Friday, April 30, 2010


I put my tin can into the recycling. It is pretty small in that big bin. I refuse to use chemicals on the lawn and in the garden and I watch my neighbors haul 50 lb bags of the stuff out of their cars. I guard the creek by our home from the destruction wrought by kids who want to climb trees and pull out eggs and baby birds, who want to make turtles into pets, knowing that since we are at the bottom of the street and the storm drain runs into our creek we are killing the wildlife with all the chemicals anyway.

And today my soul is weeping over the oil spill in the gulf. Weeping. It is seeping out through my pours. Can we not weep over the loss of nature? The pain and destruction of eco-systems? The destruction of wildlife who have no idea why their ways are not working ...why they cannot fly, cannot fish, cannot breed?

My efforts seem a waste. The only reason I can think of to continue is because this is the way to peace for my own soul. It seems to have precious little real impact on anything else.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

back home

My friend just sent me this: we in Calgary are facing a Snow storm right now, highway travel is almost down to nil, with blowing wind and snow coming in sideways., only in Calgary.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Great story

This is a story from my kid, Ben, in Indonesia. Worth looking at:

singing the right songs

This is an entry in Thomas Merton's (monk) journal, Conjectures. It is a glimpse of monastery life.

"Music is being played to the cows in the milking barn. Rules have been made and confirmed: only sacred music is to be played to the cows, not "classical" music. The music is to make the cows give more milk. The sacred music is to keep the brothers who work in the cow barn recollected. For sometime now sacred music has been played to the cows in the milking barn. They have not given more milk. The brothers have not been any more recollected than usual. I believe the cows will soon be hearing Beethoven. Then we shall have classical, perhaps worldly milk and the monastery will prosper. (Later: It was true. The hills resounded with Beethoven. The monastery has prospered. The brother mainly concerned with the music, however, departed.)

So. I think this story has an important message. In any group where there is a longing for more there is a risk of edicts defining spirituality in the narrowest of terms. Instead of increased engagement with life and vulnerability to the powerful invitations from God to participate with him in a wide awake life, we start being "religious." We think (figuratively speaking) playing Christian music will make put more cream in our milk.

Formation is about life. Engaged life. Awareness of God and the invitation, the 'third way' that is always waiting to be heard.

Monday, April 26, 2010

without pressure

On Sunday morning I was in a time of contemplative prayer and meditation and I came upon this reading from Amy Carmichael.

The son greatly wished to make a "Song of Lovely Things" to sing to his Beloved - but he could not find singing-words.

He heard the voice of his Beloved saying, "You are walking on the road where all who love Me walk. Some of them walked this way singing, and they've left their songs behind them. Find their songs. Sing their words. They will be your song to Me."

But the son became full of grief, because there came a day when he could find no words to sing - neither his own, nor those of others. And yet he wanted with all his heart and soul and mind to ascend to higher places, to stand in the presence of his Beloved.

And He who is love eternal whispered, "Then, I, too, will approach you, silent in my love."

And the son entered into this silence, to meet the eternal Beloved there...

After a while there was a sound in the gentle stillness, a voice that whispered, "Even your silence is, to Me, a song of lovely things..."

I was once like Miriam, I led the women in worship and praise of God - I was a force that strengthened and encouraged many in healthy directions, strong choices and understanding. But this is a different season. My energies are different even though my heart is the same.

I am being led in the way described by Terese of Liseaux as "the little way." I am grateful for those who are raised up to lead the chorus, because I am no longer the one who will sing the first song. And in the silence I hear the voice that says my silence is a song of lovely things.

a full mind

My mind is full today. I am pondering so many things. I don't even know what to say to a friend who is willing to listen, because there is so much going on inside me. Ever have the experience where you feel like the wall between conscious thought and unconscious thought is thin? I feel like there is something I know now, that is new and bright, that is just beyond my conscious reach. I want to get at it... it is like a sparkling ring I can see at the bottom of a pond but every time I put my hand down to pick it up the river bottom stirs and I can't find it.

The time is not yet nine this morning, and already two friends have brought me chocolate to get through my day. smile That speaks to a few things - one is the QUALITY of my friends, another is the gift of grace that is going to be needed today.

This weekend I had some profoundly creative moments. I was able to envision a day of formation for a retreat we are leading in Indonesia. I drew out a creative plan for a woman's class for the fall. Ideas were flashing back and forth, meeting each other and birthing new possibilities. Even so, I feel like I am missing something important.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

new day

I just walked into my office and dropped my butt into my desk chair. I will be in this chair for much of the day ... and it occurred to me to wonder if, like the goldfish that grows to the size of the environment, if my butt will grow to be the size of this chair. A very terrifying thought. I will go to jazzercise again tonight.

But mostly I am thinking about awe. Last night at our leadership mentoring class we talked about cultivating a disposition (habit) of awe. Of being amazed. Of feeling life and experiencing gratitude. All my life I have woken up alive and happy. I have woken up earlier than most of my friends. My 'line' was that I wake up great and it is down hill from there. :-)

But in this season I seem to be perpetually tired, and I wake up feeling unwell, pretty much every day. I hope it is a passing thing. But instead of letting my bodily experience determine the beginnings of my day, I chose to be in awe of life. In awe of the gifts of my day, which are many. My people, my work, my home and the environment of Wilmore which is now spotted with red and yellow and white and purple blossoms.

So it is almost nine and I still feel unwell, but I am in awe of this moment and where my life has been allowed to run. Thank you God for putting my boundaries (and we all have boundaries/limitations) in pleasant places.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter dinner and folks

So it has been a productive day til now and I am fading fast. Had a headache all day. This is the kind of stuff you love to read, right? So what will I write about. Hmmmm.

Let me tell you about Easter Sunday dinner at a family home in Lexington. Honestly, it was the healthiest group of people - all ages, all generations, gentle with each other. The food didn't matter, but it was good.

I loved watching grandpa sit and watch his grandsons with utter warmth on his face. I loved the corn hole games and ordinary talk about nothing much, and the peace.

Not every family has this. Let me tell you. Hardly any families have this. I felt like I was in a huge beautiful Easter card. So at home.

And can I tell you that I profoundly missed my kids this Easter. I had a great sense of loss for the many thousands of ordinary moments I miss because no one lives near us. I miss the family bursting in the door and robbing my fridge and scandalizing Walter. I miss nothing bigger than ordinary stuff - the best stuff.

But sitting in a chair with nothing to do but be with good folks on Sunday was a very beautiful salve to my missing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

puberty and the sequel, puberty two

So I was thinking... people have written books for girls in grade three and four that talk about their body. "Things are going to change" the book reads. And page by page it outlines what to expect and how to handle this new body that is emerging. New products are introduced. "Girls, you will want to buy deodorant. Keep your body clean and fresh."

But where is the training book for a woman who is in her second puberty? A book that says, "You will wake up tomorrow and not know who you are! Don't be afraid. This is normal. Remember when your mother started acting crazy and began eating her hair? She went through this stage too!" And the book could have pictures of bodily changes. "Hair will start growing in strange places. Don't be alarmed. Men will notice but since no one is lusting after you they likely won't pay any attention to it" and "if you've had children you are likely to begin to lose bladder control in certain situations. The key is to never ever under any circumstances join your grandkids on the trampoline. Ridiculously loud laughter might create this problem too but we do not recommend allowing a slightly damp situation keeping you from laughing your head off as it offsets your probable growing depression."

Actually - I am being silly but this season is about rediscovering a whole lot of new truth. Truth about beauty and comfortability in one's own skin. Truth about rhythms and practices of life that are not so jarring. Truth about how to understand others and engage them in ways that are not self referenced. Learning what peace means to one's own self, and pursuing it.

I find that I cannot live the life other's want me to live. I cannot be who others want me to be. If ever there was a season for a woman to know herself and be that person as fully and openly as possible, it is this season of puberty two.

But the up side (and it is big) is that there is less to compete about. Fewer people really care how I wear my hair or if my choices are eccentric. I think it was Elizabeth Taylor who said that fifty was glorious because one became invisible and could live life much more freely. (Obviously it didn't work that way for her, but for us plebes I think there is something in this.)

So women, we must stand up for each other's need to express our lives freely and with strength in very uniquely personal ways. Let's be the ones who say loud 'yes' to each other, and celebrate each one's choices and eccentricities and forget about competing, comparing, status and pecking orders. Who cares if the towels match? In this season become the artists, writers, dancers and lion tamers we were created to be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I just read in the Oprah magazine, which I got for $2.99 at Home Goods (where I was DRAGGED by Bobbe Underwood) that men raised with a sister had more happiness in adult life - and it had reasons - all tied to what women do for each other ... no I am not going to tell you - go get your own Oprah magazine (at Home Goods where there is all kinds of good stuff for cheap.)

Anyway, I digress. So Bobbe and I spend the day together looking for an Easter outfit for her, trying on clothes, sharing a Chipotle Burrito Bol, laughing at ourselves, helping each other make good decisions that aren't based on obligation and expectation but on what makes our hearts sing.

For instance, Bobbe does not garden. Not in the sense that I garden. I garden like some people eat chocolate. Bobbe sighs and picks out a few obnoxious weeds and tries to remember to water her potted plants. I read to my plants. Name them. Give them treats.

Bobbe was feeling a sense of "I need to plant pansies." Of course, all good homeowners plant pansies this time of year. But you know what? It is ridiculous for Bobbe to plant pansies when planting pansies is work and not pleasure. Her yard is beautiful and has enough green... so I helped set her free. We decided together that Bobbe should get a couple lovely potted flowers and put them on her deck where she sits.

The wisdom is this: don't let other people download their causes or their pleasures on you. Listen for sure. But appraise and be honest. CSLewis says that each person's life can only contain so many themes. Do you know what your themes are? I do. But I have had to listen to my life to know. The joys of listening to our own life is not only knowing what we can say no to, but we know how to live our own life beautifully.