I found this poem, sent from my sweet friend, Selena, in my inbox this morning:
The Devil's NOT In The Details
The details are holy.
How can you not be recharged by
blue skies blazing
The details are holy.
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2011
It was perfect timing, really. See, just this last weekend, I'd turned to the details for aid in taming the wild, reckless thoughts commonly present in the minds of …well, everyone I would guess. Deadlines, financial challenges, setbacks, longings, parenting dilemmas, co-worker drama, phobias, temptations plague most of us to some degree or another, and I am certainly no exception. Trying to reason yourself out of these stress-inducing ponderings is like trying to untangle sticky chewed gum from your fingers with your fingers and only getting more and more entwined in the stickiness in the maddening process – yes, I speak from experience. No, it's best (for me anyway) to walk away completely, turning my attention elsewhere ASAP. And that's where my own, self-defined, version of phototherapy comes into play. When life gets hectic, scary, complicated, I take pictures.
There is something calming about reaching for my camera and holding it to my face, squinting my left eye and peering through the view finder with my right. The first thing I notice is my field of vision significantly decreasing. In an instant I am blind to everything peripheral. From there, I begin focusing intently on the mundane, becoming consumed by the quest for a new perspective on the simple sights I'm surrounded by every day but so often take for granted.
Then there's the light. When attempting to capture a compelling image, light is everything. The first light and last light of any day is ideal, the way the rising and setting sun creates depth, highlights and shadows. I am hyper aware of light, thanks to photography. I seek it out, marvel at it's magic – transforming dew drops into glittering jewels. How could I not be recharged by such pure brilliance?
Phototherapy doesn't help pay our bills or erase the hard things I'm called to endure. Some might describe it as escapism, but I prefer the term medicinal – not eradicating mental and emotional disease itself, maybe, but providing me with the internal resources necessary to fight it off, to keep and keep on healing even when infected repeatedly by affliction.
Phototherapy points me always back to the present, to the details, where God is.
The details are holy.Read More
As my blog title suggests, I am continually on a quest for patience, it being the holy grail of mothering and all. Did you know there was a time, approximately twelve and half years ago, when I assumed I was patient? I am a patient person, I'd decided. Then parenthood swooped in with its sleepless nights, unpredictability, unfathomable messes and LOUDNESS to squarely put me in my place. I spent my first five years raising children scratching my head in confusion and asking "Where did it go?" Finally, it dawned on me that patience isn't something I can own. It is elusive – it must be sought after, prayed ceaselessly for. Patience can't be controlled or manipulated.
Patience requires that I work for it, that I put forth some effort to reign in the angry words bubbling forth from my seething undercurrent of frustration. Dear God, help me keep my mouth shut till I calm down! I have to literally beg of Him in the thick of it. Then lo and behold, when and where I least expect it, patience will rain down upon me extinguishing the fire of my fury. And in that full awareness of my unworthiness of such a gift, I can only respond, "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!"
I experienced this just yesterday, when I told my sons to come and take a walk with their aunt and me. Throughout the last week, I'd been at my wits end trying to acclimate myself to my kids' rapidly evolving longings for more freedom, and to pre-teen mindsets in general. We'd been butting heads. Havemercyonmehavemercyonmehavemercyonme, I'd been praying in the car, at the dinner table, lying in bed. Then there we were on an impromptu stroll through the park not compromising or talking out our issues but just being together while the sun shone and the fall colored leaves dazzled. Mysteriously missing was all tension between us. It felt wonderful, freeing, like a much needed do-over. Presently, I'm still reveling in that merciful boost of patience. May I use it wisely.
Oh thank You, thank You, thank You for countless new beginnings.
Do you have a photo or reflection on patience to share? Please link to your site in the comment section below.
Next week's The Way I See It theme will be: SimplicityRead More
by Marie Howe
Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.
It seems after ascending some ladders, I have landed on a long old chute. Waaah! Due to a small series of unfortunate events, down I've slidden, lickety split. I'm a tad too caught up in mayhem at the moment to turn myself back in the right direction. And my faith, too weary to ponder even noble theological truths or historical Church Tradition, has been boiled down to this:
This morning I woke up acutely aware that recent conundrums sprouting up here and there and everywhere have got me stumped – I appear to be a bit in over my head. And oddly enough, my default defense mechanism (despite the fact I clearly know better) is to avoid silence, avoid stillness. That'll learn me to subconsciously assume I'm on the up and up and up. None of us is less vulnerable than anyone else to setbacks – me most definitely included.
But honest and true, I've been undeservedly blessed with the ability to view this particular setback, this "I have no idea what I'm dooooiiiing" phase of motherhood I've stumbled into, as the extended hand of Christ reaching out for my helpless soul.
Now will you let Me take over?
This post is a message from myself to myself:
Stop running already. Start praying.
Who knew my arms were simply aching for a little boy they could hold?
Who knew a new unwritten chapter of my life would soon unfold?
Who knew the heavens were smiling on me,
that an angel they would send?
Who knew the joy that was awaiting,
in you, my gentle Ben?
Well I've seen heartache, I've seen sorrow,
I've seen a world that's cold and numb,
but in your eyes I see salvation,
a promise of the Light to come.
O gentle Ben, my sweet surprise,
I hope you one day realize,
the gift you are, the hope you bring,
the song you've made my heart to sing.
(a love song to my newborn, Benjamin – 10/02)
This morning at the parent teacher conference, Mrs. S told me you are fully engaged in all classroom activities, which I'm pretty sure means that you're the type of kid who stands up and waves his hand frantically in the air while yelling, "Oooh! Ooooh! I know! I know!" before the question has even fully exited your teacher's lips. I love that you wake up happy and alert. I love that you spiked your own hair for picture day. I love that when I volunteered in your classroom, I saw you (absentmindedly) gently tighten the falling loose ponytail of the little girl sitting in front of you. I love that you are growing and maturing within your own distinct time frame. You inspire, bless, exhaust me.
Happy Birthday, Ben. I adore you.Read More
Every morning, between 5:00 and 6:00 am, my six-year-old shuffles into our room and sleepily whispers in my ear: "Can I lay with you, mama?" And I lift the sheets and blanket, wordlessly welcoming her into the warmth and safety of our bed. Once snuggled between her dad and me, I feel her small body relax, her breathing slow down. For a half-hour or so, before the the demands of the day overtake us, we rest together in stillness. Just by being, I am a comfort.
I am a recovering people pleaser, which sounds nice enough until you realize, oh wait, what I'm hungering for is to be liked. Ooh that pride is sticky and tricky. See it all comes back to me. How do you feel about me? What do the actions of my family members say about me? I feel good, happy, when others accept and approve of me. But that happiness is short-lived, and can morph into insecurity at break neck speed. I cannot become a true healing presence to those around me until I deal honestly and forthrightly with my self-centeredness. Humility is necessary for freedom, courage, and growth.
The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. He has accepted God's estimate of his own life: In himself, nothing; In God, everything. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring.– A.W. Tozer
Cleaning up after book club. I love book club.
To find beauty and Christ in every person I meet, and to serve that Christ unselfconsciously, is to grasp ( finally!) the key to all peace, to all joy. No one's disdain for me can crumble such a firm foundation of hope and purpose. Neither can being taken for granted, misunderstood, treated unjustly. Community, to me, means wholeheartedly entangling oneself in others' struggles, sorrows, accomplishments, etc. and being healed by God's mercy in the process. In the loving of our neighbors, our spouses and children, in co-carrying their burdens and, just by being, lightening their load, we're able to shed that stubborn sin of selfishness that all too easily ensares us.
A Thursday morning coffee date
As an Orthodox Christian, my digestion of the utter imperativeness of not living for myself alone is paramount to my salvation:
There are no individuals in the Church. We are not autonomous beings who come to Church in order to get our needs met. This is an aspect of our Orthodox self- understanding that sets us apart in our American Christian culture. We are connected to one another. We worship together. We are saved together in the Church. We are members of one another in the body of Christ. Mainline Christianity in America assumes that we are selfsufficient individuals and all we need is "me, God, and the Bible." This is very different than our historical, Orthodox Christian Faith. The Church is made of persons created in the image and likeness of God that come together to be what they cannot be alone, the body of Christ, which is the one body, confessing the one Christ, celebrating the one Eucharist at the one altar, worshiping with one voice.
- Fr. Christopher Foley
Making Christmas nut rolls with the women of my parish.
All for One, and One for all.
A blessed weekend to you, my brother and sisters.
Do you have a photo or reflection on "Community" to share? Please link to your site in my comment section! Next week's "The Way I See It" theme will be: PatienceRead More