Tag Archives: centered

Micro-theology

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Reading, reading, and more reading is for me a time-tested source of reflection. This week it’s The Practice of Spiritual Direction, by William A. Barry & William J. Connolly. They ask, “Who is God for me, and who am I for God?”

Who is God for me? God is infinity, God is love. God is both remote and inaccessible and also fully present and personal. For me that means God transcends mystery, which can be microscopic or cosmic in nature. God is always present, but not in control.

Who am I for God? Wholly imperfect, fully human, worthy, and loved.

How do I feel about myself in relation to God? Inadequate, imperfect (based on deep-seated, internalized judgments from my father and other humans. Now I remember that they, too, were both inadequate and also imperfect.)

How do I feel about myself in relationship with God? I feel loved for who I am, mortal and limited. I feel challenged to be my best self, not anyone else.

How can I enter into (fuller) relationship with God?

  1. Stop and breathe.
  2. Confess my greatest hope and/or my greatest concern.
  3. Listen to inner wisdom and wisdom of the ages.
  4. Begin again in love.

Those four steps do not require a belief in a particular god/dess or deity. They require me to tap into the depths of my own knowledge and experience. They remind me to love to the best of my ability day by day. (Reading helps, too!)

How do you maintain a connection with your highest power? In relation to what? In relationship with whom? (Even tentative thoughts are fine!)

A Spiritual Life

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Breathe

A couple of weeks ago I read these words by Werner Herzog:

We need constantly to renew our relationships–

to the houses we live in,

to our friends,

to our own bodies

–all the time, every day.

I have become more diligent lately about going to yoga 2-3 times a week. It’s a gentle yoga with more attention to the breath than to the reach of the body. Focus on the breath and the body will follow.

A spiritual life means movement, not “just” prayer, writing, reflection, conversation. Thus are we invited to more mindfulness in everything we do for ourselves–food, drink, exercise; and more mindfulness in everything we do for the world–labor, chores, advocacy, volunteering, and otherwise getting out of our chairs.

The invitation has been here all the time. Mixed in with the rest of life’s debris we didn’t even notice the plain looking wrapper. But let your imagination open it. Notice the care with which it was created–the perfect choice of color and style, the quiet and open-ended invitation. There’s no deadline (other than death), no promises, no begging.

Just a possibility, waiting.

Juggling by Threes

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This has been a great day to juggle several things: generating an order of service for a memorial service, meeting with a team of ministers, educators, and musicians about our collaborative worship plans, developing a proposed plan for a Rapid Response Network in the Houston area, and adjusting my 2013 calendar for incoming events. Interesting that I chose the word “incoming.” Rather indicative of my feeling that multiple things are coming at me at once. The dates in your calendar are closer than they appear.

Well okay then.

This morning I read some advice from Management Tools (a great resources with a free newsletter, podcasts, and the option to sign up for more). Not revolutionary but practical and easy as 1, 2, 3. When things are coming at you, fast and furious, or you find yourself stuck in the mire of inertia, there’s something satisfying about the number 3.

One: Pick the next three things you need to do.  Write them down on a post it or a piece of scrap paper.  Do them.  Every time you get distracted and think – what was I supposed to be doing? – go back to your short list.  When you’ve done the first three, do another three.  You’ll be amazed at how many completed post-it notes you’ll end up with.  I find this helps on days full of interruptions or when I’m feeling a little [overwhelmed].
Two: At the end of the day, pick the most important three things for you to do the next day.  Write them down.  Do those things FIRST, before email, before phone calls, before any meetings.  If you use this technique, you’ll always be working on your priorities.
Three: If your list is very long, pick three like things, and do just those.  Three phone calls, three emails, three pages you need to print, three pieces of filing.  If you like stability, do three more of those things until all that group is done.  If you like variety, do three of something different.
Part of their advice reminds me of another resource, a book with a great title: Never Check Email in the Morning by my hero Julie Morgenstern (Fireside/Simon& Schuster, 2005). In other words, take control of your day before it is swallowed by other (very important) information, requests, or events.
Busy days can be the most productive of all. When I had just 10 minutes before a meeting I sent out the first draft of that order of service, printed a document for the meeting, and showed up ready to participate. After the meeting I had received a reply that generated a second draft. Feels good to accomplish a lot. There’s also a down side, so read on.
Give yourself a break! Just as skipping a meal to lose weight just means you’re so hungry later you want to eat everything in sight, going non-stop from one task to another means you starve yourself of time for reflection. If you have to schedule time for yourself in your calendar, do it! Then you can honestly tell someone you have other plans.
So here’s what I’m working on, just for me: yoga in the morning, a walk every day after lunch, and learning and practicing a Bach aria assigned by my voice teacher. Easy as 1, 2, 3. Then I might pick another three or maybe even the same ones!
What works for you? How do you balance work, family, chores, and self-care? It won’t always balance on a given day, but is there a rhythm you can sustain over time?

First Days Record

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Shifting gears, big time! Phone calls, emails, and meetings with key leaders have started to fill me in on the weeks I was away. At the same time I have been picking up many balls all at once, as though I had never been away. Some things have waited for my return; some balls were dropped altogether; many positive things have moved us forward in our mission. Already I have had to say goodbye to a member who is moving away.

Even as I ramp up it is important for me to maintain a wide perspective, a metaphorical view from the balcony. Life IS short. Healthy balance requires considerable effort because there is always something personal or professional that can throw that balance right out the window.

So I go back again and again to the spiritual heart of my being. Meditation, poetry, music, writing, and prayer–early and often during each day. Such a joy it is to fall back on the spiritual wisdom of the ages!

Today has been a reading and writing day. I’m outside under the shade of a patio umbrella and there is almost enough breeze to offset the heat and humidity. The weather will only get worse as summer takes hold, so I might as well avail myself of this beautiful spring day. Too bad we haven’t had enough rain lately. I’m trying to be super conscious of water consumption already and to appreciate every drop.

Here’s a closing reading from Anthony de Mello’s Song of the Bird

A Parable on Modern Life

The animals met in assembly and began to complain that humans were always taking things away from them.
“They take my milk,” said the cow.
“They take my eggs,” said the hen.
“They take my flesh for bacon,” said the hog.
“They hunt me for my oil,” said the whale.

Finally the snail spoke. “I have something they would certainly take away from me if they could. Something they want more than anything else. I have TIME.”
You have all the time in the world, if you would give it to yourself. What’s stopping you?

I don’t need ALL the time. Just enough. And you?

Peace through Pie and other Ponderings

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Peace through Pie! A great idea launched by Luanne Stovall for MLK Weekend. Pie socials are a great way to bridge the gap between racial groups: inclusive circle, diverse ingredients, and everyone gets a place at the table. My sermon today highlighted the pie social yesterday at Sweet Home Baptist Church, near my house in Clarksville (central Austin). I think we just might do that at Live Oak next year!

I have been working through 3-4 lists to sort out work and local errands and things I’ll need in CA and in India. The India list is a lot longer! The Republic of India has an impressive visa. I’m happy it came through with no problem.

Questions: should I take my laptop or get by with my iPod Touch? What kind of adapter or converter will be necessary?

Someone mentioned an excellent map store on I-35. I can’t find it on the web, though. Anyone know about it?

Have you ever used Dr. Bonner’s soap bars or Soapies or bar-soap shampoo?

As I check things off my lists, one is this morning’s sermon, my last one for a while. Another is the conference call with the Southwest UU Women’s Board. A great conference is shaping up March 4-6 in Dallas. Check it out at http://swuuw.org/

Tomorrow, though, I’ll get ready for the annual Minister’s Retreat at Camp Allen, near Navasota. It’s an Episcopal retreat center in a lovely setting and a beautiful chapel. I’ll bring copies of the roster of attendees. And at least a little bit of the work I still need to complete!

In the midst of the busy making and checking of lists, though, I am taking time for meditation, yoga, and walks. Staying centered will help keep me sane.