Monthly Archives: July 2011

Let me in, please…

Signals.

They are all around us.

I am particularly aware today of traffic signals.

Blinkers in particular.

I watched today in traffic as five different cars ignored a lady who signaled to move lanes. They either 1) did not see her (self-absorbed) or 2) ignored her request and stood their own course (selfish).

Now both of these options are problematic to me.  The first points to the fact that we are not looking out for one another.  The second points to the fact that individualism has taken over.  Friends, our  communities, our cities, our world cannot survive with these lines of thinking.

First we must be looking out for one another.  Not just with traffic signals, but with all signals.  Why does a child cry?  Why is she angry?  Why is he not responding?  Where has she been?  Why has he lost so much weight?  I haven’t seen her smile lately.  He is just not himself.

If we ignore the signals and do not reach out to someone or invite them in, we are missing out on discipleship opportunities.  We are missing the important moments of life: to listen to a friend or a neighbor.

Second, we must address the overwhelming influence individualism has on the Western culture.  Aren’t we willing to give up mere seconds in our life to allow another child of God in front of us?  Or is everyone the enemy?

Slow down and notice what is going on around you.  You have more of an influence than you think.  Your commute will be much less stressful, and you will begin to notice glimpses of God all around you.  Peace be with you on this hot summer day.  Let me in, please…

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Happiness AND Suffering – where is the balance?

We have different degrees of happiness and different kinds of suffering. Material objects give rise to physical happiness, while spiritual development gives rise to mental happiness. Since we experience both physical and mental happiness, we need both material and spiritual development. This is why, for our own good and that of society we need to balance material progress with inner development.  – FB post from Dalai Lama 7.18.2011

Balance.

It has become an important aspect of  ministry for me.  Not just balance for me, but also for my church, my family, my friends, and on and on.

Balance is important.  We go through ebbs and tides of healthy balance.  But balance should always be a desire.  If balance is not a desire, it is time to evaluate what is commanding our time.  For surely it is now driving you instead of you driving it.

 

 

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Nature’s Staircase

Path by the Garden Inn at Bee Rock

Morning in Tennessee.  It is a beautiful thing.  Usually when I visit my daughter at camp, I stay in town at the Best Western.  This year I am in the midst of an “internal retreat”, a time for reflection and seeking.  So, I was lucky to find a room at a nearby B&B.  On my morning walk, I found nature’s staircase.

I love my home in Dallas, but there is nothing like a natural staircase.  I was struck by the morning light leading me up the stairs to the bluff just a few steps further.

What a beautiful way to greet the morning light!

Peace be with you on this day of rest.

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What do you say if…

I was on the airplane yesterday.  There was a precious little girl sitting behind me.  Her mom explained, she has two speeds, this one and off.  She chattered the entire flight.  At first I grimaced and considered bringing out my headphones to drown out the noise.  But after awhile, I was reminded of my daughter that age.  I was hooked.

She asked her mom a question, “What do you say if you see a cloud in the shape of a sheep?”

Silence.

I know her mom must have been tired…but still no response.  Come on, mom…but her eyes were closed as she zoned out for awhile.

More silence.

I turned around, winked at the toddler, and mouthed, “Baaaaa.”

Big smile.

It seemed to appease the little girl for a few moments anyway.  It was our little secret.  A moment just between us.  And I was so thankful I did not bring out the headphones.

Questions.

I have lots of questions right now.  Am I hearing you right, God?  Is this the right place, God?  Will you show me a sign?  Just a little glimpse.  That’s all I need.  It is like this game with the toddler, just a wink and a short answer will suffice.  I know you hear me.  I am trying to wait patiently.  I’ve asked the question, now waiting for the answer…

What do you say if you see a cloud in the shape of a sheep?

 

 

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Need some water?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parched is the word that comes to mind since we returned to Texas.  Lakes are low.  Riverbeds are dry.  Burn bans are in effect.  I need water.  The sound of rain is such a welcome thought.  So thanks to all you can find on YouTube, perhaps you will enjoy some sounds of the earth… birds… water…rain

Consider it a mini vacation when you can’t get away!  It has refreshed me today!

Shalom,

Lil

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The open road…

 

One day while Greg was fishing, I took advantage of this beautiful day to engage in a midday jog.  I could not help but reflect on the open road.  Perhaps you can see why in the photo.  I felt tied to not only the present, but the past and the future simultaneously.  Thank you, Walt Whitman!  I cannot seem to make it through this entire work as my mind takes me to places, and I rest there.  May you be blessed with time on the open road today.  If you, too, find yourself wandering,  come back and visit as often as you like.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

82. Song of the Open Road

1
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,          5
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
The earth—that is sufficient;
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are;
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.   10
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)
2
You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you are not all that is here;
  15
I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception, neither preference or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,   20
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town,
They pass—I also pass—anything passes—none can be interdicted;
None but are accepted—none but are dear to me.
3
You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings, and give them shape!   25
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I think you are latent with unseen existences—you are so dear to me.
You flagg’d walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!   30
You rows of houses! you window-pierc’d façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!   35
From all that has been near you, I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me;
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.
4
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,   40
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh sentiment of the road.
O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and undenied—adhere to me?
O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you—yet I love you;   45
You express me better than I can express myself;
You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all great poems also;
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;
(My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open air, the road;)   50
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.
5
From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,   55
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.   60
I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go;   65
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
6
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would not amaze me;
  70
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d, it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room;
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,   75
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks all authority and all argument against it.
Here is the test of wisdom;
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,   80
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the Soul.
Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds, and along the landscape and flowing currents.   85
Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him;
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?   90
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?
Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion’d—it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?
7
Here is the efflux of the Soul;
  95
The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through embower’d gates, ever provokingquestions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the darkness, why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me, the sun-light expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?  100
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the shore, as I walk by, and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s or man’s good-will? What gives them to be free to mine?  105
8
The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happiness;
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged.
Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman;  110
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)
Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.
9
Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me!
 115
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.
The earth never tires;
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first—Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first;
Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine things, well envelop’d;
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.  120
Allons! we must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores—however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here;
However shelter’d this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here;
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us, we are permitted to receive it but a little while.
10
Allons! the inducements shall be greater;
 125
We will sail pathless and wild seas;
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.
Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements!
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!  130
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests!
The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.
Allons! yet take warning!
He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance;
None may come to the trial, till he or she bring courage and health.  135
Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself;
Only those may come, who come in sweet and determin’d bodies;
No diseas’d person—no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.
I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes;
We convince by our presence.  140
11
Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call’d riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,  145
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d—you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you;
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you.
12
Allons! after the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong to them!
 150
They too are on the road! they are the swift and majestic men; they are the greatest women.
Over that which hinder’d them—over that which retarded—passing impediments large or small,
Committers of crimes, committers of many beautiful virtues,
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,  155
Habitués of many distant countries, habitués of far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers down of coffins,  160
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—the curious years, each emerging from that which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth—Journeyers with their bearded and well-grain’d manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass’d, content,  165
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.
13
Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,  170
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you—however long, but it stretches and waits for you;  175
To see no being, not God’s or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying all without labor or purchase—abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting one particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go,  180
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them—to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls.
14
The Soul travels;
The body does not travel as much as the soul;  185
The body has just as great a work as the soul, and parts away at last for the journeys of the soul.
All parts away for the progress of souls;
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments,—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of Souls along the grand roads of the universe.
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.
Forever alive, forever forward,  190
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go;
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.
15
Allons! whoever you are! come forth!
 195
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.
Allons! out of the dark confinement!
It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.
Behold, through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people,  200
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.
No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession;
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors,  205
In the cars of rail-roads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bed-room, everywhere,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones,
Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself,  210
Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.
16
Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.
Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? nature?  215
Now understand me well—It is provided in the essence of things, that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.
My call is the call of battle—I nourish active rebellion;
He going with me must go well arm’d;
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.
17
Allons! the road is before us!
 220
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!  225
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?  230
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

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Too much water

I love the water.  Yet the crazy weather patterns this year, the rise of the Mississippi River twice in two months which seems to have paralleled my spiritual life, has tempted me to consider the prospect of too much water.  Too much water at a time that Texas is in a draught….hmmm.

I took this picture of the wild iris swimming in a field in CO that normally is not be under water.  Because of over 500 inches of snow and a late snow melt, many fields near the rivers are flowing.  Too much water?  I thought so at the beginning.  Then I remember how water rejuvenates a field.  How a riverbed can be an extremely fertile ground.  The replanted fields in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi have quickly sprouted and grown after floods.

At the time of the flood, the water is too much.  The water can even be destructive.  Yet when the water recedes, fertile ground is exposed.  The ground is not ready to plant.  It must be tilled and prepared.  New seeds must be planted.  Nurture is still required for growth.  Yet there is something about the attention given to the flood that highlights the new planting.  Perhaps there is more at stake based on the destruction that has occurred.  Perhaps it is a new level of faith.

I have had floods in my spiritual life.  How about you?  And I have experienced the replanting after the soil.  What I remember from these times is that there is heightened awareness of the growth that happens after the flood.  It is more precious.  Faith is more in my consciousness arena.  I am more dependent upon God.

For these times and for the floods in your life,  I am thankful.  I pray that you and I will meet these times with an open spirit to seek and depend on God’s love and nurture for new growth.

Shalom,

Lil

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Are you depressed? Take this quick test to determine your risk for clinical depression.

Don’t be fooled.  Depression affects many families around you.  Unfortunately, depression is something we don’t talk about in social circles.   So, I will bring it up here in this space.  Undiagnosed depression can be very dangerous to an individual and/or a family.  There are symptoms which you should know.  If you suspect you or someone close to you might have depression, take this quick test.  Take action on the results on the test.  Taking action is a positive step toward healing:  

The following  quick depression test may help you understand if you are depressed and some indication of the severity. When answering the questions below, give yourself one point for each yes (Be honest with yourself!).

Do you:

  1. Wake up earlier than usual and find you can’t go back to sleep?
  2. Do you often feel extremely tired without apparent reason?
  3. Do you lack self confidence and doubt yourself?
  4. Do you feel lonely or withdrawn from the world?
  5. Do you feel worthless?
  6. Do you eat too much?
  7. Do you drink too much?
  8. Do you find it difficult to concentrate?
  9. Do you find it difficult to think logically or make decisions?
  10. Are you procrastinating or avoiding doing things?
  11. Have you lost interest in sexual activity?
  12. Are you apathetic and lacking in motivation?
  13. Do you sometimes feel like crying?
  14. Do you see no future for yourself?
  15. Do you feel trapped?
  16. Do you feel you can’t cope?
  17. Do you have trouble sleeping at night?
  18. Do you feel life is not worth living?
  19. Do you suffer from quick mood swings?

Tally your results, giving your self one point for each question you answered yes (sometimes is a yes).

 

Take note of your results.  

less than 5 – could be low level or beginnings of depression

5 to 10 – moderate level

11 plus – high level depression

Depression is serious, and if you score moderate or high depression please see a doctor very soon.  Your family physician can help you determine the best course of action for you.  Reaching out is the most difficult step.  If someone does not take your seriously, find someone else to tell.  Keep asking until you find someone to help you.  Once you have reached out to someone to help you, you will be on your way to healing and health. 

If you feel so led, share this with a friend!

 

 

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Reflections Abound

Reflections abound!!

I guess you can’t escape reflection in the mountains…where there is actually something besides a building to capture your attention. Greg and I are sitting at Empire Burger in Breckenridge, CO.  (It’s a lot like Snuffer’s in TX – they have an amazing wedge salad!)  So I looked to my left, and what did I see? Not a building, but me, sitting at the foot of beautiful mountains.

As we enjoyed our meal and the whisper of the breeze, I was wondering how much I surely miss seeing during the day.  This glimpse was such a gift for me.  And  better yet, I had a camera to document the picture, to go back to it, and to savor the moment.  This is what rest and reflection is about:  time to slow down enough to capture a glimpse of the moment and to have time to go back and to revisit that glimpse.

So how about some R&R!!  When was your last installment?  Take time to schedule some today.

Reflecting,

Lil

 

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Morning Reflections

I finally made it to the pond up past our house this morning.  It is one of my favorite places to explore in the summertime.  I am intrigued because these are the very places we ski by in the wintertime.  The path is the same, but the view is so different.  The plants now cover what the snow did just a few months ago.

Wait, and the view will change.

I am so glad to be reminded of this truth during this week of rest and reflection.  City life is so busy.   And the city  landscape can become static and controlling for me.  I need to embody this sense of calm to bring back to times that are not calm during the rest of the year.  For if I can tap into this moment, the landscape will change, the reflection will be clear, and I will stay in the arms of God.

Peace be with you,

Lil

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