A Change of Perspective

Good Evening, God

Today my wonderful husband Kit and I walked up our valley and on the way down paused at the park.  I love turning the corner and looking down the valley — because THERE is the ocean!  I get a sudden shift in my perspective!  Hey!  We are on an island!

Of course, God, I “know” we live on an island.  But, the reality of it is that my mental map contracts.  More so, recently, as we haven’t even gone out in our cars more than once a week.  So my day-to-day mental map is SMALL.  It is our corner of Hawaii Kai — our neighborhood.

Travel does expand our physical map of the world.  Just today I shared a photo of a lovely orchid — and realized that I had taken the photo in the Singapore Botanical Garden.  That expanded my perspective!

And prayer can be an excellent expander of perspectives.  I was in a difficult meeting in December.  It hadn’t gone well.  But, I didn’t realize how badly it had gone until April when it became painfully clear that I was now persona non grata.  Yikes!

So I began praying about it.  And as You know, God, the first week or so was spent reviewing the meeting from my point of view.  But, by week three I was beginning to have my perspective expanded.  I could see that I had had opportunities to ask for “backstory” or even to ask to pause the meeting for prayer.

Still, it wasn’t until week five of praying that I realized I had made a bad mistake.  I had failed my own heart’s desires.  All because I hadn’t been able to see and believe that You can use a wide assortment of people. . . not just the kind I had come to expect.

Now I am daring to mail out a letter of apology.  Sigh.  It seems that enlarging our perspective can come with a certain amount of pain and resistance.  But, I feel slightly enlarged and more healthily humble.

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Posted in a prayer for healing, acknowledging my need for prayer, Apologies, Communication, confession, Grief, Prayer, Regret -- acknowledging and releasing it, relationships

A True Green Revolution

Good Evening, God

I have been slow to understand . . . slow to see. But first let’s start with One Fact: over 50% of the world’s wealth is controlled by ONE PERCENT of the world population. Then, when you add in bureaucratic corporations and “interlocking” directories, you get a lot of Control. . . . Influence . . .

And, it looks like that has powerfully influenced the way the Federal Government spends money. The small American farmer is in debt and nearing extinction. But Agribusinesses are flourishing. That’s where the “influence” comes from and that is where the money goes.

Not too surprisingly, God, with the money going to corn, soybeans, wheat — and not to green vegetables — our health is suffering. Jamie Oliver has a horrifying TED Talk.

But, God, I believe ALL things are POSSIBLE to You. Here are some things being done that are shared on TED TALKS. Roger Doiron is encouraging us to plant gardens AND to lobby the federal and local governments to support local food production. (That was were the image above came from.) I know this IS happening because my local store keeps running out of bags of organic soil.

Then Britta Riley is sharing a Window Farm movement with her talk on A Garden in My Apartment. And organic farming is producing as much food (after 3 or 4 years) as industrial farming. And without the huge energy input. Industrial Agra-business uses TEN units of energy to produce ONE unit of food. As I look at regenerative farming I learn how it is healing the soil so it can absorb carbon and water the way it is meant to do. The way it has to do if our planet is to survive.

Well, God, I have to go down and water my tomato plants. Please help us read, listen, watch and understand — so we can speak up for Your Planet.

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Posted in Changing, connecting, growing toward up, Regenerative Farming, The difficulty of changing, web of life

Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness

Inexpressible: Hese and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness by Michael Card

Good Evening, God!

Michael Card has written a book exploring the Hebrew word Hesed. This word is used throughout the Bible and it has no simple English definition. So each of the main definitions gets a chapter. I am only in the third chapter — the Slow to Anger aspect of God.  But, I was struck by the story of the 12 spies going into the Promised Land to check it out.  Two (Caleb and Joshua) came back saying that it was truly a land of milk and honey.  

But, ten came back saying that the people in the land are BIG and STRONG and live in fortified cities.  Maybe even some were Nephilim (giants and perhaps not fully human.)  Those ten spies were scared.  And very quickly ALL the people were terrified! They even wanted to select a new leader to take them BACK into slavery in Egypt.

Then God You ask Moses, “How long will these people despise me?” The Hebrew word for despise can also mean abandon.  The author says that by “abandoning God we reject him and willfully place ourselves outside of his hesed (lovingkindness.)  

WOW!  Just recently I have been pondering how it is God, that You wait to be invited in to help us.  In Centering Prayer the sacred word is sacred only because it is the SYMBOL of our intention to consent to Your Indwelling Spirit’s presence and action within us.  Consent!

Given that line of thinking — I can see that despising — abandoning — doubting You, God — might sort of shut the door on Your helping us.  You have given us Free Will.  And You seem determined to respect that. 

This is making me think.

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Posted in accepting my authority to set limits, accepting my need for help, being a Slow Learner, connecting, LOVE, Patience, Trusting God

The Stories we tell ourselves

Good Evening, God!

In the newspaper this morning I read an article about how, since 9/11, there has been a surge in companies offering to train police to be “warriors”. The article quotes from a 2015 Harvard Law Review article by Seth Stoughton.

And it does seem that more and more police are seeing themselves as just that — warriors. As I look at the Riot Gear they are wearing I think . . . gosh, just putting that on would put me in a state of high anxiety. Hmm.

So, it would seem that there has been a shift in the stories the police are telling themselves.

First, let’s be clear. It is a stressful job. And a thankless job. A job in which I would imagine burnout is endemic. In a job where “staying alive” is a daily goal I can see how easy it would be to see the community as potential terrorists. But, that mindset only makes the stress worse. Being a Warrior in and Evil World is an extremely stressful story to tell yourself.

In an article about 9 Tips for Avoiding Officer Burnout . . . tip number 9 is Talk to the people in your community. “You need reinforcement to remind you that the majority of people out there are good, law-abiding people who know you are trying to make things safer,” McKenna says. 

So, as we examine the situation maybe we could begin, God, with the stories we tell ourselves — about our “role” and about our “community”. And especially about those people we are being encouraged to label and degrade and project our anger on to. . . Talking together sounds like a good place to begin.

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Posted in A God given diversity, a new view of Commons, Being With, connecting, Conversations, Empathy, systematic rebuilding required, Talking Together

Filling our Hearts with Love

Good Evening, God

I’ve joked for years about there being Slow Learners and Non Learners. That’s it. No Fast Learners! At least, not for anything truly important. This is a comfort to me as come to a deeper understanding of something I thought I knew.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against Principalities, against Powers, against the Rulers of the Darkness of this world. . .” Ephesians 6:12

How easy it is, God, to get distracted by the pawns and players and miss that point. Well, easy for me.

And, I would be foolish to think that I haven’t been co-opted from time to time to serve as a pawn. We are complex beings. And these are super complex times. That’s why when I came across this image that Pulelehua sent me — I just had to share it.

I love Centering Prayer and on Monday evenings in the Thomas Keating Chapel at 7:30 p.m. HST (GMT-10) Pulelehua leads us in the Welcoming Prayer. In the Welcoming Prayer we don’t just “consent” to the presence and action of God’s indwelling Spirit within us. We welcome it! This prayer brings my body and Spirit into closer alignment. That is so important as our “educated” world so often devalues the deep value of our bodies — preferring “thinking” almost to the exclusion of feeling and knowing.

Thank You God, for loving us and longing to be invited in to help us in a thousand unseen ways.

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Posted in Centering Prayer, connecting, Expand my Heart, Hearts, LOVE, putting down daily diversions, The daily details of love, web of life

Time in Silence . . .

Photo by Lauren Buck Medeiros

Good Evening, God!

“we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language . . ” Pope Francis.

This Saturday (June 20) is our Morning of Prayer — 90 minutes of silence. My wonderful husband Kit laughs and shakes his head. But, I look forward to this time all month. Silence in my home is good. But, silence together, is better.

Normally we meet at Central Union Church on the corner of Punahou and Beretania. But now we are having a Zoom meeting (link). (9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. HST) Zoom isn’t as good as being WITH people. But it is close enough. And with Zoom the whole world can be invited and welcomed. Not just folks in Honolulu.

As in this photo — it seems to me that each one of us humans has a beam of LOVE focused on us. Your Love, God. And when we join together — even two or three — You are there more noticeably.

And this LOVE is with us wherever we go. I am wondering, God, if maybe our thinking that churches are essential isn’t like those Israelites of old who felt You had to be worshiped in Jerusalem?

Please, God, expand our hearts . . . expand our minds . . . open our eyes.

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Posted in acknowledging my need for prayer, Centering Prayer, Expand my Heart, imagining, LOVE, Silence

The Need to Win . . .

Good Afternoon, God!

I have been reading The Way of Chuang Tzu done by Thomas Merton. By “done” I mean Merton created his own version of earlier translations. It feels like a book of double wisdom. This story caught my eye:

When an archer is shooting for nothing
He has all his skill
If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous
If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind
Or sees two targets
He is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize
Divides him. He cares.
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting —
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

Those last two lines struck me as worth pondering. Do I wish to win? In how many aspects of my life am I motivated by a desire to Win or to be Right?

I suspect, God, that Mindset. . . drains me of power. Power You might like to give me to hear and love — those around me, and within myself.

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Posted in a prayer for healing, a series of molts and upgrades, Abundant Life, accepting my need for help, awareness, Balancing and adjustments, being repotted, courage to see myself, Expand my Heart

Humus, Humility and Earthworms

Good Day, God!

A quote from Carl Jung: “In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.”

I love that quote. To me that is humility. But, to me, it is a joyful understanding of humility. We are! We are loved! And we are called to let love flow through us. Humility doesn’t mean we are worms!

Although, as I learn about earthworms I wish that I could be as useful! They are major contributors to the health of the soil. (Hmm. Just as loving and compassionate people contribute to the health of a community.) Basically, earthworms dramatically improve soil structure, water movement, nutrient dynamics and plant growth.

Oh! And I recently learned that excess nitrogen — as in industrial fertilizers — harms earthworms. It seems that large, monoculture industrial farming is not at all good for earthworms. And, perhaps, God, working in large corporate bureaucracies is not good for people, either?

Funny, I hadn’t started out to compare us to earthworms . . . but I am enjoying the idea! As with Jung’s quote above — seeing ourselves as a little clod of earth — feels like seeing ourselves as part of Your Great Web of Life. So different from the hubris of seeing ourselves as designers and improvers of life.

Sigh. Thank goodness that humility does not require us to be powerless — but rather to depend upon and call upon Your Power of Love.

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Posted in connecting, developing helpful definitions of love, humility, Humility or Needing Help!, self care as self compassion and humility, the Growth Mindset

Compassion for My Human Condition

Pig Pen by Charles Schultz

Good Evening God,

Having my false self stripped away . . . layer by layer . . . has given me a semi joyful acceptance of my True Self. I am thankful to be me — but I am aware that I make “mistakes” or “fall short” the way Pig Pen attracts dirt.

I am rueful. But, accepting. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get up, clean up and try to pick up the mess around me. I do. It just means that it is all there the next day. But, there is an immense freedom and peace in accepting myself as I am. Human. . . as in humus . . . as in the dirt of the earth from which we came.

And, as I engage in Centering Prayer I try to be open to Your Indwelling Spirit . . . open to its action within me. Perhaps that has helped with my mostly good-humored acceptance of myself? It seems to me that I was expending quite a bit of energy in keeping from even seeing my short-comings.

Although, most of that kind of energy goes to keeping me from seeing, accepting and working with my Shadow Parts. Shadows: those aspects of myself that I despise in others. Indeed, that is such a great way of locating our Shadows! Just see what truly upsets you in others!

As I do that I try to extend compassion to myself and then to others.

Compassion, and understanding seem to help with all sorts of trials and traumas. And as Pema Chondron has observed we are always in motion. Part of the grand flow of life. Your Grand River of Life that carries us all along.

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Posted in a hand up, Abundant Life, accepting my need for help, acknowledging my need for prayer, Centering Prayer, Cherishing our Bodies, comfort, Compassion, compassion to care for myself, complexity, connecting, Energy, Forgiven!, Forgiving, God wants to nourishes us, gratitude, growing toward up, Help me to see, Humility or Needing Help!, layer upon layer, letting the Holy Spirit flow through us, LOVE

The Usefulness of Prayer

Good Day, God

I have taken some small steps toward taking You more seriously. (I suspect You are laughing.) It began with doing Centering Prayer twice a day. Then about a month ago it came to me that I should actually pray for those who despitefully use (if not me then) the Country and the Planet.

That seemed harmless enough until part II arrived — I was to pray on my knees for 10 whole minutes. YIKES! Now, I’m laughing! But, I have done it fairly faithfully.

The first result? I stopped being so angry and self-righteous. I realized that I share many characteristics of the person I started praying for. And my prayers quickly shifted from “change his mind” to please heal US.

The second result? I realized it was a terrible waste of emotional time and energy to focus hate, anger and judgment on OTHERS. And not just a waste. It was somehow toxic for me.

The third result? I began to see behind the distractions. I watched a video of Vandana Shiva and immediately ordered her book, Who REALLY Feeds the World? And I actually AM reading it. (One chapter a day is all I can take. But with out the ongoing prayer I couldn’t even do that!)

What have I learned? Again . . . more tomorrow.

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Posted in a prayer for healing, accepting my need for help, acknowledging my need for prayer, Centering Prayer, connecting, Prayer, web of life

Blogs I Follow
Brené Brown

chatting and sometimes, listening

Rachel Naomi Remen

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A Moment with God

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Sacred Dance Guild Journal

Since 1958 articles by members & guests offer news about activities, history, Sacred Dance practices, profiles of Sacred Dancers, choreography, images & illustrations.

Victoria Paulsen

How to Step In -- Substitute Teaching

Brené Brown

chatting and sometimes, listening

Rachel Naomi Remen

chatting and sometimes, listening

A Moment with God

chatting and sometimes, listening

Sacred Dance Guild Journal

Since 1958 articles by members & guests offer news about activities, history, Sacred Dance practices, profiles of Sacred Dancers, choreography, images & illustrations.

Victoria Paulsen

How to Step In -- Substitute Teaching