Thursday, May 31, 2007

Journey into Silence -
Part III

The inner path.....
Silence invited me to come to rest with myself. If one is not talking, creating activity, or constantly looking outwards for stimulation, one must eventually face herself.
Silence invited me to face things about me that were restless, uncomfortable, and painful & downright ugly. I couldn't ignore those areas for very long when forced to be with myself.
However, the greater discovery was that the journey within not only led to greater self-awareness but 'God awareness'. God was not something 'out there' that I had to be striving towards. God was not 'far off' and 'distant'. When I came to be looking within, I found God's presence more strongly than ever and it was within my being. The invitation to 'be still and know that I am God' from Psalms became a reality.....and it was through the gift of silence. Silence made me aware of a Beautiful Presence who has created me, who heals me and who redeems me.

One might think that all of this inner work causes one to become too introspective...or 'belly gazing'. However, I have found the opposite is true. That the more I become at rest in my inner life with God, the more I am able to recognize that Presence in others and have a desire to love and honor others in my life. It deepens the community around me as I am not looking so much to others to meet my needs, but I am becoming more at rest and can allow others to also be at rest in who they have been created to be.

This photo is taken at Heritage Park in Mission......the path in the woods which I love.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Journey into Silence - Part II

It was a 3 day silent retreat that I took in
southern Georgia that profoundly affected my
personal life. I am still affected by that retreat and it is 9 years later. It wasn't an open space of nothing for 3 days, but a time of intentional listening, of receiving spiritual direction for one hour each day, and of deep rest.
The guidance that came to me in silence during that time gave me courage in making some huge decisions that I am still bearing the impact of to this day.

"The beginning of prayer is silence...God speaking in the silence of the heart. And then we start talking to God from the fullness of the heart. And He listens. ......That is really prayer. Both sides listening and both sides speaking." Mother Teresa

photo from Heritage Park, Mission, B.C.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Journey into Silence
- Part I
It wasn't by choice or desire that I was introduced to the world of silence.

I was silenced by pain and turmoil. It wasn't a comfortable silence. It wasn't a restful silence. It wasn't a peaceful silence. It became a desperate silence. God, are you really there? What the hell is going on? I lost my speech. I lost my song. I almost lost my breath. During this time the forced silence became an invitational silence towards something deeper and richer than my current situation.

When I first experienced a 5 minute intentional silent period in a group of Anglicans, all the inner pain, restlessness, anxiety shot to the surface. I was extremely agitated. The interesting thing was what I observed in myself later. That the intentional silence in that group that was aimed at opening ourselves up to God, fostered a space inside of me for listening that seemed to create more awareness throughout the days that followed. More 5 minutes in groups, 10 minutes and soon there was a whole day of silence.
To my surprise, I gradually grew hungry for this silence, which then opened up a space for listening inside of me. This space for listening began to surprise me. It opened up a greater awareness of what was happening in my life and in the situation I found myself a part of. It opened up an awareness of God's voice coming to me when I least expected it. It was like finding a '6th sense' and learning how it works and that it could be a daily part of my human experience here on this earth - being connected with the Divine.

This is a partial picture of a painting by my daughter, Pera. The night sky speaks to me of the journey into silence.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Upcoming Taize Service at Westminster Abbey in Mission

Experience an hour of rest in a beautiful setting through song, silence, scripture and candlelight.

Saturday, May 26, 2007 8-9pm

Here is an invitation to be carried in the arms of the Shepherd and rest....

Monday, May 07, 2007

Intuition and Flexibility - the Giraffe Story

It was this spring that I got invited to participate as an artist in a local elementary school. My job was to help the class of grade 2 students experience making a piece of individual art as well as help groups of students make a project together that could be sold to raise money for their school playground.

The process of this art was one that I enjoy - applying acyrlic paint in the primary colors to a canvas. Then, one layers more and more paint. The result can be an astonishing assortment of color and shapes. The process then invites the artist (s) to 'see' something in the art that they wish to develop or bring out. In one of the group projects the 6 children involved saw an animal. At first they wondered if it should be a camel, but then they decided on a giraffe. I am not a very accomplished artist and I didn't know how to help them create this giraffe. They watched me full of hope- I was the 'artist'- surely I knew what to do. So, I tried. I thought it looked absolutely horrible! But because the children had so much faith in me, I could not give up. In the end, this Giraffe became one of my favorite paintings from the experience and I bought it myself. I found out the the giraffe is a symbol of 'intuition and flexibility'. This painting is on display in my home as a wonderful symbol to me of the faith & intuitive knowing of a child and as an invitation to be flexible regarding how I face a task or a challenge.

Thoughts on beauty

Lately I've been captivated by the idea, the majesty, the wonder, the splendor of beauty. I have realized that there has been a lot of shame in my life around the concept of beauty. Somehow in my growing up, I got the idea that to really enjoy beauty was linked with vanity, selfishness, & a slippery slope towards hedonism. Being female and holding a somewhat negative idea of beauty has brought a bit of a clash for me; or perhaps I should say a cautioned hesitancy towards beauty. My female heart is drawn towards pleasing shapes and lines, towards colors that evoke a mood or a thought, towards sounds that touch my inner self - I have realized that beauty feeds me. Beauty refreshes me. To hold a new tulip and be in wonder at it's color and shape, the long straight line of the stem, the rounded curves of the petals is a showcase of beauty. Did not our Creator delight in beauty? Is beauty not something that is a tremendous gift for our hearts and perhaps a deep reflection of the Divine? Lately I've been singing together with a friend once a week. We just sit in a beautiful setting an sing one hour per week - no agenda to perform. Just experience the beauty of a song. Recently we sang a chant that had Navajo words regarding beauty.

In beauty happily I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty all around me I walk

It is finished in beauty, It is finished in beauty.

These words remind me of Julian of Norich - all shall be well, and all matter of things shall be well. They also remind me of the prayers of St. Patrick - Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ above me, Christ all around me.