Wednesday, August 31, 2005

you have cancer

nothing changes everything more than these three words.

perhaps we face our own death in much the same way we face our own life.

she is an amazing woman...a sister, angel, queen, goddess, and teacher in my life. and i watch her respond to these words with the same strength, humor, courage, wisdom, and grace that she has lived every experience that precedes this one.

her facing death now pulls me more deeply into the present moment, brings me greater awareness of the value of everything and the importance of living the love we are gifted.

how is it we spend so much of our lives pretending we will never hear words such as these. or that somehow this is so far in the future as to have none effect on how we live now.

how can we be so foolish as to waste anything.

especially the people in our lives.

photo posted with the permission of artist graham jeffery

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

prayer in katrina's wake

to my sisters and brothers who have lost loved ones, health, homes, livelihoods, and for some, everything you own:

i know you can't see me or hear me but my heart weeps for you. i cannot imagine the depth of what you suffer now. i wish i could offer you a hand, a hug, clean clothes, a meal, or a room. i wish i could be with you now to offer my support.

i am sorry this happened to you. i am sorry for your suffering; i am sorry for your pain. you are our beautiful south and you are part of the beauty and strength of us all. we grieve for you.

i pray for your comfort and recovery. i wish for you strength for your next steps, guidance for your path, courage for your future, and abiding faith as you regain your balance. i will pray for you every day. and i will give through every available means to contribute to your new beginning.

be blessed. and please know you are loved...


photography by diana christine

privilege

a few weeks ago, quite by accident*, i received an email intended for another, an email containing a survey on “privilege.” not being the intended receiver, i was not required to answer the questions, but for my own curiosity i perused the survey’s contents.

the survey sought opinions on what one considers to be a life of privilege. the email was not a religious sermon, not a spiritual parable, not even a philosophy lesson, but was instead a business correspondence, and yet after my reading and forever since, i have come to understand much of the breadth of my own life of privilege (though i cannot truly comprehend its scope).

prior to this reading i had believed i held no experience with “privilege” because i had, after all, started with very humble beginnings and i continue to work hard to make my own way. i mistakenly had believed because i “earn” my own way i do not have a life of privilege. and yet, the very fact i have a job puts me in a position of privilege. the fact i have a comfortable position and one with healthy benefits puts me in a position of greater privilege.

i did not have the benefit of a formal education, neither one provided for me nor one earned on my own, and i have felt “disadvantaged” for this. but i am smart and clever and strong, and my ability to become accomplished in spite of lacking formal education is itself a position of privilege. intelligence is a gift and a privilege.

born an american citizen, i began with a level of privilege, a considerable one. just by living in the same country as mine or one similar, you too participate in some kind of privilege. being middle class, being a white woman, these give me incredible privilege i have barely been aware of. even with limited income, having limitless opportunities grants me privilege. living in circumstances that support a life of confidence and faith is a privilege. my incredible good health, though requiring my committed discipline, grants me significant privilege. family, friends, community…these bring a life of privilege.

how casually i live with advantages and call them merited. how easy it is to accept my privileges and believe them to be deserved. how easily i accept my gifts and view them as my rights. to consume a thing without seeing its gift is devastation.

may i ever deepen my appreciation for the gifts of the universe, may i increase my willingness to share with others, and may i enlarge my compassion for the world around me.


photography by diana christine

*for those who don’t know me well, let it be known i believe there is no such thing as an accident…

Monday, August 29, 2005

life's definition

life is filled with myriad moments, many of them various flavors and differing tunes. each blog posting is a bit like a photograph, a snapshot of a given moment different from the one that precedes and the one that follows. life captured in a blog is limited to the moments chosen for subjects of posting. what i plan for posting can suddenly be changed by a moment that follows.

what i planned for today has suddenly been changed.

within the past few hours i have learned two people dear to me are gravely ill. a cousin, the closest one to me. and a sister, who feels like a twin. and this sister most dear to me has been pronounced with cancer of a most serious kind.

what else could i possibly write about that matters to me now.

it is at a time such as this i am reminded the only truth of life is in the people we love and how we express that love to each other.

oh the jostling and the fumbling and the struggling in a relationship, the frustrations and the pain. the sometimes anguish. the many times difficulties.

but the growing and the learning and the laughter and the joy and the fulfillment and the pleasure and the gift of being able to receive and to give.

our life is defined by what we love. who we love. and how we love.

let me love deeply and honestly and consciously.

at any given moment, let me be committed to and faithful to that which i love.

let me be pure and holy and generous to those who love me.

for the people in my life are my truest reflections and my richest gifts...


photo posted with the loving permission of artist marc goldring

Sunday, August 28, 2005

mama mia!

it was just after dawn this morning that i stepped out for my daily walk. as i passed sleeping households i thought of all the pajama-clad bodies lingering in their beds inside. isn't this what weekend mornings are for...

i turned a corner and suddenly saw an old italian woman walking down her steps toward me, her face breaking into a smile as she watched me approach. she opened her arms wide and seemed so pleased to see me. i wondered if she thought i was someone she once knew. she was wearing a dress and rolled stockings even this early in the morning. she seemed so pleased to see me i felt i simply must cross the street and say hello.

she put her arms around me and i returned her embrace. "what have you been doing?" she asked. "working," i replied.

"doing what?" she asked. "writing, mostly," i answered. she beamed at me.

"where do you live?" she asked, and it was apparent she was not mistaking me for anyone else. she was simply delighted to be meeting me now on this early morning. i pointed to my street and told her i lived across from the school.

"do you live here?" i indicated the house and steps i watched her come down. "no" she responded, and instead pointed to a house on the other side of the street. "i am just helping my neighbors" and she explained that she was busy picking up her neighbors' morning newspapers and putting them on their top steps so they would not have to run out to their yards. "ah, how lovely of you to help" i replied.

"you are walking?" she questioned. "yes, i do this every morning. walking three miles or four" i answered her.

"mama mia!" she exclaimed. she grabbed my elbow and squeezed me hard. "mama mia! you be careful!" i said i would.

i continued my walk and returned to my writing but her beaming face and her tender care have kept me warm all day...

breathe out

it's all in the breathing out...

several years ago i read a book on meditation that helped me develop my practice, a book that taught me not to worry about how much or how many breaths i take in, but simply choose my pace in how i breathe out. until then i generally ended up hyperventilating whenever i attempted a breathing practice. from this reading i learned to choose how i want to breathe by pacing my breaths out, and my breathing in would respond according to what my body needs. it worked for me and i never hyperventilated again.


in my august 23 post "keep walking" i wrote of having to remind myself to breathe out during a stressful walk. during the days that followed i've been increasing my speed as i walk in my early hours, consciously and deliberately pacing how i breathe. while i walk i think maybe this breathing lesson crosses through the rest of my life. maybe it is all about what i put out. after all, what i breathe out goes into the universe and the universe is what i breathe in.

what i love, what i want, what i seek, it's all in what i am putting out...

photo posted with the gracious permission of artist graham jeffery

Saturday, August 27, 2005

from my heart to yours, my favorite links

pure gold


graham's golden tree photograph was taken two years ago at a place called coombe park; the park was once the gardens to coombe abbey, which dates back to the 11th century. the abbey is still there but it’s a hotel now, a very expensive hotel. the gardens were landscaped a couple of hundred years ago by the famous landscaper lancelot ‘capability’ brown.

post script 8/30/2005: graham says this about the tree, "i was there this morning, at coombe park, but I didn’t get as far as the tree. i should tell it of its fame. it’s good to talk to trees. best regards, graham."

indeed, it is good for us to talk to trees...

Friday, August 26, 2005

synchronicity continued

i will be giving a speech in chicago next month.

i will be giving a wonderful motivational speech as the featured keynote for a conference of several hundred business people in an industry i have never touched with a language i don't speak.

i have wondered where to begin and how to start.

but the Universe has gifted me far more than i could have designed.

the company hiring me is in jacksonville, florida. the conference will be held in an elegant hotel in chicago in rooms that overlook the water. of all the hotels in all the cities across this country, the company chose for the event to be held in chicago.

i know only one person who lives in chicago, a man my age, a cousin i grew up with in ohio.

i called him on the telephone.

this cousin happens to be the only person i know in the business that equals that of the conference i will address. he started his business five years ago, a burgeoning, blossoming company that now houses three corporations. and his largest customer is the company in jacksonville that hired me to speak in chicago.

the Universe has gifted me an inside look at the industry and a coach for the language, and has provided me a real-life model for illustrations of success. God is lovely.

synchronicity is Divine.


used with the loving permission of photographer marc goldring

Thursday, August 25, 2005

harsh judgments

during the past 14 days i lost another six pounds. this was not without beautiful effort and celebrated achievement. i have reached a new plateau.

i have sometimes been faithful to a fitness program (but while eating ferociously) and have other times been dedicated to a diet (but while neglecting to work out). now, finally, i have stepped into this space of merging my fitness program with a committed nutrition plan. i am becoming whole. and i am losing weight. i have 8 1/4 pounds more to lose but i know all i have to do is continue the path i am on. this is not a diet but is a way of living that will continue for all my days. i love my morning mileage and my evenings with my weights. and in the days after labor day i will start swim lessons* with a personal coach in early morning hours (at six a.m., no less!). i could not be more pleased.

but back to the newly lost six pounds, which brings to eighteen pounds my weight loss since year before last. suddenly in my morning walks men are honking as they drive by and i cannot help but think of the difference a few pounds make in the eyes of the world. i think of the harshness with which i have believed men to judge me.

and i think of how i have viewed my own self.

while it might be true that men, perhaps even many men, have judged me harshly in light of a magazine's cover...

it may also be true...

that i have been harshest of all...

~ ~ ~
*i simply must give thanks for this wonderful new gift. a man called my office, having heard i long to become a swimmer, and offered his best staff to me, gave me v.i.p status, and granted me an employee's discount. this is a beautiful gift from the Universe...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the artist

a friend gave me this quote today...

art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better ...andre gide

i speak and i write, and i have been doing a bit of both the past two days.

it seems to be the more i step aside and allow the gift to flow through me (not coming from me), the more beautiful the work...

and the work has been blessed...



used with the permission of the artist marc goldring

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

keep walking

i don't mean to have dropped the topic of depression. in truth, all of my efforts are in light of working with this. i realize for much of my life i have wanted it kept in the shadows, believed it to be only in my past, despised its presence in my life, pretended to others it was not mine. and yet, for all the much happiness and enthusiasm i hold in one hand, in the other hand is my relationship with depression. usually silent but often peeking from just around the corner, depression is part of my life experience.

this morning i walked but this time i could not bear the thought of music so i walked without my newly recovered cd player. but i walked. every step i took i wanted to turn and run home. but with each step i took another step. i started with the sound of crickets but returned with early commuters passing me on my way. sometimes i had to remind myself to breathe out, as i found it easy to breathe in but would forget to breathe out. deeply i breathed out. and i walked on. i walked among pink flower petals strewn across my path. i still wanted to turn around on each step but i kept walking. i found huge sunflowers, far taller than i, towering over me. how bold they are, challenging our perception of flowers being small and quiet and sweet. their stems look much more like stalks in a large cornfield. and i thought how the sunflower is truly a feminist flower. i walked several miles. now at home and freshly showered, i feel my spirit moving through me, sustaining me.

sometimes our work is simply to keep moving forward. and keep walking.

Monday, August 22, 2005

healing

i walk gently
this is a holy place
a whisper is like thunder
a breath feels like the wind

i stand within
reflections of my image
refractions of my light
i am the mirror of mySelf

i touch the very things
that make my life my own
accept my own perfection
in my imperfect ways

i step carefully
sweet treasures at my feet
my gentle touch is called for
my softest voice required

my spills, my falls, my blunders
my messy starts and stops
create the path i walk on
become the crown i wear

each broken part
each healed and mended
gives greater strength
than if no break occurred

for every time i'm broken
every time i trip and fall
gives way to still more strengthening
makes room for one more light

my failures aren't for mourning
my mistakes not for despair
for these my precious jewels
my gifts that bring me sight



posted with permission of the artist graham jeffery

acting

i have been struggling so to get my act together
but maybe having my act together is simply that
acting
and not fully being

synchronicity / something being born

i'm seeing a lot of synchronicity at the moment.

like finding my little cd player that was missing for weeks.

my home is small and is pretty much an organized place, too small and orderly for a thing to be misplaced and not found easily. but for the life of me i had been unable to find that cd player anywhere. until yesterday in the early morning hours...i checked online to see if i had any email and while sitting for that one moment (there was no mail) i glanced up and saw the little cd player perched nearly out of site on a top shelf amongst my books. i had given up on finding it, thinking perhaps i had left it in the office gym or i had let a neighbor kid borrow it, a kid who had recently moved away. i no longer looked for the player, didn't give it any thought. and now here it was, plain as day, and on the one day i needed it to do my morning walk. normally i walk in silence or in the sounds of the birds and the awakening morning. but on this day my stress and my disorientation and my desire to stay safe in my own home would easily overtake the silence and prevent the strength for my walk. only favorite meaningful music could pull me from my morass of lethargy and make me feel safe enough to walk through a busy world full of people and noise. the music in my ears would provide something of a parapet against the noise that could overwhelm me and make me hide at home.

so i walked. four miles i walked. and all because the cd player showed up just when i needed it.

even better is finding anne lamott.

one month ago i met a woman on an airplane, a writer who mentioned to me a book on writing by one anne lamott. bird by bird she said. an excellent book. a couple of days later i found traveling mercies by anne lamott sitting in my office book basket. i picked it up and took it home, thinking i would try to read it, wondering why i did so when i already have so many books to read. i have an astonishing number of books i plan to read and long to read, but many of them simply remain on my elusive list. for three weeks that anne lamott book languished in my home, quickly becoming another unread book on my list.

now i found myself in a moment of crisis of faith. while i may find myself up and down about a lot of things, about my faith is not one of them. my faith has become an implicit part of my being. rich and full and constant. yet suddenly and unexpectedly i found myself in quite some despair saying aloud "perhaps there really is only me in here..." and as shocking as i found myself to feel it, i felt as if there is no higher Source, nothing Else.

i had been feeling lately that my life was all going wrong. my finances imploded. my work was uncertain. a job i would love to have can't offer the compensation i need. my relationships became tangled and seemed not to understand me despite my best attempts to express myself. i was falling apart. and it began to seem lamott's book was in my way everywhere i turned. i moved it from one table to another. i picked it up again. i said i need to return it. i moved it again. finally i began to read. and i found deep, rich treasure.

from one boon to the next i discovered huge nuggets of gold, true treasures. and i read this...

[a man who works for the dalai lama said]...they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible...

my greatest grief has been in the belief everything has gone wrong because of my mistakes, my misperceptions, my failures. but here, in these words, i discover perhaps everything is falling apart so something new, something big and lovely can be born.

and perhaps here in my ruins, i will give birth to my own treasure...


used by permission of the artist marc goldring

treasure

sometimes a single line, a single note, becomes a stronghold...

i read a rumi line that says where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.

i know this. i have experienced this. i trust this.

even here, in the midst of my ruins, i will find treasure.

rumi expressed it exquisitely...

where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.

wrestling in the dark (or, struggling with depression)

it is like struggling with the wind
i can't see it
i don't know where it begins or where it ends
it comes with little definition
or at best it shifts and moves how it's defined or how it's known
i mostly only know it by seeing what it leaves in its wake
sometimes i am aware of its presence only after it has knocked me down

i did not think i would be writing this post. first, i did not think i would be in this place again, and certainly not at this depth. and second, if i were to be here again, i would not expect to write about it in a public forum. after all, i spent much of a lifetime in silence and embarrassment, in determined work and struggle, with its recurring presence. i made peace with it, found ways to stave it off, developed tools to work with it and recover from its touch relatively quickly and easily. i thought of it mostly now as part of my past. but suddenly, actually quite unexpectedly, i find myself in the heart of depression. if life with depression is one of rising and falling waves, i can say i did not see this one coming.

i feel helpless to explain it to someone who has not its curse. at best i can say a layer of distortion has been placed between me and the rest of life. everything i experience is now through this distortion, everything i feel and everything i think. even recognition of my own self becomes blurred, deeply uncertain (its greatest pain is losing the ability to trust myself).

if i could i would opt out, use any distraction or absorption to lessen its pain. but i have come to live in a mostly pure physical state and the things i once could have used to ease the edges of this place are no longer part of my life. chocolates and caffeines to pick me up, sleep aids to give me slumber..not part of my life anymore (their effects are extremely temporary anyway and give no solution). alcohol never was a solace for me, for once i drink something, i find it impossible to want to drink again for months. an early allergic reaction to an attempt at medication propelled me into pursuing holistic means of addressing it and mostly i have been successful. knowing i have been here before and knowing as certain i will recover again is my greatest defense. while i would be happy just to sit and stare at the walls, i am now called upon to give this my greatest attention as well as devoted gentleness with myself. which i will do. and i will record this deep and personal work.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

sometimes love means being there

sometimes love means being there.

i did not want to go out. as much as the world around me perceives me to be an extrovert, i am frequently reclusive, and far more so when i am troubled. and today of all days, my son was playing guitar and drums in a performance. i wanted to be there for him, be the face in the audience for him that was smiling at him, cheering him. and i wanted to see how he is coming along as he continues to develop his skills as a musician.

but i hated the idea of going out and being with people.

i remember when i was young and my father did not want to attend my performances. he worked hard and he was tired and i understand that now. but i found it painful for the people i loved not to be with me. as much as i wanted to stay home now and nurse my own struggles, i wanted even more to be there to share in my son's work and his presentation. i summoned everything within me, downloaded directions from mapquest, and drove to the church where he would perform.

gosh, he was beautiful, a handsome man amongst the other musicians. exquisitely beautiful. i loved him and my mother's heart was filled with pride to see him. i was proud to be part of him. with the band's first number he scanned the audience and saw me in the back of the room, caught my eye and smiled and nodded to me. that moment made every struggle worthwhile.

and i knew then, sometimes love just means being there.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

emotions

at the beginning of stepping into silence from a busy, noisy world, i felt i was stepping into nothing, and it through me off balance. i then discovered its fullness and its depth.

stepping out of emotions seems to me to feel the same way. i am accustomed to emotions, those that feel good and those that frustrate, and stepping out of emotions feels as though i am stepping into nothing, and i find myself reaching for some kind of drama. but when i spend moments in the stillness of non-emotion and non-judgment, those moments incredibly re-shape the hours and days that follow.

silence...stillness...i am discovering a wonderful practice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

sanctuary

i grew up knowing the inside of a church as well as, or perhaps even better than, the inside of my home. over the years i have worshipped in and visited every possible kind of sanctuary, from humble wooden one-room churches on unpaved roads to grand cathedrals in europe, brand-new modern structures to temples that have served countless generations, churches where women were not allowed to speak and churches run only by women, churches with young stylish bands and churches with music only a cappella, churches that offer pomp and circumstance and churches whose congregations gather in silence, churches where women and men sit on opposite sides of the room and churches where families sit together. i have joined worshippers in christian, jewish, hindu, buddhist, and other faiths.

i love sanctuaries.

i live in a suburban neighborhood with an anglican church just a few doors away. as i travel 16th street to my office in the mornings, i pass 39 sanctuaries in my thirty-minute drive. the last street i pass before turning onto my street is church street. my office building is next door to washington, d.c.’s oldest baptist church.

i love sanctuaries.

as is my custom on many days, today i took time to leave my office and spend a few minutes in the sanctuary, a beautiful old church filled with stained glass windows and towering stone columns. i entered and stood in the softened light at the foyer and stood still, allowing my soul to embrace the spirit there. as my feet walked the stone floor that led to the front, i was awash in the beauty and riches of this spiritual place. i was alone, surrounded by the sound of organ music. i reached the front of the temple and by now my face was wet with tears. in this place i am open. i am cleansed. i am whole. i often weep (but not from sadness, from wholeness). here i am on holy ground.

i love sanctuaries and come here as often as i can.

what i am drawn to, what i love, is a message to my life. life is a mirror and our work is to see our reflections and discover our truth within. everything, absolutely everything, is a message.

i am drawn to sanctuaries not because i am in need of a sactuary, a place for God to reside. i am drawn to sanctuaries because i have a sanctuary, a place where God resides. this is my reflection. my time inside a sanctuary brings me in touch with my own Sanctuary.

i have a Sanctuary.

and if what i have is a reflection of what i am, what i have is what i am.

i have a Sanctuary...

i am a Sanctuary...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

longing to be more

not long ago i walked into a restroom and surprised a cleaning lady working in the middle of the afternoon. she looked directly at me until i met her gaze, then quickly looked away. from that point on she kept her eyes focused on the floor. she apologized to me. she kept apologizing as if she were inconveniencing me and as if her presence were somehow improper.

i was the featured speaker in a conference being held in the building and this woman was not expecting me to be outside the meeting room or inside her ladies’ room. she was deferential and treated me as though my value exceeded hers. i could not speak her language but wished i could let her know the work she does, the service she provides, is just as important as that of my own. even if she knew my english, i was uncertain how i could have conveyed that same message. she just kept apologizing. it felt very strange for me.

i used to be the cleaning lady. while it has been quite some years back, in a lot of ways it feels to me it was not so long ago. i entered the business world with a broom. i cleaned executive offices and wondered what it would be like to wear a suit, to be the one behind the big desk and work on issues that make a contribution to the world. and i wondered what it would be like to have people need what i have to give. i longed to be more.

now i am wearing a linen suit; i have addressed audiences across this country and also another. people hire me for what i can teach them. but i struggle to be successful in my work. i am sometimes uncertain. i work hard and often stumble. i long to be more.

until i am reminded there are those who see who i am and dream of the gift in my hands. there are those who long for the position i hold. even when i held a broom, there were those who did not have a job and envied my gift. how careless of me to spend any time outside that of appreciation for who i am and for the work i do. my friend ehj2 once wrote to me of his own meditations, “to want to be further along my own path is a form of greed. it's placing a goal above the process of achieving the goal. if i do not love the Path, if i am not following my Bliss, i will never make the destination. to think i am not enough for this moment is a form of self-pity, a belief in insufficiency and want. to think that doing more is an answer turns spiritual practice into a form of athletics..."

my work, the cleaning lady's work, your work, we all have holy work in our hands. and we have a holy gift of who we are. any time spent longing for more is time wasting our gift. and precious time away from our own holiness.

let it rain

last night i fell asleep during a storm that knocked out power in much of my neighborhood. i slept without air conditioning with my windows open, and through the night the storm continued. the rain fell for hours. as the rain fell on the metal of the porch roof, the closeness of the sound made me feel the rain was upon me and around me and within me. i could hear, and feel, and taste the rain. i hardly could have felt it closer if i were lying on the open ground.

i awakened in the early morning hours to the sound of crickets and to rain dripping from the rooftops and from the trees. long before the rest of the neighborhood awakened, the world's silence intensified the sound of the crickets and the drip…drip…drip.

i knew i was on holy ground.

i got out of bed and did the only thing there was to do.

i found one more window to open.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

the sound of silence

several weeks ago i wrote, “i am being called to greater stillness...and fewer things...and more quiet.”

while i was absent from writing i remembered those words and began to pursue a place of quiescence.

i turned off the television.

i turned off the surround-sound cd stereo.

i turned off the radio even in my car.

i turned time alone into time of silence. how very different from my customary world of constant commotion.

i began to limit the number of things around me. i created space around my events.

i stopped constant excitation--sugar and chocolates and coffees (even decaffeinated ones) and various stimulations.

at first it was unfamiliar and disconcerting. i felt noticeably alone. but as i allowed silence to settle around me, my world began to transform. i had no idea how noise and other stimulants had interrupted and altered my body's natural rhythm, confused my knowing when to sleep and how long and when to eat and how much.

initially i found it challenging when business obligations demanded long hours and i refused to use anything artificial to keep up my pace. no chocolates to stimulate and no coffees or colas. i didn't even use music to stir or alter my energy, and i struggled to manage a bloated calendar without artificial means. how do i pull an all-nighter without something to keep me going? but as i pursued my new practice my energy began to level out and i was further quieted by not having to "use" to compensate for having "used." too much stimulation leads to trouble sleeping, and using something to sleep (even non-prescription) leads to the need to stimulate. this becomes a very slippery slope and its acceptance makes the problem invisible.

i actually started this practice long before i wrote the words in my blog (writing them from the call to pursue deeper quiet than i was already experiencing). for several years i frequently used benadryl to help me sleep but you know, for the life of me, i cannot remember the last time i even had it in the house. my new practices have been making a difference.

constant food and drink stimulation had been one kind of noise but now i was called to greater silence around me, not only within me. i turned off music and television to discover more quietude. no more voices to fill the silence in my empty house. this felt different, strange and unnerving. in my home it was just me, fumbling around in the quiet. at first i thought the silence made me feel alone. but as i began to acclimate to the silence it seemed to me it was not the feeling of being alone that was so strange to me but it was the feeling of my own presence. i had thought the hugeness of silence made one feel small but i discovered it is noise that makes one small and even lost. silence affords one the opportunity to discover her own being. i began to hear my own voice. hearing my own voice is the most solid ground i have known. i love my own becoming.

as i felt called to "greater stillness...and fewer things...and more quiet” i began to find more than the awareness of my own being and the sound of my own voice. deeper still i found a Presence in the silence, something more than merely the absence of sound. silence became not emptiness but fullness, a wealth usually displaced by noise. this silence and its Presence became a place of healing for me, a place of refuge, a place of restoration. of course, one can be surrounded by silence and never notice (having noise inside)...for fully experiencing silence means actually stepping into it.

my tendency toward noise became my tool. every time i felt the urge to turn on the music (sometimes reaching for it almost unconsciously) i used that urge to take a moment to step into the silence, if only for a fraction of a minute. again and again and again during my day my habit to reach for the dial meant another conscious moment of stepping into the silence. my habit toward noise became my incredible awareness of the silence.

i live in a world filled with noise--tools and construction, advertising and branding, billboards and bumper stickers, conversations and confusion, foods and smells--but as often as i am able and in increasing amounts, i go to my place of refuge and find myself in the silence...