Tag Archives: spirituality

A Moment of Connection

I’ve found myself with a lump in my throat so many times this week: the sun on the snow…the deep Crayola blue of the sky…this cold…the sun dogs…the moon dogs…One evening 6 deer were walking down the street towards me; I was so taken aback I turned off the car so they wouldn’t get spooked. They passed by slowly, looking in the windows and sniffing the tyres; their look reminded me of a group of young teens – curious and dismissive all at the same time. Then off they wandered in search of a place to sleep or food, with a “whatever” in their smooth gait.  (I know there’s more than one viewpoint on deer in town, but I still had a moment of profound connection.)

A few minutes later, I was out of town, just as sunset happened. Words don’t do it justice. But I might describe it as a layered-jellied-salad – colours distinct but fusing, vibrantly other-worldly, topped off with jet black silouettes of trees and bins and pump jacks. I couldn’t drive, so I pulled over and sat gob-smacked by its intensity and beauty.  I tried taking a picture…but you know how it is: holy moments just can’t be captured.

I’ve been reading the next section of Immortal Diamond by Fr. Richard Rohr this week and was reminded that the work of soul-tending is to come to know oneself as part of the whole, not separate from the land and the wildlife, nor separate from the holy which infuses it all. (What we could learn of the holy from a poem that begins “When God was a deer….”)

Soul-tending requires intentionality. But I wonder if that sometimes is simply allowing oneself to be so “taken up”, so connected, with a moment that the illusion of differentiation between “me” and “the moment” is erased?  Being turned aside from the mundane to see the holy in the ordinary? (My spiritual tradition tell a story of Moses who was out just being a herder, when a bush catches his eye. He stops, turns aside and hears a voice: take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground.)  Does soul-tending happen when we allow ourselves to look beyond the blinkers of just-getting’-it-done?

There was a picture that caught my eye, connectionthat felt to me like a great illustration of this kind of holy moment. The light from above expands and the light from below expands, and where they meet is an elan, a point of light in the canvas (or in history) that is so vibrant with life, the point disappears.  It’s so infused with the Holiness that it becomes a sacrifice; it’s no longer a separate entity, it’s disintegrated but in a way that makes it that makes it so much more.

How have you felt that moment of connection between the power of Life Within with the Power of Life that is beyond “you”? Has it felt like a moment of disintegration of separateness? How did you respond?

Happy Earth Day

Every gift bears a challenge, and challenge bears a gift. The trick is to find it, and to accept it.

The United Church has a statement of faith which includes the line: “We are called to be the Church…to live with respect in Creation.”   It’s a great line – inspiring and universal – but it isn’t defined. It presents us with the challenge: what does it mean (for me) to live with respect in Creation?

Last summer a bloc of delegates to our denomination’s triennial gathering, was entrusted to fabakeapple montrealgazette comece 22 resolutions grouped around this principle. (named for a remarkably tasty orange berry in NL…but I digress…) The Bakeapple Commission made 2 particularly controversial decisions. They asked our church’s Pension Plan to divest from Goldcorp, a Canadian mining project operating mostly in Canada, Central and South America, and to divest from fossil fuels. The backlash has been substantial.

Rather than back-biting, name-calling and mud-slinging, which only erects walls to informed conversations, how about if we ask what was/were the resolution(s) trying to accomplish? what did they say? and what did they not say?

The resolutions said to divest our holdings from the companies, not vilify the people who work for them.  They said to investigate investing in other companies which are developing other technologies which would create sustainable or renewable energy resources.  They said to encourage people who are part of our Church’s community to use less fossil fuel. The resolutions remind us that our concerns about large-scale oil & gas infrastructure projects is their impact on both the environment and relationships with the First Nations communities involved.  In other words the resolutions reminded us as a Church, as people of faith (and specifically as Jesus followers), there are other criteria we need to consider just as much as making money while we are making our choices in our everyday lives. (For full text and study materials visit gc42.ca/actionstaken Background Material and Bakeapple Commission –Revision 1.)  The same could be said about our food.

That’s why marking Earth Day is a faith-filled duty.  We have inherited translationscool down dear earth we will not kick you any more CC Sunciti_sundarams Images and images of what it means to have “dominion over the Earth” (Gen 1:26f), and despite the variety of words most still beg the questions: what does that mean? Can I do what I like with it? ought I not to use more than I absolutely have to? what does it mean to be a ‘steward’ of the land? What I want is a black and white response (which is soo, much easier!); what I get is 50 shades of gray.  It means I have to take responsibility to answer and to live with those answers. And living with my anxiety of what if in a 100 years it what I/we have done – thinking it was a positive thing turns – out to be a wrong thing?

For me, the challenge – and the gift – is to sit with that ambiguity, and struggle with how I answer those questions of what it means to live with respect in Creation; it is spiritual skill and part of the journey of faith.

My faith and experience tells me that everything in Creation/universe is a reflection of God’s creative genius, and it is good. So it deserves respect and awe.  It belongs to God.  And because I/we need energy (including fossil fuels), I/we need to be aware of which and how I use Earth’s gifts in a way that it also reflects my gratitude to God (which also means where and how they are produced).  Our denomination’s line is “to live with respect in Creation”.

There are no easy answers; there is only actions based in faith and humility, a church (and wider) community which whom to struggle with the choices, and connection with the Source of Life.

Which for me means, in part, that I need to manage my time so I can drive as little as I need to and at optimal gas mileage rather than speed.   Happy, and Blessed, Earth Day to you.

(photo credits: ‘bakeapple’:  montrealgazette.com – accessed at google images; and ‘Cool Down dear Earth; we will not kick you anymore’ by sunciti_sundarams; used under license of Creative Commons/attribution)

The Water I swim in

I was talking with a friend of mine about my last blog on the sacred in finding balance. He said with horror: “You never named the third aspect of the equation!” Huh?  “You forgot to name that God is what gives you the ability to find the balance.”

My image of finding sacredness in ebb and flow of Life, my assertion that the balance is in the pendulum swing between light and dark, assumed that God was my dance-partner (to mix my metaphors).  But perhaps my friend was right: did I, do I, take that part of the equation- ie. take God –  for granted?  2 fish jackdrawsanything com

There’s this really fun video of 2 fish swimming around talking about the game on TV last night, then a 3rd fish swims by and says “Water’s beautiful today, isn’t it?”. The 2 fish look at each other and say “What’s water?”

Sometimes my sense of the Sacred working around and within me doesn’t feel unusual; it’s more like the water I swim in and I simply move through my day contentedly.  Other times  my experience of the Sacred present with me/us is so spectacular, or takes me by surprise, it seems miraculous.  Sometimes there’s words for that; often not.

Maybe my friend was right. If I only name the Holy present in the amazing, the breath-taking, then perhaps I am taking God for granted. Perhaps by not acknowledging the “water I swim in”, not naming the Holy present in the everyday, I do take It for granted.

So I’ll amend my last blog. It is God, the Sacred, that helps me to notice the process of being part of the ebb and flow of life.  It is the Holy Mystery that helps me to find and make meaning out of today.  Not spectacular.  Just today.

And maybe I need to name every day as a Holy Day, at the start of it.  Slow down from the moving through my day so that I can notice how spectacular Today is. The lines on that house sparrow look like they’re painted on.  The white strip on the top of the tail of the Red-tailed Hawk is always the same width.  My body knows when it needs to take a deep breath, or yawn.

Life may be the air I breath, or the water that I swim in. But I need to not take those moments for granted, and to name the Sacred that’s just there. And let that Awe me too.

Thanks to jackdrawsanything.com for the artwork.

 

Enough is enough

When is Enough enough?

Well it’s been a while sBread rising in pansince the last post…It feels like “too much to do, too little time to do it all in”.  Does anyone else find the busy-ness of our lives takes over like mold…creeping along (“I can do this one little extra thing, sure!”) until the calendar is so full there isn’t any time left to do the things that are really life-giving and soul-nourishing?  I’ve said more than once this past month “enough’s enough” but then I go and add just that one little extra thing….What’s that about??

I found myself saying that when I was packing for the cruise that I was gifted.  I packed and repacked, determined to “get it all in a carry-on”.  Really, how much clothes and “stuff” does a person need for 7 days?  And how much food does one need to eat from the buffet? When is enough enough?

And while I know that business investors (my own meagre mutual funds included) expect profit in each quarter, when did $ 8.7million profit in a quarter become a “loss”? When is enough enough?

The irony is my asking the question is never enough. I usually want to know what’s behind the implied sense of “not enough”, and who’s deciding it’s “not enough”?  Somehow it seems easier to ask those questions when it’s an impersonal multinational and not a skewed relationship with my own date book.

I found myself realizing that no matter how many hours I work, or books I read, or dollars I have — in short the more there is —  the more I realize that there will always be more.  Like flailing at the prairie and trying to find when it ends.  Except that it doesn’t…at least not til the Rockies. 

So I asked myself: if the boundary isn’t “out there”, what if it’s “in here”?    And two images came to mind. First was the prayer Jesus prayed “give us this day our daily bread”.  The second was the manna that the People of Israel fed on during their wandering in the wilderness. They could only gather what they needed for that day; any more would get maggoty (Exodus 16).  There is enough, if you look at what there is rather than what there isn’t.

So I approached the suitcase that way; I took less and had enough.  At the buffet I told myself “I don’t need to try it all now”, which became “I don’t need that” because I was full.  I had had enough.  When I returned home, I recognized I have a warm, dry, safe place to live, and (more than) enough food, enough people with whom to laugh and pray and play, who stimulate my heart. I have enough books & occupation enough to stimulate my mind. Spirituality begins with gratitude, knowing when to say “enough is enough”. My eyes are little more open.

When I look at the world from the perspective of there is enough now, I find myself feeding on the most amazing things: music, and sky, and sunsets (did you see that one Friday night??) That is enough. Godde is good.