Tag Archives: spirituality

Begin Again

When we let go of our desire to be clever or successful or to create beautiful things, we may begin to be open to the sacred truth of our experience as it is, not how we want it to be.

Christine Valters Paintner in The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

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Enough Light to Take the Next Step

candle flame“Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark.

When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.”

Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Being in Community

table clothsToday was a good day to hang out a wash. The table cloths washed from use at a 4-day personal growth retreat on which I served as the cook.

Living in that community is an ‘inspiriting’ experience. Being in community fills a hole, a hole that has allowed breath to leak out. Breath is Spirit. Breath is life. When you find a community where you feel you can breathe, where you belong and that enters into the wonder, challenge and brokenness of actually being the body of Christ together, it feels like radical hope. It feels like the hole is plugged.*

So often my Church community does the exact opposite of this. It is what depletes my spirit and compromises the way God seeks to breathe in and through me. It seems like there are so many holes in the church that the life-giving breath of Spirit is leaking out through holes of discouragement, anger, envy and tradition.

Jan Richardson, one of my favourite artists and writers says:

Is there some hole in your life, or in your community, that has allowed your breath to leak out, depleting your spirit and compromising the way that God seeks to breathe in and through you?  What might it take to heal the hole and breathe again?

Breath is ruach in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek. It means Spirit.

I don’t know how to fix the Church. But I feel after being on retreat I am able to breathe fully again.

*Thank you to Jan Richardson for these thoughts.

The Good Wife … Re-visited

My best friend re-wrote the famous Old Testament passage about the perfect wife. Proverbs 31: 10-31 is an expose of the Good Wife, or The Perfect Woman. “It is the fulfillment of the roles in the home assigned to her by society that causes her to be praised in the very gates of the city where Woman Wisdom first raised her cry”. *

Jenny & Ev at Threadworks

Jenny Hurlburt says,

The review of Proverbs 31 on Mother’s Day has been almost unbearably difficult for me over the past few years.  I had been interpreting the proverb as a list of “supposed to be’s” from two perhaps self-centred perspectives: one – an impossible list of my own shortcomings as a mother and, two – in my experience, a disappointing list of lack of being acknowledged and appreciated.  

It wasn’t until last night, in a conversation with my daughter when I said, “I should write my own Proverbs 31,” and she said, “Yes… Mom… Do it!”  So, with that encouragement I wrote a modernized version and found that Proverbs 31 is not so much a list to measure against, it’s a description of a woman’s life, full of the typical, everyday activities she does that reflect what a wonderful woman she is.  

Proverbs 31…. Revisited

Some say, “A good woman is hard to find, she’s worth far more than diamonds.”

But I say, “No wonder it’s hard to find her, she’s not exactly standing still!”

If you were brave enough to matriculate to the world of a “good woman” you would, no doubt have to tango with the best.

If she has a husband, she does his books, washes the car, and cooks his frozen pizza on Friday nights.  And he’s lucky she does.  He trusts her to come home at night and do the laundry and he has never regretted this arrangement.  She shares her dreams, her fears, and her pay cheque with him.

She shops for bargains, ensuring the children have something to wear for all occasions and she has fun doing it; she happily dumps out her bags at the end of the day boasting about her prowess at the superstore.

In the mornings, she drags herself out of bed, puts the cereal box on the table for the ‘Help-Yourself’ breakfast and drives the kids to school in her pyjamas.  Upon arriving back home, she lets the cat in and the dog out, feeds the hamster and gets out the vacuum cleaner.  Before sucking up every Webkin and Polly Pocket, she kindly puts all the toys in the hamper and shoves it into the corner.

She makes a honey-do list for herself while savouring a whiff of her vanilla-flavoured coffee and then gulps it down: time is flying.

Turn on the dishwasher, throw a load in the dryer, straighten the beds, stick the chicken in the slow cooker, push down the toaster.  Hop in the shower, blow dry the hair, dress, shoes, grab the toast and run for the car.  She hurries to work where she walks in with a smile, choosing her attitude!

Over the lunch hour she delivers the tax return at the accountant, picks up allergy pills for her husband, drops the overdue books in the slot at the library.  She wolfs down an apple and 2 squares of cheddar cheese in the car.

Four more hours at her work, pouring herself into her job, she tries to be efficient, considerate, creative, supportive, and helpful and, oh yes, she remembers to smile.

Time to pick up the kids, she gives them each a healthy snack in the car and they head over to the soccer field for practice.  She volunteers to organize a fundraising event, balances her cheque book, plans menus for next week along with the grocery list.  Soccer’s over and she drives the kids home.

They disappear to the TV room while she sets out dinner for them, along with feeding the cat, the dog and washing machine.  Her children love her and bring her breakfast in bed once a year on Mother’s Day.  She is a good woman – to be admired and praised however, she rarely sits still long enough to receive it.  She IS the diamond, with many facets and sparkles.  She is priceless!

 by Jenny Hurlburt

Jenny IS a good woman and a good friend. Not only does she write, but she found time to support my art exhibit too. She is a diamond to me.

What is your experience of The Good Woman?

*The Women’s Bible Commentary,  p. 152,  Newsom & Ringe, Eds., SPCK, London, 1992

All Shall Be Well

May 8th is Julian of Norwich Feast Day.

All Shall be Well

Embroidered “All shall be well” quote in frame by ShadowofMyHand on Etsy

And so our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly: I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well… And in these… words God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and in peace. (Showings, p. 229)

This is the central message of her writings.

Who was Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416?)  She was an anchoress, not a nun. She chose the life of solitude after she received her Divine ‘showings’ when she was a teenager. She became a hermit in order to devote herself to prayer and contemplation. And she counselled people  through a hole in the wall from her 10 x 10 foot anchorhold attached to the church. There she lived with her cat.

Julian of Norwich statueVery little is known of her early life, even her real name. What we know about her is gleaned from her book and from other contemporary writings. She was born in 1342 during the time of the Black Death. This was a very unpleasant age to live in England. The black death or plague led to very bad social conditions and the oppression of the poor. There was a shortage of labour, high taxes and bad harvests, prices were soaring and unrest was bound to follow. The climax of this unrest was the Peasants Revolt in 1381. The wider Church was also in a sorry state: the Religious Orders were at loggerheads, the Papacy had left Rome and was in exile at Avignon in France, and not half a mile from S. Julian`s Church, the early followers of the Protestant John Wycliff, The Lollards, were being burnt in the Lollards Pit, just the other side of the river. It is into this dire situation that the girl we know as Julian of Norwich who calls herself a simple, unlettered creature, comes bringing with her a message of divine love and hope.*

The world doesn’t sound too much different centuries later.

Dame Julian’s book is called THE REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE the first book to be written in English by a woman.

In her book, Praying with Julian of Norwich, Gloria Durka writes, “Many people have explored the consolation and depth of Julian’s spirituality. For example, the last movement of T.S. Eliot’s poem Four Quartets links the twentieth-century poet with Dame Julian, who lived six centuries earlier:

WIth the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And we know the place for the first time….
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well….

With Julian’s optimism we are encouraged to see more clearly that pain in quelled by love and we can trust in the providence of a gracious God: “It is all in the choosing, it is all in the asking.” May we choose life over and over again.”

“All shall be well.”

Lydia McCauley All Shall Be Well

*http://www.julianofnorwich.org