Sunday, September 19, 2021

Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector


 This was a CHORE to get through. I really did not care for her angsty female stories. Most people really love her, but I just thought how people just lead lives of quiet desperation, and the women in her stories do that in almost every single one. 

She does write beautifully, and this is why people like her. She was also a famous female author who didn't commit suicide  (think Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath). 

Nope. Didn't care for her collection of stories, and I am not ashamed to admit it. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The State of The Well



I have not done this in ages! Here goes.

Well-Watered Soul

I think this is probably the thing I have really grown the most in over the last two years. COVID opened up new possibilities for growth for me. 

While I found Renovare Institute too academic for me, and since I had been in Renovare since the 90s, it was all books I had read before (and loved). 

I do thank Renovare for opening up my world through their books and the book club. The Institute did lead me to the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius. I had been doing components (Ignatian contemplation and the Examen) for years, and I had even purchased this book by Ignatius in the 2000s, but it wasn't until the Institute assigned A Simple Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney that I really understood what the Exercises were all about, and I dove in with all my heart. I will never forget the morning of October 31, 2017, when I woke up to God saying, "READ THIS BOOK." So I did, and it was life-changing like the book said! It helped me understand the Examen and Imaginative Contemplation as part of the larger picture of Ignatian Spirituality. 

I had spent years with the Benedictines and the Trappists, and I have so much to thank them for: deeper Lectio Divina, Praying the Hours, and my first exposure to spiritual direction with Sister Joan (Benedictine) and Brother Mark (Trappist RIP), but I didn't understand Ignatian spirituality until I read Manney's book and The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything This was the challenge I wanted and needed. When I went through the Exercises that year in 4 monthsyears of struggle were released as "sin patterns" and "inordinate attachments" were named and acknowledged in the "bubble wrap of God's love" (my phrase) bringing me into closer abiding union with Him! 

I am grateful for Renovare, in general, because the book club led me to How to Pray by Pete Greig, and that, in turn, led me to join The Order of the Mustard Seed. I was looking for a community with the Spiritual Exercises people (most out of town and not easily able to connect with because they do most face-to-face and not through Zoom). God closed that door very clearly only to open wide the door of The Order of the Mustard Seed.

I am also grateful for Sustainable Faith as I looked for a Spiritual Direction training that emphasized Ignatian spirituality, and I loved it.

But reading The Sacred Enneagram for one of my book reports in Sustainable Faith opened my heart to adopt Centering Prayer (Silent Prayer in a more general sense) after having done it at the Trappist Monastery several times and finding myself going into Silent Prayer at the end of Ignatian (Imaginative) Contemplation or Lectio Divina. I think COVID caused all these formerly "in-person" groups to offer it online so that I could experience it with people who have been doing it for years and years. I am so grateful. (Two out of the four online groups are Benedictine.) 

So it has born fruit of the presence of God in my life during the hours I am not intentionally having a Silent Prayer time. That has been huge as I am learning that I "let go" so much more easily without all the emotions attached. What is, is. I let go. 

Well-Educated Mind

I really cannot believe that I am doing yet another BOOK LIST! Ack! I am reading through the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die. I think 90% of the books are really good and ones I never would have thought to pick up to read. I have grown so much in my understanding (which feeds my Enneagram Type 5 Harmony Triad connection 2-5-8). I will say there is one book that I really dislike. I have been trying to read it for over a month, and I am only 1/3rd of the way through. Life is too short. I am thinking of just counting it as attempted and return it to the library! (I returned it!)

Speaking of Enneagram, that is where I have become more well-educated, and that has been so helpful for my own personal growth. I am also teaching more and doing one-on-one sessions for it. I am seeking to develop more spiritual resources for my directees in this area. 

Well-Adjusted Heart

I have been noticing how I don't "angst" over things. I don't experience as much shame as I once did. I am not saying I apologize less because I still make mistakes, but I don't feel shame when I say "no" or set boundaries like I once did. I can remember a time when I could not say "no"! That would get me into the biggest trouble. I have been really good at saying "no" lately, but the shame I felt about disappointing people would make me stew for too long. Now I am not stewing. I am letting it go more easily (part from above - Silent Prayer practice of letting both pleasant and negative thoughts go), and I am also getting to the bottom of my shame which tells me the lie that if I say "no" and disappoint people, they will not like me or love me or want me to be part of their group. That is the selfish twisted mind of an Enneagram Type Two. So for my mental health, I get into how my body is feeling. I go for a walk. I acknowledge and release my fear of being unwanted and unloved, and I receive God's truth: I am wanted and loved by him (this gets to the "inordinate attachments" in the Spiritual Exercises too). I return after my walk and resolve to LIVE in that truth. It has been beautiful!

Where I see how much I have grown is for two things:

1) I met with someone who I poured my life into for 3 1/2 years. We have not met for over 10 years. I had other priorities, and I have grown so much in the last 10 years because we met again for tea a few weeks ago, and I realized, that person is not someone I want to invest in. I put up with so much of that person's semi-bullying verbal behavior when we met for 3 1/2 years, but I could see it so much more clearly. I didn't like the way she spoke to me. I did not like the way she treated me. Before, I just figured it was me, and I would twist myself like a pretzel so she would "like" me (again, a selfish desire that I need to acknowledge). In this latest conversation, I stayed just 45 minutes, and I said, "I have to go" quite naturally (not abruptly), and she had no idea. I just don't like the way we interact, and I don't want to pursue that relationship. That was huge for me. My hubby gave me high 5s all around because he does it so much more naturally than I do. I have had to learn to discern what is the best way to "number my days" with people, and I think back on the hours and hours we spent together ten years ago, and I would never do that now. 

2) The other situation is with an autocratic, patriarchal leader. I have poured hours into a project with no guidance other than the words "develop abiding resources." Nine months into it, he interfered with a major decision without even consulting or informing me or my team. I even read his instructions to me that I have followed to the letter, but he changed his instructions without a discussion after nine months of hard work. The discussion around this change involved no openness to hearing my team's point of view. An autocratic and impractical decision was made, and while I would have had no problem had that decision been made before we implemented it, but it was made in mid-stream, and it would take hours to undo what we had already done. I will implement the change mid-stream, but once my part is finished, I will move on to the implementation with individuals who respond to what we have done rather than continuing to develop content. God had already told me December 21, 2021, as an exit for the leadership of this team, and I am going to hold to that as my passions lead me elsewhere. I have loved doing this and the people I have been working with. I do not hold any ill feelings toward this leader. I just don't want to be on his task force anymore after I am done with my part of the task. 

It is OK to want other things. That is what I am learning. 

Well-Tuned Strength 

Part of my people-pleasing would also cause me to teach a Back class for one of the health clubs I work for that was hurting my back! I know it may work for most of the people who have taken this well-loved class, but I was in the most pain I have been in years! So I said, "NO"! I have not looked back, and they found someone else. 

So, I am just teaching one in-person class of Pilates at the Univ this term. I am excited to do that. I have been pretty good about maintaining my Pilates strength all summer, and I am so excited to get back to the Univ face to face with students. My class is full and even has a waiting list.

I am still walking the Route 66 challenge, and I am 63% of the way there with cardio great.

Weight is still something I need to grow in. I am still within my ideal weight range, but I like to be in the middle rather than the top. This is my biggest challenge.

Whispers of Presence by Christine A Mallouhi

 


I interviewed this author for a podcast I am doing for my organization. She was delightful. This is one woman's journey from doing to being. It is more her reflections of noticing God in her day-to-day activities, sprinkled with poems and writings from others. I liked it, and I really liked her. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Freewrite - The Things that Ground Me

 

Thirteen Miles Down the Willamette River By Myself!


Maybe a better topic title would be "The Things that Ground Me to My Anchor (Jesus!)"

Well, here is my list in no particular order:

Prayer - I have a rhythm that is so right for me. I am not legalistic about it because it is about relationship, hanging out with God. I cannot wait to get up in the morning! 

For the last year, it has been Celtic Prayer Morning, Midday, and Evening (since Lectio365 came out with an evening prayer time, I do that more often than the Celtic prayer though). 

The morning prayer has a reading in Psalms, Old Testament, and New Testament, and I usually linger a bit longer on one of the three passages praying Lectio Divina.

I worship (and dance many times) to the worship music that starts out Pray as You Go prayer and Scripture. Love the variety. This morning was Audrey Assad and the Porter's Gate. LOVE!

I also listen to Lectio365, often on a walk. 

Walks ground me.

Listening to my Gregorian music (right now, in fact). It really isn't just Gregorian, and I love those monks and nuns singing in large cathedrals. The acoustics are amazing.

Balance grounds me. I don't get too caught up in being the savior of the world. I go and have fun. Thus what I did in the midst of the Afghan crisis. Part of it was that they were all sleeping when I went on a fun time. During this crisis, I have kayaked four times. (And yesterday I did 13 miles down the Willamette all by myself!) 

Nature grounds me. I drink it in. I notice it. I get out of my head and lookup. That is a huge deal for me. I think I didn't use to do that very well. Now I don't even need to try to do it. Yay.

I let go. Oh speaking of letting GO...

Centering/Silent Prayer has helped me do that, and it is almost time for my midday Centering prayer time. I must go and cut this freewrite short! ACK! 

BYE! 

Balance - body, soul, and spirit. 

Monday, September 06, 2021

NOTICING REFLECTIONS

Reflections on NOTICING

  • What characterized your experience of turning your attention to the presence of God within and without? In what ways did God meet you? In what ways did he, perhaps, seem absent?
TURNING TO GOD'S PRESENCE WITHIN

I loved the excerpt from Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Madame Guyon! I am going to use it as an introduction to one of the Silent Prayer times I will be leading every Thursday morning at 8:30 am, starting on September 16th!

My more extended times of turning to God's presence within really started more in earnest on this day three years ago. I was reading a book by an author who said he had a silent prayer time two times a day for 20 minutes each, and I thought, NO WAY! I had also read The Interior Castle and The Cloud of Unknowing. On top of all that, I had to choose a spiritual discipline for the year to grow in during my spiritual direction training. So I chose this one.  It was perfect timing as I was finding more and more silence in God's presence during the contemplatio times in my Lectio Divina meditations too. So I was game to grow!


I would set a timer, and I loved it. Then I found groups that were doing it online. At this point, I have an option to do it for 20-30 minutes with a group (Mercy Center, Jo O of OMS, Presbyterians in Corvallis, and House of Prayer, East Mosely) This has helped me.

So for this specific module in the collaborative, it was just more of what is already in my "Rhythm of Life." So I noticed God within.

WITHOUT

I did the first meditation with an excerpt from a book. I saw the Holy Spirit as a shining light. It asked if there was anyone with me, and I would say I was alone, but George was also with me because we are so aligned with each other on seeking the presence of God. In fact, I feel like he has taught me so much about stopping and smelling the roses and noticing. I noticed that when we were on our beach trip with the boys, I was so much more in tune to everything, and they marveled over the littlest things, and I marveled with them while I would continue walking lost in my thoughts. I was experiencing the present moment! (Have you ever felt sea kelp? It is amazing!)

The recorded meditations were not really my cup of tea. I like the ones with Pray as You Go and with Southridge Community Church. I did like the Thurman quote though. I will keep on doing them. I think I was just not used to so much talking through a meditation. The ones that I have done are more brief introduction and some time to just be in God's presence, where this was more continual talking.  I really like Iona's Walking with God in Nature too. I had taken a walk and did that one the day before I started doing these. 

  • What practices might help you further heighten your awareness of the presence of God in which you "live and move and have your being"? What impact would such a "heightened awareness" make in your life?
I have mentioned many of them above: Breath Prayer, Walking with God in Nature, Centering/Silent Prayer, pausing longer at the end of Lectio Divina.

The impact for me has been HUGE. I think that is the number one way I have grown in the last three years. NOTICING through Examen and the Spiritual Exercises and also pausing and noticing God's presence throughout the day and at those 1-2 intentional 20 minutes. I have seen that I "let go" of things so much more easily now. 

Throughout the chaos of the country I am deeply involved with, I paused every single day for at least 20 minutes of intentional gazing at Jesus. It was so great!!! I had my regular morning prayer time, "presence walks" through out the day, Celtic prayer rhythms, but this added thing to my life has been the best thing! 
  • Apophatic and Kataphatic: How do you relate to these two models of prayer? (See the first page of "Week 1, Part 2" for a reminder of what these terms signify.) Do you find yourself drawn to one more than the other? If so, why? What further exploration might the Spirit be inviting? What might that look like for you?
I love them more, and as I mentioned my Kataphatic Lectio Divina times were going into Apophatic more automatically. I talked to my Centering Prayer mentors, and they said that is exactly what happens for many! 

I would have said I am Carol Kataphatic when I read The Cloud of Unknowing a few years ago, but I think I am Carol Kataphatic Ann Apophatic (my middle name). I like them both the same!!! 

It looks like Kataphatic morning time with God leading to Apophatic wordless prayer at the contemplatio time of Lectio Divina and an intentional time with the nuns (M-W, and F), Mercy Center (Sun, Th), Jo from OMS (Th), and Presbyterians (Sun). The only day I am on my own is Saturday, but that is getting easier and easier now!
  • Share about your "Current Rhythm of Life." What did this exercise reveal for you? To what degree are your deepest values honored by your daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms?
Well here is my current one.


 I have to make one for the Order of the Mustard Seed, but I have had a Life Rhythm since I was in college. :) 

My deepest values are: 
Be true to Christ
Kind to People
Take the Gospel to the Nations
  • Imagine sitting down with Jesus and sharing your "Current Rhythm of Life" with him. What emotions does this evoke? How do you imagine him responding to you and what you share?
Happiness that He is my all in all. In Him I live and move and have my being!!!

He is saying, "YOU GO, GIRL! Let's walk hand in hand together. You have chosen what is needful." 

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Freewrite of Peace and Walking with God Outside

 

It is just a humble leaf, but when you walk with your senses,
little things become so significant!

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. Luke 5:16


I contacted Mount Angel Abbey this morning for a private retreat. I have been going on days of solitude and prayer since 1979. So good for my soul.  . . . (Their prices have skyrocketed. So I contacted the Queen of Angels Monastery instead. They didn't have anything but someone canceled at 4:20 yesterday. So I got in at HALF the price!)

I started this post on Wednesday, and it is Saturday. So here I go starting again. 

This is the lovely meditation about Jesus going to lonely places to pray. If it is not at the link anymore after a while, you can find it in my DropBox:

Pray as you go (pray-as-you-go.org)

DropBox:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/brlbwlyp9bpjys0/22.6%20Lk%204%2042-44.mp3?dl=0

It is 9 am, and I am going to write for 15 minutes.

I had sent the "Walk with God in Nature" recording to one of my international friends, and she was going to go do it in her country. I have not done it in a few months. So after our time from 6-7am this morning, I thought I would take a walk with God!

I walked down Highland/10th to the track near the Boys and Girls Club. I loved the blue sky against the green trees that lined the track. I noticed they had put a fence up separating the clinic from the track. I used to cut through there, but I guess I won't be able to do that again.

The thing that hit me most was a fallen leaf with gorgeous fall colors. I don't think it was one left over from last year because those leaves that are left on the ground are more withered. Could it be the first fall leave drop of 2021? I will post a picture of it. It was multi-colored. 

Another thing I noticed is that I could hear the birds singing (along with the sounds of trucks madly trying to get the remodeled Garfield School ready for the students coming two days after Labor Day), but I hardly saw any flying. That is the difference when I am out in nature, proper. I especially saw so many birds with George last Saturday when we went to the Freeway Lakes in our kayaks. So I did see one that was perfectly timed for my looking.

I really had so much to be grateful for. We live in this peaceful country. There are no Taliban harassing us as we walk along the street. I can walk in shorts and a T-Shirt without my head covered. The sky was so beautiful (I am still tempted to go for another kayak journey down the river with George dropping me off and picking me up at the take-out). So there you have it. I loved my reflective walk with nature. I remember doing that in June 2020 and being so healed from that person who racked me over the coals at the end of 2019. It took so long to heal from that, but I really and truly am healed from it. 

All that said, I also did a weekly Examen prayer time, and I think it is good. I felt dismissed and disrespected by someone this week. It was someone I barely know. It is someone who does not "get" what my team is trying to accomplish. But it is someone who is in charge. So, I had to let go and let that person make a decision that I disagreed with and seemed impractical and made without any regard for others. He is younger than me. It is something I find increasingly more common. Of course, the CEOs around me are going to be younger because most my age have retired by now! LOL! So I reviewed it, and I saw the beauty of the process. I DID speak my opinion. I did it respectfully, but then  I let it go, and my partner was so kind in understanding how I felt in the process (he was in on the meeting too). I think one of my issues is the male/female dynamic. I think it is intrinsic in many males to believe that ARE in charge and know more. So there is a little bit of patronizing that happened that I noticed, but I am so used to the subtle dynamics of male/female relationships in my company that I just have to say "oh well." Actually, I realized that issue is not a "hill I will die on" because I definitely have "bigger fish to fry" in helping my dear friends out of the chaotic country. So I let it go. I live for another day and a future day when this CEO really and truly GETS IT. I think that person has a way to go and is totally blind to his blind spot. This was confirmed to me by a good friend who works with him on a regular basis and wants to start something with me and my partner that will coincide with what we are doing, but this particular person GETS IT totally because he is my buddy, and we have been in cahoots about change in our organization for YEARS!

Oh, that was good to process AGAIN! LOL!

Layer upon layer and the timer for 15 minutes is ringing! 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Freewrite to Free this Country and Myself


Fifteen minutes counting down . . . 

What a morning! Started off with waking up after a full night of sleep. I fell asleep at maybe 8:30 and slept until 5:30. That is really long for me, but I had a short night the night before, and my body always evens out to 6 hours in the end.

For such a time as this (stream of consciousness here). That is what keeps ringing through my head.

The prophetic word over us about two or three months ago with a map of this country put at our feet. The person saw the outline of a map in their listening to God. He went to an atlas to see what the country was. It was the country in turmoil right now.

He traced it on paper. We thought, "How nice." We do have friends there. We love those people. Nothing is open there. We know another language and hope to go to another country or two that speak that one.

But now, "for such a time as this." That is the country put at our feet. That is the country that gets my priority prayer. The people there in general. The friends there in particular. 

Yet, there is such peace. I think I can attribute that only to God. There has been urgency and there has been a tremendous amount of time and effort expended, but I would give even more. It is not about my effort. It is about God. I heard "For my greater glory" at another prayer time (three weeks ago?). I know it is for that. Whether our friends live or die, it is for God's greater glory. We can rest in that.

I had the mother of a soldier feeling horrible that her efforts on our behalf ended with utter heartbreak. People turned away at the gate. Not her failure. Not God's failure. It is just what will happen "For the greater glory." That's it.

It has been so good to STOP every day and have silent prayer time. Sometimes two times a day, but always that mid-day one. Stop and center and still myself before the Lord without words. Gazing at his glory. Peace. Presence. He is there. He sees it all. He really is real. 

So this morning after some time with God, I had a 6 am meeting. I spoke the truth. I was being a loving (2), visionary (5), revolutionary (8). I had to speak it to the head of the whole thing who oversees 1600 people. Then this Type Two shrinks back. Was I too overbearing? Will he think I was mad? UGH. That is more what I struggle with this morning than the people in the country that is in chaos. When things are out of my hands, I am usually pretty willing to not try to take them into my own. But when it is something I said or relational things. I struggle more.

I am growing there. To tap into the healthy side of Type 8, I must take risks of relational disconnection. Not that I am "wrong" in being outspoken, but they might choose to disconnect with me as a result. That is death to the unhealthy side of Type Two. I need to resist. I know in my heart I was not mad. I know in my heart that my passion can sometimes be misconstrued as anger (I was angry last week about this whole mess in the country. So I know when I am mad.), but that is not my issue. I think I did well. George thinks I did well too because he overheard me being assertive. He loves me when I am assertive. :) He likes my healthy side of Type 8, but he is a very healthy person. I think the person I was speaking to is healthy too though. So I think we are good. 

So I have been in my HEART triad for hours. I was immobilized in my HEART. So this writing is me breaking into my HEAD. Logically putting it all down on paper. (Also taping into my writing Type 4.) So next step will be a walk to the labyrinth to get into my BODY triad Type 8. I think I am going to be OK. I think I am going to fly. I think that my friends in that country, whether they live or die, will glorify God in all they say and do. While I would like to see a picture of them on a plane or crossing a border to safety rather than getting pictures of the bad guys celebrating in the streets, I trust in Your mighty hand.

AMEN! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ten Minute Freewrite


I thought I would freewrite for 10 while I wait for my co-worker Paul to get into the Zoom room. I have been up since 3:21 am. My friends are in line at the airport trying to get out of that country that has been overrun. What a mess. 

I have some reflection as I "examine" my day yesterday. I don't know if it was a desolation, but I went to someone's house yesterday. We have not sat down and talked for any length of time for many years. Twice a week for 3 1/2 years, we did a Creation to Christ study. This was back in 2007-2010. Long story short, as we were talking yesterday, I realized that she is not a Person of Peace. I forgot how much she verbally overpowers you. One of the characteristics of a Person of Peace is they are WOOLY:

Welcomes

Opens up their

Oikos (Greek for network of relationships)

Listens to 

You.

I realized that this person WELCOMES, and I love that person, but this person just does not LISTEN!

George was at home hearing the exact same thing as he prayed for our time. Before I would have continued to sit there and listen to the pontification. I did listen for a long time, but then I felt the need to not stay too long. To touch base and not deeply invest as I did for 3 1/2 years. I believe people can become People of Peace eventually, but that time is not now. I will continue to pray. 

And He can make a way.    

Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector

  This was a CHORE to get through. I really did not care for her angsty female stories. Most people really love her, but I just thought how ...