Be Amazed!

I live in a bio-region near the east coast that pulses with changes in seasons. I gather in a faith community which follows liturgical seasons with amazing parallels to the changes in deciduous trees (not that I am discounting the evergreens – the hope symbol, reminder that Life is ever present).. Deciduous – tending to fall off. Maple helicopters, the winged seeds, drop off just before the leaves fall on sun-shortened days.

In the Catholic Church, fall portends the beginning of seasons – advent, vigil, waiting in darkness for the coming of light. The dormant season will spring into life about the time we celebrate resurrection. Whether I find myself naturally falling into these familiar patterns, or nature magnetically draws me into its cycles, the seasons speak to me.

That’s why it’s only natural that Easter springs into my days and I find myself standing in front of an empty tomb in amazement. The new greening, the dandelions and dogwood flowers, spring blooming azaleas provide an encouraging, life-giving background; just what I need to make a leap of faith and ask the big questions. Where are the surprises, the unpredictable places in life that leave me speechless and unknowing where to turn? Who are the messengers telling me “don’t be afraid; be amazed.” Look for resurrection, reawakening, rebirth with new eyes; listen with new ears. Can’t you hear the evergreens, shimmering with joy, welcoming back their old friends? Bending a bit closer they whisper “Nice new leaves you’re wearing; you’ve added a bit of girth.”100_1210

Brief Lesson on the Invisible

Over the past two years I have been working on a spiritual memoir exploring the beliefs essential to my faith identify as they have been shaped by the circumstances of my life, in particular love, suffering, death, and resurrection. The foundation of my belief occurs in experiencing a relationship with the divine, whom I call God. Though I know God as the single unchanging presence in my life, my relationship and my understanding have definitely evolved. How could I possibly contain the infinite in a single metaphor or encounter?

Several years ago, searching for the God within and around me, I could best “see God” in the goodness of others. Otherwise the invisible divine was “out there”.  But in truth I wanted to feel myself submersed in the God of love. I wanted to experience an unbreakable connection. Watching the sunlight pour through the window over my shoulder, I noticed for the thousandth time the specks of particles dancing in the sunbeam, matter that would become invisible when the sunlight moved

In that moment I grasped as never before that all that seems like empty space – within and around me – is filled with the presence of the divine. It is so difficult to feel alone when I am surrounded by the teeming waves of God’s infinite love. It is difficult to feel powerless when I am wrapped in the energy of God’s love pulling me forward.

Recently I began to read Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics described on the flyleaf as “All the Beauty of Modern Physics in Fewer than a Hundred Pages”, a “book about joy of discovery”, and “surprisingly easy to grasp”. How I could I pass up this “best selling” opportunity to expand my horizons into the broader universe – in less than 100 pages.

The first chapter – I read at least three time – describes one of the great insights of Einstein which parallels the transformation in my understanding of God. When imagining the force of gravity that draws all material bodies towards one another, Newton described bodies moving through space, a great, empty container. “What the ‘space was made of, this container of the world he invented,” Newton could not say (5).” Later Einstein in a “stroke of pure genius” realized that Newton’s “space” through which things move, and the “gravitational field” are the same. Space is no longer distinct from matter, it is an “entity that undulates, flexes, curves, twists.” How about that! Space in not emptiness, nor is it a fixed container. Neither is God. And the universe, as I read it, says Amen, so it is. How about that!

March Winds, April Showers

April showers bring May flowers but March winds – well that’s the portent of change. In the 1970’s, living a back-to-earth lifestyle on a 150 acres farm in Kentucky, my husband and I quickly learned to pay attention to the lessons given by all of creation – the trees, plants, animals, insects, soil, clouds, sun, the long-time farmers and the Cooperative Extension agents.

Winter 1978 was particularly brutal for us. Packed snow and ice covered fields and pathways from December well into March. When the melting began, our half-mile drive to the paved road became a mud slide. I fretted over how the fields could possibly dry in time for spring planting. Just then the March winds stirred and like a miracle, an intentional one, the fields began to dry overnight. Still blustery March winds can bite and mask spring’s attempt to bring warmth.

Why March winds? The field guide for amateur meteorologists would say something like this: high barometric pressure of lingering cold masses and low pressure of the increasingly sunny days make for a bit of a blow. I often find parallels between nature and my interior self. In fact there are indeed times in my life when competing pressures lead to a big blow and the need for a refreshing change in atmosphere. Clear blue skies to follow.

In my North Carolina habitat I am surrounded by tall, long needled pines. Today I listened as March winds brushed the tops of trees and  joined the birds’ backyard symphony with gusto. Rushing winds made me slow down and listen and that has the ring of a paradox. I felt their presence, turned my head skyward to watch the trees tops dance about and thought about the Breath of Life.

Shaping My Worldview

I see my world through a lens shaped by my experiences in life. I am Mother and Grandmother who takes seriously the pure joy of these loves. Widowed after nineteen years of marriage, my pursuit of education, the teaching profession and theological studies took on new meanings. I consider my religious identity, which took root in my growing up years as a Catholic in the South, formed more intentionally in six years as a young adult living in a religious community, and emerging into ever new ways of understanding God, an essential part of who I am.

Born near the Atlantic Ocean and vacationing in the North Carolina mountains near my Daddy’s childhood home, I developed a love for the natural world. These experiences bind me to a loving creator. In addition to the world of words and books, I find great joy in mountain hiking, traditional and bluegrass music, playing notes on our dulcimer, or crocheting patterns marked for beginners. Child of the South. Nun. Wife. Widow. Mother. Grandmother. Teacher. Writer. Friend. There’s more, so much more that captures my heart, but this makes for a good beginning. How about that!

Invitation to “Come What May”

From the beginning – I have scribbled in notebooks since I was eight years old, wanting to make sense of the world through words. I thought that perhaps arriving at the just-right alignment of words in my universe should put everything in perfect order. In January, I celebrated my 70th birthday and to date I am still playing with words. Along the way I learned to love the process rather than the outcome and to embrace the questions more than the answers. Awe and discovery keep me alert and what I don’t know or didn’t realize continues to absolutely amaze me.

When my grandchildren uncovered this truth, they became my echoes. Listening to their adventures, their creative spins on life, and astute observations, I am apt to say “How about that!”. They turn to me with big grins, a shake of their heads and repeat “How about that!”. “It must be an old-people’s thing”, they say. Yes, I am elder-ing and love this curve in my life. All my life I have been nourished by writers, and now that I am moving at a more measured pace, I want to join their ranks, taking my turn at spinning the wheels of wisdom.

Welcoming the privileges of being an old lady, I am also much more willing to “let come what may”. Instead of making my to-do lists, I rely on a notepad shaped like the bottom of my morning coffee cup. I randomly scribble those things I should consider doing inside the circle – something like a daily mandala. Then I pay attention to what floats to the surface, and gives me a nudge. I like to think of this method as an organic approach to my day. My posts will be just that – an organic emerging of “come what may”.  I welcome you to join me in the wanderings and wonderings. How About That!