Looking through the circle

A simple symbol, the Medicine Circle, or Medicine Wheel, used in all tribes of Native Americans, brings me to a place of consideration. Not medicine in the sense of the mentality of “take two pills and call me in the morning,” but a sacred healing. A way of living and feeling the sacred in the movement of life. Life beginning from life. A circle. Considering relationships to surroundings and to the Sacred, these are my thoughts at each stage displayed on the Ojibwa Medicine Wheel.

Circles – Yellow – Morning – Baby

I left my mothers round, circular, smooth womb.  I nurse at her warm, round, life-giving breasts. Feeling the flow of a spirit filled life like the eagle on its course. A life where belief is living, sacred, moving, hot, cold, warm, beautiful, smooth, rough, shiny, dull, dark, and light. 

Circles – Red – Afternoon – Youth

I find energy from the sunny days and howl at the moon on starlit nights. I’m free and adore the world around me. I run in the forest, feel the sand between my toes on the beach, I’m energized from morning until night and dream about the journey’s of my days ahead. 

Circles – Black – Evening – Adult

Cool breezes after a warm day in the autumn of life brings the time of preparing for winter. I don’t focus on the timeline but the loops, the circles, the spheres of relationships and what I learned, what I need to give up, and see the examples of those who live well in their sphere. Sage advice. These evening moments have set me into a place where I will live out my later adult life providing wisdom, not the point of interference, but the openness of the tried and true, and understanding it all can change shape but it remains foundational.

Circles – White – Night – Elder

Night comes but I do not see the darkness.  Light of stars and moon, again, light up my existence, just as I searched for them as a child. Days are cooler and I  wear comfy socks and slippers, wrap a shawl about me I bought from a sister whose artistic gifts flow from her hands to warm me. It’s white as the clean  and untouched snow before human, animal, or wind cause its print to pack or to blow into drifts. I feel the circles of life, the spheres of influence from my family past and future. Circles of relationships, mistakes, forgiveness, grace and mercy, peace, love and understanding. It’s always been there but I often had times of not comprehending in the other colors and circles of life. I am at peace.  I now know this which I leave behind will begin again. 

Quarantine through the Lens of the Sacred-Part 4 of 4

Now, just as I did in the first days of the pandemic, I pray, learn, observe, and enjoy life. Many have been affected and lived while others have passed away from COVID-19. There has been controversy and political undertones. I’m here to say I’m thankful for family and friends and I want to honor friendships and memories. Maybe you are a friend of my daughter, son, or husband; someone I knew at church; family; or a lifelong friend. One thing I know, we are loved by God.

With the title given to me in this assignment, Quarantine through the Lens of the Sacred, I looked at all your faces this morning after compiling this page and remembered a song I’ve always loved. As I listened, it made my heart ache and tears fell. What does the future hold in our world? So many things to discuss but for now I want to share a perspective that matters yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. God is watching us-through the lens of the Sacred.

Thank you.

Quarantine through the Lens of the Sacred – Part 3 of 4

Doing our part to stop the spread of the virus during the pandemic, I found myself turning to entertainment in heavier doses. I tried to balance the avenues of entertainment with cooking delicious meals and reading great books. When life weighed heavy, when I needed to drift into Neverland, I turned on Netflix. Entertainment, in most religions, is considered secular. There are many views of the Sacred in the dramas I have watched. I won’t critique at this point but share with you books and my view from the sofa, during the last 13 months.

We can rise above and find our way around difficult times and not make them worse by being a constant complainer. One of the most inspiring movies I watched I’ve saved for last-The Way. I hope one day to walk at least part of the Camino de Santiago. Wonderful movie and it led me to read a book of a woman’s journey on the Camino. A simple diary of walking, meeting people, seeking and finding the Sacred in some of the best ways-Every Scene by Heart, by Peri Zahnd.

Quarantine through the Lens of the Sacred: Part 2 of 4

Refuge, peace, and comfort is found in many prayers from religions around the world.  I find comfort in knowing as I continue to pray for the world through this pandemic, others are praying, too.  I’ve chosen a few of the religions I have studied in this semester’s course and share a sample of prayers, in their belief, asking for peace. While we don’t have all the answers and so many argue over the pandemic, prayers brings peace and comfort to my soul. Seeking peace, extending grace and mercy to those in our community-locally and globally-keeps our hearts and minds focused on God as we ask for guidance to live out the days in honor of the Sacred.

Judaism

I have been praying for this day and now it is here!

With great excitement, a touch of trepidation

And with deep gratitude

I give thanks

To all the scientists who toiled day and night

So that I might receive this tiny vaccination

That will protect me and all souls around this world.

With the pandemic still raging

I am blessed to do my part to defeat it.

Let this be the beginning of a new day,

A new time of hope, of joy, of freedom

And most of all, of health.

I thank You, God, for blessing me with life

For sustaining my life

And for enabling me to reach this awe-filled moment.

Amen

This prayer was offered by Rabbi Naomi Levy and can be found at Rabbinical Assemly.org

Islam 

Divine Blessing  (Hindu Tradition)

Lord, if we offer You a devoted mind and heart,

You will offer to us every blessing on earth and in heaven.

You grant our deepest wishes. You give food to the body and peace to the soul.

You look upon us with love of a mother for her children.

You created this beautiful earth all around us. 

And in every plant and animal, every tree and bird,

Your spirit dwells.

You have revealed yourself to me,

infusing my soul with the knowledge that You are the source of all blessing.

And so I sing Your praises day and night. I who am feeble, glorify You who are powerful. I who       am nothing, devote myself to You who are everything. 

Prayer for Peace (Jain Tradition) 

Lead me from Death to Life, from Falsehood to Truth. 

Lead me from Despair to hope, from Fear to Trust. 

Lead me from Hate to Love, from War to Peace.

Let Peace fill our Heart, our World, our Universe.

A Buddhist Prayer for Peace

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind Quickly be freed from their illness.

May those frightened cease to be afraid,

And may those bound be free.

May the powerless find power,

And may people think of befriending one another. May those who find themselves in trackless,

Fearful wildernesses – the children, the aged,

The unprotected – be guarded by beneficent celestials.

Shinto

Ema are a small wooden prayer plaques. Shinto worshippers pray silently and write their prayers or wishes on them, then they are hung at the shrine, where the gods are believed to receive them. Below is a picture of the Ema surrounding the tree and a woman praying.  

With 2020 being a year like no other in my lifetime, my foundation of faith has been the truth I turn to time and time again as I see stability in a world where social media, politics, and hate vie for the limited attention of its following. Prayer, education, and trying to walk daily what I believe has been the most positive in this very negative time in our world. I do feel, differences in beliefs aside, that the prayer of a faithful heart brings much to our world.

Quarantine Through the Lens of the Sacred-Part One of Four

In the beginning

…I returned to creation during those first days of the pandemic. Sunrise, clear blue skies, gentle hugs of the breeze, warmth, sunsets, and stars. I worked in my vegetable garden and I spread seed for floral surprises throughout the spring. On my knees, hands in the dirt, planning, planting, and praying, questioning. The future seemed unclear except in the Sacred. 

Earth, wind, and fire

…are elements needed for life. Earth to grow, wind to provide power, and fire to warm or refine. I was drawn to praying with a candle on my bedroom window sill.  Lights out, except for the dancing flame, I observed quietly, prayed without words, and focused on the power of the Spirit to know my heart and to speak my prayers in my stead. 

Understanding those who came before…

gives understanding to the pull to be close to the earth to commune with God. Not believing in a structured temple, the Indigenous in the Americas worshiped in nature with respect to water, air, sun, moon, and stars. The large sky above them, the dwelling place of the Great Spirit. How we often look to the beauty of the sky, either by day or night, and fixate on the Holy. Peace is found, especially in troubled times. 

“In developing an Indigenous knowledge framework, it is important to outline our holistic approach which underscores the interdependence of all things in the universe; spirituality is entrenched all aspects of a ‘way of life.’ Indigenous epistemology incorporates mind, body, and spirit as facets of being that seek balance.”  (Anderson and Young, 2019)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

    the moon and the stars that you have established;

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,

    mortals that you care for them?

Psalm 4: 3-4  (NRSV, 2019)

Unsure of what would be ahead of us, I knew the power of the One who set nature and all its beauty in place. Surely we would see both death and new life. I would be comforted through things I had moved to a lower priority in life. Would this be a beginning, a return to a simpler way of living? 

Women and Religious Traditions. Leona M. Anderson and Pamela Dickey Young. OUP Canada. 2015. 

NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. eBook (Kindle Locations 71693-71698). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

More about Jesus in 2021

God came to us, all of us, in the form of man. Jesus is known by many names but Emmanuel is the word familiar to us in the Christmas story, God with us – Emmanuel. What are his other names and how do they impact the way we come to know him? This year, I want to consider many questions through reading Old Testament prophecies which came to fulfillment in him bringing the study forward to the Four Gospels of the New Testament.

The Sermon on the Mount will be a major point of study for the spring of 2021. While we know who Jesus is we cannot displace what he taught. I need to see his person and heart as a human living on Earth. How did he deal with issues of the day? What were his priorities? How did he care for people? How did he worship? What did he teach? How did he comfort? What did he give up to bring God to us?

Scholars have written thousands of books. My goal and aim in studying is to consider the questions I have, the truth he taught, to see the foundation of who Jesus is, what he came to do, why, where, and how he did those things, and how it relates to who I am and how I live my life. I feel with all my heart I know him yet realize there is more. Little things I’ve missed. I pray for the Spirit to help me learn, understand, and worship as I study. I want to listen and learn from people from different backgrounds who do not see Jesus as I do. I’m open. I have a curious nature but I don’t want my curiosity and search for knowledge to overcome my growth and worship of God-the Father, God-the Son, and God-the Holy Spirit.

I’ll try to post unique and common things I find. All this, while living in the daily routine, the unexpected circumstances, caregiving, nurturing, and loving family, friends, and neighbors. It’s the daily grind and I’m anticipating Jesus dealt with the daily grind, also. Prayers appreciated as I travel this road. Please share any thoughts or questions you may have. Travel companions are most welcome.

The Long and Winding Road

How many times have I written about a new day, clean slate, or a fresh beginning?  Many.  I love a fresh start but I’ve learned to enjoy remaining on a path with ups and downs, bends, loops, and under construction signs.  Much more realistic to face life by continuing on instead of thinking there always has to be a fresh start.  

I claim a journey which began a few years ago.  I was about to have surgery, stood on a scale, and swore to myself that I would never see that number again and I never have.  Today my scale will check bone density, BMI, water retention, and weight.   I’m beginning to appreciate the BMI numbers because I don’t want to be described in a medical chart as overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  That’s where the rubber meets the road.  Those are medical terms which have meaning to your body.  It’s a hard fact to face  but at some point we have to say, “This is it.  Not putting a time frame on it but I’m going to seek the healthy side of scales, BMI charts, and lab work.”

I met with a health coach and we began to uncover my triggers, fears, anxieties, and plain ol’ stubborn habits I held with an iron fist.  Relationships and where I placed myself around others — both family and friends — began to feel better or at least where I could maintain who I am.  I’m learning not to fold to pressures by acting or reacting in certain ways.

It’s been a very long time since I downed an entire bag of malted milk eggs.  If I decide venting through food is the only option, I have limits and options that have allowed me to loosen my iron fisted stubbornness.

I could toss up a couple of pictures and say, “Look,” and show you the difference between the weight then and  now.  The outside appearance is better but I’ve come to realize I will never look like I did when I was 18.  And, say it with me, this is OK.   I’m 58.  That was 40 years ago.  Pictures do not reveal the most important changes of the heart, mind, and soul.  Those are things I treasure.  When I am measured by someone who looks at my outward appearance it doesn’t bother me.  I know what’s inside.  

The matters of my heart have changed along with mind and soul.

I’m on a journey to finding health in my life — spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I would not trade where I am right now, to be back at 18 years old and a ridiculously low weight, for anything.  Who I am means more.  How I feel means more.  My reactions mean more at this point than a number.  

If I reach the goal weight, that golden pot at the end of the healthy path rainbow, I might become arrogant again, ill tempered,  long on words without thinking first, impatient.  Those things still happen but not nearly as often because of the emotional changes in me. 

So, today, as I see so many people on the trail at Turkey Creek or cars parked at the gym, I will see another day on a long journey.  One that will not end at a numbered goal.  Who am I now and who will I be at the goal?  The journey will continue no matter the numbers.  I want the travels to be livable, healthy, and I want to be an asset to family and friends, not a thorn in their side.  

  1. Be real about who you are and your relationships with others 
  2. Find your healthy limits
  3. Let go of what you are told is the answer and seek the truth for yourself
  4. Seek freedom from old mindsets and find confidence in your healthy choices
  5. Treat others as you want to be treated  

The answers in soul searches are never defined in a number.  Matters of the heart cannot be measured.  How we live the journey matters most.  I’m on my journey and I may surprise myself with a number one day but it will just be a little blip on the radar screen. I will credit the attitude, intentions, and my Lord for seeing me through life with choices that were best for me.

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Be Still

Do you ever feel like withdrawing and not having contact with anyone?  Not sharing stories, not sharing ideas, just completely and totally withdrawing?  We all do from time to time.  Unfortunately, I have felt this way about writing lately.   My writing comes from my heart.  Personal ideas, memories, aspirations, dreams.  Sometimes I don’t want to share.  When this happens my blog rests on an old date waiting for a new post.  Today I need to write.

Life has been a difficult walk for the past few weeks.  Our family lost my nephew, Ryan.  We have wept, hugged, comforted, raged, and found some points of healing.  We know more healing will come to our mournful souls but it will take time.  We will always love him, always remember him, and look forward to the day when we will see him again.  Hope comes from the Lord and we never lose His hope.  We never lose a decision made to trust in Him.  He forgives, accepts, and loves us.

While God has taken this precious young man from our family, we look forward to two baby boys and a baby girl coming this summer and fall.  Blessings happen in the midst of sorrow.  God loves us and provides the healing we all long for.  Right now we hurt.  Joy does come when we open ourselves to see the expanse of life through God’s eyes.  

Grief and joy do have the ability to co-exist.  Odd partners that work well together because of God’s care for us.  He won’t leave us and He will never forsake us.  He is our constant guide when we struggle to place one foot ahead of the other.  

Take in His presence today in a peaceful place.  Be still and know that He cares for you, He is God.  You are His creation.  Feel Him in the blue sky, clouds, sunset or sunrise, at the water’s edge.  Breathe in the rose’s aroma, the organic smells of a mountain trail, and be wrapped in a hug from Him.  

This has always been a comforting song to me and I pray the same for you.  Click here to listen.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s

Be Still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still
Be speechless
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know He is our father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

Live a Great Story

Live a great story.I saw this message today as I did some planning for my week.  Live a great story.  As a writer, my mind is always working on a story.  What if I take some time to be sure I LIVE a great story?

What would that look like for me?  

Sunshine every morning when I wake up

Fresh and hot coffee in my favorite mug

Read my Bible and focus on a spiritual point for the day

A brisk walk

Hot shower

Good hair

A workable and healthy food plan for the day

Good conversation

All plans for the day go smoothly

But what happens on many mornings?  It’s dreary, foggy, rainy and not my favorite weather.  The coffee is weak and due to the weather I postpone my walk.  I avoid the shower, use dry shampoo in my hair, find the hair clip and then long for Chick Fil A.  I skim my Bible reading and don’t take the time to find the applicable point for the day.  

Can a great story still be lived out in the second scene I described?

Yes.

We may long for things, desire situations, and have big plans.  Suddenly we find ourselves on a totally different path.  One that feels like a dead end.

Maybe your college plan did not work out for you

A job offer did not come through

What you thought was a loving relationship ends

A loved one dies

A miscarriage

An unplanned pregnancy

The diagnosis of a terminal illness

Even when circumstances and feelings that surround our life not going according to plan, there is a great story to be lived out.  You still have a great life to live.  We turn our attention to the needs of the day and reassess how we will live in the present situation.  

Commit to a healthy attitude

Regroup

Seek counsel for your situation

Seek to understand how and why the situation happened

Don’t compare 

Continue to keep your eye on your goals

Know that hard work is ahead

A great life story is how we react and overcome.  The obstacles are going to be there.  Meet them toe to toe and head on.  Live a great story!