Prophet in a Strange Land

Some times it seems the harder I try, the worse things get.   I flopped around my week like a fish out of water.   This last week when I listened to career counselors tell high school students how college prepares them for the job market and a better future, I thought of how my degree is helping me now.  I’d be in much better shape if I’d become a mechanic.  While I have no doubt that my degree has increased my quality of life and that at one time it did open doors to jobs I’ve held, it is now basically irrelevant and that was exactly how I was feeling.

At home, as I boldly tried to connect with old and new customers and kept getting voice mails and the occasional live no, I felt irrelevant.  Over weight and out of shape, I felt exhausted and again irrelevant.  I sorted through the past and found things to blame but couldn’t indulge in blaming . Again, the default emotion: irrelevance.  It’s much harder to be a nobody than a some body and I’ve been working too hard at just that.

Negation cripples.  It blocks love and compassion.  My life felt like a land slide on a road no one travels.

This morning, I stumbled to the shower like I usually do.  That transition phase between sleep and wakefulness is an odd territory.  The landscape seems barren yet comfortable and familiar.  There on the plains of my mind, God often speaks.

This admission makes me grossly uncomfortable, yet, here I am again writing about my shower revelations. Over the years, I’ve listened to many people speak about God, His work in their lives, what God wants of us, what we need to do.  Often their words did not match their actions.  They are often blessed with confidence and committed to the conviction that God is speaking through them.  And, often, He  is.  Yet, the God they talk about so easily, is not Someone I know.  I am not like them.

The God, I know, is infinitely confusing.  He/She surrounds my life with ordinary miracles that I usually miss because I’m feeling rather lost and often more than a wee bit worthless.

My belief in God doesn’t instantly make my life better.  The challenges remain and they keep coming.  It’s often enough for me to be more than a little angry at this God.  I’m still waiting for my “joy in the morning”  like a petulant child.  So as a weary morning me steps in the shower, I hear, “You are My voice, crying in the wilderness.”

“Great!  That’s just great!  I already feel like an irrelevant loser and now I’m a voice in the wilderness.  What a lousy job!  How is this going to help me dig my family out of the scary hole we’re in?

In my mind, God smiles patiently, silently, waiting for my little hissy fit to end.   It winds down into exhaustion.  There are some things that are best not to fight. Silent, invisible, smiling God of the shower is one of them.  And, yes, I know how crazy that sounds.

Belief is crazy.  It doesn’t make sense.  It isn’t rational or logical.  I’m often embarrassed to admit I am a believer because it seems so quaint and colloquial, like something evolved civilized people have outgrown, but I can’t deny what I believe to be true:  Some Thing infinitely more evolved than any of us or all of us combined, lies just beyond our rational knowing and this Some Thing loves us beyond our imaging.

This is what I argue with in the shower.  I’m arguing against some amazing, infinitely indescribable, Love.   How stupid is that?

Oh, I’m completely aware that this idea can be one of my own creation.  My desire to have something beyond to believe in might be so great that  in my limited mind and soul,  I may be creating this God as a figment of my imagination.    It doesn’t feel that way.  This shower God that speaks to me and passes on wisdom that pulls me out of my mental prison and opens the door to loving possibility in the midst of a life that looks pretty bleak on paper, is way too good to be a figment of my mind.  I’m just not that gifted.

I stop arguing.  “Ok, I’m a voice in a wilderness.  I don’t want to be.  I think it’s nuts and just out right depressing.  No body is going to listen to me.  Few people listen to me now.  I’m an emasculated Moses without an Aaron.  (I can’t resist an opportunity to be cleverly sarcastic.)

“You’re beginning to get the idea.  I want you to be a prophet.”  This I hear in my head with such clarity, I’m either schizophrenic or actually listening to Some One outside me.  There aren’t too many other possibilities.

“Wait!  This is way too egotistical.  I’m going to sound like an idiot if I ever admit this.  It’s way too arrogant not to mention impossible.  I’m no prophet.  I can’t even comfortably admit that You and I have a relationship.  Who is going to listen to me?”

The Silence that answers, gives me pause.

Can I fight this new level of crazy?

Yesterday,  I spoke with an adult who admitted that he/she is probably an atheist but that even that requires a committment not to believe in something and that wasn’t a place they wanted to go.  I felt sad.  I wanted to say, “I understand how you feel but I believe in a God of Love beyond us and that makes all the difference in my life between a life of meaning and purpose and a life of utter despair. I wish the same for you.  I wish you could know this Love.”

I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say anything.  I didn’t know what to say but I felt sorrow.  I felt like something was missing that God could fill  but I didn’t know how to help.  I couldn’t even share what I believed.  I was ashamed of my silly belief but I was even more ashamed for not sharing it.

No person or idea has been so abused over the centuries, as the concept of a God.  God has been used to justify war, punishment, and all the ills of the world.  Is it any wonder people can be turned off by the idea?  It’s the idea that has been abused and misused, not God.  All the nonsense, we humans toss out that clouds the picture, doesn’t affect who or what God is, was or will be.  It’s us humans that get it all messed up, royally messed up.

“I’m no prophet.”

Hello, God of the Shower, are You listening?  Are You?”

“Write about this, My voice crying in the wilderness.”

And I have.

Create

Following the Daily Love blog by Mastin, today I read a guest post by Chris Assad.  Read the entire article at the link posted posted below.  I’m also sharing a quote on creativity for all those creators out there.

http://thedailylove.com/show-up-for-your-creativity-and-it-will-show-up-for-you/?inf_contact_key=0391e96d470e0bba8339c4bbf5be7fd888f18986e2d4be4e26848f5f8cd3d9f8 

“The truth is that creativity flows when we show up at our instrument, at the blank page, at our mac (or PC), at our desk, at the easel, and when we make ourselves available for creation to happen. The truth is that creativity is one of the greatest gifts we humans possess and it’s available to all of us all the time if we’re open and ready to receive it. The truth is that creativity is magical but only in the sense that it’s one of the ways that the Divine expresses itself through us, not because we need to wait to be chosen or struck by lightning to experience it.”

Surrender

I’m a better lover than a fighter.  Lately, I’ve been doing too much resisting.  Focusing on the lack and not the abundance.

So, this morning, I stumble toward the shower, shuffling like a stiff old man on Thorazine.  There, with sleep threatening to pull me under, I pray with words of desperation,

“God help me.  God help us.”

A groan may have provided punctuation.  I’m not sure.  I couldn’t remember washing my hair so I washed it twice and let the water wash over me as I struggled to figure out what do I do next.  The answer, clear and strong was simply this, “Give up.”

Wooooh.

“Are you kidding me?  This runs counter to everything I’ve been reading and what I’ve been told.  I can’t just give up.”   Inside my head the words came quickly.

“I must be losing my mind.”  I think to myself.

“That would be a cop-out,” I hear in response.  “Oh, and giving up doesn’t mean you stop trying,” the voice adds.

I’m starting to feel annoyed.  “Alright, I’m a little confused.  You’re going to have to clarify this for me. I don’t have a clue where this is headed.”

Silence.

Maybe clues are reserved for those who are more awake.  I go back to trying to figure out where I’m at in my shower routine .  Oh, time to shave my legs.  The razor hits the shower floor not once, not twice but three times.  I sigh.

“Stop focusing on the outcome.  It’s all about the process.  Not everything depends on you.  You certainly can’t figure everything out.  You’ve got to let go of all the mental energy you pour into things.  The end result doesn’t define your worth.  Most things in life have too many variables.  You’re not enjoying the process and you’re making yourself miserable.  You’ve got to give up!”

As I put the end back on the razor, I understand.  I respond in absolute silence.  The warm shower feels good.  I stop worrying about the routine and what needs to be done and tell myself that no matter the outcome, I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy the day ahead.

So far:

I’ve prayed in the shower while I shaved my legs (Yeah! multi-tasking!)

I’ve had a wonderful visit with an old friend.  (R.  I love you!)

Got some valuable information from a dear newer friend.  (Love you too, L.)

Had a nice conversation with a neighbor.  (Miss you when you move, N. )

Made cupcakes and lunch.

Wrote a blog entry.

I’ve spent too much of my last few weeks making myself miserable because of all the things I wasn’t doing and how things just aren’t working out.  I focused on what was wrong.  I whined.  I complained.  Playing worse case scenario made me miserable.  Being angry at other people just eats me up inside.  These are the things I need to give up.  I surrender.

Entry 200: Silence

picnicview

Several days ago, I read an article on silence.   It has clung to me like a second skin.  I feel compelled to write about something I can never capture.   How do I write about silence when its very state lies beyond words in an emptiness so full there is no describing it?

It’s the lack of silence in my head that troubles me.  I long to have the stream of thoughts and their companion words broken by the grace of silence.  Only in the silence can I begin to understand my relationship to all things.  It is in this space that God speaks to me in the economy of stillness, a loving quiet, a healing silence.

Lately, the words have been such a jumble that I can’t find myself.  I tumble in the land of words like a feather in the wind.  Driven to figure out things I can not understand, all the words in the world still leave me feeling empty.  They have not been tools but a burden that I can’t sort out.  Trips to the library find me leaving with an armful of books, I can never read.  I pour over them in the evening, searching for some thing I can not describe.  My busy head is driven to find the answers.  I fool myself into thinking that some day, one of these books will open the door into a place I’ve never been and I will understand what I’ve been looking for all these years.  But I know that this isn’t true.  These books can never contain the answer to everything that challenges me.  Such an answer isn’t found in a book.  It is only found within, in the vast empty space of silence.

Words can carry me only so far.  The rest of the way must be travelled alone in the gentle caress of silence.

And so, I celebrate my 200th entry, advocating the opposite of words, symbols or pictures.   I have always been convinced that at the very heart of all being is a space beyond words where God/Love dwells within us like a gentle fire.  So much of my life has been consumed with putting out this fire.  Tending this fire seems to lead me down an unfamiliar road but it is a road I know better than myself.  Lost in the mystery of silence, I discover that it has always been where I began and where I will finish: in Silence.

 

My Calling

fromheaven

The idea that I have a unique calling isn’t new to me.  A calling is what got me to enter a convent.  I was truly convinced that God was calling me to the religious life and for a time, I believe he was.  My calling changed but I didn’t want to let go of what I believed my calling was.  I was angry with God that things hadn’t turned out the way I’d planned.  And, yes, I know how silly that sounds.  Humans are funny that way, especially this one.

It has taken years for me to begin to understand that my calling is my life.  My life only becomes my calling when I open myself up to it, when I accept the path that shows up in front of me and I follow it.  A calling isn’t something exotic or special and while it’s unique to each one of us, it is as simple as opening oneself to the life we were given.

This simplicity doesn’t make it any less powerful or important and it certainly doesn’t make it easy.  For years, I’ve resisted what was before me all the time.  I just didn’t see it.  I stumbled through life with my eyes closed.

Now the pieces are starting to fit.  I look back over the years and I clearly see how some things were meant to be.

I was called to a relationship with my husband in marriage.  Much of my character has been refined because of this relationship.  I have not always liked the lessons but I have no doubts that marrying him was answering my calling.  I love him.  He is blessed to have me and I him.

Nothing has ever felt as natural or as right as being a mother.  Motherhood was a calling, a very important and very special one.  I have been given the privilege of being a mother to both my amazing children.  This too, is often difficult and challenging but it has been my calling and nothing has improved my character more than being a mother.   Every day I struggle to rise to the occasion and every evening I am grateful for the opportunity no matter how trying the day.

I am called to write.  Maybe, not best sellers or even non-selling e-books but this blog.  The reasons don’t matter.  What matters is that I am drawn to do this despite the fact that sharing so much of myself feels uncomfortable and often embarrasses me.   I am my own harshest critic.  Yet, when other critics appear and I question the sanity in continuing, the call remains.  Questioning stops and I continue to write.  If this isn’t a calling than I don’t know what  is.

I am called to be an Independent Mary Kay Beauty consultant.  This isn’t a job or even a career, it is a calling.  I am very aware of the irony here which is precisely why I take this so seriously and continue despite the occasion challenges.  What I learn about this business is helping me in ways I never expected.  It constantly challenges me to push past my reluctance and resistance and show up and meet the women I am called to  meet and to work with the women I am called to work beside.

People are placed in our lives for a reason.  Once I understood this I open myself up to the chance to really learn from all of them.    This is a calling to empowerment, which begins with me and has a ripple effect on everyone in my life.  Great skin care and makeup products are a tool to change lives, to help women feel better about themselves.  I am constantly touched and humbled by the women I meet who need reassurance and affirming acceptance of their looks and who they are.  So many women have yet to be introduced to the beauty that is inside them.  My calling is to open the door to that beauty in a small and gentle way.  I am humbled by this opportunity.

All these things are my calling, yet some times I still resist.  I am often guilty of failing to grasp the importance of my calling.  I try to get out  of it.  I try to find excuses, other things to do, distractions that take me away but none of these things satisfy or feel good.  My heart knows what its work is.   When I avoid it, I do not know peace nor feel a sense of alignment with the God/Universe that has created each of us for a special and beautiful reason.

Every day I am called to wake up and engage in the gift I was given, this particular life with these particular people, challenges, tears and joys.  This is my calling.

 

 

The Road Block Called Heartache

The title might be a bad name for a country western song.  It’s one I’m a itchin to write!

I’ve been really stuck.  The words have backed up inside me against a wall of grief.  It’s time to find away around it.

There is wisdom in the trite, “What is, is! 

If I repeat this as a mantra, will I be able to free my spirit?

Words don’t always fix things.  They can create problems especially if you go looking for them.  I’ve got enough problems.  I’m ready for solutions.  What is, is and it’s up to me.

Some times the simplest ideas and the least amount of words does the trick.

What is, is.

It’s up to me.

The Trail

The trail feels good under my feet.  It’s been too long since we’ve spent some time together.  The feet of a runner behind me makes a familiar rhythmic sound as she passes.

I say,  “Good morning.”

She can’t hear me.  An ipod is firmly strapped to her arm.  She is wired for sound.  I think of a future in which ipods are chips imbedded under our skin.  We can turn them off and on at will.  I shudder slightly to shake off the sting of this thought.  My mind turns back to the runner and the trail.  Deaf to my good morning, to the call of the killdeer, the hum of tires skimming over pavement, she runs past me as if I were part of the landscape just like the dead branches of scotch broom that lie along the sidewalk.

A smile flashes across my face when I think of what she is missing.  Gratitude fills me as I walk and listen to the sounds all around me.  This is engagement and it is sweet and warm. Taking a deep breath, I enjoy the air that is delicately laced with a lazy morning dampness.  My senses have come alive without an ipod to revive them.

The trail unfolds under my feet.  I come alongside a chain link fence.  A small wren lured by a young woman with her hair in a neat little bun flutters within the perfect frame made by the links of the fence.  The spaces between the wires are more important than the wires themselves.  This is how it should be.  We should always know what we are fencing out and what we are fencing in by the spaces in between.

The little wren calls to the young woman from its perch.  As the woman walks on, the wren flutters to a closer link and calls again.  It happens once, then twice, then again and again.

“That little bird seems hopelessly in love with you,” I say.

Talking of love to strangers early on a Sunday morning seems a bit bold and possibly rash. What am I thinking?

“I’ve never seen a bird do that before,” she replies with a smile.

“Nor have I,” I say.

The bird and the moment pass.  We all go our separate ways.  In that moment, nature and talk of love met in a pair of smiles.  I’ve missed this trail, the sound of birdsong, the chance to carve a space for myself upon the trail that divides the earth from the sky.  This trail feels good under my feet.  I will walk again.

 

Perfect Timing

The older I get the less I believe in coincidence.  Ideas, people, things do appear at the right time, the time when we can open our eyes and see them.

Recently, I reconnected with a friend.  She inspired me with her ideas, her passion for life, her drive to find her purpose and to develop that purpose in to a life work.  How can you not love that?  Yesterday, she referred me to a book which I immediately placed on order:  Lean-In Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  Find it at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Lean-In-Women-Work-Will/dp/0385349947/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367086380&sr=8-1&keywords=Lean+In
The author, Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook.  She is also a woman. Continue reading

Not so far to go

This last weekend as I read the Sunday edition of The Columbian newspaper (The Columbian is Vancouver, WA newspaper.) I stumbled across an obituary for Thomas E. Schindlbeck.  Mr. Schindlbeck had ALS (Lou Gehrig disease) so he knew he was dying.  It also gave him time to pen his own obituary.  I never met Mr. Schindlbeck but I wish I had.  I’m sure he wore a smile as he summed up his life for people to read after he was gone.

He lamented the lack of information in obits and decided that his would be different.  He left some advice for the living.

Now for the secrets of life:

Keep it simple, avoid drama,

say please and thank you a lot,

and always take the high road.

Everybody will bring you happiness:

some walking towards you, and some walking away.

If something is important to you, you will find a way.

If something’s not important to you, you will find an excuse.

Thank you for your words of wisdom.  In the blink of an eye, I will follow you.  I don’t have far to go.  You remind me that my life is a gift.  It’s time to use it wisely.  Rest in peace, Thomas.  Thanks for leaving the light on for me.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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