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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Today, Donna is gathering Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts.  When she emailed us this week, she wrote, “This morning I finally landed on a moving target – the paths we’ve taken – by choice or nudging.”

I feel like I’ve had multiple paths in my life, the path of a wife and mother, the path of a teacher, the path of a writer, and the path of spiritual growth.

My life has been blessed with three daughters, a teaching career, and a writing practice.  However, without a spiritual life, none of these would be fulfilling.  My spiritual life supports me like “wind beneath my wings.”

I’ve done some study of the enneagram.  It is a system of numbers to define a personality type.  I subscribe to a daily email  from The Enneagram Institute based on my number, two, the helper.  Reading these daily directives, I can see myself more clearly and identify what I need to work on.  With reflection, meditation, and prayer, I can be the best of myself every day.  I especially like the enneathoughts that give me a little validation, like the one I received for today.

Receiving affirming messages encourages me to be who I am and who I am meant to be.  I can shake off the ideals of success and popularity. I realize that within a true understanding of self and a generosity of spirit, I am successful.  My prayer today is simple, “Loving God, help me be the best me I can be.”

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Round up is here today!

 

 

Today I am hosting the roundup of Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts.  The theme I chose is Summer.

I am embracing my summer. I’ve been to the lake to visit my parents and my brother, and I just returned from a beach trip with my middle daughter (work for her, fun for me).  On the long drive home yesterday, I listened to a podcast I had not tuned into before, “The Simple Show.” The show seems to be designed for women in the midst of careers and raising kids.

While I am not in that stage of life, I did glean a few things from their discussion of Grown-upping the summer.  One of the co-hosts has 4 simple goals for the summer: Learn something new, enjoy something, do something good for you, and finish something.  I could do this.

While I was at the beach, I learned something new...stand-up paddle boarding.  I even joined a class of paddle board yoga.  It was amazing to do yoga in a grove of water lilies.  I think there should be a paddle-board outfit on the bayou.

I am enjoying…flowers.  My kitchen table glows with a bouquet of white and pink lisianthus I bought at the farmer’s market last Saturday.  Flowers are a simple way to bring joy inside.

My view this morning

I am committing to walking every day. Walking is simple.  Walking is sacred.  Walking is good for you.

The goal of finishing something is a bit of a challenge.  I am working on a new book of poetry about the first African American female physician in the state of Louisiana.  This challenges my research and writing skills.  I’d like to finish it by the time school starts back or at the latest by September.  The good news is I am more than half-way there.

Summer is also a time for quiet meditation, reading, and connecting with my family.  Summer has a slowed down sun-kissed feeling. What are your goals for the summer?
Click here to add your link or read more Spiritual Journey posts.

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For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Violet’s site.

Violet has invited us to write about Special Days for May’s Spiritual Journey first Thursday blog posts.  Special Days in our family have changed over the years.  From those birthdays when I made the cake, sewed the dress, planned the activities to a simple card, check, and a phone call.

My three daughters are all grown and have lives of their own.  I’m glad that empty nest comes in stages.  I think each stage gets a little harder.  When they are gone to college, we still see them on holidays.  When they are single, we can call and talk for a long time.  But now that there are husbands, family has taken on a new dimension.  My mothering is needed less and less.  This coming Mother’s Day may be the last when I am The Mom. (Prayers said for grandchildren.)

I have learned that I have to speak out loud about what I want for my special day.  This year I’ve asked that we all be together.  Being together has come to mean so much.  My daughters are best friends.  When we are together, my husband says it’s like a sorority.  I absolutely love having adult children, and I savor every precious moment with them.

In her book A Maze Me, Naomi Shihab Nye speaks to me in this poem about not only the days of the week, but also the years of our lives.

Necklace

I hope Sunday’s slow and long,
steeped like a pot of mint tea.
Soft sun and deep thinking.

Saturday was a crowded calendar page,
a mound of chores.

Could Monday be a porch?
Facing the week.
Wednesday a meadow?

Thursday, let’s leave
small baskets at everyone’s door.
Flowers, notes, stone.
No one does that anymore.

Could a week be strung on a silver chain?
A boat?
A tree?
Tuesday as a tree?

–Naomi Shihab Nye

 

 

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National Poetry Month 2018

 

Three Trees by John Gibson

 

I have watched my father draw all my life.  He is still doing it in his 80’s.  I marvel at how he creates shapes with ink dots. One of his favorite subjects is trees.

I am using Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s book Poems are Teachers and following her posts on The Poem Farm to prompt my students writing every day.  She has opened padlets for each prompt, so my students are posting on these.

Poem number 3 was a mask poem. She tells what a mask poem is here.

I wrote alongside my students, so today’s poem is not ekphrasis but a mask poem from the point of view of the artist.

 

The Artist

I begin with an image
a photograph, a landscape,
a walk outside.

Drawn to the space
between light and dark,
I trace a line, soft and simple.

As time stands still,
my hand moves, dabbles, dots
until a shape appears.

Art is a way of seeing,
a definition from my eyes,
a miracle of my hands.

Margaret Simon, (c) 2018

For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Carol’s Beyond Literacy Link.

Today is the first Thursday, and a group of fellow bloggers link up and share our spiritual journeys.

The theme for this month is Poetry as a Spiritual Practice. If I were to analyze word choice in my poetry, I would find many words that speak to the spirit, words like miracle, grace, sacred, God, and love.  The spirit breathes through these words. I am forever grateful for the gift of writing, for I believe it is a spiritual gift.  I am not alone when I write.  The Holy Spirit guides my hand.  Poetry is a spiritual practice.

On Good Friday last week, I was moved by Psalm 22 to write my own psalm.  I am reposting it here as a response to Carol’s call for today’s posts.

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

 

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

 

Holy Week always brings up for me a mixture of feelings.  I feel a call to silent contemplation.  Years ago I offered a Good Friday meditation.  It originally came out of a prayer vigil from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  I had signed up for the 6 AM time slot and was moved by the rising of the sun as I sat alone in the quiet church.  We don’t have a vigil anymore, but the idea of sitting in quiet meditation early in the morning of Good Friday is still something I want to experience and share.

With four of us in the sanctuary, I read aloud Mary Oliver’s poem “I Happened to be Standing.”  Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine.  I love how simple and profound her poems are.  I searched for this one.  I remembered how it looked on the page, but I didn’t remember the title or which book it was published in.  I located five of her books around my home, none of them placed together.  Finally, A Thousand Mornings sang to me from the living room shelf, and there it was in all its humble glory.

I Happened to Be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
(Read and listen to the complete poem here.)

 

As I sat, I recalled Psalm 22 from the Maundy Thursday stripping of the altar. I wanted to respond to this psalm with my own psalm. I wrote:

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Happy, Happy Easter! May you find joy in the quiet and love in the sounds of the birds!

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Irene’s Live your Poem

Welcome to the first of 31 daily posts for the March Slice of Life Challenge.  This is my 7th year to do this challenge, and every year I think I won’t make it through.  Somehow I do.

Writing daily is a discipline I try to keep, but when met with a daily publishing deadline, it becomes more important somehow.  Someone is waiting to hear from me.  Someone is listening.  Someone cares what I have to say.

Today is also the first Thursday of the month when a group of us who met through blogging come together to write about our spiritual journeys around a theme.  This month Karen Eastland is hosting at Irene Latham’s blog.  Her chosen theme is music.

Music is an integral part of my spiritual life.  I’ve been in church choirs ever since I was a teenager.  To me, singing a hymn is praying, loving, praising.

This poem is a golden shovel.  The line of poetry that forms the right margin is from Irene Latham’s poem Music Teacher that is included in Lee Bennett Hopkins collection School People. 

When I sing in the loft, the music fills my soul.  I am transported and transformed.  Last Sunday, I was given the opportunity to chant the Psalm.  The chanting music is notated with a line of music at the top of the page.  Each line of the psalm has symbols for changing intonation and moving notes.  It’s complicated.  I can’t read the music and the words at the same time and the notation is a blur.  So I just have to feel it.  I sing whatever comes out.  I have no practice or education in Anglican chant, but I’m willing to breathe in and let God take over my voice.  True consecration of my lips.

Sample of Anglican Chant music

 

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For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Donna’s blog, Mainly Write.

The moon and the stars to rule by night: for his mercy endures forever.
Psalm 136:9

I went out on a walk Wednesday morning in search of the moon.  I chased it through the neighborhood trying to capture the eclipse on my phone.  The pictures, of course, do not do it justice.

 

Partial eclipse

Eclipsed moon hides in the trees.

I thought about how this phenomenon fascinates us as Earthlings.  We travel through each day without realizing that the planet is moving and turning and changing, constantly.  We are reminded of our minuteness when a super moon appears in the sky, when that moon is eclipsed by the place we walk upon.

But smallness means nothing to God.  God cares for every particle, every sparrow, every hair upon your head.  Like an eclipse, this goodness and love is hard to imagine, difficult to believe.  So we keep testing it.  Who am I to eat the crumbs under your table, Lord?

The rose on my kitchen table does not wait for me to notice before it blooms. With all my faults, my worries, my stupid pettiness, I am loved and revered as the rose.  God’s love is unconditional and waiting.  All we need to do is say, Yes, Thanks, Wow!*

 

 

  • Help, Thanks, Wow is the title of a book by Anne Lamott.

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