking God first will move power to its rightful place. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all good things will be given unto you.” (from the song)

 

You don’t eat what?

mark twainNot 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.

garfieldEating 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.