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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Ruth is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at her blog.

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough!” ~Meister Eckhart

What is it about November that brings out the gratitude in us? Is it the holiday of Thanksgiving? Is it the cool fall air? Is it getting close to Christmas? Or is it the number 11? Today Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts about gratitude.

Thank you
releases air,
a breath.
In American sign language,
a hand to mouth and out again.
From inside of me
to the spirit of you,
I thank you.

TeachWrite is encouraging #gratiku poetry on social media. Read more about it at Leigh Anne’s blog.

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When we write poems to a photo, we enter a process of collaboration. A meeting between the photographer and the poet, the image and the words. In collaboration, one can have a conversation, an inquiry, or a conviction. Do your beliefs about the world come through in your poems? Are you communicating or responding? Are you participating or letting the muse take control?

I invite you to reflect on your process today as you write. Leave a small poem in the comments as well as a reflection of your thoughts. 

photograph by Molly Hogan

Perspective

The tracks rise to a point
on the horizon
disappearing into a mist.

We know
beyond the page,
the path goes on
and on.

Margaret Simon, draft

My reflection: Perspective is something an artist has to learn. If you draw two parallel lines, they must converge to give the impression of a continuing road. Our horizon line is not a finite place. The earth is round. When I think about this in a spiritual, metaphorical sense, I think of our own path through life. There is a mirage of an end, but there is always another turn to make.

Note to my readers: We are in the path of Hurricane Delta. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow. We are preparing. We have a strong house (and a friendly generator named Sparky). I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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I am hosting the link up of Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Link up with Inlinkz.

In Holy Love, our sense of separateness dissolves, and we know ourselves as arising from the brilliant light of Divine Love that creates and sustains the universe.

Understanding the Enneagram, 62

I carry around bits and pieces of poems in my head. Today I was working with a student on the vocabulary word tempest. I said to her, “It’s in a poem or song or something. Tempest-tossed.” Right then and there I had to Google it. Ah, yes, The New Colossus:

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus

And when I read the opening quote about Divine Love, I thought:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

I want to keep these thoughts of peace, of belonging, of being a part of the whole. I feel it most when I am in nature, but lately, I feel it when I am teaching. I was away from teaching for a long time. I thought I was doing fine without it. I was, but sometimes, a calling is unexplainable. Sometimes I feel myself unworthy of the calling. Sometimes a calling is holy.

The wild geese are my students, on screen and off. They call to me every day and announce my place in this crazy world.

Rylee painting a Dot Day mask.

If you wrote a Spiritual Thursday post, link below.

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

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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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