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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Published by Abingdon Press

 

When I first met Jake Owensby, he was being consecrated as the fourth Bishop of the Western Louisiana Diocese of the Episcopal Church in 2012. My first impression of him was presence.  It was a brief exchange, but I felt he was fully present and aware of me.

In his new book A Resurrection Shaped Life, Bishop Jake is fully present.  He reveals himself in true reality while showing us how to live with the realities through a relationship with Jesus.

When we repent, we admit that the sorrows, the losses, the wounds, the betrayals, and the regrets of our past have made us into someone we don’t want to be anymore. We die to that self and entrust ourselves to Jesus. From those shattered places in our lives, Christ brings new life; repentance is the beginning of our resurrection.

Reading Bishop Jake’s book was like being present with him, not in the way listening to a sermon would, but like sitting next to him listening and learning how to be a Christian in today’s world.  He accentuates Jesus’s plan for the world, a world of resurrection, in which love displaces fear, “where generosity eliminates deprivation and respect guards the dignity of all.”

Bishop Jake reminds us of who Jesus really is: committed to healing in the world.  Jesus suffered.  We suffer. God does not take away the pain or the suffering; however, through Jesus, we know that suffering is endured out of love and eventually leads to healing.  When we lead a resurrection-shaped life, we live in compassion with imagination and hope.

Jesus changes our mind about God. In Jesus, we see who we truly are as humans.  We are the beloved, not the blameworthy…we slowly begin to exchange our habit of blaming others for the habit of compassion.

Barbara Brown Taylor reminds un that new life starts in the dark. We must go through Good Friday to get to Easter. A Resurrection Shaped Life guides you through the darkness, by wading next to you and showing you the star.

I suggest following Bishop Jake’s blog: Looking for God in the Messy Places.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spiritual Journey is gathering today at Ruth’s blog.  We are writing about our chosen words for 2019.

Choosing a one little word is something I start thinking about weeks before the year’s end. For me it becomes a process of listening to the universe.  This year my thoughts started around Thanksgiving.  The first word I considered was Compassion. 

A compassionate life is something to aspire to. I recently read Bishop Jake Owensby’s latest book A Resurrection Shaped Life. 

“By God’s grace, a new life–what I’m calling a resurrection-shaped life–emerges from suffering and sorrow.  One way in which that new life emerges is in our unguarded engagement with the suffering of others.” (21)

Caring so deeply that we stand beside and hold hands with suffering is what Jesus calls us to; however, the more I thought about this word, the more unworthy I felt.  I don’t want to choose a word that leads me to despair, that feeling of not meeting up with my own expectations.

Another word I considered was Mindfulness.  I love practicing yoga and bringing meditation into my day.  I’ve not made time for this since school started, so perhaps if I gave myself the word mindfulness, I would get back to these spirit-filled activities.  And being in touch with my spiritual center would also lead me to compassion.

These words are still an integral part of my thinking.  I meditated the other day and heard another word, Blessed. Ah, yes.  That’s it.  I am blessed and when I feel blessed, I can bless others.  But the dictionary definition of blessed is “made holy; consecrated.”  This definition makes me feel I am proclaiming something rather than working toward a better me.

In searching for synonyms of compassion, I found a perfect word, one I can wrap my head around, one that is not a claim or full of unlimited expectation.  Simple and sincere…

 

 

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Round up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

On this first Thursday of December, the Spiritual Journey bloggers are reflecting on our 2018 one little word. Way back in January, I chose the word Explore.  Like previous words, Presence and Open, this word helped me to be more present to the world around me.  Exploration is important in the life of a writer.  To me exploring has a connotation of adventure and daring. While I find much comfort in just being at home, when I am more open to adventure, I reach out and invite joy in.

My students and I enjoy exploring different ways to look at common objects.  The above image was taken through a Private Eye jewelers loupe in the school garden. The Private Eye asks the viewer to use figurative language to describe what you see.  It looks like… and it also looks like…

A rose in bloom
flowing tutu in the sun
a garden dancer

 

Following NCTE in Houston, my friend Dani traveled home with me for a few days before heading back to Montana.  We explored Avery Island and the Tabasco plant, a sculpture garden in New Orleans, and an old cemetery.  Dani was fascinated by the above ground crypts.  Since NOLA is below sea level, bodies are buried above ground to avoid floating away. Exploring is more fun with a friend.

 

Explore was a good word for 2018, but as this year comes to a close, I’m thinking about next year’s one little word.  I feel the need to turn more toward reaching out to others and making some kind of difference.  Explore was a more self-serving word, one that led me to adventures and new places, but didn’t send me outward to others.  I’m ready to look inward to how I can become more generous to others.

#haikuforhope

Hope fills my waiting heart
Gently cradled in wonder
Exploring my world

(c) Margaret Simon

 

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Round up is with Ramona at Pleasures from the Page.

It really wasn’t a bad day, but not such a good one either.  I had a lingering cold and was scheduled for my yearly mammogram.  One of those necessary uncomfortable things we women are subjected to, but the tech was pretty upset that I had come in with a cold.  She ran out of the room for a mask and continually said, “I hope I don’t get sick.  We have a lot of patients who come through here.  I don’t have time to be sick.”

I felt awkward anyway considering I was exposing myself to boob smashing, but I also tried not to cough or sneeze.  And then there was the guilt. Maybe I should’ve rescheduled.

Following this embarrassing encounter, I drove through a coffee shop treating myself to a flavored cold brew.  When I got up to the window to pay, the clerk said that my coffee had been covered.  The lady in the car ahead of me paid for me.  What a kind gift!  I have thought of doing this on occasion, but not often enough.  This woman has no idea how her gesture turned a bad day into a good day, a feeling of guilt to one of gratitude. Then again, maybe she does know, and that’s why she did it.

This stranger lives in gratitude and spreads love with kind gestures.  And I’ve never met her.  Sam, at the window, said she comes every day.  I asked him to thank her the next time he sees her.  But did she do it to be thanked?  I don’t think so.

Living in gratitude means noticing the good, sloughing off the bad, and taking each moment as a gift.

 

Photo by Robyn Hood Black

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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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