Monday, December 22, 2014

Succession of Moments

Every year I think to myself, that I'm going to come up with some super neat winter solstice "thing" to do, possibly involving a group of friends, possibly involving a day of silence, possibly a lot of things.

And then I do none of them.

This year is no exception. The day came and went and I did not mark the shortest day-of-the-year in any significant way. I did just what I do most Sundays, with one exception: I went for an early morning walk with Kathleen. I went to church. Wil, Nancy and I went for lunch at Burgerville. Nancy and I went for an afternoon walk. I took a nap. I made dinner.

Last night, however, my mom and I went to a Christmas concert at our church. It was lovely. The music, the greenery, the people gathered round, all of it. It was a perfect way to be surrounded by every kind of light, on the darkest day-of-the-year.

Perhaps one does not have to mark big days, in big ways. Perhaps, as my hero, Corita Kent says, "Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed."

As we move into a week of "big days," let us "succeed" in each moment. Living. Breathing. Being.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

I am a part of a women's spirituality group. We meet once-a-month, as a group, for a Saturday retreat, and once-a-week, privately, with a spiritual director. It's a nine-month commitment, which began in September, and will conclude in June. I felt the timing was right for me, and these nine months were already going to be a time of deep discernment, and I might as well have some community and structure around that.

Last Saturday, we were studying a body of work, talking about how to enter the world with action. All good, right? I had no trouble with the transcendental precepts of Be attentive; Be reasonable; Be responsible; Be authentic. I struggled mightily, with Be intelligent.

What, then, does it mean to "enter" the world with "action?" I would argue that spiritual purity, does not come from a place of intellect.

Do those people that may never be launched, that need others to help them even be in the world, let alone "enter" it in any splashy way, not take "action?"

Must one ask, "How?" Must one ask, "Why?" Must one "understand" or march through a formal thought process of any kind, to be in union with "God?"

Richard Rohr (if you're not already receiving his daily e-mails, click the link and sign up immediately) says,  "I am convinced that the purest form of spirituality is the ability to accept the 'sacrament of the present moment' and to find God in what is right in front of me."

Some people are able to find God in an Orange Crush-flavored candy cane.  

There is "intelligence" to that that supersedes conventional intelligence, to which far too many people worship, if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yoga Money

I made the commitment to get back into yoga this fall. I'd give myself a solid C for effort. Some weeks I make it there twice, others once, and some (many), not at all. There are a number of reasons why I'm not able to attend, and many of them are very valid. In fact, many of the obstacles are beyond my control. And sometimes, when the day is packed, and yoga feels like "one more thing" squeezed in, I opt not to go, in favor of a more relaxed pace to the rest of the day. I choose to look at this as self-care.

I love my yoga class and all of the women in it. The instructor is idea (hi, Anne Marie!). Every time I'm there, I'm glad I am. I get all the benefits of a good yoga practice: greater strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and community.

The cost of the class is nominal, and most of us pay in cash, each time. I've taken to keeping an envelope in a drawer, marked "Yoga Money." When I break a $20, I put some aside for yoga.

What's happened, is I have way more money in that envelope, than I have yoga sessions. I've decided that that money will now go towards anything that gives me the benefits of a good yoga practice: greater strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and community.

Happy hour, anyone?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pray, Coffee, Repeat

My morning coffee and prayer time, is, by far, my favorite time of the day. I actually love that Flicka wakes me up at 5:00, ready to start her day, as that gets me into my sacred space long before I'm on duty.

I can't imagine one without the other - who doesn't savor every sip of their perfect coffee, while sitting in "prayer," however that looks? Meditation? Reading from sacred books? Journaling? Chanting? Holding a mala or rosary, and reciting prayers? On the very rare days that life does not allow for at least a little bit of this time, I feel off-centered, ungrounded, lop-sided.

A couple of days ago, I got a text from my friend, Laurie, saying she was throwing a very spontaneous happy hour at her house, and could Nancy and I come? She said another mutual friend of ours, Jen, would be there, and that Jen had a present for me. Nancy and I cleared our very busy social calendars, and walked up to Laurie's.

When Jen arrived, she had a darling gift bag with her, and she started to hand it to me. "It's not anti-fungal cream, is it?" I asked. I couldn't imagine what Jen would be giving me as a gift, and thought, perhaps, it would be an inside-blog-reader joke.

It was not anti-fungal cream, or a joke of any kind. It was the perfect gift: a mug, with the perfect words, Pray, Coffee, Repeat.


As this season heats up for so many of us, adding additional obligations, duties, and commitments to already-full lives of obligations, duties and commitments, may you find your "coffee," and your "prayer," whatever that may be, and however that may look, wherever you can find them.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slight Problem

Wil sends me a text from the living room, "We have a slight problem though I am going to go to bad at 9:15 tonight because I got a watch South Beach towing now to 915 so I will be ready for bed at 9:15 though you might have to stay up till 915 for me because these are the only nights next every Wednesday have to stay up till 915 so we suspect that please and I am going to go to bed at 9:15 tonight because I need to watch South Beach tow"

I text back, from my bedroom,  "OK, but when are you showering?"

"9:02," he responds.

This goes on for quite some time, culminating with his "need" to finish the last episode, which, apparently, is some sort of finale.

By the time all is said and done, he's not showered, with brushed teeth, etc., until 9:45. I am shot.

Nonetheless, we must still partake in the mini-Advent ceremony, 'round the ol' fake Christmas tree.

"Care, I'm going to read six sentences, and you're going to look at the candy cane we're blessing, when I do."

I dutifully follow him around the tree, as he stops, reads a line from his little book, and points to the candy cane getting the blessing.

"Right here. The blue one. 'Alleulia, alleulia. Behold, the Lord comes to save his people; blessed are those prepared to meet him. Alleluia, alleluia.'"

"Now, we're doing this one. The Orange Crush one."

We both move into position, and he continues, "Receive, O Lord, these offerings we bring you in commemoration of Stain Francis Xavier, and grant that, as he journeyed to distant lands out of longing for the salvation of souls, so we, too, bearing effective witness to the Gospel, may, with our brothers and sisters, eagerly hasten towards you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

At 10:00 I am finally released from my duty, and can go back to watching bad TV. It's hard to care too much about whom gets kicked off "Survivor" (for the 29th season), when you know that right down the hall, someone is blessing candy canes today, bearing effective witness to the Gospel, tomorrow.

There is no slight problem.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dear Lord,

Just read Elizabeth Aquino's blog, and decided to copy her.

You might want to, too. 'Tis the season to need extra reinforcement.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I await the oral and topical prescriptions, to clear the all-over-my-torso-and-now-my-arms, fungal infection.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I am forced to put on "real" clothes, instead of the near 24/7 yoga pants, sports bra, etc., that got me into this predicament.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I learn the peppermint tea I've been drinking in the name of good health, is the culprit to my heartburn.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I block some people from Facebook, because seeing their posts makes it difficult to remain patient and filled with lovingkindness.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I am asked to say a special prayer for a very special candy cane, the Dr. Pepper one (see last post).

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I await the eggnog latte and chocolate-dipped Trader Joe's cookies to kick in.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear Santa

I believe I shared in a post last year, about this time, that I'd finally convinced Wil we needed to e-mail Santa, as opposed to going through the ordeal of a one-on-one at the mall.

This year, he didn't even suggest the mall, and we agreed that we'd fire off our e-mail before church on Sunday. And by "before church," I mean 7:30, as he "needs" to leave for church at 7:45. He rides his bike up to church (total riding time: 5-6 minutes), parks it, then stands outside in all kinds of weather, and greets the people before the 8:30 Mass. He then attends "8:30," hops across the street for coffee and donuts, only to return by 10:00 to greet prior to the "10:30."

In July, he added the 5:30 Saturday night Mass to the line-up.

But, I digress. Wil's three-times-a-weekend Mass attendance, is a post all on its own.

We found a great on-line site and Wil made me the secretary, taking dictation. He asked for three things:

1) $100 iTunes gift card to buy apps (I talked him down from a million dollars)
2) An air freshener that you plug-in
3) Pineapple juice

Here is what he wanted me to add at the end:

"I've been very good, very sociable, and very, very, very athletic. Super athletic. I've been a great sport. I've been a great, great, great boy."

Then, after church, we went to Bi-Mart to buy, "Lots of candy canes. Tons."

We came home and prepared for the solemn hanging of the candy canes, on the newly erected "fake" tree in his room. He got out the Advent prayer book he'd received at church, and read a passage. STM and Woohoo gathered round, Flicka Link, too. He would read a sentence, then pause. "Please hang a candy cane," he'd instruct me. This went on for several minutes, until at last, the tree was perfect.

He then grabbed his iPad and took the following picture, quickly sending it to the three of us, plus my mom, so we'd have the image forever.

I'm not quite sure what's going on with the large, white shape on the left. It could be the sun shining in through the window, but I don't think so. I think it's the Holy Spirit, filling the room of a very special boy, with a special tree, special candy canes, and special instructions to Santa.

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