What Do You Hear?

I missed last week, sorry. I had a post started and just got really sad. It contained thoughts on the current state of being here in this country and it was hurting my heart. This blogging life is interesting in that lessons often freely come forward. Like today. I had no idea what I was going to write about and I felt bad for two reasons. 1) I didn’t have an idea, and 2) the creative spark seemed to be flat and that upset me.

However, the Universe spoke to me when I was quiet and listening to music by Dev Premal and Miten.  (In the Light of Love)  (Be The Light) And it is Sunday—-as the child of a minister I have ingrained religious memories, even though I do not go to church.

The filling of my spiritual well comes from other more personal sources these days. So, on the one hand I do not physically go to church, on the other hand, I carry many of the teachings with me all the time. If I remain open in heart I am given insights that speak to me, and have meaning.

Today I was “given” this quote from Alice Walker:

“In each of us there is a little voice
that knows exactly which way to go.”

I believe if we are internally quiet we are able to hear the Higher Source. Sometimes I receive guidance in dreams, sometimes from Nature, sometimes from synchronicity. (Synchronicity)

So, this being Sunday and all, today’s synchronistic pairing of Alice Walker and The Bible gave me this:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you healed me, I was in prison and you came to me……
Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 
Matthew 25: 35-40

You may infer that these are related to the current happenings and tone in this country. And it eats me up inside.

I work with preschoolers. At the time of 9-11 the school I worked at was near the airport. I spent the day comforting young children who ran to me in fear every time a plane came in for a landing. I was heart broken. Their fear of planes was all consuming. They were not able to separate things out. All they knew was fear and they were now living in fear.

Fear has many faces. Some we need to look right in the eye. Some fears are less substantial. How do we know which is which? As Alice Walker said: there is a little voice inside of us. If we are able to listen free from the tumult of time and fear of “others” and circumstance, we will discover which way to go.

If we take to heart the words from Matthew, we are reminded what matters most to our spiritual side.

If……..our hearts are open.

So, enough of this for today. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.

Enjoy this early summer Sunday. Here the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. May we all find a quiet place to rest awhile and listen to the spirit voices that speak to us.

 


 

 

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Small and Beautiful Things

I am reading more now. The challenge currently remains being able to remember what I read. So, now I have a notebook where I can write things down to help facilitate the memories. I looked through the notebook this morning because I did remember there were things I had written down that spoke to me when I initially read them. This post will be a melding of two thoughts I found in my notebook this morning. The first is from Project Happiness, a site I follow on Facebook.

I hope I never tire of night sky, of thunderstorms,
of watching cream make galaxies in my coffee.
I hope I never grow to be someone who
can no longer see the small beautiful things.

***Project Happiness

And, the second:

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked,
in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
***Henry David Thoreau

Spring has finally come into her own around here. Trees have unfurled their tender, bright chartreuse leaves, red bud, cherry, lilac, dogwood and magnolia are heavy with buds and blossoms. Their heady scents travel on soft breezes and make us inhale and then sigh. A kaleidoscope of birds bicker over the perches on the bird feeders. In the distance the Baltimore Oriole chimes in.

Here and there around our property flowers are beginning to raise their tender heads towards the spring sun. Daffodils, Hepatica, violets, trillium, coltsfoot, toadshade, Solomon’s seal, dog tooth violets, bluebells…….it is a pretty time of year.

So, these two quotes came together for me and here is what they whispered to me:

On whatever path I am given or choose to travel on,  it is important to always walk alongside reverence and wonder. I hope I will never lose sight of the “small, beautiful things” that are on the path my feet, heart and soul walk along.

Even on the uneven and challenging parts of the path, there are reminders of wonder and hope everywhere. In seeing and feeling them, a rough and bumpy patch on the path may seem to not be so long after all. Sights, sounds, sensations cascade over us with delight and wonder.  The fragrance of the lilac carried to us on a soft breeze that caresses our cheek. The song of the warbler that makes us look up to see the yellowy puff ball perched on a branch calling to his partner nearby.

Even when the ground we walk on, the path we are taking becomes tiresome or challenging, there is some small thing, always, that can make the effort so worthwhile and not just unavoidable, or just a necessity. If we can but give ourselves permission to see/ experience these gentle moments with awe, love and reverence, we will find comfort and encouragement.

So it is these days here as I slowly heal, recover and regain myself. The hard parts always hold a thread of hope, promise, encouragement if I can only allow myself to see the offerings as hopeful, inspiring and meet them with reverence and gratitude my walk gains a bounce of lightness and even wonder.

I still need to give myself a pep talk when the day seems to present obstacles and discomfort. I am nudged by birdsong, bright yellows and pinks, and the unmistakable scent of lilacs and my focus and thoughts shift, just like that. It isn’t really work, or hard to do. All I need do is be mindful of these moments and pause long enough for awareness and appreciation to be sensed and brought to the forefront of my thoughts, and then gratitude trickles into my heart and being and I am comforted and calmed even as I stand on a bumpy path.

No matter the path I am walking, chosen or not, I can always strive to walk gently, mindfully, with reverence, even when the way seems foggy or unclear. There will always be a song, a melody, a spoken word, a flash of color or a hint of rain scent or flower perfume to remind me to allow space for wonder, hope, and beauty even as I feel off balance and a little lost.

Let me be clear, I can write these words but struggle in the living of frustrations, sadness, grief, pain just like everyone else. Recovering from this aneurysm has been a challenge and sometimes painful, often uncomfortable, and the final outcome remains a mystery.,

It is too easy for me to wallow in frustration, even anger. I got myself two “mantra” bracelets to help remind me of where my choices lie. Now, during a moment of frustration or resentment I glance at my wrist and find the reminders to take a deep breath and pause to become mindful of the beautiful things I am surrounded by. It helps. When I am grieving and long for pre-aneurysm Kathy, when the future seems unclear, when I have to have yet another painful procedure, when I am too tired to do anything, when I can’t remember what I just read, my bracelets remind me to pause, walk with love and reverence, and there I do see (hear, feel and smell) the small, beautiful things. And with hardly any effort, I turn off the path I am on and go instead along the one lined with love, reverence and a quiet and gentle gratitude for being here, able to experience  this at all.

 

 

That Which Is Timeless

First of all, salutations to all mothers and mother figures and women with the heart of a mother. Today is the day someone decided we should make sure to appreciate these women in our lives…..but I hope your love and respect for these women shines upon them every day.

mom and me mother's day

My mom holding me.

Today as I look out the window I see Nature is cloaked in chartreuse, the first color of spring. Although I have music on in the background I can hear the bird song. In these observations comes the gentle reminder of being grateful. Sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to remember the many blessings in our lives. Even the blessings that aren’t quite blessings yet because we are struggling with accepting them a little bit. Sometimes the reminder is a full on encounter as in the chartreuse colors. I couldn’t ignore it if I tried.

I have spent many hours and days in the company of gratitude—-recovering/healing seems  with brighter with the light of gratitude shining on it. It is a soft glow, but it is enough to wake up the over active monkey mind that sometimes puts blinders on so that the obvious is not always seen. In coming into these memories we have and apply the filters of  gratitude, prayer and blessings. We may experience a very tender softness in the perhaps quiet moments of an awareness of these. A space of renewal and comfort. We may feel the gentle rhythmic beating of our heart and be reminded that our body blesses us by beating regularly with no reminders from us. We are taken care of by a whisper quiet process with no extra thought on our part. In these moments we take a deep breathe and experience the gratitude we have for these things. In these pauses of gratitude we may also find ourselves coming into awareness of other things which bring joy, blessings, gratitude, mystery to our lives.

Who would think that recovering from and aneurysm would bring so many of these pauses of awareness? But here they are, sitting with me. There are numerous times during the day, and even at night in dreams, where this awareness whispers to me. Just softly enough that I have to pay attention and focus on what message I am receiving. Within this, it comes to me that this awareness is not the end of the message. The rest of the message is to go further. It whispers “Stop and taking a deep breath, open your heart up, see that the whole planet, and everything on it, is holy.”  The message gives voice to the desire that wants to bring the awareness of these beautiful reminders to everyone I  meet. In  making and taking the time to find or return to this soft whispering regularly, I  remember this is life fulfilling its promise to me. The mystery of grace is heard in these quieter moments.

In the quiet of sitting here now and letting the memories bubble up I think of my mom. I can hear her voice and see her beautiful auburn hair and remember how I loved to brush it for her. Like all of us, she had joys and sorrows. Sometimes the sorrows spilled out and her hurt became ours too. Today I reflect on what it has been like for me to be a mother, and as I honor who my children are, I find myself thinking of my mom and believing she knew my love for her as I knew her love for me. Perhaps not always patient or perfect, but full none the less.

So, on this mothers day I will make time and space in my day for the quiet and listen. And perhaps this will give birth to a stronger sense of community and our interconnected-ness to each other and the planet. Blessings are all around us, and if in the pause we can see, feel and acknowledge them, perhaps our own bubble of life will be brighter, softer and lighter. Perhaps we can rejoice in the understanding that we are not alone, that we matter just as other person matters. Maybe we will find a new gentleness that allows us to open our hands up in friendship, care and concern.

In my quiet times of healing I do a lot of thinking. I am here because a “medical village” cared for and about me. (As in “It takes a village to raise a child.”) I was not ignored, not left alone, not cared about. I was cradled in the deep love of family and friends. I was treated, bathed, fed, provided for, by a legion of people I didn’t know.

And yes, there are times I am impatient with the slowness, or what seems to me to be slow recovery. Yet, even on the most frustrating days, in those moments of pause I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for and to ask for the peace of heart and grace to always have a sense of these blessings and to remember that I too can be open to hearing and sensing the needs of others and in reaching out through my own experiences, I will become one of the builders of community. And like my recovery, I may not always have clear sight of the community that is being created, but if I can remember to pause to hear the softer whispering, I will understand that connecting to others in big or small ways, is community building and it matters.

Gratitude is timeless. It is eternal and everlasting. It’s always there, but sometimes we have to be nudged into opening the door for it and to welcome it in to our lives and make room for it. The more we acknowledge it and make room for it, the more often it will come around. And just like the chartreuse, the first color of spring, we will welcome gratitude with open arms and generously share it with others in the bonds of community.

Encircled Fully

“When we pay attention to nature’s music,
we find that everything on the Earth contributes to it’s harmony.”
Hazart Inayat Khan

butterfly world

by Kathryn Beggs Howlett

I woke up this morning to Nature’s music, bird song. The Baltimore orioles with their bright orange, sang to welcome the rising sun. It was comforting and peaceful and the feeling was one of harmony and an awareness of cycles. The world engages in a beautiful dance all the time.

There is a beautiful chant/song based on the Navajo  I sing with my preschoolers, we call it, “May There Be Beauty in Front of Me”. It’s real name is the “Blessing song”.

Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
Hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa doo
Shideigi hózhóogo naasháa doo
T’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa doo
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful…

dancing hoop girl

Dancing girl by KBH

 

I Walk in Beauty Libana

Walk In Beauty 

Whether sung or chanted or simply remembered, these words are powerful…..as we walk through our day, be aware of the beauty of the connections in life. The things that bring us life, love, awareness…walk in beauty with love for all.

This morning before I opened my eyes, listening to the Baltimore orioles, I remembered these words. Within the circle of these words I lay wrapped in love, resting in comfort and security, the sun just risen, the smell of freshness coming in through the open windows and I felt deep in my bones the desire and commitment to walk in beauty today……to be aware of it all, before me, behind me, above me, below me, all around me.

I found a variation on this chant that is equally as moving:

Looking behind I am filled with gratitude,
looking forward I am filled with vision,
looking upwards I am filled with strength,
looking with I discover peace.”
~Sukhraj S. Dhillon

In recovery from a ruptured aneurysm, I have to be very mindful to carry these words into my life every day. It’s too easy to get lost in my head and lose sight of the moments of beauty, gratitude, peace, vision, hope, and joy that I walk next to every day. We are always step by step together if I can only remember to lift my head and my eyes up and forward. Then I not only see, but understand that I am always encircled fully by love, gratitude, vision, strength, peace, hope, beauty and so much more. There is a harmony that is truly ever more balanced than I can always understand.

There are gold finches at the bird feeders, looking in through the window singing and chirping. They bring a smile to my face, and a flutter to my heart and a sigh with my breath…..beauty all around me. No matter what I may think or feel at any given moment, if I can only pause, I find I can regain the feather lite balance between “this Moment” and with “Beauty. ”

I still have to use a map to stay on this road and not get lost. There are many forks in the road and not enough road signs with arrows directing me or information to let me know I am, in fact, on the right road. But, I sense that I am. I need only trust the way and keep my awareness awake.

Snorkeling

Here I am in the 8th month of recovery from a ruptured aneurysm. Many months ago my family and doctors saw me with only a very flat affect. Doctors and therapists were always careful to state that there was no way of knowing if this lack of emotion would remain or fade.  To my loved ones it seemed a part of me had disappeared. There was no connection to others, not even my family. Survival mode was in full swing. That was all I was able to do: survive.

I’m happy to share that that flat affect has faded and now the concern shifts to my being less inhibited!!! My family seems to think that now I am quite entertaining!

I am not allowed to drive so my sweet husband has the job of driving me to all my various doctor and therapist appointments. I am not sure what happens, but when I ride in a car the world becomes so entertaining to me. Sometimes even down right funny. The smallest thing—-seen, read, witnessed, seems to set off my funny bone and the almost uncontrollable giggling begins. The kind of giggling where it becomes difficult to catch my breath. For awhile my husband mumbled “What is so funny?” Now he simply states “Here we go again.” One time as he was calmly ignoring me and focused on driving, a new source of lightheartedness struck me.  “DO you know what I’m doing?” I asked  with quite a bit of excitement. With a side ways glance he cautiously ventured, “What?”

Before I could even respond another wave of deep laughter wriggled through my body. Tears formed. It took a few minutes before I was able to blurt out “SNORKELING!!!” The expression on his face changed from minor annoyance at the giggling, to one of confusion….”Snorkeling?” he queried. In a car in the middle of winter in New York state, snorkeling seemed a nonsensical topic. I think he may have decided to ignore me again for a few minutes which allowed me to try to gain control of the humor that had taken over my brain. After a big breath and long sigh I innocently asked “What is it when you put a snort together with a chortle?” This of course caused me to again loose control all over again. The poor man had no choice but to simply continue focusing on driving. Occasionally he would glance at me sideways.

It took several minutes for me to pull myself together. Cautiously he glanced over to me. “You get ‘snorkeling’ of course!!” I exclaimed with an immense sense of self satisfaction. What made perfect, and hilarious sense to me seemed to fluster my poor husband. He may have muttered “Oh God.”

By the time we arrived at the physical therapist’s I had found the where with all to control myself. Wiping a tear or two I went in for my appointment.

I know this is really inside humor, but now “snorkeling” is an accepted behavior in our family. Moments of uncontrollable humor that take over the mind and body leaving others dazed and confused. “Snorkeling”.

My birthday followed a few months later and I was handed a gift that was an odd shape and weight.

The initial tearing of wrapping paper revealed no clues but did heighten the curiosity. Finally, success! I was holding a SNORKEL! I bet you can imagine my response!!! What a perfect gift!!!For me it meant first and foremost that I was loved deeply. Even in my wounded state of being, the ups , no matter what they consisted of, were met with gratitude. “Snorkeling ” as defined above made no sense to anyone but me, yet my family embraced and even actively incorporated it into our familial life. Coming from a dark and scary place of not knowing what the extent of my recovering would ultimately be, “snorkeling” seemed fairly promising to them!! And to me!!

snorkel2

 Birthday gift: snorkel!

Deep Gratitude

“Every moment presence shows me that I am already home
and I am so deeply grateful for this gift of love.” unknown

quote

Some days bring more contentment than others. I find that the feeling is softer and more  flowing if I am able to be internally still and quiet. In this space I do feel as if I am at home within myself and I become filled up with love.

“Home” is where we can take off the cloak of whatever we wear to get through the day, and we can relax into the stillness that wraps us up in a soft blanket of love. As concerns and worry also relax into this warmth we settle in to our “home”. “Home”  in the sense of the place where we can feel nurtured and safe. The place within us where we let everything fall away so that only the essence of our heart’s contents remain.

In this space of stillness and contentment the ups and downs of the day, the swing of emotions, the voices of doubt, fear, desire and worry come into balance with presence, stillness, gratitude, and “enough”.

Personally, I have to decide to go to this place, to let go of whatever I am holding on to and wallowing in. I have to put my trust in to something I can not even explain.  Sometimes it is difficult to trust the step towards gratitude and contentment because it often feels so elusive and unattainable. In fact, once the footing is made, it is not difficult to pause in the stillness of this place and breath deeply and rest there in the internal stillness. The something that fundamentally believes this moment is enough and full, lacking for nothing. It is difficult some days to be able to get there. It is nested within gratitude. Here I find big and little blessings in life and giving them the room they deserve to be powerful and worthy of being the shift in what I see and how I feel in the moment.

This one moment is what is. The memory I have of something different may be sweet and bring a smile to my face, but when the memory is replaced by a current event: the cat throwing up, the kitchen timer going off, the mailman knocking at the door, it may not even linger as a memory.

So today my Sunday day of rest is begun with a deep exhale and finding some stillness where I am able to reflect on the blessings I am gifted every day.  While there is no brightly wrapped box, the emotions are just about the same. Anticipation, discovery and gratitude.

This isn’t always easy for me, but I do have a very organic feeling that the awareness and effort does make a difference. A few moments of gratitude seem to be able to soften any negative thought or feeling as the perspective changes from what is lacking to what is.

Even within the challenges of recovering from an aneurysm there are places where it is possible to pause and change the perspective. Yes, recovery is hard work, sometimes even challenging.  Yet, it is possible to find the one spot where there is balance, even if it is fleeting. That sweet spot where gratitude tames restlessness and desire. Where the longing for being or doing something different detours to the scenic overlook where the simple act of being in this one spot allows for a wider panoramic view.

We may look back and longingly wish we could return to what we believe to be the most beautiful thing that ever happened to us, but in looking behind us we may miss the most most beautiful thing right in front of us. Maybe? I believe so.

Spring is in the air here in the Northeast. The light is different. The birds are singing more. The deer and other wildlife are scouting for food. I am recovering and experiencing deep gratitude that I am stronger than I know, and have more opportunities to hug those I love so dearly.

Enjoy your Sunday.

 

 

 

They Have Enough Love

A few years back and posted on a previous blog I wrote about an article in Process Theology Here is the link to that entry: What kind of food….

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and starting thinking about what I was going to write about for today’s post. I had been thinking about a letter my son wrote to me during the touch and go days at the beginning of my aneurysm odyssey.

 

As I recuperate there is seemingly endless time to contemplate all kinds of things. At times these thoughts rest softly on remembering and thinking about significant people in my life. People who molded and shaped the pudgy infant and toddler edges into the more defined softer shape of an emerging “adult”. People who guided me, picked me up, looked me in the eye, believed in me. In the above article there is reference to how the people who “fed” me the “food” of their love and care allowed me to grow into the adult person I was to become. I am the product of the “food” I was “fed”.

As I moved into adulthood I married and had children. As my children grew the reality of them moving away from home for college set in. Sharing feelings about this with friends getting ready for the same, we all knew we would miss our children deeply. On occasion one friend or another would express how hard it was, for the “selfish” reason of missing their child, to worry and concern about how their child would fare without the watchful eyes of parents. I would try to express that yes, I would miss them, but I also believed in the young adults who were ready for this part of life. I believed my husband and I had raised our children in ways that had prepared them well for this chapter in their lives. The “selfish sadness” I did have was tempered by excitement for them, confidence in them, and curiosity as to what the future would gift to them.

So here we are, a couple of decades later. Children grown, successfully educated and employed, living their own lives in other cities and towns. Parental pride is an understatement. I am in awe of who these two adults are and what they offer to our world and to others.

Then, world seemingly crashed around us when I experienced a ruptured aneurysm and many things became not only unknown, but also uncertain. My family: husband and children, as well as siblings and extended family, found themselves in the precarious and sometimes dark space of just not knowing how things would play out. Each day became a balancing act……The “unknown” and “hope” performed together in an unsure juggling act. I was nestled in a foggy, drug induced sleep state and remained unaware of the of the goings on and the falling tears.

Months later, here I sit trying to come to terms with the missing months of my life and at the same time experiencing a new sweetness in my life as if I am being wrapped cozily in a soft blanket of grace and love. There were some instances when I felt giddy, as if I was falling in love with my husband and children all over again. As I become aware of time again, and the days turn from weeks to months my family and friends help me continue to process what happened. Tears of joy as well as tears from past fear fall and we take turns wiping each other’s cheeks dry.

My siblings and children ventured back to their lives, friends headed home and everyone just hoped we/I had gotten through the worst of it all and that the days might become softer for us all. Eventually I was cautiously allowed to go home under the protective wings of several therapists and the loving, patient care of my husband.

As everyone’s days slowly became more focused on healing, time allowed us all the chance to process the past weeks and months. Slowly I think we all began to believe I had made it through the toughest part of recovery and began to look forward to continued progress.

A few weeks ago my son emailed me a letter he had written to me when he had become stranded in Pittsburgh and couldn’t get home in time for one of my earliest surgeries. Prognosis was unclear and the uncertainty weighed on him heavily.  His heart felt, emotionally full words, while hard for me to read, have helped me in my coming to terms with some parts of this experience. First and foremost, his words let me know that while he had been in a dark and scary place bordered by walls of uncertainty, fear/worry, those walls were coming down and perhaps there were even some openings that led to a clearer view of the horizon.

Rewind to the link at the beginning and how we are nourished by others in our lives. As my son was explaining what was happening and how sad he was feeling, he wrote : “I keep realizing so much of me is you. Big stuff and small stuff. Good stuff and not-so-good stuff. But I have so much of you in me.” As I read this I of course cried, but at the same time knew the truth of what he wrote, we are made of parts of important people in our lives. In his heart the pain of not being able to be with me, not knowing the outcome of the surgery was almost unbearable, yet he also knew the power of love : ” But dad and Caitlin will be there and they have enough love to make it work. It will work. It has to work. I’m not ready for the alternative.”

They have enough love.

love with all your heart

They did. And here I am. Each day I rest and walk in the embrace of love that was more than enough to carry me through.

It’s very hard to think about all this, but the point I am trying to make is that we all do matter to each other, and we have a responsibility to each other becasue of that. Also, sometimes important lessons and insight come through turbulent times.

a morning offering

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