home

Home means something different for everyone. For some of us, home is a safe place where we were nurtured and loved and allowed to grow into ourselves with confidence and a fierce sense of self. For others, home was a scary place that needed to be avoided. There wasn’t a sense of safety or compassion. For some, home wasn’t a place to discover all that we were meant to be.

While the girls were growing up, we tried to create a home that would nurture and protect, love and defend, and care and empower. Our house was a place that you could feel safe and be shown compassion and grace. As girls grew up, they began returning this gift of compassion and forgiveness to Andy and me. We weren’t perfect, but perfection wasn’t a goal, kindness and compassion were. Our kids are no longer kids, they are all adults living their lives and chasing their dreams, but this will always be their home.

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My oldest daughter has recently left our home. She got married this April and moved out with her darling husband, and they are beginning to make their own home. And while our house isn’t the place that they live, I hope they still consider our house, a place they can come back to when life feels harsh and unkind.

Each of us needs this place- a place that we can come back to when life is harsh. A home within themselves that they create that is safe and nurturing, even if it is your own compassion that makes it so. This takes work. Just as it has undertaken work for my daughter and her husband to create their new home, many of us will need to do the job of building a new safe home within our own hearts.

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Some of us didn’t feel cared for or nurtured in our childhood home. Because of this, we might not be sure of our own needs and wants. We will need to learn of our needs and learn to nurture ourselves. Some of us didn’t live in a home where it was safe to feel all of our feelings in a constructive and compassionate way. We will need to learn how to experience our feelings with grace and curiosity. Some felt so unsafe that the world seemed like a fearful place with dangers around every corner. With bravery, we will need to see that while the world holds some risks, it can be a place we can move around with more curiosity than fear.

As we recognize the places of our hearts we need to reorganize and find healing, we will begin to create a safe home with ourselves. And as we learn to feel comfortable and secure within our hearts, we will become safe spaces for others as well. We will have created a home that others can come and visit and experience the safety and love that we have surrounded ourselves with.

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I recently came upon this poem.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott

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Give back your heart to yourself.

Read those words again, slowly.

Give back your heart to yourself.

It sounds so simple, but it takes courageous work. But it holds such promise. A promise of a home that we can be our whole and beautiful selves in, a whole and beautiful self that this hurting world needs.

How are you creating a safe and sensitive home within your own heart? What practice do you pursue to show self-compassion and care? How are you giving your heart back to yourself?

 

I am thinking about the word home with my friend, Melissa.  Journey to her blog for her thoughts on this word.

 

A Walk by Rainer Maria Rilke

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

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I am taking a wonderful online class, Poetry as Therapy by​ Jenneth Graser. I can’t stop thinking about this poem that she shared the first day of the class.  It holds so many truths for me right now.  I am especially drawn to the line, “So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp”.  What is grasping you right now in your life?  What is the thing you can’t grasp that you continue to walk towards?

If you are interested in the class, follow the link above. It is free and offers daily poems and journaling prompts.

 

a fearful thing

My loving, kind, hilarious, and talented brother took his own life this week.  Why and fuck are two words I continue to say at least once an hour.  The tears flow as I think of his beloved wife and the days, weeks, and years ahead of her. My heart breaks as I think of my other two brothers that are grieving their best friend and faithful companion.  And I fall into a puddle of grief as I imagine the heartbreak of all our parents.

Why?

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Why?

When I was little, we would go to the beach and play in the waves.  Sometimes a wave larger than we were expecting would crash over our heads and take us under the water.  Sometimes we would swallow large amounts of salt water.  Others, the wave would tumble us into the sand and we would be dragged along the ground.  Others, the waves would be so strong, we would be tossed like a shirt in the washer and not know which way was up.  Most of the time, the wave would give us all three in one swoop.

This is how I experience grief.  I will be doing a simple chore, and suddenly, like a wave, I am taken under by sadness.  A memory of a happier time or the idea of my brother being this sad and hopeless will pop into my head.  Sometimes I simply weep, others I fall to the ground into a puddle of sadness.  Occasionally, the grief feels so deep and overwhelming, it reminds of tumbling in the waves, being hit by the sand, not knowing which way is up.

And just as suddenly as it all came on, I am back to swimming through life, knowing that the next wave will be coming- not knowing how strong it will come on nor how hard it will tumble me about.

As I swim and wade through these waves of grief, I catch my breath and try and soothe my tired and wounded soul.  I try and find moments of hope, quiet, and gentleness.  One way I find that is through poetry. It helps to hear the words of the broken hearts that have gone before me.

‘Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.
A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
to be,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing
to love.
For your life has lived in me,
your laugh once lifted me,
your word was gift to me.
To remember this brings painful joy.
‘Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing, to love
what death has touched.

Tis a Fearful Thing
~Yehuda HaLevi

 

Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.
~ Rumi

To live in this world
you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver, “In Blackwater Woods.”

Go out to the world and love each other today.  Be kind.  Be gentle. Be love. Be you.

simple prayers

I am enthralled with the New Zealand Prayer Book lately.  It all started when my church posted The Lord’s Prayer in the liturgy.  The quickly had me down the lovely rabbit hole of reading and reciting the prayers from this beautiful book.  You can find a copy of it here online.

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A Call to Worship

Holy One, holy and eternal,
awesome, exciting and delightful in your holiness;
make us pure in heart to see you;
make us merciful to receive your kindness,
and to share our love with all your human family;
then will your name be hallowed on earth as in heaven.

Lord God,
when you give to us your servants any great matter to do,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning,
but the continuing of it, until it is thoroughly finished
which yields the true glory.

God of work and rest and pleasure,
grant that what we do this week may be for us an offering
rather than a burden;
and for those we serve, may it be the help they need.
Amen.

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The Lord’s Prayer

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. Amen.

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Do you have any new prayers or poems that have been illuminating your days lately?  I would love for you to share them with me.

~Staci Lee

play

In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

A few months ago, I met a talented and thoughtful woman on Instagram. We seemed to love the same things and were drawn to each other’s work. Melissa, being the braver of the two, reached out to me, and we started chatting. We talked about wishing we wrote more and decided to start writing together. When asked what she wanted the first theme to be, she suggested PLAY.

Play. It seems like a simple word to define. For me, it took weeks of thinking about it and its meaning to begin to describe it, and if I am honest, I am not sure I am still satisfied where I have landed.

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My first thought was that play was everything I loved to do. Adventuring new places and parts of town, going out on hikes with friends, reading…
Wait, is reading play? And if I keep making that list of all my favorite things to do- napping, meditating, cooking, and walking alone- would I consider these things play?

So I went back to the beginning. Maybe play is when you purposely do something you enjoy just for the fun of it. Well, that takes some things out again. I don’t cook dinner just for the fun of it. I cook dinner because I enjoy making food for my family AND we need to eat. I don’t hike with friends just because I enjoy it. My body needs the movement, and my soul needs the companionship.

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It felt like I was going in circles. I was doing what so many of us do best; I was overthinking it. I decided to put the idea and the thoughts on play aside and just to notice when I felt like I was playing.

So I went about my life. I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I took Sam to school and went for my walk. I saw clients and sat and listened with them. I meditated and read a little. I picked Sam up from school and made dinner. I sat with a glass of wine and talked to my husband about our days, and then went to bed.

I didn’t notice any play.

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So I tried something else. What if I added play to the moments of my day?

I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I timed myself to see if I could do it in less than 5 minutes. I can’t. Especially before I drink the coffee, but it made the mundane chore slightly more entertaining. When I went outside to take Sam to school, the sprinklers were on. Instead of trying NOT to get wet- or more honestly- being grumpy that I need to run through the sprinklers on some Tuesdays and Thursdays, I decided to have some fun. I tried to bend and contort my body as not to get wet. Sam was hysterical at my antics, and so was I. I drove Sam to school wet but laughing. On my walk, I tried paying attention to my senses. I listened to the birds singing and the cars racing past. I smelled the jasmine begging its summer bloom. I watched the shadows dance on the fences and the sidewalk. I felt the fresh breeze push against my back as if it was on my walk with me. I picked up Sam from school and started dinner. I decided to make something new and had some fun with an untried recipe. As Andy and I shared a glass of wine, we laughed and shared our day, and I noticed play in that.

I noticed the play. The previous day I hadn’t. But now that I was adding play and looking for ways to be playful, suddenly play became something I started to notice.  And this has continued.  Whether I am watching a sunset,  grabbing coffee with a friend, or pulling weeds in the garden- play seems to jump out at me. I am finding that I am quicker to ask, “How can I make this purposely fun and playful?”

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Perhaps more of life than we think can be playful. I recently saw this video on my friend’s Facebook timeline. The hopscotch was there for everyone.  Everyone had the same opportunity to make traveling from one place to another playful.  However, only 129 did while 1,056 decided to just keep walking.

Maybe we look so carefully and seriously at life, that we miss the playful parts- we lose the surprises and the joy of the moments. Maybe if we begin our moments, whether they be chores, work, or even self-care, with a little dose of frivolousness and sparkle, maybe all of life can become sprinkled with play.

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How do you define play? What do you do to add play to your life?

Go to Melissa’s beautiful blog to read her thoughts about play.

in the rain

My Japanese Magnolia is blooming.

And it is finally raining.

Two of my favorite things are happening at once, and it makes my heart so happy.  Here are two poems or prayers I am enjoying right now during my morning practice with a few images of my Japanese Magnolia in the rain.

A Blessing for Beauty
John O’Donohue

May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.

May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease.

May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.

May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.

And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden color towards its nourishment of light.

May you find enough stillness and silence to savor the kiss of God on your soul and delight in the eternity that shaped you, that holds you and calls you.

And may you know that despite confusion, anxiety and emptiness, your name is written in Heaven.

And may you come to see your life as a quiet sacrament of service, which awakens around you a rhythm where doubt gives way to the grace of wonder, where what is awkward and strained can find elegance, and where crippled hope can find wings, and torment enter at last unto the grace of serenity.

May Divine Beauty bless you.

Peace Within
St. Theresa of Avila

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

 

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent when we celebrate the hopeful cry, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”  It is an interesting proclaim as we are in the middle of Advent’s darkness, isn’t it?

How many of us, while in darkness and question and pain want to proclaim joy?  For me, joy is not the go-to emotion while wandering in darkness.  Joy is not what I usually ask for.  I usually ask for relief or rest, but never joy.  And yet, Advent reminds us- here, now, in the middle of the dark nights of the soul, joy is there.  She is waiting to surprise us.

So for this Gaudete Sunday, I am sharing with you two poems that have met me while I have been in a dark place and they gave me hope, and with hope came the little surprise of joy. I am pairing these two poems with images from my Japanese Magnolia, that blooms in the middle of winter.  And although I first edited these in purple, my small homage to Advent, today I give them to you in black and white, as a reminder of the darkness each soul must journey through.

First, John O’Donohue’s For a New Beginning.

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

And then Mary Oliver’s The Hermit Crab.

Once I looked inside
the darkness
of a shell folded like a pastry
and there was a fancy face—

or almost a face—
it turned away
and frisked up its brawny forearms
so quickly

against the light
and my looking in
I scarcely had time to see it,
gleaming

under the pure white roof
of old calcium
When I set it down, it hurried
along the tideline

of the sea,
which was slashing along as usual,
shouting and hissing
toward the future,

turning its back
with every tide on the past,
leaving the shore littered
every morning

with more ornaments of death—
what a pearly rubble
from which to choose a house
like a white flower—

and what a rebellion
to leap into it
and hold on,
connecting everything,

the past to the future—
which is of course the miracle—
which is the only argument there is
against the sea

May joy surprise you this Advent.