Saturday, May 30, 2015

Together in Spirit

The place Dan and Donne reside in my heart and how we are connected via Spirit
Soon, I will have to release another sacred friend and Quaker minister from my life and heart. The first time, seven years ago, was traumatic. Dan had been my friend, monthly sharing a cup of tea when my kids were little, stumbling over them as they grew and even writing a message (short sermon) about the time when Autumn, just potty trained, offered to sit and hold his hand while he used the bathroom. "Everything I learned about ministering, I learned from Autumn," I think he titled it.

Dan was VERY hard to let go of because he was the first person whom I could trust to talk about deep spiritual things, like the time I drove home from the Quaker Meeting and felt every red light and reflector glare at me as if evil or when I confessed I wasn't sure who Jesus was to me and he responded, "Me, either."

In the last year or so, we have gotten back in touch and it has been a joy. Over time, I learned to understand that the complete separation was necessary.

Necessary so I and my Meeting could establish rapport with a new minister, who happened to be Donne. I had been tasked with serving on a selection committee when, suddenly and separately, two people became acquainted with a recent Earlham School of Religion (Quaker) graduate serving a Unitarian congregation part-time. I met Donne on her first interview and was physically moved by Spirit to know she was the one for us. I was so convinced that, when our selection committee met in worship, I felt my heart being squeezed and knew Spirit was offering Donne as a gift. The person next to me said she had felt it as well. So clear that I stood aside, as Quakers say, and removed myself from the committee so they could continue their work. I would not change my mind. Another Friend was equally certain the search should continue. Eventually, Donne was hired.

Now, her cycle has ended. In a rare spate, I've missed three weeks of worship and touch with what is happening in my Meeting. I called Donne this afternoon, driving home from my new job. I wanted to catch her up on what was going on and suggest that, because of the new situation, I may not make all of the ministry retreat this weekend. She told me she was was tied up in a transaction and would call back.

Intuitively, I knew she was buying the RV she had mentioned months ago. She had dreamed of traveling. However, I hadn't quite made the connection that she was leaving.

We caught up earlier this evening at the retreat, which Dan was also scheduled to attend. Coincidence? Donne got a call a week ago that the simple-but-popular RV she wanted had walked onto the lot, did she want it? Yes, she'd said. If not, three others were in line behind her.

It's her time to be free. "Sounds like you've been released," I said, instantly recognizing that my ministry has been given the same message in the last week.

In her exit letter, Donne writes "... I must let go of you and ask you to let go of me. In other words, I have been your minister–a friendly one, I hope–but now someone else will be called to be your minister ... I will miss you deeply and love you always."

"Can I do this again, God? This is the second person I've counted on to discuss deep things I rarely share with others. Dan and Donne have both seen the real me and have helped me see it in myself."

Yet, I know her cycle is over and it is time for her to move on from her ministry and into the unknown just as I am. Separated, but together, we will trust Spirit to guide us. That will always unite us.

• How do I say goodbye?
• Who was the first person with whom I could have profound spiritual discussions?
• How do I value that gift?
• How have I learned to let go?
• How do I trust Spirit in my own life and in others I love?

she came in on
a whisp

arriving just
as we needed her

like Mary Poppins

as we grieved our
previous loss,

we saw she possessed
different gifts

gifts we sorely 

she had this way
of flowing in and
around like water

she was needed

showing us the way

as Spirit is showing
her now,

only in a direction
a part from us

Listen to this post:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Madly gifted

Liminal space – I was introduced to that concept when I attended the School of the Spirit from 2004-6 for spiritual-nurture ministry. The term oozed attraction. I know that space, but never had a name for it.

Literally, it means the sill of a doorway, a point of entering or beginning. Scientifically, it suggests the point at which stimulus is intense enough to produce an effect, such as the threshold of consciousness or the threshold of pain.

I discover it to be the in-between place, when one thing has ended and another has not yet begun. For me, it is usually a sacred place, the time and space in which I especially tap God's help because I don't know what is next or yet to come. A place of rest AND trust.

My best friend recently teased me that I always like the transitional times: in life, the change of seasons, between sleep and wakefulness, the plane between spiritual and material. She is right. I tend to live there more often than not.

And I am there right now ... as I finish moving my studio, hope to wind down Artsy Fartsy and, perhaps, begin a job. Some projects seem VERY done, others still have loose ends and there is much I don't know. So, I focus on what I do know and staying nearer Spirit.

Liminal times are often frought with new growth  for me. I have rebirthed in this time and worked to re-pattern my brain and nervous system from being fear-based to rooted in the security of God's constant love. My shaman has a bumper sticker that says "LOVE < FEAR." I had't quite understood that until recently because I denied that I was living a fear-based life. Our world often pushes us to that brink.

In the midst, a week or 10 days ago, I just said to God "Ok, you do it. Whatever you want, help me to know it." Pieces seem to come one at a time and that is all I need.

A friend's Facebook post this morning caught my attention:
"Is the seeking to live a life of integrity day by day a sign of mental illness? I've been told that so many times by people who have jettisoned their own attention to a moral center ... determined to pursue what the Bible calls "mammon."
That is the struggle: to live faithfully in a world that is, essentially, faithless. Living there is truly a liminal space, dependent upon Spirit's movement and guidance. it's all to easy to be swayed from without.  I enjoyed some of the responses:
"It depends if the person you are pissing off by choosing a life of integrity instead of money has the power to diagnose you or get you diagnosed."
 "I, by the way, identify am madly gifted."
"Some ... believe that they must sacrifice their integrity and make ethical compromises for 'the greater good' ..." 

"Never lose yourself because someone who is lost bids you to follow."
"When one loses the moral compass of the minds, heart and soul we are well and truly lost. Hold fast to that piece within you that gives you peace."

Another Facebook friend – incredible that I am getting deep direction from what I typically think of as a superficial medium – has been posting daily about the beauty she sees each morning and God's hand in offering this day, this time to us NOW.

I believe the liminal spaces are times the veil thins, when we must wait and trust, turn inward and live with spiritual integrity day by day ... and feel free to tell others that we're madly gifted. God would certainly understand.

• When have I experiences liminality?
• What are qualities of those times?
• Did I experience God's closeness?
• How do I experience daily integrity?
• What choices must I make?

cut off

we are
by the


and choose
to live

from within,
the stirrings
of the
Inner Teacher

learning to

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Have I been faithful?

The luxury of time to move and sort, pitch and remember has been a gift. A gift of solitude and gratitude.

After a rambunctious and unusual Artsy Fartsy session Saturday, I am taking down the big stuff, shifting packed boxes into moving positions, no matter where that happens to be in the room, and very much aware that the room is disappearing. I didn't want the kids to witness this piece. I'd packed most of m personal possessions and things tucked and squirreled away, leaving the objects that have come to define my studio and to which the children have responded: the meditation tent, theater seats, art tables and Ikea stools, my desk, posters and their art on the walls, streams of colorful fabric draped from the ceiling and the full bulletin boards.

Our memory flag created for leaving Milford Main
Today, however, the gloves are off and my mission is to smartly pack, move and store. I am relentless in pitching and recycling and may become more obsessive as I get everything into a box and see how much there truly is. I am already figuring a two-person system of getting my large garbage bags into the dumpster: having one outside on the ground below a second-story window and the other tossing down the bag, which should land only a few feet from the trash bin. The recyclable I may have to transport somewhere else.

I've been darting back and forth, packing this and that, adding to unfilled boxes with similar items. Before desiring a break to blog, I carefully folded 15 man-sized striped and plaid shirts the kids have used for paint smocks. It was almost like putting away my daughter's baby clothes. I could picture the kids in these enormous shirts and unrolled several sets of sleeves.

As I was rolling up posters, I opened what I thought to be an empty mailing tube. Tucked inside was a poster of two children holding hands and the caption: Companionship: those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.

It opened some emotions as I drifted back to 14 years ago and the wonderful Neighbor-to-Neighbor group I organized. That was a three-year stint just as Artsy Fartsy has been. And the Neighbor-to-Neirghbor still meets! All of the touching and personal thank-you notes on the back became an echo of what I needed to hear about Artsy Fartsy ... the words I don't actually hear from families, but know they carry:
"You're a jewel and an inspiration.
Thank you for all you do.
God bless your caring spirit,
Thank you for your energy and compassion.
Thank you for following your heart and getting us all together.
Thank you for your hard work and inspiration.
A big heartfelt thank you for initiating and following through with Neighbor to Neighbor."

Saturday was tough. After reminder post cards, phone calls and volunteer drivers, only three kids were out and about waiting. I knocked on many unanswered doors and was told kids had other plans. We eventually ended up with 9. We've had as many as 17 at once. I really wanted them to be here to say goodbye. That was my projection.

One dad asked if I'd stop by and pick up a pizza for his wife. "No, David," I replied not very graciously. "After I drop your boys off at the school, I need to head up to Oakbrook for kids, run back and run the program." Little Caesar's is a five minute walk for him.

During our session, I pretended not to hear one of the girls say she and her friend needed a ride that night. She aimed it at me.

I was feeling under appreciated until I ran across the poster and those words that helped me see they are as appropriate now as then. Thank you, Spirit!

• How do I handle times of transition?
• Can I find reflective moments within those times?
• Can I find Spirit in the bittersweet space?
• When has Spirit provided something I desperately needed?
• How did I express my gratitude?

just because I
have spent time

I expected the
kids to want
that as well

to recognize that
this special
thing we've
been a part of
was changing

but, they're
just kids
in their
and to

God sent
me a special
years ago

yet in the
hearts of
those I serve

helping replace
my question of
"Have I been
successful" with
"Have I been