Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Irene’s Live your Poem

Welcome to the first of 31 daily posts for the March Slice of Life Challenge.  This is my 7th year to do this challenge, and every year I think I won’t make it through.  Somehow I do.

Writing daily is a discipline I try to keep, but when met with a daily publishing deadline, it becomes more important somehow.  Someone is waiting to hear from me.  Someone is listening.  Someone cares what I have to say.

Today is also the first Thursday of the month when a group of us who met through blogging come together to write about our spiritual journeys around a theme.  This month Karen Eastland is hosting at Irene Latham’s blog.  Her chosen theme is music.

Music is an integral part of my spiritual life.  I’ve been in church choirs ever since I was a teenager.  To me, singing a hymn is praying, loving, praising.

This poem is a golden shovel.  The line of poetry that forms the right margin is from Irene Latham’s poem Music Teacher that is included in Lee Bennett Hopkins collection School People. 

When I sing in the loft, the music fills my soul.  I am transported and transformed.  Last Sunday, I was given the opportunity to chant the Psalm.  The chanting music is notated with a line of music at the top of the page.  Each line of the psalm has symbols for changing intonation and moving notes.  It’s complicated.  I can’t read the music and the words at the same time and the notation is a blur.  So I just have to feel it.  I sing whatever comes out.  I have no practice or education in Anglican chant, but I’m willing to breathe in and let God take over my voice.  True consecration of my lips.

Sample of Anglican Chant music


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For more Spiritual Thursday posts, click over to Donna’s blog, Mainly Write.

The moon and the stars to rule by night: for his mercy endures forever.
Psalm 136:9

I went out on a walk Wednesday morning in search of the moon.  I chased it through the neighborhood trying to capture the eclipse on my phone.  The pictures, of course, do not do it justice.


Partial eclipse

Eclipsed moon hides in the trees.

I thought about how this phenomenon fascinates us as Earthlings.  We travel through each day without realizing that the planet is moving and turning and changing, constantly.  We are reminded of our minuteness when a super moon appears in the sky, when that moon is eclipsed by the place we walk upon.

But smallness means nothing to God.  God cares for every particle, every sparrow, every hair upon your head.  Like an eclipse, this goodness and love is hard to imagine, difficult to believe.  So we keep testing it.  Who am I to eat the crumbs under your table, Lord?

The rose on my kitchen table does not wait for me to notice before it blooms. With all my faults, my worries, my stupid pettiness, I am loved and revered as the rose.  God’s love is unconditional and waiting.  All we need to do is say, Yes, Thanks, Wow!*



  • Help, Thanks, Wow is the title of a book by Anne Lamott.

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Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday is gathered here today. We are writing about our chosen One Little Word that will guide our year. Choosing a one little word is supposed to be easier than making resolutions.  I suppose the theory is you will break your resolution in a month or so, but a word can be revisited time and time again and bring about new meaning and purpose to your life.

Placing the weight of inspiration on one little word seems daunting, but the fun and marvelous thing about language is that words can have many meanings and purposes.  And every word’s meaning is up to interpretation.

I believe in trusting that a word will find you, and once it does, you must resist the urge to flick it away.  Like the buzz of a mosquito, it will find its way back to you anyway.

When I was at NCTE this fall, my friend Fran passed around a stack of magnets with words on them.  She didn’t hand us one; she asked us to choose.  The word that chose me was Explore. The magnet said Explore new possibilities.  I decided not to question why the word found me.  I just placed it on my fridge.

Then I received an invitation on Facebook to join a group of writers to “Explore your Natural Creativity” for the #30for30Challenge. Anastasia Suen posts a check-in every day, Did you create for 30 minutes today? 

A student gave me a new journal for Christmas.  The cover says “Do one thing every day that inspires you,” and each day there’s a different creative prompt.

Once I head back to school next week, my exploration into my own writing and creativity will be more difficult to make time for.  I also have to squeeze in ukulele practice (see this post) and exercise.  Oh, and reading, and crochet, and cooking, and walking the dog…

Years ago when I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I was enamored of the idea of an artist date.  She said you should make a date with yourself once a week to explore a museum or gallery.  She believed in feeding the artist soul.  That is where I want to take my word Explore...out into the world to see where it will take me.



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Find more posts at Live your Poem.

January, 2017 seems so long ago and yet a minute ago.  For our Spiritual Thursday gathering this month, we are reflecting on the words we chose as our one little word, a guiding word, a resolution word.  I wrote Cherish on a chalkboard hanging in my laundry room with the intention of reminding myself daily of my self-promise to cherish each moment.

Life happens.

Stuff gets in the way.

I’m late for work.

I hit my funny bone.

I  spill coffee all over my car.

But still, when *&#% happens, I can breathe, take a moment to regain my composure, and find a way to cherish the next moment.  The moment when someone lets me pull out in front of them, when a child offers a hug, when my husband buys me flowers just because.

We are not promised a pathway of roses.  We will certainly have dark moments, scary moments, angry moments.  Cherish helped me turn these moments to joy, to find the light, to pay attention to the important stuff.

I’m not ready to erase the chalkboard yet.  I want to find a way to cherish this season of Advent.  When cars are piled in traffic jams and there is never enough time to get it all done, I want to stop and look at the curled letters of Cherish and remember that each moment is a gift.



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Find more posts at Live your Poem.


Our Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts are centered around gratitude this month. When I think of what I am most grateful for this week, I think of the many voices in my life.

Sunday:  The voices of the choir up in the loft with me.  I am the only alto, but that’s OK.  I love to hear the harmony of my voice alongside the others around me.  I carry the anthem in my head all week long.  Today I can hear the echo of “even thine altars…O Lord, my king and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house.”

Monday-Friday: The voices of my students ring in my ear.  This week one group is writing mood stories.  A few students are collaborating together.  They hunch over the paper and computer and speak in excited voices about what happens next.  Another group is working on podcasts, so they have written scripts and are practicing and recording and re-recording.  Voices over voices, played and replayed.

Voxer voices:  I have a few friends I keep in touch with using the Voxer app.  I look forward to hearing their messages on my morning walks.  One of these friends is reading aloud a book.  She’s actually reading it for another friend, but she forwards them to me, so I can enjoy the book as well.  I love being read to.  Her soothing, friendly voice makes the experience of listening like a meditation.

As I write, my husband calls and offers to meet at our favorite restaurant.  There, we will catch up on the news of day and just be with each other.  I remember one of the first things that attracted me to him was his voice.  I’ll never tire of hearing it.

November is thanku season, a time for writing thank you haiku.


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Spiritual Journey Thursday is dedicated this month to the small steps that create a big change.

On Wednesday night, Charlie (my 10 year old schnoodle) and I went to a simple service for blessing the animals.  Our priest, Father Matt, wore a Creation-themed stole and set up a Eucharistic table under the pavilion in the backyard of the church.  He was surrounded by animals of all kinds, dogs of all sizes and colors, cats in carriers, a hedgehog, and a basket of turtles (Each and Other).  He sprinkled the pets with holy water.  The dogs barked in a choral round.

As silly as I thought this was going to be, I have to admit I was moved.  I was moved by the way we are so proud of our pets, of how much animal love makes us happy.  Such a small thing, the lick of a dog, the purr of a cat, the tiny curious heads of turtles, turned to something bigger, something better.

In the well-known prayer, St. Francis echoes “Make me an instrument of peace.”  In keeping things sacred, declaring that all are worthy of God’s love, and finding joy, we become instruments of peace.

Peace can be difficult to hope for when innocent fathers are shot in the line of duty, when thousands leave a country music festival terrorized and forever scarred, when our country’s leaders seem determined to divide, oppress, and insult our small steps toward peace.

After Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s poem Always, I wrote the following poem.

There is always
a sweet scent of satsumas
ripening in the fall.

They ignore the drone of bees,
the flash of lightning,
the rush of wind,
the flood of water.

Nature knows what comes next.

Nature never worries about tomorrow.

She trusts the hand of the planter.

She recalls the love of rain.

She hopes for the dawn
and shows us how.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.



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#DWhabit The habit of writing daily with Jennifer Laffin. Click to connect to her site.

Today’s daily writing word is Unite.  For me, this word connects some dots in the world.  The first dot was the sermon at my church today.  Our priest talked about Quantum Entanglement and how it works with prayer; the idea that the life and death of each of us has influence over the other.  When we hold another person in our hearts, as in prayer, we are connected.

The second dot is the International Peace Day, which is this Thursday, Sept. 21st.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is collecting resources on this padlet.  I want to work with my students on peace poems.  My plan is to pass out a variety of poems about peace and have groups of students discuss them, then turn to their own writing.

The third dot is an acrostic poem I wrote this morning in response to the word Unite.


Another dot in this united maze is a story I heard from a friend about Constitution Day at a local university.  She said a Muslim woman was naturalized at the ceremony; however, when asked if she would pose with her family for a photograph, she said she was afraid.  My friend cried telling this story.  How can we offer freedom and citizenship along with fear?  I hope the energy of kindness and support surrounding this special day planted a seed of peace. May we all be seeds of peace.

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