Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Temptation in the silence

Been thinking of the temptations that come to me when I go to be silent at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Wernersville. As I was walking about Lansdale this morning, I welcomed the fact that I knew some of the temptations that greet me there. I thought of how the newly baptized Jesus headed out into the wilderness. He was clearly prepared for the temptations, his responses show us he was ready.
How ready am I? The next time I go on retreat, will I be able to quote scripture to fight off the following?
The Jesuit Center has graciously provided a computer for those on retreat. I have been pulled into the room in the past. Can I walk by it for a weekend retreat, let alone 8 days? No e-mail, facebook, Flickr. I desire to avoid it. The voice shows up... "It will be OK if you just do this." I feel it is best to avoid. A break from the internet may be a good thing every now and then.
Down in the Amish Room are snacks, including a virtually unlimited supply of potato chips. I am thinking I don't need to eat that many chips, especially since I have been known to stop by the dessert table each evening.

The mind wants to roam from here to there. How wonderful it would be if it remained in the present moment of the present retreat. Can I avoid counting the days that are left? Can I not wish for a more "meaningful" experience? Can I greet each moment as a blessing of a unique opportunity to stop and be with God? Do I really need to drive to see the garden like I have in the past? Can I resist taking science books to prepare for teaching lessons when I return? Can I not compare a present retreat with past retreats? If moved to draw cards for fellow retreaters, can I just go with the desire? Do I have to do this every time? Can I just be? Can I be aware of when my mind is taking me away from the retreat, greet the thought and let it move on? My mind will wonder. Can be aware of the temptation to not be in the present moment?
Ignatius believed that God was in all things. So maybe I am wrong about the computer, potato chips, and my unmindful nature. Maybe it is in those things, where I will find God. Maybe not.
One last photo from Wernersville... when I saw this image of me standing on a stump, I became aware... of how much I needed new sneakers.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

what I might have said....

It was one of those Sundays when our rector opened the sermon up for discussion. But first he spoke about John's repeated mention of Jesus referring to himself as bread and wine, body and blood. The rector spoke of how every Sunday Eucharist is a relatively recent practice of the Episcopal church..

At first I thought about saying how grateful I am that it is weekly and how it draws me to church every week, but so does the friends, the coffee, the hymns, but not the donuts, which could be so much better. Several spoke similar thoughts (about being grateful of it's weekly nature, not of the donuts), so I sat quiet. Comfortable in my silence.

Anyway, just about the time he wrapped it up, my mind made a connection... so if I had spoke..

"The words I whisper as I take the bread. The words I whisper as I take the wine. I carry these back to my seat and as I bow my head, I pray these words.

INHALE... renew me

EXHALE... cleanse me

These are the words I have taken often into my meditation with friends at work on Wednesday afternoons. I try to keep my wondering mind silent by focusing on my Eucharistic prayer"

anyway that is what I would have said. And if I had rambled on some more maybe I would have spoken...

"Maybe I desire the weekly Eucharist because I so need to be reminded of what I need so much of in my life. And maybe I feel so alert and awake driving home Wednesday afternoons is because I have asked for renewal and a cleansing."

who knows?


Thursday, August 20, 2009


life after antibiotics is quite nice. Today after harvesting lots of veggies at work, I sent the students out and about and I went back down into the garden.

Alone in the sun and heat, I went after the weeds in two 20 foot beds. When I left the garden the green beans were dominating their space. As I walked up the hill, I looked at my filthy pants and knew all was well.

Later we made lots of rosemary bread then roasted green beans, garlic, onions, eggplants, potatoes, and peppers from the garden to finish off our cooking club.

I came home exhausted, but from work, not disease.

I am seriously thinking about giving money to help those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I can imagine how it would feel. I am so glad I was tired and foggy brained for only two and a half weeks.

When one says, "what that?" and it is the return of bounce to one's step... It is wonderful.

hope you all got the newsletter, we sent it yesterday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

health update and a reminder

One night in the midst of this work week, I noticed a bounce to my step. I did some gardening at the school the last three days of the week. Mind has been less foggy. Seems like I have more energy for just about everything, except paperwork at the school.

getting back to normal, whatever that means. In a few moments I will have taken 40/42 antibiotics.


There have been lots of rants around this area because of the Eagles signing one Michael Vick to a contract. The rants and anger have reminded me of a time when I crashed and burned. I was met with love from those who had every right to rant and give up on me. It was that moment I repented and have slowly been healing myself into the person I hope to become.

Any success I have had as a teacher has been rooted in forgiveness. Welcoming students back into my classroom after all kinds of behaviors could be on the top of my job description, but maybe be below... accept and ask for forgiveness when I treat students unkindly.

I am at a loss about how folk who go astray should be punished, but I am not at a loss that folk can turn away and become renewed. Every Sunday I take the bread and wine asking to be renewed and cleansed. How can I not ask and hope of it happening to others? By being imperfect is how I fail. I do at times wish the worst on people, but it is not how I wish to respond.

Tonight I picked up the Bible and read of the time when Esau greeted Jacob with love when a rant and fist was expected. Upon being provided forgiveness and love, Jacob says, "When I saw your face, it was if the face of God smiling upon me."

Nothing less should be hoped for in our own interactions. and I fear that Michael Vick will not see the face of God as he tries to repent. For it is my hope that the man wants to be a better person. It is my hope for us all.

How amazed am I that I heard about Puppies Behind Bars today.


Friday, August 14, 2009

anger and sadness

Thursday morning my assistant says, "someone stumped on our zinnia." The only zinnia we got this year.

I head out into the drizzle and see much damage, but not death, then I notice the marigolds, the asters, the salvia, the ten sunflower leaves littered onto the ground.

the snapdragon a student had so wanted to plant, cared for all winter, finally convinced to risk putting it out into the world, trampled and tugged upon.

Four students and I weed and clean up the flower garden and we find more damage. The Cardinalis breaks my heart wide open. Cuttings from what turned out to be a perennial that lacked longevity. We got them rooted and kept them functioning all winter. Then just this week some red creeps out from the nearly closed buds. Every branch with a bud is on the ground, detached from the base of the plant. We speak of anger and sadness.

Today a staff comes by to say the angry student had once again visited my garden. A geranium planted by seed, one of the runts ... not like the ones that flowered and were sold... looked so funny when planted, bounced into fullness and bloom... has been ripped out of the ground.

I cut off most of the foliage and replant it into a pot.

driving home I am thinking of these plants and their stories when I think of what some friends have lost this year, husbands and sons. I try to imagine, again.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

the unblogging mind

this is typical...

I am sitting at my drawing table and realize I need drafting tape, so I rise up to walk ten feet. I find myself standing in the bathroom wondering why I had walked there. Sometimes I remember, and in that case I got the drafting tape.

Blogging away from the computer takes much energy and my Lyme disease/heavy dose of anti-biotic mind is lacking it these days. A conversation with Mosaic Woman followed that evening by an essay on the very subject would have been woven together into a blog post by now. but not in this mind. A hymn sung by a friend in church, takes me to praying for a friend on retreat. Again no blog happened.

There are other things that take much energy, patience is one. My job has required more than I can handle on a good healthy mind day. This second week of tiredness may have led to one student telling me he would never come to my class again... he came back at lunch and we both spoke of our mistakes. Another student pointed out my impatience, then to melt my heart said that she still liked my class anyway. Another student's eternal habit finally pushes me over the ledge and I respond in a way that may not be the best way to help her to improve. After another day of falling of the ledge, I catch myself and develop a new plan while praying that evening.

Truly wake up calls to find the energy to treat my students as I would want to be treated. So, I pray for patience.

I returned to that drafting table and did not forget my project. You will see it here in the future, a collaboration with Mosaic Woman ... HOPE on slate

I pray that when I am done with the meds things will become less foggy, and once again blog posts will keep my typically wondering mind, a bit more focused. For now, I am so grateful my unblogging brain can still blog, if I sit to write.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The New Bossa Nova touches my heart

This song has been speaking to me lately. It keeps floating up on my IPOD, and I hit repeat and let it go on and on.

So I just checked out the lyrics and I can see why parts of it resonated so loudly inside my heart...

It was so right
It was so wrong
Almost at the same time
The pain and ache
A heart can take
No one really knows
But when the memories cling and take you there
Till you no longer care
You can let go now

It's not right for me
To cling to you
Somehow I just needed time
From what was to be
It's not like me
To hold somebody down
But I was tossed high by love
Almost never came down
Only to land
Where no love is found
And I'm no longer bound
I can let go now

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My imperfect heart

At a spring craft show I glanced at a heart, saw what may have been a score line through one of the pieces and said, "I can't sell this. I'll send it to Jim." Was it the imperfection that took it down or my desire to pass it on to Jim.
Then time passed until the man spoke of my heart in one of his comments here at Stratoz. Then I found it. And mailed it.
At the doctor last Monday he felt the need to tell me all kinds of things that could come of Lyme Disease, one was of a failing heart. Few if any, who read this blog, know of how my heart has changed over the past 12 years. I once scored a zero in the area of compassion on a personality test. I still have my stoic side, but things have changed to this heart.
Like the rest of me it is imperfect. While thinking about Jim, hearts, and changes, I remembered to give thanks. So much depends on my turning back to a life of faith and doubt, instead of disbelief. So much.
Jim was on my mind when this song came up one night in my studio. The words reminded me a bit of some amazingly heartfelt words Jim had written. Not only that, but I thought the man would love Kate Campbell in general. In My Mother's House.
peace my friend.

by the way, I am feeling generally well these days, but still have 14 days of antibiotics and less sun exposure to go. thanks for any and all thoughts and prayers.