Fortezza, Umilitade, e Largo Core - Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The metaphor of the walking mandala

Today was the first beautiful weather day in what feels like forever. I moved to Atlanta with the hopes of escaping weather that increases my Lyme related pain but my hopes have been dashed this particular winter. As I try to not squander an opportunity, I chose to take some time for myself and walk the mandala behind my health practitioner’s office. It occurs to me that the process of walking a labyrinth is a great metaphor for life:
We go out to go in and in to go out, backwards to go forwards.
 We follow a path, walking on blue slate chips which can be warm in the sun or cool in the shade. If we choose to walk on them barefoot, they can be smooth and pleasing or jagged and even painful.
 Alternatively, we can protect ourselves (via shoes). You go all the way in to (pause and then) turn around and go out the very same way, yet the scenery looks quite different on the way out. Things change depending on your perspective: you might not see the dragonfly on the blue globe close up but it was so easy to spot from a distance.
We can take time to smell the sweet flowers. We can choose to follow etiquette but shouln't be afraid to break it either.
 Mindfulness of the moment, yet clarity of past and future.
 Remember to have joy in the moment- never take yourself too seriously. Stop and observe the flora & fauna, but be careful to not disturb them. It's the relation between stillness and movement.
“Labyrinths are one of the oldest transformational tools known to mankind. They have been used for centuries for prayer, ritual, initiation, and personal and spiritual growth. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth is unicursal- only one way to the center and back out again. Once you set your foot on the path, you are gently guided to the center of the labyrinth and yourself. There are no obstacles, no dead ends, and no tricks. So- with the labyrinth walker it is a meditative process- the mind can be stilled and attention paid to the body. It is a time of being rather than doing. Labyrinths also help us access our intuition and creativity, integrate body and spirit, listen to our heart, connect to the greater universal flow of energy, and deepen our spirituality.” (HealthSpring Holistic Center)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sometimes you have to make room...

My husband and I are in the process of trying to make all of our stuff fit into a condo that really only fits one person comfortably (or two if they do not have a lot of stuff, such as 5 bajillion* books). Since Jeff and I have more books between the two of us than the average small town community library, one of the things we are attempting is to pare down is our books.

Both my husband and I are learning disabled and came to reading late. Each of us has that special book that broke through the barrier and helped us gain the ability to read without tremendous effort. For Jeff that book is The Hobbit.

We have the fancy binding edition of the Tolkien trilogy and Jeff was going to sell his original mass market print editions. As he was getting ready to put it in the "to go" pile, he shared his story of the breakthrough, of how his mother, despite money being tight, rushed out to purchase her son these books that he was excited to read. Although Jeff would probably deny this, I could hear the lump in his throat as he told me about the moment when he finally was able to read at his grade level. The books that he held in hand were the exact books responsible.

Knowing the pain of struggling to do something that your heart calls so strongly to do (both of us come from families of voracious readers) and the elation of finally breaking through, I immediately told him to put the books back on the shelf, that we could make room for such influential books.

*yes, I made that word up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I'd never go back to high school.

It seems that so many people fantasize about returning to their glory days of high school. You couldn't pay me enough money to return to that hell. However, I would love to return to a freshman year of college experience. 

We are currently touring Georgia State University looking at their neuroscience graduate program. Today's tour is for the general university so I'm getting a good overview of the undergrad program. I. am. so. envious. What I would give to be an incoming freshman student.

Yes, I'm a geek.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The presence of God?

I regularly ponder the presence of God in our daily lives. I am troubled by the issue of free will vis a vis omnipresence. An Islamic Imam posed one possible explanation: that life is like an improv play- God sets the stage, gives general direction, and will yell "Cut!" when your scene is done; how you choose to get through your scene is up to you.

This is what I was wearing when
James prayed that God had no
hand in selecting the outfit.
Yet, this leaves me wondering- how present is God in my life? I have no doubt that it was Providence that has guided me here to Atlanta, but does God care whether I get stuck in traffic or not?

In seminary we have very deep conversations in a very lighthearted way. While at a Tacky Christmas Sweater Party with my classmates, we were debating the issue of Providence. I was up on my metaphorical soapbox, passionately debating both sides of the argument, when I asked, "does God really care what I wear?" Without missing a beat, my friend James retorts, "with what you're wearing, I certainly hope not."

I would love to hear your thoughts. How present is God in your life? Where do you fall on the issue of Providence?

Monday, March 4, 2013

A prayer we can all relate to...

From St. Teresa of Avila:

Thou knowest better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody's affairs.

Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but Thou knowest, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.