Posts Tagged ‘spiritual reflection’

I am gathering Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts. Scroll down to link up.

Sometimes I marvel at how things do not change. I wake up at the same time every morning, make coffee, feed the dog and cats, read my email, check Facebook…routines that keep me grounded and moving forward.

But the truth of life is change. Nothing really stays the same.

We age.
We lose.
We gain.
We grow.
We change.

Some changes bring new life. I have had the privilege this summer to share in the care of my sweet grandson, Leo. Now he can sit up. He eats mushy food. He squeals and grunts and interacts with me. I especially love how he grins and hums when I sing to him. Pure love. The changes we watch are marvelous and miraculous.

I never get too many Leo kisses.

Some changes are harder. My parents are aging. I’ve tried to deny this for years, but when they made the decision to move to a retirement home, I had to face it. This was the best place for them to be. Their health remains, and I am grateful for it.

My school year begins next week. There will be changes, new students, a new school to go to, new classrooms, but part of the excitement over beginning a school year is living into the changes and celebrating them.

Over the last few weeks, I watched black swallowtail caterpillars eat a lot of parsley and grow. Then they sat dormant in a strangely shaped chrysalis. Each one emerged as a complete and beautiful butterfly that I released into the air. The life cycle of a butterfly never ceases to amaze me.

There are changes we can see and some that hide inside a chrysalis emerging later, surprising us again and again. When I keep my faith centered on Love, I can accept change with peace and understanding.

Posing with my daughter Katherine,
whose womb holds another beautiful butterfly baby to love. (due date Sept. 5)

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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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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

In Sunday’s paper, there was an article titled “Dance with the Spirit.” I read about liturgical dance in a local Catholic church. I haven’t seen this dance myself, but I was struck by the words of their leader.

A lot of people think entertainment is foolish, but God wouldn’t give you the gift if he didn’t want you to share it. –Brenda Moore

I carried this thought with me to church and through choir practice. I love my church choir. On most Sundays there are only four of us. We are known as “the heavenly choir” maybe because we sing from the loft or maybe because we sing heavenly.  The historical slave-made brick walls carry our voices into the sanctuary, transformed.

Last Sunday, my director, Leon, asked me to do a solo for this week. We practiced with the keyboard transposed to a lower key. I am an alto. I can sing mezzo soprano, but those high notes can be a struggle on my best days.

About 15 minutes before I was to sing, Leon could not get the keyboard to transpose. What this meant was I had to sing a high F. I tried to stay calm. Breathe. The practice went well. I kept thinking about the article and how God gave me the ability to sing, so I should share it. If I caved, I would disappoint myself, but more than that, I would not be honoring this gift.

The song spoke of God’s gift to Mary of Jesus. “That God should stoop from heaven, to be my son, said she.”

I gave it all I had. The sound of my voice echoed in the air of the sanctuary. I wrote a poem response:

My kingdom go
as your kingdom comes.
I become your voice
Lifted out of my own self-consciousness.

My song is your song,
As Mary accepted your call to be Mother,
I accept this call to sing
for you.

–Margaret Simon

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.


There are reflections that can be tough to write.  I thank Holly for offering this spiritual space for me to write the tough stuff.

An angel entered my life and left quickly, but I feel his presence still.  When I first found out that C. would be joining my class, the directive came with a large stack of paper.  The papers told a story of a troubled boy, adopted,  who began his life with seizures.  The story unfolded with a diagnosis of superior intellect, ADHD, ODD, depression, and Asperger’s.  Who was the child who was going to enter my classroom?

On the day I set out to meet him, he was in line with his class returning from lunch. He was being yelled at to stop.  He was ignoring the directive.  He continued looking forward and following his class.  “Which one is he?” I inquired.  Blonde hair, blue eyes and a focused stare straight ahead.  His mother was subsequently called to come pick him up.  He was being defiant.

I met him again in the office with his mother.  He talked to me about planets and stars.  The day he started coming to me for gifted, I introduced him to Wonderopolis.  I showed him how he could write about his learning on the blog.  We went to the library and checked out 4 Seymour Simon books.  His face lit up.  A teacher reported to me that for the first time he looked at her and smiled in the hallway.


Boy by Kathleen Hartman

Boy by Kathleen Hartman

I kept up with C.’s daily behavior report.  I talked with his other teachers.  Things were running smoothly.  He even had a few days of rewards.

Then one day I got a phone call from the assistant principal telling me that he was having a melt down in the hallway.  I made my way to his hall.  When I found him, he was lying on the floor with his booksack over his face.  He was completely alone.  I pulled the bag away from his face, and he woke up.  Yes, he was sleeping.

“How did you fall asleep?”

“I guess I was bored.”

“Why were you bored?  Why are you out in the hall all by yourself?”

“I had to sit for recess. I forgot my math homework.”

I walked him to the cafeteria to meet his class for lunch.  We talked to his teacher.  Yes, he had to sit out of recess, but his response was disrespectful.

I am afraid this was not the last time that he was “disrespectful” to this teacher.

I know that I have the privilege of teaching students in small groups.  I know that I am allowed to use interest areas to inspire students.  However, I am saddened that the regular class cannot differentiate for children like C.  He needed to be treated differently.  He needed cool down time.  He needed respect.  He needed…

Now this light has moved on.  His mother thought it best to move him to another school.  I miss him.  I miss the scent of him, too.  He said it was an essential oil called, “Peaceful Child.”  I miss his eagerness.  He greeted each new day as an adventure.  “What are we going to do today?”

“Thank you for being an advocate for my child.” His mothers last words to me.  He gave me a bear hug.  Tears welled up in my eyes.

In the Baptismal covenant of the Episcopal church, we say “I promise to respect the dignity of every human being.”

I think the word dignity should be divinity.  We need to recognize the God in each child.  We need to respect the divinity in every human being.  Think of what a change that would be.  If every person you meet is God, how would you behave differently?


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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Pay attention quote

I came home from school the other day with a story. I was helping with car line duty and enjoying two girls who were last to be picked up. I talked to them about their matching green eyes. I teased them that the sugarcane tractor on the highway was coming to pick them up. Then an old car pulled up and inside was an unkempt woman with a scowl on her face. Could this be the mother of these precious children? Her expression never changed as the girls bounded up to the car and greeted her with a cheerful, “Hi, Momma.”

When I told my husband this story, I said, “I judged her.”

He said, “We judge people. We pay attention. And when you are someone who pays attention, you see lots of ugly in the world. If you are paying attention, you also see lots of beauty. The world is both terrible and beautiful.”

I have a wise husband. His words have stayed with me all week.

As I worked with a student who was having trouble writing, I kept making suggestions. “What about this? What about that?” I told him to come to me with his long, sad face,and I simply said, “Can you tell me the truth about why you are not writing?”

He said, “I don’t want to write what you said.”

In my eagerness to “help,” I had actually stifled him.

“I get it. You want to write about your own ideas. Absolutely, that is what you should do.”

I must pay attention. This is my work. This is my vocation. This is my calling.

When I pay attention, I see
The way the setting sun sends a beam down the bayou.
I see colors in the sky (more than just blue),
A shy boy standing near the wall at recess,
Birds on a wire,
The man with a cane wince in pain,
Green-eyed girls,
A teacher’s tired impatience,
Sunflowers in the sunlight,
A driver’s insulting gesture.
I see the good.
I see the bad.
But I don’t stop
paying attention–
this is my endless and proper work.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Holly Mueller invites you and me to contemplate our spiritual journey each week. This week she tweeted the theme: “Hypocrisy based on Matthew 7:1-5.” This verse is the one about taking the log out of your own eye before you notice the speck in someone else’s. Since I am already pretty good at beating myself up over the tiniest speck, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the proverbial plank.

I subscribe to a few inspiration emails. One is the Ennea-thought of the day which asks me to pay attention to the faults of my personality type. Some days this email just makes me mad. Others, I say “Oh, yeah, that,” and others days I carry the inspiration around with me. Especially when it is affirming. I liked May 11: “Remember, that at your best, you are profoundly creative and self-revealing.”

This one was not as affirming. “Remember that your key motivations are to be yourself, to find the meaning of your life, and to take care of your emotional needs before attending to anything else.” I like that I want to be myself and find meaning, but to meet my own emotional needs before anyone else’s seems a bit selfish. The speck is growing.

Then there’s this wonderful gift called Grace. God wants to be with us at every moment of the day. We cannot see this gift when our vision is clouded by specks. So I must not only be true to myself, but I must also be aware when myself is getting in the way of grace.

Holidays tend to be particularly difficult for my overly emotional self. I wallow in the should haves. Mother’s Day was becoming a sad day for me, and with no rhyme or reason. I am a mother of three beautiful young women. I have a mother who is healthy and wise and loving. I have a mother-in-law who claims me as her daughter and wants to spend time with me.

In the midst of my self-imposed sadness, I got a phone call from a friend who I haven’t talked to in a while. She’s been having a rough time. She lost her only son years ago and is currently going through a divorce. And here she was, calling me to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. I said, “This must be a tough day for you.”

She responded completely opposite of what I expected. (Who was I to call attention to that little speck?) She told me she was blessed to have been chosen to be a mother for 21 years. She was not mourning. She was rejoicing in God’s gift. May I be so wise as to rejoice in God’s ever-present grace each and every day.

From Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation

From Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation

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Click here to read more inspirational posts.

Click here to read more inspirational posts.

I am participating in the Spiritual Thursday Round up over at Holly Mueller’s blog. We are writing from each other’s one little word. Today, we reflect on Ramona’s word, Stretch. Stretch is a synonym for my OLW, Reach. But I couldn’t help but think about yoga class and how Evelyn tells us to pay attention to our bodies so that we will be better equipped to function for others.

Yoga Class

I am tired at the end of the day.
My socks hug my feet.
I stretch and release the tension
resting in my shoulders.

Stretch out on a lavender yoga mat,
listen to the gentle chime
calling me to do a body scan.
What part needs your attention tonight?

The block of energy, the stopping place,
my right shoulder, not pain but tight,
holding in, holding on.
Let go. Stretch again.

Folded into child’s pose,
I am inward like a chrysalis
waiting for the gift of life
waiting for the stretching of my wings.

Help me open up and fly to you, Lord.
Help me to know the limits of my reach
so that I may be the strength
for someone’s grief, the embrace
for someone’s pain.

I am your instrument only
when I am fully present.
Listening to the rhythm of my breath,
I hear yours join in.
I know you are here.

–Margaret Simon

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

This week the spiritual journey theme is Leigh Anne’s OLW Turn. And the song in my head has been “To every thing, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time for every purpose…under heaven…”

Turn is not always easy. It takes patience. Patience. Patience.

Parenting adult children is different from the school-age years. In many ways, it is easier. My girls are all successful in their chosen professions and happy with their lives. Four and a half years ago, my oldest daughter became a lawyer and got a job in a nearby town. For a while she lived at home part-time, but the last year, she has lived with us full time. We have been happy with this arrangement. She is a joy to have around. She is very independent. She helps around the house. She even chooses to spend time with us, but she does not keep us for doing what we want to do. I knew the day would come, though, when she would turn away. Or is she turning toward? She has decided to move to her own apartment.

I know this turn is good. I know our relationship will stay strong. I know this because when she graduated from high school, I walked a labyrinth in Grace Cathedral on our family vacation to San Francisco. During that walk, a voice (I believe God) said to me, “She is not leaving YOU.” She will always be my daughter. She will always be a part of me.

Turns are hard. Some come without warning. Some come after much planning and hoping. Some break your heart and let you know that turns happen.

There are only two lasting bequests we copy

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Holly invites us to reflect on our spiritual journey. For the next several weeks, we will be writing about different little words. Carol’s word is Listen. I chose to write a poem today.

Turn off the sound machine.
Hear the refrain of a hymn in your mind.
Find strength in the silence.

Open the window.
Hear the sound of the rain on the roof.
Find solace in the rhythm.

Take a walk with a friend.
Hear her story.
Find company in connection.

Enter the world.
Hear echoes of chanting.
Find peace in shared sympathy.

–Margaret Simon

“The deepest source of real power lies in consciousness and the ability to be present in all circumstances.” (Understanding the Enneagram, 331)

My Enneagram number is two. I am the giver, the helper, the one who does for others before doing for herself. I can get wrapped up in helping and giving for selfish reasons, to gain approval or love. Julie Johnson introduced me the Ennegram Institute and the “Thought of the Day.” Today I could see the wisdom. Be in the moment.
Listen. Wake up.

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  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Chrismons decorate a large fir tree in our church.

Chrismons decorate a large fir tree in our church.

On Saturday, I attended an Advent Quiet Day led by my friend Brenda. She asked us to contemplate receiving gifts, being a better receiver. Having quiet time in the midst of the bustle of Christmas preparations was a gift that I was there to receive.

I wrote this in my journal.

Gifts abound. Friends who respect and care for me, a family that not only needs me but wants me. The obligations of mothering are fewer as my children become adults. I am given the gift of watching now, watching them be who they are. This watching fills my heart with pride. Sisters–their strong bond keeps them grounded and loved.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139

That was long ago.
From my mother’s womb,
I have strayed and lost my way.
I have tarried too long in the weeds.
My hands are scarred.
My feet are swollen and sore.
I cannot wait.
My impatience is debilitating.

I must take time to keep watch and wait.
The darkness of the winter night
soothes my wandering, busy mind.

Recognize the need to walk on.
Take the long road.
The journey will guide you.
Keep walking.

–Margaret Simon

My Christmas wish for you is that you will have time to sit in silence, reflect on your journey, and prepare for the coming of Christ and the coming of a new year.

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