Monday, October 27, 2008

The Still Small Voice

The woman woke to the silence of the night as she had been doing all too frequently these past few months. She noticed once more a strange heaviness and that vague, but increasingly familiar, dissatisfaction.

While the particulars vary, many of us have known such times of unease. Perhaps an unexpected event rocked the security of our world. An old wound or neglected passion may have roused after long slumber. Or this discontent might have seeped in slowly, only to be recognized when it was already in full swell.

Whatever the specifics, at these times our usual pursuits, even the pleasant ones, do not bring us the rich experience we crave. We feel incomplete, with a gnawing sense of being off kilter.

An opening has appeared.

Inquietude often arrives as a messenger, heralding a time of growth. As distressing as these occasions may be, they prod us to see, with clear eyes, the lives we have created, and they encourage us to make the adjustments that best reflect our soul's evolving sensibilities.

We may know exactly what our next step needs to be~~a shake up in our personal or professional relationships, a commitment to a deep healing, a more vibrant expression of our creativity or spirituality. Then again, we might have no clue at all~~only this restlessness and a vague yearning for something more.

Ultimately, it makes little difference whether the path before us is clear or appears as fog in a tumultuous night. We are called to follow.

A simple calling, that is all. We are not required to move. We can ignore the summons, make efforts to avoid our discomfort, try various methods to numb a screaming despair.

Many of us do refuse the call, temporarily or as a habitual approach to life. But there is a cost in doing so~~a weariness born of going through the motions of an unlived life, an existence spent in the shadows of what could be, of what we could be.

It can certainly feel frightening to walk into the unknown. However, that fear can be softened by remembering that we don't travel there alone. The messenger does not abandon us when we decide to move forward. It was ever only one guise of the Sacred that accompanies us always, particularly when we agree to enter uncharted territory.

That still small voice offers wisdom at each juncture.

How do we increase our capacity to receive and trust in this guidance? By actively turning toward it. As we engage in activities that strengthen our bond to that vast and nameless Mystery~~as we listen~~the once small voice grows stronger.

Of course our problems won't disappear, and we may have difficult work ahead of us. But as we step out of our paralysis and our fear, we allow ourselves to be lead further down our own and very unique path.

As we move deeper into ourselves, we become more fully alive. In so doing, we further our quest to become the person we are meant to be, the being we already are at our core.

Here's wishing you a small voice that grows ever stronger!


Loanne Marie

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spirit Shimmering

The afternoon sky was dramatic, with varying shades of blue and gray brooding clouds resting one upon the other, all nestled within the immense curve of that enclosing dome. 

Below, everything danced in the darting breeze~~leaves of the gnarled tree caught mid~way in transition to gold, bushes stretching along the fenceline, tall grasses running out to meet the road.  

Everything shimmied and quivered, swayed and trembled.

And the sheer life of it all pulled me from my preoccupations. I felt the vitality, and my soul roused in response. There was a palpable energy afoot, difficult to ignore. I don't know if my pace changed, but there surely must have been a shift in the quality of the steps I took. I walked aware and in awe. Open.

I was being treated to one of those glorious moments when the veil lifts and Life shines out unencumbered. At such times, our vision spontaneously deepens. That tree and this bush cease to be objects held at arm's length; they pulse with the joyful breath of the Infinite~~right here, right now. And something deep within us responds in kind.  

Most religious traditions include a meditative or mystical thread which teaches that the Sacred can be perceived within the small moments of our own small lives. We are urged to be fully present with what is.  

Of course, this is easier said than done. These minds of ours are quite skilled at carrying us away into one imagined scenario or another. Just because our brains are otherwise engaged, though, does not change the fact that this world vibrates with the Divine.

While the veil can lift spontaneously at any time, these incidents seem to arrive as gifts hoping to whet our appetite for more. We can indeed cultivate such moments, gathering them together like beads on a living and ever~expanding rosary.

While it is quite the trick to live in this state always, it is not really so difficult to taste of it. It is there for the savoring~~even right in this very moment.  

As you read these words, your awareness might expand to include your surroundings and the objects and living creatures with whom you share your space. You may notice the quality of the air as it touches your skin, or the sounds and smells it carries your way. Each rise and fall of your breath and every beat of your own tender heart could call you more deeply into this present moment. And you might also, through this heightened awareness, find yourself greeting the edges of that animating Force that supports and enlivens it all.

The Mystery is there always, offering Itself to us.  

It whispers in the rush of water streaming over thirsty skin as we bathe. It breathes with us as we drive, alone or with children laughing or sulking in the backseat. It calls as we slice vegetables for our evening meal, and sings as we kiss the cheek of a loved one good-night. And it is there, too, offering Itself when we awaken suddenly in the deepest darkness.

Yes, the Mystery is always there. The choice to openly receive, however, is ours alone.

May you gather some rosary beads of your own in the coming week.


Loanne Marie

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Spirit of Writing

Anais Nin wrote,“We write to taste life twice”. This certainly is how it feels to me. An evocative experience revisited often blooms with delights not fully perceived the first time around. Whether an encounter occurs in my outer or inner worlds, through putting words on the page, my experience of it deepens.

Too often I move through my days in a manner that prevents a fullness of experience. My attention is divided, my schedule busy, my emotions jangled. When I write, I slow down. The process of moving from word to word, idea to idea, paragraph to paragraph leads me beneath the surface waters to a deeper awareness.

Oftentimes I come to my keyboard with only the vaguest notion of what will appear. I type out a sentence or two, a few ideas. Gradually, subtly, a shift occurs. The words draw breath. A thought calls to me and as I follow, new possibilities appear. I search my thesaurus for the perfect verb, and words I find there reveal fresh and beckoning avenues.

A liveliness, an aliveness, takes form~~and shifts and morphs and grows until, before I know it, a completed piece exists. The original impulse has taken wing and flown, through various shifts and permutations, into new worlds.

Writing is a rich, organic process. The original idea, experience, or sentiment evolves, in tune with its own nature, into a form I often could not have anticipated.

And so, while writing does allow me to taste life twice, it becomes so much more than that. Through the process, I approach the creative force that lies at the heart of life itself.

Writing feels relational. When I create with words, I touch something and am touched in return. Though I don’t claim to have any more than a fleeting acquaintance, what it feels like is that, at these moments, I come into contact with the smallest smidgeon of the vast Mystery.

In other words, writing is a spiritual experience.

I maintain an active meditation practice. I touch Spirit in my work as a psychotherapist. I sense the Sacred within the natural world. And I write. All are ways of opening myself to the Divine.

We create children or art or workshops or meals. We stand in awe of autumnal sunlight dancing on leaves of gold or stars as they circle in an inky blackness. We kneel for the Eucharist, read from sacred texts, chant in a sweat lodge. We look into the eyes of loved ones or grieve our loss of them. The avenues to Spirit are endless, as Spirit is endless. Points of contact are ever present as Spirit is ever present.

It is said that a kitten sees the toy in everything. As human folk we would be wise to see the Spirit in everything~~in each molecule and every experience. A richness is there, whether or not we recognize it. However, by practicing an active receptivity, we welcome a vitality that enlivens us and brings a profound immediacy to all our experience.


Loanne Marie