Category Archives: Resurrection

Life is change. Change is life.

Fechange_sign1eling buffeted by change? This post is for you! Read on for some insights and concrete practices that will help you be in change more peacefully.

When my mom was dying over the summer of 1995, my supervisor, an older woman, told me that in the first few decades of our lives, change is usually experienced as positive: birthdays, graduations, beginning a career, establishing families and independent households… These are all exciting, longed-for changes. As we move into midlife, change starts to more often feel like loss: a job loss, a scary diagnosis, deaths of parents and spouses, moving, kids leaving home, aging… These changes, even though sometimes eagerly anticipated, feel painful. And they accumulate. We get tired of feeling like there’s no stability and life’s out of control.

Some “comforting” truths about change:

To be alive is to change. The cycle of death and rebirth is embedded in creation. Look around you! Spring is springing after a long winter.

All change is a loss of some sort, even changes we choose and anticipate. Therefore they hurt, and grief must be felt.

Change follows a predictable pattern. Death of the old must happen before new life can be born.

Acceptance and leaning in is the only way through death to the other side, where new life awaits. Resistance is futile. Addictions, distractions, and denial delay the new life that wants to come, and we can easily get stuck in them.

Our bodies and our souls are our peaceful center. While you and I are alive, we have our bodies. Our connection to the Ground of Being, which is our soul, evidently endures beyond death. Practices that nurture and strengthen our mind’s awareness of our bodies and our soul’s connection to Source help us walk our change journey peacefully.

Some practices to strengthen our body awareness:

  • Work hard. Get sweaty and tired and dirty.
  • Go outside. Feel the sun and wind and rain.
  • Practice yoga or tai chi. Walk or run. Any form of body-aware exercise will do.
  • Find a piece of ground that feels good and go there consistently and frequently.
  • Pay conscious attention to your body, toe to scalp.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Forego alcohol and other distracting habits, for now.

Some practices to strengthen our soul’s connection to the Ground of Being:

  • Pray honestly. Tell God how you feel and what you want.
  • Engage in ritual, first thing in the morning and throughout the day.
  • Say “thank you” frequently — to yourself, to others, and to the Universe.
  • Meditate. Pay attention to your breath moving in and out.
  • Eliminate distractions. Keep a Sabbath day.

Change is life. Life is change. How do you stay peaceful in the midst of change?

If you’re feeling pushed around by change and loss, I can help. Contact me to schedule a complimentary one-hour clarity conversation. I’d love to talk with you!

Photo credit: www.jamesaltucher.com

 

Christmas is God Becoming Meat

“The ultimate effect oBaby and parentf a worthy spiritual life would be beautiful lives in a beautiful world.” – Thomas Moore

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1:14, The Message (Eugene Peterson)

I’ve been pondering the Incarnation. (“Incarnation” comes from the same root word as “meat.” So it’s the Christian doctrine that says God became meat.) What exactly is this gift of Jesus that we celebrate these twelve days of Christmas? What does it mean to say that “Jesus is the reason for the season”?

These are easy questions for Christians who believe in and practice sacrificial atonement: Jesus is the only Son of God, sent into the world in human form by God to take my sins upon him and to die for me. If I believe this I go to Heaven instead of Hell. Jesus needed to be born in a stable in Bethlehem so that he could die on the cross for me. Without Christmas, there is no Easter, and no salvation.

I am not one of those Christians. For me, Jesus is the supreme example of how to live in the world as fully human – fully engaged with his friends, his community, his family, his world, and his Source. Christmas means that the energy we call God is fundamentally interwoven in the fabric of the world. Creation is God. The universe, and all creation, is made of holiness. I sin when I sell myself and others short – when I forget that God lives in me, and in them. (This alternative understanding of Jesus is gleaned from the writings of Marcus Borg, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, and others.)

What good is it to believe these things about God and Jesus and the Universe if no one else benefits? So what if I spend an hour every morning praying and journaling and meditating if it doesn’t show on the outside? What difference does it make to have a spiritual life if my embodied life and the physical lives of those around me aren’t more beautiful as a result?

I’m beginning to conclude that a relationship with God that exists only in my heart and my head is pretty worthless. I am called to incarnate God in my physical embodied life. A spiritual life that doesn’t bear physical fruit isn’t real.

Last week’s blog touched on some practices to welcome darkness and the New Year. Yesterday a group of us worked through this process A Word for the New Year to discern a word for 2015. My word for 2015 seems to be “shine.” What’s yours?

Unraveling

Baby held in big hands, Anne GeddesWe’re moving to Bend, Oregon. It’s been nine years since Jed and I moved from a suburb of Chicago to the mountain-nestled cultural and recreational mecca of Ashland, Oregon. I love Ashland. And we’re only moving to Bend. Bend is just four hours away and similar to Ashland in many respects. But, we’re still moving.

Because I know about linguistic epistemology, I understand that the words and metaphors I choose will largely determine my experience. So I suspected that labeling moving as a “long tunnel of chaos” was a bad idea. Other options were “tearing down a house” and the commonly used “uprooting.” Both of those felt too violent. I’ve settled on “unraveling” as a metaphor for this move. I’ve knitted a life here that I like in many ways. I feel more connected to the Rogue Valley than any place I’ve lived since marrying a minister who moves. Unraveling feels peaceful, so I’m going with that.

Unraveling also meshes well with the concept of the “Change Cycle,” a foundational life-coaching concept articulated by life coach Martha Beck. Martha uses the metaphor of a butterfly undergoing metamorphosis to teach the four-phase Change Cycle. Square One requires death and dissolving and letting go of life as we currently know it. Squares Two, Three, and Four are phases of reconstituting and rebirth. We get thrown into Square One, usually kicking and screaming, by life events such as marriages, births, illnesses, deaths, divorces, graduations, promotions or demotions, and moves. Even if we chose them.

Obviously, I am squarely in Square One.

I have historically been lousy at Square One. I much prefer the dreaming and scheming of Square Two and the planning and follow-through of Square Three. I have little experience of Square Four, “The Promised Land,” where Square Two dreams and Square Three plans have evolved into smoothly functioning systems. (Until another inevitable Square One event comes along aaaaannnddd Here We Go AGAIN!) The only way to achieve healthy, vibrant, “all systems go” rebirth is to completely die. (See this blog post for more on this topic.) Like most of us, I tend to frantically grasp at anything that promises to avoid the dismantling that Square One requires. I short circuit the dying part. This time, I won’t let that happen.

Here’s why this time will be different: I’ve learned some really helpful stuff I didn’t know nine years ago. Life coach training, grad school, and the Camino have taught me a few things. I know that my thoughts create my perceptions, feelings, and experiences. I know how to catch thoughts, then question and change them. I know how to let feelings move through me without attaching to them. I know about the importance of commitment. I know how to keep moving through the messy middle muddles, between the exciting clarity of beginning and the satisfaction of completion.

The most important thing that I know now that I didn’t know last time through Square One: I am deeply held and loved by Being/Source/God. That knowledge makes letting go possible. When I envision unraveling, underneath the fear and anxiety I feel peaceful and trusting. At the heart of the pile of yarn that is my life, I am cradled in Love’s hands. And all is well.

photo credit: anne geddes

Acorns and Easter

Acorns

“How do we become that tree?”

Ash Wednesday was seven long weeks ago. Lent is almost over. Western Christians are teetering on the cusp of the Triduum (pronounced trih-joo-um), a fancy church word for The Three Days. The events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are at the crux of our faith: Jesus dies and rises again.

I don’t know how this works. I don’t understand it at all. I doubt Jesus did either. But somehow “the human embodiment of the boundary-bursting, limit-shattering, death-defying power of God”* dies and is reborn. Jesus loves to the point of death, and beyond. And the power of his love somehow mysteriously continues to live in me.

Cynthia Borgeault’s The Wisdom Way of Knowing includes this story:

Once upon a time, in a not-so-faraway land, there was a kingdom of acorns, nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree. Since the citizens of this kingdom were modern, fully Westernized acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were mid-life baby boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help courses. There were seminars called “Getting All You Can out of Your Shell.” There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their fall from the tree. There were spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.

One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, apparently dropped “out of the blue” by a passing bird. He was capless and dirty, making an immediate negative impression on his fellow acorns. And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a wild tale. Pointing upward at the tree, he said, “We … are … that!”

Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded, but one of them continued to engage him in conversation: “So tell us, how would we become that tree?” “Well,” said he, pointing downward, “it has something to do with going into the ground … and cracking open the shell.” “Insane,” they responded. “Totally morbid! Why, then we wouldn’t be acorns anymore.”

Jesus tells us over and over we must be buried. We must be broken open to become more fully who we are. The grain of wheat must die in order to yield a rich harvest. The caterpillar must completely dissolve to become a butterfly. The patterns are all around us, especially in springtime.

Unlike caterpillars, grains of wheat, and real acorns, we have a choice. We can resist the necessary dying and dissolving that is a prerequisite for new life. I don’t think I’m very good at this dying and dissolving. I resist. I cling to the old, the known, the static.

I want to stop resisting and clinging. I want to follow Jesus through these three holy days. I want to trust his promise that Love and I won’t die — that after each dying I will be reborn as a fuller truer embodiment of the real me who finds her Self in God.

I don’t understand Good Friday. I really don’t understand Easter. I don’t believe understanding matters at all. Jesus doesn’t say we must understand. He only asks us to follow — to walk our way with faith and love and kindness, dying and dissolving and being reborn on a regular basis.

*From a sermon by the Rev. Tom Murphy preached on April 6. Link here.