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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Happy September! Maureen has the Spiritual Thursday round up today. Her topic suggestion was “community.” As a new school year gets underway, my thoughts of community turn to my classroom. To build community, we write together. I’ve always felt that writing helps build connections and brings us closer to each other.

When my father died in April, I received so many cards that I couldn’t fit them all on my counter, so I filled a basket. Like Christmas, every day for a few weeks I received handwritten, comforting cards and letters. Without even noticing, I had become a part of a community of people who support each other in good times and in bad times.

This weekend there was an article in the local paper that caught my eye. It was an interview with a teacher I knew. This teacher came to a writing workshop I held one summer. Because we wrote together, I feel close to her. I cut out the article and laminated it to send to her. She probably has multiple copies, but I decided that the gesture was about more than just giving her another copy of the article. It was a gesture of community, recognizing and seeing her.

My writing group is a special community to me. The Inklings got together and created a “junk journal” with each poet writing a special sympathy poem for me. I made a video of this gift that can be viewed here. Linda Mitchell of our group recently shared a new poem with us. She wrote it about the sycamore tree that we planted in memory of my dad on the grounds of their retirement home. “A sycamore tree symbolizes strength, protection, eternity, and divinity.” She gave me permission to share her sweet skinny poem.

Whether writing with each other or writing for each other, writing creates community. If you are interested in joining a small community of writers, tune in on Wednesdays when I post “This Photo Wants to be a Poem.” We write together in separate places about a shared image. There is always room for more.

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Spiritual Thursday Posts are gathered today at Beyond Literacy Link

abandon the shoes that had brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,

from “Finisterre” by David Whyte, Gratefulness.org

Sometimes we have to abandon shoes, say goodbye, leave something or someone behind.

Today is my last day of summer as we define it in the world of education, not by the actual season but by the school calendar. I go back to school tomorrow. Students will come next Wednesday and the year 2022-23 will be up and running.

I will leave behind the shoes of slow mornings, lingering over coffee and conversation. When this time arrives, it’s hard not to evaluate your summer. The question to my colleagues and students will be “How was your summer?” So in one word, we evaluate how we spent our days off. “Good” “Rough” “Crazy” “Busy” “Fun” “Exhausting”

Which shoes will I reminisce about when I hear this question?

Teva sandals,

straps of yellow, pink, orange, and blue

draw attention to my feet, my yellow toenails.

I can walk through water in these shoes.

Hold steady in a river raft.

They are made of sunshine and beach shores,

strappy bathing suits and splash pad sprinklers.

I relax into them, feel summer fresh.

I will leave these at the shore of school days,

put on sensible teacher shoes,

and walk into a new school year.

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.

[Paulo Coelho]

Ruth invites us to Share our Stories about saying hello (or goodbye)

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Spiritual Thursday Round up is here today.

Close to midnight when the darkness is darkest, I was sleeping next to Leo, my 3 year-old grandson. He woke up startled on his first night staying with us last week. “Mamère, what’s that?” he asked.

“That’s an owl. Can you hear it? Who, who, who!”

“Is it in the house?”

“No, no, it’s across the bayou way up high in the trees.”

Whoooooooooo!

“Scary.”

“Don’t worry, I’m here. The owl is far away.”

“Far away? Outside? In the trees?”

We talked for a while about owls, how they live in trees, hunt at night, call to their friends. The questions went on and on until I sleepily said, “It’s time to be quiet now and go back to sleep.”

I turned on the sound machine and the ocean waves calmed us both back to sleep. But Leo talked about the owl for days. Who knew that his 3 year-old brain would be so curious and so afraid of owls?

Our fears, our worries, especially in the darkness of the night are unreasonable. We know this, but nevertheless, the threat feels real.

How do you listen to the owls?

My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

Exodus 33:14
Leo makes play-doh cookies.

Enter your Spiritual Thursday blog posts here: https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/7ce77be0aa2142e583f84dd128d477e7


					

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Ramona has the Round up today at Pleasures from the Page.

Life has been a challenge for many these days. I’ve adopted the mantra “We Can Do Hard Things” from Glennon Doyle. Because we can, and we do. But today, Ramona suggests we reflect on celebrations. I have a list that includes celebrations big and small.

  1. A family wedding! It’s always joyful to spend time with family. Our family (including all my children and grands) gathered in Seattle, Washington a few weeks ago for the wedding of my niece. The setting was on the Puget Sound facing the Olympic Mountains at sunset. Six days later my sister-in-law brought me to a beach nearby the wedding location as I recovered from Covid. I celebrate beauty, beach, fresh air, and family love!

2. Flowers are blooming! My friend and former student Jennifer and her husband grow fields of sunflowers and hold “You Pick” days. (Petite Anse Farm) I took my grandson Thomas “Tuffy” on Sunday morning (This was our church service) and picked a bucket of sunflowers. Thomas enjoyed having his own pair of scissors and feeding the chickens with Farmer Andy. I celebrate summer, flowers, and farmers who adore curious toddlers.

3. I was absent the last week of school. My colleague next door, Erica, packed up all the books on my shelves (I have a lot of books!) to prepare for summer cleaning. I went to check on things on Monday and was met with this amazing surprise. Also my principal’s daughter, who is 10 going on 11, was there to help with “Tuffy” while I did a few more things. I celebrate the kindness and consideration of colleagues and teaching in a school with this welcoming environment.

4. My friend and unofficial spiritual director Ellen sends me daily quotes. I am amazed how many times the quote she sends hits the exact right spot. Last week when I was recovering she sent me this list. Just what I needed. I celebrate the spiritual guidance of others who give us strength when we need it.

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Today’s Spiritual Thursday Round-up is with Susan Koehler.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.

–Eleanor Roosevelt

This month’s spiritual journey topic is from Susan Koehler, abundance. At this time in my grief, I’m aware of the abundance of people who care about me. I have received cards and flowers, texts and messages of love and support. These expressions are good, well-meaning, thoughtful yet sometimes difficult to accept. I’m much more comfortable on the giving end rather than receiving.

Susan offers a poem on her post today, one that can be used as a mentor text. This kind of exercise often helps me say what I mean to say without having to decide on the form. Last week during #verselove on Ethical ELA, Jessica Wiley offered a mentor text by Eloise Greenfield titled By Myself.

I worked through this prompt a few times and would like to share this draft today.

By Myself
after Eloise Greenfield

When I’m by myself
and I close my eyes,
I’m a running river
everchanging, yet steady in its way to go.
I’m a scent of yellow.
I’m a half-filled cup of tea.
I like to sit alone with me.
I grip myself in
I’m a string of violin,
time unfolding, worth gentle holding.
I’m a space for filling up again.
I open my eyes,
and find myself in me.

Margaret Simon, draft
Sunrise walk, by Margaret Simon

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Every first Thursday I join a group of bloggers writing around a spiritual topic. Today, Ruth is the host, and she chose ashes as the topic. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I am Episcopalian and attend an old historical church that was built by slaves in the mid 1800’s. I’ve attended this church for close to 40 years. In the last year, my friend Annie has taken the position of priest in charge. She is the first female priest in the history of our parish. Annie’s compassion and her ability to be present in the moment comforts me, even when she was marking my forehead with a smudge of ash and saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Impermanence. We are not here forever. It’s not the most joyful thing to embrace. But in understanding and accepting my impermanence, I can be present in the moment. I can feel the soot on my forehead and touch the bread of life and know that I am loved.

The sign of the cross in ashes is the same gesture the priest makes with oil at baptism, saying “You are marked as Christ’s own forever.” No one can take away my belonging to God. Some days, especially during Lent, I need to sit with this belonging and be okay with who I am. I am enough.

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Welcome to Wednesday again. Time to take a minute to observe, breathe, and write. This week’s photo is one I took of balancing stones I’ve placed in a front flower bed. I gathered the stones from a labyrinth at Solomon House, our church’s outreach mission. The labyrinth was not being used and there were some maintenance issues, so the board decided to dismantle it. I feel the stones still have spiritual significance, so I stacked them. The literal term is cairn.

Balancing Stones, by Margaret Simon

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

What are your gifts?
How do you balance gifts
and beauty
and time?
Will you ever find peace of mind?
Look to the stones.
Together they form
one
balanced structure.
It’s possible.

Margaret Simon

Please share a snippet of a poem/ thoughts in the comments. Encourage other writers with comments.

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Today’s Round-up for Spiritual Thursday posts is at Linda Mitchell’s site, A Word Edgewise.

I like to buy flowers. When I go to the grocery store, I often put a bouquet of flowers in my basket. I consider it rescuing them from certain death. Sometimes I find someone to give them to and other times, I cut them and place them in a vase for my husband and me to enjoy. Flowers just make life better.

Colorful roses from Walmart

The other day my neighbor shouted from her doorway, “Don’t go! I want to show you something.”

She brought out the amaryllis bulb I had place on her doorstep around Christmas time. It was blooming, a beautiful white double blossom.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she cried. “Do you want it back?”

“Of course not. It’s meant for you to enjoy.”

“I do love flowers, you know.”

Heart card collage by Margaret Simon

What is in your heart today? Love, gratitude, grief? It’s all there. Take time today to hold your own heart with compassion. Buy yourself flowers.

To end this post, I want to share Avalyn’s heart poem. This was not my doing. She saw it in a book (Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog) that you can make a poem into a shape, so she wanted to try it. I showed her a quick YouTube video, and she created her own.

Concrete heart poem by Avalyn

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Grab this logo for your blog.

Dear Spiritual Thursday Friends,

We are gathering again for the first Thursday of each month. This is an open invitation to any blogger who would like to join us. We post on the first Thursday of the month. Each month is hosted by a different blogger. We do not adhere to any specific religious affiliation. We are here to express our thoughts about how our spiritual lives are going. Let me know in the comments or by email if you’d like to be on the list of participants.

Blessings,
Margaret

I’ve been choosing a One Little Word to guide my year for many years now. I have a collection of MudLove bracelets that express my different words. I’ve even begun a practice of gifting little words to some of my friends. It’s probably against the OLW policy to assign someone a word, but the friends who receive one seem to like the idea. At an NCTE conference sometime around 2014, I was given a MudLove bracelet. I love wearing my word.

Enough, 2022

My word came to me while I was reading Jess Keating’s Epic Email.

Everything you need is inside you. The tough stuff alchemizes to create the good stuff. Your story is enough. What you value is enough. Your desire is enough.

Jess Keating, Epic Email
I am Enough!

Today I listened to Glennon Doyle’s podcast We Can Do Hard Things. She said that January branding has got it all wrong with New year, New you. “It suggests we hate ourselves. It’s insulting.”

At our core, in our soul, we are who we are. And to quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” Who I am is enough. I do not need to change myself. Of course, I could exercise more or cook more often or get more involved in social activism. But who I am at 60 is the same me as I was at 50, 40, 30, 20, 10… Embracing my inner self gives me safety to open up for new experiences that enrich me. And if a challenge comes along, I am ready. I am enough.

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

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This week it’s snowing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but last week the weather was mild. Cool enough to set a fire outside in the fire pit, yet warm enough to run and play without a jacket on. Our family vacation the week after Christmas was as good as it gets. I wrote about it here for Slice of Life.

Today’s photo was one I took in the late afternoon as the sun was setting over the hills beyond our mountain house. This photo captures the peaceful magic of time to do nothing much. As the weather has turned to winter storms and cold temperatures this week, I hope this photo brings a peaceful moment of warmth. Write with me. Leave your small poem in the comments and come back to respond to other writers. Happy new year of writing.

Pleasant perch on Blue Ridge Mountains

Muse in the magic
of a smoking fire
freeing your soul
to rest
on God’s roof.

Margaret Simon, draft

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