happy (halfway) new year!

me

this morning i realized that we are halfway through 2011. exactly today. something i read was titled “halfway resolutions” and i thought. crap. did i make any resolutions on january 1? and if i did, it is a sure sign that i have not kept them due to the fact that i cannot even remember if i made any or not. oops. i believe, though, that i did not make any… based on previous experiences of not keeping my promises to myself. why put myself through that stress and pressure? with that said, i have no resolutions to look back on & check up on my failures and successes. even if it is the halfway mark.

but, i do have dreams. and i do have goals. so, perhaps, instead of doing some self-bashing, did-i-follow-my-new year’s resolutions reflecting (which i can’t do anyway, since i have none), i’ll do some reflecting on my dreams. what are they? have any of them become reality? and if i have accomplished any of my dreams (which i have), i will give thanks for that – for it is an amazing thing to see one of your dreams become a reality. and i will keep dreaming…

i find it wonderfully perfect timing that, as i took a step back towards myself last night (which you can read about here), the next morning i wake up and realize that we are halfway through the year. it feels like a new start. perfect timing for a mini-new year celebration. as i wrote last night, it felt as if some circle was being completed, and something new was beginning. and then, just like that… i open my eyes this morning, realize the date, and understand that, in fact, some circle was completed. something new has begun.

i read a young woman’s blog post this morning, which reminded me of something. she has just returned from an amazing trip which has given her new inspiration, new experiences, and many new questions. about 16 years ago i went on this same trip as her and was left with similar impressions and questions. then, 4 years ago, i had the opportunity to go on the trip again, but this time as a leader. still, the same questions, but in a much different light, surfaced. questions like: “now what?” today, as i begin the second half of 2011, i hear that question rising again in my soul. “now what?” “what comes next?” and while i still don’t have an answer to that question, while there is still no crystal ball to reveal the future, or no booming voice from heaven telling me what comes next, i am much more comfortable with that question than i was when i first started pondering it 16 years ago.

there is nothing outside of me telling me what to do, who to be, where to live, where to go, or what comes next. but, there is my inner voice. i don’t need, nor do i believe, some holy, loud voice will come out of the clouds to affirm my next step in life. no, the holy voice comes quietly, from deep within. and it can only be felt (i don’t say “heard” on purpose) when i am quiet & still. that’s the voice that i found and felt last night. that’s the voice that brings me calmness & peace. that’s the voice that reminds me that i don’t need to know the plan, that in fact, i am not going to know that plan, and that the plan itself if not what’s important. it’s not just about the destination. it’s all about the journey.

as a 20 year old, on this trip that my young friend just experienced, i could have never guessed or imagined what the next 16 years would have in store for me. and i believe that it has more difficult and more amazing than i ever could have imagined. so, “what now?” or “what next?”. i don’t need to know. all i know is that i must be true to who i am. i must spend sometime in silence every day. and i must live life to the fullest!

ok, second half of 2011, come on! i’m ready for ya!

peace.

lost.

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some days i feel lost. like i’m just standing in one place. stuck. but i have so many directions in which to go. that’s the problem, though. there’s so much to do, so many places to go, so much to do, that i just freeze. i stand there not knowing what to do next. knowing what i want to do, or what i need to do, or what i don’t want to do. but unable to make any moves. or any decisions. my insides feel all jumbled up. i’m antsy. i panic. there are so many things to do, so many ways to go. but, i feel like i’m either standing still or going in circles. either way i’m not going anywhere and there are not enough hours in the day to figure it all out. it is in that moment that i have a mini-meltdown. and then i know the root of the problem... i’ve lost all connection with myself, with my spirituality, with my soul.

and so it was for me this morning. it had been building for the past 2 days: the excitement of having 3 days off, the desire to use those days to begin writing (since i can’t seem to find/make time in my packed & crazy schedule), the need to carve out some time for me, and the inability to find the discipline to do any of those things = my frustration level with myself was super high. well, i woke this morning. late. i wanted to just sit & write and meditate for a long time today, but plans changed. and i was having a hard time changing my unplanned plans for the day. i needed to just be. i felt homesick for the states & my family there. i was panicking at my lack of spiritual discipline in my life. and just when i realized how badly i needed to just be and reconnect, my opportunity disappeared. i wasn’t able to cope with our new plans for the day. i felt unwilling to adapt, and i had a little meltdown. but, i took a shower anyway and got ready. and, as my love noticed, i had a bad attitude & i knew it needed to change it.

so, i did. i pushed away my thoughts, my sadness, & my desires, and lived in the moments of the day. and i enjoyed myself. there was one little beautiful opportunity in the middle of the day, that presented itsef to me. we were at my love’s parents’ house and i went to the bathroom. when i came out, everyone had scattered. so i went outside on the back deck and sat in a chair. the sun was shining every now & then. it was warm. but, there was a strong, cool breeze as well. i closed my eyes, crossed my legs, and lay my hands in my lap, palms up. i soaked in whatever came to me and i took some time for myself. it was only about 5-10 minutes, but it was nice.

the day went on, with more people (we went to lina’s sister’s for a BBQ) and more fun. it was good to be around lina’s family, and all the kids, and the baby. without thinking about it, i enjoyed every little minute of laughter, of holding a cuddly baby, of playing with our nieces & nephews, and of immersing myself in swedish. it wasn’t until we got home just about an hour ago that i realized that today was just what i needed. and on top of that, i had the rest of the night in front of me.

so, right now i’m sitting at the desk, windows open, smelling all the BBQ’s the neighbors are having, sipping on a glass of wine, with a candle lit. without planning for it, the time i needed and yearned for this morning was presented right in front of me. right now. perfect. and amazing. i took my first sip of wine &  thanks to a twitter link, i opened up a website that inspires me (that i haven’t visited in about 3 years) and what did i see in front of me, but an article on “sabbath”. taking time to reconnect with the Holy and sacred that is within us all. peace fell over my entire body & soul when i saw this. this website, alivenow.upperroom.org, which is actually an online edition of a published journal (alive now) every 2 months, has a theme for each issue. i used to read it religiously when i worked in the church for 7 years. it inspired me and always touched me. anyway, every 2 months there is a new theme/focus. and guess what the theme is for the july/august edition. finding time. at this point, i realized that i had found my way back to open my heart so that i could experience a holy moment, for this is exactly what was (and still is) happening to me.

i read the article, the reflection, and let it sink into me. and i felt like i had come home.

if you know me, or have been reading my blog for a while, you know that the past 3 years have been an amazing, life-changing (the understatement of my life), and wonderful time for me. there are many things that have happened, many things that have changed, and many things about me that have remained the same. (all of which will be written down in he book that i am planning to write); but, one of the things that has been going on in the past 3 years has been a strange relationship with the Church – and i mean the physical building, the Methodist denomination, and the whole institution of Church. you can read one of my past reflections here. you see, i spent 7 years working as a minister in a church. and i spent 4 years getting my master’s of divinity degree (so i could be an ordained minister/pastor/priest (choose which word you understand best) in the United Methodist Church. but, that’s not going to happen now (as of last year) because i am married to a woman. i’ve not worked in a church for 3 years now (my own choice. i moved to denmark to follow a dream of working in a church there. the moved happened, but the work didn’t), and there have been times over the past 3 years that i am so glad that i haven’t been working in a church and there have been times when i miss it so badly that my soul cries. deep inside, i know that being a minister in part of who i am. i have tried to convince myself that i do not have to work in a church building in order to fulfill my calling as a minister, and that is true:  i don’t. but i also, can’t just do secular work. working in the middle of the institution of the church, as part of the church, is part of who i am called to be (as much as i don’t want it to be, in many ways). i need to use my faith in my work. i am created to be a link, a bridge between the church and society. i want my work to be in the middle of both: whether i am writing, teaching, or whatever else. but, for the past 3 years (and still today) i have been trying to figure out exactly where i belong. and waiting. some days feeling lost. some days feeling free.

well, it just may be that something has come to me. there is nothing official yet, but the local methodist & baptist church in norrköping, has offered me a part-time, some hours per week, position. this is huge for me. and i wasn’t even looking. i figured nothing was possible here. i will have an interview in a few weeks and then begin (hopefully) september 1. i am certain with every part of my being that this is meant to be. and i have waited 3 years to find a way back… not to the church. not to work. not toward something to “do”. but, a way back to me. those 5 little words “a way back to me” mean so much to me. i can’t even begin to explain that, so i won’t try. just know, it is something deep. something sacred. something whole. it’s been 3 long years of what i can only call my own, personal exile. though, it has all been necessary and beautiful. all things work for good.

the lost & panicky & frustrated-with-myself feeling i had this morning has suddenly vanished (though i know those moments will come again). tonight i feel strong, connected, inspired, and open. and my response to this gift of inner peace is to every day pull out some old books, revisit alivenow.org every day, dust off my favorite black pen, open up a blank page in a journal, close my , breathe deeply, pray, listen, and write. and i’m starting right now.

once i was lost, but now i am found. and the amazing thing is that it happens again and again as we journey through life. for, none of us are every really lost. none of us are ever alone. we are all loved. deeply. and we are all called to love. deeply. perhaps it’s time for me to begin to proclaim that message again… but, before i can do or proclaim or share anything, i must first simply be. it is time to bring the joy of the disciple of being back into my life.

oh. it feels so good to feel my soul burning again. it feels so good to be home.

peace, my friends.

market day.

this is our neighborhood square. our grocery store is here. our post office is here. a little convience store is here. a pharmecy is here. some chinese food restaurants are here. and there is a new pub that has opened up here as well (which we’ve gotta try out soon). i love this little square. it’s got all our basic needs & it’s cozy. in the winter there is a giant christmas tree all lit up… and the trees along the street have lights on them too. in the spring & summer, the fountain is full of water and on windy days, walking anywhere near it will get you wet. i walked through this square early every weekday morning from december to june on my way to my swedish classes. as i turned the corner from our street and looked up at the square, i always looked at the clock to see how late i was. hehe. i’ve been meaning to take a picture of the square on a wednesday since sometime in april… why, you wonder? because wednesday is market day. local (immigrants mostly) set up their tents and tables to sell fruit, vegetables, and other things. every wednesday i passed through the market and realized that once again i had forgotten my camera. but, yesterday was the day! i had my camera, my iPhone, and i just happened to walk through the market just before they started closing things up. so, i snapped this shot.

i love living in a city where there is a market around the corner from my apartment. i love this little market. just thought i’d share it with you.

peace.