Category Archives: Spirituality

Autumn Contemplation on the Bruce Trail

I spent the weekend with these harmonious souls walking a wee part of the Bruce Trail on an Autumn Retreat with the theme, Letting Go. The trail was quite difficult in parts and because of the drizzle, it was also slippery. This meant that I needed to pay attention to where my feet landed.

This part of the trail is in wine country. So one is constantly hearing the boom of canon’s being set off in order to keep the birds from eating the maturing grapes. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of nature sounds and booms.

One of our retreat facilitators led the walk and the other came behind to make sure no one was left behind or in trouble. This was very comforting.

We sat on the moss, without words.

This is what I wrote:

Long before….
long before.
Long before your were conceived of I Am.

I Am the falling water.
I Am the smooth rock.
I Am the soft green moss, carpet for your weary rambling.

Long before…
I Am the smell of the decomposition.
I Am the fragrance of my tears on fallen leaf.
I Am the sound of rain dripping from the canopy.
I Am the swirling eddies.
I Am the calm pool.
I Am the water against stone.

Long before…
I Am the ancient gnarly roots.
I Am the hidden nest in the branches.
I Am the cool breeze.
I Am the cleft in the rock.
I Am the canon boom protecting the harvest.

Long before…
I Am the rich hummus.
I Am the skirt of yellow.
I Am the blanket of red.
I Am the evergreen.

Long before….
I Am the joy of birdsong.
I Am the slippery foothold.
I Am the steep climb.
I Am the glacier’s path.

I Am your deepest longing.

Long before.

Because I did not take my camera I have used this photo from Richard Olley’s blog.

 

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Prayer of Reconciliation and Peace

by Rev. Dr. Barbara Billey

I invite you to close your eyes and to feel into your breath, the gentle rise and fall of inhale and exhale. With each wave upon wave of breath, enter the refuge of welcoming silence. Feel yourself embraced by the luminous quiet of Mystery, of Holy Presence. What you need is here.

Ask yourself: Is there someone with whom I need to reconcile? A person with whom I am angry or who has hurt me deeply? Someone who incites my judgment, avoidance, or exclusion?

If comfortable, allow the image of this person to surface in your imagination. Notice thoughts and memories that arise, how these live as feelings or sensations in your body.

Gaze into this persons’ eyes. She/he is sometimes afraid, hurting, angry, joyful, and loving, a person with hopes and dreams, sorrows and joys. She/he, like you and all of creation, is filled at the core with Holy Presence.

Bring your awareness to the space of your heart. Breathe deeply into this space the always abiding and already healing love of our Holy One. Breathe out peace and healing into the heart of the other.

Repeat this circle of breathing until you feel a softening in your heart, a release from separation and alienation from this person. (If this is not possible, surrender any and all judgment of yourself. You can return to this prayer at another time.)

Allow the image of your person to fade.

Take a few more moments of silence to rest into the freedom of healing and peace. What you need is here.

You might end this prayer by dancing the dance of releasement, writing a poem and/or listening to lovely music.

Often we are unwilling to surrender our “righteousness” perspective or we refuse to accept “what is” true in the reality of our life situation, leading to all kinds of suffering within ourselves and between persons. There are also persons who have caused us immense pain through abuse. We can forgive them, too, without engaging in further relationship, thus releasing ourselves into peace and healing, while wishing them healing and all good things. This is often a longer process.

A helpful resource is found in a chapter from “The Grace in Aging” by Kathleen Dowling Singh entitled Forgiveness as Liberation from Aversions: Freedom from Anger and Judgment.

Another resource is: “Forgiveness in the Service of Justice” by Sr. Margaret Farley

Barbara J. Billey, M.Ed., M.A., D.Min.

Registered Psychotherapist
Registered Canadian Art Therapist
Wedding Officiant
Priest, ARCWP, Windsor, ON, Canada

Thoughts on Grief

A year ago I drew this labyrinth in the sand on my favourite beach.

Dragging my fingers in the barely-warm April sand felt wonderful after having spent three days in a nursing home. My mother was struggling so overwhelmingly. The only thing I really knew how to do was play the piano for her and sing the hymns she liked. (During those moments I was very grateful to her for forcing me to take piano lessons so many years before.)  She was a very good mom.

At the moment I drew this little spiral I did not know that a few hours later I would watch my mother leave her earthly body. That morning I just drew something very familiar, a small Cretan labyrinth. Into the centre and out, one path. Death is sort of like that. Just one way in and one way out. I will spare you the selfie I took of me laying beside her in the bed that spring evening as she struggled with her last few breaths. My need to crawl up beside her was more to comfort myself than for her benefit. I kept whispering to her “Don’t be afraid mom”. Whether or not she heard, I do not know. People say that hearing is the last to go. I felt privileged to hold my cell phone up to her ear as I called her grandchildren near and far and had them say their goodbyes. From many miles away her daughter-in-law sang a hymn to her over the phone and her son recited her scripture. Her son-in-law prayed on the phone as she took her last breath while her other daughter-in-law held her hand. 

It was a good death. And a good funeral.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about both.

When my husband was a clergyperson I loved it when he would take some sand or earth and make a the symbol of the cross on top of the coffin as it was lowered into the grave. I reflect that putting my hand in the sand that morning was a sort of ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ kind of moment for me.

These moments are necessary. This last year of grief has been good. 

from The Good Funeral: Death, Grief and the community of Care by T.Long & T.Lynch.

 

Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet – The Four-Fold Way

Being a mystic is one thing. But showing up for everyday life is another ball of wax.

the four-fold way: Angeles ArrienAngeles Arrien, Ph.D., an American cultural anthropologist (d. 2014) taught The Four-Fold Way™ , emphasizing four major principles that integrate ancient cultural wisdoms into contemporary life or as she interpreted it “walking the mystical path with practical feet”:

The Way of the Warrior
Show up, and choose to be present.

The Way of the Healer
Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.

The Way of the Visionary
Tell the truth without blame or judgment.

The Way of the Teacher
Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

4-ways

The Way of the Warrior or Leader is to show up, or choose to be present.
Being present allows us to access the human resources of power, presence, and communication. We express the way of the Leader through appropriate action, good timing, and clear communication.

The Way of the Healer or Caretaker is to pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
Paying attention opens us to the human resources of love, gratitude, acknowledgment, and validation. We express the way of the Healer through our attitudes and actions that maintain personal health and support the welfare of our environment.

The Way of the Visionary or Creative Problem Solver is to tell the truth without blame or judgment. Truthfulness, authenticity, and integrity are keys to developing our vision and intuition. We express the way of the Visionary through personal creativity, goals, plans, and our ability to bring our life dreams and visions into the world.

The Way of the Teacher or Counselor, The Wisdom Way, is to be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.
Openness and non-attachment help us recover the human resources of wisdom and objectivity. We express the way of the Teacher through our constructive communication and informational skills.

 

Sitting on the Edge of Patriarchy

“Say ‘goodbye’ to Patriarchy,” said my husband as he passed me the captain’s chair.

captain's chair

1977, a very special wedding gift from my parents. A suitably expensive Roxton maple dining room set; 4 chairs and a table. We have gathered around that table for the last 39 years.  We still love the table.  Whoever designed the chairs sure didn’t factor in how difficult the spindles would be to clean and how the knobs dig into the back of your hips.

About 4 years ago we bought new dining room chairs, finally giving up the uncomfortable chairs. We stowed them away in our garage. I hung onto them because I ‘didn’t want to break up the set’. Old thinking.

Only one of the chairs had arms. The Captain’s Chair. That’s where the Daddy sat. When my husband said “Say ‘goodbye’ to Patriarchy,” I had to laugh. We had had those chairs for nearly 40 years and that small fact of that one chair being the preferred chair hadn’t hit me so poignantly until just today.

Today I said goodbye to old thinking and sitting on the edge of patriarchy.

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