Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Being A Monk in the World

*I did not write the list at the end of this post.  See Copyright for authorship.

In this pursuit of being a monk in the world, of re-birth, resurrection, I have been urged to be aware of my body and what it needs and just go with it for a season.  So yesterday, when I suddenly got sleepy at 10:00, I took a nap.  I woke after about 30 minutes, refreshed and relaxed.  I thought wow, I should've done this a long time ago.  But being raised by parents who had been through The Great Depression, sleeping during the day is tantamount to being the laziest slug on the earth, not deserving of the provision gained from those who worked from sun-up to sun-down, and there is some merit in that thinking.  Of course that all changed once retirement arrived....should have before then, bless them.  But I just felt this was right and the rest of the day went well, I did stay up a little later, but not terribly.

So this morning I got up with my husband and me and the pup were out the door by 5:45 for our morning walk.  Well, by the time we got back and had breakfast, I was sleepy again and went with it...and woke over an hour later!  I woke up from what felt like deep sleep, forced myself to get up because this was ridiculous, i'd never get to sleep tonight! I woke up not refreshed, but feeling drugged, i'm still trying to shake it.

So there's a lesson here, yes, trust your body and listen to its needs, but like most things in a fallen world, the body is flesh and wants what it wants.  I would be well to remember all things in moderation.  I think next time i'll set the alarm.  There is something in our natures, or at least in mine, that if something is good, I want more and I want it a lot.  That is obvious by my weight struggles, but it carries over to most things for me.  I used to smoke, like over 30 years ago, up to 2 packs a day when I quit.  And why did I quit?  Not for health reasons, but because I had my tonsils out and had to for 3 weeks.  The Lord helped me to know that if I had quit for 3 weeks, just don't start again, so I didn't.  But I liked smoking, resulting in a 2-pack a day habit.  If we are with friends laughing and having a good time, I want to see them again the next day...and the get the picture.

So while I do believe in this season of listening to my body and its needs, I also believe the Lord would have me exercise self-control and tend to the tasks of the day as well.  This dance we do with life, if out of balance to the extreme, becomes something ugly and self-centered, but when in balance with Him, is beautiful and benefits others as well as myself.
All that said, there was much said that I just loved in the "instructions."  Here ya go:

  1. Make a commitment to move slowly through the world, resisting the demand for speed and productivity that is tearing our bodies apart and wearing them down to exhaustion.
  2. Reject compulsive "busyness" as a badge of pride and see it for what it is—a way of staying asleep to your own deep longings and those of the world around you.
  3. Pause regularly. Breathe deeply. Reject multitasking. Savor one thing in this moment right now. Discover a portal into joy and delight in your body through fragrance, texture, shimmering light, song, or sweetness.
  4. Let yourself experience grief for the vulnerabilities of your body. Be exquisitely tender with yourself and all of the aches and pains and limitations of embodied life. Make a space within to welcome in the sorrow of difficult memories.
  5. Any time you begin to hear the old voices of judgment rise up about your body—whether self-consciousness or criticism or denial—pause and breathe. Then stand firm against those voices, as the desert elders counseled us to do, and tell them you will not offer them sanctuary anymore.
  6. Play some music you love, and dance. Be present to the body's desires in response. Perhaps just a finger tapping at first. Then slowly let the impulse travel up your arm and across your chest, taking root in your heart, so that your dance might emerge from this place. Even just imagining yourself dancing can bring you alive.
  7. Roll around on the grass, the way dogs do with abandon. Release worries about getting muddy or cold or looking foolish. The body isn't concerned with keeping things neat and tidy. Don't hold yourself back.
  8. Every day, at least once, say thank you for the gift of being alive. Every day, at least once, remember the One who crafted you and exclaimed, "That is so very good."
  9. Allow a day to follow the rhythms of your body. Notice when you are tired, and sleep.  When you are hungry, eat. When your energy feels stagnant, go for a long walk. In truth, it often takes several days to sink into this kind of attunement, but begin to consider how you might invite this awareness into your daily life.
  10. Be present to the earth-body, which is the matrix of our own being. The earth offers herself so generously for nourishment. Remember that earth-cherishing is intimately connected to cherishing your own embodied being.
What does it mean for us to not just say we believe in a resurrected life, but to truly practice resurrection?
Do you experience the Holy Week to Easter movement from death into life in an embodied way?
Do you breathe in the gift of the Spirit? What will your practices of resurrected life be?
Copyright © 2014 Abbey of the Arts, All rights reserved.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mothers and Children

My children are adopted, I almost forget that sometimes.  They are unique individuals and extremely different.  My girl, almost 30, happily married and employed at the same place for years now, is stability and responsibility personified.  I do not worry when it comes to her.  We are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Gilmore Girls is definitely based on us, someone unseen observing us from afar.  She will always be my best cheerleader and confidant.  She came from Korea at 6 months old, sweet and compliant, and though what lie ahead was out of a nightmare, she survived and is still sweet...not compliant in the best possible way and has grown in her relationship with Christ through the years.  She is married to a wonderful man, equally as responsible and stable as she, and my husband's son.

Then there's my boy.  We got him when he was only 4 weeks old.  He was our first child after 10 years of marriage, 8 trying to have our own.  So my happiness and joy were off the chart.  The world became all about him.  I loved him so very, very much.  Each victory was celebrated, each attempt was celebrated, every birthday, Adoption Day (the day the adoption became final) and Placement Day (the day we actually got him) also celebrated.  This child grew up knowing that he was cared for, loved and beyond.

Because I don't want this to be about what i'm going to say, it will be simple and brief, though it has encompassed our lives and I suspect in large part, responsible for my son's decisions.  My husband left me for someone he met at work, shattering our home, my son then 7, my daughter only 3.  That one selfish decision sent the 3 of us on a path we never wanted.

So my son set off on a journey just before his Senior year ended that sent us all into a tailspin.  The details aren't important, just that those bad choices have continued, and now, 14 years later, he sits in a state prison.  He is due out in 2015.  I will make no excuses for him, other than at such a young age, his whole world fell apart and he did not handle it well, he was 7.  I was 35 and I didn't handle it well either.  But my faith in Jesus Christ is what literally saved me.  My son decided early on, God could not be trusted and would simply not do what he wanted Him to do, so God was not for him.  We see where that choice has brought him.
Thing is, all this is true, but i'm still his mom.  When I look at him and pictures of him, I still see the little boy, full of life, running as fast as he can from joy to joy, black hair shining in the sun and laughter that came easily to him.  And my heart breaks to know where he is, no matter how well-deserved. 

When you love someone, they can make terrible decisions, do dumb things, act without thought of others, all that doesn't change how much you love them...particularly mothers.  When the incident took place, I just thought I would shrivel up and die.  Not to see him, or talk to him, except through letters is agony, and it is.  To know his potential, truly, he is a wonderful artist and writer, charming, handsome and hard-working when he likes what he's doing, and know that potential is most likely never going to be used is so very sad and frustrating.

What triggered all this is that he called last night.  This is an extremely rare occurrence and I recognize the number when it happens, hold my breath until I hear his voice.  However, last night, before the call could go through, I was asked to verify who I was and it wouldn't accept my information, so I never did get to talk to him for those free 3 minutes.  My hand grips the phone so tight as I enter the info and put it back to my ear, did it twice, only to be denied.  You imagine all kinds of things.  Suppose he's sick, or hurt and needs my help and because of this stupid system that is automated and doesn't work right, I have no idea what he wanted.  I hang up, feeling so crushed, surprised by how badly I wanted to hear his voice.  I go in the bedroom to cry a bit and I know it doesn't help anything, but sorrow has to come out somehow. 

My sweet man comforts me as best he can.  He loves my son even when other step-father's might not, and he loves me with big love and would do anything to remove this sadness.  I have supportive friends and family that love us and love my son and pray for him, for which I am ever grateful.

But there is this "thing" between my son & I, and I suspect between many mothers and their children.  It is different than my daughter and I, she doesn't need me like my son does.  By his own admission, i'm all he has.  I love my kids equally, but different.  And this bond that this little black-haired boy and I had has only grown through the years.  Josh can make me laugh when no one else can, he "gets" parts of me that no one, even my husband, doesn't "get."  Only thing I can figure is that he was older when "The Divorce" (for indeed it really had a life of its own) happened.  He was devastated and his young heart crushed.  The years that followed were no better.  All this took a toll, and we came out of it, me, him & his sister, much like veterans of a war.  No one can know that experience but us, we were there for each other, and without each other, we wouldn't have survived. 

The problem when this happens is that you feel so bad for your kids that you can be too easy on them.  When the other parent is cruel and harsh, you want to be the opposite.  Still, I disciplined when necessary.  There were so many issues, I won't go into them.

I really just wanted a commentary on mother-child relationships and that the depth of feeling and love cannot be fathomed by other people.  Every mother will be convinced that yes, other mothers love their children, but not like I love mine.

I know that if Josh truly surrenders to Christ, there is hope, otherwise I fear for his future.  I can see him remaining in prison for something else because it is too hard for him on the outside without LOTS of help, more than I can give, though I will try.  He has 2 beautiful kids, hopefully that will be reason to try. 

The point is the love, my love has never wavered, never, no matter what, through all the years, all the antics, the scary stuff, everything, and the thing about love.....

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.    ~ I Corinthians 13:4-7

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mother's Lament


The letters come one after another
None are good, but how could they be
He betrayed himself
And in so doing, removed his presence
And my mother's heart aches
Day-in, day-out
The ever-present knowledge that he is not here
He is there
Somewhere that exists only in my nightmares
But he is living it
My precious boy, starting out so shiny and beautiful
Now in an unimaginable hell
Every sad occurrence is even sadder
And every joy watered down
Josh, I cannot know your suffering
But I know mine
And to be cognizant that you do suffer
Screams in my brain every single day
I need to get to you, I need to help you
And I can't and no amount of money could
So I turn to the only One who truly knows your heart
And mine
And gives me comfort and hope
Extinguishes the fiery darts of Wisconsin
I hope, I break down, I sob
I wait.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On Friends

It's April 1st.  My first April in our new home in Vancouver, WA.  We've been here almost a month.  Most of the boxes are gone, things put away, but there are still lots of things sitting here and there, me unable to decide where to put them.
Amidst the putting away, sorting through, setting up, my heart overflows with gratitude.  But as I knew would happen in time, I am really starting to miss my friends and family.  I am thinking this morning of dear friends.  I have very different and unique friends, each one such a huge blessing in my life.

I've known Ginger the longest.  I'm not sure how to describe Ginger, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with.  She has a tender and good heart which sometimes is not so evident in her zeal for accomplishing a task, or if she is dealing with injustice.  I know how she does so many things anonymously, or almost anonymously, I know how she loves her family passionately and desires their good.  I know that at the lowest point in my life, she swooped in, picked me up and helped me put one foot in front of the other when it wouldn't have happened otherwise.  I know that when I needed a place to live that I could afford, she was 100% instrumental in arranging it with our landlord whom she also rented a space from.  I was present, but she made the whole thing happen, got him to agree to a bigger space and nice renovations.  She has kept my hair cut when I could never pay her, I could go on and on.  To say she saved my life is not an exaggeration.  Ginger is the person you go to when you want action, if she can literally help, she will.  She's a good listener and I love our conversations about our Lord.  I am blessed to have her in my life, we chat every few days, even now that i've moved, and hopefully she will come visit soon.

Next longest is Pat, sweet sister to me through thick and thin.  We met through Calvary Church's mentoring program they had for a while.  We hit it off so well, we just kept meeting....that was about 7 or 8 years ago I believe.  Friend of my heart, that I can tell anything to and not fear judgment, always a joy  to spend time with her.  She has treated me to more meals than I can ever count, and so many other things through the years.  Her generous heart is an inspiration to anyone who knows her.  I will never forget our 1st anniversary.  We had planned a dinner at home, which is fine, but because of Pat's generosity, we were able to drive over to Brookings for a special dinner, and stopped at the Big Trees (as we've dubbed them) on the way.  I will never forget it.  I have called on her for rides, for prayer, for whatever was needed, and she was always there for me.  We prayed for each other, shared our hearts over gallons of coffee.  And we love each other's families, particularly her Thomas and my Josh, each of us understanding our heartache at their incarceration.  She and Chris are coming in May...I cannot wait!!!

And my soul friend, Sue.  I almost haven't the words to describe what our friendship means to me.  When I have been my most ugly, most depressed, and don't want Pollyanna answers or a kick in the butt, but someone I know will empathize before the afore mention butt-kicking, I have gone to Sue.  She instinctively knows when I need a gentle answer, or a swift kick, lol.  When she, Tom, me & Dave are together we have a grand time!  Laughter is abundant and mutually loving hearts reside.  Sue and I email through the day, almost every day, unless one of us is away.  Her words of wisdom have helped me more times than I can count.  She has a way of almost always seeing the "big picture", while I focus on the miniscule.  When we are together, time flies and our hearts become light.  Many times when at my worst, I have invited myself to her lovely home, Bridgehaven and always been welcomed.  I go, promising her and myself to stay for only a little while, and every time, the whole day goes by and I must rush to get Molly's car back to her in time.  A gracious host, wonderful cook, but most of all, a loving, understanding friend is what Sue is.

The common thread with my friends is their love for the Lord.  They are all uncompromising in that and all they do flows from it.  What sweetness to share with them.  This is a foretaste of Heaven I am sure.  For now, we are far apart, I hope we still see each other from time to time.  I know it will seem like yesterday that we were together.  I thank my friends for their invaluable contribution to my life, their love and support means more than they'll ever know.  But I know that He knows, and I pray He will bless them as much as they've blessed me.