Friday, January 1, 2016

LifeBook 2015 in review

As I am about to embark on the year-long LifeBook 2016, I thought I would share my work from last year's Life Book.

Before I started gluing things in

I unfortunately bound the thing way too tightly forgetting to take into account the thickness of the watercolor pages, but oh well!

I uploaded it smaller than its original resolution (with thanks to my hubby for doing the video while I flipped pages) but you can try going full-screen (or to YouTube) and pause to read the captions. It is about 3.5 minutes long. There are about 56 paintings in there, plus photos of work I did in my art journal that related in some way to Life Book 2015.


(I shall resume blogging about light-bringing soon. I've been busy finishing up LifeBook and painting an icon. And always needing to look  up a particular reference.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Be A Light....

Chanukah is this week. Running from Sunday night for eight days, each night observers light a candle, remembering the miracle of how an oil lamp stayed lit for eight days even though the oil was almost gone.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl from Central Synagogue, shares in the short video below the meaning of the Shamash: the candle that lights the other eight candles over the course of Chanukah. She says: "Being a Shamash might not have all the glory of being a Chanukah candle but the light that the Shamash brings is no less miraculous."

Watch the video below to learn about what it means to be a Shamash, a helper of light, in your own life (and stay tuned for the three blessings as the candles are lit during Chanukah).

How are you a Shamash in your part of the world?

Friday, December 4, 2015

God's love stories .. there's a movement

There is a movement of love afoot. Maybe it's because this is what I'm looking for in order to write about it, or maybe others have decided that what we must do is combat violence and hatred is start talking about love more, start living love more. 

As they've appeared on my Facebook and tumblr feeds, I've reposted them but I thought I would collect some here, with original sourcing where possible (in other words, trying to be a good internet citizen). 

1) Change the World Through Love

"She felt like doing her part to change the world, so she started by giving thanks for all the blessings in her life, rather than bemoaning all that was missing from it. ... Each day she lived with more gratitude, more acceptance, more kindness ..." -- Scott Stabile (from his Instagram 

This quote (and I encourage you to read the whole thing on Scott's Instagram account) begins with acknowledging blessings, then with liking oneself, then with small acts of kindness. In various small ways, love can enter the world ... and it's through each of us bringing a small piece of our hearts to the table.

(Scott has a book called "Just Love" based on his articles and Facebook posts. I haven't read it, but if you have, let me know what you thought!)

2) Respond from Stillness

I just recently I wrote an introductory piece on stillness. Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery is a name that has kept popping up but have I read anything of hers? Not until yesterday, when she wrote this piece on Facebook:

It's a beautiful summation of sitting with something (being still) and then taking compassionate action. She says it much better than I did.

Hi My Friends,I have found there to be a distinct pattern to my reaction to personal or global trauma.1. BE...
Posted by Momastery on Friday, December 4, 2015
3) Hug

Hugging is good medicine, is an image shared on Facebook by Beloved Festival which happens yearly in Portland, Oregon. 

Joyful, hugging monks pretty much says it all. (Alas, I couldn't find a source for the numbers. The quote, or part of it, seems to have come from Virginia Satir, a family therapist)

So that's this month's "love moments" I guess we can call them without sounding weird or creepy? (Sorry, I just watched a Tina Fey/Amy Poehler trailer. Everything seems to have a double entendre now.) No? Well, let's just stick to calling them God's love stories and I hope they find ways to transform your life with love.

Where have you seen the movement of love occur online and in life? Please share in the comments and I may add them to the next instalment!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Be Still .... Discover Love Within/Without

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

Stillness is a habit of love, according to Ed Bacon (8 Habits of Love). It's showing love to the Divine, simply by showing up and paying attention to God. It's showing love to oneself by being generous with one's time in order to find a calm center.

I really struggle with stillness. It's been a part of my Rule of Life as an Associate of OHC (Order of Holy Cross) for about four years now and still I struggle. Even 10 minutes seems an insurmountable amount of time. And I don't get it. It's something I say I want to do and yet I've yet to form the habit.

One of the questions Ed Bacon asks is to reflect on times when you felt that stillness. No monkey brain thoughts, just a calm, quiet peace. In discussions with my current spiritual director, I already knew that a pleasant environment is a key part of my seeking and finding that stillness. Some examples:
  1. watching the Hudson River with a warm cup of tea in my hand in the late afternoon
  2. watching a storm come in over the Santa Barbara hills as I prayed the Jesus prayer using wooden Anglican prayer beads
  3. standing on the cliffs watching the waves crash, and the pelicans fly overhead
But those are really special occasions. I don't have a river or an ocean at my back door or near enough to my workplace. How do I bring it back with me to ordinary life?

The closest thing to a pleasing environment is the altar space that I have at home. It has two icons that I have written along with smaller icons (prints), crosses and other meaningful images. There are candles and angels, places to hold my prayer beads and Associates cross. There would be incense too but I ran out of that.

Taken a year or so ago, it's a little more crowded now (more icons, angels, more candles)

This Advent, I'm participating in Advent meditations on Facebook with Christianne Squires of Still Forming. There's an audio meditation four days a week, and a written one the other two. If this doesn't make meditation a habit, I'm not sure what will! (Advent is under way, but you can start by joining the private Facebook group). 

Do you find time for stillness? Is it easy for you to be still? (And if it is, got any tips for me?)

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Link between Gratitude and Generosity

The first habit Ed Bacon talks about in The Eight Habits of Love is generosity. What I did not expect was how closely gratitude is linked to generosity.

I am not a morning person. Motivation to get out of bed is hard to find, I always want a few more minutes of sleep or dozing or even lying there cozy under the blankets. Ugh, getting up.

After reading the chapter on generosity, I woke to my usual grumbling internal monologue and thought, no, wait a minute, and mentally listed several several things to be grateful for, very basic things like a roof over my head, hot water for a shower... The grumbles were gone and I was out of bed and headed into my day with extra energy.

Ann Voskamp also links generosity and gratitude. Ann has been writing about gratitude for a long time, writing down list upon list of things to be grateful. Her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are was transformative for me.

I followed her example and wrote gifts even on the darkest days, the smallest moment becoming a moment to find joy. Today, I try and linger in those moments of joy and grace. My spiritual director has suggested writing down the fruits of my contemplation (not that I’ve been very contemplative lately — more on that in a future post) which is also turning out to be an exercise in gratitude.

Most recently, Ann wrote about how gratitude makes “giftivists”

“...there’s a perfect love that casts out all fear, there’s an immoveable truth that we are a people of Love, not fear, and there’s not an attack of the enemy that can make the people of the Cross cower in fear and hate and close their doors to Love."
... the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity." 
I was, and in many ways still am, a selfish person, but I have noticed that I am becoming less selfish. Listing the ways seems to be like tooting my own horn, but small acts of kindness are becoming more frequent and occasionally in opposition to our shrinking household income. 

On the other hand, I still want the last Tim Tam (link to what they look like because we ate the last of them before I could take a photo. Ahem.). But maybe there is hope for me yet.

How has gratitude fed your generosity?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

An Invitation ...

I checked my email this morning to find the weekly letter from Still Forming had a very appealing announcement.

I wrote the following on Facebook:

Friends, there have been discussion and posts on my Facebook feed on the refugee crisis and what should or shouldn't be done. Early this week, I wanted to escape the polarization that's occurring and offer a series of reflections this Advent on love but I haven't been exactly successful in escaping the creation of more polarization on my Facebook feed. Christianne Squires (Still Forming) is offering a series of meditations on Jan Richardson's blessings (beautiful example here).

Here's what she says about them: "Jan's blessings are most poignant for the ways they meet us in the cracks and crevices of life, helping us find or notice the light in dark places. During a time when the world feels full of darkness, and in a season — Advent — when we are watching and waiting for the light to come, I cannot imagine a better gift than to let her remarkable blessings speak to our hearts and find our way forward."

The meditations are based on Jan Richardson's new book: Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons. 
It takes more than one voice, one heart to change hearts away from fear and toward love. If you would like to join in, Christianne has set up a private Facebook group here.
I am still going to blog about love and hope this Advent and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts too ... feel free to share them directly in the comments or link to your blog there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hope for Peace

Since the attacks in Paris, I've been contemplating how to respond. I've reacted aplenty: with horror and sorrow, with concern for backlash at refugees, immigrants and Muslims. I've traded comments on Facebook, shared news stories, prayers and commentary like this one:

"ISIL is Weak" by Wahleed Aly (The Project, a news/comedy show in Australia).

I kept getting the nudge that there was more that I could do than this, more that I could bring to heal the hurt, anger and fear.

"Hope for Peace" is the beginning of that. It's closely based on a LifeBook 2015 lesson by Andrea Gomoll some weeks ago that I never got around to doing. 

Glass bead gel is awesome although you can't see the shimmer really in this photo. This art journal page expresses simply my heart in that moment: to hope for peace, to bring light and joy and transformation ...

Advent is almost upon us (it starts on the 30th). It is traditionally a time of expectant waiting, of preparing for the arrival of the Christ Child. I am going to be blogging about peace, love, light, joy and transformation, and my struggles to find the same. I figure by sharing struggles and learning to speak and live these things that maybe there will be more joy, more love, more peace and less and less fear of things we don't need to be afraid of.

To start with (because one has to start somewhere), I'll be referring to Ed Bacon's The 8 Habits of Love: Overcome Fear and Transform Your Life which came out a couple of years ago. I pulled it out from my massive to-read pile(s) and started reading it this week. I'll also be dipping into The Rule of Benedict and various other sources.

I am hoping this will be less a lecture (aka me musing to myself) and a conversation, so I invite you to share your thoughts too on how one can lead with love.