Everyday Spirituality

Archive for August, 2012

Living in the Sidebar

I recently deleted every gadget from the sidebar on my laptop. Did I really need the calendar facing me all day long or the clock?

 I did not need the visual reminder to know that time is passing each time I press the power button.

The little picture was nice I guess, but it was not one I was particularly fond of it was just there. There was a pair of dials over there indicating my power usage, I think, but I did not really need those either.

So now there is this blank space… A noticeable emptiness.

Sometimes I feel like I am living over there in the sidebar. None of the icons I regularly access were in the sidebar. You have a few options as to what you want displayed in the sidebar. It is somewhat customizable.

So my newly customized life is mostly in the sidebar. It is not permanent just temporary. When you are sick you count on it being temporary until there comes a day when you must face the permanency of your illness. I keep coming back to the many examples I experienced walking the dreaded path with my friend.

Living in the sidebar is off the beaten path. It is mostly just an existence. You see it but you do not interact with what is there.

There are all of those other exciting icons or widgets that take you into programs where you can actually do something.

I am living in two places; sometimes I am in the sidebar and then I am back in with the other exciting icons. The sidebar is where I function on auto pilot. I take care of day to day business.

You do not make too many plans when you are in the sidebar. When you are living in the sidebar you must just surrender to what you must get done at that time. There are times when I lose track of what day of the week it is, especially when my routines must change.

That is what makes living in the sidebar a challenge. You lose your set of routines.

You try to hold on to the old routines but they are nontransferable.

Nontransferable is not a word I have thought about much before now. I want to be able to decide for myself what is and is not transferable. But that cannot be. I try to make new routines without missing the previous ones.

I confess I need to have the structure in my life. Living in the sidebar is less structured…less stable as well. Routines give you a sense of security. Maybe routines contribute to your goals in life too.

It is hard to have goals living in the sidebar. My main goal is to be the ‘lean too’. I am living in the sidebar to support my spouse during this challenging time in our life. Is this not what a dedicated loving spouse does?

The wedding vows make it quite clear that even if you must live in the sidebar for a period of time that is what you have committed to. Honoring such a commitment comes with the added grace you need to endure.

Without grace from God I would not have chosen to live in the sidebar. We are almost at the end of the first month. I pray that the next eleven months will go as smoothly as these past few weeks.

I still miss my friend but if she were still here and I had to spend much of my time away it would have been so much more difficult. I would have agonized over making the decision to be here or there.

God spared me from having to make that painful decision.

I must admit that God blesses you in the sidebar. He still answers prayers. He still protects and guides. In fact maybe it is easier to see God at work in your life when you are living in the sidebar there are few distractions. The phone does not ring… There is no junk mail… No appointments to keep… No one to talk with… No one to gripe to or about… I am not lonely… I am just quiet in this sidebar.

God is doing something; I will wait for his handiwork to be revealed.

In the meantime I can be more present to the now. The sidebar is the perfect place to let your mind be free; free to explore more of what makes you you.

God puts us exactly where he needs for us to be in order to help us grow. If we are not growing we are surely withering up until one day sadly we can no longer exist anywhere.

Trust that whatever is happening in your life God is busy creating something beyond your wildest dreams. Sometimes growth is only accomplished through pain.

May God bless you exactly where you are today.

Do not look for tomorrow to be better, because better might be right where you are today.

Things may be better living in the sidebar!

Who would have guessed?

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Living Inside Out

Have you ever thought of turning yourself inside out? I have.

My skin covers so much of what makes me who I am.

Do you think what is inside is more important than what is outside?

I have always been told not to judge a book by its cover. But in reality I must admit I am influenced by the cover of a book. I definitely select books with titles that are appealing for whatever reason. I notice the illustrations and the graphic designs even the chosen colors.

If you really share yourself with another person it is almost like letting them see our insides. There have only been a few people in my life that I can honestly say have seen me inside out.

When you are inside out there exists the chance of greater vulnerability. You take a risk. The other person may see what is missing in you. They may recognize your weaknesses. But all is not lost when you are inside out because your inner strength and beauty is also exposed.

I remember thinking it was funny when a small child would put on their shirt inside out. The seams with all their frayed edges and pieces of threads were hanging out for all to see. Those were supposed to be kept hidden inside only to be seen by the person wearing the item of clothing.

Then one day a designer decided to make a fashion statement by purposely marketing items of clothing with the seams on the outside.

Clothes worn inside out became a short lived popular fad. There are just some things that are less than aesthetically pleasing.

I think when you are sick it is a challenge not to live inside out. Eventually your outside begins to reveal what is happening on the inside. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. You cannot hide it, even though initially you may try. Even the perfect seamstress cannot keep the frayed edges tidy.

The more inside out you feel the more intently you must look for abundance in your life. When your frayed edges and raw seams are exposed to the whole world you slowly begin to accept their beauty too. Dangling threads and raveling edges, I confess, are not my idea of abundance.

The gift in living inside out I found with my friend was the challenge to be open about all things. There are some words you must keep in your heart. You cannot tell them that you see their frayed seams. You cannot tell them they do not look like you wish they did or even how they used to look before.

If you love this person you come to a point when you embrace the inside of who they are in spite of their exposed seams. Because what you have really loved about this person has always been inside. True the beauty of the ‘cover’ may have caught your attention initially, but that is overshadowed in time. When you love someone even if they must live for a time inside out; you see their true beauty. For in the end it is only God, the divine seamstress, who can repair all of the frayed edges. God alone makes all things new.

May God bless you with people who see your frayed seams and dangling threads, but continue to love you anyway. May God restore you to true beauty as He sees you.

That is what he has done for my friend…I put my trust in Him.

 

The Simple Life (Part 2)

The Simple life means you only carry the necessities with you. Could you live out of just one suitcase? I admit my makeup is considered a necessity for me. Okay, I am vain when it comes to my appearance.

So what else did I decide to be a necessity? 

My computer so that I can write no matter where I may be sleeping that night…my iPod, music for me is one of the greatest ways to keep inspired…my Magnificat for the prayers…the Kindle for reading.

When you go on vacation you also simplify your life,even if it is only for a couple weeks.

Just as when you are facing a terminal illness you decide that as long as your loved ones are nearby then you can endure much more.

As humans, we draw strength from our loved ones.

My husband and I are here to support one another no matter what life may bring including one bathroom and two feet of kitchen counter space.

Each night we fill our tiny juice tumblers with some of our boxed wine (yes, I did mean boxed wine) and toast to the end of another simple day.

The Simple Life can still be a Quality Life.

You can decide what your attitude will be with any hand dealt to you in life.

 

 

I certainly learned from my friend how important your attitude is especially when things are not going to your liking.

I will look for everything I can to make this a positive experience. 

Each new day we have the choice to make it the best day ever no matter what.

We have our love, our God, and as a friend recently reminded me…

we have our Guardian Angels.

Who knows we may come to prefer this Simple Life;

where two forks, two spoons, two burners,

and two feet of counter space may not be that bad after all.

Join me in celebration of the Simple things in life…

God, Family, and Friends.

May each of you be blessed,

as only God knows your real needs.

The Simple Life (pt.1)

 Is the Simple Life the same as Simply  Living?

You can ponder that  question for yourself.

We made the decision that simply living was not going to be good enough in spite of this Simple Life we are now experiencing.

 

There have been times in my life where things were very simple. My convent days were on e of those times. While in religious life I was not very concerned with the material world. Not sure if that is all good or not.

But there is something to be said about a simple life. When you live in an environment filled up with stuff it is distracting and even stressful.

When a terminal illness takes hold of your life you are almost forced to simplify your life. The deteriorating body forces a certain kind of simplicity. You can no longer physically support all that you were previously doing. I witnessed this happen to my friend. She fought with all of might to keep up with all of her commitments, but in the end she was forced to give up most things.

The last few months she began to give away many of her personal belongs. She may not have been thinking at the time about simplifying her life, but that was the reality. Once she gave something away it was entrusted to that person from then on.

Some people might consider uncluttering your life the same as having a simple one, but I am not sure. The amount of livable space you have is also an example of a simple life. The more space you have the more upkeep it requires.

Maybe that is a better way to measure whether or not you have a simple life. How much space do you actually require? It is true that no matter how much space you have your ‘stuff’ will expand to fill it up.

When you are facing a serious illness your space seems to decrease. Maybe it is due to impaired mobility so your space seems restricted. I think of people in a jail cell their space is very restricted. My one room in the motherhouse was very restricted. Living in a college dorm room is also restricted.

Now I am facing another very restricted space. We have been thrust into a simple lifestyle, at least for now.

Can you imagine living in a small simple room like a hotel for a year?

How does one go from 3400 square feet home to one room and one closet?

We are not living off the land…we are not riding a bike everywhere…

We are sharing one bathroom…one closet (not a walk in), and one desk.

The kitchen is the most simple of all. How can I live without my numerous kitchen gadgets? A two burner stove, no oven, but a large microwave…the things you get excited about change when you live a simple life….just as they do when you are sick.

The most exciting thing is the room gets a really good cleaning once a week. These women are wonderful; they clean everything from top to bottom. I can learn how to be efficient just watching them work together as a team.

The Simple Life usually does not include your own cleaning crew…one of the perks.

The kitchen is the most challenging…one small sink, where do you rinse the dishes? …two burner stove top at least it is flat top…no oven, microwave baked potatoes and hot popcorn will be yummy…and about two feet of counter space, this is a real challenge.

I am learning quickly…The Simple Life means you have out only what you are using. This little kitchen does have two complete place settings of utensils…two dinner plates…two salad plates…two bowls and two coffee cups and glasses. A few cooking utensils…three pots…some plastic storage containers and three small drawers (one housing the three pots)…

Take a moment and look around just your kitchen and see how many things you just expect to be there. Then imagine you have only ten items left…which ones would you really need?

Coming in the second part of this post will be pictures and more on my new Simple Life.

With Love all things are possible…

Even the Simple (One Room) Life!

My Soul Yearns

 Each day for hours the cat sits very still     on the windowsill. She stares outside.

I wonder. Is she yearning for her former days as a free, yet abandoned cat? Does she long for the thrill of the hunt? Does she miss the suspense of stalking her next meal? Does she still remember the wind blowing through her fur? Does she want to run free exploring with her neighborhood cat friends?

This post is mostly about my unanswered questions about yearning. Is yearning different from longing? Or are they merely two different words we use to express the same state of consciousness? Is craving for something yet another word we use to describe the same emotion?

 Does a caterpillar yearn to develop wings and fly?

Does a bud yearn to unfold its petals?

Does a fragrance yearn to be inhaled?

Does a thought yearn to be expressed?

Does a word yearn to be written?

Does a book yearn to be read?

Does a cloud yearn to release its raindrops?

Does the sunrise yearn to break the darkness?

Does a dream yearn to be remembered?

Is what you yearn for compatible with your true self? How can you know?

Does a sail yearn to be filled with wind?

Whatever you are yearning for; God will satisfy. Do you believe this? Is God really the only one who can satisfy our yearning hearts?

Does yearning keep you moving forward or is it paralyzing?

Did Jesus know what it meant to yearn?

Can yearning ever be satisfied in this life?

Does darkness yearn to see the light?

Does a spark yearn to burst into flame?

Is there ever an end to yearning?

Does one yearning give birth to a future yearning?

Does war yearn for peace?

What does your soul yearn for in the warmth of the sunlight?

What does your soul yearn for in the dark of night?

What if you yearn for something you cannot have?

What if you yearn for something that does not exist?

Little did I know; research shows that after a death of a loved one yearning is the primary emotion felt. This is contrary to previous studies which found depression to be the primary emotion. The Yale and Harvard scientists found yearning to be the most powerful negative emotion after a death. Learning about this study actually makes me feel normal. Ha!

Yearn is a great word to remember when

playing scrabble.

 If my writing does nothing but causes you to think; then I have written well at least for today.

 “…my soul yearns and pines…” Psalm 84

Sometimes I am confused by what I yearn for…

Do I actually create my own yearnings or do they just materialize?

I am yearning to learn all that I can about how to become

a better more holy person.