Everyday Spirituality

Archive for August, 2011

~ The Numbness of Grief ~

Sometimes I just want to go to the top of a mountain and scream at the top of my lungs. There seems to be no release. Days go by and the heaviness of grief is numbing. I can understand why people get caught up in drugs and even those who cut themselves…sometimes you just want to feel something intense. Day after day you guard your emotions.

If I could dance I would be putting my feelings into some wildly expressive dance where everything could pour forth in silence. Reaching out far, stretching up high. The emotions could explode from the very core of my soul. Would dance soothe this deep inner pain? I can only perform this dance in the recesses of my mind while listening to music repeatedly.


The numbness of grief has a pain unique to itself unlike any other. It is a pain that sears your from the inside out. A pain you cannot hide from…a pain you cannot run away from.

If I was an accomplished pianist I would sit at the piano and play with such passion anyone listening would experience the intensity of the magnitude of my pain. Composer/Pianist, Michael Allen Harrison in his composition Fly Away best captures this state of grief for me. It is a heaviness played in the low bass clef and yet there is a light melody creating a delicate balance and then the oboe comes in with tears of lament. The tempo is like a solid drone. Life continues, the sun rises and the sun sets, but it will never be quite the same. The drum beat keeps everything moving forward with heavy footsteps.


Grief makes you want to turn yourself inside out, exposing who you truly are inside. I am at the foot of the cross with the Blessed Mother weeping and holding on to what I was taught and have believed since childhood. I am not alone, but I my tears are held close to my heart.

Do others have the right to enter into your personal space of grief?


Sometimes I think about taking a feather pillow and ripping it open; throwing all of the feathers into the air. Watching the soft white feathers slowly, quietly drifting one by one back to the ground, I find a comforting thought.


Tenderness is how I treasure the many memories…the times that can no longer be shared.

I have been reading Job and the Mystery of Suffering by Richard Rohr today and listening to music. Throughout the book of Job it is easy to identify with how abandoned he feels by God while at the same time being convicted of God’s love for him.

“If we take happiness from God’s hand,

must we not take sorrow, too?” Job 2:10


I had no plan to write these words today; they just flooded into my heart. I really cannot comprehend what my life would be like without music. Music is a spiritual experience for me almost mystical. Music is a retreat in the space of a few precious minutes. Heaven surely has ‘The’ most beautiful music. All of the different instruments harmonizing together remind me of the Body of Christ, the angels and saints worshiping and praising God together in harmony.

I sit with grief as my daily companion, both day and night. Grief is in my dreams. Grief walks beside me like the grim reaper.

I choose life.

I choose to walk in the light.

I choose to embrace all that is part of my journey here on this earth.


Below is a link for Fly Away by Michael Allen Harrison

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Accepting versus Giving Up

As you recite this prayer recently shared with me… Draw each phrase into your heart… pray to be free of what keeps you from pleasing God more.

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

– Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude” 

~Accepting versus Giving Up~

So we have come to a point…is it acceptance or is it giving up? What a question to ponder. I think sometimes it is appropriate to use the phrase “giving up”. I have given up on the idea of acting on stage…snow skiing…deep sea diving…having my own_____…and many other things.

I have definitely given up on the thought of ever being the perfect daughter, sister, wife, mother, neighbor, or friend.

I have given up trying to please everyone in my life and living up to others expectations of me.

I have accepted what God has laid out before me right now. Accepting that God’s will for us is sometimes not what we want. God has prepared me for where I am right now. Even if I was unaware of this preparation; it was occurring as the path of my life daily unfolded.

Accepting is NOT giving up!

Giving up usually has some negative overtones. We often encourage others by admonishing them to ‘never give up’. To me, giving up can represent defeat or despair. When a person is giving up to law enforcement they raise their hands above their head, palms facing out. You may even be commanded to drop to your knees so as not to run away.

During Lent I may choose to give up those things that would represent a sacrifice to me, but when you are facing something like death you are Not giving up.

When you surrender to God your hands are raised above your head, but your palms are facing up toward heaven. At times you may prostrate yourself before Our Lord realizing that you are powerless without him.


Accepting leads us, as Christians, to surrendering to God’s will.


  ‘my thoughts are not your thoughts neither  are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8


Hanging on the cross Jesus cried out to his father…into your hands I commend my spirit.


 Jesus found the strength to utter those words only after crying words of anguish…My God, my God why have you forsaken me? It is through dying that we are born again. Only through dying to our ‘old self’ can we be fully alive in Christ.


Lord, you alone can turn my tears into tears of joy!

Lord, only you can transform my sadness into happiness!

Lord, only you can soothe the invisible pain in my heart!



I do not know who Herman Hesse is, but his words here touched a place deep within my soul. 

Some of us think holding on makes us strong,

but sometimes it is letting go.


~Tethered Soul~

A tether is a cord or fixture that anchors something movable to a reference point which may be fixed or moving. There are a number of applications for tethers: balloons, kites, boats, pets, and live stock.

 Tethers serve a purpose unless the tethers are keeping your soul from its final destination… union with God in heaven.

Tethers by design hold an object securely keeping it safe from harm.



Perhaps a tethered soul is under the illusion of being safe.

What are the tethers of the soul? Tethers of the soul can be fear, family issues, future plans, anger, and unfinished business.  Tethers of the soul are those things that block us from peacefully letting go. Tethers of the soul hold us in place with little movement possible.

Several years ago while teaching elementary science we were fortunate to have a tethered hot air balloon visit. It was fascinating to watch the heated air rise in the balloon lifting it off the ground; only to see that it was not going to fly. I must admit it was disappointing that we were not going to experience a real hot air balloon ride. Tethers prevented the balloon from rising more than a few feet off the ground.

 A hot air balloon is designed to FLY! 

It is not designed to be held in place.  When you hold a hot air balloon in place it will generate many great forces on the structure of the balloon that will greatly stress the balloon. 

 One hour of tether time on a hot air balloon is generally equivalent to 2.5 to 3 hours of normal wear on the aircraft as if it were in normal flight operations.



Our soul is designed to return to God! It is not designed to be held here on earth. When the soul is held…tethered, it will generate considerable internal stress and turmoil. Unlike the balloon tethers which are very visible, the tethers of the soul are not visible with the naked eye. Many times these soul tethers go unidentified as the source of discomfort.

Hot air balloons fly only with the wind.


They typically lift off early in the morning when the winds are more calm and gentle. 

Dawn…the beginning of a new day…

death is the beginning of not just a new day,

but the beginning of something much more…




 Hot air balloons may need wind to fly,

but souls ‘fly’ with holiness steered by currents of grace.

When the tethers are finally released the soul is free to rise into the loving arms of God. Un-tethered souls fill with love, experiencing who they were created to be…

God’s Beloved Daughter or Son.

To launch a hot air balloon there is a ground crew as well as a pilot. The ground crew is responsible for making sure all tethers are detached from the basket.

 Perhaps a ground crew for a loved one’s soul has merit. I am willing to serve as part of my loved one’s ground crew.

Lead me, Lord.

Is there a way to help release all of the tethers, a way to free the soul? 


 Maybe we are not capable of untying our own soul tethers…that’s what friends are for…to be part of the ground crew gently loosening the tethers.

Guide me, Lord.

Richard Rohr says, “God walks with us into our fears, to feel them…” in his book Job and the Mystery of Suffering.

Teach me, Lord, to trust enough that these ‘soul tethers’ will silently slip away allowing the soul of my loved one to soar into the outstretched arms of God.

You are the Divine pilot! I know you are here, Lord.


Beside the Beloved

This beautiful youtube video spoke just what I needed to hear last night.

The Beloved is here beside me speaking in a gentle whisper. Be still and you too will hear; the God who loves you is in the gentle breeze. God is not in the raging fire…God is not in the trembling of the earthquake…

These verses from the book of Kings have always been a reminder to me. A reminder to be aware of the slightest inkling of the presence of God. He surrounds us, without restricting or binding us, with his presence.

1 Kings 19:11-13 

 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

   Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

   Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Unfinished Projects: What Really Matters…

Throughout our lives we accumulate ‘unfinished projects’. I think it is normal to believe you can complete everything you begin in your life time.

I can think of any number of projects I started, but as of yet are not completed. I have an embroidered kit for a beautiful clock that has remained tautly stretched on the circular hoops for thirty or forty years now. I have lavender paint for the walls in our bedroom; I love purple that will most likely never reach its intended destination. I have neatly folded fabric for drapes matching our comforter still in the shipping carton.

I think of the time of my life much like the sands in an hourglass. Each day a few more grains transition through to the bottom half of the glass. These grains of sand can represent so much about my life and yours.

At first these ‘unfinished projects’ are perched on the top of the sands of our life. They may even at the time seem to be a priority. But, as the days, weeks, months, and years pass by these projects get buried within the very sands of our lives. Eventually many of these projects get forgotten and others are just accepted and remain as ‘unfinished projects’.

Sometimes others help you complete an ‘unfinished project’ because they believe it to be good for you or they simply desire to please you.

When I think of my life time as the sands in an hourglass; mixed into this sand are many of my own ‘unfinished projects’ which were initially on top.

Each day as the grains of sand quietly drop into the bottom of the hourglass there remains less and less sand covering the ‘PROJECTS’.

It may be a blessing to have the time to prepare for one’s death, but it can also be frightening. Frightening because as the top sand of our life dwindles those ‘unfinished projects’ become exposed; they cannot fall to the bottom ‘unfinished’. They hang in the top exposed no longer covered up by the grains of sand.

Uncomfortable and stressful for those of us who want to leave this world tidy and neat… who cannot bear to leave one of those ‘unfinished projects’ caught in the top without the sand.

This is especially difficult if you are one of  those people who believe when you die you should have everything in order…neat and tidy…

How can you leave stuff in the top of your hourglass?



Then if you are blessed a loved one comes to help you realize that who you are is not represented in these ‘unfinished projects’. This loved one draws your attention to the sands in the bottom of the hourglass. Together you look at these sands and notice that some of the grains of sand actually sparkle like tiny dazzling diamonds. The grains of your love for your spouse and family…the grains of your compassion for the homeless woman…the grains of your attention to students in your class…the grains of your smile for the depressed neighbor…the grains of your inner beauty…too many to recall the reason each has a unique sparkle.

You have heard the beautiful Beatitude message and have reflected it throughout your life. (Matthew 5:1-16) Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Suddenly when attention is focused on these sparkling sands you come to the realization that ‘unfinished projects’ left in the top do not and never have defined who you are to those who love you.

May your life be filled with sparkling grains of sand too numerous to count.