Held in the Great Embrace

As I became a mother and experienced the vulnerability, the cracked-openness and the simultaneous demand by Life to gradually release my daughter as she ventured out into the world in ever-increasing circles, I asked my mother, “How did you manage that? To let us go, to not worry too much, to not stifle us with your fears and protective instincts?”

She gave me a reply that has stayed with me, that guides, comforts and strengthens me in my mothering and my letting go.  Read more

Thinning Carrots and the Art of Discernment

Sunday afternoon, with an hour to spare, I wander to the garden to thin some baby carrots – those wee beginnings of carrots, just tufts of green really – so as to create more space for the few I leave to fully grow and flourish. The sun is warm on my back as I get busy with this task that takes focused attention: one pull too many and a whole potential carrot is gone!

As I make my way down the rows slowly and carefully, I notice the challenge I face every time I perform this gardening task: To enable a few to thrive I need to pull out a lot of others and the thicker I originally sowed, the more I have to yank out. I don’t like yanking out baby carrots, even if my logical mind tells me they’re just tiny carrots and my gardening experience knows that if I don’t do this, none of them will do well. Read more

The Sustaining Weave of Small Gestures

A few days ago, as I brought my Christmas mail to the post office, a young mother caught my eye. She was planting a quick kiss on her envelopes before dropping them in the mailbox. She did it covertly, so no one would see. But I did.

I asked her if she does this with all her mail. She nodded. We exchanged a few words and a moment of mutual recognition.

Ever since I remember, my mother has drawn a small “God bless you” cross with her forefinger on envelopes before dropping them in the mail… letters, cards, and bills. She does this to bless their voyage, encourage safe arrival, and to share a blessing with all who come in touch with the mail and especially the one receiving the mail. Read more

Receive Generously: Getting to the Core of Our Human Thirst

I was 13 when, due to a number of conducive circumstances — including being immersed in gorgeous choral singing in a candlelit chapel, and my own spiritual fervor — I experienced my first conscious glimpse of God’s unconditional love. Of being bathed in the incredible love and grace that is there to partake in.

The experience stands out for a number of reasons, one being that it remains a blessed memory in my life’s journey. Another — which leads me to the theme of today’s blog — is that it pointed to one of the paradoxical ways I see us dear humans repeatedly tripping over our own two feet.

There I was, gifted with what I recall as a piercing, overflowing, all-encompassing love. Completely amazed and blown open by the fullness and generosity. Me? Little me, loved like that? Read more

You’re It! An Invitation to Show Up Fully

Remember that feeling when you played tag as a kid and got caught? “You’re it!” And there was no more running away, no swerving or turning back.

The only way onward was to be it, to go for it, to play and run. Do you recall the mixture of yikes and excitement that would arise just seconds before you got tagged?

It’s that blend of “yikes” and “excitement” and what possibilities emerge when we’re “it” that I’d like to explore today. Which, really, is every moment. Life is tagging us each moment; we’ve just become so good at hiding out, we don’t always notice the tap on the shoulder. Read more

For the Interim Time…

This past week, I have been living life with tears just behind the layer of daily functioning, joys and busyness. The troubles of this world, the craziness of our humanity and the suffering we inflict and experience have felt so close, also the contortions, confusion and tangled webs we weave… It has felt as if my soul were getting cracked open a bit more.

Such times — when my skin feels thinner, and the darkness beckons more intensely — happen every once in a while. It is tempting to turn away. To distract myself. To give up and get cynical. Or angry, even allow a moment of “f*** it all.” Despair calling from just behind my ear, reaching with deliberate grasp, pulling on my coat sleeve, and yanking down.

What to do? As we grow up (as in “waking up”), our awareness increases. We become more and more conscious. We see more, and we feel more. Not just the good, beautiful and true, but also the deepest grief, suffering and ugliness. The illusions are stripped down. What’s on the other side is not always pretty. Read more

Can You Be Grateful for What You Don’t Like?

Lying under a starry night last week while camping and looking up for shooting stars with my 8-year old daughter, our conversation turned to gravity, what it is and how it keeps us from spinning off the face of the earth. We both lay there, letting the significance of gravity sink in, noticing our minds grappling with the immensity of it, and then turning our attention back to the Great Dipper and the Milky Way. The next day, as we shared grace before lunch and spontaneously expressed gratitude for a variety of things, my daughter spoke: “And thank you for gravity, even if I don’t understand it.”

I pondered her “thank you” over the next few days, especially noting gratitude’s freedom from cognitive understanding: We don’t have to fully understand something in order to acknowledge and see it as a gift. We don’t have to make sense of it to say “thank you.” Read more