Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm not old; I'm ancient

Sometimes there are things so sweet that they have to be shared. I just got finished listening to a very basic, bland webinar on spirituality and aging. About half-way through the talk, I found myself checking my e-mail and Facebook page.

Through Facebook, a friend connected me to a site called Walking the Red Road - dedicated to giving voice to First Nations people. Walking the Red Road was a nice antidote to the Western mind's linear and intellectual thinking I heard on the webinar.

Checking out the photos on Walking the Red Road, I found quotes associated with the faces of contemporary Native People elders. Below is a one that caught my attention.

"I am not old; I'm ancient. And when you're ancient, you never get old."

Vi Hilbert, Upper Skagit

Now there is a long view on aging and eldering if I ever heard one.

And for those of you who are interested in reading Vi's "signature" story about Lady Louse, you will be treated to a very short, but important story.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fruits of Worship

This past weekend felt like a time of living in between time. I am back to trying to find additional part-time work to supplement my private practice and other clinical work after taking time off from actively looking last spring - which I promptly spent getting sick and recovering.

Piece mealing my work life seems to give me the illusion of control. I hate the yoke of an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.

Partner and I attended a daylong workshop Saturday on Gay Hendrick's Conscious Living concepts. I was having a hard time thinking of any specific interest to help me think about creative possibilities. I write, play the harp, play with my grandson, talk with my friends and family, cook, clean, listen, meditate, worship, counsel, ... So in the back of my mind I was imagining what it would be like if I had to decide between the two jobs I was currently interviewing for. Which one would be better suited to my gifts, or, as framed in the workshop, my natural genius?

Then on Sunday morning, my Quaker meeting held a session after worship on Fruits of Worship: Taking Our Faith into the World. I think I participated unknowingly in a cosmic joke. I was asked over the phone by someone at the meeting to participate in this after submitting an FYI letter about two workshops I'd recently given at other Quaker meetings. I only heard the part about worship and fruits.

At the session, people started talking about their good works. Many did amazing work around the world. The more folks talked, the smaller I felt. I knew these inadequate feelings were of my own doing, but jeez. What could I say to such worldly, talented people?

My first thing was to redirect the talking to focus on worship as the source of our faith community's connection to that source which produces the fruit. Earlier in worship and again during the program, people talked about how meditation at meeting was so helpful to them. I said I participated in a weekly meditation group and what we were talking about was not really meditation.

A 20th century Quaker once attributed to Friends the unique worship style that allowed for a corporate mystical experience without a priest or intermediary. We are to wait in the grand Silence to come into contact with the Divine. However, all bets are off about silence once that contact happens. My personal opinion is that there are folks in this meeting who aren't interested in contact with the Divine, but are idolizing silence which keeps them isolated from each other.

I blabbed from my personal place of inadequacy as a local who stayed pretty local. However, my own adult spiritual life really took off with the home births of my children. My gift was focusing on the domestic needs of family, friends, and community. I've kept my response brief here, but I am pretty sure I just sounded neurotic.

When I left, I wanted to cry. I remember my dreams of wanting to see the world and to be helpful, educated, and interesting. I wanted to be somebody.

I'm aware that I tend to covet others' gifts. It isn't new. I spent the first year of a two-year spiritual nurturer's program in awe of others' ministries. I was so blinded by my desire to have their gifts that I couldn't appreciate my own.

When I got home, Partner asked what we wanted to do with the nice day. I said it'd been a while since we went for a walk along the river. I desperately needed time in the unusually warm November sun.

When we got to the river, the moon was just coming up over the hillside. This time of year, the moon follows the rise of the hill as the earth turns during the day. It is so cool to see the moon rise up and sideways continually passing trees on the horizon. The sky was a stunning deep blue. Families were playing at the river's edge. Birds were flying the currents overhead. A kingfisher was squawking and chattering from the middle of the river where a few trees rise up from small islands.

Partner asked if I was ready to leave when the sun went behind some clouds and the air felt noticeably cooler. No, I said. I was still too unsettled.

More water flowed down the river. The moon continued to lift into the sky. Visitors came and went. Partner asked if I saw that - and pointed just over the river's opposite edge, where something was hanging low. Huge wings spread and flapped as crows harassed it. I immediately noticed the white tail, then the white head. It was a bald eagle. I'd been convinced that they should have left for the winter. Yet, there it was.

I exhaled. How can I feel "less than" when there are so many miracles everywhere? Sometimes it feels like my work is to try to stay put, get quiet, witness the amazing ordinary things in life, and accept the grace that is already at work in my life.

The irony of tying my worth to work or ideas about who I should be struck me after I returned to the house. What if I don't get asked by either employer to work for them? Maybe I'm back on the treadmill of doing interviews when I probably should be working harder at developing my private practice. Maybe the real work in my life isn't about paid work. Maybe I don't know what this is all about.

It was probably no mistake that on the way to Quaker meeting, I got stuck behind a car driving under the speed limit. Whenever there was a passing line, someone was coming from the other direction so that I couldn't pass. I just had to be present to the situation as it was. I couldn't rush it without the risk of hurting someone.

All of this attempt to remain conscious is driving me crazy. This morning I made applesauce and cleaned the house. I had breakfast with my daughter. I talked briefly to a friend on the phone. I started to write this blog.

But mostly, I just want to hug my grandson and take him down to the river. Thank goodness we are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend instead of the following weekend! I can't wait.