Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Mystic Mom has Moved!


Yep.  As if I haven't moved enough already in real life, I recently moved The Mystic Mom blog to a new address.  I think the address is easier for all to remember, but the journey and the stories continue on there!

You can follow me at the new address:  www.themysticmom.com

Hope to see you soon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thought for the Weekend



Well,  after my 10,000 typos yesterday, I hope to do better today!  (And I hope I was able to find and correct most of them before you had a chance to read it!  Trust me...it was bad!  That's what I get for posting right as the kids are asking, "What's for supper?")

Anyhoo, I couldn't find a way to fit this in yesterday, but Richard Rohr had some words in his meditation from Easter Sunday that I've been pondering ever since I read them.  I hope you enjoy them too:

The cross is the standing statement of what we do to one another and to ourselves.
The resurrection is the standing statement of what God does to us in return.
-Richard Rohr, Easter 2012

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Tis the Season




Happy Easter! 

I hope and pray you are doing well and that you didn't think I forgot about you! 

You see, while I began this blog with a clear-cut idea of how often I would write, I have found that, like so many things in life, trying to juggle my intentions with the realities of my daily life isn't always easy.  As a result, this fun little bloggy adventure doesn't always get posted as often as I'd intended.  But because of things I've learned through writing it,  I have to remind myself that that's OK. 

At any rate, I'm back now.

And I'm ready to talk about Easter. 

One of the things I love about living a life of spiritual awareness (or trying to be aware!), is that we are very often called to be counter-cultural on many things.   And for Christians, Easter and Christmas are, I think, two of the best times of the year we can "go against the grain" so to speak.

How? 

Well, for instance, by saying things like "Happy Easter" on the Thursday after Easter Sunday when in many people's minds Easter is already over.  The stores have ripped all the little bunnies and chicks off the shelves and are either reducing their prices dramatically or packing them away for next year.  "On to other things!" they seem to be ordering us.  But not on the church calendar!  Easter is a season that lasts for 50 days!  Did you realize that's 10 days LONGER than Lent?  There's still plenty of time to send out cards!

Isn't that amazing??

So, if you are feeling joyful this season, by all means continue!  Despite what most of the world is trying to tell you, Easter is NOT over!

But...what if you're not feeling Easter Joy right now? 

Well, as you may have already guessed, that's OK, too.  Perhaps you just need a little nudge to look at this season another way.   And guess what?   I have a little story that's stuck with me this season that may help.  So even if you don't feel like an Easter celebration right now, maybe if I share with you how I see it, it will help you see it, too.

This is actually a story I heard second hand, (which just goes to show you how stories of significance can live on through the ages).  It was told to me last year by a woman that was remembering her favorite homily told by a great storyteller and friend of mine,  who was the priest at my former parish. This woman remembered the homily from one of the first weeks when this priest was newly assigned to the parish years before I'd gotten there, but I'm so glad she shared it because it has remained with me every day of this Easter Season.

The story is simple and goes like this:

What was the first thing that Jesus said when he came out of the tomb?


(Ugh.  Easy to beat yourself up here for not having Scripture memorized isn't it?  But then you don't know this priest.  He rarely quotes Scripture chapter and verse.  Instead he always has a punch line). 

So in his version of the story, the first thing Jesus said was this:

Ta-Da!


Of course it's a joke.  It doesn't exactly go along with Jesus' more humble existence, does it?  But I'll tell you what: it sure helps me see those everyday miracles that I'd likely often overlook were it not for our celebration of this most important of seasons.

Because Easter is always about the resurrection.  And not just in Jesus' life, but in our own. We were meant to live the resurrection, too!  

And not just at the time of our death, but now. 

Today. 

Always.

Christians understand the only way to get to the resurrection is through the Cross.  But sometimes I can get too hung up on the Cross itself (pardon the bad pun there, but it's so true!)  Words like "Pascal Mystery" and "The Way of the Cross" sometimes sound just a little too heavy and finite.  They can, in fact, sometimes get me so caught up in the suffering of it all that I forget that there is an end to the suffering! (Of course, I have to be willing to give up the suffering, too!)  While those bigger, mysterious words are certainly valid and true, sometimes I need a little less food for the journey, if you will.  Something simple to chew on...not a full steak platter!   So I look for simpler understandings.  I like the way the 12th Century Indian mystic and poet Akka Mahadevi says it,


"The only way out is through."


And despite the fact that she and I may understand God differently, I *know* what she says is true.  In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd think she was talking about the Cross.  Because that's really the mystery of life, isn't it?  How to let pain and suffering be transformed into something better.

During Easter, though, I find it so much easier to let the pain and suffering go... at least long enough to consider that there may be something better on the other side of it all!  And the Easter season (by no accident I'm sure), rests squarely in the midst of Spring, which means the Mystery is right in front of us! God in His patient, quiet way is saying that New Life is always here with us, by surrounding us with nature's silently scream,

"Look around!  New Life is here!"



I see it in the new blooms on my daylillies. (Ta-da!)

In the grass as its beginning to grow, (and already needs mowing). (Ta-da!)

In the cows I see on the hillside licking and cleaning their new calves. (Ta-da!)

In the sun that says not only "Good morning!" but also, "Good night!" as it drifts over the horizon only an hour or two now before I fall asleep. (Ta-da!)

As the birds are slowly arriving chirping, quacking and honking their way across the sky.  (Ta-da!)

Of course, we have to open our eyes to see it, and we have to listen to hear it.   

But it is there.

And once we notice, it can be so comforting!  Because all of nature makes it look so easy.  Things die, transplant, or silently grow offspring in one season only to burst forth with New Life in the next.  They do not resist.  Instead, they seem to be enjoying it!

I can't help but think what my daylillies would look like if they were having panic attacks in the Fall anxious and worried about their imminent death.   Instead, as they brown and wilt and wither they seem to be saying, "Surrender! Don't fight it!  Fear not! We'll be back!" 

And I know they will.

So I've spent years now trying to do the same.  Trusting Someone I cannot see.  Believing in Something I cannot prove.  Hoping in Something bigger than I can imagine.

For Christians it starts at the Cross, of course.  It is there that we witness surrender, trust, belief, hope and love in a strange puzzle--a mystery-- of our faith. 

So I try to make the pieces of my life fit, because  my mind wants to understand what my heart already knows. (So much for the mystery, I guess!)

Still, on some level I think we all have a desire to understand, so let me share with you how in my own personal story I see it.  It goes something like this:

There have been parts of  my life (some dreams, some hopes, some wishes) that I'd envisioned long ago and I was so sure of when they came into my life, I nearly take them for granted.  They appeared the same way they'd been scripted in my own mind so that when they happened I just went, "Well, of course! I wouldn't have had it any other way!"  Things like the fact that the man I married at the carefree age of 22 is still the one person who can make me laugh loud and deep from my belly without even trying.  The fact that we went on to have three healthy children: two boys and a girl who are growing into almost exactly the people I'd thought they would be and more.  The fact that the dog I'd always longed for as a child has finally found his way into my home and heart with a devotion and loyalty to me that humbles me every day.  The fact that I had ambitions to share my journey on a whim through this blog and every few days someone reaches out and says a few words of encouragement or gratitude for something *I* said that touched their heart, or made a difference in their lives somehow.  


Of course there are also wishes, hopes and dreams in my life that I have had to let die.  Sometimes it has been easy, as I've simply lived long enough to outgrow them.  For example, I no longer wish to own a Jeep, or sleep in a four poster bed.  

But other parts have been more difficult to let die.  For example, I still wonder at times if it wouldn't have been better for our family if we'd simply stayed put rather than moving around the country every few years.  But even as I write that I know it's not true.   Would staying in one place have been easier?  I'm fairly certain it would have been.  But better?  That seems far less likely.  We've met too many wonderful people, made too many wonderful friends, and seen too many amazing sites that simply would not have happened without all those moves.  That's not to say that staying in one spot is bad or lacking in growth.  It's just to say, as my dear friend B says about being transplanted,


"We have two choices:  grow deep or grow wide."


Now, if I were living my life out exactly as I'd intended, I would have surely grown deep in one spot. But for me, God had something else in mind.  (Of course, I cannot escape the irony that I would never have met B if both she and I had not been such willing spirits to uproot our lives and relocate!)   She and I both confess that the difficulty is that even as we are uprooted and relocated, we continue to choose to grow deep.  Which is why it hurts so much when we're uprooted! It's also why relocating for me has certainly been a choice that I have done willingly but with great reluctance.  Maybe that sounds like a contradiction, but it is the way I feel every time.  It's how I've  been able to grow in ways I'd never imagined. 

But I think a case could be made for the fact that I've grown wide, too.  (And not just in my waistline!)  Knowing that I have friends spread around the country and homes that I've nurtured there means, I think, that part of me--part of us--remains there.  And certainly part of those people and places remains in us.  Or, as a card my mother-in-law gave us last year so beautifully states,

"Everywhere you go becomes a part of you somehow."


So true.

In reply for all our "uprooting" though, God has taught me over and over and over again that faith pays off!  As my good friend/mentor/soul sister L (another one I wouldn't have met were it not for my willingness to move) taught me in the framed quote she gave me years ago that still sits on my bedside table,

"When you come to the edge of all the light you have known and are about to step out into the darkness, FAITH is knowing one of two things will happen:  there will be something to stand on,
or you will be taught how to fly."

So, during this Easter season,  I look at those dreams of my earlier years and I think about how some things I'd dreamed of happened when I wasn't even looking, almost none of them happened on the timeline I had planned, nearly all of them happened in ways (some bigger, some smaller) other than I'd intended, and, of course, some have yet to happen (and so my journey continues there:  waiting, trusting, hoping...).

But all the things that happen in my life and how I respond to them are, in my simple mind, how I understand what it means to "die and rise,"  how I live the Pascal Mystery,  how I "work things out"...by going "through."  


And my lack of control over when, how, or if they happen is how I understand what it means to suffer.  

 
I pray you see the same is true of your life, though your Cross will likely bear different things.

I hope that over the next few days or weeks you take some time to look for those moments of your life when God came to you disguised as Opportunity and Choice and Decision and you followed Him. Even (or perhaps, especially) if it meant you had to suffer or let part of yourself die in the process.   

I also hope you take a little bit of time to see how that process eventually popped you out of a Tomb of Doubt or Confusion or Frustration that you and those around you believed would have you buried forever, only to emerge,

 still alive,

 but newly transformed.

Just like on Easter morning.

Ta-da!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Upside Down


Holy Thursday is traditionally a time when many Christians remember the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.

It is said that this act turned the world "upside down" for his closest followers, the apostles (especially Peter who at first turns Jesus down), who probably felt it quite awkward, and maybe just flat-out wrong, to have their Master Teacher serving them. 

But I hold on to this thought in another way that may also be "upside down" 

I think of this washing-- this gesture of service --every time I hear St. Paul's letter to the Philippians.  I think that perhaps in this very kingly, royal description of Jesus, we sometimes miss the most critical part as Christians:


"...that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bend"

My knee.

And yours.

For others.

It may be upside down thinking.   But I like it. 

And if we do this?

Well, then. 

It seems as though it would put us a bit closer to being the very Body of Christ that we so proudly proclaim.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Way




We are in the midst of the holiest week in the Christian year, and I wish I could report  how transformed I feel after such an amazing journey and  how much I've learned and how now I am closer to God than ever before. 

And in a way, that's all true.

But in this moment right now?   I just feel...tired.  And maybe a little disappointed.

So never being one to let a freshly crusted scab just heal, I picked away at this disappointment a bit as I walked my dog this gloriously beautiful morning. I was trying to get to the bottom of why --on such a special week, after weeks of soul searching and opening my mind and celebrating the Spirit within me-- I am Just. Not. Feeling. It.   

Of course there are many reasons why I'm sure.  For starters, as part of my newly found Self Love I'm back to taking better care of myself by exercising more and this means that I am also more tired from those daily (though nearly invisible) physical transformations.  But I think I'm also spiritually, emotionally, and mentally  tired because, after all... that's where most of the transformational journey has occurred! 

Ideally I would like to just be able to sit here and reflect upon how this journey has brought about some new understandings, and how I have changed, and how I have grown, and how I have been transformed, but instead all I keep thinking about is how  most of those changes  took place in the first two or three weeks of Lent, and then for the next few weeks I was just able to BE.  And how now, in the holiest of weeks, I am left feeling a bit like something is...lacking  And how, just as the journey is reaching its climax... I am SO ready to be done with it.

Then it occurred to me that I am in good company!  If you're familiar at all with Mark's Gospel account of the struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane leading up to Jesus' arrest as he is betrayed by Judas, you will note that something keeps happening there:  Jesus asks repeatedly for the apostles to stay with him and pray with him in these most important final hours...but the apostles don't listen.  They either leave or fall asleep!

Now today we may read this story and  think how differently we'd behave knowing what we know now.  But what I find more interesting is what the Gospel is really saying here about our fallen human state:  that despite our best efforts,


we cannot do on our own, what God must do through us.


You see, I realized that this Holy week is when I'd like to take the time to remember and live out all that I have learned and recorded here in Blogville:

to breathe,

to open my eyes,  

to hang on,  

to let go,

to pray through everything,

to give myself up,

to love myself,

to get out of God's way,

to get behind God,

to go the distance,

to help others when I can,

to forgive myself when I don't.

But in the middle of my struggle to make this great list of all these things I've learned... there was a tug on my heart that gave me pause.  And my heart told me to look at the list I was making again.

And that's when I saw it. 

Yep.  There's a problem all right.  You know what the problem is? 

Whether I like it or not, this list I'm making is all about me:

What I've learned. 

What I've written about. 

What I *know.*

How I want to celebrate Holy week.


And I smile then, because I'm reminded (again!) that despite my every effort to make my life more meaningful, more relevant, more *just right,* I end up only making it more difficult, more disappointing and more... exhausting.  I also smile because I'm reminded (again!) that it is only when we don't listen to what God has written on our hearts the first time, (or the second or the third), that our peaceful life becomes a struggle.

This is why for Christians, Jesus is such an important guide.  Because he is always The Way to get us back to God.

So that's when I went looking to see just what it was Jesus asked of the apostles the very FIRST time in the garden.  Because I knew that when I found it, I would *know* what I should do this week.  And as my eyes scanned the pages trying to find that first request I was beginning to feel the thrill of the drama of this holiest of weeks and I was finally getting INTO it!  I was betting myself that the request would be to either "stay awake"  or to "stand guard" and I was ready to roll up my sleeves and give it a shot.  I was going to do what all the other apostles had failed to do!  I mean, I was all fired up and ready to not just stare down evil, but to punch it square in the face! 


Which is why  I can't even tell you how shocked I was when I traced my way back to his very first request.  I SWEAR I'd never seen it before.   (I mean the nerve of This Guy when I had plans for something so much bigger!)  But I'd told myself I'd do whatever it was He asked.  I just couldn't believe it would be this:




... he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Mark 14:32 (NAB)



Which is why I'm sitting here now humbled and in tears, falling in love all over again. 


And why I was reminded (again) that while I believe and respect that there are many ways to God... Jesus is still The Way for me. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just BEing



Did you think I'd left you? 

Well, fear not!  I'm still here.  But, if the truth be told (believe it or not) I just don't have much to say. 

You see, I'm too busy just BEing. 

(Stop already with the wisecracks! I know! It's not normal for me, but I'm sharing with you now to prove that it does, on occasion, happen).

Even though BEing is not that hard for a lot of people, as a wife and mother I often find it very difficult to just BE. (And who am I kidding...looooooong before I was a wife and mother it was difficult for me, too, but that's not my point!)

The point is that now, as a wife and mother, I'm often the one inspiring and encouraging and making sure that the rest of the family (including the dog) are all busy BEing the best they can BE.  So there's a constant voice in my head reading off mental checklists of things I need to do to make sure they can get their stuff done:  groceries, chores, errands, menu plans, etc.  And it's also taking notes making sure that everyone did/is doing what they are supposed to:  teeth brushed, laundry put away, limited video/game time, etc.  Then of course there's the whole listening to Husband's day and trying to help him "problem solve" whatever may be going on his life.  (FYI - Men like to problem solve out loud, women just like to vent.  This takes practice for both parties over the course of many years to understand, but Husband and I seem to be getting this down pretty well now after nearly 17 years of marriage.  Amen!). 

And here's the thing about BEing.  Though it sounds pretty simple,  for some of us (me) it takes a bit more effort.  Because, you see, BEing requires the voice in  my mind to take a back seat (and the voice in my mind LOVES to talk, so this takes a lot of coaxing and coddling from the rest of...well...me, to put the voice on mute.  Or at least make it into background noise). 

But when it does? 


It feels like all the phrases we love to toss around but (at least in my case) seldom achieve.  BEing for me means I'm  content just going with the flow...in the zone...living the now...at peace.   


So, I just wanted to share with you a little meditation/prayer that I like to use to get (and keep) me in this spot.  I learned it from (who else?) Richard Rohr, and I love that it is based on a rather commonly quoted line from Scripture, because sometimes the more common lines become SO common that they lose their "punch."  (Who doesn't do a mental eye roll when you see "John 3:16" on a poster board or banner?)

Anyway, this meditation/prayer helps bring the "punch" back for me. 

Consider it my gift to you today.

And rest assured, I'll be "off course" soon enough wondering where I'm meant to go and how I'm supposed to get there.  And I'll be all too happy to talk about it then. 

For now, though, why don't you see if you can join me in this perfect state of BEing:


Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.


Psalm 46:11 (NAB)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Snapshots From My Journey - #3 The Transformation


Today's snapshot is really a summary of what I learned as I reflected on my interactions with the jogger and the beggar

Those experiences created a new image -- a third snapshot, if you will-- that I hope to hold on to.

And because it's of a nature more mystical than physical, I've felt compelled to write it with words that read more like a poem than a story (which, FYI is very, very "out of my comfort zone" as they say, but I feel compelled to share it all the same.  And trust me... at this point I realize I very well may be crazy.  Especially because I have friends who are poets.  Really good poets. I am not a poet.  I'm not even sure this is poetry.  But let's just pretend it is, OK?   Because I hope that regardless of what it is, the message rings true for someone [other than just me]). 

Snapshot #3: The Transformation

On the first day:
In the moment of the fall, I offered to help and God was loving me.
I loved myself in that moment, too.

In the moment of the need to comfort and cleanse, I was there to help.
I offered help when I was able.

In the moment of a change of heart, I was allowed to help.
I witnessed the grace and courage it takes to allow someone to help.



On the second day:
In that moment, even as I said, "Sorry, no," God was loving me.
I must love myself in that moment, too.



In that moment, I let my worry and my judgment determine whether or not someone else needed what I had.
I must not let Doubt make my decisions in the future.

In that moment, of my saying "no" I was given the gift of being told, "That's all right." And the blessing to "have a great day."
I must accept that gift and remember the willingness
to be forgiving and kind in the face of rejection.



And so:
From this day forward, when I think of the jogger, I will remember:
I AM called to be the hands of Christ to those in need,
and to let others be Christ's hands for me.
 
 
From this day forward when I think of the beggar's outstretched arm with his bucket of coins, I will remember:
I AM called to discern my ability to help others from my willingness to help them.

From this day forward, I will remember that when the day began with my thoughts focused on an empty reflecting pool outside an old memorial:
I AM called to be a reflecting pool of the Living Water.

I frame that snapshot with these words:

In this moment,
I will pick up my Cross.
And in that moment,
I will remember.
That from this day forward,
I AM carries me.