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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts are being gathered by Karen.

Spiritual journeys, like life, have their ups and downs. I think I’ve been in a low for a while now, without realizing it. Nothing like a major disaster to come along as a wake up call. God whizzed by and said, “Hey, look what the force of nature can do. Blow off roofs. Shut down power systems. Upend trees. Disrupt our lives. But I’m still here if you need me.”

Karen Eastlund asked us to write about virtue. She sent us a long list of virtues. I have been thinking a lot about Grace. Grace kept us safe from the storm. Grace allows us to be a safe haven for our family. Grace is the virtue that gives freely without asking for anything in return.

My family is filling up my house. It’s usually just me and my husband, dog Charlie, and cats Fancy, Mimi, and Buzz. Today my home includes 4 more adults, 1 toddler, 3 dogs and a cat. My school secretary commented, “Simon Family Zoo.” But I prefer another friend’s comment. He said, “Like Christmas!”

In Grace and with Gratitude, I open my heart and my home to the ones I love. We will get through this and likely become better people.

God, grant me the grace to be the calm in the storm, love in times of trouble, and faith when things look bleak.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Linda Mitchell.

Linda Mitchell is gathering Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Her topic suggestion is Respect. I wasn’t going to write. In fact, I emailed Linda and apologized, “I’ve got nothing.” However, in the spirit of respect for this community of writers and because I’m awake on the last day of my summer break, I am writing.

Respect is born out of Love. The two are intertwined like the threads on the knitting needles. God calls us to Love.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

This morning I read a beautiful poem by David Whyte, The True Love.

so that when

we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and everything confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all this struggle

and all these years

you simply don’t want to

any more

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness

however fluid and however

dangerous to take the

one hand you know

belongs in yours.

David Whyte, Brain Pickings

Step out of the boat and give your hand to God. Find true love with God. Trust the safety you feel. Hold your hand out to others in respectful response.

Miramar Beach, Florida (photo by Margaret Simon)

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graphic by Carol Varsalona
who is hosting the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts today.

This morning I turned the calendar to July and wondered where my summer is going. Carol invited us to write about Nurturing our Summer Souls for Spiritual Journey first Thursday. I thought I would wake up early and write, but the thing about summer is expectations fall into the sun. I woke up tired. The only thing I can figure is the water aerobics class last night has affected me in more ways than I thought possible. I have welcomed these classes, the time with friends, the cool of the water, and the invigorating feeling of exercise. But this old body is finding muscles that have been dormant. It’s a good thing, right? Remind me.

My summer soul is being nurtured by the National Writing Project’s #WriteAcrossAmerica virtual writing marathon. I’ve participated in three different stops. Each Tuesday a different project site takes on the marathon. This week I went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a place foreign to me. The story map is full of places to explore and writing prompts to contemplate. I stopped at the Indian Village Site and followed a link to Margaret Noodin’s Ted Talk.

I’ve been fascinated by Margaret Noodin’s work since listening to Poetry Unbound from On Being. Margaret not only shares my name, but she also sings. She sings her poems in Anishinaabemowin and English. Being Episcopalian, I love a good chant and that is what Margaret Noodin delivers.

As I listened I wrote. This poem follows her words and weaves in my own words as if we became a confluence of thoughts, two rivers meeting and flowing together for a time.

Minowakiing: The Good Land

Languages
teach us of place. In this Good Land,
we can keep ourselves alive,
hearts beating wild, transforming
the world
in a net, networking, working in
interconnection.

I see lessons in light
see a word East
move into melting
transitioning time to place
word to word.

Listen to sounds singing of fish
bobbing in the water.
Let’s listen to each other.
Remember we are in a good place.

Remember the bird knows,
the grass knows,
the old oak knows

We inherit the language of our ancestors,
reminded how to find the road, the map
to our own lives.
Here. Together.

Margaret Simon, with Margaret Noodin

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Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. We are checking in on our One Little Word.

For 2021, I chose Inspire as my guiding One Little Word. How’s it going? Truth be told, I’m tired. This is our last day of school. This has been a weird year. Long in so many ways. Yet here we are again. Summer sun hangs high in the sky. Temperatures rise, and I crave the scent of chlorine and sunscreen.

Last week on a day when I was cleaning up and wondering how it is that I keep so much stuff from year to year, my colleague Erica came into my room. She teaches 4th grade next door to me, and I teach her daughter in gifted. She said, “I was channeling my best Margaret Simon. Look what we did! Black-out poetry!” She was so excited to show me the results.

As I think about inspire, I count the ways in which others inspire me; Artists, poets, musicians, all fill me with the desire to create. I hadn’t thought about how I inspire others. The 4th grade black-out poems made my heart swell. Erica knew it would.

Inspire is a communication of the heart,
a creative connection,
a gift to the world.

beautiful spring day
no idea
what was in store for me
too perfect
hug
love
share
each other
as one
Believe me.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

Carol is gathering Spiritual Journey posts today around the topic Blossoms of Joy. When I first typed it, I wrote “Blossoming Joy,” which slightly changes the blossoms into action. I have come to believe that we are all in the process of blossoming. We never arrive because life is hard and good and disappointing and joyful all wrapped up on any given day.

I’ve been listening to Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s a book full of quotable quotes. This is one that spoke to me.

“I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

My spiritual journey is the alchemy that keeps me blossoming. I’m in a constant revolution with my inner and outer selves. Outside I want to show I’ve got everything under control. No rocky roads here. Smooth sailing. I know what I am doing, and I am doing it.

Practically every day, someone in the halls will comment about my appearance. Whether it’s the cute Dr. Seuss “Teacher, I am!” mask or the shoes I’m wearing, someone will say something. I know. I know. This is how women interact. I find myself doing it every day.

In fact, one day a little kindergarten girl was rushing in the hallway. She said, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and rushed by me. Then I heard from her little sweet voice, “But I love your hair!”

Perhaps she genuinely had noticed and liked my hair. But it struck me that even our young girls are trained to greet another girl with a compliment about her looks.

I’m not saying this practice is one I would change so much as notice. Our society trains girls at a very young age that how you look matters. Is this healthy?

Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing her read at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Her poem “roots” was the poem of the month for A Network of Grateful Living. I loved the voice and cadence so much that I wrote beside her. Literally placed the poem on a document and wrote my own beside her. Glennon’s words and my own inner thoughts led me to this poem.

wings

call it fire even,

call it anything.

it’s the desire in us

to fly.

we hold our hands

above our heads

and call them

branches,

and grow on them.

we flutter them and make melodies.

call them stories, wild stories.

we are lost in the cumulonimbus

field of clouds.

call it lightning,

our flames.

call it wings.

it’s the wild in us.

it’s the wild of us.

it is the wild, call it

whatever you want to.

call it blossoming.

Margaret Simon, after Lucille Clifton
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Join the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts at Karen’s blog.

Today is the beginning. Each day is, I suppose, but today begins National Poetry Month, my favorite month of the year. The KidLit Progressive Poem is off to a wonderful spinning start with Kat Apel.

It’s Maundy Thursday in another strange Holy Week. Thankfully, the 4 person choir at my church is gathering again and singing (masked) from the loft. Maundy Thursday music is my favorite. Feels holier. Foreshadowing death to resurrection. The solemn act of foot washing reminds us of Jesus’ servanthood and love. We are not quite to resurrection from the pandemic yet, but having had my vaccine, I am feeling a sense of relief and new beginnings.

The first three months of this year I read The Artist’s Way and met weekly with a group on Zoom. Our last meeting on Tuesday night felt sacred. We each shared a creative work. Creativity makes us human and vulnerable, but also celebratory and worthy. One of the tasks from the author Julia Cameron was to write an artist’s prayer. I didn’t write one yet. Jone inspired me when she shared hers. She included her past One Little Words into her prayer. My words are reach, open, presence, grace, explore, cherish, embrace, inspire.

Dear Great Creator,


I am here today
to be an instrument of your work
to explore your world with curiosity, to open myself
to your creativity. I trust your hand
will reach for mine,
guide my pen to something new.
May I be present in this day, embrace nature,
follow the contrail of your vision for me.


May I be filled with grace
so to bless others with my offering,
May I nurture the child within,
accept her imperfections and needs,
cherish her with love and devotion.
Help me to know I am not alone.
By your side, I can be inspired
to breathe your spirit
into each day.

Margaret Simon, always in draft
Bridal wreath, photo by Margaret Simon

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Open Invitation to Write on Sharing Our Stories

 One of the most satisfying things about teaching for me is learning. I learn something new every day, and it still surprises me. On Teach this Poem by Poets.org, I learned about a poetic device: caesura, referring to a pause for a beat in the rhythm of a verse, often indicated by a line break or by punctuation. This literary device was used with effectiveness in a poem by Yesenia Montilla, a brief meditation on breath.

A brief meditation on breath

–they’re saying
this virus takes your breath away, not
like a mother’s love or like a good kiss
from your lover’s soft mouth but like the police
it can kill you fast or slow; dealer’s choice.
a pallbearer carrying your body without a casket.
they say it’s so contagious it could be quite
breathtaking. so persistent it might as well
be breathing                        down your neck—

Copyright © 2020 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

A long held belief of mine is that our bodies will tell us when to pause. I’ve believed this since 1995 when a herniated disc in my spine caused severe pain and subsequent surgery. There was nothing to do but pause and heal. Whenever I moved, pain would send me back. Luckily, I’ve not had any serious trouble since then, but I have learned to listen and pause when my body tells me to. I haven’t quite conquered yet the annoyance and guilt that sets in. We always want answers, so when the answer is “wait”, we twiddle thumbs and pace and complain.

Pause to enjoy the azaleas–
Walking to the parking lot from school, I stopped to notice how two azalea bushes were intertwined.

Following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’ve been writing morning pages for a few months. They are scribbled scratches before my coffee, before my mind wakes up. I really wasn’t sure this exercise was working for me. I’ve been resistant and irritated about it. Like when my body hurts, morning pages were a kind of pain in my side. I did them out of obligation, a commitment to a weekly group. But yesterday morning, a poem came out. And today, I wrote about a picture book idea.

So, wait a minute…you’re telling me that writing morning pages every day since January 3rd is finally opening up your creativity? Could it really take that long? Perhaps it won’t for you, but it has for me. And I’m still unsure if I’ll keep up the practice after our last meeting this week. Yet, there is something to be said for taking a pause, taking your pulse before the day begins.

Like caesura Pause. Begin. Be.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
2021 Grab this image for your blog post.

Today is day 4 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge and Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday.

A group of bloggers commit to writing a post on the first Thursday of the month around a topic. I am rounding up the posts today. (Place your link in the InLinkz at the end of this page.) The topic I chose was March Spirit Wind. The lioness of March winds roared through here on Monday bringing a new cold front. March weather is fickle. One day may be sunny and 70’s and the next rainy and 40’s. In this topsy turvy weather, I long to find quiet time.

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself
and know that everything in this life has a purpose.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Lately I have been using magazine collage to explore creativity. I am finding that it leads to inspiration for writing. The process of design, finding images I love, cutting, placing, gluing bring my mind to a place of rest where creativity can flow.

Silence Collage in Notebook 3/3/21

Linda Mitchell sent me some poem seeds that I carry with me in a ziplock bag along with pens, scissors, glue. I tossed out some seeds and this poem fell out.

Craft of Life, seed poem, notebook page 3/3/21

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence.

Rachel Naomi Remen, gratefulness.org

I hope you can take some time to be quiet and let the Spirit Wind wash over you. Sacred moments can be found when we take time to rest and be open.

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

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Fran Haley.

Take Heart is Fran’s choice for our Spiritual Thursday posts. In my Mississippi childhood, Dear Heart was a common feminine expression, similar to cher in the Cajun culture I now live in. Dear heart is an expression of endearment that could have a connotation of condescension.

But Take Heart is not at all condescending. In a sense, its meaning is quite the opposite. To Take Heart is a way to overcome the troubles of the world.


“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

Take Heart means to live a life that understands there is trouble, there is hardship, there is pain, but there is a greater spirit that overcomes and offers hope. As I read Out of the Dust with a student this week, he identified the theme, “There is always hope.” A pandemic is a kind of Dust Bowl for our time. We have little control over who the virus will target next. Our handkerchiefs are our masks. We stay distanced to avoid the dust. Yet, there is hope. There is always hope.

I started thinking about ways I overcome and find peace in my own life and wrote a “Things to do” poem.

Things to Do to Take Heart

Notice the singing of morning birds.
Begin each day in prayerful meditation.
Read poetry. Write poetry.
Write a letter to a girl in prison.
Fold an origami heart.
Sing a lullaby to a new baby.
Take a child to the park. Swing with him on your lap.
Kiss the screen on Facetime.
Laugh with your partner.
Go to sleep to the owl’s call.

Margaret Simon, 2021
My students and I are making origami heart messages for V-Day.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb Inaugural Poem

These words from Amanda Gorman hit a nerve. As a white woman raised in the south in the 60’s and 70’s, Just Is was a part of the thread that wove the fabric of racism in our time. Echoes of that’s just the way it is rang through the school hallways I walked, the places we shopped, the neighborhood streets we rode. The only dark faces I saw were our maids and their children. 

Desegregation didn’t happen until I was in the 4th grade, 1971. I remember having no school for two weeks while the scramble to mix it up began. That was fun for us kids. When we returned to school, there were new faces, new teachers. My favorite was Miss Love. She was a large black woman with a great bosom for hugging you close. She gave us one of my favorite assignments, a state project. I chose Maine because the capital city is Augustus, my birthday month (of course!). I have never gone to Maine but have a special place for it in my heart because of Miss Love.

Change is easy for kids. Children don’t really know racism. I didn’t when I was ten. But now, in retrospect, I see more clearly how “just is” was not “justice.” I cannot change the past. None of us can. But we can do better when we know better, another famous quote from an African American hero– Maya Angelou.

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