Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Connection

“The past,' he thought, 'is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of another.' And it seemed to him that he had just seen both ends of that chain; that when he touched one end the other quivered.”

― Anton Chekhov, The Witch and Other Stories

I'm not a fan of ghost stories, so I haven't read this piece from Chekhov, but it feels like the perfect quote to go with my thoughts today. It's Spiritual Journey Thursday, the first Thursday of the month, and we are reflecting on my OLW for the year--connection. If you'd like to read more thoughts on this word, follow the links below when you have a few minutes to absorb and reflect.

Yes, I know it's Tuesday! But I am headed to the mountains with my daughters and grandson for some delicious family connections and I'm not exactly sure what kind of internet connection will be available. I figured it might be wise to get this posted before I leave.

One of the things I am exploring on this topic of connection is the link (or lack thereof) between my mind and my body. It goes without saying in my vocabulary that mind is more than just the mental faculties, but also includes the deeper connection to the heart. And we're also crossing another connection with this thought--my yoga practice and my writing. I'm shaking the ends of a bunch of chains here.

First let me explain a little pain science to you. We tend to think pain is a message a muscle (or other body tissue) sends to the brain. Research shows, however, that pain is a signal the brain sends to a tissue in the body, telling that muscle or tissue to protect itself. So we stub our toe, it hurts, we walk crooked for a few days, it heals, and the pain stops. However when we're talking about chronic pain, something that has been there for more than three months, there may or may not be a corresponding injury in the tissues. The brain considers many other factors when it is deciding to send the body that pain signal--things like memories, emotions, expectations, beliefs, and environment. See Jenni Rawlings blog for a fuller explanation and links to other websites on pain science. My PT son has been trying to explain this to me for years, but I hadn't managed to wrap my brain around it until recently.

I began yoga because of chronic pain in my back. It has always been a spiritual practice for me, as well as physical. As I begin to examine those places of chronic pain in my body, I am asking the Holy Spirit to show me what is causing that pain signal. And often it's not structural damage in my body, but some unhealed, unacknowledged, unrealized memory, emotion, or belief about myself that must be brought to the light of God's presence and held there for His healing word.

So, I'm re-educating my body through conscious slow movement that integrates what I know in my spirit is true and what I feel in my tissues.

Paul's letter to the Colossians says this: that they may be encouraged in heart, knit together in love, and filled with the full riches of complete understanding, so that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ,

I do realize I am taking this slightly out of context. But the truth is I want this connection of heart, mind, and body. I want to know the mystery of God in my physical tissues, this earthly temple of His spirit, and I don't think God has a problem with that. 

So today, I'm wishing you amazing connections! 

Leave your link below if you have connecting thoughts on your blog.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Poetry Friday: In a Cloud of Dust

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Karen Edmisten.

I read Alma Fullerton's beautiful picture book this week. Though I've never been to Africa myself, I have children who have spent time in Senegal and Nigeria and friends who live in Kenya and South Africa. So while my sense of the landscape and culture of these countries comes second hand, there is  something of my heart invested there.

My South African friend Wilna (pronounced vulna) in Zimbabwe.

My son and grandson at the American International School in Nigeria.

In a Cloud of Dust begins...

       In a Tanzanian village, 
       a little schoolhouse sits
       at the end of a dusty road.

Such simplicity, and yet, already these few words and Brian Deines' deftly muted illustrations place me solidly on this dusty road. The author captures the characters, their friendships, their dependence on on another, and the hardships they face with the joyful spirit of an African village. A really beautiful book. 

View more illustrations here.
Visit Alma Fullerton's author page here.
Find more art from Brian Deines here.

From Peace Corps Writers Online Magazine, 2005 issue

By the Light of the Moon
by Carrie Young (Mali 2000–01)

How free is the ocean
Or the moon

The village was off the road
And away from the world
Like a soft breeze
Blowing across the ground
Felt only by the Earth
At the bottom of the mountain
That calls it home

The beauty of the place
Equaled by the difficulties
Surrounding this life
Filled with the noise of natural things-
The pounding of grain like thunder,
Roosters crowing at every mood of the sun,
Fires crackling with ancient memories,
Children laughing and disappearing into tall grasses

And almost every night
The sound of a bilaphone
Playing at a fete somewhere
On another side of the village
Sending out a deep and hyper sound
That somehow found its way to me
Even in the thick, dark air of Africa

People dressed in bright fabrics
Were dancing until the dirt stirred
Into a fog around them
And all that was hard about the days
Trickled down their faces
In sweat like tears

I could see them in my mind
As I lay in a room lit quietly by candles
My book resting next to me
While I joined them somewhere
In that fog of dirt and freedom

Freedom for muscles
That were bent and tired
From hours spent in the fields
And freedom from a mind
That was never allowed to forget
The weightless breath of fate
Waiting in the wind

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pondering: Solitude

Photo courtesy UM School of Natural Resources..

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together...writes, "Let him who cannot be alone beware of community...Let him who is not in community beware of being alone...Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity self-infatuation, and despair."

Therefore, we must seek out the recreating stillness of solitude if we want to be with others meaningfully. We must seek the fellowship and accountability of others if we want to be alone safely. We must cultivate both if we are to live in obedience.

---Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Friday, February 17, 2017

Poetry Friday: Thinking in Bed

"Bedroom in Arles" by Vincent Van Gogh

Thinking in Bed
by Dennis Lee, 1939

I’m thinking in bed, 
Cause I can’t get out 
Till I learn how to think 
What I’m thinking about; 
What I’m thinking about 
Is a person to be--
A sort of a person 
Who feels like me. 

I might still be Alice, 
Excepting I’m not. 
And Snoopy is super, 
But not when it’s hot; 
I couldn’t be Piglet, 
I don’t think I’m Pooh, 
I know I’m not Daddy 
And I can’t be you. 

My breakfast is waiting. 
My clothes are all out, 
But what was that thing 
I was thinking about? 
I’ll never get up 
If I lie here all day; 
But I still haven’t thought, 
So I’ll just have to stay. 

If I was a Grinch 
I expect I would know. 
But I don’t think so. 
There’s so many people 
I don’t seem to be-- 
I guess I’ll just have to 
Get up and be me.
   --From Alligator Pie, published by Macmillan Canada, 1974. Retrieved from
And just for fun--oh, the thinks you can think!
Visit Jone at Check it Out for more Poetry Friday posts.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pondering: Nearness

Art by Gwen Meharg

    Draw Near
    by Scott Cairns


For near is where you’ll meet what you have wandered

far to find. And near is where you’ll very likely see

how far the near obtains. In the dark katholikon

the lighted candles lent their gold to give the eye

a more than common sense of what lay flickering

just beyond the ken,

Read the rest here.

The Greek word προσέλθετε translates as attend.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Poetry Friday: Valentine

Welcome to Poetry Friday. Our host today is Katie at the Logonauts.

Photo courtesy Sherry's Berries.

Thinking of Valentines Day next week and how much my hubs loves to shower his girls (me, daughters, daughter-in-laws, granddaughters) with cards and candy. I came across this poem in Poetry Speaks to Children. Enjoy!

by Donald Hall

Chipmunks jump, and
Greensnakes slither.
Rather burst than
Not be with her.

Bluebirds fight, but
Bears are stronger.
We've got fifty
Years or longer.

Hoptoads hop, but 
Hogs are fatter.
Nothing else but
Us can matter.

And now just for the fun of it...Donald Hall on what people say when they find out you're a poet.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pondering: Patience

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. Leo Tolstoy

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world. Helen Keller

Friday, February 3, 2017

Early Spring

Here in the Deep South, we tend to ignore Punxsutawney Phil.

Penny hosts today roundup at A Penny and Her Jots.

Magnolia Blooms
by Florence Edsall
Poetry Magazine, April 1927, p. 22

Cool crisp loveliness
cupped and brittle

Against the steel tracery
Of winter boughs.

Only iron blossoming
Could flower so.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pondering: To Rise

Photo by Sebastian Gabriel 

I'm pondering today with a community of bloggers who write about their spiritual journey on the first Thursday of the month. Each month features a host blogger who chooses the topic. Each blogger responds to the topic and links their post to the host blog. This month Leigh Anne Eck has asked us to write about her one little word for the year--RISE. (I did finally post my own OLW for the year here.)

To Rise

The heart knows more
than the mind can tell.
It sings itself
out of a well.

where it has fought
in bogs of doubt.
It hears wings beat,
lets itself out.

What dares to sing
without words, has power
to rise like hope,
faith, sun, and flower.

--Joseph Joel Keith
Poetry Magazine, August 1928, p. 260.

This is a favorite verse from Isaiah, chapter 60. Some days it feels like the whole earth is wrapped in darkness, but I choose to remember that God is in control. My hope is in him, not in a person or a government or a cause.

Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight.
God’s bright glory has risen for you.
The whole earth is wrapped in darkness,
all people sunk in deep darkness,
But God rises on you,
his sunrise glory breaks over you.

May his sunrise glory break over you today.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Didn't Count

Photo by Mike Wilson

I have decided January didn't count.

I was out of town the first ten days. I had guests at my house the last ten days. And every spare minute in between went to cleaning out my in-laws' house after their move to an assisted living facility.

So, Happy Unofficial New Year!

My first official act of 2017 is to share my one little word (OLW) for the year. While I spent a great deal of time thinking about it, there has been no time for writing a blog post to share it.




I loved connecting the dots on coloring pages as a kid. The photo above makes me wonder what is hidden among those dots.

I'm looking forward to making some new connections this year, for connecting well with the ones I love most dearly, connecting things together and finding the common thread that binds them. Who knows what else will connect in my heart and mind over the next 11 months. We'll see, and I'll keep you posted.

“There are all these people here I don't know by sight or by name. And we pass alongside each other and don't have any connection. And they don't know me and I don't know them. And now I'm leaving town and there are all these people I will never know.”

― Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

Carson McCullers' one hundredth birthday is this month. McCullars is from my hometown, Columbus, Georgia, and there are lots of celebratory events happening around here. If you live nearby, you may be interested. The big shebang is February 19. Maybe I'll see you there.