Sunday, February 21, 2010

Even a little bit helps


Feeling a bit sheepish by revisiting junior high school the other day,  I spent time on the bus ride to work the next day in meditation - not too ambitious, following breath, inwardly repeating the mantra I got from reading Eat, Pray, Love (Om Namah Shivaya).  I had recognized this was playing on a recording at my yoga class last Monday, and Holly (the wonderful yoga instructor) said it was directed to Shiva, which pleased me to hear.  During the bus ride, I was conscious of the chant being praise to the Source, and also a means of accepting and appreciating the creation and the dissolution of everything encountered, inside and outside of myself.

The long and the short of it: things went better.  I felt in synch with the day- I use the word "attunement," which brings up the image of the orchestra players at the beginning of any performance making sure their instruments are in tune with each other, with the music to be played.  With no greater effort during the day, I was able to sense when to contribute to conversations and when to listen in (yet again) a meeting of fellow student services administrative types.  I remembered to eat lunch.  I noticed more of the flowing experiences around me, rather than being locked in my head.  No great revelations, here, just a reminder of the need for rudimentary psychic housekeeping.

(The image is a crystal I bought at a rock show - I was searching the Web for images of meditation and thought, I should show something of my own.  If you hold it just right, there are rainbows in this little orb - I think the picture caught that a bit if you enlarge by clicking.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

(Confession) - Back in Junior High

So I'm in a meeting with other University folks, many of whom I was in a meeting with last Tuesday (and several are also Facebook friends).  On the surface, on the conscious level, I'm business-like and friendly, enjoying the camaraderie with folks from around campus, as we meet to discuss an important report to the Regents that could affect our work units. I make several comments, which seem to be fitting in with the flow of our communal thinking.

But - I'm also conscious of sitting next to someone I worked with very closely for a couple of years (until a few months ago), and - she's doesn't turn my way.  No eye contact.  She turns to the colleague next to her (one of our friendliest, full of good spirits and energy).  As we prepare to leave at the end of the meeting, again my former work-team colleague turns away from me to chat with our good-humored colleague.  I heave a sigh and leave.

DANG!  I'm back in junior high school again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My comings and my goings (to work)

(Going to work in the morning - our building is ahead.)

My day is framed by crossing and then re-crossing over the Mississippi River. That has been true for many years, but is very apparent now that I am walking over the river instead of zipping by car or bus over on a bridge that is continuous with the road, with time for an idle glance to the river bank in its changing seasons.

But now that I can see the river many times a day as I pass along the bank of windows in the corridor of our third-story office suite, I am more and more conscious of the river and its ecosystem as a presence in my life. Campus to the east of the river; downtown Minneapolis to the west of the river; my home on the other side of downtown.

I wish (sigh) that I had gotten one of the three administrative offices facing the river instead of mine with a side-window looking at the edge of the riverbank (those folks get to watch the wheeling eagle who nests somewhere along the bank). On the other hand, perhaps I would gaze too often, and get lost in reverie.

(A late work day ends - view of walk bridge from the window.)
 (After hours - nighttime view of walk bridge and city.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why DO I blog?

A lovely young woman in my Twin Cities Friends Meeting is putting together an article for our monthly newsletter on the bloggers in our Quaker community, and sent some questions for us to ponder and reply to. I found myself writing a bit more than she really asked for (which was an answer to at least one of her questions), so thought I'd post the whole thing here. Why DO I blog?

- When did you start blogging & why did you start blogging?

I started blogging a little over a year ago, with a blog that was so well hidden that nobody ever found it. A couple of months later, I started a new one, and later merged in the entries from the first one.

My purpose was two-fold: to get writing again, and (with the first blog) to reflect on my spiritual process/discoveries/concerns. The second blog was less focused in topic, so includes descriptions of what’s going on in my life, with my family, etc. I also bought a small camera so I could take pictures on the fly and post them, as that seemed to be an attractive feature of blogs I liked.

- How often do you post & what keeps you blogging?

I post at least every month, sometimes closer to every week – usually not any oftener than that. I keep posting because it satisfies that initial urge to express what’s important in my experience. Increasingly, I also feel myself to be in dialogue with others, as I get readers who comment on my posts. (I also do a fair amount of commenting on the blogs that I particularly like, when I have time.)

- What is it you like about blogging?

It’s becoming a community. Actually, it’s two communities for me, as I have a group of Quaker blogs I follow and comment on, and a group of “other” blogs – many interested in some of the same life-issues and political issues as my Quaker bloggers.

- How has blogging affected your life?

I feel guilty when I get too busy to blog, partly because I want to be a participating part of the blogging community, and partly because I miss out on that reflection and expression that are important to me.

- What is your advice for people who are thinking about blogging?

What I told myself as I plunged in: don’t think, just write. Don’t stop to wonder who will read it, what they will think of you, whether you are worthy, etc. etc. – just write. Take pictures or find them on the Web, if that makes it more fun, but don’t feel you have to. Dress up your blog or not – it doesn’t matter. It’s also really a plus if you take time to read others’ blogs and respond to those that speak to you, as it increases the likelihood that you will have interested readers responding to your ideas.

And don’t start measuring your worth by the number of comments you get, or anything – there may be readers who don’t have time to comment, but are really appreciating your writing. In the final analysis, though, you are Writing in the Light – finding words to connect, share, celebrate what is important to you, and may be life-giving (or at least thought-provoking) for others.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blessed Bride's Day

I noticed on several blogs recently (here is a collection) that there was an open poetry posting invitation for St. Brigid's day. (Reya started it!) While I wasn't (initially) energized enough to find some poetry to post, I did some reflection on the bus this morning about what this day could stand for, speculating on what it meant historically. When I got to my office and peeked at Wikipedia, I found I wasn't far off. I'll share my morning reflections and a couple of surprising points about the day. (Then I did dig up a poem from about this time of year several years ago.)

First, the picture above: it was taken - believe it or not - at *five* *o'clock* *in* *the* *afternoon*. Unthinkable, not too long ago, that there would still be sun visible as I trudged over the snow-covered walk bridge spanning the Mississippi River (that curves right behind my workplace building - one of the best views in town).

My reflection this morning on the bus was about how I was feeling a new stirring of energy, not just faith in the promise of new life that is the hallmark of the Solstice / Christmas, but a real stirring of the real thing - new energy, new ideas starting to stir, starting to spark. The new light is becoming strong enough to keep the cold spells shorter, and start melting the new snow pretty quickly. Yesterday, a light snow fell all through the afternoon into the late evening, accumulating a couple of inches of sparkles, which I waded through to the bus this morning. By this evening, it had started to melt, and lacked much of the fluffiness. (But it was still excellent for the folks down the nearby hill where there are miles of cross-country ski paths and a great big hill for sledding. You could hear the distant, happy cries from my corner.)

What Wikipedia told me was very consistent with my reflections: St. Brigid's Day, or Imbolc, is the mid-point between the Solstice and the Equinox. Christianized, it is Candlemas, which is consistent with the theme in earlier time of the stirring light. The name "Imbolc" has to do with the ewes getting ready to lamb - apparently they start lactating before giving birth. Brigid (before becoming a Christian nun and saint) was a goddess of healing, poetry, and - get this - smith craft. According to Wikipedia, celebrations included hearth fires and candles, "divination and watching for omens." Wikipedia suggested that our Groundhog's Day is an echo of ancient folktales of the hedgehog seeing its shadow, or the hag having a bright day to gather more firewood, determining that we will have more winter.

Well, as you can see by my afternoon photo, we had sunshine today, so I guess we're in it for a while longer yet. Even so, the returning light will make it easier to pick up my steps, focus my mind, sustain my attention, and feel less like I have a head full of Swiss cheese (with holes where my memory should be).

And now for some poetry after all - after (literally) dusting off a stack of little hard-bound record books I kept for that purpose some years back. Er - more than ten years back, I find to my surprise.

2/1 (some years back - and I typed this from the handwritten record of a remembered dream without re-reading it first)

Leaving the mother's house

The house of my childhood
and really, my house
that I live in now
is caving in.

Stuck by lightning!
or some natural
of disaster.

I can hear the beams crumble
off elsewhere in the house
this hallway seems solid
for now
my mother's room
an odd, unused door
an odd, unused closet
has a quick robe for me

to be expelled, willy nilly
out into the cold
from my mother's house
nothing but a robe!
I pause, though,
to rummage through her things.

The jewel-box on the dresser -
can't find it -
I take beads,
great-grandmother's handkerchiefs
I worry her heart
will be broken
to lose it all.

I pause to hustle
my friends away
from their card games
and Monopoly -
no time for leisure.

I am so hesitant to go,
then I reassure myself
we can come back later
when it's all over and done
and pick through the pieces

surely the jewels,
the small, precious memories
will still be there
for mining.
But this house
is no longer
a habitation
half-wrecked, crumbling
even if it should stand
we must pull it down
it's unstable.

And now, I wonder,
what this house is
what it means
that I have lived there
all along.

And now, I wonder
will the neighbors help me
in the night and cold
if I show up
in this ancient, musty bathrobe?
(My pockets stuffed
with my mother's keepsakes.)

How could I go on
working, living, making progress
with nothing to my name?

If I must leave
my mother's house
the house of the mother
the mothering house
the unchanging house

where I live as mothers do

how will I live?

how will I act,
if not as a mother
acting as all mothers act?

How will I work
if I live somewhere else -

Is mothering just a job
and not my dwelling place?

But there's no time
to preserve, linger,
wonder, second-guess -
shock! the building cracks
and pieces crash and fall
it's time to go now!

(illustration from Wikipedia on Imbolc - not labeled except Stonehenge, sunrise)