DIVINE TRUTHS AND HOLY CHOICES

The significant question of the day: What does my soul tell me are Divine truths and am I living in harmony with all that I know to be holy truths.

Today is the 5th and final day of my personal online spiritual retreat with Caroline Myss. There’s two more classroom sessions tomorrow and the next day. We were instructed to arrive with no expectations. I had none. At this very moment I can’t really articulate what it is that I have learned or achieved. Wait, I do have one observation. I see or I now admit that all my chaos and distractions have been for the avoidance of facing/answering the difficult questions/situations/truths.

I am sure I am not alone in all of this. It is difficult to face our mortality. It is not death itself that I am afraid of. It is the journey, the process. How will I be able to cope with my mother’s leaving? That has been a possibility the winter before last. I felt as if I had died a thousand deaths of fright that time. It’s only when I accepted that possibility, that the fright passed. It’s much like falling off a tall building. I accepted that I was falling. I could land with a thud. I didn’t. It was a soft landing. My mother proved to be a tough cookie and is holding her own.

I hope I am stronger for the next round. I feel I am. I am standing tall, trying to face the truths of this life. They are the same for everyone. We are born, we live and we die. There’s no getting around that. But I do believe in a force greater than ourselves. I draw my strength from that. I’m feeling my ancestors blood in me. I’m hearing my grandmother’s voice. There is a Tian/heaven, she cried when she was imprisoned by the Communist in China. My grandmother survived having to kneel on gravel, having cold water poured over her head and people throw angry words and stones at her. I come from good stock.

I know right and wrong. I have always tried to walk the higher path. I am not sure that I have always succeeded. It is difficult to make the hard choices but I do. It is my nature. I cannot do otherwise. How else would I know if it’s worth it if I don’t make those choices?Life is hard. I suffer for it. We all suffer. What would life be without a hitch? It would be a big yawn, would it not?

I’m not sure if I had answered the question of the day. But it is more than enough for now.

 

 

 

FEASTING

It’s the day after the fast. I had to do a little adjusting in the morning. I listened to my body. I did not go to my aerobics class. I knew that when I went to bed last night. My head and body felt a little strange. Maybe it’s the first time I was devoid of thoughts and worries. My body and mind emptied and cleansed, I had a good night’s sleep. I woke up feeling lighter.

After the fast comes the feast. It’s not about the food. Believe me, after fasting even for 12 hours, I do not want to stuff myself with food. Strange but true. The thought of a big heavy meal sounds nauseous. It’s about food for the soul. What do I need to become whole? I’ve been working at it forever and a day. Maybe I haven’t been conscious about it. I am now. I have been feeling fractured and broken. I have been sick for a month recently. Maybe all of it led me to this retreat of examining life. It’s all a part of the journey. I am sure I will have to travel it again and again. No free rides for anyone. There’s a keeper at the toll booth.

How did I feast? I read more from the Bible – passages from Joshua and Psalms. The books are long. So many battles in Joshua. I haven’t reached the end yet. Psalms 23, The Lord is My Shepherd is so soothing to read and recite. I delved a little into The I Ching.  I don’t understand at all about the hexagram, throwing sticks or tossing coins. It is enough to read the truths the book contains. It is part of my heritage and I have the book. I bought it in 2013. It cost me only $2. It’s beautifully made using traditional Chinese bookbinding. What a bargain, eh?

I miss not going out in the garden today. I know now that time is of value to me. Time tending – weeding, watering, trimming, harvesting and conversing with all that is living. The living breathing green earth matters to me. It was eery walking Sheba down the back alley this evening. It was very, very warm. Still  30 degrees Celsius when we started out. The earth was so dry, fine and powdery – like icing sugar. All the houses were shuttered or curtained. It was quiet as the desert.

I think we get it now, that our planet is in danger. Some people are trying to grow their own food wherever and on every inch they could. It’s a wonder to me every time I see this row of zucchini outside the fence in the back alley. They look limp and forlorn in the heat. But they are producing. Then there’s this house on the corner. The whole small backyard is given over to a vegetable garden and full of pots growing peppers and herbs.  The tomatoes overflow outside the fence into the back alley.  It’s all a feast for my eyes and soul. I am fed by others’ efforts as well as my own. I hope I do the same in return.

I am happy to be eating again. Sustenance is necessary for body and soul. The fast changed my relationship with food. It is as if I’ve developed more taste buds. I am savouring more, eating less. I hope it lasts. Nourishment and becoming whole is a deep subject. It will be an ongoing process in being a congruent person. I think it is what is known as life.

MY DAY OF FASTING AND REFLECTION

I have to admit I was worried about fasting for 12 hours today. I have never fasted. I tend to be hypoglycemic, needing proteins. However, I did quite well. I had my usual breakfast of 2 slices of toast and a cup of tea at 6:00 am. My fast and worries started after that. I hate to fail this part of my journey. One of the instructions for the retreat was to have no expectations. I focused on that and gave up my worry. I will fast for however long I am able to.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. I sat in my sanctuary and read a few passages in the Bible. It’s rich with stories I must have learned from Sunday school in my first year in Canada. Today I read the book of Joshua and how the walls of Jericho came tumbiling down. I went onto the book of Judges and found Samson and Delilah there. I have never thought the Bible easy or interesting to read until today. I was fascinated with my change of mind and perception. This was still in the morning when my stomach is still full.

I spent some time in the garden watering. I reseeded part of the lettuce bed, picked some raspberries. I was tending to my inner and outer garden – cleaning and clearing. Not really think much on the process. Just moving with deliberateness and ease. Not rushing anything, reserving my energy for the rest of the fast.

We had planned to head out and check the countryside and some small communities along with way. I filled a thermos of beef broth and my water bottle and headed out. The guy was driving. I was just riding and observing. I was out of my head into the physical world. I saw the clouds in the blue sky, the trees, the fallen down abandon barns. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin and the breeze through the windows of the truck.

I drank my beef broth and water. I did not feel any hunger pangs. I’m not too crazy about granola bars but when the guy was crunching on one, it smelled heavenly. I lasted the whole 12 hours. A cup of tea and a decaff helped me through the last hour. It was good to rid the taste of beef broth. I had a light supper. Was feeling quite fine until I took Sheba for a short poop walk.  A cleansing shower revived me. But now I’ve chronicled my day, I must head off to bed. My revelations if I have any have evaporated.

HOLY SILENCE

I shed more of doing today to contemplate on what is holy within me. I survived without being connected and doing all the time. I tried just being with me today, observing what’s around me. It was not as difficult as I thought. It felt strange at times, especially in the morning. I like the quiet, the time before the world wakes. But it’s been a long time since I’ve just sat. I usually bury myself in a book. So on this day of purposedly entering into ‘holy silence’, I’m fidgety. How am I going to get there?

To settle myself, I did my morning qigong routine that I have abandoned in my busyness. Returning to the familiar movements eased my discomfort. In the flow came the memory of my trip to Halifax in 2002. I had experienced my holy silence on the campus of Mount St. Vincent University. I was looking up at the Motherhouse and the large cross on its top. I saw Jesus on the cross and I felt his warm arms around my shoulders. A silence fell around me but I could hear birds singing and the hum of a lawnmower in the distance. It was surreal.

Maybe it wasn’t what it was. It could have been just the stress of travelling on my own. It was strange how I ended up in Halifax and renting a car. I get lost alot, even at home. But I got to Mount St. Vincent without a hitch from the airport. Strange that I couldn’t figure out how to work the radio on my rented Kia. It took some effort to figure out the wipers, but under the duress of rain one night, I got lucky or a miracle. My week was driving in silence from Nova Scotia, across the Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island. It was a holy trip in holy silence. Only then, I had not been aware. Now I do. Hallelujah.

What did I do the rest of the day? I hung out, just being, sitting in my sanctuary on the deck, sipping tea. I watered the garden, making many trips filling the watering can with stored rainwater. I picked some beans and peas. I pulled some weeds. Then Sheba and I picked our raspberries. There was no hurry at all. I had no thoughts. I listened now and again to see if there was any incoming messages in the air. There was none. Only silence. Maybe they’re still on the way. I did realized while I was looking around that I have been living mostly in my head. I am in this physical world but I am not often of it – until today.

Today I let go of my usual ‘doingness’. I let go of the Internet and went into my Innernet to search what is holy within me.

 

 

 

BEYOND THE CHAOS

I am embarking on a journey of a mystic without a monastery. I’m walking the Camino Trail of my mind. Today I am contemplating the question: What is truly of value to me?  Have you given it any thoughts on it for yourself? It’s a difficult one. I’m glad to have the guidance of Caroline Myss and the company of hundreds of others like myself from around the world. We’re all travelling together in cyberspace. What a marvellous gift of technology in this energy age. I’m grateful.

For these 5 days, I’m shedding the outside world/influences/distractions as much as possible. I’m going deep within to meet the stranger residing there.  I will be happy to have arrived at the end as in Derek Walcott’s poem, Love After Love.

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life. 

I am devoting today in examining the external distractions in my life. How much of what is in it is truly of value? How much is just distraction? Even though I am retired,  I have been so busy and occupied and unable to stop. Today, I stopped all the unnecessary busyness to go deep within myself. What is of value to me?

I’m still thinking on it. I am surprised that I could stop and be quiet and still. I am surprised to feel how restful it is to do so. I don’t miss the franticness of doing. I love the quietude, of deliberate slowness, of hearing my thoughts and the steady beat of my heart. I love having the time to walk Sheba in the late afternoon. Not to do just a quick poop run around the block but taking time to smell and chew grass. Then to sit on the bench in the park and gaze what is before me.

I’ve been very distracted and tired. I like the silence but need to be doing something all the time. My mind is always occupied with something and somewhere. I have deluded myself in thinking that I am in the present moment. But it is seldom here, in me and with me even though that is what I profess to strive for. I am fooled by myself because I am ‘creating’ painting, drawing, sewing. I can be/am distracting myself by all that as well as other things. I am distracted rather than being engaged when I read crime/mystery books.

So how do I come back to myself? I have to spend more slow days like today. Stop the busy doing. Pick raspberries with Sheba. Tend to the garden. It needs watering, weeding and harvesting. Maybe in the process, I will know what is truly of value to me.

 

 

PASSION UNABATED

So here I am, in the late of the evening. I’ve wined and dined. I haven’t come up with the secret to eternal wisdom nor happiness. Needless to say, it has been a tough day, a day of clouds and cool temperatures for July. But I did the best I could. Despite the clouds, my yard and garden glowed in the early morning light. It cheered me, standing on the top step. The path led straight to the garage door. Lao Tzu and the Chinese maiden are standing on duty on each side. I’m waiting for Sheba to finish her morning business. My passion for a well lived life remains unabated.

Nothing was really wrong except for my chemistry. My mood is like the weather. The good, bad and ugly played hide and seek with each other. I let them be, but stepped in as a referee when needed. It was tough and painful at times, almost bringing tears to my eyes. But I got through the tough stretch. The bills were paid and recorded. I thought I would leave sorting and filing for another day. I rewarded my efforts with a hot chocolate and a few pages of my crime novel, Moon Music. Faye Kellerman is my new favourite mystery writer. I find mystery/crime novels soothing and calming because they engage me.

Engagement is the key for me on difficult days. I tell myself, I can, I can. I can change my thoughts and how I speak to myself. I can make lunch. I can make a rhubarb crisp. I can do my art projects. And so I did. The rhubarb crisp wasn’t quite up to par. That was because I decided to make it in a smaller pan with same amount of rhubarb. But after I popped it back into the oven for another 20 minutes, it was okay. My indexcard collage and watercolour turned out superb – in my opinion. I experimented with pureeing steamed lettuce for freezing. I put the puree into an ice cube tray. After they are frozen, I will pop them out and store in a freezer bag. I might be going overboard in preserving veggies, but I hate waste. And we have lots of lettuce. I will see how they will work out in soups and chili.

After that being done, there’s the dog to walk. It’s a pleasure after we get going. A sniff here, a sniff there. I like admiring other people’s yards, their efforts. I am sure they struggle, too. We are all trying. We all have our passions. We are all the same. We are connected by our humanity. Thus I feel comforted in my own struggles along with them .

TALKING PASSION

Funny that I have been thinking about passions today. What’s funny about it? I was bored. Maybe that’s what led me to be thinking about passion. I was lacking and I want it back. I could say that well being and happiness are on top of my passion list. I’m sure that they are on everyone’s. Not that I am unwell or that I’m unhappy, but I have found both quite slippery and evasive. They’re always slip sliding away. I’m tired and fed up with their elusiveness.

The wind continues to blow. It sounds like some old lady whining. It sounds like me. I woke up with a bad taste in my mouth. I felt ‘unwell’ for lack of a better description. I’m tired and fed up with myself, too. It’s not how I want to be. I decided then that I was not going to put up with it. No sirree. You know what? I felt better after making the decision.Sometimes it works. Now the trick is to sustain it.

I thought I would give it my best thought shot. I’ve read Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself a couple of months ago. I must apply what I’ve learned. No point in just gathering and hording. I must use the information. I must move. I must think different thoughts. I am well and physically fit. I can work up a sweat in my exercise class. It is good for my heart. There’s no need for worry and fear. I will not break nor collapse. I will get stronger.

It’s a start. Not only am I trying to think differently. I will also try to speak differently. It will be difficult. Another slippery slope. I recognize it. After almost a life time of thinking, speaking and reacting in certain ways, it will not be easy to break the pattern. But I have a thirst for learning. I am willing. That is the purpose of life for me, to learn from mistakes. I’ve never been able to stay down for long. I never knew how. I always get up. I must have a passion for living.

It’s getting late. I must head off to bed. I find I can get to sleep easier if I go early rather than late. Perhaps I can come back tomorrow with more on passion. What are your thoughts on passion?

SUNDAY COMING DOWN

Today the sun plays hide and seek behind the clouds. The wind is sighing heavily through the spruce trees. I am spooked by the shadowing and heavy sighs. My skin crawls. I have to do. I can’t just sit and think. Questions, all kinds of whys and how comes would creep in and invade my head and infest my mind. Yesterday, I thought about makingupdating my will and last testament. I thought about who/what causes to leave all my stuff to, whether they are worthy or not. Then I started thinking about relationships. What is and what is not. I make myself stop.

It’s better to do than to think. I took my tea out to my workstation on the deck. It was still coolish but the sun was out. The wind can’t find its way through the screen. I was warm and snug in my sanctuary. The index cards, brushes and paint were waiting for me to make a start. After the first stroke, I was away, absorbed in the process. Gone were the questions, the uncertainties and anxiety attached to them.

So what do you think of my little pouty Geisha? She kind of reminds me of my groupy self when I was little. I had those puffed out cheeks and down turned lips. Funny how I always paint myself. Perhaps it’s my alter ego wanting to come through. She’s trapped all these years and screaming to come out. Now she has an avenue through my art.

This is much better than letting the anxiety getting the better of me. Yes, I feel its creepy, crawling fingers on my skin, its stirring in my heart. I know its ways. I’m soothing and smoothing it down with my brushes and paint. I’m turning its energy in the creative rather than the destructive direction. True, Miss Pouty is not perfect. She is rather sweet though, slanted eyes and all.

I never like doing anything. If I didn’t know any better, I would rather curl up like a cat in the sun. I could easily not do anything but purr and sleep. I know that’s is not a good thing to do all the time. So I packed up my gym bag and headed out for the pool. It was wonderful. I had it all to myself. I can splash to my heart’s content. I can make a fool of myself. No one to witness except the lifeguard. What a good opportunity to practice my backstroke. I can relax with no one breathing down my back. Up the lane I front crawled. Down the lane I backstroked. I did well. I talked myself into 15 minutes, then 30 and at 45 minutes, it was good enough. It was excellent. It was better to do than to sit and brood.

THE WHYS OF MY WRITING

Do you like to write? If you do, why?

I have this compulsion and obsession to write because I love words, the sound of them and the beauty they can create stringing them together. I love how the letters, words and sentences march across the screen as I sit here tap, tapping. I write often/all the time for comfort. I write for the sound of a friendly voice, my own. I write to find objectivity, clarity, wisdom and whatever comes up in the conversation. I write to find and love myself as this poem expresses so beautifully.

Love After Love – Derek Walcott

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

I feel the need of comfort today. The wind blows and howls all day as if someone is suffering and crying. I feel the unease of someone walking over my grave. The sun and cloud vies for dominance, casting shifting shadows over the landscape. I hug myself for comfort. Really I would like to be in bed with the covers over my head. But I hear this voice saying, You can run but you can’t hide. So here I am, facing the music, tap, tapping away a bit of the fear. There’s nowhere to run.

 

SHAKE IT LOOSE, LET IT FALL

The jukebox in my head is playing again. I keep hearing Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the Night all day. Mostly it was just the first two lines. Take the ribbon from your hair. Shake it loose and let it fall. I see it very vividly in my mind’s eye. It’s like when I hear Autumn Leaves. The autumn leaves drift by my window. The autumn leaves of red and gold. I see the leaves gently floating down.

I think they are beautiful lines that I can use as a mantra to let go of intrusive thoughts. Just singing them in my head relaxes me. It stops the obsessive chatter in my head. I can smile hearing the words and melody playing in my jukebox. I can feel the tension leaving my body. My forehead relaxes and unfurls. I can sit up straight in my chair. My thoughts are loosening. I shake my head. I watch as they fall and drift by my eyes. Music is a great healer.