The Pitfalls of Being a Favorite

Joseph being tossed into a pit by his older brothers

Good Morning, God!

I was carrying books up from our guest room into another bookcase upstairs — when my eye lit of the book by Madeleine L’Engle, Sold Into Egypt. Immediately, it hit me, God, that Joseph was able to survive and indeed flourish because he knew himself to be his father’s “favorite”.

His father had many sons — but Joseph was the first son of his beloved wife, Rachel. And in many ways his father showed his favoritism. But the straw that broke his brothers’ back was Joseph having a dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. So, his brothers intended to kill Joseph at the first opportunity. Finding him alone with them, far from home, Reuben said, let us just toss him in a pit. Then Judah — seeing traders coming — said, “Let us sell him to these traders on their way to Egypt!”

As I was climbing the stairs I pondered again how being loved as a child helped Joseph not just survive his hardships but flourish! Being loved gave him resiliency. For Joseph actually became second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and was in charge of storing grain for seven years — so Egypt could save the world (and make lots of money) during the seven years of famine that followed.

Yes, God, being a FAVORITE is hard — just ask the Jews, Your Chosen People. Not an easy gift to bear.

But at the top of the stairs I thought, what if each one of us, is Your Favorite, God? This thought felt very true! But it is a very difficult concept for us humans. For us, being a “favorite” is all about linear comparisons. The idea of being in a Sphere — in which each one is a favorite — isn’t just hard to grasp. It just cannot be true. Well, it can’t be true when we have a linear definition of favorite.

Sigh. Definitions are surely hard. My definition of love has been quite shallow for much of my life. Going through something UNBELIEVABLY HARD (Patty’s illness) and seeing You “with me” in it — that was a huge step. And, one I fall back from “feeling” even while I still grasp the “knowing”.

And that, again, is why it is so hard for us to see ourselves beloved as Joseph was. We look around us and seeing things that are hard, unfair, and meaningless, we say THIS ISN’T LOVE!!! Ah, yes. . . definitions. But, if in the HARD we could envision You WITH US . . . how amazing that would be!

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Posted in connecting, Definitions, developing helpful definitions of love, Helpful Hards, Life is hard., LOVE, The Flow of God's Love, the gift of persistent love

Tiptoeing Toward Self Care

Good Morning, God

This weekend I put into practice an Idea that a dear friend offered. I commented on how much time I spend just “tidying” our home, “Why don’t you tidy 3 days a week and actually organize/clean 4 days a week. Upon hearing that I actually shrieked! And I quivered all over! THAT WAS RADICAL.

But, after the quivering stop, I thought THAT MAKES SENSE!

So this weekend was one of taking stuff off shelves and out of cupboards and filling up boxes to give away. And filling up garbage bags of stuff too old to give away.

So, why the photo of this one corner, God? Because while I was removing assorted “stuff” from this corner — I remembered asking a friend what did she do with stuff that she didn’t have a “place” for? Oh! she replied, I THROW IT WAY!

All of a sudden, I realized why she had unfriended me after 40 years! I have a different world view. I think getting an experimental vaccine when I don’t have any comorbidity factors is unwise. She believed everyone has to get a vaccine in order for the pandemic to end. With that belief, she didn’t have a “place” for me.

Now, the vaccine is up to almost 80% in Israel and the UK . . . but the variants are flourishing. And more folks are in the hospital than last year. Virus like this one mutate very quickly. People with vaccinations do get COVID and they do transmit it. But, I am pretty sure she is still blaming me for that. Once a World View is SET . . . we all tend to toss out any and all facts to the contrary. Me too.

And that brings me to the real point — I have been judgmental — I have not been loving. Hosea the prophet, has You, God declare, “I desire steadfast love [hesed] and not sacrifice, / the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

I am sitting here feeling very much in need of Your steadfast love. And in need of Your help in letting Your love flow through me.

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Posted in A Spiritual Spring Cleaning, adjusting, Balancing and adjustments, clean and tidy, Cleanliness, connecting, Impermeable, LOVE, loving myself, Lovingkindness, the gift of persistent love, The World of our Senses

Happy 59th Birthday Beloved Patty

Our beloved Patty — Patricia Louise Smith — 8/31/1962 – 6/20/1981

Hello, God

As hard as it was — If You hadn’t assured me that Patty was “Vibrant, Radiant, Alive and with YOU” — how much harder it would have been. Or, actually, would be.

Being a Believer, it was all too easy to rejoice in Patty being with You in Heaven. My Spirit knew that and gave praise. But, while I had wept . . . during her illness . . . afterwards I took the grief and tucked it deep inside and froze.

I realize now that is the third response to major stress. Fight, against Death? Flee from reality? Ah, but FREEZE! It seemed perfect. I could even picture my frozen inland sea — deep inside me. It was so big that I could picture old fashioned sailing ships moored at the dock. Their sails were furled and stiff with ice. No waves lapped the shore. It was all ice.

My surface grew flowers. I’m a Seven on the Enneagram. We laugh a lot and are always looking for the silver lining. But my core was frozen. SOLID. This was not good. But, looking back I can see that this was the way my family handled — or didn’t handle — grief.

How I wished I was Italian or Jewish or from some culture that knows HOW to grieve. Knows HOW to weep and weep some more. How I wished I was from a culture that had a prescribed ritual I could have done at set intervals.

But, I am doing better now at going back — into the frozen sea — the water now laps at the shore. I am in a grief group for mothers. And I am befriending Sorrow. She has a lot to teach me.

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Posted in a series of molts and upgrades, accepting gifts sight unseen, Accepting Imperfection, connecting, going THROUGH the sorrow, Grief, Sorrows of the Deep, Transitions, Trusting God

The Micro and Macro of Life

small copy of a watercolor by Sue Stagner

Good Evening, God

I’ve been wanting to chat with You about this for days . . . but the micro of life occupied my focus. The idea came to me while I was telling a dear friend about how Kit’s personal trainer has been strengthening his small muscles — the ones that keep him balanced and upright.

“Oh yes! The Micro muscles!”, she said. Then she added, “I see my life in terms of micro and macro.” Just hearing her say that made a Reframe click into place! I had been lumping the multiple, and somewhat tedious details of life, together — and labeling them irritating. All of a sudden, I saw them as the essential micro aspects of my life. Keeping them exercised and strong — keeps my life balanced and upright!

And the fun thing to me, is that this lovely watercolor (with its macro view) is positioned right over my kitchen sink! Surely, kitchen sinks are one of the major focal points for micro activities.

My new found respect for the micro aspects of my life has been very helpful. I (mostly) don’t waste energy on being irritated by endlessness micro tasks. Yes, they are small…but they are essential to a well-lived life.

Posted in connecting, Micro and Macro, Personal Responsibilty, reframing, respect, Responding, responsibility, Self-Respect

The JOY of Serendipity

These are Poverty Point Objects from Archaic America circa 3,500 BC

Good Day, God!

I love stumbling across an unknown time and place! And that happened this afternoon — when I intended to organize my office — but opened the current issue (July/August 2021) of Archaeology instead.

The place was all over the eastern portion of North America. The time was say, 9000 BC to 1000 BC. And the WHAT — was that supposed hunter gatherers created a complex 345 acre site at Poverty Point (Louisiana). Hunter gatherers are not supposed to have complex social systems.

But the Mound A was constructed in a three month period (estimated, of course). And it contains the equivalent of 31,000 dump truck loads. This was a feat that might have required 1,000 workers — plus those required to house and feed them. That would seem to require a complex social system so WOW!!! Old ideas, UPSET!

That is indeed interesting. But what captured my visceral interest were these Poverty Point Objects. I wanted them! I wanted to touch them. I wanted to hold them. To play with them. Maybe to wear them? And finally to MAKE them.

I rarely get that kind of a feeling from objects. And to connect with objects from a civilization 5,000 years ago was a joy! To discover that there even WAS such a civilization — that connected up to Michigan and over to the Atlantic coast of Florida — was a further joy.

As archaeologist Kenneth Sassaman said, ” if you presume in advance what you aren’t going to find, you may never find what is really there.” In fact, you probably never look.

So, God, I’m back to the importance of LOOKING . . . of being attentive . . . of being OPEN to other layers of reality.

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Posted in awareness, connecting, Curiosity, Discovery, JOY, seeing, stopping to see

Pay Attention, Be Astounded, Tell About It

a small shower tree in the parking lot this afternoon

Good Evening, God

This title is Mary Oliver’s lessons for living. I resonate with these word! Each one of these acts brings me joy!

Just look at these colorful blossoms! There they were on this small young shower tree as I parked my car right in front of it. They were in my face and they wanted to be seen and shared. So I paused on my errand and focused on them. I wanted to send the photo to my friend, Lani, who is faithful to “pay attention” and respond. But, then, after only the briefest of pauses, I was off on errands . . . not realizing until just a few minutes ago how much these blossoms “wanted” to be seen and shared.

And in seeing them again, I realized that my focus was only on the lovely blossoms. Now, I can see that I also captured a red car! What a surprising juxtaposition! Another delight!

In the Poetry Foundation Maxine Kumin called Mary an “indefatigable guide to the natural world”. And said that she “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal.” This also resonates with me. This is part of the joy in going to the beach! Standing in the lapping waves — standing on both land and sea — with the sky over it all. Feeling as if I was on the edge of all three. Loving the feeling of being “between”. Or maybe it is being where things “meet”?

Perhaps, more significantly, I love paying attention to people I am with. Listening with my heart and senses. Tone of voice . . . facial expressions . . . and body positions. I want to hear fully so that I can connect fully. I want to better understand . . . and to be with them in some unidentifiable way.

And that brings me to prayer. Being with . . . in some unidentifiable way. Opening to the presence and action of Your Indwelling Spirit within me. Consenting! Welcoming! With no idea what might be happening — or even IF anything it happening.

Just being with.

Posted in beauty, being heard into speaking, Between, Centering Prayer, connecting, gratitude, Hearing, seeing, Sharing, thankfulness, the joy of sharing, Welcoming, Welcoming Prayer

If I fly away with the wings of the dawn

This is a photo of me taken around Christmas in 2019

Good Day, God

A dear friend calls me V . . . as in short for the Velveteen Rabbit. And I finally read that book the other day. I should think that IS the way we become — if not “real” then perhaps more fully human. And, of course, being well loved — over time — does result in LOOKING well loved. And, if one is so fortunate as to be well loved . . . then one does not mind so very much LOOKING well loved.

So what is this about flying off on the Wings of the Dawn? Well, I am taking a week long trip to see our oldest daughter — while our youngest daughter comes to love-on my wonderful husband. He says to me, you are leaving your “elderly husband” alone! No NO! I say, your doting wife is giving your doting youngest daughter a chance to love you in person.

We well-loved “rabbits” need times of restoration. We need to LOVE OURSELVES as well as being loved by other. This having to LOVE and CARE FOR myself, came as a BIG SURPRISE.

How to love myself — without visible role models — is proving challenging. But, I am going to begin by envisioning myself as dispensable. I am. We all are. But, a failure to realize and act on that reality can have harmful effects.

So, I am off to take a break and do some creative thinking on HOW I can love and care for myself. Even more than that — as a very proud and self sufficient Rabbit — I need to create ways to ask for and receive help from others.

And I realized that my loving has been done as a Mother — or PROVIDER. Often as equal to equal . . . but never as needy. OH OH! That word “needy” is a clue to my situation. We are ALL IN NEED OF HELP! I have some hard reframing to do — starting now!

Posted in connecting

Blooming against all odds

I didn’t exactly toss this old orchid away . . . but I didn’t expect anything, either.

Good Morning, God!

I’ve been AWAY for a while. Away as in busy with my life — without really asking You in. Stress does that! Stress makes me feel it is all on my shoulders . . . and since my shoulders are not really up to that . . . I become exhausted.

Actually, it is worse than exhausted — it is DEPLETED. My inner batteries, drained. It is as if I left my laptop unplugged for way too long. Batteries down to 1% . . . YIKES!!!

So yesterday, I was watering my plants and realized this old –depleted — orchid had bloomed! I had put her outside in the care of a potted palm. I had felt I should just throw her away but I hate doing that. So, I did the equivalent of putting her on an ice flow. . . and letting go of all positive expectations for her.

I didn’t realize that I had let go of all positive expectations for me too.

So finding this blossom thrilled me! And another bud is pending! I took her up to show her to my Wednesday morning Women’s Prayer Group. Mostly, though, I am the one who needs to look upon her. Look and see how willing — eager even — You are God, to replenish us.

To bring us back, gently, into HOPE. . . and into Your LOVE!

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Posted in blooming, connecting, hope, Hope as a gift from God, LOVE, the essential nature of hope, the gift of persistent love, water and love

A Gift of Love

Patricia Louise Smith August 31, 1962 — June 20, 1981

Today — June 20, 2021 — is the fortieth anniversary of when our daughter Patty died.  
That was June 20, 1981. 
Forty years? Really? How is that possible? 

The gifts of love in all of this are countless. First, and I do not forget it! We were given Patty for 18 years. We had the joys and sorrows of giving birth and raising her. And we had the horrors and pains of her illness and death. 

And then — the TIME afterwards. Sigh. . . for the first three months I kept seeing Patty as she was in the hospital her last three or four days. Heart wrenching!!! Then one morning while I was blow drying my hair and picturing Patty at the end, I heard STOP!!! The Patty you see is NOT the TRUE Patty! The True Patty is Radiant, Vibrant, Alive and with ME/GOD!!!

That was a another gift of love. It stopped a very painful cycle instantly.

But, the thing is . . . after God “carried” me through her illness. . . God put me down. I had to do Grief Work. Grief work? I had never seen anyone even remotely do “grief work”!!! I had no idea what that even meant — or that it existed.

But, I did let myself do guilt. Lots and lots of guilt!!! After all, Mothers are the creation worksite. And there are countless ways for mothers to do things wrong and to fail to do things right. Infinite ways . . .

But the sorrow . . . the tears . . . the chaos of feelings? I stuck them in a deep unconscious freezer and left them there. 

Freezing, I found out later, is the third response to stress: Fight, Flight or Freeze. 

So the BIG GIFT of Love is that here I am 40 years later sharing. And how did this happen? A dear friend invited me to join a Mommy’s Mourning Group. I mostly didn’t even realize I needed it. But, month by month, meeting by meeting, I began to tiptoe back into the Freezer. Thawing began. And a part of me is beginning to awaken.

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Posted in connecting, daughters, Death, Grief, Life vs Death, loss, LOVE, Mothers, pain, Sorrows of the Deep

A Moving Image Part II

Saint Francis and a leper

Good Evening, God

I didn’t want to come and work on this. My overwhelming inability to describe a Different World View depressed me. I mean, it is hard enough to write about significant differences of opinion. But, an opposite Word View? Really! How did a lifelong liberal democrat come to diverge from her dearest friends? How did this happen to me, I ask?

I’m chuckling. The usual way. Slowly at first and then all of a sudden.

First, God, You seem to have given me a funny sort of mind. I collect odd facts. For example, back in grad school while taking a medical reference class I came across the fact that in the late 1800s Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard had a great clash of viewpoints. Pasteur had created a Germ Theory of health. And Claude Bernard held to the Terrain Theory of health. Pasteur believed specific germs caused specific illnesses. So those germs had to be killed. Bernard believed that the body’s  “terrain” or “internal environment” determined our state of health. When the body is functioning in homeostasis, and immunity and detoxification are operating well, he claimed there was a healthy terrain that could handle various pathogenic microorganisms that inevitably are thrown its way.

I remember thinking — Bernard is right!

The discovery decades later that our body is 90% other creatures — probably billions of diverse kinds — and only 10% human — caught my eye. Then there was the case of C. Dif (Clostridium difficile) a bacteria that actually killed the wife of one of Kit’s co-workers. The more antibiotics that were pitted against it the worse it got. So, when I read the news years later that a single infusion of poop from a healthy person actually cured 90% of the sufferers in two or three days I was delighted!

It seemed a clear case of how a healthy body — with bacteria and other creatures in balance — maintains health.

Cut to this pandemic. I saw the news that people with low levels of vitamin D were much more likely to die from COVID 19. I stepped up our vitamin D intake and we got more sunlight. And then the news that folks with more pigment (less able to absorb vitamin D from sunlight) seemed to have higher death rates. Hmm. Why wasn’t the government suggesting vitamin D supplements as something folks could do right away to increase their health and resilience?

Then there were the negative consequences of the methods the government did implement. The lockdowns cost many people on the bottom half to loose jobs and to loose the ability to feed their families. Those of us on the top half really failed to understand that the handouts did not make up the difference. And those who kept on working scorned those who put “money over lives”. But, if you are poor, money is the essence of staying alive. A classic class failure to understand divergent realities.

And the social distance rule? Really? As if we don’t live and move and have our being in a vast soup of OTHER. If a single teaspoon of healthy soil has one billion bacteria and other life forms, what do we think the dust of the earth is doing? And what about our bodies? I imagine we are all Pig Pen’s with clouds of viruses, bacteria, fungi and as yet unnamed creatures floating all around us. That interaction is what gives herd immunity. Not some experimental alteration of our DNA or is it RNA? Whatever!

Creating fear of our fellow human beings seems diabolical to me.

Sigh. . . enough said for tonight! Part III tomorrow.

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Posted in connecting, Eating for health, fears, health, web of life

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Brené Brown

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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.

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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