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Not only mine, but tonight, the spirit of a dear friend. Do you think that as we age, our beliefs evolve just as our bodies and minds? As a teenager, I was firmly established in my own personal concept of faith, which encompassed many non-traditional beliefs, and which indeed still does. But lately, more and more, I have turned to words from the Bible and the strength of my friends who are so very firm in their faith that it is inspiring. I feel my spiritual perspective is expanding and compressing at the same time. Perhaps it is focusing in on something that is truly endless, and I am working at coming to terms with that seeming contradiction. I find prayer and God (or use whatever term you will) in the sky and the trees and the rocks and the sea. I look up during prayer, instead of down, with open eyes as if to catch the eye of God. I am reading the Bible and Anne Lamott at the same time. I am looking, not for answers, but for a deeper understanding of purpose, action, and what we can and cannot control. Are we indeed all grains of sand on a beach that God loves, forming into shells that house our bodies, and stones that reflect the clarity of light here and now, only to transform again into air and foam and and whatever form we will take next? Do we not even have the capacity to answer these questions to our own satisfaction – and is that in itself called faith?

the-heart-of-the-stoneTopsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: ““if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” — Anne Lamott

Daily gratitudes:
Our own form of prayers
MKL
Mr. Man
The easing of the migraine
The cricket in my bedroom

When you think about it, we all start as seeds, in a way. And we grow, impacted by the circumstances of our lives, as the growth of a seed is determined by the soil in which it is rooted, how it is cared for, and the forces of nature that cause it to thrive. We can see each other’s changes on the outside, but it is a rare blessing when we can peek inside of a living thing and see all the petals that surround its core, its heart. As this image gives you a peek inside a rose, this blog gives you a peek inside of my spirit.

Inner Rose

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There was something rather blousy about roses in full bloom, something shallow and raucous, like women with untidy hair.” — Daphne du Maurier (and I am most often a woman with untidy, tousled hair.)

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely day
Winning the battle with the lawn mower (but not with the voles)
Mr. Man feeling a tiny bit more like himself
Clean sheets
Showers digging in the dirt.

 

It is a night for positive prayers and intentions:

That people and animals less fortunate than I will find a warm and caring place to survive the projected cold and our current -7 degree night

That my sweet friend at work’s family finds strength and peace in their time of approaching loss

The MKL and I can successfully accomplish our tropical sabbatical to fend off winter for just one week longer

That this cold snap is gone before we return

That Mr. Man is well looked after by his caretakers in my absence (it’s his birthday on Friday)

That I can accomplish the long list of to-dos before departure time

That my physical not-rightness improves and is healed by rest and rum

I have always found my prayers more powerful when I turn my eyes to the sky and speak to the Great Spirit as a friend. This church in the Bahamas inspired me to do that. It was lovely inside and out, and a visiting orb accompanied me during my solitary explorations there.

DSCF1192

Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Daily gratitudes:
Straight roads and green lights
Loving my daughter
Feeling blessed by my relationship with my parents (and missing them daily)
A warm nightgown and bedsocks
The kindness of strangers, experienced twice today

I haven’t talked much about being an empath, but it’s what I am.  At times of great stress, it tends to work against me.  At times of great peace, it is the best gift the universe could have shared with me.

Last fall, I took a weekend training with a Shaman about how to live as an empath.  It was helpful, and perhaps it’s time that I revisit some of the lessons learned there.  One of the things that happens with me is that I can link deeply and intuitively to people for whom I care.  It’s like sharing a piece of spirit.  I can sense what they are feeling and what they are doing. Most of the time, I’m right.  And sometimes being right can be positively devastating.

It is such a mixed thing, when you love someone and want them to be happy, but at the same time you want to be the one they are happy with and you can’t have that.

Empaths have the ability to sense things on many levels.  We can read people – their body language, their eyes, the very air around them.  I can, if I chose, put myself in a stranger’s skin and feel their thoughts and emotions.  This is not something I do, however, because it is a violation of a stranger’s spirit and space.  And I take on too much of other’s stuff when I do it.  This quality is one of the reasons that neither psychology or massage therapy worked out for me as a career.

Most times, it is a matter of finding a quiet space within myself; from that place, I can reach out tender tendrils to sense what others might be feeling, and hopefully help them on a level of which they are not even aware.  This all sounds awfully foo-foo Boulder, doesn’t it? 

The concept of the Highly Sensitive Person is very popular here in Boulder, and while some would say that HSP is the same thing as being an empath, I would disagree.  Perhaps in some people, the two go together.  But in the cases of people whom I’ve met who are Highly Sensitive Persons, it seems to be an affliction, and one that is focused on their own challenges of dealing with this world full of people, motion, light, sound and busyness.  It has very little to do with the strange, serene sense of the feelings of other beings (both animal and human) and everything to do with adjusting their surrounding (and the people around them) to accommodate their “disability”.  Yes, being Highly Sensitive has become a focus of psychotherapy here in town.  Amazing.

However you might choose to interpret it, I live it every day.  It’s a painful joy, which is the mixture of my life these days, with varying degrees of each.  I only wish it were easier.

I love Christmas.  I do.  I always have.  It has always been the bright spot in the bleakness of winter for me.

I love the decorations.  Driving through neighborhoods and voyeuristically peeking into semi-parted curtains to see a tree alight, in a house atwinkle, with reindeer and Santas and snowmen and who knows what grazing on the front lawn – I am like a little kid again, mouth agape with wonder and delight.  Seriously!

I like Christmas shopping – I do it all year long.   And you have to keep in mind that I am not a shopper, at least not when it comes to myself.  I have a talent for giving good presents and I accumulate them in the course of the year.  Sometimes I even forget what I’ve bought for people; had this year been a bit calmer, I had intended to wrap and tag each gift as I bought it, so I would be as surprised as the recipient when it came time for opening.  But I especially like Christmas shopping at this time of year, because everyone seems so happy and festive and friendly. 

I like Christmas carols, tree decorating, hanging stockings – the whole nine yards.  So how is it that I have wound up in the midst of a clan of people who don’t like Christmas?

Kelsea is agreeable to looking at the lights and of course, she likes the presents.  But she doesn’t have the bug – she could take or leave the whole thing, really.  Pat has never given a reindeer’s ass about the holiday – he feels it’s forced.  My former brother/sister-in-law did Christmas up right when their daughters were little.  Now they’re off somewhere in a motor home and won’t be coming back, and my nieces dislike Christmas to the point that they’d taken to celebrating it at New Year’s, if at all.  My now-former-guy didn’t like Christmas either; he had some good reasons, but regardless he wanted nothing to do with it.  I still bought him presents, because that’s just me.

So I look at this sorry bunch of gloomy pusses who have been closest to me and I ask myself, “How can I maintain my Christmas cheer and spirit, even in the midst of a (thankfully soon to be ending) hellacious year without imbibing in exceptionally massive quantities of alcohol?”  And I answer myself, “I dunno, what are you asking ME for?” or, on bad days, “You can’t, so just break out to intoxicants and get it over with.”  But I rarely listen to myself, since I tend to babble a lot.

I haven’t forgotten the true meaning of Christmas as a time of peace and celebration of the birth of a very wise teacher.  But it is easy to get swept up in the commercialism of the holiday, and the charitable part of me would say that’s what my scrooges don’t like.  But I know that’s not true.  At any rate, I try to make sure that as part of my own personal celebration, I keep the thoughts of faith and wonderment in mind and heart.

So here we are, a week before Christmas.  My house looks like a hurricane blew through and then came back for seconds.  Never the tidiest housekeeper, in the throes of urgh this week, I’ve really let things go.  I don’t have a tree.  Nothing is wrapped.  No decorations have emerged.  The one box I have to mail isn’t mailed.  I am tempted to just let it all go, and not have a tree.  But I regretted that the one year I didn’t.  And if this is my last Christmas in the Cottage, I think I’d like to do it right.  Which means that today is the day.  The elf, completely unaided by any of the scrooges, sets forth and boldly tidies, rearranges, moves furniture, throws things away, unburies the tree stand, buys a little tree and makes the magic happen.  And you know what?  The scrooges who are around will love it.  Never in a million years would they admit it, but it will stir a peace and pleasure in their little scroogey hearts, just like the three visiting spirits did with Old Eb in the Dickens novel.

The Elf triumphs yet again.

Gratitude list for the day (so far):  how the warm sunlight streaming through my bedroom window reminds me of the Caribbean; my grumpy daughter; my dreamcatcher hung upon the bed; when thoughts of the future turn hopeful; Hemingway.

When my lips part for cool green tea, my nose is enveloped in the scent of jasmine.  At first, I can’t tell where it’s coming from.  It wasn’t as strong until the tea had mellowed, the ice melting into the green.  Then, it becomes a transporting walk down a garden path with each sip.

I smell the jasmine in my throat, on the back of my tongue.  The white tulips glow.  The peach tulips glow.  The long-haired, straw-hatted, barefoot ukulele player strums Hawaii into a sunny Colorado afternoon.  He plays for the earth, not for change.

The man at the next table inquires about my book.  He compliments my smile, and spends five minutes trying to sell me on his esoteric spiritual path.  But he uses too many words.  He cannot convey his point because he cannot find the stillness within himself that true spiritual peace requires and rewards.  Every technique has failed him in his search for stillness.  I listen.  For five minutes only.

Tea finished, more books beckon.  Books are always beckoning to me, sirens on shelves, thousands of them.  I explore unchartered volumes with a small smile, finding myself drawn to writers who sound like me.  Is that wrong?  I have no idea. 

My serenity attacts another admirer.  We share coincidental memories of another bookshop, aptly named The Intimate, in a town thousands of miles from here.

I find myself with a joyful longing for a faraway love. 

It has been a luscious afternoon.

August 2021
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