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Monday, July 14, 2014

What Energizes You?

As a Benedictine Oblate, I focus on maintaining balance with work, study, prayer and leisure.  This past Saturday I led a retreat helping men and women develop a life-giving balance within their particular circumstances.  The one area that seems to often be lacking is that of leisure, rest, refueling.  It can be hard to carve out seemingly "nonproductive time" for something that is fun and infuses fresh air into our schedule.

With our recent move and all of the details that flow from such an undertaking, I have become very aware of my need for leisure.  Last Friday, my husband and I continued our annual tradition of almost 9 years attending a local festival, Lily Fest. Because we had such a full day of things still to complete, we were only there a few hours.  It was a challenge to keep this commitment in the midst of other tasks grabbing at us.   But those few hours, well spent, were incredibly life-giving.  Visiting with artists amidst the beauty of these beautiful gardens filled the dry places in my soul from these recent months of intense work.

Part of this annual visit always includes listening to the music of Mark Thunderwalker whose concert takes place in a garden surrounded by water lilies and dancing dragonflies.   Mark is a gifted musician who plays the Native American Flute as well as crafts them.  His wife, Sheila, is also a gifted artist.  I purchased one of her pieces in addition to a few of Mark's CDs as gifts.  To listen to some of Mark's music, here are a couple of  YouTube links 

Following Spirit 
Today We Begin

You can order his CDs by visiting Mark Thunderwalker.

Identify those activities that energize you and get them on your calendar.  In those places where you may feel limited in what you can do, where you can go, etc. ask God to show you what is within your means for refueling.  Lily Fest is always one of those "big" things.  I also have smaller activities like sitting in my favorite chair and listening to quiet music that energize me throughout each day.

May you make space in your day today to "waste time with God" by simply inviting the Spirit to nourish you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Faith and Patience

Poet Mary Oliver shares the poem, "Black Swallowtail" in her book, Red Bird.

The caterpillar,
  interesting but not exactly lovely,
humped along among the parsley leaves
  eating, always eating.  Then
one night it was gone and in its place
  a small green confinement hung by two silk threads
on a parsley stem.  I think it took nothing with it
  except faith, and patience.  And then one morning

it expressed itself into the most beautiful being.

~ Mary Oliver

When we choose to learn the lesson, waiting teaches faith and patience.  As my husband and I settle into our long-awaited new home in the woods, this poem takes on a deeper meaning.  I can recall so many instances of "caterpillar life" in new circumstances requiring a new expression.  Some of those circumstances were particularly harsh and very unwelcome intrusions.  Some, like this move, carried their own form of harshness in all of the upheaval and change but were welcome at the same time.  Transition is a process of releasing what is known and comfortable and trusting that new life is on the horizon - always beginning again.

For some interesting tidbits about this metamorphosis (and the source of the above image), and to view a time lapse slideshow of the birth of a swallowtail butterfly visit

If this image speaks to you, I invite you to take a few minutes to wonder how the life stages of the black swallowtail may have something to say about your life stages.  There are seasons of life where it seems I am crawling, hanging, or anticipating flight for a painfully long time.  Recalling an image like this reminds me that the one place in which I feel stuck is not all there is.  Something else is coming.  If I can hold onto faith and patience rather than trying to take control, God will bring the new thing at just the right time.  It may not be what I expected.  It is not always I wanted.  But, God is good and will help me to fly within that new place.

As you look at these web images and reflect on the words of Mary Oliver, what most resonates with you?  

~ "munching" along at a very slow pace feeling somewhat unlovely; or 
~ dangling from a barely present thread as your old home breaks open wondering "when, if, how …"; or
~ acknowledging the place you are in and embarking on a new way of being fully present in that life.

If you would like to share your own experience for the benefit of others, post your thoughts below.