Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: a prayer

Out of control

Four nights in a row. Out of control, nightmarish dreams that brought me to a full stop for a few days. I was in my dreams, but not in the driver’s seat. I wasn’t even in the vehicles. I was an onlooker, watching things go downhill with each increasingly dangerous iteration of the same scenario.

I don’t like starting over. I like getting into a groove and then letting things go ahead ‘as normal.’ Yet it seems nothing is normal anymore. Especially when it comes to my body.

A quick inventory:

Energy:
Back up to about 75%, after plummeting two years ago.

Sleep:
Definitely improved in the last three months so that I’m getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night without an unsightly number of bathroom visits. I know that’s not polite to talk about, but let’s just be real for a minute or two, OK?

Eating:
So healthy it makes me sick to think about it. Also the cause for most of my time management issues. Lots of cutting and chopping for those super-healthy smoothies, and constant vigilance about having the right stuff on hand. And then there’s that huge cleanup afterwards while I watch D make a sandwich, chomp a raw carrot, enjoy one small chocolate square, and be done with it.

Exercise:
Getting at least 2 miles of walking in a day, often more; burning well over 1300 calories a day; getting at least 30 minutes of ‘active’ walking a day. No complaints, except when it rains and I’m confined to indoor stairs and my small semi-recumbent bike.

Social Life:
It does happen sometimes. Yesterday we had another lively afternoon tea with our neighbors. Late last week I saw my nearly 85-year old friend Rita when we were out for a walk. And I go to church every Sunday where I’m known for standing around talking with my friends until I get run out. I’m not an extrovert, but I do love being with people, and miss the easy flow of socializing with friends and former colleagues.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I feel at peace. Yet most of the time I feel driven by whatever the next thing is. This includes time to rest each day—off my feet, relaxed, usually listening to music or taking a little snooze.

I want to experience peace more often, and not feel so driven by whatever the next thing is on my list. Or all those things that ‘should’ be on my list but aren’t.

I also want to keep an open mind about my lists. Most items are non-negotiable. I can rearrange some. Yet by the end of the day, I want to embody the spirit of this small prayer even though I don’t always succeed. I’m especially challenged by the last item.

I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.

Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)

Right now it happens to be lunchtime, so I’ll happily retire to the kitchen….

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 31 May 2018
Photo found at wisegeek.com

feeling unnerved

a foot bridge beckons
park lights pierce dark midnight
the way ahead fades

***

Feeling unnerved tonight
wandering through my mind
not sure where I am
or what to do next

Life happens quickly
though it feels like slow motion
so little time to listen to myself
much less to You

It’s almost midnight now
and I’m still not sure where I am
or where I’m going

Would You be offended if I
just follow in Your footsteps
wide awake or stumbling
wondering Where and Why?

Many thanks to my blogging friend John for the photo at the top. It was taken in Caulfield Park at about midnight after a sweltering hot day in Melbourne, Australia. The ambiguity of the photo grabbed my attention, and John kindly agreed to let me use it for a poem not yet written.

John has followed my blog almost since its birth. You can check out the post about his midnight walk right here:

https://paolsoren.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/night-time-in-the-park/.

John’s posts are Australian to the core, full of entertaining, thought-provoking, irreverent, hilarious and enlightening insights. All dished up in his native tongue. I’ve told him at least a million times I wish I’d had him as a teacher. Somewhere along the line he got the gene. Now he’s retired, wandering around here and there with his camera, or pulling out old photos about the way things were when he too was very young.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 January 2018
Photo taken by John (paolsoren) in Caulfield Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 2018

“Hope” is the thing with feathers —

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Emily’s poem for today is a gem. A gift for anyone who feels distressed about the state of this world or what lies ahead in 2017. My comments follow.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of Me.

c. 1861

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

I hear Emily saying something like this.

  • I can’t manufacture Hope on my own or even with my friends. Sometimes people exhort me to have hope. I can’t. It’s already there. Like a little bird perched in my soul. Singing its heart out nonstop, without words or a sheet of music in front of it. Am I listening?
  • Hope isn’t linked to the time of day or night. Or to the weather and what the outlook is for tomorrow. It’s there regardless of circumstances, singing its ‘tune without the words.’ Sweet, strong, welcome, heartwarming and life affirming.
  • It seems nothing can shame or humiliate this little thing with feathers. It doesn’t shut up and it doesn’t go slinking off in defeat or humiliation. It sings out with sweet clarity, especially when things look most hopeless.
  • Hope keeps our spirits alive, ‘warm’ even in the ‘chillest land.’ It doesn’t offer us a plan of action or a map that will get us through hard times. Neither does it pretend times aren’t hard. Instead, it accompanies us through the hard times, lifting its voice in a way that lifts our spirits.
  • Best of all, Hope is a gift. It doesn’t ask anything of us, even when things get really rough. Not a crumb, not a dime. In fact, should we decide things are hopeless, I think Emily’s little Bird would just keep singing its heart out on our behalf. It doesn’t even demand that we listen.

One more thought. Whatever Hope is, it isn’t denial. In fact, I think Emily’s poem doesn’t work if Hope is supposed to erase or numb reality. Nor is Hope a crutch to get us from here to there with empty smiles pasted on our faces.

I believe Hope can open our eyes to see possibilities precisely where and when we least expect them. Often with people we least expected to meet or invite into our lives. Little Birds have exceptional eyes, not just exceptional songs.

My prayer today is that we’ll listen to Hope and be alert for unexpected possibilities, especially in what seem to be gale-force winds already on the rise.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 January 2017
Image found at pinterest.com

“Once in a granite hill. . .”

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Here’s a happy poem from Amy Carmichael.  It reminds me of creation, Sabbath rest, children, and what it takes to survive in a sometimes desolate landscape.  These bluebells are in the British Isles.  Amy grew up in Ireland, and doubtless enjoyed bluebells like these when she was growing up.

Texas bluebells, the state’s flower, were one of Diane’s favorites.  On one of my spring trips to Houston, which happily included our daughter, Diane and her family drove us out into the country to view spectacular Texas bluebells.  This post is in honor of Diane, whose eyes were as blue as the bluebells of Texas.

I think Amy wrote this poem especially for children, of which she was one at least in spirit.  You might try reading it out loud–just for fun!

Bluebells 

Once in a granite hill
God carved a hollow place,
Called the blue air, and said, “Now fill
This emptiness of space.” 

Or was it angels came,
And set among the fells
A crystal bowl, and filled the same
With handfuls of bluebells? 

Hot hours walked overhead;
Our valley grew more sweet,
Though elsewhere gentle colors fled
Fearing those burning feet. 

Those burning feet—the fells
Are withered where they go,
But still the misty blue bluebells
Only the bluer blow. 

O God, who made the bowl
And filled it full of blue,
Canst Thou not make of this, my soul,
A vase of flowers, too? 

Let not the hot hours make
Thy child as withered fells,
But fill me full, for love’s dear sake,
With blue as of bluebells. 

*  *  *

Amy Carmichael, Mountain Breezes:
The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael, pp. 132-33
© 1999, The Dohnavur Fellowship, published by Christian Literature Crusade.
Published in Pans (prior to 1917) and Made in the Pans (1917)

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 January 2015
Photo credit:  http://www.loweswatercam.co.uk

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