Everyday Spirituality

Archive for July, 2012


Since the death of my friend, life seems to be more content to walk around the same track day after day.

The scenery seems so stagnant and unchanged. All things are moving, but I do not seem to be able to experience the expansion of ideas and thoughtsany more. I do not see the best direction to pursue.

I ask myself, ‘why are you just surviving?’

I do not think this is depression, but it is not where I expected to be by now. I watch others fulfill their dreams while I seem unable to see the way. It is so frustrating to have something inside that you just cannot take out.

There are treasures that must be kept locked away for safety, but creativity and dreams should not remain hidden away. They are meant to be released…set free.

Is there something inside of me that is resisting moving on and actually thriving without her? How can one really know? I know for sure she would want our ministry to flourish. We had this exact conversation before her death. So what is holding me back? What is the problem?

In a couple months it will be her first death anniversary. Wow, where has the time gone? Much does happen over a ten month period, just not what I had hoped.

Maybe I am just impatient. Losing your best friend and business partner at the same time is a significant event.

We were just on the brink of realizing what it meant to have a thriving ministry.

After the death of a loved one maybe it is not unusual to sort of cocoon yourself for awhile…a year even. I have observed others who deal with such a loss by keeping super busy. Either way that makes it more healing for you to handle the loss it is still a huge void in your heart.

What should my head talk sound like? Should I have set a goal to be over grieving? Grieving is not cleaning up a glass of spilled milk. Grieving is not tearing a page from your journal. It is just not that easy. Grieving is actually very complicated. Grieving comes over you in waves, sometimes sneaking in like a cold fog and next time like a bulldozer shoving everything out of its path.

After awhile you no longer express your grieving process with others. There is little chance that they are in the same boat, and this could be a good thing.

As time moves on your grieving process becomes more internalized like an old friend. It almost becomes comfortable to go there.

 I am working to get back to thriving. I think thriving means to be passionate about your life. When you are passionate about something everything else looks brighter.

Consider the examples around you that exemplify the meaning of thriving.

The dictionary says: Thriving means to prosper and grow…a condition beyond mere survival, implies growth and positive development…To grow vigorously; flourish.

Even the tiniest of bonsai trees can be specimens of what it means to thrive.

The size of something does not determine its ability to thrive.

All things have the potential to thrive even when it seems obscure to the casual observer.

My desire is to recapture the environment to once again thrive in life.

Surviving is not where I want to remain forever. Surviving may actually keep you from thriving. If you can only focus on surviving is there room to thrive.

Just maybe you must surrender in order to thrive. You must surrender to the way things are in order to move into a place to thrive.

Maybe thriving today does not look like I had envisioned it two years ago.

I am not satisfied with only surviving; and probably never have been.

I am open to embracing a new model of what it means to thrive.

What is truly thriving in your life?

When you discover what it is; hold it in your heart.


The Musical Score of Life

There are definitely times in my life where I need to listen to the sound track of a whole movie I’ve enjoyed. There is something to be said about listening to the sound track without the visual support. If you have seen the movie previous to listening to the sound track then your memory will be triggered by the music. But even if you have not seen the movie, a good sound track will give you the feeling of what was happening.

We are not regular movie goers, so it was a treat to go this past weekend. We saw the last showing of Snow White and the Huntsman. While loosely based on the well known fairy tale it was visually appealing, but the music was especially fitting as the movie unfolded. The musical score for a movie must capture all aspects of the action, but it must also bring to life the emotional content of the scene.

I am writing about this because I was moved during the movie and carried into the Sanctuary scene as well as the battle scenes. The Sanctuary was like a little piece of heaven and the music played a big part in transporting me there. As the character walked through the forest my heart felt like it too was blooming along with the animated forest creatures.

A musical score is very much like life. There are times of great intensity….times of conflict…times of tenderness…times of peace…times of sorrow…times of doubt…times of distrust…

Compositions of a musical score depict contrast and tension in a matter of a few short minutes. But I often find this to be true in life too. Maybe my life scenes and emotions don’t change in three minutes, but the fluctuations are very real.

In the movie when the ‘darkness’ falls upon the castle all life seems to cease and the song birds are replaced with squawking black ravens. I can identify with this concept, but in fairy tales you can typically count on a happy ending.

What if there was no such thing as ‘happily ever after’? Would we look at life with different eyes? Would be still have hope? Is there supposed to be ‘happily ever after’? Maybe not. If you have happily ever after give thanks to God and rejoice.

Watching a movie in a dark theater allows you to escape from your own reality and enter into the reality portrayed before you. It is so easy to allow yourself to be drawn into the story; you may not even realize it until something startles you.

Sometimes it is the change of the music that jolts you into the reality that you are sitting in a theater. In a movie you can forget about time…you can enter into a different era.

There are times in life when you may wish it was just a movie and you could get up in a couple hours and walk out. I have been in that place several times recently.

Please, God, just let this be a movie of someone else’s life. I just want to gaze at the silver screen and listen to the music. I just want to let the music carry me through this story and then go back to my normal life.

There were times during this movie where just the beauty along with the music brought tears to my eyes. I literally wanted the movie to slow down while they were in the Sanctuary so I could have more time in that space. I felt like it was a space of great peace, love, and healing. It was secluded and appeared to be a safe place. A place much like one might envision when beginning to meditate. You could let go there and just let the beauty carry you through the trees among the flowers, birds, and the butterflies. You could surrender and fully experience the scene.

In the future, I will use the memory of this scene to recall these feelings of peace and love.

The music played while Snow White sleeps in death is so perfectly heart wrenching; the somber violin strings pull you up into the realm of hope. The harp almost caresses your very soul with its delicate tones. The horns announce a new dawn and the crescendo lifts up your spirits.

Many times I have been inspired to write while music is playing, but this time the music is further supported by the movie scenes.

The music builds toward the final battle which is where we sometimes find ourselves, on the brink of a battle. Perhaps it is a battle for health, your spirit, your job, or your heart. We must draw our strength to carry on from wherever it comes to us. Today, as in the past, I am drawing from music; the musical score of Snow White and the Huntsman by James Newton Howard.

May you be blessed to encounter those things which inspire you to look up or reach deep inside for what really matters in the end. May you find your ‘happily ever after’…perhaps it is only in the way we view our life.


Click here if you would like to hear the beautiful Sanctuary Forest Track

from Snow White and the Huntsman


The Squiggly Line

I can remember years ago there was a TV show which included an unusual segment. Kids could submit a squiggly line and the star of the show would create a unique illustration in real time. Before he would begin to draw he would stare intently at the line. He would turn the paper on each side until he was captured by the idea.

I found this artist fascinating because he could always create something interesting from just a little squiggly line. He would talk as he drew making up a story to go with his drawing. At first you would not be able to decipher the final picture; he continued to add more lines as we intently watched. In the end it was usually surprising to see what he created from the original squiggly line.

This is where I am right now in my life…there is barely a squiggly line on the paper. Why is that, you may ask? Because someone in corporate America in their infinite wisdom has taken the canvas of our life and pitched it in the ditch, we now only have a single squiggly line.

I think of how often this may happen to a person after they have experienced a personal tragedy such as a chronic illness, a death, natural disaster etc. Even when I was walking with my friend through her illness the picture changed, but we still had the original page although it was looking very different.

The artist was planning in his mind what he was going to draw…he was in control once he picked up his drawing instrument. Here is the major difference with how I feel. I do not see that I have much control. I do not have control because someone else handed us this blank page with the squiggly line and proceeded to add stipulations about where, how, and when we could add to this line.

So we stare at the empty page with the squiggly line not sure where, how or when we should make a connecting line. We also do not know if we should just use a pencil for our lines. The line that was drawn for us in thick black ink; it is a stark contrast with the white paper.

We keep turning the paper to see if this line will appear to be something other than what it now seems to be, but it is no use…nothing changes.

Sometimes I just want to take this paper and tear it into a million little pieces and throw them into the face of the CEO.

Perhaps this squiggly line will turn into a beautiful picture but right now the pain and resentment it is causing does not seem worth the trouble. I want my old page back with all of the old lines, the curving lines of happiness, the sharp lines of grief, the harsh lines of disappointment, the stark lines of fear, the warm lines of love, and the curled lines of friendship. I could go on and on describing the forty years of lines each one connecting to the other. Mind you the connections were not always the most conventional; some of the connections were even forced at times. Forced or natural; they were still all connected into the one evolving design of who we have become together.

(Just to be clear here; my husband is not leaving me and he has not died.)

In a way it feels a little like one of those two things though. People say it will all turn out…God has a plan here…this happened to me and in the end I loved it. Well guess what I know this in my head but my heart is not there right now.

Sometimes I picture myself behind the bars of jail cell. My face pushed against the parallel bars, my hands firmly grasping the bars as I try to pull them apart. I cannot separate the bars I can only hold on to them, shake and scream to let me out.

I digress from the squiggly line. This page looks so blank and lonely. All the familiar lines are on another page that I want back. Driving the other day I thought, what do you really have control of in your life? It seems when I am sitting here before the keyboard and the blank screen I have control over the words I type.

Yes, I do have control over my thoughts, but it can be tiring to keep these many thoughts in control. Funny how there always seems to be a ‘yes—but’ lurking around.

Recently it was suggested to me that these next twelve months would be our year in exile… Wow! Exile.

Exile is forced upon a person for many different reasons. They certainly never want to put themselves in exile from the country they love. I am glad this squiggly line is on a separate piece of paper because then I can eventually put it away and be done with it. What happens over the next year will certainly have a lasting effect on the future of who we are as we continue our journey together.

I am seeking answers. I cannot see very far. I cannot plan even into next month. I do not have enough information to make any decisions about the future. All I know right now is that I am in a place that I would not have chosen.

Maybe this new squiggly paper will just be filled with lines drawn haphazardly not connecting together at all…just marks on the paper…the scribbles of a two year old.

We will use pencil and erase if needed. It will be harder to draw on this paper if I crumble it into a ball; so I will try to keep it in one open piece of paper.

For I know well the plans I have for you, says the Lord.

(oops, I thought Jeremiah was bull frog)

Ordinary Time is Green

We are now in the thirteenth week of ordinary time according to the liturgical calendar. By the end of the year we will have had thirty three weeks of ordinary time.

Ordinary time is a kind of misnomer I think. We live most of our lives in what we would consider ordinary time for our life. Just as in the church our ordinary lives are punctuated by more memorable events.

Some of these events are filled with joy…some are filled with sadness…some are filled with fear…some are filled with peace…some are filled with song…some are filled with silence…some are filled with passion. These exclamation points are scattered about the ordinary time of the days of our life.

Ordinary time is where we do our real living. Ordinary time is where we grow into who we are to be. Ordinary time is where we practice for the times which jolt us into another dimension. The color for ordinary time is green. Green…the color I most associate with life and renewal.

When we are not in ordinary time everything is more intense. In the liturgical calendar we have Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter which take us out of ordinary time for a brief period. We operate at a different level during these times of the year. The liturgical vestments themselves draw our attention out of monotonous green of ordinary time…purple, red, white, even the color rose adorn the sanctuary.

For us so much of our lives seem to be just ordinary nothing special, but it is important to pay attention to those times. I am happy with my ordinary life. Not to say that there are not things I would want to change but for the most part I do have a good life.

What if ordinary time was like the beautiful blue sky backdrop…constant reliable…something you could count on being there always? Ordinary time seems so boring and uneventful, but in reality every day is an event. Every day gives another chance to thank God for what he accomplishes in the ordinary time of our life.

The readings of the church during ordinary time are filled with miracles of healing, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Most of the ministry of the life of Jesus is presented to us during ordinary time. Ordinary time gives a chance to connect with the real living person of Jesus. Ordinary time gives a chance to see who Jesus really was when he took on flesh and blood. Ordinary time gives us a chance to see ourselves…our story as a part of his ordinary time here on earth with us. We can come to identify with those who walked with Jesus in their ordinary lives.

Martha and Mary were certainly living their lives in ordinary time until Jesus came to visit their home. How exciting that must have been for them.

I do not think I could have walked with Jesus back then and considered it ordinary. But maybe it is just because I can now look back and see the larger picture of who he was/is.

Maybe we should have the ‘Healing Time’ or the Teaching Time’ or the ‘Story Time’ or the ‘Forgiveness Time’. We tend to take ordinary time for granted; it is easy to do so.

With the illness and ultimate death of my friend I was forced into a ‘Grief Time’ when I could not see time as ordinary. As it has only been nine months, I now find myself in another time which will be anything but ordinary.

Don’t tell my husband, but sometimes I catch myself fondly looking back on my younger convent days. Life was so simple and yes ordinary back then. I did not even have to make very many decisions myself. Someone else decided when I was to rise in the morning, what I was to eat at each meal, where I was to go, how I was to spend my time etc. My entire life was planned for me back in those days.

Right now in my life I truly wish I had someone else making all of the many decisions I am facing. It is overwhelming when I think about all that must be done in the next month.

I may not know ordinary again for a long time. Today as we celebrate the 4th of July; I think about our many military families faced with the deployment of their spouse. Their lives are anything but ordinary no matter how much they want to have an ordinary life. You can hardly have ordinary when a loved one is miles away serving for our country.

Losing your ordinary life is like facing another death, only this time is not the death of a single person. It is the death of a way of living. For some it might be exciting to be given the opportunity to create a new way of living, but I do not feel that way. My new ordinary thinking is to just make it through one day at a time…thanking God for the many blessings he has given us.  Ordinary or not, life goes on until the day God calls us home to be with him which in turn jolts others from their ordinary lives.

Ordinary time is where we do the most of our living. Live life to the fullest because you never know when what you thought was ordinary will morph into something entirely different.

What do you value most about your ordinary life?

Have you had to accept a ‘new’ ordinary life?