Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lost In My Mind

For the past three or four days I have been praying with the song Lost In My Mind, by the Head and the Heart. The rhythm, the lyrics and the voices say so much about vision, connection and, well moving forward. We are set-up for hope in the beginning when he sings, "Momma once told me you are already home where you feel love." Isn't that the truth. I think of my friends, family, mentors, sisters in Religious Life, and students and realize it is through their love that I continue to find my home. It is so obvious and yet, don't you know there are days when I am so aware of the gift of this love in my life.

Then, "Oh my brother your wisdom is older than me." This line causes me to reflect on the shoulders of the men and women I stand on. Look back on your ancestral (both genetically and spiritually) and my guess is you will find some of that wisdom in ways that continue to manifest in your own life. Well, at least this is how it works in my world. Sometimes I need to tap into that wisdom and at other times I need to be free to attempt life regardless of what the ancestors would do. Maybe this is convoluted, yet I am talking about living an emancipated life which includes the wisdom of others and the willingness to risk everything for the notion of love.

Finally, "How's that brick layin' coming? How's that engine running? Is that bridge getting built? Are your hands getting fully? Won't you tell me my brother brother? Cause there are stars up above. We can start moving forward." This seems to me an invitation to move with the spirit, knowing that we are not alone, and must build and move if we are going to grow. This requires taking risks, and at times they are the most frightening things we will face if we are discerning. There are so many areas where complacency has taken hold and as frustrated as it gets I realize that it a reality much bigger than my small world. My hope is that we can hold the reflect who we are to one another and encourage each other to let-go of our perceived greatness (which is actually not great at all) and know that there is much more to do. I refer back to a few of posts back, "Are we living our lives radically enough?"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How big is my world?

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.
George Santayana  

I am sitting with the Santayana quote and resonating with its point. Currently, I am enrolled in a class titled Intercultural Leadership. This class is pulling me in many directions as I read the material and reflect on how I function interculturally. Over the years I have had opportunities to experience people who are different ethnically, religiously and sexually who continue to teach me that the world is so much bigger than what I know. There are so many things I need to learn as I realize how limited my experiences really are and how I cannot even communicate with my religious sisters from Nicaragua due to language and cultural barriers. And, I have had an equivalent to three years of Spanish and am still like a stone. There was a time when I was going to have an immersion experience to learn the language and more about the Nicaraguan experience which unfortunately fell apart. I do want to be more proficient at crossing cultural borders, not for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of the other. The past nine years living in Chicago, then on the Navajo reservation, and the past five in Milwaukee (my birth place) has opened up a greater desire to diversify my life. As I move back to Fond du Lac there will be a shift in what I am exposed to on a daily basis. I imagine that my world could become much smaller  and am conscious that this is not a time to seek safety, rather I am moving to grow and learn and discover what it is that is calling me back to the source of my religious life and the home of CSA. 

A couple of months ago I was knuttering about not teaching, wondering whether I was ready to take the risk of losing my connection with young people when my mom said, "Honey, there are plenty of young people in Fond du Lac. I'm pretty sure you won't run in short supply." The gift of young people in my life is that as a teacher they call me to an authenticity that has never before been demanded of me. I do not know how to explain it. What I do know is that every morning I prepare for school and know that if I am not real the students knew it, and sure enough the days I attempted to be a fake were just plain disastrous. If you want to be exposed and vulnerable try standing before a room of 30 students and act like you have it all together. They will come at you without mercy until you are able to meet them through the condition of your humanity. For me teaching is a practice in rapport building and when I do not trust they can smell it. Well, I will not be teaching high school students next year and am trying my hand at something else. I learned two weeks ago that I will be teaching one undergraduate course (a freshmen seminar) and co-teaching Spirituality and Leadership (with one of my professors from my own undergrad years...double yeah on that). So, I will be with a mixed group of people who will be new to me, and this will likely prevent my world from collapsing on itself. Have a great week and notice how your soul is freed beyond your social location if possible (that's what I will be attempting)!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Funny The Way It Is

Funny the way it is, a song by the Dave Matthews Band, sums-up how I am feeling tonight. I just went for a nice bike ride and am feeling the heat of the day even at this late hour (8:00 p.m.). I had an experience this weekend that required a measure of endurance, along with a splash of tenacity and a whole lot of observing. I journeyed with a friend to a formal meditation retreat, which is referred to as Sesshin in Zen language. Now, my usual retreats (well this year has been like a retreat blitz...but what I consider my usual retreat) consists of 6 - 8 days of silence, scripture, poetry, prayer/meditation, and meeting with a spiritual director daily to discuss the God quest. Before my final vows I made a thirty day silent retreat and it was difficult on many levels, yet even that does not compare to this 2 1/2 day experience of Sesshin. There were elements to the ritual that reminded of my religious life and the things that are meaningful to the spiritual practices of church and community as we chanted, prayed and shared in ritual meals. In August I will go on a shortened silent retreat as I switch over to the winter months for a longer retreat (it appears my new schedule should permit it and there is something I love about the silence in the winter months). The paradox of every retreat I have been on is that it connects me to the reality that something is going on in one place while another thing which could be considered polar opposite is occurring elsewhere, and in all of this we at times find ourselves in the polarities. However, most often we reside somewhere in between: We withdraw from our ordinary experiences to retreat into activities of silence, reflection and sharing that allows us to connect more wholly to the world. The song "Funny The Way It Is" depicts the reality of our existence in a way that I cannot. In the car on the way home my friend talked about opportunities for some in contrast to the devastation of others (although she was not that extreme in her language). While on the bike enjoying the breeze I had an awareness that this is not so for everyone, some people do not even have the opportunity to stand let alone get on a bike and ride. So, I leave you with the lyrics and song as the dance of suffering and joy continues in all of our lives. Oh, one more thing....Thanks for last weeks responses Anonymous and Mary Rose! Okay, now for the video:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What do you think?

 "I have found the paradox, if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
Mother Theresa

Tonight I reflect on this quote knowing that it cannot be understood with the usual mind. I wrote it down after watching an iMovie from a Spring Break Service trip. The healing balm of love enters so many areas of our lives. One of my mentor/friends in CSA always talks about loving people into life and I have become a believer. I have been that broken and had the love of others breathe life back into me through their care. Now, as I get older my hope is that I am able to offer the same to others. What does it mean to love until it hurts? I think it means that their is a cost for love. That for the sake of love I have to be willing to risk it all. This is a great concept until it is a coworker I do not like so much, or a sister that irritates me, or the student resists everything loving is no longer a lofty ordeal. Sometimes it is difficult to love and the cost might be that I have to open my heart to people who are irritants. Sometimes the cost is that what I currently objectify will have to become real and human. Sometimes the hurt is in loss and then being willing to love again. Love is not as easy as I would like it to be and yet today we celebrate Trinity Sunday and that is the greatest model of love I know. Maybe I am not equipped to deal with Mother Theresa's depth tonight. Still, I must reflect on the quote some more as it strikes a chord. What are some of your thoughts on this quote? Please share if so moved.