I smile and acknowledge ownership of the bag with a nod just as the woman reaches in and pulls out a huge pair of my old maternity underwear. She holds them up with two hands at arms length and tilts her head quizzically. They are so thread-bare and tattered that the elastic is exposed through the frayed waistband. She turns to me with a grin and says,
Posts tagged ‘spirituality’
It is the one book on parenting I feel absolutely confident in recommending. It’s short, concise, relevant, spiritual and practical. A good parenting book, like this one, appears to be teaching us how to raise loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded children but in essence it is teaching us to learn from our children how to become loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded adults.
I have tiptoed across a dark courtyard at 2AM to spy on Greek Orthodox monks floating in black wool cassocks and high hats through a fragrant fog of amber incense. Chanting Vespers in the candlelit chapel of an Arizona oasis, voices carried to God on white smoke through a starry desert sky. My own soul seeming to rise closer to heaven on every note.
My sister Karen is a healer. She is a licensed Massage Therapist and Healing Touch practitioner who works out of a small office in the suburbs. In a recent phone conversation Karen told me about working with a client, Tim, who passed from Cancer. He was the husband of her dear friend, and the experience of his difficult death shook Karen to her core. “It’s been five months,” she says tearfully, “and I can’t move past it.” She is struggling with doubt about her practice she tells me, and she is questioning her ability to offer any real comfort to clients who suffer as Tim did.
As she is speaking, I suddenly remember something that happened to me while she was giving me a massage a long time ago. I had dozed off and dreamt I was being given a message about one of her clients. When I described it to her at the time, she said she did not have any clients by that name. We joked that I was a terrible psychic secretary and dismissed it at that. Now, while still listening to her on the phone, I rummage through my bookshelf to find the small journal I used to keep in my purse. Flipping through the meager number of pages that have any writing on them, I quickly find my scribbled note. I interrupt her to read aloud what is written under the date 4/29/06 (five years earlier). It says; “Message for Karen. “Tim” Your healing is making a difference-it is touching him, changing him. He has the hand of God upon him.” On the other end of the phone line, Karen is crying now, telling me this is what she needed to hear.
Our lives are filled with miracles and mysteries, folded and tucked lovingly into the everyday moments we so often miss, or, dismiss. In the past year, I have written about them often. They are not always the hair-raising, skin tingling events like the message for my sister was, but they are all equally sacred:
“Many years ago during my darkest hour, I held a small grain of hope that there would be days like today. A still, clear, quiet, sun-dappled morning, children sleeping in upstairs rooms, an old dog curled at my feet–a populated solitude. I am alone, but not lonely. A day, extraordinary in its utter ordinariness. I had faith, and I am here and I am grateful.”
They often whisper to us:
“Returning to bed at 4:30am after letting the dogs out, I slip gingerly into the space between husband and child that still holds my shape. I whisper a complaint about my cold hands as I fold them over my middle. Two warm hands reach out from sleep and cover mine. One large, one small.”
They are small, precious gems, easily overlooked if we are not paying attention:
“I walk past the home of a woman I do not yet know and I am deeply and inexplicably moved to tears by the spring bulbs blooming outside her picture window. Little blue Scilla flowers spell out the word “ALIVE.” Years later, after we’ve become friends, I learn she had endured surgery for breast Cancer and, facing chemo treatment, she had planted this beautiful message of hope the previous fall to celebrate spring’s arrival and her survival.”
They are holy moments, all:
“I wake up to a 7-year-old stowaway in my bed. She is cuddled next to me, gazing straight into my blinking, bleary eyes. ‘I think heaven is different for everyone,’ she says to me, ‘like Candy Land or a beautiful meadow. For me it would be just like my life now, here, with my family.’ I nod, smile and pull her close.”
These experiences do not happen to me because there is anything special about me, my life, or my children. They are there in your life too, all around you. I promise you this is true. You just need to be present and aware. It takes practice to quiet your thoughts enough to really hear, see, and feel these glimpses of divinity, but I know they are everywhere. I believe that you feel it too.
Divinity in the Everyday
I have consciously resisted “The Secret” ever since it was released many years ago. Not that I knew that much about it. It just seemed, I don’t know, hokey. But recently, on the cusp of starting my new business, MAMMASTE™, I’ve been filled with fear, doubt and anxiety. So I thought, “What have I got to lose by checking out the book’s message regarding the law of attraction?” I borrowed the book on CD from the library and threw it into my car so I could listen to it while driving.
A few days later, I was late for a breakfast meeting and I was rushing, driving faster than I should on the snowy, slippery Minnesota roads. The Secret CD was playing and the narrator was talking about how, if our inner dialogue is “I’m going to be late,” or ”There’s never enough time,” we are creating our own chronic lateness. The trick was, the voice on my CD was telling me, to start telling yourself, “I have more than enough time, I have all the time I need.”
I smiled at the coincidence and decided to slow down and change my inner dialogue. As I came around a curve in the road, a child darted out from behind a snow bank in front of my car. I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop in front of the child who froze, wide-eyed, just inches from my front bumper. He then turned and ran on. I sat there, my heart pounding, realizing that if I hadn’t slowed down a moment before, I would have hit him! “What a fortunate coincidence,” I thought.
Later that same day I was heading out to a lunch meeting for my new business. The Secret CD was again playing and the topic was; “You are a creator.” The narrator was talking about how if we think about what we want to create in a way that feels like we have already received what we want, we can create whatever it is we desire. The essence of the message being, “You create what you want in three steps: Ask, Believe and Receive.” I was thinking, “Okay, yes, it feels a little hokey, but I will apply this to creating Mammaste,” and then I looked up at the truck merging into the lane in front of me, and this is what I saw. My hand to God, this is a true story.
And that is all I have to say about that.
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
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I understand. All of us are a bundle of contradictions between what we practice and what we preach. But occasionally I run across folks who, when they believe they’ve mastered a higher rung on the metaphysical ladder, use said rung to clobber anyone coming up “below” them.
One morning I slogged down the stairs, feeling cranky and put-upon for having to make school lunches for my kids at 6AM, something I’d been doing for more than 15 years--with another 10 more years of tuna, turkey, or salami on the horizon. (I blame my five children for being born so darn many years apart.) It was with this self-pitying attitude that I tore the clear plastic seal from the top of the cream cheese and saw this smiling back at me.
“I close my eyes as my daughter leans in to concentrate on making the stroke of eyeliner she is applying to my lid straight and clean. I feel the warm puff of her breath on my cheek each time she exhales. This beautiful, suspended moment is enough. I am so very, very happy.”
After listening to the shepherds tell of their experience with the angels in the fields, it is said in Luke 2: 19: that “Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.” I love this passage because of its wonderfully genuine and personal portrayal of Mary as a young, heretofore ordinary woman, living an extraordinary experience. There is such an intimate truth in this passage about the overwhelming quality of grace. It can be too much to take in when it is happening, a heart overflowing.
I have been given brief glimpses into the miracle of my own ordinary life. It can happen in moments of great joy, or in seemingly mundane moments like the one I described above with my daughter. Sometimes they happen in a still, quiet experience in nature when I am suddenly struck by the overwhelming beauty that is this delicate, fragile planet. Or it can come without warning in moments of deep despair when a small ray of hope glimmers in the distance, like love looking for me, lantern waiving on the dark horizon.
Whatever it may be that moves me so deeply, after these miraculous moments pass, I still have to get up and go to work, do the laundry, make the lunches or take out the trash. I know I am not alone here. These luminous insights into the great mystery are all around us, and you and I feel them most often when we are truly present in the moment. We do not have to be like Mary, or a Christian to fully understand this passage in Luke 2:19. Many of us have experienced miraculous moments, and know what it means to quietly treasure them away in our hearts, taking them out from time to time, like a smooth, worn touchstone from our pocket. A practice that brings me great comfort and joy. I imagine it does you, too.
Blessings to you in this season of miracles. May we treasure them always in our hearts and ponder them often.
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
What I find most profound about the magic of Santa at Christmas is this act of giving anonymously as a true manifestation of Matthew 6:3, “. . .when you give . . . do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” To me, Santa embodies the practice of giving without thought or attachment to personal recognition for what you’ve given.