Unlearning Fear

Unlearning Fear

A week or so before I was to turn 52 I was walking across the wide open fields of the Dutch countryside, alone, not another soul as far as the eye could see. As I wandered and wondered, a phrase drifted across the landscape of my mind and has lingered there ever since – unlearning fear. How have I been unlearning fear? How does anyone unlearn fear? First we have to understand how carefully constructed, how very profitable the fear is to the powers that be. So that is my exploration for the prayer, prompts, prose and practices for March…unlearning fear.

Oh Lord
We are a world
In love with fear
And afraid of love

The powerful pad their pockets
peddling fear to control the people

Be afraid, they say

And your creation
cowers behind
the great lie of scarcity

Be very afraid, they say

For those
With greedy minds
and clenched fists
shouting “Be afraid!”

I pray,
Be not afraid

For those
With terrorized hearts
And shuttered spirits
echoing “Be afraid.”

I pray,
Be not afraid

For those
with open wounds
and tear-streaked souls
crying “I am afraid.”

I pray,
Be not afraid

Gracious and loving God
free us from the myth of
fear of the other
fear of ourselves
fear of the known
fear of unknown
fear of loving
fear of losing
fear of living
fear of dying

and open us to the Truth
of abundance
of peace
of love

Amen

25 Things to Do on a Digital Detox

25 Things to Do on a Digital Detox

At this writing, I am 165 days into my year-long social media sabbatical and I still get responses that sound a lot like – WOW or That’s Intense or You Are So Brave! or That’s Amazing! – all of which seem to be significant reasons to maybe give up social media for good, don’t ya think? Stepping away from the stream or madness shouldn’t be arduous and is certainly not an act of courage.

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired of the vitriol and your own addiction to either watching the dumpster fire or participation in planning the flames? Maybe you’ve considered going on a digital detox? Good idea! But, what will you do with all of that extra time?

Here’s a random list of 25 things to do instead of scrolling and trolling…

Make and keep a junk journal made just for this occasion

Use DuoLingo to practice a new language when the urge to go go gadget gets me

Learn the names of plants, trees and birds that you see on your daily routes

Learn about the national parks in your region

Complete at least 10 things on Keri Smith’s list

Ride a bicycle somewhere you’ve never visited

​Make things with clay, paper and thread for folks you love

Craft poems, prayers for deep thoughts by Jack Handy and don’t post them on the interwebs

When you don’t know something, check out a book, consult a dictionary or ask a person, not Google

Visit the a botanical garden a few times each season

Learn everything you can about the divine feminine as understood in different traditions

Read a book written by someone well outside of your cultural context

Learn some creative hand lettering and create affirming signs for your window

Take, edit and print photos instead of sharing on Instagram

Cut up old t-shirts and learn how to quilt, starting with a pet blanket

Notice and appreciate the changes in your body without joining a “women over 50” Facebook support group

Write letters, on paper, with a pen – buy stamps and mail to people you love​ ​​

Try yoga again without complaining on Twitter about how hard it is

Build a table-top zen garden with a cairn of wee tumbled stones

Listen to a once-beloved CD all the way through without skipping a track

Fill a sketchbook with one thing you want to draw well

Sit quietly doing nothing

Look at everything​​

Think you own thoughts

Write

Walking a Sandy Path

Walking a Sandy Path

This morning at low tide, we made and walked a sandy labyrinth with friends on Katwikj Stand. I met curious folks passing by, chatted in broken Dutch (is DEnglish a thing?) and even learned about the old time practice of catching anchovies with a weer.
Each of us took something different and sacred into the labyrinth – some a question, others a heartache, and a few the threshold between a palpable past and the nascent new. Each a prayer in its own way.
All in all, it was peaceful and connected way to say goodbye to the summer and welcome a new school year.
 

13 Ideas for Practicing Presence

13 Ideas for Practicing Presence

There are a myriad of books, websites, podcasts and workshops dedicated to spiritual practices meant to give our wandering minds a compass pointing us toward practicing the presence of God Today I’d like to lift up a groovy little book that frequently reminds me of my connection to the divine in, with and through all things.
How to Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith is an art journaling book that offers “a variety of prompts and assignments” to help the wonderer and wanderer on their journey. Smith begins by sharing how she herself began the process of putting together this little travel guide.
She says: “This book started with a list that I wrote one night when I couldn’t sleep…these ideas are an accumulation of things that I have learned from various teachers and artists over the years and have become the basis for all of my own exploration.”
I’ve read her list many times and it keeps speaking to me, prodding me, asking questions about who I am as a person of faith and offers me one way of thinking about who I WANT to be as a spiritual being.
I spoke with Keri years ago when I intended to blog my way through her book (I only got a few assignments in… squirrel!) and interestingly enough Keri told me that she never intended this work to be about a journey of faith – for her it seems to be wholly about art and about living fully in the world, knowing yourself and the creative potential of your life and connecting deeply with world around you. And folks, for these ears that sounds a lot like practicing the presence of God. Each item continues to help me understand my walk of in this world in new ways.
The list calls me forward, but a is also a pretty good map of my past. As a child I was always looking, looking, looking. Wonder and delight were found in the simplest of things – like the seasonal textures of the red clay of Georgia or the endless ways to play in a pink pom-pom adorned mimosa tree. That sense of delight has not gone dark, but one’s vision has a way to narrow as our bones age. I still look – but more and more I am looking in a straight line to whatever the next task is. The next project, the next grocery list, the next pile of laundry, the next dog walk, the next filling of the dishwasher…
I am aware that I constantly need to slow down and REALLY look.
SO I am starting all over again – looking, looking and looking. And this time, in my new country with all new sights, sounds, smells and potential awakenings. I plan to work though this list in a prayerful manner because I am called back to the crazy notion that God is everywhere – in the pages of holy scripture and secular texts, in the overexposed corners of travel photographs and in the bobbing heads of a thousand tulips, in the slumping shoulders of a tired neighbor and in the raucous laughter of passing students, in the swarm of happy, hungry faces in the Leiden market and along our morning bike rides through farmland as mist rises from the lush earth and even in the worried eyes peeking just above the masks on faces as COVID-19 rears its ugly head once again in The Netherlands.
Once we start looking closely, listening deeply, noticing patterns and tracing things to their origins – truly using all of our senses – well, how can we not notice that everything is interesting and laced with a shimmering connective tissue beyond our comprehension. When I am fully in touch with my own existence, in this world now, as a transplanted southern gal living a life previously unimagined in Holland. And if I really look and listen to the intersecting lines of my life within me, and remember that the Divine, known by many names and no name, is present in every person, every moment, I am invited into the mystery of interdependence and agape.
Ok, enough already, here’s the list. I encourage you to read it a few times, slowly. Think of how you might apply this to your daily life, your faith journey, your mindfulness practice and your personal relationships.
 
 

Wonder-full Wednesday Walks – October

Wonder-full Wednesday Walks – October

Where ever you find yourself this month, I hope you give yourself the gift of taking a long, sauntering. A walk where you take in the many different shades and tints of orange around you. Which do you like the best? What memories do they hold for you? Is there one that makes you feel warm, or one that makes you feel edgy? Notice your noticing.

100 Ideas

100 Ideas

Keri Smith is an artist and an author who has greatly influenced my take on a Calmish life. Her work that encourages wandering and wondering, journaling and journeys, is a perfect blend of mindfulness and merriment.

Here is a list of 100 ideas that she shared quite some time ago.

I hope you enjoy!