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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Spiritual Thursday posts are being gathered today by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

It is my practice each year to select a word to guide my year. This week my students and I have been talking about and selecting a One Little Word. Last year I selected Embrace. The word Inspire has been tugging at me for a few years. I finally stopped resisting it.

If you follow my blog, you know that I am posting a photo each week as a writing prompt. Last week I posted a photo from Ann Sutton, a Methodist minister. Fran Haley took this prompt and wrote an amazing spiritual poem on her blog. I drew Ann’s attention to Fran’s poem on Facebook Messenger. Ann shared the post and asked Fran’s permission to read the poem in her sermon. Wow! Inspiring writing that inspires a beautiful connection beyond my reach.

I’ve started an accountability group for The Artist’s Way. Perhaps you remember the book. Julia Cameron leads you on a journey back to your essence of creativity through writing exercises and artist dates. Morning pages is a component that I am trying. Trying is the operative word here. My hope is that by releasing the tied up knots of stuff through regurgitation on the blank page, I will inspire more creativity in myself. I do believe that creativity is a spiritual practice. It’s not reserved for a select few; however, like the Holy Spirit, creativity is available to all of us, even me.

This first week of 2021 has been filled with shocking events. Along with everyone else, I am mournful. But I am also hopeful. Our country witnessed rock bottom yesterday. Let’s make today the beginning of our collective climb up and out. We can inspire hope and love. Join me in a resolution to Inspire, breathe new life into the world.

Image created in Canva

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I took last week off of blogging to be with family for Christmas, but Christmas hasn’t let go of me yet. This slower week I’ve enjoyed looking at the tree, crocheting on the sofa, and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. I think the slow down was good for me, but I worry that the routine of writing will leave and never come back. So, I am committing to this weekly prompt for me and for you.

Ann Sutton is one of those friends who feeds my spiritual life. She is a Methodist minister, watercolor artist, and has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. (We met in a community choir years ago.) Christmas worship looked different this year. In her wisdom, Ann didn’t forego the candle lighting on Christmas Eve. She reinvented it. With a variety of candles in buckets of sand, families lit their own candle as they entered her church.

Christmas Eve, by Ann Sutton

What we carry
is heavy; lighten it
with match to flame
then blow.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Read and encourage other writers by responding.

Happy New Year! May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds on the love of Christ.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol Wilcox at Carol’s Corner.

It’s not every day that I am commissioned to write a poem. Well, actually, it’s never happened. The secretary at our school has a grand nephew, her godchild, going off to the Navy this month. She asked me to write a poem for him.

I really wasn’t sure how to get started. I don’t know this boy, but I do know his family cares deeply for him. I was inspired by Jane Hirshfield’s poem For What Binds Us.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.

Jane Hirshfield, from For What Binds Us

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Ruth is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at her blog.

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough!” ~Meister Eckhart

What is it about November that brings out the gratitude in us? Is it the holiday of Thanksgiving? Is it the cool fall air? Is it getting close to Christmas? Or is it the number 11? Today Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts about gratitude.

Thank you
releases air,
a breath.
In American sign language,
a hand to mouth and out again.
From inside of me
to the spirit of you,
I thank you.

TeachWrite is encouraging #gratiku poetry on social media. Read more about it at Leigh Anne’s blog.

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When we write poems to a photo, we enter a process of collaboration. A meeting between the photographer and the poet, the image and the words. In collaboration, one can have a conversation, an inquiry, or a conviction. Do your beliefs about the world come through in your poems? Are you communicating or responding? Are you participating or letting the muse take control?

I invite you to reflect on your process today as you write. Leave a small poem in the comments as well as a reflection of your thoughts. 

photograph by Molly Hogan

Perspective

The tracks rise to a point
on the horizon
disappearing into a mist.

We know
beyond the page,
the path goes on
and on.

Margaret Simon, draft

My reflection: Perspective is something an artist has to learn. If you draw two parallel lines, they must converge to give the impression of a continuing road. Our horizon line is not a finite place. The earth is round. When I think about this in a spiritual, metaphorical sense, I think of our own path through life. There is a mirage of an end, but there is always another turn to make.

Note to my readers: We are in the path of Hurricane Delta. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow. We are preparing. We have a strong house (and a friendly generator named Sparky). I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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I am hosting the link up of Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Link up with Inlinkz.

In Holy Love, our sense of separateness dissolves, and we know ourselves as arising from the brilliant light of Divine Love that creates and sustains the universe.

Understanding the Enneagram, 62

I carry around bits and pieces of poems in my head. Today I was working with a student on the vocabulary word tempest. I said to her, “It’s in a poem or song or something. Tempest-tossed.” Right then and there I had to Google it. Ah, yes, The New Colossus:

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus

And when I read the opening quote about Divine Love, I thought:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

I want to keep these thoughts of peace, of belonging, of being a part of the whole. I feel it most when I am in nature, but lately, I feel it when I am teaching. I was away from teaching for a long time. I thought I was doing fine without it. I was, but sometimes, a calling is unexplainable. Sometimes I feel myself unworthy of the calling. Sometimes a calling is holy.

The wild geese are my students, on screen and off. They call to me every day and announce my place in this crazy world.

Rylee painting a Dot Day mask.

If you wrote a Spiritual Thursday post, link below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Today’s posts will be gathered at Karen’s Blog.

I’ve been raising monarchs. See this post. I am also planning for hybrid teaching, some in person, some virtual. Finding my direction through these tasks has challenged me in new ways.

Male monarch by Judy Rizzo

The word alchemy came across my radar. I found this definition: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.” The process of metamorphosis is alchemy and in many ways, so is the way we have to teach this year. I decided to mine alchemist for words using Wordmaker. Following a poetic process created by April Halprin Wayland, I wrote a poem that probably doesn’t make sense to anybody but me. Let’s just say, finding my direction through this unique school year has taken some proactive effort. (The words from Wordmaker are in bold.)

Finding Direction

Connect line by line, etch
a trail through calm
worry, eyes that smile
despite each
new hurdle to scale.
Raise the latch
and release butterfly-mail
to the gods of ethics
Teach.

Margaret Simon, draft
Monarch in olive tree by Judy Rizzo

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I am rounding up Spiritual Thursday posts with inLinkz at the end of this post.

Sometimes when I try to write, I do lots of other things. My mind wanders and wanders, like a butterfly trying to light upon the perfect flower. I really don’t recall where my mind was when I suggested the topic of Spiritual Art for this month’s Spiritual Journey posts. It was probably way back in January when our lives were rocking along at a normal pace in a normal way.

I have to admit this extended time of isolation has been easy for this introvert. I do not mind quiet time. I am rarely bored, but the losses are getting too close for comfort. Our local newspaper logs an average of 10 obituaries a day. We are facing a delay to the start of school. The news goes from bad to worse. Finding some art to bury my head into would be welcome.

In my sorting and shifting to find more distraction, I opened the latest Smithsonian Magazine and found this image.

Nicola Muirhead, Smithsonian Magazine.

Nicola Muirhead created this image by putting dishwashing liquid on a Polaroid photograph of her husband and her hands touching. She described her process, “Contact and physical connection are, of course, two of the most dangerous things you can do during the pandemic with someone outside your household. I have been so grateful to have my partner, Faraz, with me during this time, and we are able to hug and kiss and touch. Still, sometimes even touching your loved one can be filled with anxiety. When he goes out for the shopping or I for a walk, and return home, there is always the fear of carrying back the coronavirus. These are the thoughts I have had during the pandemic—adding to the anxiety of lockdown. This Polaroid was washed and then disinfected with bleach. I used dishing washing soap around the edges of the frame to draw the viewer into the hands touching, distorting everything else around it. (Nicola Muirhead)

Art can help us know more about ourselves. Observing this art, I found myself wanting to be the hand feeling the loving touch of another. Touch is what I miss most. I see my children (grown adults), but I don’t touch them. I spend time with my mother-in-law outside at a distance. I connect with my parents through Facetime. My mother commented that if I came to visit, I would be able to see her outside at a distance with a mask, but she doesn’t want that. She wants to hug me. I get it. We are starving for those simple hugs, the touch of the hand, the gesture of love.

Nicola Muirhead applied the chemicals that now define our days, bleach, hand sanitizer, dishwashing liquid, to every day photographs. What happens when we apply disinfectant to our relationships, to our spiritual life? This pandemic will change us; it has changed us. Perhaps we will learn the value of connectedness. Perhaps we will be more resilient. And perhaps we will find a resurrection.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Spiritual Journey host is Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness and the word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – C.G. Jung

Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

Ruminating on balance today with my Spiritual Journey Thursday group.

Balance doesn’t happen all in one day.
Like love, balance is a process.
I strive to be stable,
but some days are riddled with self-doubt.
Even in these sheltered days,
I lose sleep, lose faith, slip off the stack of stones
onto the cold hard floor of reality.

“It’s always about balance,”
says my daughter in defense of screen time.
My brother-in-law’s philosophy is “Eat a donut,
then have a grapefruit.”

After a long walk in the sun,
your body craves water,
water, water…
There are some balance rules
you must obey. Your body
is one of them.

In the chiaroscuro of light and dark,
we see clearly and in blurred lines
where our balance lies. Tip-toe in,
but don’t worry if you have to hold
onto the rails sometimes.


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Ruth is hosting today’s postings for Spiritual Journey Thursday. Click to go to her site. https://thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.

Romans 5: 4 

This Biblical verse was quoted by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry in his sermon for Pentecost this past Sunday. I have read this verse before. And every time, I feel a bit of discomfort. There’s the part of me that wishes we could have hope without suffering and endurance.

This last week has been suffering for all of us. Watching a brutal, senseless murder at the hands (or knee, rather) of people we are supposed to trust is both heart and gut-wrenching.

In the Episcopal prayers of baptism, we state that we will respect the dignity of every human being. There are no exclusives to this phrase. Every means every, not the ones who look or act like us. God calls us to be a community of love. Where do we place hatred? In God’s world, hatred has no place.

This time I want more than hope for a better world. I want to take an active part in creating one. I started with conversation. When I was growing up in Jackson, MS, I went to a high school that was 90% black. We walked the halls together. We had lockers side by side. We sang together in the chorus. We worked together on the yearbook. But, never did I socialize outside of school with an African American classmate.

On Tuesday, I reached out to my friend who is the executive director of our church’s mission, Solomon House. We sat in the courtyard and talked for an hour or so. She offered many insights, but the thing I remember most is her admonishment, “I need my white friends to stop feeling guilty about being white.”

I will move beyond this guilt and do more than hope for a change. I will find ways to be a part of the solution. There will be a peaceful protest in New Iberia on Saturday. I’ll be there.

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