Parker Palmer Quote

Yesterday, I read the small book Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer in its entirety.  It was a nourishing read.  I’m going to post one quote now, but will probably comment on this book in posts to come.

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The God whom I know dwells quietly in the root system of the very nature of things.  This is the God who, when asked by Moses for a name, responded, “I Am who I Am,” an answer that has less to do with the moral rules for which Moses made God famous than with elemental “isness” and selfhood.  If, as I believe, we are all made in God’s image, we could all give the same answer when asked who we are: “I AM who I Am.” One dwells with God by being faithful to one’s nature.  One crosses God by trying to be something one is not.  Reality-including one’s own-is divine, to be not defied, but honored.

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School of Spiritual Direction Recap

Good morning friends,

This past weekend I started my SOSD class, and it was wonderful.  Eighteen of us sat in the living room of this lovely room and learned together.  I felt at ease and full of joy.  My fatigue still dipped as these two full days went on, but they also were energizing days.  As Saturday evening approached, I asked myself “Why?” The answer I settled on surprised me.

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Because the fatigue from Hashimoto’s affects my entire body, I want to be able to enter into my work with my entire body.  I crave stillness and silence and I’m word weary.  Teaching means I speak a lot.  And there’s a part of me that knows that soon I will enter a season in which I will teach through my silence, my stillness, appropriate touch and looks of compassion. I sense that spiritual direction is a way of entering into a practice with my entire being-and I wondered for so long if I would ever feel this again.

I know I’m also entering a season in which people will ask “What is spiritual direction?”  Here’s my working definition right now:

Spiritual direction is a relationship of accompaniment, between director and directee, in which the director listens compassionately and asks spiritual questions of the directee, helping the directee to notice the presence and work of God in his or her everyday life.

With hopefulness, I get to read, practice, and learn about the practice and art of spiritual direction, hoping that soon this ministry will be more prominent in my life.  There are 4 more teaching weekends from now until May and in between sessions there’s reading, writing, practicing and receiving spiritual direction.

Thanks to all of you for journeying with me, and affirming my life’s story, my winding journey in which the Lord continues to clarify my desires, longings, and calling.

Labor Day Rest

I’m staying home this Labor Day weekend and doing much of the same.

The Saturday morning routine of grocery shopping, farmer’s market, and chores.  Going to church and taking a nap.  Watching football and movies.

But I remember when 3 day weekends meant travel, a quick day trip or catching up with friends who live a little further away.

However, I’ve spent time this weekend thinking that this is no longer true.  For most people, 3 day weekends mean more rest and rejuvenation, or extra time for a work project.  In many ways, 3 day weekends are most exhausting for me.  My schedule changes and my body needs time to adjust.  So while others go back to work tomorrow more ready to go, I’ll be more tired.  That’s a chronic fatigue mystery.

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A gem that I’ve found though in getting used to a lifestyle of restraint is to celebrate small things. To be okay in staying settled and doing small things with enjoyment.  I’m not going anywhere and there’s no big plans.  But yesterday Chels and I went to a restaurant on Eagle Creek and then took a walk at our favorite park.  We put it on our calendar 3 weeks in advance and got excited anticipating a “small thing.”

I’m glad there’s no work today.  It’s a cooking and baking day, and mainly a stay at home day getting mentally prepared to go back to work.  But when we’re making chicken tortilla soup for this week’s lunches, and bison burgers and autoimmune-paleo apple pie for dinner, we’re pretty content.

Repetition

On Saturday I woke up pretty early but agitated and antsy.  I was still exhausted, but my mind starting racing.

Saturday mornings reflect a weekly simple rhythm: farmer’s market, grocery shopping and sometimes a breakfast out.  Most weekends, I crave this repetition, or come to accept that eating healthily and locally if possible has become a dominant priority in my life.

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Yet, this weekend I felt bombarded with the drudgery of repetition.  I felt again anxiety taking over because I wondered if I was too tired for this weekend’s errands, that must be completed because there was no food in the fridge.  I resented being sick, that self-care needed to be a dominant way I spent my non-work time.

As I met with my spiritual director this week, she shared that “feeling how tired I actually am” will continue to take discipline, must in fact be a spiritual discipline for me.  As my life has slowed down, I crave stillness and quiet–yet, it’s to the point where I’m realizing that these things are necessary, not just an option.

To feel how tired I actually am, means that I lay on the couch and grapple with the daily reality that I manage a chronic illness.  It means that I hear the Father’s voice saying, “It’s okay that you have to lay on the couch all afternoon.” That I have the freedom to leave the productive, efficient world of work, and fall back into grounding rhythms of repetition.

Repetition and habits and the mundane experiences rather than seeking out new relationships and experiences stand in direct contrast.  Culturally speaking, in my 20’s as a single I’m supposed to live independently racking up as many new experiences as possible because “nothing or no one is holding you back.” But to pursue health, means to embrace repetition.

Yet, on certain weekends, I must also grieve that my life cannot handle spontaneity very well.  Repetition creates traditions and deeply instilled memories, yet with a chronic illness unwanted repetition can seem forced, and I must deal with these intense emotions too.  Repetition does bring out calm and joy, yet also anger and frustration.  But I’m glad that my Saturday morning of errands does have the capacity for delight every week.

What emotions does repetition cause in you? 

Taking a Sick Day

I woke up, barely having slept at all Monday night.  My head burned and throbbed and I was congested.  Yes, welcome to the beginning of school year cold in the middle of August.  Most of my life I just pushed through a simple cold, sucked on lemon cough drops, took a short nap, but still maintained life as usual.  There was too much going on to pause.

But last Tuesday I took a sick day.  Not because I couldn’t get out of bed.  Yet because I’ve learned enough to listen to my body-and I needed to protect myself from feeling worse.  So I made breakfast, took a bath, completed a small house project, and napped for 3 hours all while running the diffuser constantly.

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The sick day helped me to slow down.  To remember that my health takes a precedence over work.  To remember that I miss mid-morning walks and writing daily.  To remember that the goal isn’t to push through any more but to listen to my body.  To remember that a simple change of pace changes my perspective drastically. To remember that I’ve grown; I’m no longer who I used to be.  To remember that it’s my job to forget about students for the day and take care of myself.

I made the right decision and I didn’t feel any guilt.  I took a sick day on the third week of school.  I reminded myself that I manage a chronic illness daily and that pushing through is not my job description anymore.  I took a day off and could truly rest.

What do you learn about yourself when you take a day off?

Spiritual Direction

Next month,  I will start a class on spiritual direction in Indy.  Since signing up, I’ve felt tentative.

Why did I sign up?

I’m not prepared enough.

What is spiritual direction anyway?

Why do I feel a sense in me that I just need to ‘find out more?’

As I’ve started delving into my reading, preparing for this first class, I’ve paused at these sentences that author Susan Phillips uses to describe her work as a spiritual director in her book Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction:

“I listen for the depths of humanity, believing that in those storied, embodied, sensate, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual depths lies the presence of God. An encounter with God is not achieved by stripping us of our human nature, but rather entering into it honestly, as Jesus did. As a new relationship begins, I listen for the ways God encounters the real person and how the person prays from the depths of his or her heart.”

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I discovered spiritual direction by attending a few solitude retreats at Sustainable Faith Indy and talking to the hosts, who so graciously welcomed me into their home for quiet reflection in the midst of an undiagnosis and unrelenting fatigue.  I left their home thinking “I want to become like them.”  So at their home for 5 weekends this next year, with a small cohort, we will learn together about spiritual direction and what it means to be a spiritual director.  And over the course of this year, I know I will be changed.  I hope I become a person for can embrace stillness and rest even more fully, enter into conversation more attentively, and see the stirrings of God more acutely in myself and others.

As I come home from work and read, I find myself crying, reflecting, and knowing that  this is my most weighty adventure this year.  I can’t wait to tell all of you more over the coming year.

What adventures are you taking over the coming year? 

How do you wish to learn and grow?

Paleo Biscuits

This is my new favorite recipe and I thought I’d share.  It makes one dozen, good for dinner, and the leftovers the next morning with a cup of coffee.

1/3 cup coconut flour

5 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, softened (Butter is better!)

4 eggs

2 Tbsp honey

dash of salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-17 minutes.  Enjoy!

 

Spiritual Friendship

I read this short, yet poignant book this week.  I urge you to take time to read it.

Wesley Hill tackles the theology and historical perspective of friendship, while analyzing why friendship seems to be a lost art in modern culture.  What is most beautiful about Hill’s writing is that he doesn’t compromise his theology, while writing honestly from his perspective as a gay celibate Christian, and how his orientation affects his view of friendship.

He asks honestly what celibate gay Christians are to do with their longings for love and their fear of loneliness.  Is there a place for love in honest relationship within the church?  Hill says, yes, in friendship.

Spiritual Friendship

I subscribe to a blog called Spiritual Friendship, where Hill is a co-editor, and I’ve been challenged over the past 18 months by his writing.  Hill has helped me see the need for friendship in my own life-that it is a holy longing to know and be known by someone else, and the longing doesn’t have to be sexual in nature.

Why I am encouraged and challenged by a gay Christian, when I myself am not gay?  

Well, for several reasons.  First, I respect Hill’s upholding that marriage is between one man and one woman-and that his calling on his life is celibacy.  I respect his honest personal narrative, while still showing immense love for the homosexual community as a whole, even when he might disagree.

I’ve also seen parallels and the immense need for friendship in sickness.  Loneliness seems to outweigh any other reality at times, yet I feel as though I have love to give, but wonder, “To whom do I show my love?”  And the answer for me has been in mutual friendships.  Those that seek to understand and to be honest themselves.  Those that seek to learn and are patient.  Those that can accept mystery and seeming contradictions.  Those who can be in the moment, not always striving for more.  Those who can sit and be still.  These people are my friends.

Read Wesley Hill, and let yourself be challenged.  Read his story and be thankful.

Why is friendship so important in our culture? 

What are some roadblocks to friendships deepening? 

What helps friendships grow?

Back to Work Rhythms

Re-entry back to work overall has been good.  I’m really tired, but I knew that I would be.  I fall asleep before 9pm, and wake up to my grounding morning rhythms of reading, journaling, yoga, and making breakfast before walking across the street to school.

Currently, during professional development, we have an hour off for lunch so Chels and I walk back to our apartment and eat lunch before going back to school for the afternoon.

We love that our apartment is clean, calming, and relaxing to come home to.  The last week it has provided a set amount of time to process the morning and mentally prepare for the afternoon, while eating a meal slowly.

After work includes lifting weights together, making dinner, reading or a small apartment project that still isn’t done.  Our goal is to have everything hung on the wall and all furniture put together by next weekend before school starts.

I see glimpses of what I’ve internalized in being sick.  I care more about my life outside of work.  I know my lifestyle needs to be sustainable.  I enjoy the simple aspects of everyday life.  My life has simplified in so many ways.  In short: I know who I am, I know my limits, and I’ve learned to enjoy the healthy things I need to do so I can be as healthy as possible.

In many ways, I’m proud of that last statement.  Because I used to despise all the healthy things I had to do in order to function well, while everyone else didn’t have to think about what they ate or conserving energy.  Now, it’s a lot easier to accept what my life has become.  And I’m a much healthier person because of it, even if I have to say no to many other things.

 

Celebrating Part II

Getting a job and moving bumped right up next to each other.  Chels and I moved this past week and quickly got settled in because professional development starts today!  There’s lots of new in both of our lives-but we love coming home-to our place.  Two years ago the Triple A Indy Indians old baseball stadium was renovated into apartments.  We just happen to have a first floor apartment that has a backyard patio on the baseball field.  We are excited for our patio furniture to be delivered.

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Chels and I didn’t actually think we would be roommates.  So part of moving in, even in the busyness of it all, is just stopping and saying, “I’m really glad I get to be your roommate.”

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We are both tired.  It’s been a busy week.  But we’re glad that this past weekend has meant naps, Saturday night movies, filling up our fridge and hanging pictures. And Monday morning just means a walk across the street to school.

Thanks for celebrating with us.  This move largely means a new start for both of us and we are excited.

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