amazing. stunning. breathtaking.
how beautiful it can be when we all work together.
amazing. stunning. breathtaking.
how beautiful it can be when we all work together.
my mini-retreat has ended… my love is home!!! now we’re enjoying a night on the sofa together. it’s amazing how being apart for just 2 days will make you appreciate each other even more. feels weird when we are apart, but it feels so amazing when we are back together again!
wishing all of you a cozy night! peace.
i’m still in the middle of my little personal retreat. i’m not quite ready to share what i’ve read from joseph campbell (the guy i referred to in yesterday’s post). i’m still soaking it in. i’ve been thinking about the things that he has written, but forefront on my mind today the season that is upon us now. so, that’s what i’m inspired to write about this morning as i sit under my covers, sip on my coffee and smell the candles lit in my fairly dark bedroom.
whether you think of it consciously or not, we are in a season of waiting. these gray, mostly dreary days blend into the dark nights that seem to last forever. the leaves are all gone from the trees, only wooden skeletons remain. energy is at an all-time low for the year. and just at the time when stress seems to be at an all-time high. even the news on tv & in the papers seems to be worse than ever.
where is the light? we need some light. we are stuck in darkness, doubt, pain, fear. we see & experience violence, suffering, injustice. it’s depressing. we feel alone & even hopeless. and it seems like the whole world & all of nature reflects these feelings of dread & boredom. we’re longing for a solution.
so we’re impatiently waiting. where is our salvation from this gloominess? is it coming? will we ever feel free again? but, even with all of these questions, something deep down inside of us, from our soul, reminds us that this is only temporary. light will come. the days will become longer. spring will arrive. the earth will renew itself. something will happen. it just has to.
as a believer in something spiritual, something holy & sacred, it is during this season that i see how everything is connected. and i feel something from deep within me rising up. hope. for all of the injustice, pain, & suffering that we experience in this world, something from deep within me reassures me that this is not how it is intended to be, that the world is full of beauty & love. i believe that the Holy is in everyone & everything, that we will not be stuck in this darkness forever, because we have been created to live life & to share love with one another. nature reveals this every year as the seasons pass. i can see the Holy everywhere, if i’m only aware, if i only recognize that the Holy is revealed in nature, people, in everything that is.
for me, this season of darkness, of waiting is so slow… and yet, it leaves me so breathless. it’s like knowing that something amazing is right around the corner, but not knowing exactly when it will happen. the control freak in me wants to know exactly what will happen & when. but, then again, the thought of the surprise, imagining the possibilities, dreaming of what is to come is just as exciting. and scary, too.
this season i’m speaking about is the season of advent. the season of waiting & preparation before christmas. advent (from latin) actually means “coming” or “arrival”. it is a time of longing & expectation. but, for what? what are we longing for, expecting, waiting for, preparing for? i’m waiting, longing, expecting, & preparing for hope & love.
it’s important for me to prepare… to not just walk blindly through the dark days, stressed out at all the activities, shopping, general craziness that makes up this season. it’s important to me to slow down, to remember why i celebrate christmas – to remember the people of ancient days who spoke to their communities about all of the atrocities they were involved in, how far they had strayed from living lives of justice, love, & peace. and when i hear those ancient words, i realize exactly how appropriate those words are for us today too. it’s important to me to also hear the promises of peace & joy, and the challenge for me to be a partner in making that peace & joy a reality here on earth today. i need this dark time to reflect on my part, what can i do? what have i done? what have i left undone? it’s important to me to remember that this season prepares me to accept/see/believe that the Holy breaks into the middle of life… holiness is not something way up there, far away, unable to touch or reach. it’s something so close that it’s in our breath. advent reminds me that we are not alone, we have each other, we are all connected, and we have a calling/a purpose (to follow our bliss, our soul).
advent reminds me that all of our stories are unique and yet, the same. and it’s important for me to hear again the story, the myth, of mary & the little baby born in a stable. it’s the story of something holy happening in middle of something so ordinary. a teenage girl, a dirty stable, poor shepherds, animals, a baby born into poverty. from the lowest of the low, from the outcasts in society comes hope. oh, how we’ve gotten things all mixed up. we think that money, power, prestige, success, and material things are holy & important. we think that’s where we’ll find our freedom & happiness. instead, that which touches our soul & sets us free is something much more simple.
advent reminds me of what’s important. and i keep breathlessly waiting, as i do every year, for the hope & light to break in. i am waiting to celebrate that love has come to the world… to meet us where we are, to love us as we are, and to send us forth to share that love which is acceptance, peace, joy, justice. it has come. it is with us now. it will come again. and hopefully, i will be ready. but for now, i am breathlessly waiting…
an amazing, everyday view of advent through the eyes of one of my favorite authors:
The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton.
In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen.
You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for.
You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
The Salvation Army Santa Claus clangs his bell. The sidewalks are so crowded you can hardly move. Exhaust fumes are the chief fragrance in the air, and everybody is as bundled up against any sense of what all the fuss is really about as they are bundled up against the windchill factor.
But if you concentrate for just an instant, far off in the depths of you, somewhere you can feel the beating of your own heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.
from whistling in the dark, by frederick buechner.
peace on your journey.
last night there was a storm all across southern sweden. kind of a scandinavian hurricane, you could say. it’s been chaos… no electricity, transportation issues, wind & rain & flooding damage. it wasn’t too bad here (we live in the northern part of southern sweden. make sense?), but there was a lot of wind & rain. no real damage. so, we were able to hunker down & enjoy a relaxing sunday night. as the wind & rain pelted our windows… what a great way to go to sleep at night.
but, this morning we woke up really early. at 6:00 am, my love left for a 2 day conference in stockholm. zola (our cat) & i will stay home & take care of business here for the next 2 days. so, what will we do? (i am “off” since my internship supervisors = my wife & her colleague, are at the conference). the only thing i have planned is laundry this afternoon. other than that, the hours stand in front of me quite empty. that feels good & not so good at the same time.
when i woke this morning (for the second time. i slept again after lina left. hehe), i turned on my computer, read some blogs & checked the news. one blog had tons of creative thoughts about advent, and somehow i ended up all over the place, clicking here & there, and before i knew it, i was researching a person that influenced (and still influences) many people to embrace their journey in life & to live life to the fullest. i was so inspired; & i was so amazed that i had never discovered this person before!
then it occurred to me, i have 2 days in front of me. two days to take care of some things at home, to do a tiny bit of work, and to (wait for it….) study! yes, that’s right. study. my love may be at a cool conference in stockholm, but i’m going to have my own little conference here at home. i’m gonna immerse myself in life, words, & work of joseph campbell. not to worry, i will explain & write more later, you can count on it… ‘cuz from what i’ve read so far, his ideas, thoughts, & beliefs are amazing!
so, it’s gonna be a quiet & cozy monday and tuesday. i’m gonna soak up some inspiring words. read a little, watch a documentary, and take some time for myself. call it a little retreat. it’s weird to be without my love, and things feel different/empty when we are separated (even for 2 days, cheesy, i know). but, here’s me making the best of it, using my time creatively, and beginning my journey through advent to christmas with some quiet, cozy, inspirational moments.
happy monday. wishing you peace & light.
well, it’s the end of november and we’ve celebrated thanksgiving – that cozy all-american holiday. lots of planning, lots of waiting, lots of cooking, a little stress thrown in, & lots of food. yes, today, we had thanksgiving here in our little apartment in sweden with some of lina’s family. it was a cozy, relaxed evening together & it was super fun to see swedes try out some typical american thanksgiving food (that’s right. i cooked. a crapload of food!). some of our dishes were completely new to our guests (green bean casserole – which i now declare the favorite thanksgiving dish of all swedes), and some guests were doing thanksgiving with us for the 2nd time. in any case, it was good fun & we definitely all had the required food coma afterwards! i am so grateful that all the guests were willing to come & celebrate with us… feels like i had a real thanksgiving & that means so much to me!
but, directly after the guests left, it was time… time to put out all of our advent/christmas decorations! well, no tree. following swedish tradition (and because it’s more logical too), we will get our real swedish tree during the week before christmas. still, we’ve got candles galore (but, you all know by now that candles are a must in this household) and beautiful lights in our windows… another swedish tradition. i know that in the states, some people put a single candle (plug in, of course) in the window, but here it’s multiple candles or big stars. we’ve got some of both! let me just say here that being an international couple has it’s perks… it is so much fun to blend our traditions, create new ones, and celebrate holidays from both countries. how freaking lucky am i?!
ok. here are some pictures… check ’em out!
and we’re ready to sit down!
so, we’re all ready to begin our advent journey and officially begin the christmas season! it’s here! it’s finally here!
hope you are having a beautiful, beginning of the holiday season weekend! peace & love.
some beautiful, calm, peaceful music for rainy wednesday…
Everytime the rain comes down
Close my eyes and listen
I can hear the lonesome sound
Of the sky as it cries
Listen to the rain
Here it comes again
Hear it in the rain
Feel the touch of tears that fall
They won’t fall forever
In the way the day will flow
All things come, all things go
Listen to the rain… the rain
Here it comes again… again
Hear it in the rain… the rain
Late at night I drift away
I can hear you calling
And my name is in the rain
Leaves on trees whispering
Deep blue seas, mysteries
Even when this moment ends
Can’t let go this feeling
Everything will come on again
In the sound falling down
Of the sky as it cries
Hear my name in the rain
after spending the morning writing, i met a friend for lunch at his place. it was cozy & relaxing just to chat with each other. it’s amazing to meet new people, get new perspectives, & grow. when i left after lunch, i ran a few errands & then took a long stroll home, taking pictures along the way. at home again, i baked a super easy blueberry pie (i’m not a chef. at all.) and had the pie & a pot of coffee ready when my love arrived home. we chatted, caught up on each others’ day, and gobbled down the pie. then we decided to play a few games, something we don’t do that often. but it was really great to listen to christmas music and just chill together, doing something different. now, dinner has been eaten & it’s time to just hang out together on the sofa. all three of us, of course. zola has taken her place on lina’s legs. it’s foggy & cold outside, but inside, we’ve got it really cozy, warm, and calm. hope you have had a wonderful tuesday!
blueberry pie. (pic by lina).
zola decided to play games with us too. she stole my numbers. cutie. (pic by lina).
goodnight & peace.
i once met a single mom who had 4 or 5 kids (i don’t remember exactly). the oldest was in one of the special education classes i taught in a little town in nc. i needed parent signatures on some legal papers, but the mother would never come to the school to sign it. so, i decided to go to her home to get the papers signed. i had no idea what i would witness. i drove into the neighborhood = the ghetto = the projects, and wondered if i would be safe. i knew that kids ran around with guns, and drugs were being used everywhere. i parked my car, went up to the porch of a dilapidated house where the white paint was peeling off, and knocked on the screen door. no one came. i saw a woman sitting on a couch inside, so i opened the door and let myself in, telling her who i was and what i had come for. she didn’t really respond. it didn’t take me a long time to realize that she was high. she never got up off the sofa, but she did mumble some words to me. kids ran around the house in their underware. there was a kerosene heater in the middle of the room, which was on, and clothes had been thrown on top of it. i was thinking, “oh my god. fire hazard. big time. this place is gonna go up in flames.” i somehow got her to sign the papers, and left pretty quickly. she couldn’t communicate very well, and i was feeling really unsafe & scared. besides, what more could i do?
after that home visit, i did several more with other parents (mostly single moms). i began to understand the importance of knowing the backgrounds of the students i taught. but, i felt helpless. i saw their situations, i saw their pain & their struggles, and i became a changed person. i was no longer scared of the poor. i had looked them in the face, been to their homes, talked with them about their lives. poverty, addiction, abuse now had faces. they weren’t just societal issues that i studied or heard about. they were people, mostly women. fighting for their lives. and i constantly thought about them. i had everything. they seemed to have nothing. and yet, as i gave to them (time, education, an ear to listen), i realized that they gave me even more.
i know that there are many who think that occupy wall st. (and the other occupiers around the world) is a bunch of bull. i have heard people responding negatively with comments like, “occupy a job!” or denying that they are a part of the 99%, or simple disbelief that anything could or should be different with the capitalistic, egocentric, give-me-what’s-mine society that is this world. but, i believe differently.
i encourage everyone to have their own opinions, and i respect them all, even if i disagree. but, i also encourage all people, regardless of their opinions, to be open enough to at least listen to one another. minds may not be changed, you & i may still not agree, but at least we have had the courtesy to listen to each other. truly listen. that is respect. that is tolerance & acceptance. that is unconditional love. but, that is what we humans have a hard time doing. we believe what we believe, and that’s it. we have the idea that the perfect world would mean that everyone would hold the same opinions that we hold, for we believe that we know best. but, if life really existed like that, we would never learn anything. we would never grow, or have new experiences. i digress…
i have posted a youtube video below because i watched it and i was touched. behind all the occupy wall st. stuff, there lies a fundamental message that many want to share. and that is, we are a community. we all live together on this planet we call home. there is meaning to life, and that meaning is to love & to give. life is to be lived from the inside out. we are here to share our love, give of our ourselves (for we all have something unique to give), and to build a better world together. but, that’s not how things have been going. there has been a focus on getting, hoarding, acquiring. we have been living from the outside in. consuming everything for ourselves. thinking, “what will i get out of this?”, “how will this benefit me?”. always searching for ways to make more money, buy more things, secure more power, earn more respect, move up without even acknowledging the person beside us who is drowning. it’s been all about me. me. me. and we’ve forgotten about each other. or we’ve said to one another through our words or actions, “i’m too busy trying to make my way. i’m working hard. i cannot help you. you are responsible for making your own way. if you work hard, you’ll make it. good luck.”
never mind that the persons we say this to have no home to live in, or have been searching for a job for over a year, or struggle with alcohol or drugs, or have been sold into slavery (yes. slavery exists today.), or have been cast out by their families. never mind that the persons we say this to were born into poverty and their neighborhood school has no money, so their education is not quite up to par with the private school down the street that is turning out doctors & lawyers (who also struggle to find jobs, mind you). never mind that the persons that we say this to have no self-esteem, no self-confidence, and no one to teach them that they matter. they don’t have time to dream of “how to make it”. they are just trying to survive. it shouldn’t be like this. but, in reality, it is. these are not lazy people, who just don’t want to do their part. these are people who have dreams, but feel no hope. they feel stuck in a cycle. and we feel that they should get themselves unstuck. if they work hard enough, they can do it. we don’t have time, patience, or the desire to help. we’re too busy with our own race to the top. besides, helping someone along the way to the top, means that we might have to give up something that we have earned for ourselves. we believe that we lose something, if we give you something.
sadly, we think that more for you is less for me. but, in truth, more for you is more for me.
the truth is, love creates love. don’t we all know that? when we love someone, we receive love in return.
so, why can’t we help each other? why can’t we create something together? why can’t we give instead of get? what are we afraid of? we have lost what is really important. generosity. community. love. a meaningful life. it’s time to realize that we need each other, that life is better when it is shared together. it’s time to recognize our mistakes, reassess our values & priorities, look at what we have, and then begin to love & share ourselves again. to live is to give. it seems crazy. utopian. idealistic. impossible, even. but, each of us is important. each of us have something to give. each of us matter. each of us exists for a reason. and it’s time to discover what we have within ourselves that is our own special thing, and then share that thing with the world. it’s time to dream a little, to listen to our souls a little, and to live from those dreams which come from deep within.
i have worked with too many people who are searching for a way out. i have seen the struggles that our selfishness (and i include myself in this) has brought to others. if you’ve never met someone who is homeless, addicted, living in poverty, abused, or stuck in a cycle, then i encourage you to visit a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen, or a hospital, or talk to someone on the street. just do it. when these people become human beings with stories behind their situations, your perspective changes. and it becomes impossible to simply walk past them and ignore them ever again. behind each face is a dreamer, a lover, a human being… worthy of a beautiful, free, amazing life. isn’t it time that we help each other create those lives? together, in our own little places in the world, we can.
i believe in “a more beautiful world. a world that our hearts tell us is possible. a sacred world. a world that works for everybody. a world that is healing. a world of peace.”
the dreary november days continue. it’s monday morning, and i’m searching for energy. i made the bed, but i want to unmake it and crawl back in. it turns out that the more people i talk with about my november blahs, the more people i realize are suffering in the same way i am. i had no idea this societal autumn disease existed. now that i know that i’m not alone, i feel that we can and we will most certainly make it through. but, it’s a fight.
i watched a movie last night that was filled with quotes from authors & poets; and, i found a little inspiration to keep on going. movies, books, words… they speak truths & remind me what is truly important. you know, we will make it through. there is light in the midst of the darkness. i promise. not that it makes november easier. not that the struggle to get out of bed and do something productive with my day simply disappears. it isn’t easier. the struggles don’t disappear. but, this darkness will not last. i know that. fall turns to winter. but, spring always comes again. as it is with the seasons, so it is also with life. an ever-changing, ever-dying, ever-renewing circle. in the meantime, at least for the time being, i am still walking around like a zombie, only wanting to be home. only wanting to close myself off from everything & turn inward. yes, my mood & my attitude mimic the weather & the season. but i’m keeping my eyes open for any tiny bit of inspiration. i need it.
a quote from the movie “A Love Song for Bobby Long”…
I just want to breathe in every day.
Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length.
~ Robert Frost
peace, to all my friends & family.
happy sunday morning.
oh, how my sunday mornings changed over the years. there always seems to be a routine, but that routine has varied and transformed over the years, depending on where i lived and what i did. almost always it has involved going to church in some form or another. but, there have been times that i have stayed away as well… longing to grab on to a full weekend (2 days to do what i want, instead of only 1). why did i go to church in the past i wonder. as a teenager, because i wanted to. i could see my boyfriend & my friends. and it was a place i felt accepted & not so freakishly different from the crowd i was surrounded by in high school. in college, church wasn’t something i did on sunday very often. but, i lived my religion/spirituality throughout my entire college experience (a direct result of attending a university connected to a church – and a great decision, too. so much of who i am as an individual was formed during that time) in various ways. then, i skipped church some. couldn’t find a home. wanted to enjoy my weekends since i began working like a real adult. and finally, i ended up working in a church. almost 8 years of work & church every sunday. while i longed to be able to take long weekend trips, i loved my job too, so getting up at 5:30 am & arriving at the church at 7 am wasn’t bad at all. i was so inspired & loving it (for the most part). then, when i moved to denmark, i went to church every other week or so on sundays. but, i was in the church almost every day, talking, chatting, drinking coffee, singing, writing. it was fantastic – connecting with the people. back home in the states, i took a break from the church. no working there. no worshipping there. i just didn’t feel it. (i realize as i am writing this, that i am not doing this justice. there is so much more to write about these church experiences). and i needed to be spiritual outside of organized religion. i needed and wanted to have sundays to myself. i needed to rediscover myself, instead of continuing a life of doing what was expected. for, while i enjoyed most of my time in church in sundays, deep down i felt that i had to go. it was my duty to be there. so, i needed time to explore a little bit of who i was, and how i could be used. i needed to open my box a little. and i felt guilty for that. but i did it anyway.
and here, i am today. working in a church again (very part-time. only 10 hours a week). and it’s sunday. i’m preparing to get myself ready & go take care of business. but, right now, all i want to do is write. i feel inspired & i wanna use this feeling to work on my book some. why? why does this feeling come precisely when i have to leave? perhaps going to work will inspire me some more… i’m trying to be positive. perhaps i will come home this afternoon & have a different perspective. i hope this feeling lasts. please, please, please let me feel inspired to write when i get home in a few hours!
the battle inside myself rages on. i belong here. i belong there. i am used here. i am used there… church or no church? people or time alone?
perhaps instead of trying to figure out where i should be, i should not try to be anywhere else except where i am right now. in this moment. and in the next moment, i will be exactly where i am supposed to be. living in the now. that is how to live life. to stop always wishing you were somewhere else, but instead, accepting & loving & giving exactly where you are. that is being free & being used. i also realize, as i reread what i have written that every time i have written the word “church” i am actually thinking of all of the people i have been in contact with, met, and who have touched my life through the church. so, it’s actually not church which i am talking about. it’s people. and theologically, that is exactly what it is supposed to be important. people. not a building.
ok. up off my ass. i’ve written some. and now, it’s time to move on to what comes next in my day. these moments have been beautiful & calming for me. but, the ones to come have something to offer too.
yes, my sundays have changed over the years and yet, remained the same too. but, one thing that they have always offered me is inspiration. whether in church, camping in the woods, walking around downtown asheville with my love, hanging out on the dock at my parents’ house, staying cozy in my apartment, having coffee at a cafe, traveling, working, sleeping, talking, writing, being. no matter where i am, no matter what my sunday may look like… i am sure to find something inspiring.