Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Up - a new way of looking at things

One of the great things about Liz Lamoreaux's "inner excavation" book was her use of the camera to get different perspectives of things.

I never thought of taking pictures of myself jumping, or my feet or putting my camera onto the ground to get that perspective.

While I was at Mt. Calvary at the end of July, I took some of these photos as I was still in the inner excavate-along (the read along on Liz's blog) but as I was also on a bird spotting kick thanks to woodpeckers nesting in view of the rear patio, I started looking up.

And saw this was another perspective worth taking photos of.

So here are my "up" photos from that trip.

heart shape hidden in tree

bird nest (left of V)

red house finch nest in Poor Clare chapel roof


I plan to revisit Liz's prompts every now and then on this blog. Maybe it will inspire you to look at the world a little differently too?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Joy Dare Monday

The list is a little shorter this week. There were a couple of days of just two things instead of three, but I'm finding I'm not writing them all down for some reason. Probably because the little note book doesn't go everywhere with me and so when I remember something, it's usually a few days later... Usually when I'm looking at photos.

Went to the zoo last Wednesday and find that I really enjoy watching the flamingoes. It's partly because  I've been watching a wee one grow into an adult (over three trips in two months thus far) ... although I have no idea which one of the fledgelings is the wee one I spotted that first time.

736. seeing a transformed palm tree (might actually be a tree fern)
737. one orange pigeon amongst a flock of grey ones
738. waking up to marine layer (finally!)
739. cloud cover lasting until home from grocery shop
740. imagining what it would be like to be the Samaritan woman at the well listening to Philip share the good news (in Acts)
741. neat quote by Frederick Bueckner

742. I "survived" the Titanic
743. sanctuary

Fern Canyon walk at the zoo
744. overtired and hurting
745. flamingos

746. getting out of the house (not letting "blah"ness stop me, see #744)
747. misty sprinkles
748. pink and purple bark

749. cool day. weather change!
750. a bottle of win unearthed to share tentatively with friends that turned out to be most excellent (instead of vinegar)
751. making my own storage drawers
752. getting sticky
753. having fun making southwestern egg rolls (instead of getting growly and impatient)
754. dog curled up asleep
755. dog in lap
756. "life's a happy song" - watching "The Muppets" with friends.

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

How We Can Be a Hero Like Katniss...

On Tuesday, I shared why I thought Katniss was a hero. Remember, Katniss is not perfect because of her heroism. She has many faults and failings.

But she sees worth in the human life around her.

At the end of that post, I asked the question: how do we show that we too see worth in human life?

By acknowledging the dignity of another human being.

  1. Smile at someone, or say a kind word (or both). And not just to someone who looks like you, or who reminds you of someone you care for, but someone who is a bit different from you, who might make you uncomfortable? It could be somebody homeless, for example, just a smile to say "I see you."
  2. Support a local orphanage or foster program by participating in fundraising or visiting them if they allow guests.
  3. Sponsor a child through World Vision or some other program and do more than just send money. Write to them and let them know you care.
  4. Listen to somebody. It could be a friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance. Someone who doesn't hold the same opinions as you.  Listen, really listen. It's not about proving who is right or wrong, or winning the argument, it's finding the worth, the commonality, in the other.  Suggestions: have lunch with your enemy" or play Frisbee with them.
  5. Help somebody. Become a volunteer at a senior center, at a food bank, a homeless program, become a tutor. Surely giving up one of our most precious resources, time, is a powerful way to show that you see worth in a human life other than your own. (I will be honest, this one's on my to-do list.)
  6. Speak up. It can be difficult to see, it can be harder to say, but when somebody displays that they don't think human life is worth anything, don't let it slide. Issues like human trafficking, non-legal immigrants, slave labor, inequality through difference, bullying are just some of the places we need to speak up; whether it is in our circles, or in a wider context.
  7. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Why is it more important that we have more than we need when other have nothing and live in trash heaps? Where do our resources come from? From whom are we taking those resources?
Oh and Rachel Held Evans did a repost of her "How to Follow Jesus...Without Being Shane Claiborne" that has more ideas.

Pick one, pick three (it's a nice Trinity number!) and see how one small act can make a difference.

Got any others?

Linking to: 
7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is Katniss a hero?

Ok, if you haven't seen The Hunger Games and haven't read the entire trilogy and don't want to be spoiled, you should stop reading now.

The Hunger Games has just come out on DVD, so I thought I'd share some reflections that have been floating around in my brain since I saw the movie and read the books.

When I first saw The Hunger Games, I hadn't read the books. I didn't want to see it really, I'm not fond of violent films, but it was getting really good reviews so we went.

I found the movie disturbing. I realized that by watching the "games" part of the movie and rooting for Katniss, Peeta and Rue, I was participating (in a sense) in condoning the murders of the other child contestants, even the ones who were made almost inhuman by their training. It made me extraordinarily uncomfortable that watching this, even as pretend, was remotely okay with me or anyone else in that theatre.

It isn't.

But the books don't just stop at making you uncomfortable about how reality shows are veering closer and closer to horrible violent ends for their contestants (have you seen the promos for the military reality show?).

I read the trilogy after seeing the movie. I wanted to know what happened next.

And nothing was clearer than Panem had become a nation where humanity has no worth. None.

They are either in the districts working as virtual slaves, or in the Capitol being utterly distracted by the bloody entertainments of the Games.

Human life has no worth.

There's no God in these books, not even called upon by those oppressed most in need of a god.

There is no God because there is no hope.

"May the odds forever be in your favor" is the closest to some sort of hopeful affirmation and even then it is either said utterly vacuously (by the Capitol citizens who treat it as a cheer) or with a despised sneer.

In District 13 (OK, I told you there were spoilers if you haven't read the books, here it comes.)

In District 13, human life has no worth. The rebels became that which they wanted most to destroy. That scene of children captured in the square at the end of book three made that perfectly clear.

Katniss, symbol of the revolution, now represents the same evil that has oppressed and abused her entire young life.  It's no wonder she went crazy.

So can we still consider Katniss a hero?

She is a survivor and has had to make decisions and choices no one of her age should have to make. In many ways she is a product of her environment, except one.

She sees worth in others.

In the small and weak, like her beloved Prim. Like Rue, whose smallness and weakness didn't make her a good ally in those Games, but Katniss saw Rue's gifts, her resourcefulness, and most importantly, she sees valuable life in Rue.

In Rue's family, in which she sees her own family.

In the dispossessed, like the Avoxes who serve her. Who have names. Katniss cares about that -- and feels guilty that she couldn't rescue the girl when she first encountered her. They aren't slaves to her. They are people.

For this, even though she's hoodwinked by the dream held out by the rebels -- and honestly, weren't we all hoping Panem would change with the President out of power? -- Katniss is still a hero because ultimately she refuses to let the status quo of life having no worth to stand, even though her decision and action destroys her.

The Hunger Games are a cautionary tale, one we should well heed with our nation's love of reality shows, of seeing so much violence again and again that is shocks us less and less. What we should do about the way things continue in the "entertainment" world, I don't know. I don't have the answers there.

But there is one thing we can do. Like Katniss, and like Peeta, we can act to show we believe human life has worth.

Don't know what that would look like? We'll continue this in a post on Friday. Have some ideas on how we can do that? Share them in the comments!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Joy Dare Monday

It's been an interesting week ... one where I realized that I'd replaced the busyness of work with another kind of busyness and I haven't been doing as much intentional listening for discernment. Thank goodness I am still able to see the other ways God is working in my world, like these gifts.

banner in Sunday School classroom @ St. Peter's.

715. the gift of light
716. rediscovering old CDs
717. 2nd shower of the day, so cooling
718. ants chowing down on a tomato
719. art as envisioned (so far anyway -- it's the background)
720. prayer answered: I double-booked, resigned myself to missing the other because this was a reschedule, and I just got called to re-schedule!
721. red sunset cloud wisps
722. a cool morning
723. cooler than expected day
724. reading encouragement to be a lighthouse and not hide my light
725. Chuao's with former work buddies
726. misunderstanding Dan and figuring it out half an hour later -- and we both laughed about it
727. learned how to use a caulking gun
728. a breeze on a 90+ degree day
729. giggling helplessly when Dan's chair squeaks while we watch "Hope Springs"
730. chanting in the cathedral chapel
731. breeze cooling down the heat outside
732. refrigerated water
733. not having to cook today
734. seems to be cooling off
735. holding hands on the couch

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

What does God want me to do?

statue @ Mt. Calvary
That's the question I've been pondering since I left work at the end of June.

I left, making grandiose statements like:
I had to clear the decks to answer that call: to ask, to listen, to obey. I know I am incredibly privileged to not have to work and be able to spend this time in discernment. 
I've been told more than once that this will be really hard, to not be drawn back into that old way of being. 
But I've promised God to sit at His feet and learn what it is that he has in store for me next, and it wouldn't surprise me that I will discover a few new things about being in relationship with God in the process. 
I have to put to one side all speculation on the future, all that I am comfortable with now, all that others hope I will do, and allow God to reveal God's plan.

Wow. It really sounds like I've been peering closely at my navel and being super-holy, doesn't it?

Turns out, not so much. I've done very little sitting at his feet.

Yes, I've been doing lectio divina weekly (thanks to the Cup of Sunday Quiet podcast for making that resource available). A good chunk of my morning is spent reading, and I've been faithful to my prayer life. The week spent icon writing fulfilled this too.

Statue of Jesus @ Mt. Calvary
But even on retreat I didn't do a whole lot of listening. A whole lot of resting, yes, and watching woodpeckers tend to their nest.

The kind of listening I'm talking about is not my growing awareness of God at work in my world, but in the way of discernment. In the last week, I've become aware of this. That in reorganizing my day into blocks of prayer, work, reflection (which has been reading mostly) and art, I have failed to make that reflection block a truly reflective block.

I am hardly ever still.

I have replaced the busyness of work with another kind of busyness.

icon that I wrote
I know God is still talking to me through all this: that I need to transition, even grieve what once was, rest. I've even learned patience (more or less) during a week of icon writing. My art reflects my faith more and more.

So I suspect this is just another stage of transition and I am doing my usual thing on being hard on myself but also I am thinking through things aloud. I have the time to make the time to listen after all.

I hope I won't be linking to this post two months from now and wondering why I forget what God has taught me so often.

This post is prompted by reading a blog today. Over at The Poorganic Life, Katrina shared a truth straight out of scripture.
John 6:28-29
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’
I commented on her blog saying,
Oh wow. Just what I wanted to hear this morning. I've been whining for a while: "But God, what do you want me to doooooooo" (insert wailing and gnashing of teeth). 
 “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 
Okay! I've been aware the past week that I haven't been making space for him. I need to stop keeping myself busy and start being. 
Wish me luck. 
Or better yet, pray for me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

20/20 hindsight of God's mercy and grace

I am part of a group at my church taking the Bible in a Year challenge. This is not to boast about my being on track in my Bible reading (which incidentally I do via YouVersion which has reading plans).

The group checks in via email and the occasional in-person meeting and at our last check in, I was in Proverbs.

I whined about it, praising the Psalms in the same electronic breath:
Proverbs is just tedious.  I wonder if some wit wrote a version that was a mother's advice to her daughters ... too bad that didn't get in, although I expect it'd be just as tedious. But perhaps that at least would be amusing like the etiquette books of the Georgian/Regency/Victorian era...

At any rate, you'd think that a guy with all that wisdom like Solomon had, thanks to God giving it to him, would have actually paid attention to the words he spouted to his sons instead of marrying a gazillion wives, very few of whom (apparently), got the YHWH thing at all.   Unless of course it turns out Solomon wrote about as many proverbs as David wrote psalms...

I didn't mind the psalms so much. And anyway, I think they're beautiful poetry, so I'm pretty happy we're into the poetical books.
It wasn't until much later that I realized how judgmental and unforgiving of Solomon I'd been. And worse, how forgiving, merciful and loving God had been.

Hadn't I just read all that in Kings and Chronicles?

In Emily Freeman's "grace for the good girl", she talks about how we need to accept God's forgiveness and forgive ourselves so that we may forgive others. (You're probably figuring out around about now that I have great difficulty in fully forgiving myself and thus forgiving others. I'm workin' on it.)

God showed mercy again and again, even though Solomon and his descendants repeatedly forgot him and broke their covenant.

Just like I repeatedly forget God and rely on my own plans, focus on my own desires (junk food mainly), or rely solely on my own strength instead of asking for God's help.

For example, a couple of Sundays ago, I sang a duet in church during communion. It was a piece my husband had written, and I was singing the descant, which I'd only learnt that week.

All sorts of pressure: to please my husband, to sing it correctly, to support my duet partner, and perform well in front of the congregation.

Here's the thing: as I took a swig of water before we started the song, I silently asked God to be my voice and my breath.

But some time during the instrumental break, I had forgotten this and all my focus was on hitting those high notes through a tightened throat without squeaking.

Guess I'm still a work in progress on that count. Like  Solomon.

God's mercy and love is mine for the remembering. It's there for you too.

In what ways do you struggle with remembering God or with forgiving yourself?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joy Dare: writing an icon (praying to God)

This past week was primarily composed of the icon writing class I took, Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm.

I found this moving not just in terms of patience -- there were plenty of moments when I had to pause, draw in breath, and paint a fine line while breathing the Jesus Prayer -- but also a moment or two of beautiful communion with God.

I wrote about this yesterday. But if you don't feel like wading through a lot of pictures of the same icon at different stages of its creation, you'll be able to see those special moments in the gifts I've listed below.

692. grey sea and grey sky
693. stroking Jesus' hair (while tracing it)

694. melted lemon sorbet
696. drawing on reserves of patience I didn't know I had
697. blue sea
698. breath of cool breeze
699. egg salad sandwich
700. Jesus' face turning out okay even though it didn't look good for a while there
701. not so hot walking home
702. the magic of gold leaf
703. warm scent of eucalyptus on a hot day
704. cool breeze, unexpected
705. waiting my turn to draw my halo: an expertise in patience and prayerfulness (and I Facebooked for a little while)
706. no problem drawing halo

707. prayer answered (about not getting bumped)
708. a classmate sharing seeing an angel in the clouds over our classroom
709. the icon coming to life with varnish

710. taking it easy through the heat of the day
711. sharing in watching the Olympics with friends half a world away
712. compliments on icon -- and being aware that it wasn't nearly all my doing.
713. grooving in the choir stalls
714. watching the dogs watch my hubby fill the kibble container -- dogs so hopeful!

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

How I gained patience through icon writing

Ah, blogging. It was something I was quite prepared not to do last week (time of writing), because I was up to my neck in an icon writing workshop with Rev. Paige Blair at St. Peter's Episcopal, Del Mar.

But I have a lot of photos and thought it would better to get this started earlier in the week rather than later. (at least until something interesting comes on the Olympics.)

We wrote the icon of Jesus Pantocrater (King of the World, basically).  I'll get to patience in a minute.

Tracing his hair felt like I was stroking it. 

Each movement is a prayerful act, although truthfully, by the end of the second day, the prayer is more: "Lord, please let this be the layer of color that is the last!" or "Please Lord, don't let my hand be jiggled!"

Progress after first day
Some images from the classroom and environs:

Progress at the end of day 2: hair and robes. 
The light comes from Jesus, not an outside source.
At the end of day three, the face was completed. So much prayer in this: with lots of fine lines, I breathed a prayer for each long line, for help when I forgot to shorten my strokes, and for patience and calm when frustration rose. I often stopped and said the Jesus Prayer, just breathing. 

Each day brought a new thing to worry about (or pray over): the face, even though I knew acrylic can be easily fixed; laying down the gold leaf (because I'd only ever used little bits of it before and it was messy); putting in the halo, because compasses and I do not get along.

The face turned out okay. So did the beard:

And the icon was utterly transformed by gold leaf:

The last day began with me sitting down, ready to fix a couple more things and a "Hello, Jesus." I found myself just looking at him during the last couple of days.

On the last day: the halo, using a ruling pen and a compass. We had to do it one at a time, as there was only one compass large enough for the size of this halo.  With 10 people in the class that was a lot of waiting and being patient.

I killed time by tweaking the face and hiding the few carbon lines that remained, by sitting outside, and by sharing on Facebook that I was learning patience. *grin*

I was the only one in the class who chose to do one round of the halo, although I thought three was a good number. I stayed with one because it turned out so well (and why mess with a good thing), and because my icon is a little more subtle than some of the others.  There's a whole photo album on Facebook (don't know if the link will work or not) so you can hopefully see for yourself. For all of us doing the same icon, by the time we finished our faces, each became a little different.

(no, Jesus isn't getting a nose job. It's to protect his face from the compass point)
The halo turned out okay too.

This is what I looked like after successfully getting the halo in:

But truthfully, I don't think it was my hand that did it, but God's. Just as I stood and prayed for a few who came before and after me, I am sure others prayed for me. One of my classmates has a picture of me with my hands pressed together in prayer and pressed to my lips, while another was laying in the gold.

Oh yeah, we prayed hard.

I had to fill in the gaps between bits of the cross bars and the halo and when I'd gold leafed the background I'd managed to cover part of a corner. So I considered painting it out there, and wrote this in my notebook, while I considered it:
"extend top cross right where God gold covered it? (although if God covered it -- who am I to uncover?)"
So I didn't.

And here's the icon freshly varnished. The gold seemed to sing as it was laid on.

 Here is the icon at Good Sam after it was blessed:

A final close up of the icon.

I plan to hang it on my wall of psalms above my altar, but I think I shall have to permanently adhere some pages to the wall first.

We're supposed to keep our first icon. And with good reason. It's an amazing God-experience: patience, forgiveness and transformation...

I think I'm ready to start my next one.

What are you working on?

Friday, August 10, 2012

How to Deal with Impatience

I am an impatient person.

And I'm struggling with it right now.

I have a ministry. But I don't know who I am supposed to minister to, or in what way. This time since leaving my job is supposed to be figuring this out, waiting on God.

It's been just over a month, but honestly, I've been impatient since the two week mark.

I am pretty sure God is teaching me patience, and doubtless there is other stuff to learn before launching my ministry too. Which is why I've spent time on the "inner excavation" led by Liz Lamoreux.

And why on leaving my job, my friend has reminded me to remember to honor the process and have patience. When she sees me, she reminds me: "P! P!" (and at first I thought she needed directions to the bathroom, but she knew the location so what was she saying?  Ohhh.... Process. Patience.)

I asked a monk for counsel. The upshot was that when ever I feel myself getting impatient, I have a choice: continue to be impatient and give that energy or pray the Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me").

Ann Voskamp wrote about patience, reminding us of the Corinthians verse: "Love is patient" and that patience comes via being grateful. She doesn't spell this out, but being grateful comes from being reminded of God's love.

Patience, it seems to me, can be thus a spiritual practice.

The Jesus Prayer, with its steady breathing in on the first half of the prayer and out on the second half. (I've talked about that already here.) Praying it helps to calm, and it helps bring the mind back to where it should be: on God.

Then I can see with fresh eyes: the God-created personhood of whoever I'm impatient with, and as Ann said, be grateful for who/what's in that situation, and then patience comes.

So this is what I'm trying right now. I just need to remember to call upon these tools when I'm in the midst of impatience or frustration.

How do you deal with impatience?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

week 6: "i open my heart"

I spent some time while on retreat looking at the "i open my heart" prompt from the "inner excavation" read-along (which has officially finished, but you can start it any time). It's a collaboration, but I'm sharing my side of it only because I haven't asked my friend if it's okay to share hers.

After taking a lot of pictures...

.... here is what came to me:


as simple as that.

be myself.

be real.

be vulnerable/open.

be brave.

be love.


this image and the one below were taken in the Poor Clares chapel
(and yes, I feel weird taking pictures in a sacred space)

Monday, August 6, 2012

When Being a Gift is a Gift (Joy Dare Monday)

succulent @ Mission Santa Barbara
As I write down these gifts, I've come across ones that I want to write down, but (mostly) haven't because they're not gifts to me, but gifts I've given to someone else.

I'll have to check what Ann Voskamp says about this in her book, but it's striking me more and more that the ability to give and choosing to give are also God-given gifts to us.

It can be as simple as giving two quarters to someone who is short bus fare, and as complex and delightful as an almost two-hour long conversation with a trusted friend, where much is given and received.

So I've decided to include these, not to brag (and I'm not going to mark them in any way to suggest that it was me doing the giving), but to recognize that gifts aren't just sweet and beautiful, or difficult and ugly, but are given as well.

Here are this past week's gifts:

672. tomatoes ripening
673. vet bill
674. lovely chat with friend
675. humming the tune to "Jerusalem"
676. gravy fries
677. sweat in hair
678. a long bath
679. seeing the work I've done as part of "Inner Excavation"
680. [3 gifts white] boxer short bloomers on a hot day
681. the hard work of letting go
682. sitting in the shade
683. trying to let go healthily
684. nap
685. full  moon through trees
686. caught up on art journals
687. sleeping dog
688. hubby figuring out how the cherry pitter worked before I pitched it across the room
689. chills while singing "I am the Bread of Life"
690. afternoon with a friend
691. dog draped over me, snoozing

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

God's Love Stories: God's gifts to us

What a month it has been. My first full month of not working and it's been a month of my heart breaking open -- in a beautiful and good way.

  • Emily Freeman at chatting at the sky writes about walking like a believer
  • on a day thinking about heartbreak means feeling joy (still working that out, those aren't the right words. So far the right words are: "heartbreak. joy.") Brene Brown talks on TED about vulnerability. So beautiful (and thanks to Liz Lamoreux for mentioning her in her "inner excavate-along")
  • my heart broke when I read this from Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience
  • the beautiful tribute to those killed in recent London terrorists was cut from the NBC coverage of the Olympics opening ceremony
  • one of the things God seems to be teaching me is patience. Yes, I'll hold while y'all laugh hysterically at the thought of me actually being patient. I'm waiting....  Ok, so here's a post from Ann Voskamp at (in)courage about patience.
  • and for fun (and found via Rachel Held Evans' blog in her Sunday Superlatives): Who Gives a Crap?

Friday, August 3, 2012

What rest and retreat can bring...

Last week, I had the privilege to stay for five nights and six days at the St. Mary's Retreat House, run by the Mt. Calvary Community. (If that sounds like a mouthful, it's because the Mt. Calvary retreat house burnt down in the Tea Fires some years ago, and the Sisters of Holy Nativity who were running St. Mary's are letting them run it.)

you'd think I'd have enough pictures of this St. Francis statue,
but the sun was shining on him so brightly
I love this place. I love hanging out with the brothers (who are Episcopalian Benedictine monks). I love the chanting. I love the peace that I find there.

I was introduced the first night as "Here's Leanne. She's one of our regulars!" and my quip back was: "Are you saying that I'm coming here too often?"

Of course not. No such thing.

Mt. Calvary is my place to regroup, to rest and recover. It's where I can be free of distractions (okay, I snuck two peeks at Facebook this time, but no email or anything else!) and focus on Jesus and be better able to listen to Him.

Oh and to chant in the chapel.

inside the chapel (not during a service)

At Mt. Calvary, my day is set by the bells:
6:00am Angelus bells (from the Santa Barbara Mission next door) I don't actually make it out of bed until around 6:45am
7:25am call to Lauds
8:00am little bell for breakfast
11:55am call to Eucharist
12 noon Angelus bells (Mission)
12:30pm little bell for dinner
5:25pm call to Vespers
6:00pm Angelus bells (Mission), plus the bell (once a giant triangle!) for supper
7:55pm call to Compline
Sunday got a little confusing when bells for services at the Mission rang five minutes before the bells for the services at the retreat house. At least we made it on time.

chapel cross: I love this image of Christ resurrected on the cross
I've already shared my bee encounter and there was a definite fauna theme to the week: 10 bird species counted in one day; the bee thing; the bunnies on the lawn; the dragonflies...
after the bee escorted me away, I spotted a bunny and stalked it

it tried hiding before it disappeared into the hedge
God was working as well.

In my restlessness....  when am I going to be of use again? What can I do (beyond some financial charity) to make a difference?  This is something to look into.

standing in the center of the labyrinth
In the discovery that two other guests that first night (there were five of us) and one monk, were all in a state of transition: one fresh retired, one looking at colleges and law school, and one monk on sabbatical for a year as he transitions out of a leadership position.  That seemed fated, and there were brief discussions on the subject.

The wisdom that resonated was that one had found the first month was resting and readjusting and then in the second month, the ideas start to come.

And this is my second month. And I had an idea which makes immense sense given that I've the appropriate gifts. Yeah, sorry, I'm being vague, but I don't want to say I might do something and then not end up doing it at all. When I'm ready to be accountable for this idea, you'll know!

I am letting them rest and build and exploring various bits of it to see if this is an idea that has traction and that exploration is going to take me through November at least.

God was working in my reading ... although how soon do I forget that not only am I beloved of God, but that everyone else is too? Far too frequently, alas.

I read Henri Nouwen's "Life of the Beloved" and found myself incredibly moved and affirmed and ... wishing I'd written that book because it expressed so much of what I feel and have experienced.

His words were reflected and amplified by my slow meditative reading of Nan Merrill's "Psalms for Praying", a beautiful set of rewritten psalms. After Compline each night, I read and re-read a small handful of her psalms, reminded again and again of God's love for each of us.

Prayer in the chapel a few blocks away belonging to the Poor Clare sisters. They are a discalced cloistered order (that is, they go barefoot and stay within the convent -- although I've seen a few venture out). This chapel is so precious. Even though I'm not Catholic, I always go there at least once on a retreat. It's just a special place.

the retreat house chapel
The chapel at the retreat house is also a good place to pray quietly, although I seem to leave that to the corporate prayer of Lauds, Eucharist, Vespers and Compline during the day!

A friend and my husband showed up on Friday, so it was good to spend time with them. The bottle of wine shared with the Friday night guests seems to have become a bit of a tradition. :)

Each morning, I made a cup of Earl Grey tea and sat out on the patio to watch the sun-rise. Even on the foggy mornings. There's something about watching and listening to the world wake up, observing the beauty of God's creation.

on the patio

Each evening, I sat out on the patio and watched the sun set (and watched the woodpeckers feed their babies). Sometimes with a decaf Roobios Chai and sometimes not. I'd sit there until the bell rang for Compline.

I arrived with the intent to focus on what my ministry, my calling might look like, but I ended up working more on two inner excavation prompts, which I will share next week after my collaborator and I get together.

And I'm continuing to learn more about patience, which I'll also share next week.

Have you ever been on retreat?