So, my husband and I are happily enjoying our vacation in 70 degree Chicago for the past 2 weeks when I receive a late night phone call from a neighbor. With hesitancy and dread in her voice, Sarah tells me there are 25 firefighters in our front yard and are in the process of breaking down my front door. Apparently a smoldering dryer was the culprit setting off our alarm and summoning the Maitland Fire Department.
My hands shake and my heart-beat quickens as I write this post thinking back to the shock we felt and the efforts expended to get home. Three days hence, as 2 giant ozone generators and multiple air scrubbers inhabit our home instead of us, I’m feeling incredibly grateful. The damage could have been far worse than a bad smell, battered door, and incinerated dryer. My sweet dogs were vacationing elsewhere; all the remodeling we had completed does not have to be re-done; we are safe; we have a beach place to which we are able to escape smells, sounds, and inconveniences.
We put our house of 31 years on the real estate market over a month ago with the intention of moving to Baldwin Park, a kind of live, work and play community. I think we have good intentions for moving. My husband is tired of crawling on his belly fussing with pool cleaners and hoses. For the first time in our tenure there, my home no longer shelters kids, adult or otherwise, and our neighborhood with its great schools, has become younger, filled with the sound of squealing young ones cannon balling into pools and playing on swing sets. Our house should be owned by a family. The reason we bought it so many years ago is that I had a 3 year old and a baby to be.
So why, I ask, have people been saying, “Your house catching fire is a sign from God you shouldn’t move.” “Really?!” I want to say. “Do you really think God actually cares whether I sell my house in Dommerich Estates and move to Baldwin Park?” If God really paid attention to human happenings, wouldn’t God be more focused on the Ebola virus or genocide in Iraq? Me moving from one neighborhood to another can’t be high on God’s priority list. At least I hope not. The religious tenants I believe suggest God is presents when people attempt to find the goodness in potentially bad situations. That is my plan. I’m not quite there yet. I’m still a little shell shocked. But, please, no more finding omens among the ashes. It feels a little raw yet.
To visit the new Be Brave. Lose the Brave website click here.
I’m on a 14 day cruise through the western Mediterranean with my husband, my son and his fiancé, and dear friends. I’m experiencing the mind suspension that so often accompanies vacations. I’m spending focused time with seven people I adore; we are immersed in luxury; and our ports of call are the sites of my studies as a Humanities major in college. Our excursions have been rigorous- hiking the hill towns of Cinque Terre; swimming in the turquoise blue waters off Capri; and kayaking around the walls of old city Dubrovnik, Croatia. All of these elements have had a mind stilling effect.
For the first time in months and months I feel like I’m truly “living in the moment”, which is actually the goal of many spiritual and religious practices. To be fully engaged in the present moment is to be at one with God… to have achieved your Godhood. Mosaic edicts command us to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our being. The end result of following this commandment is to be fully present in a singular moment. Eastern religious traditions likewise urge quieting the mind and synchronizing the breath with our thoughts.
Why is it so hard to achieve this kind of absorption in our daily lives? As women particularly, we walk around with day timers imbedded in our brains as we schedule meetings with clients, make appointments for kids, and plan social engagements. I guess the operative word here is “plan”. We are always thinking ahead or reflecting upon yesterday’s moments. Perhaps we are involved in activities that are less than absorbing and we don’t necessarily want to be fully engaged in the moment. I mean really, how exciting is car pooling after all? Can we really expect that fixing meat loaf for the 300th time can really hold our attention for long?
Since most of us don’t have the luxury of taking a two week vacation often (this is the first two week vacation I’ve had in four years) perhaps we can take micro vacations on occasion- a spa treatment for example; a weekend at the beach; a 30 minute meditation; or escaping into a novel. It’s really quite surprising how we can meet ourselves all over again on a vacation. Happy sailing…
I attended an event hosted by Gladdening Light billed as a weekend of music, art, and Marcus Borg. Marcus Borg is a renowned theologian and author. The rational and spiritual parts of myself found harmony as I heeded his wise words. I’ve found myself becoming an apologetic Christian, faintly ashamed to be compared with people I perceive using Christianity and biblical scripture as ammunition with which to judge and isolate others who don’t agree with them.
Dr. Borg argues the central purpose of religion is or should be “How do we become more centered in God? How do we re-connect with the Sacred?” If that statement sounds unduly simple, it may be because it is. The religions of the world, particularly the desert religions, have made religion and access to God a little too complicated for my taste. What we long for is union or communion with The Sacred.
I’m a Claywriter. I sculpt with words and write in clay. Dr. Borg maintains art and creativity provide a means for accessing The Sacred just as prayer and meditation do. As an artist, this was quite affirming. He went so far as to describe art as sacrament. He referenced the power of hymns and symphonic music, times when he was not just listening to the music but was “in the music”. The sacrament of music, like the sacrament of Holy Communion, allows one to access or be in union with God and The Sacred.
“What makes you feel alive” was a question posed by Dr. Borg. “What the world needs is people to come alive.” Fredrik Buechner said, “If you are truly doing what makes you feel alive- your avocations and passions- your own deep gladness and fulfillment will help feed the world’s great hunger.” You are experiencing God’s pleasure when you are filled with the gladness.
So, what gladdens your heart and makes you feel alive? To help you answer that question or start you down the path, check out www.gladdeninglight.org.