Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Go to the Limits of Your Longing"

Isn't this beautiful?
Hat Tip to Robin at Metanoia for the link to this:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

"Go to the Limits of Your Longing"
by Rainer Maria Rilke; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

Thinking it Through Until Faith Takes Hold

I'm home sick today. The lymph nodes--the ones doctors always check kinda underneath the ears-- have been tender for a couple of weeks now; I've been operating despite feeling depleted physically; ragweed around here is pretty high; and this morning it was like I could NOT get out of bed. Finally took my temperature and I have a low grade fever. And a headache. Went back to bed and slept until 1:30! Wow. That tells me something.

I seem to have several things bothering me these days...emotionally, I mean. Perhaps this afternoon, when I'm stuck at home anyway, might be a good time to think them through.

Our local public radio station is having its pledge drive this week, and probably next. I usually grouse and grumble about that, but this time it's OK because I've found myself unable to listen to much news anyway lately. All this gloom and doom about the Tea Party and the November elections is taking its toll -- I can't stand hearing about it anymore. David said a few months ago that he's "in despair" about the nation. I think I understand what he meant...And despair is a huge and ugly emotion; perhaps it's working its wiles throughout my whole emotional system.

The antidote? Hope, of course. Each person working for hope in our own little 'worlds'; joining different action groups that are trying to influence the public discourse toward hopeful civility and caring for our neighbors. I know all that's true, it's just that at the moment I don't feel it like it will do much good.

Another thing working on me is this incessant heat. I'm sick of it. I've been this way since childhood and, of course, it's worsened after menopause. If I had three wishes from a magic geni, I think my first one would be to regulate my body so that heat doesn't bother me. Life would be so much easier!

Third, I seem to have some kind of neurotic need to work myself into the ground. What's it going to take to get me to give up some things and just slow down a bit?

And finally I have some things going on personally that are bothering me -- unbloggable except to say that whenever I think of them my stomach gets all tied up in knots. They aren't huge, just worrisome for their potential to go badly.

OK, so where is my faith? What would my faith tell me in all this?

Hmmm...kinda hard to remember the truth when you're sick and tired.

........OK. Dig deeply here...

Well, my faith tells me that there IS hope, even when I can't feel it, or 'access' it within me. Carrie Newcomer's song occurs to me -- there's a line that says "there's a goodness on this earth that will not die, will not die." I've always loved that...because there IS a goodness on the earth. God is active in the world. When I have the eyes to see, it's so obvious....And when I'm stronger I'll once again be able to carry the pain and not let it get me so down. I just need to rest, I think.

Faith reminds me that it's September 22 -- in about a month it will cool down. It will.

OK. And faith helps me see that there are some things I can let go of. My portfolio at the church is Christian Education and Wellness Ministry. All the other things I'm doing are of my own initiative--no one told me to do them, and I can let them go. I can. I love doing them, but I can let them go.

And the worry about things with potential to go badly is just wasted energy, isn't it? Faith reminds me that ... no matter what happens, all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. St. Julian knew that, and when I dig deeply within myself, so do I. All manner of thing shall be well. Despite how I feel, I know that's true--no matter what happens.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"The River of Sadness Flowing Beneath All of Life"

I'm in a real snit today.

In the last 24 hours:
  • I had the wind really taken out of my sails regarding a project I want to do;
  • I came home last night to a house with no power;
  • we stayed in a hotel and I slept barely at all;
  • and one of my dearest friends is experiencing the immanent death of a beloved pet, one of the sweetest, most well behaved and loving dogs I've ever encountered--I spoke to my friend on the phone this afternoon and we both just broke down in tears.
Crying like that with my friend sort of brought me out of the "snit" stage and moved me toward a better feeling. I guess being authentic and letting myself feel the pain of loss in true compassion/suffering with my friend kind of broke through the vagueness that comes with a 'snit.'

That's true, now that I think of it. There is a vagueness involved in 'snit-ness.'

I named some things above that put me in a 'snit,' but a 'snit' is always more than specific happenings. A 'snit,' to me, involves lots of smoldering issues that sort of come together--even though I can't name them all--but they come together and work to make my spirit irritable and my whole outlook bleak.

I remember once years ago this same friend and I were sitting out in front of the divinity school we attended, and somehow we were both aware of the pain involved in simply living. Isn't that strange? This was a very bizarre experience, really. Something had happened to her that day, and something had happened to me also -- I don't remember what those "happenings" were now, except that they were negative for both of us. As we sat there, one of us remarked that we had both come into contact with the "river of sadness that flows beneath all of life."

That's kind of how I feel today. So many smoldering issues can't help but rise to the surface eventually, at least for us sensitive, existential types....Conflict.....Death and the transitory nature of all that is....Disappointment in other people.....It's all just there. All the time, if we pay attention.

Wow. I'm really in a mood, aren't I?

It's OK. Sometimes it's OK to feel down. I've always remembered something Thomas Moore wrote in Care of the Soul. He said that sometimes we need to honor depression. Wear black, he said. Don't try to avoid it. Built a grotto in the back yard and go there now and again to simply experience, be with, this part of life.

It's OK.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Courage in the Workplace--ah, so refreshing!

Spent a couple of days last week at a training session for Courage in the Workplace, a new program sponsored by Courage and Renewal North Texas. The idea is to learn to be a facilitator of Circles of Trust in order to take "courage work" into businesses, non-profits, and other organizations.

Twenty-one people formed our Circle of Trust, and that included five previously trained facilitators. We will meet six more times, each time experiencing and contributing to the development of six modules that we will then be able to offer.

The first day was introductory and the second day was spent learning the first module: Leading with Integrity (or it might end up being called Leading from Within) and then giving feedback on and fine-tuning it from what we experienced. The other modules are:
  • Managing Complexity: "Both/And" Approach for Organizations
  • Change: Opportunity in the Inevitable
  • Taking Time for Trust
  • Restoring the Heart of Service
  • Creating Healthy and Effective Organizations
  • Transforming Time
  • Mission Alignment

To me, this work is about practicing authenticity, and so often authenticity is exactly what is sacrificed when we work. Sometimes our workplaces foster competition which tempts us to be false in order to win. Sometimes our workplaces stress efficiency/outcomes/productivity so much that time to reflect on what we're doing--crucial to becoming authentic and true--is neglected. And sometimes our workplaces forget their own reason for being and forge into areas in which they cannot produce their best, taking their employees right along with them into these more sterile and depleting efforts.

Part of our work on the last day was to reflect on the meaning of a "live encounter," which, of course, is what our work should include. Live encounters are those interchanges, events, experiences that bring us life, are richly satisfying, and/or increase our energy for the work we've chosen to do. My reflection evoked a powerful sense of gratitude in me for that 'pivot-point' experience in 1994 when God's calling to follow what was my true path finally broke through and I found the courage to make a change. So thankful. And thankful as well for this new opportunity...I feel refreshed!