Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Dawns Again!

Today is the Vernal Equinox. At precisely 11:32 a.m. MDT, the sun hovers directly above the equator, and light and dark are said to reside in perfect balance. While night and day are not exactly equal in length for many of us, we’re darn close. And from here on, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, light wins out.

Cultures throughout the world have, therefore, celebrated this event as a time of rebirth. Today, though, I find myself thinking of teeter~ totters. Bear with me.

When I was quite young, I was fascinated by a special clock which sat atop a table in my grandmother’s parlor. Below the clock face, a piece of glass offered a view into a three~dimensional outdoor scene housed in the structure’s base. There, a boy and girl sat upon a seesaw, endlessly moving up and down in rhythm to the ticking clock. I could watch this pair for hours, especially at night when a small bulb lit the scene from within. Sitting in the darkened parlor, I felt I was truly looking into another world.

Perhaps this is where my love of real life teeter~totters was born. I could ride them forever. This “sport” is all about balance. My playmate and I would often adjust our positions on the board~~the heavier child scooting toward the center, the lighter one inching nearer the outer edge~~until the wooden plank came to rest in its horizontal and still position.

Once equilibrium was achieved, however, we rarely remained there for more than a few seconds. Sometimes gravity got the better of us. Most of the time, though, one of us would purposely tip the scale, just for the sheer fun of moving again.

I’m thinking there might be a lesson in this. Balance is a precarious thing and we are not meant to be poised there always. We are meant to be moved by life, now up, now down.

Yet amid the fluctuations, there’s another type of balance that is ours to cultivate long~term. On the teeter~totter, we’d seldom sit serenely as we moved up and down. No, we’d let go of the handle, stand on the seat, ride backwards, whirl around. Anything to spice it up. Such antics required a dynamic internal equilibrium, one that spontaneously adjusted to meet our changing needs. We were, of course, propelled by a sense of daring as well.

Internal equilibrium and daring~~a nice combination for encountering life’s challenges.

On each of the two yearly equinoxes, the stasis point is fleeting. The rest of the year, either day or night predominates. This is true, too, in our own lives. Things may be a bit lighter or a bit darker. We may be going up, or we may be coming down. Yet amid these permutations, a balance point can be found within our own souls.

As a child, I loved the up and down rhythm I saw inside my grandmother’s clock. In my real world seesawing, though, I discovered a personal balance point within that steady rhythm. We can metaphorically do the same in our lives now. By cultivating an agile steadiness within, we can find novel ways to keep our seat during both the rising and the falling that comes our way.

We can, also, dare to relish the ride itself~~and we can do so whether one hand waves free, or both are holding on for dear life.

Happy spring to you all! And enjoy the ride!

Loanne Marie

Monday, March 8, 2010

Personal Calling

I’ve recently read two separate accounts of persons who fought courageously against the unspeakable brutality of the Nazi system. Working quietly and at great personal risk, these individuals were responsible for saving hundreds, even thousands, of lives.

I find stories of such heroism truly inspiring. However, they often leave me wondering about the rest of us. Ordinary mortals like you and me might not have been given, as of yet anyway, such dramatic roles to play in this world. What, then, is asked of us?

In Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, Franciscan priest, author, and lecturer, Richard Rohr, urges us not to be sidetracked by comparing ourselves to those who have reached great heights. He encourages us instead to seek our own personal calling.

“When we see that the world is enchanted, we see the revelation of God in each individual as an individual,” he writes. “Our job is not to be Mother Teresa, our job is not to be St. Frances~~it is to do what is ours to do.” He reminds us that St. Frances of Assisi’s final words as he lay dying were, “I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do.”

We each arrive in this world with certain capabilities. This raw material is then shaped in various ways as our interactions with others are filtered through the culture in which we live and the peculiarities of what might be called fortune. We are not passive in this process. Particularly as we mature, many of us find that we can, that we must, choose our personal response to the undertaking that is life.

Because of the sheer variety of all these components, each one of us is truly a singular and evolving expression of the divine energy that imbues all creation.

“There is a unique truth that our lives alone can reflect,” writes Rohr. Our task, then, is to live from that divinely~inspired place that is ours alone, allowing it to shine out into the world.

Our calling may arise within a vocation or through a talent diligently refined over the course of a lifetime. We might be drawn to nurture others in their journey through the grand cycle of life and death. Or perhaps we are called simply (hah!) to be a kind and good person in every situation we come upon.

There are, indeed, an untold number of expressions of this quest to authentically be the person one is, as purely and as clearly as possible. “We must find out what part of the mystery is ours to reflect, “writes Rohr. “The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. That is everybody’s greatest cross.”

In my work as a psychotherapist, I have the honor of witnessing folks engaging in the hard work of deeply experiencing their wounds. As they make peace with these hurt places, it is as though a lens is cleansed of debris and an essence is freed to radiate out with increasing brilliance. They grow larger, stronger and more radiant before my eyes.

It seems oftentimes that, in entering and healing our hurt places, we can come into ourselves more wholly and find our greatest gifts revealed. But these gifts arise through engaging our strengths, passions and delights as well.

To become fully oneself, within the context of a greater wisdom, seems indeed our personal calling, our cross to bear~~though this experience often arrives with more joyousness than that phrase readily conveys.

And besides, what other choice is there, really, than to be who we are. As Oscar Wilde puts it, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

May we each come more fully to reflect the part of the Mystery that is ours alone to express.


Loanne Marie