Make Time for the Sacred: Week 3

What Does God Call You?  (To listen to the audio of this contemplative meditation, click HERE)

Make time for the sacred copyI Have News For You
9th Century Irish Poem

I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds’ wings;
season of ice, this is my news

 

O Come. O Come Emmanuel

It is the third week of Advent. Anticipation hangs in the air, glittering with the shimmer of a thousand candles glowing in the night. And still we move further into the darkness. This season of ice, where cold has seized the birds’ wings.  Where news of The Christchild’s coming rings forth across the land. Where yearning for the sun’s return rings in every heart.

I wait in expectation of the holy of holy nights when hope shall spring forth in a world of peace, Love and joy.

And still, my heart is heavy. Our world so sorely in need of peace continues to gravitate towards pain, war, suffering, killing. Our world so desperately in need of quiet rages in the agony of death.

And still I wait.

O Come! O Come! Emmanuel.  O Come! Bring forth peace, hope, love and joy.

Bring it on oh holy one. Bring it on.

I am ready. I am willing. I am open to peace, hope, love and joy.

And still I wait.

Frustration rises. Fear edges into my awakening.

Can we not see? Can we not know that we are killing one another with our guns and ammunition. Our insistence that we are right, they are wrong. Our fighting for ground. For religious beliefs and social acceptance.

Can we not see?O Come! O Come! Emmanuel

And I am reminded. Peace begins with me. I cannot make peace when I hold onto anger, fear, frustration. I cannot be peace when I make war against the world around me.

O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Oh Israel. To thee shall come Emmanuel

I remember as a child my mother humming this song. Her sweet clear voice echoing in the dark. I loved to hear her sing. Loved to hear her voice.

And I breathe.

And hear the invitation to deepen my understanding of this season and its promise of peace, hope, love and joy.

I breathe and feel its truth calling to my heart, this universal truth that speaks of our humanity — we are born in the reflection of God, Yahweh, Allah. We embody God’s greatness, him or her or it – it doesn’t matter what word we use for God. God does not listen to our words. God listens only to our hearts.

We are limitless in our possibilities. We are magnificent. We are holy. We are divine.

This is not ‘God’ as limited by our language, but rather a concept of God that is unlimited through a broadening of our vocabulary — The Divine. Creator. Yaweh. Almighty Father. King of Kings. Spirit, Lord.

In this time of waiting, in this time of darkness I let go of the words I know and step into that place where I broaden my ‘God vocabulary’. That place where I slip beyond the secular of my language to the Divine presence embodied in the collective will of man, a spirit that embraces me in wonder as I stand in Love.

In love, I breathe into my divine essence.

In love, I come home to the One.

In love, I hear the Divine calling of my name as I embrace the beauty and the wonder of my human condition, this condition I share with each of you – We are the Divine expression of God’s amazing grace.

And I wonder, I call God many things. What does God call me?

Child. Friend. Believer?  What does God call me?

Perhaps the answer is… Home.

 Audio File for Week 3

 Reflections:

  1. Do you have a name(s) for God in your life? What is it?
  2. What name does God call you?
  3. What is calling to your heart in this season of dark becoming light?
  4. During the meditation, was there a space where you felt yourself moved beyond the words you use to describe God into that space where what you call God is nothing compared to the Divine calling you to awaken?

 

Songs of the Season. Kling Glöckchen klingelingeling

My father loved music. An avid collector, he had over 2,000 LPs (for the younger set those are the big vinyl records that are making a comeback). 🙂 He kept his collection organized by artist in alphabetical order with a special section just for Christmas Music.

Throughout my teens, we lived in southern Germany. Heintje was a young boy with the voice of an angel who was one of my father’s favourites. He would play him again and again and again, always commenting on the clarity of his voice, the sharpness of his enunciation as if he had just discovered him all over again. My father was always enthusiastic in his passions.

Kling Glöckchen klingelingeling was one of his favourites.

Songs of the Season. Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant

For me, the language of Christmas is spoken in French. As children, we did not know the language well and as my mother’s native tongue is French and my father was fluent, they always spoke in French when speaking about Christmas. We children would listen and try to figure out what they were saying, did I hear them say I was getting that Bride Doll I really wanted? What is the word for red rubber ball? Is that what they said?

My mother would sing a lot when we were children and one of my favourites was Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant. Today, whenever I hear it I am transported back to my childhood days when French was the language of Christmas and my mother’s voice sounded like an angel to my ears.

Become and Let Joy Arise

On this day of your life,
Louise, I believe God wants you to know…

…that safety is not the thing you should look for in the
future. Joy is what you should look for.

Security and joy may not come in the same package.
They can…but they also cannot.
There is no guarantee.

If your primary concern is a guarantee of security,
you may never experience the truest joys of life.
This is not a suggestion that you become reckless,
but it is an invitation to at least become daring.
Neale Donald Walsch (Daily Message from CWG)

***********************************************

When I read the message above from a daily note I receive in my Inbox, I felt this visceral, oh no! kind of response that said, “See Louise. No one can give you a sense of feeling safe or secure. Only you can do it and the only way you can do it is to seek joy, not safety.”

Dang.

Here I thought it was someone else’s job to make me feel safe and secure.

Wouldn’t you know it, the Universe knows and is constantly delivering what I need to learn. Sometimes, I’m just not ready, or perhaps not feeling safe or secure enough within me, to heed the lesson.

I have often confused feeling ‘safe’ with ‘trusting’, especially in relationships. Having been prone to trusting the untrustworthy, it was virtually impossible for me to achieve a sense of feeling safe so I constantly put the responsibility for my unease on the world outside.

“I need to feel safe so I need to trust you,” is very different than, “I feel safe within me so I choose to trust that I am capable of making loving decisions that support and honour me and my life, whatever you do.”

In the first, I am placing all the responsibility for my feeling safe and for having trust honoured (or not) on ‘the other’.

In the latter, I am acknowledging my accountability to creating my own sense of well-being within me, and acknowledging that I have the power to make decisions that create the more of what I want in my life — whatever is happening in the world around me — in loving, kind expressions of my truth.

And in living my life true to my inner knowing, I find joy arising with every breath.

The joy of freedom. the joy of knowing I am safe no matter how fierce the winds are blowing around me when I stand in my “I” and stay true to my beliefs, my values, my being who I am in the world.

At the talk I gave on Wednesday night at Canadian Business Chicks Christmas Social, I began with telling the group that I believe we are all born magnificent.

Within each of us, I told the group, no matter where we stand on the street, no matter our economic, spiritual, physical or emotional state, is the seed of magnificence that is our true essence.

When we’re experiencing homelessness or other life hardships, it is easy to forget our magnificence. It is easy to believe we are the labels we carry. Homeless. Addict. Bum. Emotionally disturbed. Mentally-ill. Broken-hearted. Rejected. Lost. Alone.

I shared with the group the story of a man in a class I was teaching at the homeless shelter where I used to work who was once a boy soldier in Africa.

I have done awful things, he said. How can I see myself as anything other than bad?

Do you want to be a ‘bad’ person in the world today? I asked.

No, he replied vehemently.

I invited him, and the group, to close their eyes and for just a moment imagine they truly were magnificent. That in that moment, they radiated pure, beautiful light. Live it. Breathe into it. Become it, I told them.

When they opened their eyes I asked the man who was once a boy soldier if he could feel it.

Yes, he replied. And he smiled and his eyes lit up and for just a moment, his magnificence shone.

Then it is true. I told him. You could not imagine it if it did not exist within you. Rather than fearing the truth that what you did when you had no choice but to survive or be killed is who you are, breathe into the truth that your magnificence is your birthright. Live that truth everyday and keep doing one thing, everyday, that awakens your magnificence.

I saw that man several years later when writing an article about one of the housing first programs in our city. He was working as a custodian/building manager. He saw me and took me aside and reminded me of that moment and thanked me. “I work at being magnificent everyday,” he told me.

When we live our magnificence, when we breathe into it without seeking anything other than to know it, we become it.

Just for today, let go of the fear you will never be good enough, or tall enough or rich enough or safe,  and simply, Become.

Become and Let Joy Arise.

what are you grateful for?

Thank you. copyWhen I was a little girl I wanted to be like the sunshine. I wanted to make people all around me feel warm, cared for, happy. I wanted them to know their hearts were capable of smiling, even when clouds blocked the sun and that if they couldn’t smile, I would smile for them until they felt the warmth of the sun once again upon their skin.

Yesterday, I was given the gift of feeling like I was immersed in sunshine, even on a dark December day, where snow clouds blocked the sun.

From C.C.s latte at my desk while I typed in the morning and an amazing dinner when I got home at 9 last night from Canadian Business Chicks where I was giving a presentation and received a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday lead by Canadian Business Chicks CEO, Monica Kretschmer, to my daughters calling to sing me happy birthday as did other family and friends, to the man who purposefully held the C-train doors open for me when he saw me running to catch it, to the singing of happy birthday by two handsome co-workers, to treats from my team and well-wishes from others, to the outpouring of birthday-wishes and thoughtful emails from friends near and far, I felt embraced in love, tenderness and celebration.

Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

I am grateful for my world of people who care about me and about whom I care so much. My world filled with people who support me, love me and applaud me through every stage, every moment, every event and for whom I in turn get to be their cheerleader too.

I am grateful for all of you who come here every day to read and share and travel this journey with me.

I am grateful for those I meet whose hearts I touch and who touch mine. I am grateful for strangers who do kind things and those whose actions remind me to be kinder, gentler, more caring of our world.

I am grateful for the laughter, the tears, the silly moments and the sad. I am grateful for the moments that fill me with such joy my heart wants to burst and the ones that fill me with such sorrow my heart can only cry.

I am grateful for it all. And for all of you.

Thank you!

As the past fades, today awakens.

The past is not a place to live in. It is a place to learn from so that we can live in today and have hope for the future.
Casey Eagle Speaker

When I was a little girl, my birthday often got messed up into the Christmas festivities, leaving me feeling left out, not important, insignificant. You know, all those things children think are true about themselves because they don’t have the cognitive capacity to make sense of the world around them and see the world only through the eyes of “I am the centre of the universe so it must be all about me!”

As a child, I could not see that it wasn’t that my birthday wasn’t important or that I wasn’t significant or made a difference in our family. It was that my mother was often alone, had four children to tend to and was suffering from a great sadness that haunted her every moment.

Years ago, when I was a mother of young children, I asked my mother to tell me her life story. It was then I realized the great sadness that haunted her was not of my making. It had descended long before my arrival in this world. The tragedy wasn’t that she was sad. It was that over the decades she had not received proper attention for the darkness that filled her light and so drifted day to day through a haze of over the counter drugs she employed to soften the edges of her sadness.

As a child, my father was often away. I used to make up stories about where he was. What he was doing. Who he was talking to. Mostly my stories revolved around him saving the world because he was a super hero and had great things to do. In his absence, my mother would often threaten to tell my father of all the wrongs I’d committed. It worried me. Did that mean he was away because I was bad? I tried to be good. I really did. But my attempts were futile. My father stayed away. And so, I told myself stories of why he was gone so long and how it couldn’t be all about me, even though my child’s mind believed it was.

In reality, he was trying to make a living to support his family and was doing what he knew best to do when faced with challenges that threatened to overwhelm him. Run away. Disappear. Be silent and distant. It was all he’d ever known to cope with childhood trauma’s and a troubled past he could not understand. He too was doing the best he could. It’s just children don’t come with an instruction manual. How was he to figure us out?

The beauty of time and growing older is, the past is not as welcoming as it grows further into the distance. In its fading days, I am learning to be more present in today, more conscious of my now, more grateful for what I have in this moment, right now.

And I am truly grateful.

Yesterday was C.C.’s birthday. we celebrated with a dinner for two at home. A delightful evening of candles and music, wine and food carefully prepared with Love.

Today is my birthday. His kiss stirred me from my sleep. His birthday song awoke me.

What a delightful, loving, tender way to greet my day.

Oh. And Beaumont got in the mix too!  He stuck his nose in my face as I lay on the bed savouring the morning and gave me a great big birthday lick!  How sweet is that! (I guess now is not the time to tell him I don’t like doggie kisses! )

It is my birthday and I get to celebrate and be thankful for my life and all the years I’ve spent learning how to live it with passion, joy and Love.

I am truly blessed and very grateful..

It is his way. A message from the other side.

The three sisters.
The three sisters.

The first time he comes to visit it is in the time between restless slumber and awakening.

I am surprised to see him. He has been gone almost 20 years. I did not expect to see him in my dreams, let alone this semi-awakening state.

He smiles, his white teeth appearing between his black mustache, the impish almost dimple on the left side of his cheek puckering-in like the stem side of an apple.

He does not say hello. He does not even seem surprised at my surprise to see him.

“I’ve been worried about you,” my brother says.

“You’re dead,” I blurt out. In retrospect it might have been a little rude on my part but when a dead brother comes to visit unexpectedly, thinking straight is not my forte. Anyway, what’s he going to do about it? Not like he was still around and could whip me with a towel or stick me in a closet as was his yen when we were young and locked in sibling disputes over who was boss of who.

He is older than me. The only son, or as I used to like to say, “The son for whom the sun rises and sets.” Yeah. I wasn’t too mature where my brother was concerned.

My brother and his wife died in a car accident March 27th in 1997. There was a lot of angst and anger and sorrow and unfinished business in the wake of their passing. Having him pop in now, years later, without so much as a hello or even a postcard from the other side feels a tad disorienting.

And for that matter, who knew ghosts could worry?

“Not relevant,” he responds when I ask him about worrying ghosts. “I’m worried about you. You need to take better care of yourself.”

And then, he’s gone. Poof. Just like that.

But I do not question that he was real. That he really did come to visit. He was there.

The next time he comes back I am in the shower.

“Excuse me!” I squeal when he makes his presence known. “I’m in the shower!”

“So what?” he says without batting a single one of the jet black eyelashes surrounding his big brown eyes. “Spirits can’t see human matter. They only see the essence of what matters most. Did you get my message?”

“What? That you’re worried about me?” I want to shrug him off. To ignore him like I always tried to do in our growing up years.

My brother can be persistent and insistent. He can be dogged in his approach to just about anything. When we were young he once dragged me out of a discotheque in Germany where I was not supposed to be. Something about being 16 and underage he told me. I did not want to hear him and tried to go back. He got all his friends to come and make sure I didn’t.

“Yeah, I heard you.” I reply quickly reaching for a towel. I don’t care if spirits only see what matters most. He is my brother.

“Look. I’m not here about your vanity. Pride means nothing after you’re dead. I am worried about you. You need to take better care of yourself.”

And once again, he’s gone. Poof. Just like that.

Later, I tell my sisters about our encounter.

I heard his voice, my eldest sister tells us. Just the other day.

I wonder why he’s visiting, my middle sister asks.

It’s Christmas, I reply. George always loved Christmas.

And he did.

Just as he always loved us. No matter what. No matter where. No matter how difficult our encounters. He always loved us.

My brother came to visit. Twice.

In death as in life. My brother always had something to say, something to tell me about how I was behaving, or mis-behaving. He always wanted the best for me even when I thought he was being a pain, a pill, an interfering older brother who wanted to control me and my life.

I want to ignore him, just as I always wanted to  when he was alive and pestering me with his silly game of ‘name that tune’ or thinking he can beat me at Scrabble.

I want to tell him I hear him. Finally.

I’ve tried every which way to re-conjure him up in my mind, and I can’t. No matter what thoughts I create, I cannot feel his presence though I can still hear him laughing all the way from the other side.

I’m hoping he reads my blog so he will know — Message delivered. Loud and clear, bro.

And then, I smile. He doesn’t need to read my blog to know I got the message. He’s watching over me, just as he’s watching over all the ones he loves.

It is his way.