dreary. rainy. and full of purpose.

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as i click my computer keys, the rain pounds on the pavement outside. it has been doing so for the past 24 hours. it’s cold and dark and dreary. as if spring has gone into hibernation today, just in time for this day of intentional pause.

as you may know, i have been celebrating lent in my own special way – successfully and unsuccessfully. i challenged myself to 40 days of being in a cathedral, but i have not been there every day. what i have committed to, and followed through with, is some time for mediation and prayers for others every day – and i have done that successfully. but, it’s been two weeks since i stepped through the doors of the cathedral downtown. my last day there was during a memorial service for a woman i had never met. (read about it here).

in any case, successful or not, i have learned a lot. and one thing is that, for me, my connection with the divine energy/force/love/god is not found only in a cathedral (which i already knew, but it has become profoundly more apparent to me throughout lent). the days that i was not in the cathedral, i was outside. or with others. or in a time of meditation  by my private altar at home. all that to say, i do not feel guilty for not accomplishing my challenge of 40 days in a cathedral. in fact, i feel more free in a sense. especially after this past week…

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on monday of this week, i started a 21 day meditation series. and, so far, so good. i have intentionally sat down on my amazing pillow (made from a woman’s wedding dress from india), lit candles, and begun a series of meditations on “finding purpose.” to be honest, it was a topic that i didn’t think i needed. but, i did need committed silent meditation time, so figured: “what the heck.” little did i know that this just may be exactly what i need right now.

i realized that i don’t have a specific goal right now, that i’ve been feeling disconnected from myself, ungrounded, undisciplined, and a little bit without direction. i’ve been thinking about money and jobs. and i’ve let my dreams go a little, chalking it up to practicality. i mean, last fall and winter, my life was crazy awesome with all of these amazing dreams coming true. i was making shit happen all over the place.

but, right now, even though there are plenty of beautiful, amazing moments, i’m tired. weary. unmotivated. and, somehow, without purpose it seems.

and then, i started meditating this week… noticing that everyday i was focusing on what i have already within me. security. love. power. happiness. creativity. wisdom. it’s all there. and i’ve known that all along, but i needed to truly meditate on it. experience it, instead of just say it. and, it was these meditations that revealed to me that i am not living in a calm, peaceful state of being right now. and here’s the key thing: that i’ve also been blocking, or holding back, my unique expression of life, of who i have been created to be at this time in this moment. i have failed to live the life that i dream about. 

now, i don’t now why or how this happened. perhaps (most likely) it has been a necessary bit of blah-ness, in order for me to move forward in my journey. all i know, is that this is not me. i am not the person who just sits and wonders what comes next. and i’m tired of being that way. i have a life to live, more dreams to chase. now, it’s time to discover what they are and make some shit happen again.

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today is the day before easter in the western christian church. it’s the last day of lent. to be honest, i just let good friday slide right on by yesterday – without taking part in any death/cross/jesus rituals that have been part of my life for as long as i can remember. and every now and then, for a few moments, i thought about that. but, then i realized that that is not who i am right now. another thing i’ve noticed throughout lent is this move from christianity to an exploration of all religions. now, christianity is and always will be my foundation to spirituality, but right now i need to embrace some other forms of spirituality along with christianity.

in any case, today, unlike yesterday, i have found myself drawn to the christian focus of the day – the day of waiting. of nothingness. jesus is in the tomb. dead. and others are weeping. and we all pause. they journey is on hold. lent is over. but it’s not quite the day of  the celebration of life.

so, this rain that’s falling here in asheville… it’s appropriate. and the fact that i am still in my pjs and in bed writing and reading, as i have been doing all day long… it’s appropriate too.

i soon realized that i was making this day a personal retreat day, which felt perfect. and wouldn’t you know it, i came across a little holy saturday reading this morning that touched me deeply. according to biblical scriptures, joseph of arimathea is the person who took the dead body of jesus to the tomb and laid it there. such a huge task, and this man is only given about 3 sentences in the whole bible. much like a few other biblical characters. he comes, does his thing, and leaves. never to be mentioned anywhere in scripture before, or again.

that got me thinking: just like this man, joseph, who had a specific task and purpose to fulfill in that moment, we do too. and this is exactly what i meditated on this week:

we are each created and living in a particular time, in a particular place, with a particular purpose – to express our unique selves through our true selves. to live an authentic life, expressing our specific passions and gifts and desires.

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and today is the perfect day to reflect on that i realized. in honor of joseph of arimathea who lived out his truth. and jesus, who was willing to die in order to stay true to himself. how am i doing in that department? have i been true to my self? and, if i haven’t could that be the root cause of my unsettledness?

perhaps my disconnected feelings have come from the fact that i have not been rooted in my true self. i talk about it, i write about it, but i haven’t been living it. however, there is no need to worry: meditation has reminded me that everything i need is already within me. the spirit of god dwells within. the universe, the light, the love, everything i could ever need is already with me. it’s just up to me to tap into it and to let it flow freely. because you and i, we are here today, in this specific time in history, to share our lives with one another and to live our lives to the fullest expression of who we are.

“be yourself. life is precious as it is. all the elements for your happiness are already here. there is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. just be.” – thich nhat hanh

yes, today, life is dormant. just like recently, my life has been dormant. but, perhaps, it’s actually just been sleeping; like the winter, simply waiting to give birth to something new.

we pause and wait a little while longer… new life is coming.

namaste.

40 days in a cathedral: week 5

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last friday i walked into the cathedral known as the basilica of st. lawrence in downtown asheville ready to spend an hour or so in quiet. it was the first day i had been there all week. and, while, i had not been in the physical building monday – thursday, i know that i had been taking some time to meditate.

you see, my brother got a new dog last week. and then he remembered that he had workshops out of town everyday and would be leaving home really early in the morning and returning quite late at night. so, he enlisted my help during the day to take the dog out and spend some time with him. of course, i did not hesitate to do this… because, what would be a more fun excuse to take long walks during a beautiful and warm spring week than to walk a cute dog?

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so, church for me last week was outside, in the urban oasis of the five points neighborhood in downtown asheville. i walked with gunni (the sweet new family member) through the neighborhood, taking a different route each day. we took some drives together, and even found ourselves at a park by the french broad river one day. gunny rode with me to pick up lina a couple of times, and he curled up beside me on the sofa to nap, a few other times.

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while i walked and talked with him, i also stopped and soaked in the beautiful changing of the seasons happening all around me. i thought of all of you that are on my list, and i meditated with my footsteps.

but, on friday, i found myself in the cathedral. only i was not alone. in fact, there was a service going on when i walked in. so, i took a seat in the back and settled in to observe and perhaps participate. soon i realized that this was not just any service, it was a memorial service for a member of the congregation. i wondered if it was weird for me to stay, but i decided that it wasn’t. i decided that i could stay and honor this woman’s life, while at the same time, celebrating the joy of being alive.

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i did participate in the service, standing when the congregation stood, and sitting when they sat. i also decided to sing along, especially since the hymns were familiar ones from my childhood. in fact, the very last one, “how great thou art”, was incredibly touching. it was my late grandfather’s favorite hymn – and my granddad is the man who inspired me most through out my life, though he died when i was only 11.

the service lasted an hour, and at the end, as everyone began processing out, i felt full of life. full of gratitude. and a complete connectedness to myself and to the divine presence that connects us all.

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so, from celebrating new life appearing in my natural surroundings on long walks for most of the week, to celebrating and remembering the life of one specific woman who i never met, i felt the simply joy of being alive; of knowing that, though life is fleeting, we have the choice to decide how we want to spend our days.

i was blessed last week to live my moments in solitude and in the presence of amazing people, including my family. but, on top of that, i had the joy of remembering that slowing down and connecting to the presence that is within me, means that i am also connecting with you.

i think i’ll leave you with some of the lyrics from the hymn i mentioned above. if you don’t use the word “god” in your life, simply think of the presence of whatever you do believe in – or not. still, i personally cannot deny the existence of some being/presence/connection that unites us all – to each other & to the world around us. i don’t use the word “god” all of the time, but the lyricist’s expression of gratitude for the world and the beauty and grandeur of life, is what touched me. the words are poetic, and a perfect summary of my week in a cathedral: the basilica and nature.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

namaste

a pilgrimage down into the deep

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the fabulous paige at for the love of wanderlust went to europe a few weeks back. she asked me if i wanted to write her “wanderlust wednesday” post while she was gone. “of course”, i replied! so, i did. and my post appeared on her blog. i loved doing the post so much and i thought that i had come across such amazing places, that i just had to share them with you all… my loyal readers and friends. so, this is a copy of the post that appeared on paige’s blog…

my case of wanderlust is quite serious, as i truly want to visit every corner of the world. so, i could write a post on my wanderlust-y places every day.

and there are so many different kinds of trips that i want to take, all of them with a different purpose or meaning: like, a historical trip to old places so i can learn more about the world. or a relaxing trip to some place tropical and warm. or a wilderness trip filled with  hiking and camping and nature and sunsets.

but, one of the most intriguing trips i want to take is a pilgrimage. of course, i actually think of traveling of a spiritual experience in and of itself. but, to take a pilgrimage to holy, sacred, spiritual places would be incredible. think or  ashrams in india or temples in china or ancient ruins in south america. think about the great pyramids in egypt or mythological places in greece or jerusalem, the heart of three different religions.

i just imagine that a trip like any one of these would be inspirational, transforming, powerful, and empowering. so, today, i’d like to share with you some places that i ran across that seem to fit this style of traveling that i never knew existed. and the amazing thing is that these, for me at least, count as spiritual and wilderness/nature trips. two for one!

apparently there are buddhist temples located in caves. of course, we usually think of holy places reaching up to the sky, but these are buried deep within the earth. perhaps to reflect the practice of meditation, of going within… because you literally go within the earth to visit these holy caves.

Phraya Nakhon Cave: Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailando-CAVE-900

Datdawtaung Cave: Mandalay region, Myanmar

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Khao Luang Cave Temple: Phetburi, Thailando-TEMPLE-CAVE-THAILAND-900

Yathae Pyan Cave: Kayin state, MyanmarA man walks past Buddha images inside Ya The Byan cave

Wat Tham Erawan: Nong Bua Lamphu province, Thailando-TEMPLE-CAVE-THAILAND-900-1

i can hardly believe these places exist! but, how amazing would it be to visit them? 

namaste. xx