While watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving show last night I noticed something odd. Sally’s hair is the “Seed of Life” symbol – just like my tattoo. I always liked Sally.
Last week I met an enthusiastic and bizarre woman named Cindy (I’ve learned that is how wisdom often disguises itself). After an interesting conversation she suggested I say Thank You to ‘everyday things’ for a week, and then report back on the outcomes. This is my report.
It’s taken five months, but I have transformed into a healthy person- someone who eats healthy and exercises 6 days a week.
Everyday, except Sunday, I wake up at 5:15am to go to the gym for an intense workout. After five months, it’s just what I do. There’s no laying in bed, arguing with myself about going. I AM a healthy person who exercises.
I eat several small healthy meals throughout my days. After five months, it’s a habit. I no longer resent chicken and brown rice. I AM a fit person who eats healthy.
I no longer spend my remaining energy complaining about how hungry, sore, tired and sober I am.
This transformation has effected my daily routines. It has also effected my family’s routines. It’s all encompassing . Well, almost.
There are two holdouts to this transformation. These two are typically the first in line to cheer me on, but during the last five months, these two naysayers have been eerily quiet.
- My bathroom scale
- The fat that wraps my body
So, following Cindy’s advice, I took time to thank my scale and my fat. Those moments of gratitude opened up spaces for larger conversations that needed to take place.
‘Thank you, Scale. You have born my weight for years and have accurately done your job. I’m sorry for all the times I blamed you for my issues. I’m not going to put any more pressure on you. See, I’m now a healthy person, whether you’re on board or not. Please feel free to lighten up. You don’t have to work so hard. But you don’t have to change. It’s enough to know that I have.’
‘Thank you Fat. You are the most devoted friend ! You have been so devoted to my survival. I know you’ve recognized my muscle development and are frightened by the change. I see your fear. I’ve been there too. I know it’s scary, but the possibilities are endless-you could become muscle, blood, plasma, anything you want to be! Take your time if you need to. My healthy habits are not dependent on you leaving. Fat, I’m not asking you to let go- I’m asking you to loosen your grip.’
Cindy, Thank you for your gift of great advice. Through these conversations I realized that I have become a healthy person, despite common measures telling me otherwise.
This week I was retelling my zenith moment (or was it the nadir) of atheism- the time of my parents’ deaths. My folks died within two months of each other. Along with typical grief and sadness, I secretly felt a victorious self righteousness. I, Susan, the world famous quitter, had won the battle of wills. Despite my parents’ begging and longing, I had not acquiesced. I did not bow down. I stuck to my (non) beliefs. In this battle to the death, I did not become a Christian.
I look back at that time and I see a proud me-holding my championship trophy over my head, nodding to the should-be-cheering crowd. But the crowd is silent. For they see what I don’t. They see that my trophy is my stone-cold heart. The End. Fade to black.
My narrative typically ends with that heartbreaking scene, but this week when I retold the story I added a footnote; I believe in that dark moment, the Universe was pouring down on me it’s Love and Light in the same measure as it is today! The only difference between now and then was that I couldn’t perceive the Love then.
See, as I read the Gospel of Susan I realize that I am the variable, not God. The Force of Love is constant. I’m never further away or closer to God, the Force is always surrounding me. It’s simply that there were times (decades) when I had turned off my monitors, receivers, and tuners so I wouldn’t pick up the signal.
It took several years after my parents deaths to gather the courage to turn the switch back on. Now, day-by-day, I’m making adjustments to the dials, trying to tune in to the Force of Love that has ALWAYS surrounded me in this incarnation.
It surrounds you too, whether or not you can receive (see, feel, know) it. Love surrounds us all.
My most recent gift (if you can call it that) started a about a week ago. I’ve had several disparate conversations that all had similar lead ins…
“I gotta tell you ”
“Just between us ”
“I don’t repeat this ”
“I have to tell somebody ”
“You’ll never believe what I found out ”
These confidants would then share an unexpected fear, anxiety or secret. I’m glad that I’m a trusted friend, but it’s become unsettling in its predictability.
These confessions have changed my perspective on multiple aspects of my heretofore boring every day life. I now know more about my community, my employer, my marriage, my church, my friends, my family, et al. Ignorance was bliss! What was, last week, a path of equanimity, is now a road filled with deep pot holes (great metaphor by Timber Hawkeye).
I have been diligently ‘working’ this year on keeping my focus on the positive aspects of my life and seeing the good in my fellow man. My reading, my quiet times, my spiritual endeavors were purposely geared toward remembering that we all are products of Love who have simply forgotten our true identity. I pray for Peace everyday. Now I feel as though I’ve walked into a hall of mirrors- I see fear and strong emotions projected on me and everyone around me. It’s as though I opened a tote of cool weather gear and have wrapped myself in last year’s gossip, distrust, disappointment and worry.
Is this a gift? This ability to see my fears? To see the fears of others?
Was this the lesson I said ‘bring it’ to?
Perhaps the lesson is, rather than solely striving to seeing the Christ in others, I need to be more cognizant of their silent crucifixions, pains and struggles.
Or is it that I have allowed myself to feed my own fears and anxieties as my job situation grows more dire? This lesson could be simply ‘manifestation 101’.
Or is the intent of these encounters for me to voice aloud ‘ I hope that you find peace’, ‘I’m so sorry ‘, ‘I’m here for you’. I’m I to learn the important lesson on how to support others without upending my own emotions?
I’m not sure what this new gift means, but I’m grateful for it nevertheless.
Today’s gift is a string of coincidences started on October 1st with an innocent Facebook post from my friend Allison, who lives in Durango, Colorado.
Last night Bryce & I sat at a camp fire with a bunch of cowboys, drinking whiskey, talking art and poetry, & before we left, we sang Happy Trails. You’ll understand if I don’t wash the smoke out of my hair right away.
It’s not unusual for magical gatherings like those to have ripples that extend on and on. The power of a community, sitting in a circle in the presence of fire, contemplating the essence of life and creation…no wonder the Universe is still reverberating that evening’s conversation 1200 miles away, 28 days later.
I responded to Allison by sending her Richard Rohr’s daily post on the topic of Poetry and Religion which had coincidentally arrived in my inbox that same day. I knew Rohr’s appreciation of poetry would resonate with Allison, a kindred spirit. She quickly replied that Rohr’s sentiments were perfectly aligned with their campfire communion. Rohr ends his commentary with a quote from Mary Oliver “Poetry is a life-cherishing force, for poems are not words, after all, but fires for the coal, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread for the hungry.”
On October 18, Allison posted that she had given her boyfriend Bryce the new Mary Oliver book of poetry, Felicity, for his birthday. I added Felicity to my lengthy library hold list, but it was clear it would be weeks until I could get it through the library, so instead I checked out her 2014 publication, Blue Horses.
I wasn’t surprised that Krista Tippet’s On Being podcast rebroadcast an interview with Mary Oliver last week. I’ve become used to those freaky coincidences. After listening to the podcast again (I listened to the original airing last February), I thought it would be cool sent the link to Allison as a birthday gift for Bryce. They were excited and appreciative to hear this renowned 80 year old poet share her journey and read her work aloud.
This past Sunday afternoon I was sitting outside in the sunshine reading the library copy Blue Horses. I was torn between gobbling it all up in one read or savoring the passages bit by bit. Mary Oliver’s writing is so delicious. And I was so hungry. I devoured it in one sitting.
After closing the book, I remembered that it was “Pastor Appreciation Month” and I still hadn’t sent my annual gifts (typically books). So I popped on Amazon Prime and quickly ordered a copy of Blue Horses for Charles, our lead pastor and a copy of Felicity for Dustin, our associate pastor. I figured they could swap out copies when they are done reading. Three of my Core Desired Feelings were accomplished in that single act – I was sharing inspiration and I was being productive and I was being authentic. It felt right, so I knew it was right.
This morning Charles posted Mary Oliver’s famous Wild Geese poem on his Facebook page. It made me smile, knowing he received my gift and that it inspired him to research some of her other poems. I happily assumed he must have found her writings to be as lovely as I do.
But I was surprised when Charlie posted on Facebook later this afternoon “Amazon in 5 hours? You are amazing Susan! Thanks” He had obviously just received the copy of Blue Horses, but he believed that I had ordered the book for him today, after reading his Wild Geese post.
I regretted to inform my pastor that I had actually ordered the book for him a couple days prior and that it was simply another freaky coincidence that the book had arrived the day he decided to post one of Mary Oliver’s poems. No drones or same-day couriers were involved.
But perhaps there was magic involved…the Universe guided the book’s journey, like an ember from a cowboy campfire, slowly drifting in the wind since the last full moon. What a wonderful string of coincidences, also known as miracles.
Sunday night was the kickoff of the Scott Family autumn bickering session. It’s annual event that Rick and I hold each year. I started the festivities this year by writing “lawn bags” on the weekly shopping list. That was the director’s cue, “Action!”
We quickly assumed our assigned roles: Me, the nagging Mortonite wife, bitching about the yard being full of leaves, Rick, the beleaguered husband, trying to explain the complicated ten-step yard clean-up process. The script is well rehearsed and memorized so we throw in ad lib comments to keep it fresh from year to year. The argument ended with the final line delivered perfectly from Rick – “I’ll get to it”.
Overnight, leaves continued to fall…
Monday morning, Allison was walking down the stairs to start her day. She stopped at the window on the landing to look outside. “Mama, look at all the leaves in the yard!” I was glad to know I wasn’t alone in my abhorrence of a leaf covered lawn. “Yes, Allie, you should tell your dad about all the leaves in the yard!” This plot twist could totally shake up the script this year!
This was perfect. My Allison is the most tenacious person IN THE WORLD. When she latches on to an idea she will NOT let go.I often tell her to use her incredible Powers of Persistence for good – and pestering Rick to clean the yard was good in my book.
There are only three possible outcomes to Allison’s incessant demands
- Give in (Rick’s M.O.)
- Have a mental breakdown (My M.O.)
- Death (hasn’t happened yet. Just a matter of time)
So I eagerly eaves dropped as Allison complained to Rick about the leaf situation, knowing he would give into to her.
“Daddy! Did you see all the leaves in the yard? Daddy! They are SO beautiful!”
Allison used her Powers for good. She reminded me that the leaves are beautiful. The plot twisted again.
I escaped over my lunch hour simply to sit in my car and rant out loud. It was yet another Monday, facing yet another week at the same mind-numbing job. Eight long years and nothing had changed. I was working the same accounts, providing the same mediocre services from the same beige cubical. I was frustrated beyond belief.
Typically I give myself a pep talk to get through the tough times. I few positive affirmations and good vibes and I’m ready to go. But not on this Monday. I was done. I was at an all time low. I was at the point of prayer. So I pulled them all out. All the prayers I had been reading and mentally processing over the past year, I actually said them – out loud – from my heart.
Where would You have me go? What would You have me do? What would You have me say? And to whom? Tell me! I’ll do it! I’m NOT asking You to change my circumstances. I’m begging You to change ME! Please. Have me see my job as You would have me see it! I realize that I have this job because I have not learned the lesson that You want to teach me. I am willing to learn. Now. I know it will be tough, but I have faith that You will get me through the lesson, just like You have with all the other painful lessons. I swear, I am ready to learn. Change my eyes. Let me see.Change my heart. I am willing. Please. Now. Bring it!
I actually yelled “Bring it” knowing full well Who I was talking to.
An hour and a half after my lunch time rant/prayer, my boss called all of the employees into the small conference room. He had just gotten off the phone with our biggest customer (70% of revenue). They had called to inform him that we had lost the business and they were taking the work back in-house on January 1st.
Students, take out your pencils…class is about to begin.