Thursday, January 28, 2010

are you moving?

Last week when I was in Michigan for a few days visiting family, I had the experience of helping my son Ron and his family pack their possessions for a move to a new house.
This was not the first time, but I suspect it may be the last. I don't think they will be moving again anytime soon.
Moving can be such a pain. In fact, I felt like a hundred years old the next day! All that lifting and bending and pushing and pulling, etc. took its toll on my elder's body! I enjoyed the time with my family however.
It took many hours just to put all the stuff in the kitchen in boxes. And I know lots of people who have much more in their kitchens than they do. How do we manage to accumulate so much stuff? Why do we burden ourselves with so much more than we need, and complicate our lives with things are supposed to make them easier? Well, maybe some of them do, sort of. (Like blenders? toaster ovens?) But we could do very well without an awful lot of it.
I shudder to think of what moving my kitchen, much less all the rest of the stuff in the house, would be like after we have lived there over twenty years. We have accumulated a lot! One nice thing about moving is the opportunity to go through everything and get rid of a lot of it. And we have not done that for way too long. I think I will put that high on my list of things I want to get done in Michigan this spring and summer.
Actually, upon reflection, I think moving is less of a pain and has more profit in it than I had thought. For one thing, moving, I have found, makes me stretch and grow and push my comfort zone. I have to break old habits, create new ones, adjust to new surroundings, new people, and a different way of life in many ways. This gives me a wonderful chance to create new possibilities for my life.
The same is true internally. Its a good thing to move in terms of my mind, my soul, my spirit, as well as my body and external life. It is all too easy to get stuck in ruts and become all too comfortable when things stay too much the same over time. Sameness can lead to stagnation. In the retirement community in which we live in Arizona, I see that in the lives of some of our neighbors. Or at least, it looks that way from the outside. Maybe a lot of moving is going on in their inner lives. Who knows? I just know that I want to keep moving, even though I don't want to do that externally and literally right now. But I want to keep moving
in my inner life. I want to review some of the stuff sitting around in my mind and soul and ask if it really is something I still want, or whether it might not be a good thing to get rid of. I want to simplify some more, and get down to basics, and not burden myself with all kinds of memories, ideas, attitudes, and patterns that do not serve me and just weigh me down at this stage in my life.
How about you? Boxes, anyone?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monks do it, dogs do it, maybe even you and I can do it

Meditation.....ah, yes. A word used far more often these days than a few decades ago.
Some people pray and meditate. Some people pray, but don't meditate, maybe because its too "New Age" or they tried it once and it "didn't work." Some people meditate but don't pray because prayer has not "worked" for them, or somehow meditating has more appeal.
But what is meditation? There are a lot of ways of defining it and doing it. And why might meditation (whatever it is) be a good idea for you or me or anyone?

Answers to these questions abound in books readily available online or in bookstores.
People who know much more than I do about it have written these books. There is a lot to be said about meditation, and they say it. A couple of books I have most enjoyed recently on the subject are:
Meditation Secrets for Women (by Camille Maureen) and Passage Meditation (by Eknath Easwaran)
But for my money, Maizey the dog is a presently my favorite teacher of meditation.
In the picture of her face looking at me(and the camera) she is doing what any form of meditation demands: focusing her attention. Nowadays, we far too often let our attention be divided, and so lose our focus, and life becomes more and more fragmented and hectic. Not good. Meditation is a good cure for this condition.
Notice that as Maizey sits in front of the fireplace, she gazes steadily into the flames as she relaxes her body. I have never before seen a dog do this for a significant length of time, as this dog does. She is quiet, calm, peaceful, and seems to be enjoying herself. That seems like a good example of how to meditate, doesn't it? Do it because you want to, because you enjoy it, in a relaxed, peaceful way that is perfectly suited to who/what/where/when you are. No rules here, no effort, no striving for a mystical breakthrough (enlightenment, or whatever) or anything else. Just sheer being and enjoying.
Watching her made me want to meditate in her way, at least as closely as I could, having the disadvantage of being a human with a busy mind.
Maizey is meditating in my brother and sister-in-law's peaceful, pleasant home, and she is gazing into flames. A peaceful atmosphere and a choice of focus as attractive as flickering fire do tend to help quiet the mind and relax the body, both of which are essential for meditation.
After I took this picture, I spent some moments meditating in front of the fire with Maizey, and her wonderful dog energy helped me enjoy the experience even more. When our meditation ended, I went out renewed and refreshed into the cold Michigan air for an afternoon walk.
Now I am back in Sedona, sitting in front of our fireplace here. Leo is sleeping on the rug, so its up to me to meditate by myself this evening. Remembering Maizey's example will help.
And I will keep up the daily practice of meditating because it always brings me back to basics
and centers me in the Fire of Divine Love and the Presence of Peace. And what's more, it is enjoyable, however I do it. Would you care to join me?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In a different light

Not long ago, John and I visited friends in Mesa, AZ, who took us on a tour of the beautiful Superstition mountains not far from where they live. It was a glorious sunny winter day, and the drive through the mountains was magnificent. At one point, we got out at an overlook, and took a little trail that wound to the edge of a bluff from which I took the pictures that I posted with this blog. What struck me as I reviewed them when I got home was that they were all taken from the same place, and during the same small time frame. Yet each picture was bathed in light of a different color. How did that happen?
This provoked me to ponder on the way we humans can see the very same thing in a different light than someone else. We can even see the same thing in a different light ourselves, if we adopt a different perspective or attitude towards what we are seeing. For example, a situation which may seem very troublesome and difficult, when seen in a different light, reveals itself as a marvelous revelation of important truths, or as an opportunity for growing in strength and wisdom. A person who seems to be a Big Problem, when seen in a different light, can be viewed as our best teacher. You get the picture!
These pictures also reminded me to be an observer of myself---of how I am looking at something, and in what light I am seeing it, and why. If someone else sees what I see in a very different light---that does not mean I am right and they are wrong. We just don't see something the same way. Should that bother me much?
A good spiritual exercise for me in this new year, I think, would be to see if I can see certain situations--especially rugged ones, like these mountains--in several ways, and become aware of what is coloring my viewpoints. That might be a challenge, but a worthy one.
What's your view about this?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

changing things inside

Its a new year, and this year, rather than making new resolutions (infamously unsuccessful for most people, including me!) I have decided to do some rearranging inside my soul, as symbolized by some new things hanging on the wall in our little den in our Sedona house. (see pics)

First, there is the beautiful handmade quilted turtle hanging, given to me by my friend Eileen.
She has learned how to quilt in the last couple years, and this piece is truly a work of art.
Sometimes she has chosen to call me "Turtle Woman" and this hanging honors that name.
In some Native American traditions, the turtle figures as a main character in the creation story, our continent is called "Turtle Island" and turtles are symbols of fertility, and ancient motherly wisdom. In my mind, turtles bring back the story of the race the turtle won by being "slow and steady." I find that fits my aging body nicely! The pace of the turtle also reminds me of the spiritual benefits of deliberately slowing down so as to "smell the roses" and be more mindful of the wonder of the ordinary things in every day life, like how the light slants through the window to light up a room, or what a miracle running water is, or the faint fragrance of toast just popping out of the toaster. The turtle also is an example of the wisdom of withdrawing into one's own inner self and resources, and having very strong boundaries when attacked or under stress. And there is a time to emerge again, with a smile, and swim in the waters of beauty and trust, as the turtle seems to be doing in the hanging on the wall.

The "scroll" type hanging is a picture of Mary Magdalene from a friend who has a special love for her. This picture speaks to me of the beauty and radiance of the Divine Feminine now finally emerging into human consciousness more and more fully. I intend to enshrine this image and all it stands for in my soul, and let myself be guided more by the Spirit of Sophia in my soul and less by the received teachings of the mostly male religious traditions of the past.
It is time, I believe, for women (and men) to step more boldly out of the boxes of old dogmatic and confining thinking, and step onto the path of fresh Truth that is still being revealed by the Spirit of God, which is Universal and always stretches us beyond what we think we know. Too many of us have given far too much power and authority to the self-proclaimed "authorities" of the past, and not nearly enough to the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit within our hearts here and now.
A larger dreamcatcher also hangs on the wall now, close to the Dream Catcher tree, which some might think is a Christmas tree, based on old thinking! But it isn't and never was. It is a tree that stands in the corner by the fireplace all year, its branches hung with small dream catchers, and it is a symbol of the Tree of Life, which holds Godde's dreams for the human race and for the world and for each of us. It also holds the dreams I/we carry in our hearts, placed there by Godde to keep us stretching, growing, exploring, wondering.
So, in my soul, as well as in my house, there is change. I am swimming in the waters of beauty and trust, knowing my creative fertility; I am honoring and being guided by the Divine Feminine in my soul more fully; and I am dreaming bigger dreams, and paying more attention to them as well as to Godde's dreams for a new heaven and earth.
It promises to be a good year!