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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

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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image created by Carol Varsalona
Read more Spiritual Journey posts at Donna’ Blog, Mainly Write.

Fear is the opposite of Love, so how do we live through this fearful time with Love?

I read an article from Time magazine that helped. The Bible does not turn away from fear. God’s word embraces the fear in us and replaces it with love. N.T. Wright says that we should turn to Psalms. Within the Psalms, God grieves with us. The psalmist draws us into the lament so that we are comforted by the connection, person to person.

The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments.

N.T.Wright

I turned to Psalm 22 which typically we read on Maundy Thursday as the altar is stripped. As a congregation, we won’t be reading together this year. Yet, the lament is more real now than ever before.

The poetry prompt from Ethical ELA by Glenda Funk is to write a Blitz poem. I felt this form would work for a psalm-like poem based on Psalm 22.

Forsake me
Forsake my words
My words roar
My words cry
Cry in the day
Cry at night
Night is holy
Night I trust
Trust our God
Trust deliverance
Deliverance from evil
Deliverance from scorn
Scorned people
Scorned me
I am a worm
I am a child
A child in my mother’s womb
A child on my mother’s breast
My mother’s breast comforts
My mother’s breast gives hope
Hope is a garment
Hope is far from me
Far as a raging lion
Far as help
Help my soul
Help my darling
My darling hears me
My darling calls my name
My name praises
My name vows
Vows of worship
Vows of my heart
My heart loves
My heart seeks
Seeks food
Seeks a seed
A seed serves
A seed is planted
Planted in the soil
Planted in praise
Praise for a kingdom come
Praise for a will be done
Done to us
Done for us
We see salvation
We declare righteousness
Righteousness of God’s world
Righteousness to those born
Born of God’s hands
Righteous to live and love

Margaret Simon, draft

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Welcome April! My favorite month of the year when skies are blue, flowers are blooming, and poetry abounds!

I am committing myself to writing a poem a day this month, but I am not committing to a prompt. I will get inspiration from where ever the muse takes me. Last night as I was settling down for the night, I found NaPoWriMo. The early bird prompt posted on March 31st was to write about your favorite bird.

Here is my first draft:

A Prayer

Everyone was supposed to pray with the pope tonight,
but I got struck silent while watching
a hummingbird at the feeder
hovering as on angel wings 
disappearing into the green like a spirit. 

Where does our spirit go when we die?
Does it hover like the hummer
watching and waiting
for the lift off?

I wonder if the pope even knows?
We pray what?
What should I say?
There is nothing to be done
but stare at the feeder
and wait for another sighting of wings.

Margaret Simon, 2020 draft
Hummingbird at the feeder in my backyard. Taken August 30, 2016. Photo by Margaret Simon

The first line of the Kidlit Progressive Poem is a multiple choice from Donna Smith. The progression of the poem is in the side bar of my blog. Scroll down.

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graphic created by Carol Varsalona
Round up of Spiritual Thursday posts are with Fran Haley at lit bits and pieces.

Fran Haley is hosting today, and she proposed the theme of Balance.

Balance is something I search for in my daily life. Being an introvert, I crave alone time. I think that’s why I enjoy writing so much. Writing is a quiet alone-time activity, like walking my dog or meditating or taking a long bath. ( My husband jokingly said I would love a quarantine.)

One of my students gave me this beautiful journal for Christmas. I had it in my car until on Ash Wednesday, I had an idea to carry it with me into the service. I wrote during the sermon. I wrote again this past Sunday and will try to keep this going during Lent. The writing helped me listen in a different way. Kind of like taking notes, but I also allowed my own thoughts to enter in.

I also achieve balance through yoga and meditation. There are so many ways life can get in the way of living. Taking time for myself and clearing my busy brain helps me be a better me.

For my yoga instructor and friend Susan

This weekend we were babysitting my 14-month-old grandson. By 5 in the afternoon, he was so tired that he could no longer keep his balance when walking. At first it was funny to him to walk quickly and fall, but it happened one time too many, and he ended up in tears. In a similar way, when I am exhausted, overstretched, and too busy, I get out of balance.

What ways do you use to keep your life in balance?

Helping Leo balance

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Graphic design by Carol Varsalona. She is also hosting today at Beyond Literacy Link.

Living on the bayou gives me a daily view of seasonal changes. We have a huge cypress tree that drops its needles all over the back deck when the days grow shorter. They burst out in bright neon green as the days grow long.

While cypress respond to daylight, other plants respond to temperature changes. On my morning walk, I’ve been watching a Japanese magnolia bursting into bloom. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it blooms earlier and earlier each year. The beauty is striking. I used the tree as a subject for my Poetry Friday offering for tomorrow.

One way I pay attention to seasonal changes is to write poems. I am writing every day with #100daysofnotebooking and with Laura Shovan’s February poetry challenge. When I commit to a social media group, I have accountability, so I get it done.

On Saturday, I wrote a quick notebook draft responding to the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson “There is no music like a river’s”

Listen to the cry
of mother wood duck,
clicks of red-headed woodpecker
on the old oak.
Hear the train whistle
in the distance, and the peaceful
ringing of wind chimes.

The bayou wakes up slowly
on this winter Saturday
playing its music
for the clouds
welcoming first sun,
first light,
new day.

Margaret Simon, draft 2020
Photo by Nandhu Kimar, from Pexels.com

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

My Sunday Night Poetry Swaggers Group discussed the One Little Word tradition and found that everyone had a slightly different take on whether or not it was a good practice. Heidi challenged us to write about whether or not we word for the first Friday of the month. You can read their posts here:

Catherine
Heidi
Linda
Molly

I’ve been choosing a word each year for 7 years. I enjoy the process of trying to find the one right word to guide my year.

I’m a two on the Enneagram. That means I’m a giver, someone who spends most of their time trying to ingratiate others. The good side of a two is being helpful and selfless. The idea is to get better at being who you are. So I subscribe to an Enneathought of the Day. This came on New Year’s Eve.

Present has been my word before, but it continues to fit because being present is a constant goal. For 2019, my word was Grace. Grace goes beyond presence to actually live with the peace of knowing you are loved.

My word this year was suggested by my son-in-law who knows me pretty well. I wrote about Embrace in my Spiritual Thursday post yesterday.

I joined Michelle Haseltine’s #100DaysofNotebooking challenge and wrote about Embrace in my notebook. This challenge is not only a good way to restart a notebook practice, but it connects me to a new community of writers I can “embrace.”

I also received a serendipitous postcard from Irene Latham. The poem just makes me want to embrace her and embrace writing.

Writing in Winter by Irene Latham

Here is a second draft of my Embrace poem:

Embrace says yes to now,
holding on tight to this one moment
finding a heart full of love.

Embrace is a word of grace,
silently listening, open
for the world to fill.

Embrace is here for you
to welcome, knowing nothing
ever stays the same.

Embrace!

Margaret Simon, draft 2020

Do you choose a word? a resolution?

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I’m gathering posts here for January’s Spiritual Journey One Little Word posts. Scroll down to add your link and read other posts.

Choosing a One Little Word for the year has been a practice I adopted years ago. Sometimes I spend a lot of time mulling over what my word should be. Not this year. My son-in-law Grant has tuned in this practice of mine, and I’ve been doing so much holding of new babies in the last year, he told me he thought my word should be “embrace.” I didn’t give it another thought.

This year of 2020, I will embrace my grandbabies even more. My youngest daughter will be getting married in October, so I will embrace another family connected to our family.

Embrace is related to the word Grace I chose last year. My life is full of love, and love comes from grace. Embrace is a way to be humbly grateful for it all.

There is really no way we can predict what a new year will bring. Some years I choose a word that is a goal, something I want to be better at, but a word like Embrace lets you just be present. Here. Now. Holding on to the ones you love. Acceptance and Grace, wrapped up with a bouquet of roses.

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