My new blog post for Spiritual Directors International:
It was my 18-month old daughter who deepened my experience of wonder. As soon as she could toddle, her chubby little legs carried her outside to explore the big, wide world.
I can still see her in my mind’s eye, crouching down in the grass to point her tiny finger at any number of nature’s surprises: ants busily building a house, fragments of a pale blue robin’s egg, the delicate tapestry of Queen Anne’s Lace. “Look, Mama,” she would say, “isn’t it pretty? Come see!” And she would continue to crouch and wait until I did the same. Every waking moment of her day, all she wanted to do was go outside to explore nature’s handiwork. This little soul lived in a world of wonder. (Continue reading here)
I love Autumn. It may be my favorite season. There is so much change happening all around me, moment-by-moment, that it is good and wise (and pleasurable!) to bear witness to all of it.
This beautiful maple tree in my yard is a perfect example and it is my touchpoint for the season. Each day I step out onto our deck, take a few deep breaths, and acknowledge the shift in hue that is happening nearly right before my eyes. Today, a little less green, leafy tips dipped in orange. Stunning!
This lovely tree reminds me that change is always present—a constant, in fact—and that there is no point in resisting. Leaning into change with an open mind and hospitable heart can serve us very well. Why resist a "holy invitation" to let go of what no longer serves us and to embrace that which does?
A brisk autumn walk yesterday revealed its own share of delights.
In northern Michigan, everything appears to be in a state of letting go. The leaves on the trees are now falling into untidy piles on the ground or being swept away by wildish winds. Many of the trees are already barren, stumps of singular beauty. As the vibrant colors of fall are fading to dull browns and grays, my heart has a tendency to feel this loss and usher in feelings of melancholy.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered scores of trees that were indeed barren of leaves but now abloom with red fruit. Joy! I hope they're edible fruit for the birds that will brave the coming winter.
While these trees were transforming, beginning their own process of letting go, I didn't see the new life that was also sprouting. Dense leaves had covered up these glorious red berries. And now that serious shedding had begun, they were finally revealed. Just beautiful. And hopeful.
Their presence reminded me of some important things:
Even in the midst of letting go, there is holy newness.
Even in the sorrow of loss, there is plenty.
Even in the struggle to accept change, there are places of appreciation and beauty into which one can rest.
And hope. There is always hope that each new day brings with it possibilities, opportunities ...
Life can be good and fruitful, even in the letting go.
This morning I was deeply immersed in my writing. Writing for me is a spiritual practice, so when I do write, I feel plugged-in to God. Putting words upon the page firmly plants me in the present moment which, in my view, is the only place we can truly experience the Divine.
When I emerged from under the "spell" of the Sacred, I stepped out onto my deck for a breath of fresh air and a change of landscape. I was surprised at what I found. The leaves of the trees had been coated with a frosty wash of glimmer. They'd been kissed by Mother Nature, I imagine as part of her "putting things to bed" routine that accompanies Fall.
In that moment of witness I recalled how I had complained about the cold earlier this the morning, whining to my husband about the 30 degree reading I saw on our outdoor thermometer. Brrr ... I was thinking of going for a walk later today and my mind anxiously jumped to how many layers of clothing I'd have to put on to stay warm. In many ways, I am not ready for colder temperatures to be a longterm guest.
Yet, when I stepped out onto the deck and viewed my surroundings with sacred vision, I was overcome by a sense of wonder at the beauty I found: frost-laden leaves that glittered softly in the early morning sun. Whining was replaced by praise. Humility paid a visit too.
How important perspective is and taking the time to clear our clouded vision to see what's really here!
It was cold on the deck. I put on my coat and grabbed my camera. I snapped a few pictures then simply stood there. I listened and watched. I could not only see the leaves falling from the trees, but hear them too. At first I thought a squirrel was causing this abundant cascade, but, no. The leaves were tumbling down all by their own effort - or lack of it. They were simply letting go ...
I listened and watched their release and was buoyed with courage for another day of my own moments of surrender. For they will come, as has the frost, a now welcome visitor.
Today is not a day for strolling. The autumn rains have come and will stay with us for the next few days. But yesterday, and a trail of days before that, were wonderful for walking.
Everywhere I went I noticed evidence of the changing season. First to catch my eye were patches of brilliant crimson—Red Maples. They are the most glorious, offering dramatic change to all who see. Then I spied pockets of gold—Sugar Maples. These sweet trees are more discriminating when it comes to color change. 'Subtle' is the best word to describe them. They make a gentle transition from green to yellow to orange to red.
If truth be told, none of us is too fond of rapid and unexpected change. We don't like our world rocked in sudden, unsteadying ways. In fact, I've read that most people don't like change at all. Which is rather surprising when you realize that millions of self-help books are sold each year. All those book sales would seem to say that we like and want to change. Actually, I think most of us like to read about change rather than doing it.
Unless you are a Sugar Maple, because you are lucky enough to make a significant life transition more slowly. I like to imagine that these maples get to feel their way from green to red, with plenty of time to get used to the change. That they are fortunate to experience the gradual withdrawal of chlorophyll from their veins so they can manage life (and leaving it) much better. Not such a shock to the system you know?
If I come back in another life, I might just choose to be a Sugar Maple. I prefer subtle over shocking.
The trees of autumn model change, how we too can change: surrendering to the will of the world that sources and shapes us. And to do it with dignity and grace because everything changes. Everything. All the time.
May we accept the invitation of change with aplomb. Like the trees.
When I take my city strolls, I have favorite streets I like to meander. I sense this is because they feel especially welcoming to me.
As I walk mindfully and pay close attention, I notice there are certain ways that people landscape their yards or decorate the exteriors of their homes that offer a note of invitation.
Which brings me to a place of pondering. How welcoming am I? Do I invite others in or do I fence them out? Everyone wants to feel welcome, don't they?
A well-placed bower shading a sidewalk says, "Come in."
Delicate blooms reach through the slats of fences as if to say, "Hello there."
Some even reach so far as to gently touch your leg as you walk by, offering a flowery hug.
Larger spaces, intentionally planned and well maintained, offer a deeper welcome.
"Sit, rest, stay a while."
Indeed, everything speaks to us, inviting us deeper ... if we have the eyes to perceive and the heart to receive. Today, I'm thinking about hospitality and how I can be more open and welcoming to those who enter my world.
© Photos and text, Janice L. Lundy, 2014
How often do we resist the flow of our days? We're so certain our life should be going in a different direction than it is. Or positive that what we are going through should not be happening to us—to someone else maybe, but not us.
It seems that our modus operandi on most days is to notice what's going on and either rail against it or jump into "change it" mode. Resistance is our default setting. It's difficult to be at ease with what is.
Imagine what it would be like, instead, to flow with what's transpiring in our lives. Flow with what comes. Flow with what goes. Just like a river we can allow our very essence—peace—to call the shots and take us where we need to go.
A few years ago, as I sat beside the sweetest body of water, this short reflection came through. The river spoke ...
Observe the movements of a river.
Enter a few moments of quiet within yourself and imagine being like a river.
How does it feel to flow rather than bump along? How does it feel to trust and be carried?
Today, may you surrender any resistance that is yours and allow Source to be the one to move you along on your life's journey.
(Photo of the Rogue River in Michigan, from www.cannontwp.org)
A Tribute to Our First and Forever Mother the Earth
on the Occasion of Earth Day, 2014
The sheer magnitude of beauty found on this fair planet
is testament alone to the power of Spirit.
From a loving Source, we have been gifted a home
of unparalleled loveliness and and brilliance.
From sun-drenched beaches
to snow-capped mountains,
we can pause and give thanks
for the generosity of One who loves us enough
to surround us with sacred handiwork
each and every day.
From Awakening the Spirit Within
This post is Part 2 of the previous post: "When It All Feels Too Much"
Add 2 more "Spirit Refreshers" to your daily routine and settle into an Oasis of Calm. Enjoy!
Let Nature Nurture:
No matter where you are, at home or work, going outside invokes a natural relaxation response. Step outside and turn your attention toward something in nature. This can be something small—a leaf, a flower, an insect— or large, like the landscape. Focus intentionally to truly see what is in front of you. Notice the details—colors, shapes, textures, smells. Studies indicate that people who take nature breaks throughout the day are less stressed, produce more, and use both the right and left hemispheres of their brain more effectively. Our relaxation response comes 50% more quickly when we are out-of-doors rather than if we stay inside. Knowing this, consider taking your coffee break or lunch hour outside; let Mother Nature nurture you on all levels.
Replenish your physical reserves by getting a drink. Health experts say we should be drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. As the pace of our day increases, many of us literally forget to drink water. National statistics on the reported frequency of dehydration bear this out. If you are feeling sluggish, lightheaded (even dizzy), unable to focus, recall information or get a task completed, drink water. You may be dehydrated. Caffeinated beverages don’t count for water intake. In fact, their caffeine or sodium content depletes the body. Stick with water or juice to restore your energy.
Stay tuned! More techniques for Spiritual Restoration coming in a few days!
How's your Spiritual Health these days? Could it use a boost or an overhaul? If you're feeling overwhelmed and out of touch with "the real you," you might need a Spiritual Health Adjustment.
I'd love to help you with this by introducing you to a bold new way of being in the world. Learn more about how you can "Create Spiritual Health" today with the aid of weekly Spiritual Health Adjustments send directly to your Inbox.
A few more post-retreat thoughts, this time about gratitude.
As I prepare my home for guests for Thanksgiving, I feel overly busy, as if I have lost a sense of the groundedness I felt on retreat. I certainly know how to return to this place of centeredness, yet the ego barks its commands "To-Do" instead of Be.
And sometimes we just need to put the ego in its place by saying, 'I hear you, but I'm choosing not to listen to you.' I believe there is a difference between hearing and listening. We can "hear" the ego but "listen" to the calling of the soul instead, especially when it invites us to centeredness.
One of the practices that is the most grounding for me is to connect with Mother Nature. I took a few hundred photographs while on retreat because I knew this moment would come—a pivotal time when I'd feel as if I'd lost my sacred footing and would need to re-immerse myself in the spectacular beauty of the Meditation Gardens where I spent so much time in silence. Nature, to me, provides a direct experience of communion with the Divine; with the Cosmic Creative Soul that molded and shaped such splendor. I believe in "Intelligent Design." Reviewing the photos I took there restores me.
You see, when you are on retreat, your body and mind move much more slowly. You can see--really see—what's going on around you in a more light-filled way. There is wonder and a grand sense of awe. And, not surprisingly, what often arises are feelings of gratitude. I noticed this within myself when something quite different greeted my senses. The patterns in tree bark ...
the perfect symmetry of a plant ...
... the incomprehensible uniqueness of thousands of species of growing things.
The heart expands and opens.
Such grandeur! Such ingenuity!
Gratitude bursts forth like a brilliant flower.
In this moment, there is nothing lacking.
You remember, all are of the One.
Thanksgiving blessings to you my lovely friends.
May your eyes and heart see clearly so gratitude can blossom in your own life.
Photos and text © Janice Lynne Lundy, 2013. All Rights Reserved.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are: beings of unshakeable peace, boundless compassion, and deep joy.