Week of Feb. 17
Hello and happy mid-winter, wherever you are. We have settled into a deep freeze in the Great North and, interestingly enough, my body/mind is not resisting this feel swoop of cold. On some days, it's dangerous to be outside in the frigid temps with subzero wind chills. I am happy and content inside where it's warm.
I reflected on this in my February newsletter, "How to Comfort Yourself" (Read it here). The body-mind responds to gestures of kindness. When we comfort ourselves, the ever-rushing cortisol stream slows down, creating room for the "feel-good" hormones to find a pathway through, and we settle into greater ease. We can always use more ease for life is consistently challenging us to be more, do more, react more to a constant bombardment of stimuli and choices—which can wear us right out! My mantra in Winter is one of tenderness. "Be a bear." Meaning, allowing my instincts to guide me to hibernate for the purpose of warmth, creative expression, and inner harmony.
My newsletter, by the way, included a Guided Teaching (audio/mp3) on how to comfort yourself with a brief meditation for recognizing what you need. Enjoy!
At My Desk
I am preparing to take a class for my D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) in Spiritual Direction. I've ordered my books and am excited to be revisiting some classics on mindfulness, including those by pioneer, Jon Kabat-Zinn. The class is titled, "Mindfulness as a Healing Contemplative Practice." Right up my alley! As I prepare, I notice that this endeavor feels like pure pleasure to me, pure joy of learning, not a trace of "work" in the mix; not even hesitation about writing a paper each week. The class is practice-based, so I will be doing plenty of it! I've been noticing a spring of joy building momentum in me about being "back in school."
I'm also readying myself for a Saturday workshop I'm leading on "Writing as Spiritual Practice." I've delighted in perusing new books on writing, crafting new writing prompts and exercises for the attendees. It's wonderful to write in community with others who know the power of the written word to heal, to connect with the Sacred within.
another book by Gerald May, MD., The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature. May takes solo adventures into the wilderness not too far from his home. He longs for silence and solitude so he packs up his tent and heads out for some primitive camping, even mid-winter. He writes about his experiences (a rogue bear, a cicada symphony, a freak ice storm), framing all that arises within him and what challenges him as invitations from the Sacred to live as his authentic self. As a respected psychiatrist and spiritual director, I marvel at his ability to reflect and write with bold transparency and humility. His writing style is simply beautiful; his heart open and pure. He invites us to the same—even if it feels risky to do so.
This book, by the way, was May's last. He knew he was dying when he wrote it and took some of these adventures, which makes the reading extra poignant.
I'm Listening (Watching)
"Super Soul Sunday" featuring Rob and Kristin Bell, and their new book, The Zimzum of Love. It's a novel way to look at marriage as sacred partnership, but with some modern twists. What touched me the most about Sunday's episode was their focus on the "sacred space" that is created between two people in love. And how that needs to be honored and protected. Everything each person experiences (especially out in the world) is brought into the relationship, even if it is not expressed. It is all held there and can create great difficulties. Honest, open communication is key, of course. And the desire to help your partner grow and thrive. My husband watched the show with me which made it extra sweet!
You can watch the program online this week only. Here's the link.
I'm Pondering (and Practicing)
the joy of silence. Winter's stillness has invited me to spend more time listening, just being in the silence. It is so very quiet in the world of the Great White North! Sometimes I resist this. My mind gets busy, my body gets agitated and wants to move, so I am taking this as a spiritual invitation to "Stay." And when I able to stay, and allow the edginess of needing to feel productive dissipate, the joy of stillness/silence is palpable. I ponder how few of us are comfortable in silence. How few of us know the value of it? I know I need vast spaces of silence for my own well-being. Days of quiet are very nourishing for me. I've found in recent months that I enjoy it so much I do not turn my beloved music on in the morning. "The sounds of silence," on most days, are enough.
Often in the morning, I "talk" to the Mother. In the 90s, I came to know the "Feminine Face of God", and that exploration helped me forge a broader/deeper relationship with "a god who looks like me," as Patricia Lynn Reilly wrote in her book of the same name. I talk to Her, ask Her to be with us all. To hold us within Her protective cloak and guide us.
"Keep us safe and warm, healthy and fed; knowledgeable of Your love and how we can be that to one another."
May Love be our door, our path, our journey. Amen.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are: beings of unshakeable peace, boundless compassion, and deep joy.