I cannot

No matter our best intentions, there are days when we think

“I cannot.”

I cannot do this. I cannot be who they want me to be. I cannot finish what I started. I cannot breath. I cannot take this any more. I cannot live this way. I cannot stand this noise. I cannot grow/do better/understand.

I cannot.

And there it is. We are done.

Who do you turn to when you hit this realization? Is it an inward turning, hoping others won’t discover your proclaimed inability? Do you turn toward your pastor, your friend, a spiritual companion/director, a therapist? Do you turn to the trees, the plants, the wind?

What happens when you utter these words: do you give up? do you sink into a miasma of despair? do you just go on with the other aspects of your day?

or

Do you change direction?

What do you fill the space with, that “cannot” occupies?

Every once in a while, “I cannot” is not a statement of defeat, but a statement of realization. It is like our bodies/minds/spirits/emotions say “Hey, wow, let’s go over here because this direction? Its not working.” And so we go. We turn. We re-evaluate. We laugh. We live.

My husband, the local acupuncturist says a million times a day “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” Sometimes the totality of who we are knows better than we think. And the way is made to change. Way is made to recover. Way is made to get out. Way is made to jump in a car and drive across the land to kiss an ocean*. Way is made to look up on a Sunday morning and move out of the pew, or into the pew.

When way is made, “I cannot” becomes a launch pad.

I cannot help but move on. I cannot help but laugh. I cannot help but grow. I cannot help but turn life into something new. I cannot keep from opening the windows wide. I cannot turn back.

Oh glorious day, when are not the same as we were yesterday.

Peace,

Amy

*a nod to my courageous and creative friend

 

 

Interesting day for fog

A foggy day makes me think of noir, mystery, and trust. The thicker it is, the slower I must go. My usual markers go by unseen, and I might go unseen. I sort of like that.

Kurt took off on his bike, on this foggy morning. He’ll stick to the Cardinal Greenway, where I’ll pick him up on our way to our son’s college graduation. He’ll enjoy the odd cloud moisture and being hidden from the world.

Funny, though, this day of fog on a day of graduation. We want our graduates to see the long view, to dream the future into being, to grasp ahead and pull themselves forward. But, it is foggy and so they must slow down enough and trust that seeing only 5 yards in front of them is enough.

When Kurt and I lived in Puerto Rico, our house and our church were situated along the spine of a mountain. It was wide enough for a road and a few buildings to the side, but the thick swarms of bamboo alerted all to the drop off at various places, or the mountain wall on the other. The clouds were an amazement during the day, on that mountain width. You could see them form down low, fluffy formations rising from the coffee and banana jungles, rising up the side of the slick clay mountain earth, finally to reach its tendrils into the building windows during worship or supper or an afternoon nap. The cloud would move through the openings and just hang and drift. I formed my life long metaphor of God as Mist during that year. For the mist is always present, sometimes formed, often unformed, able to move into every crevice of my life and being.

One day, I was alone in the church building and noticed a cloud forming rather quickly. It was large and thick. I knew that because of the time of day (late afternoon) that once that cloud enveloped the building it would feel like night and I became scared. So, I made the decision to start walking home, thinking I could beat the arrival of the obscuring visitor. As I locked the large front doors, I could feel the curl of the first crawl of cloud. I began to walk on that width of mountain spine. I knew the locals would not slow down because they new every dip and curve and climb of that mountain. So, I had to be attentive to what I could hear, while I couldn’t see anything.

Well, I could see. But by then I was in the cloud. What I could see was the dream of white moving around me, teasing my brain out of equilibrium into thinking leaning was upright, left was right….so I looked at my feet. I could see them. I could see the pavement or gravel that they walked on, but only that. I slowed down. One foot. The next foot. Listening. Feeling. Dreaming. Wondering where the drive was to our home. When would this end.

And then it lifted. Not completely but I found myself automatically looking up inside of down. My gaze shifted  and could suddenly see the avocado tree and knew I had walked right passed our house. The cloud was now visually dissipating to filaments and stretches and clumps….and I could see where I was going.

May those who graduate from high school, college, vocational school, a certificate program….who graduate from server to manager, from worker to business owner, from one point in life to the next, see where they are headed. Look at your footing if you see nothing else. Pay attention when your gaze shifts; the view may have cleared.

 

Peace,

Amy

Be the tree

“The ripe fruit is soon done: be the tree.”

These words took a solid place in my morning mind as I awoke. They repeated themselves with life from dreaming to eyes open, working their way into my day with clarity.

“The ripe fruit is soon done: be the tree.”

I’m going to leave it at that for now. Because, I don’t know what it means. I mean, I know what it means, but I suspect there are layers. What was Mother Spirit whispering into my ears this morning with this phrase? What did she have in mind for my day?

And you? what do you hear and see and taste and smell when you hear these words?

The sweet ripeness? The tinge of decay? The timeless bark? Next season’s buds? The sap running? The roots in the earth?

Your moments of success? A goal reached? Your depth? The practices of mindful being that bore the fruit in the first place?

“The ripe fruit is soon done: be the tree.”

Thank you, Mother Spirit, for ingraining for me a desire for more than the surface, the unthoughtout, the neglected, the assumed.

Thank you, Mother Spirit, for giving birth to a koan so that I can just wonder.

Thank you Mother Spirit, for being the source of a fertile life.

 

An end of semester prayer for seminarians

(written for the beloved students at Bethany Theological Seminary)

The smell of book bindings and coffee, paper and toner
The sound of keyboard and curses and awakened understanding
The tastes of caffeine, courage and comfort food
The sight of the title page, the completed body, the bibliography
The feel of the bed, a friend’s supportive hug, the contact between finger and mouse as we click “send”

O Moving Holy Teacher,
You move in the keystrokes and printed page, setting our neurons afire with the thrill of learning, of getting it, of being done. You offer a culmination to  weeks of work, distractions, meeting deadlines, as our reward for saying yes to this seminary experience.

We have not done our best this semester: cutting corners when someone needed an ear more than this book needed to be read.
We have not met every due date: when sickness, lethargy, or disappointment in our lack of understanding beset us.

We have done miracles when Hebrew went from lines to words, when Chronicles went from an unknown book to a story of utopia and alternative reality, when we finally learned how to pronounce Simone Weil, when we no longer know the apostle Paul as an enemy.

You were there.

Be here now. In the packing, the leaving, the still too many papers to write, in the summer plans, in the wondering of call.

Breathing in……………..Breathing out…………….

Thank you. Amen.

Rain and Wind in May

(**afterthought….this post is a tad preachy, but trust that I was preaching an interior sermon when I wrote it. By reading, you’ll have a sense of where my thoughts are about my own life….and if something resonates within your own life, then all the better)

 

It is a cold and windy day of May. I’ve had a few bad days, challenges, conversations which I wish had not happened.

But I cannot go back in time and redo.

Nor should I want to.

We cannot change the weather, it is going to blow or chill or overheat as she will, but we can bundle up, carry a nifty umbrella, seek the shade. We can respond to weather in ways that open up opportunities that don’t come along every day. I love my blue umbrella, but I don’t get to flip it open and see the design very often. I’m often in a hurry to the next thing and rain slows down my walking and I need to slow down.

And those challenging conversations, Amy, what about those?

Yes, we get to respond to those, too.

Respond, not react.

But that is where I get caught. Too often I react, flare up, defend, feel disgruntled, am put out. Too often I cling to feeling like an injustice has taken place and I am justified in reacting anyway I want.

Which is true. I can react any way I want.

Or, I can respond.

Responding takes breath. Responding requires maturity. Our response might not be the best, but it is better than an emotional flared reaction. Responding takes moving our position so that we can see what we’ve been looking at through someone elses place in the conversation.

The most basic conflict resolution or mediation skill is to see the situation from the other point of view. But lets add to that….in taking that breath, in connecting to our higher self, in letting maturity flow through us like silken strength, we can see that there is more than my view/their view. Their is a view from above, from below, from the East, from the West, from an angle, from the inside out. Suddenly, my choices for responding are unlimited. Our possibilities for expanding who we are in a tense moment are exponentially exploding.

Take that breath. Offer yourself grace. Applaud someone who has the guts to do what you cannot do. See the beauty in all of it, because we are all one and part of the whole.

Respond.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve “responded” only to later feel like you’ve responded poorly. It happens. What sounded like a solid response in my head didn’t come out quite right. Like the uncontrollable weather, we can rummage around within us, finding our nifty umbrellas, flip them open….and respond again. That takes A LOT of breathing, let me tell you. A lot of breathing and reflecting. And I don’t think its a redo, as much as an improvement. I can’t rub away words spoken, or eyes rolled, but I can say “Look, I didn’t handle that very well. Can I try again?” To get there, ask yourself some questions:

Is this who I want to be in this world?

Am I better than this small mindset I’ve just displayed?

What are other options?

and my favorite…..

Is it too late to respond another way?

Likely not. If we are in a relationship with someone, or even if we’ve been reactive to ourselves, there is a natural longing for wholeness to be fed. For health to return. For forgiveness to take place.

The rain does not need to be something that beleagueres me. It can be what calls me to a cup of tea and a conversation.

A bad reaction or mispsent response can be that thing that breaks a relationship or that offers a second try and a place for deeper sharing, forgiveness, understanding, and we all are smarter, more caring, more realistic in the end.

And, to be totally cheesy, when that moment of forgiveness comes, it is the sun busting through the clouds, the rainbow, the renewed earth.

Peace,

Amy