The Labyrinth…a walk to Centre

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    About a dozen years ago, Eric and I made
    a Labyrinth.
    It’s on a 32 by 32 foot piece of canvas
    and we spent hours and hours on our knees drawing and painting the 13 circuits
    of The Chartres Labyrinth
    so that people from our congregation and community
    could experience this
    meditative walk
    and
    slow
    movement
    to the
    Centre.

    If you have never walked a Labyrinth
    and an opportunity comes your way
    step on.

    The circuits of the Labyrinth will take you to a quiet place –
    the rose in the middle
    where you can stand or sit or kneel or lay down
    (I have watched people do all of the above)
    and just
    be.

    I’m thinking of The Labyrinth this week because I will be setting it out soon
    for our annual walk into Holy Week (a Christian ritual of pilgrimage)
    although most of the people who come
    are not walking with this intention
    but rather out of their own personal need
    to
    find
    a quiet place
    in the busy life we lead.

    Life is a journey and the ‘journey’ metaphor is used often
    to describe the twists and turns along life’s path
    and the walking or trudging
    that each of us must do
    from morning to night
    from week to week
    from year to year.

    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by the unexpected curves
    that send you walking in a direction
    you did not expect.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by how long it feels at times
    or
    by how quickly it all goes by.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth with a group of people
    you may be surprised by how you are all close together for awhile
    and then, suddenly, you are off by yourself.
    Life.
    When you walk the Labyrinth
    you may be surprised by how ‘ok’ it is to spend time alone
    even tho’ some people may be alone with you
    in this place of
    intentional solitude.

    One of the things that spiritual practices invite us to
    whether
    mindful walking, meditation, prayer, lectio, journalling etc etc etc
    is
    the opportunity of separation from busy-ness and do-ing
    so as to
    self reflect
    ponder
    breathe
    be still.

    I am looking forward to my walk later this week.
    Life has been full lately
    and my mind has been taken over
    with worries of congregation;
    the life realities of people I know;
    and my own life
    and transition into retirement.

    It’s time for me to take this walk.

    ***************************

    public Labyrinths are available in most cities although some are outdoors
    so they are seasonal

    labyrinthlocator.com
    can assist you in finding a labyrinth near you

    for information
    veriditas.org

Ashes

Approaching Ash Wednesday 2017
at my office

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I have said these words
so many times
graveside
when officiating at a burial

Similarly, I’ve said on so many Ash Wednesdays

images

The ashes
have then been placed in the ground
or
in the columbarium
to be visited

occasionally

But this time
the ashes of my friend
are being kept
in
my
office
until burial
in the Spring
and
it’s interesting
to have them there

They sit in an alcove beside a candle
and when I’m talking with someone
I catch sight of them out of the corner of my eye
and
I think
she’s with us
 somehow
They sit close to my coat rack
and sometimes I say
‘Good Morning’
knowing full well
that there will be no response
except
from
within my heart

I’m aware of them in our church building
and I think
what are you doing downstairs?
you should be up here
where you loved to be!

it’s interesting
having
these ashes
so close

*** ***** *

I must admit that I’ve never been a fan
of
ashes on the mantle
or
kept on the dresser
or
worn in a locket around one’s neck
all things that I know people do
for their own personal reasons
however
I must admit that
I’m rather liking
(if one can say ‘liking’)
having my friend’s ashes so close

neither comforting nor discomforting
but present
and
not a denial of death
but a visible reality

I’m seeing this privilege I have
of having them
as
part of my grieving
and as a daily reminder of my loving

and of my own mortality
for I too am made of dust and to dust I will return

When a friend dies

friend-dies

November, 2016 … home

It’s been a few days now
and still so hard to believe

From diagnosis to death
one month
that’s all
just one month for family and friends
to try
to
step
into
the reality

and still
it doesn’t seem real.

For now
memories

Memories of a life:

SERVING
is the primary word
family
church
children and youth programs
community meal programs
anywhere she was needed
organizing
befriending
creating relationships
in the thick of it all

Memories of a death:

HOPEFUL ACCEPTANCE
no treatment – too late for that
prayers for more time
which turned into days

memories
of visits
of laughter
of optimism
of practical realities
of preparing family
of letting go and handing over responsibilities
of people gathering bedside
of camp songs and hymns
of communion and good-byes

and then silence
and then sadness
and then family and friends gathering again
to support and honour
because
a very good friend
and a remarkable woman
died

Open My Heart: a meditation for a new year

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With two personal journal entries already posted
written earlier and offered in the process of learning how to do this
I’m ready to begin my spiritual practice of writing, in blog format
and it’s
New Year’s Day
which is a good time
for
new beginnings!

I’ve entitled my blog
spiritualbythelake
and so it seems wise
to offer some sort of descriptor for the word
spiritual
because I’ll be reflecting on my spiritual life by the lake
and on the spiritual practices that grow me and sustain me

Spiritual
is a word used often now
in our seeking and searching culture
and there are many descriptors
but I have found the following to be a very simple way of understanding
this word
a simple definition that I can carry around with me

Spiritual
is
whatever opens your heart

Heart is the place of relationship and connection
with ourselves, with others, with The Divine
and so
to open
is to allow The Other to enter in

I have one simple resolution for this new year
and it is to grow the opening of my heart
so that it can hold
More
More Holy Love
More Sacred Compassion

I have learned that breathing my intention / my desire in and out
embodies it within me
and so I invite you to breathe this meditation-prayer
along with me as this new year unfolds

First of all
sit in a comfortable position

I sit in a chair with my feet flat on the floor or touching earth
and my back in an upright yet comfortable position

settle

take in some good big breaths
in and out … in and out
close your eyes
feel your breathing relax into your own comfortable rhythm
and then

on your in breath say quietly within yourself
Open
on your out breath say quietly within yourself
My Heart

repeat and repeat and repeat

try this for at least 2 minutes
and perhaps for 10 minutes

if your mind wanders
just bring your intention back to
on your in breath
Open
on your out breath
My Heart

*** ***** *

Do you have an intention for this new year?

Do you have a practice for opening your heart?

How do you define ‘spiritual’?

The Feather

 

Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre
September 20th, 2016

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Look what I found…a Raven’s feather.
What an amazing discovery just two days after writing about The Raven.

*** ***** *
My work with The Enneagram has informed me of
The Law of Three
which in a nutshell refers to
two opposing forces
and a reconciling third.

Let me give an example.
If you and I were in a disagreement
facing one another
with one of us saying ‘this’ and the other saying ‘that’
we might be able to work out a compromise
ie: something not of either but in the middle somewhere…

and often we think that this is the best we can hope for.
It would require that each of us step towards a middle place.

However
if we pause to just sit with it (whatever it is)
wait
and
not struggle for an immediate answer or resolution

something fresh
might drop into the space between our ‘this’ and ‘that’.

*** ***** *
Too often I rush to heal the split.
Too often I give in to one or become sort of mushy in the middle.
Yet occasionally (and I’m trying to make this happen more often)
I am able to just sit with it

holding
this and that
and
breathing
into the space between the two in a prayerful way.

So I sit and gaze into the space that exists
between
my Commitments and my Despairs
and I breathe and
I notice
that the tension of the polarities is softening.

Is it possible that my Commitments and my Despairs
might be friends
each speaking to me
and preparing me
for ‘the something new’
that is descending into my life?

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How Does Raven Know?

Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre
September 18th, 2016

I’m here instructing with Prairie Jubilee
and today is
A Day of Silence.
Today, I opened the book I brought from home:
How Does Raven Know? : Entering Sacred World / a meditative memoir
by Margaret Wheatley.

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 I’ve had this book for about a year now.
I purchased it with excitement
following another event held in this place
when I was introduced to Raven as
the one who comes to us to offer a fresh perspective
when we are stuck somehow …
the one who whispers in our ear
‘have you considered’.

This book has been sitting on my desk for too long
but today I opened it.

I had thought I’d wind my way through the poems / reflections and enjoy
but an early line stopped me in my tracks:

I TREAD SO DELICATELY IN THE WORLD THESE DAYS
 BALANCING
BETWEEN
COMMITMENT
AND
DESPAIR

I held my breath.
I know that treading!
Thank You Margaret for naming my inner disturbance.

And now I wonder
What commitments do I tread
and what of those despairs?

Commitments first.

my family / my beloveds
my calling as a Minister
sacred story, ritual and symbol
creating beauty and places for contemplation
paying attention to the cycle of the seasons in nature
and in liturgy
compassion and inclusion
community

Despairs

it’s a bleak-feeling word
and Wheatley notes
a too familiar companion
whose triggers are everywhere
so plentiful they cannot be avoided
news reports
friends falling ill
refugee photos
outrages against good people
frightened angry protestors
and our silence

indeed

yet

the despair I’ve been treading
is also of me

my aging
my isolation
my life within ‘church’ which many call irrelevant
my life work with people of church whom many call
institution
my life work trying to offer fresh opportunities for spiritual growth
and people say ‘I did not find God there’

I am treading this path

and trying to remain balanced

as I live both commitment and despair.

balance-rocks

What do you commit yourself to?

What things cause you to feel despair?

A beginning…

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2016 is coming to an end as I set up this blog

A new year is before all of us, and for me,
a new chapter of life is unfolding.
I’m in transition
and have decided to reflect on this time in my life outloud
so
WELCOME
to 
spiritualbythelake

I’ve written a short bio under
‘why am I doing this’
but my hope is that
my seasonal meditations and
my personal journal reflections
on
The Inner Life
Retirement
Christian Spiritual Practices
will interest you and
perhaps help you ponder
your own life and life transitions

It will take awhile for me to figure out the ‘how’ of this blog
but I hope to have it up and running early in
2017

ckm