Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Silent prayer

This is such a useful way to think about prayer in the times I can't seem to connect with God, can't feel His presence. I love what Richard Rohr wrote in a recent meditation under the subtitle Practice: Faith as Unknowing

"In silent prayer, let go of the need to use words to approach God. Let go of all ideas about God, self, and reality. Even if you don’t sense God’s presence, trust that you are fully seen and known by the One who is merciful, gracious, faithful, forgiving, and steadfast in love."
-- Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, January 28, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

The man I loved

For over twenty years, on many nights, I have struggled with this man. He regularly intrudes my dreams, leaving me shaken or tearful. But after all this time, all these many nights, I have come to a peaceful solution.

My marriage to John ended 20 years ago, when he had yet another affair and left me, just after our 30th wedding anniversary. After our marriage ended he died of brain cancer, so he is not only out of our marriage, but really gone. In the early years, he was frequently in my dreams, mocking me, pushing me away, or threatening me. Often I awoke crying, my heart pounding. In one particular dream that I remember vividly, I was naked, wet, and cold, hiding in a bathtub, while he was in another part of the house with the other woman. He found me in the bathtub, tenderly wrapped me in a blanket and helped me get away. That was almost harder to handle than when he was being mean.

In more recent years he was in the background in my nighttime ramblings. No matter what I was doing, it was implied that he was there, his presence always felt. That awareness, that he was so firmly entrenched in my subconscious often made me sad or angry. I cried that I simply couldn’t get him out of my brain, or got angry, pleading for him just to go away. John, always John—so much a part of me.

Yes, I have had a huge struggle finding forgiveness. I have prayed and prayed, read every book I could find on the topic. Still, he was there, always there.

Recently I really accepted the reality that this forgiveness was beyond me, not something I could do on my own. Sitting on the sofa in my living room, I prayed and asked Jesus to sit beside me. Jesus, who forgave those who murdered him, even when he was dying on the cross. He knows about forgiveness. With Jesus beside me, I asked to be able to address John directly. With my eyes closed and Jesus beside me, I could see John as a young man, sitting across from me. He said not a word. I remembered everything about the 21-year-old man I married—his hair, his hands, the way he made me laugh, how protective he was of me. Most of all, I remembered what it felt like to love him so deeply. I saw that young man and thought about the things that happened to him in the years after he was 21. I acknowledged the betrayal and the harsh treatment. But I still loved the young man I married, and that was the person I forgave. I forgave him, the love of my life, not the harsh, troubled man he became.

Last week I dreamed about him again. All I can recall is a glimpse of the dream. John and I were together, talking about one thing or another, and I felt a deep love for him. No angst, no anger, no bitterness, just love.

God's mercy at work. Thank you, Lord! Thank you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Madman at the helm

The Mango Man has been president for less than one full week. (I mean no disrespect—lie— calling him “Mango Man” but I’m not in a mood to type his given name.) I still feel nauseous and cannot accept that he is the leader of the free world. Lord, have mercy on us all.

His supporters calling us non-supporters “sore losers” is juvenile. I am beyond being a sore loser and have moved into the territory of being terrified for the future of our country. His supporters voted for him because they thought he was different, that he would bring change to government. They liked him because he is brash and outspoken, that he says things they think but are afraid to say. Political correctness is not in his repertoire.

Once he was elected, people said, “Be fair. Give him a chance. He’ll rise to the office and will act presidential. Don’t be so harsh on him.” I tried. I waited for about 24 hours, hoping they were right. I would have been pleased to swallow my pride when I saw what a good job he was doing for the country. I was hoping to be surprised. Not. Gonna. Happen.

He has surrounded himself with minions who do his bidding. He continually lies and they cover his lies, call them “alternative facts.” You’re playing word games, folks. “Alternative facts” are lies.

He is building a wall to keep out those Mexicans and other immigrants he calls criminals. He is putting into place a ban on accepting refugees from any Muslim country. That’s xenophobia, another form of hate.

All week I’ve been shaking my head, saying, “Oh, no. How could it be worse than I imagined?” He wants to appoint the equivalent of an environmental nightmare to head the EPA. The woman he has proposed to head the Department of Education has been a big donor to Republican campaigns and is strongly opposed by educators. He has reversed President Obama’s action to stop the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the Dakotas. Just the beginning. One week is enough.

And today—as if I needed any more evidence—he has truly proven himself to be mentally unstable. Now he is calling for voter fraud investigation into the election HE WON. His thin-skinned, overblown ego is bruised because he didn't win the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. It's more than a waste of time and money. It's the action of a madman. And this madman is one rant away from pushing the red nuclear button.

I'm not being glib or overly dramatic. This is serious and extremely dangerous. Our Republican elected representatives must have the courage to take action. (I wanted to say they need to grow a set of balls, but that would be crude and, besides, some of them are women.) There is much too much at stake to hide behind political partisanship. Our elected representatives took an oath to protect and defend this country and they need to step up and do the right thing.

The image of Captain Ahab in Melville’s classic Moby Dick keeps floating through my mind. Our president is like the madman captain of the Pequod who, unless he is stopped, will take down himself and this country with his madness.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thomas Merton again--Grateful

He reads my mind, always seems to know what I need to hear.

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us—and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every. . . moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

Thomas Merton from Thoughts in Solitude

Monday, January 2, 2017


My daughter-in-law and my dear friend Claire are both Enneagram enthusiasts. I was skeptical, thought it too new agey, perhaps a little woo-woo. Then, at Claire's suggestion, I took an online test to determine my personality type and bought a book about Enneagrams. ("The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types" by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.) Actually, I have read only part of the book, especially the part that pertains to my type. If you understand Enneagrams, you'll say, "Of course, she did. I could have predicted that." No longer am I scoffing about the classification. It totally nailed me--I'm a type 4 with a 5 wing. (So is Thomas Merton, so I'm in good company.) It was so humbling to read my flaws laid out so clearly. Ouch!

And to add fuel to the fire, I took a Myers Briggs test and it says I am an INFP. I don't really understand that either, but apparently it is in agreement with the Enneagram test. I'm doomed. (You knew I would say that.)

I get an emailed Enneagram thought for the day. This is what is says today and I'm feeling a bit less doomed:

Type Four EnneaThought for January 2nd
Today accept your invitation to abundance: to let go of the past and be renewed by your experiences. It is your True Nature to be forgiving and to use everything in your life for your growth and renewal. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 48)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hate, the bodyguard for grief

Found this intriguing observation in Richard Rohr's meditation for December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents:

Sarah Fields says that “Hate is just a bodyguard for grief. When people lose the hate, they are forced to deal with the pain beneath.”*

Until we love and until we suffer, we all try to figure out life and death with our minds. Love, I believe, is the only way to initially and safely open the door of awareness and aliveness, and then suffering for that love keeps the door open and available for ever greater growth. We dare not refuse love or suffering or we close the door to life itself. By honoring God’s image in our own deep capacity to love, and then extending it to both the innocent and the non-innocent, we achieve the triumph of love—for we also are wounded.

*Sarah Fields, as quoted by Charles Eisenstein, “The Election: Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story,” November 10, 2016, http://charleseisenstein.net/hategriefandanewstory/.