Connections…

This has been an awesome week…a week full of awe!
We welcomed a baby girl into our family and she has been given the name
Chloe.
She is my first grandchild
and to look at her is to see the beauty and wonder of new life.

Chloe was born several days after her due date and following a long labour
so I was anxious
but she arrived safe and sound and healthy
after the Thanksgiving Weekend
and on what would have been my Mother’s 98th birthday.
Indeed…a time for giving thanks!

People have said various things to me expecting that I would feel as they have felt
when they became a grandparent for the first time
but one shouldn’t assume
what another will feel.

Some have said that grandparenting is the best thing ever.
Perhaps
but I have found parenting to be quite amazing.
Others have said that this was timed well for my retirement.
I suppose so…but I don’t think Chloe’s parents were thinking of my retirement
when she was conceived!

At present, I have three noticeable responses to her birth.

Great relief
that ‘all is well’.

Great delight
at seeing my son holding his babe and watching
these two new parents
as their tender love and great responsibility takes hold.

And a great sense of connection to both past and future.

When I held Chloe in my arms for the first time
there was a moment of breath holding
as I viewed innocence
and
freshness from Spirit-world
and
the beauty of human love and human potential
in my arms
and then my sigh that whispered
‘Hi little one…I’m your Grandma’.

A new connection and a new life to love.

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While holding Chloe I noticed my own hands holding her.
I wear several rings on my fingers.

A few years ago I was a panelist for an Enneagram Heart-Space workshop
representing the Three Space
and at the end of it all a participant asked
‘what are all those rings about’
expecting that they had something to do with the ‘show’ that a Three can put forth
but no
when I described them one by one
the Spiritual Director for this session exclaimed
‘it’s about Heart-relationship…it’s about relationship!’

One ring is my wedding ring, placed there 36 years ago and never removed.
Another is my 25th anniversary ring with three stones representing
each of my three children.
Another is my mother’s wedding band.
Another, my grandmother’s first wedding band and another, her second.
Another is the Celtic Cross that I’ve worn for 40 years now
a symbol of my Christian Faith.
And the last ring is my Camino Ring
the life pilgrimage ring.

Little Chloe was touched by all of this when she was placed in my arms.
Grandparents, an aunt and uncles, ancestors who have passed on,
the faith of her family
and the image of life as an unfolding journey
which is
for her
yet to be walked.

Many will walk with her.
It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes.
Grandma will enjoy walking with Chloe
and reading to her
and playing with her
and telling her stories so that she will know
her ancestors
and to whom she belongs.

*** ***** *

Pause for a moment to remember
your ancestors who have passed on
and those who continue
to walk with you through life.

what needs to rise in me / in you?

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I have been at the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre since last Thursday
instructing with The Prairie Jubilee Program
prairiejubilee.ca
Our students are in their second year.
The first year focused on spiritual formation and our focus now is on
Spiritual Direction.
Jubilee is a Contemplative Community
for which I am exceedingly grateful.

During residencies, we begin each day with a morning ritual
and end each evening likewise
and in-between
we centre ourselves with Movements (Gurdjieff)
and with various meditations
as we also take in the theme teaching for the day and then
practice
in Journey or Direction Groups in the afternoons.

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It is a full but spacious experience of communal – residential life
and
a great deal of personal-inner work happens for each and for all!

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We are so fortunate to be on this sacred land…Treaty One land,
home to the Ojibway-Cree-Anicinabe Peoples.
Elder Adrian guided us along the path by the Brokenhead River
and through the grassland meadow to welcome us
and to orient us
to the Four Directions and to our be-ing in this sacred place.

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This morning
we heard the news of the shooting in Las Vegas.
I felt disbelief, horror, sadness.
I experienced a tensing within my body.
I thought ‘not again’!

So many have been plunged into grief
while so many remain in grief from recent displacements.

I have faced grief on an individual level but these ‘mass’ situations immobilize me.

This news came to us following our morning ritual
which included these words:

“Morning is a call to our own resurrection and so
we reflect on what needs to rise in us:
a tolerance for those who don’t agree with me,
a refusal to judge others,
a willingness to forgive,
greater effort to live with a non-violent heart,
loving thoughts toward those who don’t exactly dote on me,
a calm and hopeful spirit in the midst of my anxieties,
discipline in my daily personal prayer,
attention and faithfulness in my daily work,
a holy anger
for injustice in our world.

from Seven Sacred Pauses (see Resources)

***

What rose up in you today?

What needs to rise up?

 

The Hours … Compline

Today is the first day of Fall / Autumn.
The hours of this day and night are equal
but from here on
night will grow.

On this Fall Equinox evening
I watch
as slowly…slowly…I see from my window
how night darkness falls over the day-colour of Autumn.
I’m not quite ready for bed and yet my mind and heart
are making their preparations.

Compline
is the time when we say good-bye to this day
as the door to The Great Silence opens.
Compline
is the time of descending quiet
and if you unplug from technology
you will hear it.

In the Monastic Tradition
Compline
is the time when one
looks back on the activities and on the qualities of their day.

A short time ago I lamented to a friend that I wished I’d been better at journalling
not so much the personal-thought-feeling journalling
but the simple notation of daily events
because
I find that I can no longer remember with exactness
and find myself wondering
did that happen 3 years ago or 6 years ago
never mind the details of who and what and how.

This friend said ‘why don’t you begin a diary
you know, the kind we had when we were kids’.
She meant the ones with only a small space for entries
so that it is only a brief notation
about the day.

It only takes a few moments and
it feels good to do this
and I wish I’d done this consistently through my life!

The Monastics had a slightly different view of
Compline Practice.
They remembered their day through the practice of
EXAMEN
a looking back on the day
to note it’s qualities.

Here are some questions for the Examen of Consciousness.
If you only ponder one question, that is enough!
Then give thanks for this day,
smile at it’s joys
and let go of it’s short-comings
for tomorrow
is another
day.

*** ***** *

Have I been a good memory in anyone’s life today?
Have the ears of my heart opened to my sisters and brothers?
Have I been blind or deaf to the blessings of this day?
Is there anyone, including myself, whom I need to forgive?
Have I worked with joy or with drudgery?
Have I waited with grace or with impatience?
When did I experience my heart opening?

*** ***** *

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
have crept in;
forget them
as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

And if tonight my Soul may find her peace,
and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning
wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God,
and new-created.
D.H. Lawrence

Recent world events…

I have just returned home from various ‘jaunts’ during the last month:
a camping trip through Manitoba and Saskatchewan to visit friends
a visit with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Yellowknife, NWT
a long weekend in Southern Ontario to enjoy culture and a visit with our daughter.
It has been a time of getting together
against the backdrop of some of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes.

Meanwhile
while I have been enjoying
great numbers of other people
have been caught up in unexpected and life-changing events:
an earthquake in Mexico
flooding in Bangladesh and Nepal
fires in B.C. and northern Manitoba and near to Waterton Lakes National Park
and the names Harvey and Irma
now carry images to join these others
of lives lost, peoples displaced, landscape destroyed
and a future rebuilding of home and community beyond my comprehension.

I wonder
what is my response to be
as I sit here in my safe comfort?

I took this photo in Yellowknife.
For the Dene of the NWT, this rock-painting-sculpture
carries specific meaning
pertaining to the peoples who inhabit Canada’s North
living together on the land
and honouring their cultural diversity.

As I view the hands reaching out and stretching forward
I see the artist reminding me that
we are all one people …
‘all my relations’
is the way the Anicinabe people I know name this sense of connection
to others and to Creation.

So…
although I cannot be one who goes to assist
with the medical/shelter relief and rebuilding effort
nor the one
to offer the personal counselling that will be needed for so-so many

I can be one who
HOLDS
the people of these places in my awareness / prayers
and who feels my relationship to them:
woman to woman
family member to family member
human to human.
I can be one who
senses the deep feeling of fear and sadness
and overwhelming confusion
that I know I would be feeling
if such an event happened to me.

I can be one who
HOLDS
an image of the peoples of our world as
connected…
‘all my relations’
within the great web and mystery of life
and within our global-family sense of care for one another.

I can be one who
HOLDS
a mind-world-view that places people first
while resisting the current rhetoric of beneficial economics.

My spiritual response can be to
HOLD
the suffering of humanity in my heart-prayers
and to see the faces that come to my attention
as my kin.

As well, I can give…
to the agencies of people who will offer their skills to these regions.
It will be on-going work.
It will be physically and emotionally hard work.

I give through
the emergency relief programs of
The United Church of Canada united-church.ca
Shelter Box Canada shelterboxcanada.org
and Unicef unicef.ca

Join me in giving.
Join me in prayer.
Join me in holding a world-view of
people and lives
connected
and reaching out to one another.

LAUDS … a simple practice

I am in Yellowknife, NWT.
At this time of year sunrise is just prior to 6:30 a.m…first light is earlier.
When the morning light lifts the veil of darkness
Great Slave Lake and the houses near it’s lakeshore
are once again visible from the window of my sister-in-law’s home.

first light

sunrise

Depending on the time of year, I either witness first light or sleep right through it.
In the deep of winter and since I usually arise around 6:30
I wait in the darkness and watch for light’s slow but steady arrival.
In the summer months, morning light stirs me from my slumber.

Whatever the time of year
Lauds
is when I receive
the new light of the new day.
In this moment
there is great potential.
A day is before me and I ask myself
how shall I live it?

On hurried days, appointment days
morning may involve a quick shower and a flying departure
but on contemplative days
the dawning light gives rise to
a word of thanksgiving
for the gift of this day
followed by
a prayer / a hope / an intention.

Today I will be open to possibilities.
Today I will exercise compassion.
Today I will pause to consider before speaking a reactive and un-necessary comment.
Today I will offer the kindness that was not offered yesterday.

The practice of Lauds need not take a lot of time
but
taking time
sets the tone for the day.

I attended church yesterday at Northern United Place
a Yellowknife Lutheran-United congregation.
The hymn of praise chosen for this day
was new to me
and it expressed a Laud’s hope:

“light dawns on a weary world when eyes begin to see”
and then the verses sing about
dignity and justice and love.

A simple Lauds Prayer:
May my eyes and my heart see clearly
the beauty
the need
myself
others
where I can assist
when I need to let go
and
the opportunity for love in this new day.

“To affect the quality of the day is the highest of arts”
Henry David Thoreau

“Isn’t it a splendid thing that there are mornings?”
Anne of Green Gables

mindful attention to THE HOURS


I have just returned from a road-camping trip.
It was filled with lazy mornings and camp-fire nights and prairie walks
and wonderful visits with friends
who offered their hospitality of patio lunches and farm-garden-produce suppers.


After a very full last-month-of-work in July, I relaxed into August.
I feel rested and well as I begin retired life.
Although I loved the unstructured nature of my holiday time
I now sense the need for some sort of
shape
for my days.
This has been my usual response to the movement from Summer to Fall
and from holidays to ‘back to work’
although for me, there will be no back-to-work this Fall
so
what will offer me a structure of support?

In the spirituality of The Monastic Tradition
attention was given to THE HOURS of each day
not only to the time ticking by on the clock (appointments and work schedule)
but to the mood and the movement of time
and to how the various HOURS of each day affect us.

Each day is precious, a gift,
and in this spirituality of mindfulness, each day is to be lived with
attention and appreciation
for what is.

In the spirituality of The Monastic Tradition
there are SEVEN PAUSES in each day.
Seven Pauses in which to
contemplate
and
consider
and
notice
time and energy; light and shadow; mood and movement.

Without pausing, all of this may go un-observed.

The SEVEN PAUSES have the following names:
Matins (early morning while still dark)
Lauds (dawn)
Terce (mid-morning)
Sext (mid-day)
None (mid-afternoon)
Vespers (evening)
Compline (before retiring to bed)

I’m going to start with the basics and you may wish to join me in
paying attention
to
the beginning and ending of a day
and the ‘awkward’ time in the middle.

I will write about each in separate blog entries.

*** ***** *

For now, contemplate:

-how do you begin your day?
-how do you end your day?
-do you have a spiritual practice/ritual for these times?
-when is your energy high? when is it low?

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Women’s Retreat

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I regularly go on Retreat and sometimes
it is a Silent Retreat.
A day or more of solitary silence is good for the Soul
but
there are other forms of Retreat
and I have just returned from
Women’s Retreat
a gathering of multi-aged congregation-friends
who come together for a spring/summer
weekend retreat
and have been doing so for the last 19 years.

I have been abundantly blessed
by sitting in circle with
these wonderful and wise women!

We always say:
what happens at retreat stays at retreat
and so it is!
but
I can reveal that
we share stories from our lives
we open our hearts to each other
we laugh
we cry
we meditate and pray and sing
as we participate in ritual
we receive encouragement from each other
and we are inspired and challenged by
our Sacred Stories
and by the life of Jesus
because
this unique group of women are friends within Christian faith.

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Our world is full of need
and, in our own ways, and through our congregation
we respond
out of our care and our concern
and because we take Jesus’ commandment
to love others
seriously.

On Retreat, we step back from our work and our service
to take care of ourselves.
Taking care of ourselves is part of the equation.
(love God, love self, love others)

This weekend we gathered in a new place
in the midst of creation.
We camped together on the shore of a lake
in the rain
ha!!
What a blessed, squishy time we had!

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Our gathering circle has dispersed now
until next time
and yet
the hearts of my friends
will be within my heart
until we meet again.

I wonder if you have ever been on Retreat.

I wonder if you have people who join you in Ritual.

I wonder what you might tell (if you could) about
circle-times with like-hearted people.