Sprigs of Rosemary—A SoulFully You Online Advent Retreat
Over the next several days, I will share excerpts from a recent Advent retreat I was honored to lead. Ten women joined me on a journey to explore the significance of seeking, being and finding sanctuary.
The inspiration for the retreat came from the lyrics of this song, Sanctuary by Carrie Newcomer.
Sanctuary was written by Carrie Newcomer after a conversation with her friend Parker J. Palmer. She asked him, “What can we do when we are personally or politically heartbroken?” He responded that we take sanctuary. We gather with those we love. We remember, we share stories or we sit in silence until we can go on. There is time for positive action, to do what needs to be done, but there are also times when we rest in the arms of what most sustains us.
The retreat, Sprigs of Rosemary, was an opportunity to creatively and prayerfully ponder what sustains us—a special time to gather with kindred spirits and create our own sanctuary. Consider asking a circle of friends to join you for this online contemplative retreat…or if that doesn’t work, simply carve out time for yourself, a little each day, to practice Lectio Divina with song lyrics, poetry or scripture and to express yourself creatively through SoulCollage®.
Contemplative Session 1: Listen to Sanctuary by Carrie Newcomer.
Practice Lectio Divina with the lyrics of this song. What words or phrases speak to your heart? Do any of these words or phrases resonate with you?
Refuge (safe, rest, quiet) — Haven in the storm — Fire (all but gone, embers warm) — Sprigs of Rosemary (remember) — Sanctuary — Carry on — Knees (ground, dropped me) — Us and them — Circle of friends
Consider what SANCTUARY means to you.
What do you think is the significance of SPRIGS OF ROSEMARY? Consider some of the historical uses of rosemary.
Create a question or two to guide you during this online retreat. As you consider words that touched your heart, contemplate the following questions.
Create a SoulCollage® card with images that speak to SANCTUARY or other words that resonate with you and/or questions that you would like to explore more deeply.
Collage is a creative and intuitive act of cutting and pasting images. A collage is easy to create and, yet, so powerful. Images can guide you to a new awareness and reveal a deeper level of thought and feeling. Gather magazine images that you gravitate to. Cut the images out of their original context and imaginatively place them in a new context. It can often feel that an image selects you. Play with different backgrounds. Let your intuition speak to you. When you have enough images, start to frame or fit them together, arranging the images into a collage. SoulCollage® cards are 5 x 8, but use what feels comfortable for you. When it feels finished, glue your images down. If you have never tried creating a collage, you will be amazed at what you can learn from this process. More on that later.
December 6-8, 2019: Sprigs of Rosemary Retreat at St. Benedict Center, Schuyler, NE.
“Will you be my refuge / My haven in the storm, Will you keep the embers warm / When my fire’s all but gone? Will you remember / And bring me sprigs of rosemary, Be my sanctuary / ‘Til I can carry on / Carry on.”–Carrie Newcomer, Sanctuary
Sanctuary was written by Carrie Newcomer after a conversation with her friend Parker J. Palmer. She asked him, “What can we do when we are personally or politically heartbroken?” He responded that we take sanctuary. We gather with those we love. We remember, we share stories or we sit in silence until we can go on. There is time for positive action, to do what needs to be done. But there are also times when we rest in the arms of what most sustains us.
Take sanctuary this Advent with the Sprigs of Rosemary retreat, for time to creatively and prayerfully ponder what sustains us most and the significance of seeking, being and finding sanctuary. Lectio divina, walking the labyrinth, SoulCollage® card making and reading is a perfect Advent sanctuary.
To sign up for the retreat, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Profoundly impacted by the lyrics and vocals of “Benediction of the Trees”, written and performed by Derek Dibbern, I share his music and also images of trees I’ve taken through the years in different seasons and from various states and countries.
Derek and I met at St. Benedict Center several years ago and our paths continue to cross–we’ve been in the same space for Zen meditation, Catholic Mass, my school classroom, as well as local bars and coffee shops where he has performed. Deeply spiritual and always seeking, Derek is a student of inspirational and recreational tree climbing at Tree Climbing Planet in Oregon. He dedicates the song to his teacher, Tim Kovar, and “the many woodland creatures that have held us aloft in our arboreal adventures.”
This song is a prayer. It is recognition that Nature blesses us with trees for our healing, enjoyment, leisure, and protection. Our very breath is dependent on the Benediction of the Trees.
Benediction of the Trees
From the Heart to the Heavens
Rooted in the Earth
Branching out above us
Healing what was hurt
Reaching down to lift us
Swing us in the breeze
the air we breathe She gives us
Benediction of the Trees
Home before our houses
Cornered us inside
Gentle arms around us
Above the rising tide
Can you hear them calling?
Like music in a dream
The leaves are always falling
A Benediction from the Trees
A shout becomes a whisper
A Sermon into Song
It’s useless to resist her
She’s where we all belong
In our Sanctuary Forest
Beneath the Pleiades
Cicadas in the chorus
Benediction to the Trees
As the moon reflects the sunlight
From a million miles away
I’ll try to get the words right
So you can hear her say
In a melody familiar
That brings us to our knees
In Liturgy peculiar
Benediction to the Trees
“…the doors to the world of Wild Woman are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
I am one who is Witness to self.
I am one who stands tall
Upright, resilient, longsuffering
Despite winds of change.
I am one who, with the pace of a praying monk,
Glides gently through breeze and shadow, clouds and sea.
In honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday February 7, 1867, I share a previous post, “Why I Teach.”
As early as kindergarten, I identified teacher as a potential
occupation in my “School Years” book, a collection of elementary school memories. My kindergarten-self chose nurse, teacher, model and mother as possible career and life choices, although the options were limited to traditional girl-jobs only. (I’ve wondered why I didn’t dare to select baseball player or astronaut. Was it because those jobs did not interest me or did I not consider the boy-jobs? Or why were airline hostess and secretary NOT of interest to me?) Female stereotypes aside, by fourth grade, I had wisely eliminated model and nurse (yuk and yuk!!), leaving teacher and mother.
I was interested in learning and teaching as soon as I was old enough to work my way through phonics, spelling and math workbooks, just for fun. And then creating worksheets and math problems, grading spelling quizzes and making lesson plans became my childhood joys. My brother was my first student and I worked him pretty hard. I remember taking the graded assignments I’d given him to my fourth-grade teacher, proudly showing her what I was helping him accomplish outside of school hours. Rather than receiving the anticipated (and sought-after) praise, she promptly told me I should back off and not force him to be my student anymore or he might hate school—my first humbling opportunity at professional self-reflection.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was my childhood heroine. Pioneer girl turned teacher; wide-open prairie sky and her own classroom, from Little House on the Prairie to These Happy Golden Years —I wanted to BE Laura. I admired her sense of self-confidence and independence, how she encouraged students to overcome learning challenges, many not much younger than she. (I am such a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder that when my daughter could barely read I bought the entire book series, picture books and television movies for her and also road-tripped to Mansfield, Missouri to see the house where Laura penned all of the Little House books. Quite a thrill!)
All the evidence indicates that, if I wasn’t born with the desire to teach, the passion was stirring when I was very young. Continue reading “Why I Teach”→
You know how spiritual gurus encourage you to pick a word of the year, something profound and inspirational to help you navigate a new year? Well, I found mine the other day. I had contemplated some lofty sounding words, but I don’t even remember them now because when this word fell on me, I knew it was the one.
My word for the year is going to be cushion.
Cushioned, either way. Loved, either way. Card created for Word of the Year, 2018.
When I have a lot of activity then I need to cushion it with some non-activity, some silence and solitude. When I have a lot of sitting, I need to cushion it with more standing and walking around (this I’ve learned from my back injury.) I love the “vorfreude”, the anticipation of travel, but my adventures need to be cushioned with the feeling of contentment when arriving home, sweet home. And the times when I think I can pour just a bit more information into my brain by reading one more article or one more chapter, I shall give myself a cushion, the needed space for new thoughts and ideas to bubble up.
Once I was taken with the idea of cushion as my one-word guide to freedom and happiness in 2018, I couldn’t stop thinking about the various applications. For instance, I should like to give myself a soft place to fall, a cushion on those days when I am too hard on myself. And when I’m too hard on others or expect too much, I can imagine a cushion between them and me. I can be a little softer and a little more forgiving, a little less rigid and a little more relaxed.
Really, it’s about balance, an invaluable tool of Benedictine spirituality that helps one stay in present moment experience, having enough silence and space to listen with the ear of the heart.
I remember how Fr. Mauritius demonstrated what balance looks like at a retreat he directed. Standing in the center of the room, which represented having a perfect balance, he shared that it is impossible to always be in a perfectly balanced state of being. Rather, what we do is go a little too far to the left (say, with committing to too many social engagements) or a little too far to the right (perhaps, with too much isolation.) To demonstrate how we so often get out of balance, Fr. Mauritius physically ran to the left side of the room and bounced off the wall. And then to re-correct, an attempt at finding balance, he ran to the opposite side of the room and bounced off that wall.
Our life is a constant attempt to achieve some kind of balance, but perhaps our efforts can be made more gently. This bouncing off the wall is what I would like to avoid in 2018….with my cushion. Instead of overcommitting, I will take the time to ask myself—will this be too much? Am I overcommitting? Is this a physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy way for me to spend my time?
Additionally, I shall allow myself the cushion of time needed to make any decision. There is no need to rush, to overcommit, to bounce off that darn wall so hard. I shall gently bump into the ever-so-soft cushion I have gifted myself as a reminder to listen to the ear of the heart.
Speaking and silence.
Together and alone.
Activity and rest.
Prayer and work.
The connection between these two good options is the word “and”, not “or”. We need both. We need balance, yes, but we can give ourselves a cushion, the opportunity to rest knowing that perfection is not expected. We listen. We act. We pray. We readjust. “This is how a Benedictine’s day is. It is always changing, alternating—praying, working, resting. This is captured in the Benedictine motto, pray and work…The most important word is ‘and’.”-Fr. Mauritius Wilde
Perhaps, this cushion, this soft place to fall, is what love is.
I want to give that cushion, that love to myself. I pray my loved ones know that I can be their cushion, a soft place to fall when they need to know the love of another. “Love one another.”-John 13:34
And, finally, for myself and others–to remember that meeting God in prayer is the ultimate cushion. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8
Hmmm, I think. “Good question…yes, because of faith and hope. Many blessings.”
This might not be the typical are-you-okay-what’s-wrong? line of questioning one might expect, but good friends know what’s behind your “yes and no” already. Sometimes the no just needs to lie right where it is; it’s the yes that needs more attention.
Likely, the question was meant for me to consider what is good? what is hopeful? what is well with my soul?
A few days ago, I created a SoulCollage® card, that I named “The Seasons of Life: I’ve Seen A Lot of Shit.” Eloquent, I know, but it’s the first thing that came to mind when I looked at my finished card.
I had no idea what I was creating when I started, with no goal in mind. I was drawn to the older women sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company. They look experienced (not old, please), rested, peaceful, connected, comfortable and wise. I imagined what it was they might be discussing. Perhaps the storms of life, the many changes they had experienced, their efforts to rise or reach or resist, obstacles they had overcome, obstacles that made them feel all shot-up and yet, in the end, still standing, still sitting, still connecting, still enjoying.
Both women hold a little of each season, every year, and the many experiences they have lived within them.
“Autumn holds fragments of the other seasons in transformative arms…the mood of autumn is the ebb and flow of life. Autumn stands as an epiphany to the truth that all things are passing and even in the passing there is beauty. It holds out platters of death and life.” -The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
Each of us is called to take the seasons of life into “transformative arms”, to become more of who we are. So this autumn weekend, I consider the seasons of life—all of it, especially the blessings. I think about the “yes” of life that threads itself through my days—the yes to faith, hope and gratitude for many blessings. The daily yeses keep me focused on the bigger yes—the yes to God.
My yes is the desire to become more of who God created me to be. This I have hope for and believe in. This I am grateful for and what I say yes to.
Yes, it is well with my soul.
“People often speak of becoming more grateful after having lost some of their health. Suddenly they see all they have taken for granted. Gratitude for all that has been enables them to say yes to all that is to come.” -The Circle of Life, Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
My dad, Tom Blazek, had a dream to write a book about his hometown, Valparaiso, Nebraska—to create a timeline of its history and to share stories of growing up in a small town. Passionate about history, he would devour a book on a topic he loved—about World War II, the Civil War, the history of Lincoln or Nebraska. He could find bits and pieces about Valparaiso from different sources, but he had a dream of gathering it all into one book, from the birth of the small village up to the present. His love of reading about history turned into a passion for sharing with others.
For some, his ambition to write a book came as quite a surprise. My dad wasn’t a
particularly motivated student, he is the first to admit. One classmate said he was the least likely of their class to ever write a book. As a teenager, any reason was a legitimate one for skipping school. One afternoon, hanging out at the town gas station with his friends, my grandma (God-rest-her-soul-for-raising-five-boys) discovered his truancy, went to the gas station, and strongly encouraged him to get back to school. Mrs. Jean Ang, my dad’s 7th and 8th-grade teacher, commented, “the Blazek boys, they had a lot of life.” God love his teachers and parents for tolerating his alternative form of education. As a teacher, it’s important for me to remember that everyone learns differently. Regardless of what he did or didn’t learn in school, he always worked hard.
I’ve observed a work ethic in my dad that is unmatched. From delivering newspapers, farming and working at a gas station as a teenager; being a manager at Safeway grocery stores, working in dispatch, sales and management in the transportation industry; and, finally, in production and office management, my dad has ALWAYS worked hard, whether he liked his job or not. And for many years he supplemented his full-time job with hauling jobs—cleaning out attics and basements, taking trash to the landfill, and helping people move their belongings.
He had a good example of work ethic in his own grandfather, Frank Blazek, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia, who walked twenty-some miles to work on Sunday nights from Valparaiso to Gooch’s Mill in Lincoln, lived in a rented room all week, and, then walked home on Friday night to bring his paycheck home. And his own dad, Lod, worked wherever, whenever, doing whatever he could to make some money, even if the job took him a distance from home. Work wasn’t a choice. Work wasn’t about self-fulfillment or purpose or happiness. Work was a means to an end—it was food on the table.
So when my dad finally retired, he wasted no time getting to work on his dream (and if you know my dad, you understand there is no such thing as procrastinating or wasting time—he gets things done and works fast! And if there is a free moment, he washes his car.)
Each morning, rain or shine, for three years, he drove to downtown Lincoln, found a cheap place to park for four hours and walked to the Nebraska History Museum. While reading through archives, he took copious notes by hand. He read through every edition of the town newspaper, The Valparaiso Avalanche (1878-1887), followed by every edition of The Valparaiso Visitor (1887-1945), before diving into the Wahoo newspaper, the county seat, for anything about Valparaiso from 1945 on. Over 600 hours he spent at the Nebraska History and Saunders County Museums.
After gathering a morning’s worth of information, he went home to type up his findings, adding old family and town photos and local advertisements throughout the text. And when he had questions about what he read, he tracked down people he could talk to. He interviewed dozens of people who grew up in Valparaiso, often accompanied by his brother, Don. People loved to share their stories and some even offered up old photos and newspapers that weren’t available in the archives. My Uncle Don said, “I was amazed to hear people tell their stories when asked a question about the past. One question could ignite a person’s memory, some that probably had trouble remembering what they did last week, but, man, how they enjoyed reminiscing about their youth!”
Stories are as important for those who hear them as the one doing the telling. Being listened to validates our experiences; we matter when we are heard. When we were kids, my brother and I would beg for stories about our dad’s growing up shenanigans, a window into his life before we were in it. His stories helped us see what life was like for him and helped connect us to the generations before us. But these stories are lost if not written down. Writing this book was part fact-finding and part storytelling, both his own and others.
My dad had a goal to have his book completed, printed and ready for distribution at the 2014 Valparaiso Heritage Days, an event that hundreds would attend. My dad was a town hero that day. Tom Blazek, the most unlikely person in town to write a book, had accomplished just that.
The skeptics who didn’t think he could do it or who didn’t think people would spend $25 on a book, were the same folks who couldn’t put the book down. (Pictured below on top-right is Mrs. Ang, his teacher—she still looks skeptical, doesn’t she?)
People, scattered throughout the American Legion Hall, were leafing through “My Valparaiso”, reading, laughing, reminiscing, and sharing their own stories. It was a special day of recognition for my dad, a goal accomplished, and a dream come true. The response was overwhelming—people bought not just one copy, but two, three or more autographed copies for gifts.
Over the next weeks and months, the reaction to the book was overwhelming. People loved it, ordering more copies, calling friends in distant states and telling them about it. From all over Nebraska and the country, people called and wrote to order a book or share their stories. My dad heard from people in every region of the United States, including Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Connecticut, Massachusetts Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma.
Who knew that the small town of Valparaiso had scattered its townspeople so far? Who knew “My Valparaiso”, and my dad’s work, could have such a far-reaching impact?
The conversations that followed unearthed new stories and information; a second book was born. Some, like sweet old Edna Johnson, who enjoyed the first book so much, pre-ordered “My Valparaiso II” before it was even finished, but, sadly, didn’t live long enough to see it published. Another lady, in her eighties, said she read things about her family that she had never heard before.
“My Valparaiso” and “My Valparaiso II” are chock full of events and anecdotes that warm the heart and keep the history of the town alive—everything from tornados, fires and blizzards; to the first automobile, electric lights, and pool halls; to horse and buggy accidents, train wrecks, burglaries and even suspected murder; difficult times during the Great Depression, illnesses like hog cholera and scarlet fever; and festivities including Fourth of July celebrations, the traveling circus, auctions and church gatherings. You’ll also find a list of every person from Valparaiso who served in World War II, every graduate from Valparaiso High School and every business ever established, along with photos and advertisements that span the years.
A topic of great concern for many years was alcohol—would the town be dry or not? In 1908, apparently “German and Bohemian immigrants brought with them the thirst for beer.” But Valparaiso was a dry town, off and on, for several years. The town newspaper reported in 1909, “If Valparaiso goes dry again next spring, the Visitor will be for sale. We, the editor, must simply have an occasional nip in order to ward off despondency and keep up a business appearance.” In 1912, fifty drunks were caught celebrating the 4th of July, and concerned wife, Lillie McMaster, took out an ad in the paper saying, “I hereby forbid any person or persons to give or sell my husband any kind of liquor. This applies to the saloon keepers of Valparaiso and Touhy.”
One of my favorite stories that my dad told, included in the first book, is the time he blew up his dad’s car. Yup, he blew up his dad’s car. My dad and a few of his friends had a plan to drive into Lincoln and “cruise through Kings on O Street”, a popular past-time in 1962. The first attempt, after some likely reckless driving, resulted in the “knocked-out rear end of the car.” They needed different transportation and my dad had a bright idea: “My folks, along with another couple, were in Lincoln… my brothers and I were told not to touch the car. Knowing my Dad always checked the speedometer, I unhooked it.” But then they needed gas. (You can see where this is heading.) Siphoning gas from one vehicle to another was the second bright idea: “We had a pretty big stream of gas running between the two cars when Richard Draper lit his cigarette and accidently dropped it causing the gas to go up in flames…and burning the whole back end of the car. Needless to say, when my folks got home I was in big trouble.”
My dad is a lively storyteller (he has pretty good material) and is an attentive listener. What a gift Tom Blazek gave to those he listened to and to the folks who learned something new about their relatives because of his books. What a gift it was to tell the stories that otherwise would have been lost and for the childhood memories that were stirred. What a legacy that will live on because of my dad’s dream and hard work!
And yes, there will be another book. My dad says, “I may not live long enough to do Book 3 but people keep sending me stuff.” He’s also been asked to write a book about Touhy, the town a few miles north of Valparaiso. He thinks he’ll have that one published in about a year.
This, among many other things, is what I’ve learned from my dad: Where we come from is important, but even more so is what we leave behind. “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”-Martin Luther
Recently, I had a dream that I was pregnant. I was not in labor but, clearly, I was expectantly waiting for the birth. When I woke, I knew this brief dream was one of both hope and uncertainty, and that it mirrored the ambiguous space I’ve been in for several months. I remember when I was in actual labor with my daughter, Jessica, thinking, “I quit. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” It’s a silly thought, because, obviously, there is no other choice but to persist.
As any mother will tell you, labor is definitely worth it but, in the middle of it, that place of in-between, frustration and impatience can set in (not to mention, pain). As it is with birthing a baby, so it is with birthing something new in one’s life. One is more-than-ready to see the fruits of labor.
In dream language, being pregnant means more than giving birth to a baby; it’s about potential and expectation—giving birth to an idea, a new phase of life, or a new phase in a relationship. All of life is a birthing, dying and rebirthing process.
“…love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another… Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many many endings, and many many beginnings—all in the same relationship.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
I woke from this dream knowing that something new shall come and that I must persist. Less an act of will and more an act of surrender, I trust that this birthing is a divine experience.
Just a few weeks later, another dream gives me a hint of what is to come. I was frustrated that I hadn’t seen any progress on a house that was under construction. I wondered, how could the builder not show me this house that I was planning to buy? Finally, he gave me a tour. The rooms were larger, different than I had expected, surprisingly unique. There were some rooms that already had furniture in them, arranged in a way that I would never have considered. It was far more beautiful than I could have imagined. But there were other rooms that were still under construction. Also, there were two staircases—one that led to my bedroom and another that went to a few guest rooms, those that family might stay in. Although the rooms were near each other, they could not be reached from one to the other. They could only be reached through their separate staircases. In the large living room, there was a piano with rows of chairs gathered around it, as if for a performance. I was content that the house was coming along quite beautifully and far beyond my expectations.
This house is me. This dream spoke to me of comfort, fulfillment, wonder, patience, hope, and even, certainty. And although I am “under construction”, what is, and what is to come, is beautiful. Progress IS being made even if it might not look or feel like it. I am excited at the prospect that there are choices that I can make, of color and pattern, to complete the decor. What was revealed is certainty that God is working, and also a hope, a promise of something new to come.
I am surprised that I have my own staircase, that my room is separate from the others, but this gives me confidence that this journey is my own to grow in beauty of self and spirit. God is working on me and in me, giving me permission to limit distractions, to have my own haven of peace. It really doesn’t matter what God has in store for me because God dwells within me. I am at home wherever God dwells in my heart.
My dreams will continue to give insight and God will continue to work on me in a more beautiful way than I could have imagined myself. I may not know what is to come, but trusting the birthing process is surrendering the outcome.
Happy New Year from SoulFully You! Thank you for subscribing to and sharing my posts during 2016.
The SoulFully You website was birthed as a way to connect with those who practice prayerful creativity and who attend my retreats and workshops. The blog came along later when writing as an expression of creativity felt comfortable. Journaling is a spiritual practice, sometimes an emotional purging, but always a way to see the hand of God at work in one’s life. For me, reflecting is just as prayerful as the writing itself. Reading what I have written during 2016, I see how God was preparing me for challenges, urging me to trust and to be patient. God works in every moment of our life—in times of joy and peace, turmoil and trial. I am never more certain of that than when I re-read my journal or blog posts. I appreciate those in person, or through this blog, who joined me in the journey.
Lessons I Have Learned, Again
Most of 2016 was observed as a Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Catholic Church, a time to reflect on the many ways we are in need of mercy and the opportunity to always begin again. Sometimes it takes living, learning a lesson, living it again, remembering the lesson learned, (and in my case) writing about it, screwing it up a few more times, before, finally, letting the lesson settle into the soul as a balm for what ails.
There were plenty of opportunities to practice mercy, on myself and others, this year. In Parker Palmer for President: The only political post I will ever make, I was full of intention to be “more Benedictine” during the tension of a tumultuous election year—to listen more, to honor diversity and to be more hospitable to those who don’t share similar political views. I admit that it was easier to write before we knew who the Presidential nominees would be, before offensive Facebook posts and family disagreements, before the dream of our first woman President died, than it was to live out. The best outcome from this post—a direct response from the dear Parker Palmer, who I pledge to vote for should he ever decide to run.
Lesson learned: Having intention is easier than action; be more merciful to oneself; try again.
In When the Dust Settles, I had a dream that gave me the insight to move through some difficult situations slowly, to be cautious, and to patiently wait for the dust to settle, to see what otherwise might be overlooked. God has many backup plans for us; we don’t need to have a perfect vision of what is to come. By surrendering to surprise, by surrendering an idealized version of our life, we create an opening for God to work in mysterious and more perfect ways than we could have imagined.
Lesson learned:Be patient; one can see more clearly when the dust has settled.
I also learned what I previously thought I knew, that I don’t know nothin’. I learned from my father-in-law, who also knew nothin’, that one should leave “room for not knowing, for mystery. He knew he wasn’t in charge of all things true… and he admitted it many, many times.” So many times I’ve thought I had things figured out, knew what would happen, had expected an outcome, just to come back to this lesson—I don’t know nothin’. Anything can happen and that’s going to be okay too. Things change, God is constant.
Lesson learned: I don’t know nothin’.
I also remembered that I am a child of God, something I thought I already knew, but apparently had forgotten also. In Made for Goodness: A Child of God, I was reminded of this message: “Walk slowly. Listen, for God is speaking. You are accompanied. You are known; uniquely created. Be faithful. Trust and it won’t matter how the road may turn. It’s not where you are going, but how. God is with you.”
Lesson learned: God is constant. HE is before all things. By HIM all things consist. (Col 1:17)
So Much Joy Too
Despite the challenging year, there was so much joy too. Most significantly, our daughter, Jessica, navigated her final semester of college, landed an amazing job in Washington DC and moved to Capitol Hill two weeks after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Business Administration. “Our blessing has always been for her to pursue her dreams, to find her place in the world and to become a joy-filled, independent adult.” See A Mother’s Blessing and Just Listen: Advice for a Quarter-Life Crisis.
Much joy came from simple, yet poignant moments: lunch with a friend, a walk around Holmes Lake, a thoughtful text message or a surprise gift or card of encouragement, good conversation, times of silence, reading, creating, leading or attending a retreat at St. Benedict Center, having a photo in the Hildegard Center for the Arts “Bridges” Nebraska Sesquicentennial Photo Exhibit, Oblate discussions and lectio divina, the friendship and shared reading with my Circle and book group, the satisfaction of finishing my first theology class at Creighton University, the ordinary moments of marriage and mothering, a Carrie Newcomer concert on a coincidental weekend trip to DC, moments of clarity and connection with the Divine. Joy can always be found.
In 2017, I hope to write more about Benedictine spirituality, sharing posts and other resources at a new website and blog, BeingBenedictine.com
Thanks to you, SoulFully You was viewed 4700 times by over 2400 readers in more than 40 countries, primarily in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany. SoulFully You is about listening, praying and living a creative, purposeful, passionate life. It’s about becoming SoulFully You.
May you have joy, peace, love, and creativity in 2017! May it settle in your heart that you can “do this hard thing” knowing God is present in all of your moments. Blessings, Jodi
You can do this hard thing You can do this hard thing It’s not easy I know But I believe that it’s so You can do this hard thing