Spiritual Journey Thursday – I Bind Unto Myself

Karen Eastlund is rounding up the post today.

 

Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday, and like Margaret wrote about today, I am feeling a little unbound, unmoored, and trying to find my way in my new chapter of life. Peter, when Jesus asked if the disciples wanted to leave him, answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  (John 6:68) I, too, don’t want to leave, so I am claiming these truths today.

I bind unto myself today
Jesus–the Life, the Truth, the Way

I bind unto myself forever
The Love that cannot from me be severed

I bind unto myself the Power
of God, the one worthy strong tower

I bind unto myself the Name
of the One who o’er me has claim

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


From: I Bind Unto Myself Today

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Ashes

Our ash bucket

Ashes have a new meaning for me this Ash Wednesday. No ashes on my forehead, this year. Only in the bucket.

I have been neglecting my spiritual journey these last few months. I’ve been distracted with many things. We have made a huge change in our living situation. It’s been two months today since we moved from the Middle East to southern California. We had been living in a hospital flat, with every housing expense taken care of by the hospital, to now living in a seventy-year-old homesteader cabin with tons of repairs and upgrades needed, each one up to us.

New vs. old heating systems

The bucket of water gets black so quickly. Wash and wipe these dark paneled walls. I did this once in January. Why are the walls so dirty again? I finally finished, and then I added primer to the dark paneling. After that, two coats of lovely “white mocha” paint.

Yesterday on Ash Wednesday, instead of going to church, I watched six workers install a new heating and cooling system in my house.

My husband likes the homey (and ashy) wood fire, but I asked for a break while we experiment with our new system. At least our white walls can stay clean awhile longer!

Perhaps I should pay attention and look for the metaphors here.

I’ve begun a Bible reading plan for Lent called Walking with Jesus: A Journey to the Cross. I’ll be discussing it with my husband. Hopefully, fasting from some of the diversions that are keeping me from focusing on God, plus studying the life of Jesus will help me prepare for Easter.

This post is for Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted this month by Ruth Hersey.  Thank you, Ruth!

 

 

 

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Gratitude

Continue…
To let gratitude be the pillow
Upon which you kneel to
Say your nightly prayer

~Maya Angelou’s in “Continue” Read the rest here.

Continue gratitude.

Is it cliché to focus on gratitude in the month of November in the U.S.? Perhaps. But here I am doing it again, with no regrets. This Spiritual Journey Thursday group’s theme last November was gratitude, too. I wasn’t part of the group then, but I did join others in writing daily haikus of gratitude, #gratiku. That experience led me to choose “gratitude” as my one little word for all of 2021, and I have tried to practice being more grateful always for the little things as well as the big things. If you haven’t already done so, I hope you’ll read Maureen Ingram’s touching poem about being grateful for a small big thing.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I signed up to host the Spiritual Journey Thursday group, the theme of Gratitude was on my mind. I decided to celebrate November again this year by writing a small poem of gratitude each day, focusing on one of the gifts of that day. I’m choosing to write small poems of any kind, but with three lines, like haiku (modern or traditional), blackjack / septercet (scroll down to Jane Yolen’s description of the septercet at this link), sijo, and hay(na)ku (as well as free-from-form poems where we don’t count syllables or words of gratitude!)

Here are my first days of thank you poems for this month of gratitude. I will keep adding to this post daily throughout the month. Please consider joining me by sharing your #gratitudepoem and #gratiku on social media.

1

Ten
days of
staycation with Keith

2

Mango
And Blueberry
Yogurt for dessert

3

Clear-eyed observing
No longer seeing the world
through sepia lenses

4

181 students completed
with DIBELS screenings
Sixty-eight to go

5

It’s all, all a gift
Our spiritual journey’s
glow of gratitude

(Thanks to Ruth Hersey and Chris Margocs for inspiring this found poem.)

6

Old friends smiling at
the airport–John and Barbie–
Here again, once more

7

A breakfast with felafels Always a bright wonder, one of my choice Bahrain delights

8

walking
at the
seaside at sunset

9

You
gave us
our daily bread

10

Cleaning
cupboards while
audio book listening

11

One unknown soldier
100 years ago rests
in peace. Thank you, sir.

12
Biryani
and curries
conversation even better

13
Sitting
outside, breezy
shady coffee spot

14
Dinner
with friends
delicious and healthy

15
Helping with a Zoom workshop
Three to seven, before dawn
Just the birds and I awake

16
Lumees
for dinner
Delicious vegan koshari

17
Almost
finished with
your yo-yo gift

18
Good
comprehensive health
care and insurance

19
Jesus-full Gospel of Mark
Filled my morning, as children
had fun and showed their learning

20
Birthday
party surprise
full of laughter

21
Teacher friends over
I’ll miss these cherished colleagues
Laughter, food, flowers

22
Unbirthday
party: teachers
over after school

23
Gifts to
Lina and Hanan
Reactions brought joy

24
Started
cooking for
ten for Thanksgiving

25
Lovely
time with
friends like family

26
For the beauty of
the verdict that helps Dixie
forge a new future

27
Garden
party with
Church School teachers

28
Reflective
time with
Thomas and Katie

29
Another
chapter finishing
today. Then more.

30
Angela has gone
to heaven. Jesus and she
are sipping good tea.

 

“We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.”
Audre Lourde

How will you share gratitude today?

 

 

Spiritual Journey Thursday – This is the Day to Love

“And do you really believe God is with you no matter what? That you are not alone, that you don’t have to be you all by yourself? Here’s to being where you already are. Fully present with all that is true. And then here’s to doing your next right thing in love.”

~Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing Podcast #188

Yes, indeed. I believe this more and more every day. With three surgeries in one month — two for my cataracted eyes, and another abdominal surgery for my husband, we are feeling more ephemeral in our house.

These thoughts of vulnerability aren’t making me worried or sad, but instead I believe they make me live more intentionally. More fully here. More often saying, “This is the day to love.”

Thank you, Ramona, for the link to Emily’s podcast. It was as you described, and I’ve enjoyed thinking about where I am these days. And thank you for hosting this group today.

Now, here I sit at the Toyota dealer, for what is going on the sixth seventh hour. I’m writing a poem on napkins with a borrowed pen and editing the rest of this post on my phone. Being here.

You Have the Right to Be Here

Yesterday I crashed into you.
My reaction was reflexive, “I have
to move over” as I heard a
car horn blast from behind. I jumped right
into you: the curb designed to
keep me in my lane. How can I still be
afraid to hold my space and remain present?
Fortunately, I got off with just a
blown tire and broken rim, right
there I was – – pinballing to the roadside to
regroup. Then today I sit at the dealer and attend,
waiting as things are fixed, enjoying a
grilled cheese and iced tea, right
here and now at Caribou, not neglecting to
be fully here and to be
gratefully astonished.

This golden shovel poem is based on a quote in The Overstory, the book by Richard Powers, which I just finished reading this morning. “You have a right to be present. A right to attend. A right to be astonished.”

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Love

“Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday. On the first Thursday of each month we gather to share our insights. This month our focus is on virtues,” from Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog!

I’m thinking today about faith expressed in so many different ways, so many different religions. I feel thankful that love is the main virtue. I will keep believing this one fact — that God is love.

“But the fruit of the spirit is LOVE: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” I John 4:16

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

I used this verse from the love chapter for a golden shovel poem today.

It’s another day and
the muezzin is calling to prayer now
with his minor chord pensive plea, these
adhan come not one, two, or three–
but five times a day and the faithful remain
tuned to hear, exercising their faith,
praying regularly. Me, I don’t always hear, but I hope
in a big God to hear and
understand the hearts of all in Love,
and the wild and grateful prayers I utter. But
I am surely glad I don’t head up the
prayer collection–the greatest
challenge would be to make sense of
the childish, pious, sad, tender, and voiceless prayers–these
appeals go to the one who knows because God is
Love.

Life

Thank you, Mary Lee, for hosting today’s Poetry Friday Round Up. She wrote a powerful villanelle about her retirement. You can visit her at her new blog, A(nother) Year of Reading.

Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

The Poem-a-Day on 31 July 2021 was “Life” by Carrie Law Morgan Figgs.

        1
A moment of pleasure,
    An hour of pain,
A day of sunshine,
    A week of rain,
A fortnight of peace,
  A month of strife,
These taken together
  Make up life. 

              2
One real friend
    To a dozen foes,
Two open gates,
  ’Gainst twenty that’s closed,
Prosperity’s chair,
    Then adversity’s knife;
These my friends
    Make up life.

              3
At daybreak a blossom,
    At noontime a rose,
At twilight ’tis withered,
    At evening ’tis closed.
The din of confusion,
    The strain of the fife,
These with other things
    Make up life.

              4
A smile, then a tear,
    Like a mystic pearl,
A pause, then a rush
    Into the mad whirl,
A kiss, then a stab
  From a traitor’s knife;
I think that you’ll agree with me, 
    That this life.

I wrote a summary poem about Figgs’ “Life” poem. I’m not sure why! I wrote two lines about each of her four stanzas.

About Life
After Carrie Law Morgan Figgs

Moments to months
The joy and the pain
Friends and prosperity
Adversity’s disdain

From daybreak to night
Whole lifetimes pass by
Life’s mystic, varied flurry
Days of storm and blue sky

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Respect

Thank you, Linda, for hosting this Spiritual Journey Thursday today. I saw the word respect on the prompt calendar, and it was on my mind when I saw this recent post by Carlos Whittaker, introducing himself to his new followers:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit)

He explains about his Instagram account, that it is a place of hope, yet it’s not a “feel good” account. He gave this advice for his followers when they interact with each other over a hard topic:

“just show up here with this phrase inked on your soul…
Don’t stand on issues…
Walk with people…”

I have been thinking of these words all week because I see some friends and family traveling down paths of conspiracy theories. How can I walk with them respectfully? How can you believe such foolishness? I want to shout. Sometimes the seemingly-crazy ideas are all tied up in religion and God-belief too, so that is troubling and confusing.

I wrote a poem called a double golden shovel, inspired first by Linda and a “clunker line” poem she wrote with one of my lines and this recent post by Kim Johnson. I wrote the following poem as advice to myself. I find it natural to do one of two things when people have ideas I don’t respect:

  1. I become impatient with and disrespectful of the person.
  2. I just walk away and ignore them and their bad ideas.

But as Carlos suggests, there is another way — “with this phrase inked on your soul…Don’t stand on issues…Walk with people…”

Respect Advise to Me

Don’t expect that respect comes easily. With
stand the temptation to blame this
on others who “get tired, keep on tryin'” (to borrow a phrase).
Issues of  r-e-s-p-e-c-t  aren’t solved by getting beliefs inked.
Walk in the footsteps of others. Be fully on
with empathy. Think of all people, not only your
people. Open wide the part that may reach others–your home soul.

Then after I read the two quotes together at the beginning and end of these lines, they seemed backwards. I would have preferred to have them the other way around, so I tried again. It was an interesting exercise, with very different possibilities for where the poem could go. There are also some difficult pairs when doing a double golden shovel, with word couplings like “Don’t this.” However, it was time well-spent getting me thinking about how to respect those I desperately disagree with.

Respect Advise to Me, Take 2

With new urgency I listen. Don’t
this-and-that and what-about to justify your stand.
Phrase of respect emblazoned on
inked chest doesn’t fix hatred issues.
On empathetic legs of grace I will walk
your road of pain and humanity. In peace, with
soul-searing hope, I will touch the hearts of people.

Spiritual Journey – Nurturing Our Summer Souls

Thank you, Carol, for hosting the monthly Spiritual Journal Thursday this week. Her post is fully of breathing deeply, enjoying and being refreshed by nature’s bounty. Be sure to visit her post to read her reflections and summer joy.

Carol asked us to describe “the art of summering” for this month’s post. I’ve not often been one for artfully summering. I usually have a whole lot of things on my to-do and to-go lists, and I get myself very busy. This summer my list has nowhere to go, but much to do, including:

Teaching

  • virtual summer camp with church children
  • tutor a new student to help him get ready for next year

Organizing

  • begin organizing my digital photos
  • organize and transfer ownership of many school Drive documents
  • start a regular organize-a-closet-or-cupboard-or-two-each-week schedule
  • transfer my teaching credential to California
  • finish the portfolio for my long drawn-out TESOL certificate

Learning

  • learn some stories and illustrations for two online trainings
  • study Spanish lessons on Duolingo

Reading

Writing

  • several blog posts a week for the writing groups I’ve joined
  • Teacher’s Write, reflecting, writing, renewing with Kate Messner

So, having that list so long and detailed concerns me a bit that I will get too busy or fail; it doesn’t make me think of living artfully. While I wrote that list above, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote last year from a prompt on The Isolation Journals. The prompter reminded us to write a to-feel list first before writing a to-do list, letting the to-feel list guide our to-do list.

I have been neglecting my to-feel list, so I stopped today and considered what I want to feel this summer.

  • grateful
  • hopeful
  • joyful
  • respected
  • peaceful
  • contented
  • interested
  • empathetic
  • revolted at wrongs and injustice

I think that is a good start, and I see that many items on my to-do list can serve these feelings. I took time this week to go outside and write. Even in this really sweltering heat, it can help us feel more deeply, pray more earnestly, and remember what is most important. This small poem was inspired today by the trees.

Trees with poem -- Consider the flowers and trees The ones that don’t labor or spin But live in beauty on the breeze Here today, then gone again May these sweet trees inform, and my faltering faith, transform ~Denise Krebs from Matthew 6:28-30

Consider the flowers and trees
The ones that don’t labor or spin
But live in beauty on the breeze
Here today, then gone again
May these sweet trees inform,
and my faltering faith, transform

~Denise Krebs based on Matthew 6:28-30