Jubilee … an image

 

Jubilee2

Spiritual Direction
allows for one’s own knowledge and wisdom to emerge.

Recently, while meeting with my Director
she re-stated some things I’d told her about this next year in my life
which will mark a completion and a separation
a new time
unlike any other I’ve experienced
and something she said brought forth my exclamation of
‘it will be a Jubilee Year’!

To explain requires reference to The Hebrew Scriptures
and an ancient vision of having a
Year of Jubilee
every fifty years.
“You shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty
throughout the land to all its inhabitants;
it shall be a jubilee for you;
you shall return, every one of you,
to your property and every one of you to your family.”
Leviticus 25

This was to be a societal and political year
as well as a personal year.
History has no evidence that this large community-nation vision ever happened
to this degree of fullness
yet
we can hold it as
a vision of a time as further explained in scripture
when debts (things from the past) are let go of
and
the bindings that have held us are cut so that we experience a new freedom
and
there is a home-coming
a returning to home
whether to geographic-place or to Self or to both.

The fiftieth year…well…
I can’t be too tied to exactness because I’m well past my fiftieth year
(actually nearing age sixty-five)
but to be caught in this exactness is to miss the essential point
that there are exceptional times in life
and one of them might be
A Year of Jubilee
which, for us ‘moderns’ will need to be a chosen and intentional time
because it isn’t dictated and it doesn’t just happen
but
it might be possible
if we choose to make it ‘be so’.

I am revisiting a book I purchased when I was turning fifty
because it is about women reaching an age of maturity
and entering into a new phase of living.
I read it back then but didn’t practice it
but now
my attention to Maria Harris’s words of wisdom is keener
and so
I will be pondering
JUBILEE
as a guiding metaphor
for my newly emerging life experience.

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Of interest is the root word for ‘Jubilee’
yobel
a Hebrew word translated as
‘trumpet’
and in this ancient culture
a ram’s horn sounded to announce the time of Jubilee with celebration and rejoicing.
Another source word is
ybl
which means a royal release from bondage
and a bringing back.

images

JUBILEE
a time for
release
return
forgiveness / letting go
celebration

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Have you ever entered into a defined year?
Perhaps a year without employment
or a year of travel
or a year of needed rest?
I wonder how that was / is for you?

the threshold

Threshold: a Dictionary definition
-the plank, stone, or piece of timber that lies under a door; sill
-the end, boundary; the place or point of entering or beginning

I recently reflected with my congregation
about the threshold.

We walk over many each day
have you ever noticed?

The threshold in and out of home
in and out of work
in and out of a coffee shop, place of recreation, a friend’s home.

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They are everywhere in the literal sense
of movement
from one room to the next and from outside to inside
and back again

and they are everywhere in the internal sense
of movement
from one phase of life to another.

My threshold is the movement from work to retirement.
I am in a crossing-over time.

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This image, once spoken out loud, brought forth many threshold stories from others
the movement
from marriage to single life
from student to workplace life
from couple life to parenting life
and on and on.

How do we navigate the significant thresholds of our lives?
Do we notice that we are in a ‘threshold’ time?
Do we cross over too quickly so as to be unaware
of the importance of this step
or
do we stall and plant our feet stubbornly saying
I’m not
or
I can’t
or
I won’t
take this step
make this step?

Well…I have been resistant…but my foot is lifting and it’s not as heavy
as it once was.
The movement is happening…sort of in slow motion
but it’s happening.

NOTICE your thresholds.
PONDER your times of crossing over.

SILENCE

I have recently had an experience of following my own advice.
When in the midst of a life transition and sensing confusion or worry
or a feeling of being overwhelmed
I often name to others
the importance of finding a quiet place to contemplate.
I say
Take the time / make the time to reflect…

silence
and so
I DID
what I advise to others.

I was pretty exhausted from lots and lots of work
and living with the inner disturbance of retirement ahead of me
and time going by too quickly
so I greatly benefited from a Retreat
and from resting within Silence
and from walking and writing

and something shifted in me
I felt it!

In the writing of memories of ‘work’
in reflecting on the wonders and the stresses
of congregational ministry
I realized how fortunate I have been
to have met such a diversity of people
and how privileged I have been
to be part of their life transitions
(losses and joys, pains and celebrations)

and the shift within me was from
a sense of pending loss with accompanying grief
to a sense of deep gratitude
for what has been.

Isn’t it interesting how a new feeling
can be dwelling within
yet underneath the surface?

Isn’t it interesting how the busy-ness of life can bury
what is really there
until
SILENCE
works her magic
to allow our deeper heart-feelings to emerge?

5690579._UY450_SS450_     “our task is to coordinate our being with the greater Being of Silence”

“(Silence) never goes away. We go away from it,
become distracted and forgetful,
and lose the manners needed to nurture companionship with it.”

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

9b1d83cf9a4d8e6ab3a9105c3b74f01f
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’?