Monday, April 29, 2019

Monday Freewrite

It is a Monday afternoon, again, the sun is shining through the side window. I decided to commit myself to an hour of writing because I could not sit very long this morning. I had been experiencing pain on my left side at the waist. It had it on the right on Friday/Saturday, but it came back on the other side today. I figured it was something deeper in my spine. So, Dr. M had a cancellation within 30 minutes of me calling them first thing this morning. Yep, I was all out of whack in my pelvis. So, I did not write. Then I needed to rest and not sit to have my pelvis set. So, I feel great this afternoon so I set myself up to write Week 33 of my 34 Week manual on the Exercises. So close. But I go to write, and my heart is distracted by the sweetness of this final contemplation. I find myself in the presence of God, and I cannot go back. So I am writing it here to document it once again. What is it about these Exercises that hit me so deeply? (I think it just gets to the whole heart of the matter of this walk of faith: God's loving presence in every nook and cranny of our lives is available to all as long as we stop and see him there.)  The first section of this last Exercises is contemplating the gifts of God in the created world; "the wonder of vast plains and mountains and the tiny wild flower." Running along stars and planets, etc. It goes on. It is really quite beautiful. I suppose a part of me just does not want to be done with all of this writing on this good stuff. I have 19 more days of the Exercises. Yes, this is the last contemplation, but the final two weeks will be pondering action and savoring the graces of the whole retreat since September. I have loved this so much. It will open up time for other things, but I love the time that I have spent with this retreat. 

So, I am going to go back (not a fifteen minute freewrite, but I am ready.)

Blessing upon blessing . . . . 

(234) First Point
This is to recall to mind the blessings of creation and redemption, and the special favors I have received.
I will ponder with great affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He possesses, and finally, how much, as far as He can, the same Lord desires to give Himself to me according to His divine decrees.
Then I will reflect upon myself, and consider, according to all reason and justice, what I ought to offer the Divine Majesty, that is, all I possess and myself with it. Thus, as one would do who is moved by great feeling, I will make this offering of myself:
Take, Lord, and Receive
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.[2]

Saturday, April 27, 2019

15. Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion

Oh sigh, I did not really like this book. I found it really rambling and not really written in a manner that I could follow. It didn't really offer kind solutions and felt very condemning. He also knocked many public figures. I just thought the tone was somewhat self-righteous too. 

I could not really relate to him having not being raised in the church or in the South. I do belong to a society of women that is composed of predominantly white, evangelical, southerners, and we who composed the small number of women in the group from the West coast  would just look at each other quizzically when they would insist that it was the "War of Northern Aggression" and about states' rights rather than the "Civil War" and about slavery. Some of them still believed that the south is suffering economically because of that War.

My education on this subject has been more formed from the writings of mostly black people rather than a white person who grew up as a Southern Baptist in the heart of the Bible Belt. My awareness and compassion has grown more though these readings. (And I am sure has much more room to grow.) The people who wrote the books below are my heroes. If you have followed my blog for years, you know that I read 287 books that are considered classics. The one with the best list about this subject were from the book called The Well-Educated Mind. Here are the books on this subject:  

1851 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Stowe/Novel
1861 Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Jacobs/Autobio
1872 Paul Laurence Dunbar Poetry (American and my favorite poet)
1881 Life & Times of Frederick Douglass/Narrative of Frederick Douglass/Autobio
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain/Novel
1901 Up From Slavery by Washington/Autobio
1902 Langston Hughes Poetry (American)
1903 Souls of Black Folk by DuBois/History (American)
1940 Native Son by Wright/Novel
1952 Invisible Man by Ellison/Novel
1965 The Autobiography of Malcolm X/Autobio
1974 Roll, Jordan, Roll:The World the Slaves Made by Genovese/History
1977 Song of Solomon by Morrison/Novel

Other books that my book clubs have read that are helpful:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee (not a black author)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston - exquisite writing)
The Color Purple (Walker - not my favorite but inspired by Hurston) 

Update 6/20: The Underground Railroad (Whitehead)


About Apartheid in South Africa:
Cry, the Beloved Country
Kaffir Boy 

England's Fight to Abolish Slavery:
Wilberforce: A Hero of Humanity by Belmonte (I loved this, but my book club did not.) 
Amazing Grace (about Wilberforce) by Metaxas

14. Draw Me Into Your Friendship: A Literal Translation and A Contemporary Reading of The Spiritual Exercises

142093 This contemporary translation of the Exercises was much easier to understand than the one I bought in 2016. I like this because it has the literal translation on the opposite page, and sometimes, I do wonder how Fleming came to his contemporary translation because it sounded nothing like the literal, but that as more the exception than the rule.

We were told NOT to buy this when I started the SEEL in Portland in September, but I wrote down the name and bought in anyway, and I am really glad that I did. I would say that most people don't need to buy this to be a retreatant with the Exercises though. Ignatius wrote this for the spiritual director, and since I am doing spiritual direction now, I wanted to learn this. My spiritual director the Exercises has thought it was great that I bought it, and he has mentored me in helping others through them. I am excited to have a few people to accompany next year. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

13. The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom

This was a Book Babes Book Club read. I really loved it. This is the story of a journalist who spent a year with Room 142, the Newcomers Class for refugees at South High School in Denver, Colorado. As someone who has spent the last 38 years of her life helping people from other countries navigate the waters of language and culture here, it was heart-warming to hear her story. The histories of the children in this classroom will give you nothing but compassion for the global refugee crisis we face today. 

This quote at the end of the book says it all:

Getting to know the newcomer students had deepened my own life, and watching Mr. Williams work with all twenty-two of them as once with so much grace, dexterity, sensitivity, and affection had provided me with daily inspiration. I would even say that spending a year in Room 142 had allowed me to witness something as close to holy as I 've seen take place between human beings. I could only wish that in time, more people would be able to look pat their fear of the stranger and experience the wonder of getting to know people from other parts of the globe. For as far as I could tell, the world was not going to stop producing refugees. The plain, irreducible fact of good people being made nomad by the millions through all kinds of horror this world would produce seemed likely to prove the central moral challenge of our times. How did we want to meet that challenge? We could fill our heart with fear or with hope. And the choice would affect more than just or own dispositions, for in choosing which seeds to sow, we would dictate the type of harvest. Surely the only harvest worth cultivating was the one Mr. Williams had been seeking: greater fluency, better understanding. 
Providentially, my library had a Random Review by the former director of the Multicultural Center in my town that was excellent:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

12. Retreat in the Real World

I just love the way they word this book. Although I prefer going through the Exercises with the help of a spiritual director and group like I did this year (he was able to give me more material than the online retreat gives), I think this is a good introduction. They pretty much guide you through it beautifully. 

 I loved doing this last year and used this book again this year to inspire me. I have the whole book on audio, and I listen to it often as I am going about my "real world" life. Of course, there is some praying to Mary that I do not believe in, but that is minimal. I love this little guide. 

The online version of this exact retreat is HERE.

The audio version of this is HERE.

I am also writing my own guide if you are interested. Contact me.

11. A Harmony of the Gospels: New American Standard

Just finished today. This is my fourth time through this. I love how all the gospels are put in chronological order, and I have so many notes from previous times that it is great. I used it as I prayed through the Spiritual Exercises this year. 

10. Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits

901196This was given to me by the SEEL Portland crew that led me through the Spiritual Exercises this year. It is a sweet book with prayers and poetry by different Jesuits. There are a few that are not part of my tradition (praying to Mary and the Saints), but they are far and few between and most of the entries are very sweet and a nice addition to the Exercises. 

9. The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling

201930I have read quotes from this book several times. So it was good to read it with the Renovare Book Club. I think the helps with the RBC helped make it easier to digest. It is not my favorite book, but it has some real gems. I kept writing in the margin about it being so opposite of what Ignatius recommends. This unknown author recommends just forgetting everything and going into this cloud of the unknowing God, putting aside reason, understanding, and emotions (apophatic). Ignatius says to pay attention to all of that (kataphatic). Then the RBC had an article about the difference between the kind of prayer/meditation in the Cloud and in the Spiritual Exercises. Of course, that made it interesting, and my spiritual director knew all about this. (See article about this HERE. It does not print well. So I have a clean copy I can send you.)

I think discussing it with the sharp and loving women in my book club also helped me like this book a bit better. 

I do have to let you see one woman's take on this kind of meditation versus other kinds. The illustration is so cute!

8. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

I recommended this book after our book club read Ghost Map and the author of that book had an epilogue that explored the dangers of urbanization. This is a book that is not happy by any means, but I read it a few years ago, and I thought the writing was so good. I liked it the second time too; if you can use "like" to evaluate this book. It is not an easy read, but it certainly helps me to have compassion for the urban poor and people who are at the lower rungs of a society that sees little upward mobility. I am a little fearful my book club will not like it though! We will see. 

7. Secrets of the Savanna

1111668 I was not really wild about this book. I would have loved to have simple story, but I kept thinking the authors wanted to be authors. So they flowered it up a bit too much when I just wanted the facts of their experience. It turns out the wife DID end up writing a fictional novel! They also got a divorce after their many years in Africa. 

I liked the summary of their work in the end much better than the actual book that I found boring. No knock to what they accomplished which was incredible. 

6. Why We Sleep

34466963 I never would have picked this up and read it had it not been one of my book club's suggestions, but I am so glad that I did. Seriously is my favorite book of 2019 so far. We are a sleep-deprived nation, and we have to get better for our long term health. There are more deaths from car accidents from sleep deprivation than alcohol and drugs. I have a student in my Pilates class recovering from a car accident due to sleep deprivation. It is a miracle she is even alive. 

So, I heartily recommend this book. The information is fascinating, and the tips are helpful. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tuesday Twelve Freewrite

I have been writing in the afternoons after I get back from teaching. Today I did three Pilates classes in a row and then was going to skip my Circuit Weight Training class but decided to just go for it. It was great! Rode my back home happy. 

Now, the sun in streaming from the west through my French doors. I am listening to my Amazon Play list of 55 songs and 5 hours of non-stop praise and worship music based on the playlist of a recent prayer gathering of over 800 people. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it and am happy to share it (but I am thinking you will need Amazon Prime Music Unlimited - I have had it for over a year now, and it has made my teaching so much easier to have any song I want at my finger tips to play for my classes. Happy to share this amazing playlist.) 

So the sun in bleeding through, and it is one of those Holy Spirit presence time. The sun, the music, the peace I feel after good sweat, working with amazing people (I LOVE my coworkers at OSU - it makes me cry how lovely they are) and students (I made the class I subbed for giggle with delight - always a goal :)) 

This week is to be about JOY. Jesus is risen, and I am in the 30th Week of the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises, and Ignatius says, "As soon as I awake, I recall the atmosphere of joy which pervades this week and review the particular mystery about which I am to contemplate (this week it is the Resurrection and Jesus' appearance to people)…throughout the day, I try to keep myself in a mood which is marked by happiness and spiritual joy. As a result, anything in my environment--the sun and warm weather or the white cover of snow, all the different beauties of nature, and so on--is used to reinforce the atmosphere of consolation"("with light" life giving, with God and in tune with his plan).  

Of course one cannot manufacture joy if it is not there, but it is a grace to pray for this week. I was supposed to pray for "sadness" during the Passion week, and I thought that was contrived. Then I was walking very sad last Monday and could not figure out why and was sad for no reason, and I was trying to shake it until I realized that I had prayed for that grace, and GOD GAVE IT TO ME - no reason to be sad, but he gave it to me. 

Well. anyway. I am sensing the Spirit moving right now. I really like what I am doing right now. I was supposed to have a phone call at 2 pm, but they forgot, and we are rescheduling for tomorrow morning. So I am free the rest of the day. So I am going to write the rest of the afternoon into the early evening. 

And now my 12 minutes is up. BYE!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Quote About Prayer - So true!

In the final analysis, talking about prayer doesn’t matter; rather, only the words that we ourselves say to God. And one must say these words oneself.
Oh, they can be quiet, poor, and diffident. They can rise up to God’s heaven like silver doves from a happy heart, or they can be the inaudible flowing of bitter tears. They can be great and sublime like thunder that crashes in the high mountains, or diffident like the shy confession of a first love.
If they only come from the heart. If they only might come from the heart. And if only the Spirit of God prays them together also.
Then God hears them. Then he will forget none of these words. Then he will keep the words in his heart because one cannot forget the words of love.
And then he will listen to us patiently, even blissfully, an entire life long until we are through talking, until we have spoken out our entire life.
And then he will say one single word of love, but he is this word itself. And then our heart will stop beating at this word. For eternity.
Don’t we want to pray?
Karl Rahner, SJ
German Jesuit Priest and Theologian (1904-1984)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Fifteen Minute Freewrite

I have not done a FRIDAY freewrite in a while. I am writing this morning after riding my bike to the library and going to the Volunteer Breakfast. I didn't win a thing this year, but I am so content with that. The prizes were huge, but one year ALL FOUR in our family won a prize. What is the probability of that? I feel like we had enough prizes for a lifetime.

Anywho, I got back at about 10 am and decided to do my hour of writing on Exercises for Everyone, the book I am writing for the Spiritual Exercises. I am writing for week #28 out of 33 or 34 (cannot decide how many total I will do), and it is the week of the crucifixion. I am so moved. How do I convey that, even though this is a very familiar story, it is important to approach it with fresh eyes. I am recalling my dad's death, there was intimacy there with him and with God that I had not experienced any time in my 25 years. Being with Jesus at the cross should be like that. Anywho, I just was moved. Deeply moved by this thought. It was lovely. I wanted to write about it here but words really are, by no means, adequate to describe the experience. I just want others to experience God in a deeper and more intimate way than every before. "Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways" (Romans 11:33). A verse I memorized about 40 years ago, but isn't it so true. We can never totally know God because there is so much to know. 

Tomorrow is the last SEEL Retreat I will attend in Portland. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this with a spiritual director. I wholeheartedly recommend doing it in community. It was great doing it last year by myself, and I still listen to the Online Retreat speakers in addition to the SEEL Portland materials. It has been a great combination. 

We are flooded out here. Highway 34 was closed for a couple of days. I am not sure if it is still closed or not. There is no rain today, and I am hoping the river has peaked. 

My serratus posterior inferior is giving me problems again after about 9 days of being fine since Dr. Myers gave it acupuncture. I am not sure what I did, but I need to quit doing whatever it was that I did! ACK! Margaret Bartlett had a cancellation so I get to see her on Monday. She will have a solution and probably even something I can do to prevent. I really believe it all started with a massage. It was not like the Santa Barbara massage from hell because my back has NOT gone out. It is just tight on one side off and on and has been since the last week of February when I tried out a new LMT. The same thing happened the other time she gave me one. So I am not going back to here. I miss Jennifer who moved back to New York. She was, by far, the best LMT I had every had. :( 

I best get back to writing. It has been such a good journey since January 1st to write everyday for at least one hour. Good discipline. I missed it when I was done with the Bible Book Club writing. 

The men are all up in Portland this evening for Paul's Graphic Design Showcase. I think I am going to stay here even though I really would love to go. I won't see them until later in the evening. 

I have 50 second left on the fifteen minute timer. I will keep going until I hear it go off. What else can I write about? Oh, the sun is peaking out. I already got enough exercise for today but may go for a walk anyway. Kim is coming at noon for a spiritual direction time. YAY!

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Freewrite Wednesday

Wednesdays, by and large, continue be my more free day for a Freewrite. 

So here I go. 

I love my life. Just saying. Today, I was up at 5:50 to experience Jesus in the Upper Room and talking about the Holy Spirit and love from John 14. I am on Week 27 of the Spiritual Exercises and I love that we go through the Last Supper and Upper Room Discourse two weeks before Holy Week. When I am leading the Gospel Harmony Book Club, I have everyone read through it all in "real time" where you are going through each day of the week, but this way, I can linger LONG over some passages. Actually, Ignatius didn't suggest John 14-17, but I think they are important. So, I added them to the guide that I am writing for the Exercises (If you want the guide, contact me. I really feel like it will be a nice addition to the guides already offered. It is simple and concise.).

Anywho, I just got a text from Manar, "Love you too!" I have been texting back and forth with her today because I found a friend for her in Milwaukie. She said when she visited at Christmas, "Carol, you told me you had a friend in Milwaukie I could meet." BUT I don't know anyone in Milwaukie. So I don't know if I said it, but I think it was prophetic because I thought, "Hmm. Marty and Sandy do a Spiritual Direction Cohort in Milwaukie." BINGO. Knew two people who had been in one of their cohorts who would be perfect. Then I sat on it for TWO MONTHS! Why? Not sure other than I have been sort of laser focused on writing my Exercises for Everyone Guide! So I have to trust that was OK. I finally wrote them this last week, and I heard back right away. SO YAY.

Now, just got a text from Nan. Dynamo - "Mighty Mouse" (her identity name). She is investing in those people in her church, and now her church (my old one) just had a major crisis. YIKES. My heart was SO SAD from Sunday to Tuesday morning, but it lifted Tuesday after my great morning teaching and lifting weights. Told Nan so and just got a text back. 

Soon, Nan and maybe Heather will go to Calvin for Seek God for the City prayer. After YEARS of praying through this on my own (with friends, here and there, joining me), my city has decided to do it. I encouraged it two to three years ago in a meeting and now it is happening! Dreams really do come true. :) 

Also had a word for A who is at a large gathering in an undisclosed country. Well, many of my friends are there. Hey all their initials spell: BEAMED :) Lord, BEAM your light into the world through their prayers this week. M and B sent us a guide through the days and went for a walk this morning to pray through it. Loved it. One day we will go as He leads. The word for A this morning was Hosea 6:3 - "Let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn."

(Two hours later, I realized I went to get my Bible and didn't finish my freewrite.)

"And he will come like the heavy rain.
Like the spring rain watering the earth."

Perfect for A. 

Well, I went and delivered books to my Dial a Book patrons, and there were no books for me to bring back to the library. So I came back home and am going to work a little before Nan picks me up for our prayer time at Calvin.


Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...