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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Examen

Photo courtesy Max Pixel

It's hard to believe we're at the middle of 2018. Time flies when you're having fun. Or even if you're not! So here we are in the middle of this year, looking back on what has already been accomplished., looking forward to what remains. It's a time to pause. I've written about this pause in the middle of the year before, linking it to the breath and the pause between inhale and exhale. It's a time to reflect before we turn the corner and move on toward lies ahead.

Perhaps you might center your reflections around your one little word for the year or simply examine what has occurred from January to July.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the Ignatian practice of the examen. Here's a simple guide to the daily examen. It includes gratitude, petition, review, forgiveness, and renewal.

In his book, The Practice of Prayer, Robert Warren takes the pattern and expands it "to help us stop and be aware of life and what is happening to us," in order to make a "freely chosen response" to life.

Let's take the last six months as our period of time under review. Warren breaks this review down into three categories.

Seeing
How have you been aware of God's presence in the last six months? Does any experience stand out? Maybe something you read or someone said. Note anything that comes to mind and give thanks for what is good in your experience.

Knowing
How have your experienced change in yourself? How have you changed your attitude toward God, yourself, or others? What are the positive growth changes? Are there any signs of negative or stuck responses?  Thank God for his presence with you in your joys and struggles.

Going
Can you identify any sense of going/stepping out in faith during this time? Give thanks and reaffirm your commitment to continue. Have you sensed God's call to go, but not yet gone? Hold that before God and let him reaffirm your confidence in his ability to help.

Warren closes with this note: "Remember, this is not to be an inquisition in which you criticize yourself for how you have failed, but a trusting review before the One who is for you. The purpose is to listen more fully to the One who is Love."

Add your link for Spiritual Journey Thursday below.






Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summertime

Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me thinking about summer, since this is Margaret's topic for today's post and she's the host here at Reflections on the Teche

The fireflies in my back yard are one a favorite summer sensation and my 18-month old grandson is fascinated by them. 




Summer is a mixed blessing of work and rest this year. I've recently added six new teacher and about 12 new classes to the schedule at my yoga studio. While this is an absolutely wonderful blessing, it comes at the beginning of summer, which happens to be a very slow season for yoga. Everyone else is off enjoying their family and vacationing and I'm hoping my new teachers don't get discouraged before fall rolls around. It's actually a good season for working on developing teaching skills and new classes. 

The change in my teaching schedule, as a result of all these new additions is quite nice. I am actually finding some time to write again. Hooray!

My husband and I have a few trips planned. We'll be in Minnesota toward the end of the month with my younger son and his family. June is the only sensible time to go to Minnesota! Of course, I'm looking forward to playing with grands.

Then in July we'll be at the beach with my older son and his family. Again, joyfully full of grandchildren. 

It's more than enough to fill my summer to the brim. 


More Than Enough
by Marge Piercy
The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, 

Read the rest here.

Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Progressive Poem Ends Here!





Welcome to the 2018 Kidslitosphere Progressive Poem, brainchild of Irene Latham.  For seven years, we've been creating poems together. 30 days in April, 30 poets, 30 lines of poetry that take us on an adventure, give us room to dream, and challenge the very essence of creating a poem. Take a look at the past poems here.

I missed the sign up on Irene's blog for the Progressive Poem this year. Life has been busy and my energy must be spent wisely. I didn't mean to miss it. I just forgot to check on that Friday in March. It wasn't until Irene emailed me with the subject line "Progressive Poem" that I realized I'd missed it. It was a simple conversation.

Irene: Dear Doraine, there is one slot left -- the last line! Just checking to see if you want it.
Me: (Silent gasp!) Okay. She says quaking in her rain boots. (It was pouring rain on March 11.) 
Irene: You got this, rain-bird. Thank you! xo

And I quaked in my boots for the rest of March, often reminding myself of Irene's "You got this." I spent the first week reading each of your lines, swallowing the panic that rumbled like distant thunder.  I don't have a great track record for ending things. I once (and only once) wrote a middle grades novel where I spent the last six months of writing trying to figure out how to find the end.

"You got this."

Then through the middle of the month, I found myself grateful that I didn't have to figure out how to get our sweet Jasmine out of Lee's birthday party. If that had been my line, we might still be there partying into the wee hours of April.

Over the last week, I have done a lot of deep breathing, gently nudging my stomach out of my throat back to the space in my body where it belongs.

The interesting thing about this progressive poem is that our one line feels so important, no matter where we fall in the list of days. And it is. Every word matters in a poem. Yet, in reality, we are not alone in this process. The work of this poem lies in trusting each other and listening well.

I recently read a quote from Natalie Diaz who spoke at the 2018 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (one of these years I'm going to get there). She said, "We need friends—not just followers—if we’re going to do the slow, often hard, always worthwhile work required to read and write with clarity, creativity, and nuance. "

That's just what this community is/does.

For an excellent recap of this poetic journey, read April's post with her next-to-last line.

Each of us, as we've added a line, have played along with Heidi's suggestion for deepening this progressive journey. We were to write down our thoughts after we read Liz's Line 1, hide it from ourselves, and come back to it when we wrote our line.

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched. 

I wrote:  A seed carries its nature within. It grows with strength. Becomes exactly what it's meant to be.

This is me, trying hard to fly like a rain-bird to the end.

And just so you know...I don't like messing with other people's lines, but Jane and I talked via email about keeping the tense of line two as she created it, but enhancing the poetic quality with a contraction.



Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.
Oh, what wonderful dreams she'd had!

Blooming in midnight moonlight, dancing with
the pulse of a thousand stars, sweet Jasmine
invented a game.

“Moon?” she called across warm honeyed air.
“I’m sad you’re alone; come join Owl and me.
We’re feasting on stardrops, we’ll share them with you.”

“Come find me,” Moon called, hiding behind a cloud.

Secure in gentle talons’ embrace, Jasmine rose
and set. She split, twining up Owl’s toes, pale
moonbeams sliding in between, Whoosh, Jasmine goes.
Owl flew Jasmine between clouds and moon to Lee’s party!
Moon, that wily bright balloon, was NOT alone.
                               
                            Jas grinned,

                                          stretched,

                                                      reached,

                                                               wrapped

                                                                       a new,

                                                                           tender
                                                    around
                                                                    rootlet

a trellis Sky held out to her, made of braided wind and song.
Her green melody line twisted and clung.

Because she was twining poet’s jasmine, she
wiggled a wink back at Moon, and began her poem.
Her whispered words floated on a puff of wind,
filled with light and starsong. “Revelers, lean in –
let’s add to this merriment a game that grows
wordgifts for Lee. He’s a man who knows
selection, collection, and wisely advising
these dreamers, word-weavers, and friends.”

Jas enfolded Moon-Sky-Owl into the cup of her petals,
lifted new greens to the warming rays of spring. Sun
smeared the horizon with colour, as Jasmine stretched.
She felt powerful. She felt fresh. She bloomed and took a breath
and filled the earth with a fragrance all her own. 

Here is the sweet-smelling community of word builders that created our poem.  I'm sure Irene will wrap us up and give the poem a title. In the meantime, bloom, my friends. Bloom like Jasmine.




4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

5 Jan at bookseedstudio

6 Irene at Live Your Poem

7 Linda at TeacherDance

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem



11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales

12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

13 Linda at A Word Edgewise


15 Donna at Mainely Write

16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle


18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering

19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan

20 Linda at Write Time



23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading


26 Renee at No Water River

27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

28 Kat at Kat's Whiskers

29 April at Teaching Authors

30 Doraine at Dori Reads







Thursday, April 5, 2018

Poetry as a Spiritual Practice of the Heart

Photo by CrizzlDizzl


Today I join my Spiritual Journey family of bloggers as we celebrate National Poetry Month and look at the ways we incorporate poetry as a part of that spiritual practice of the heart.

One of my favorite writers, Leanne Payne, once said that images are the language of the heart. If that's the case, then poetry with its vocabulary of images, speaks directly to the deepest places within us.

I have often used poems as a starting place for communion and meditation. There is a kind of wooing in a poem that draws me deeply into stillness and prayer.

Here is one that has spoken to me recently.

Vespers
by Derrick Austin

Lord in the pigment, the crushed, colored stones.
Lord in the carved marble chest. I turn away
from art. You are between my eye and what I see.
Forgive my errant gaze. Tonight, I can't sleep
and won't frighten the deer in my peonies.
Like children who rub their grimy hands over everything,
they only want to touch and be touched by grass.
They've never known violence, cars howling out of darkness.
Lord in the camellia, drifting in and out of sight,
like those blushing, perfumed heads will you welcome me?
I, too, am little more than a stranger in your garden.
Stroke my velvety antlers. Open your palms.

from Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide, compiled by Sarah Arthur.

See what other bloggers have to say about this idea at Beyond LiteraacyLink. Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting today.




Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem




April is National Poetry Month and there is a flurry of poetic activity all over the web. One of my favorite projects of the month happens in the Kidslitosphere, a group of children's authors, teachers, and poet bloggers who celebrate Poetry Friday each week and a smorgasbord or poetic adventures during April. Seven years ago, Irene Latham began the Progressive Poem, a 30-line poem written by 30 different poets over the month of April. Every year the poem twists and turns with a life all its own as we collaborate with one another and the poem itself.

I invite you to take this amazing journey with us! 

Here are the links to each day's contributor. 

April
Jane at Raincity Librarian
Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
Irene at Live Your Poem
Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25 Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
28 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads





Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sing!


Spiritual Journey Thursday has rolled around once again and it's time to chime in with some lovely fellow bloggers and talk about our pilgrimage through life. Our topic today is music. Karen Eastland is guest host for the round up over at Live Your Poem where her topic for the day is "Face the Music."

Sing, make a joyful sound!

It's the first line of an old hymn we sang at church when I was a kid. I loved the way the verses modulated a half step up to the next key each time we sang it again and again.

Sing and make melody in your heart.
These words come from a letter Paul wrote to a church in Ephesus in the first century a.d. It's evident from the context of the letter that Paul was in prison and suffering when he wrote it. Clearly he had experience with finding a joyful heart in the middle of difficult circumstances.
...giving joyful thanks...
This phrase was the heart of my weekly meditation for my yoga classes this week. It also comes from Paul in another letter, Colossians.

It's interesting to me how these phrases intersect along the idea of joy. Joy is an emotion. We don't have immediate control over our emotions. They are feelings that seem to come and go as they please. But we do have control over our actions. No matter my circumstances, I can sing. No matter what I'm suffering, I can find many things to be thankful for.

When I was a kid, we often went to my grandparents' house in south Georgia. Between the tiny (and I do mean tiny) town of Adrian and my grandmother's sandy driveway, a bridge spanned the murky waters of the Ohoopee River. My granddaddy called it the Hoopee. Just over the bridge on the left an artesian well bubbled up.  Someone had added a pipe to the crack in the rock, but there was no pump, just a constant stream of gurgling fresh water.

It delighted me as a child. Understanding that there was enough pressure below the ground to force the water up through cracks in the rock didn't alter my fascination.

The block is under the sacrum, not the tailbone or the low back.

With my students in supported bridge pose this week, we talked about allowing the belly to be soft like a deep bowl and imagine that artesian well bubbling up from within. I think this must be my favorite picture of what joy feels like. Enough pressure created from the choice to give thanks, from the choice to make music in my heart, and as a result joy bubbles up from the depth of my being.

So, my friends, sing!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Spiritual Journey Thursday: The Man in the Moon



Sometimes I think take ourselves way to seriously. We get caught up in our journey and finding our purpose and spend so much time in self-reflection and evaluation. Not that those things are bad, but I firmly believe God make us in his image and laughter must proceed from that making. In a pain science course I recently took, one of of the suggestions for reducing chronic pain was to laugh, especially with someone. I have several good friends who make me laugh and I love being with them. 
So when Donna's prompt for writing today's spiritual journey post from a snippet or poem or quote about the moon popped up, I went straight for Tolkein. I also happen to be reading a very thick book on the Inklings right now as a climb in be every night. (It's not funny at all.) So Tolkein is on my radar at the moment.
Anyway. Here is the poem. Laugh a little. The journey will be lots more fun.

Then pop over to our host today, Donna at Mainely Write, for more reflections on the moon.

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon
by J. R. R. Tolkien


There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a horn-ed cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
'The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

One Little Word for 2018



STRETCH

What does this year hold? There is no way to know, but we can begin the year with an intention to open our hearts to the people, circumstances, and challenges that we will encounter.

Over the last few months of 2017, I have often felt David’s instruction in the Psalms to “lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him” resonate in my heart. I feel very conscious of how much I don’t understand. It is sometimes challenging to move beyond our own perspective and realize our limitations.

With that in mind as I move into this new year, I feel the Lord’s encouragement to grow, to open my heart without fear, to strengthen body, soul, and spirit. I have always loved the image used in Isaiah, chapter 54. Verse two says this. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” This was spoken to people who lived in tents. God was telling them to make room in their hearts, in their homes, in their minds, to make space, room to grow. Not to hold back even with all the challenges that might come along.

So that's my intention for the year--to grow, open my heart, and strengthen my body. To stretch in every way I can. 

Margaret hosts the Spiritual Journey Thursday roundup over at Reflections on the Teche