The Barrier Lesson

As part of my job, I help with company events and a Blues Band event in the company parking lot this fall was on the calendar.  A couple of my coworkers are incredibly talented musicians and wanted to entertain clients and friends for an afternoon.  They knew I had a musical background and asked me if I wanted to sing a few numbers.  It sounded like so much fun of course I agreed.

Then I had second and third thoughts.

Even though I didn’t lose any excitement or enthusiasm toward singing in the parking lot on a Saturday afternoon, I found I was trying to talk myself out of it.  “I’ve never sung “the blues”, I’ve really not sung with a band, I live far enough away practicing with the group would be a challenge”….blah blah blah.   Even though I knew this would be something I would enjoy and the people that I would be working with are some of the nicest, most laid back individuals on the planet, I was putting up barriers.  Why? My brain knew I was being ridiculous, but my emotions wanted to take over.

 

Definition:  barrier (noun) bæi: ər 1.  Structure blocking access; a structure such as a fence that is intended to prevent access or keep one place separate from another.  2.  Something that obstructs; something that obstructs or separates, often by emphasizing difference.  3. Limit or standard; something considered to be a limit, standard, or boundary.  4. Ice shelf; in geography, the part of the Antarctic ice shelf that extends over the sea and partly rest on the ocean floor.

 

I ‘m going to give myself some credit for at least being aware of the fact that the barrier went up in the first place.  I noticed my excuses and I could look at them like a 3rd party and see them for the obstruction that they were.  A few years ago I lacked that perspective.  This is one giant step toward mindfulness for me!

So now, there I was, examining my angst.  What does one do with a worry that you rationally know is unfounded?  Well, first I looked at my excuses:

”I’ve never sung the blues.”

And then I let Love answer them:

“There’s a first time for everything, and you’re singing with great people.  If ever there would be a time to try it out, this is it!”

Or

I’ve never sung with a band.”  vs. “What the heck, when does the opportunity to sing with a band fall in your lap?  Good or bad, it will be an amazing experience!”

Or

I live too far away, how will I practice?” vs. “You might live far away but you work down the street.  Practice after work.”

Those weren’t the only barriers I was trying to erect.  I found myself noticing excuse after excuse until I worked through every worry-filled blockade by responding to it with Love (capital L).  It worked.  Last Saturday, I just enjoyed the experience.  Every positive thing I thought it could be came true and none of the obstacles appeared.  This was an incredible lesson for me.

Let go and let God” is one of those phrases that I had always found annoying.  The idea of “giving up” doesn’t translate into my reality.  However, I think these last few months taught me that “letting go” has everything to do with removing a barrier that separates us from Real Love (i.e. God).    I was more than happy to give it up and enjoy the day.

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Absence of Mind

Wow, what a summer!  What began with some semblance of structure and is now closing with its usual muggy, moisture laden chaos that has me begging for school to begin again.

I had well envisioned plans for this summer.  It was going to be the summer of enjoying nature and writing about it in my journal.  I was going to relish my time with the boys swimming, biking, eating ice cream and all those activities that are exponentially better when the humidity hits 80%.  Of course, I would be reading.  I purposely subscribed to five different writing publications in the spring because I knew I would be submerging myself in every issue and swimming in the inspiration tucked between each and every page.

As my favorite phrase goes; If you want God to laugh, tell Him your plans.

May finished up and with the kids out of school and home all of the time they needed to be shuttled to and from sports camps, friend’s houses, driver education class and summer basketball league games.  It took me three weeks to complete a short blog I normally would have woven into a couple of days.  I opted to be kind to myself and figured this was just my way of trying to adapt to “summer life”.  I told myself that once I got the hang of the hot weather hiatus, I’d be back in form.  I’m good at convincing myself so on top of the 5 magazines I already subscribed to, I added a subscription to The New Yorker.  What the heck,….it was a fantastic deal.

July came and we left for a family reunion mid-month.  The first half of the month was spent prepping for the trip and the last half in the laundry room recovering from the aftermath.

When August arrived I was feeling so defeated that I hadn’t written one single word since June.  I was determined to get control of my schedule, my family, my house and have them submit to MY time in order to get back on track with writing.  One hot muggy day after a less than fruitful visit from the HVAC repairman, I dropped one of the boys off at a friend’s house.  His mom is a very talented writer and I asked her how her book project was going.  She let me know she just signed with an agent.  I am genuinely happy for her and tell her she is inspiring me to get my act back together.  I let it slip that I haven’t typed a word in not just weeks….but MONTHS.  Then I hear the words every creative person dreads……

”Well, you have to be passionate about it so it becomes the priority.”

I thought I WAS passionate about writing!!  What happened???  Why did my passion get up and sally the summer?

 

Definition:  absence (noun) æb sns  1.  Not being present; the fact of somebody’s not being in a specific place.  2. Time away; a period during which somebody is away.  3. Nonexistence; the lack or nonexistence of a quality or feature.

 

Was it as simple as not being present with my passion for writing?  I let it take a backseat because I needed to present with other things and maybe that’s not all bad.  I had huge family obligations this summer with relatives spanning from 86 needing to be shuttled back home from eye surgery down to a 12 yr old spraining his ankle twice.  I needed to move a child living 400 miles away from dorm to apartment and back to dorm again.  I took a leadership role in a group seeking to elect responsible citizens to my local school board.  Our youth sports organization that we started 8 years ago with our friends was starting the biggest sport of the year and needed my attention.  All of these things are very important to me.  So, it wasn’t that my passion waned or drifted off into nonexistence but more an issue of being passionate about more than one thing and finding a balance between all of them.

Forgiving myself for not living up to my unrealistic vision of the “perfect summer” took some solid reflection and observation on how I really spent my time.  While God chuckles at my vision of a blissful summer of observing nature, writing and reading, I can look back on the last couple of months and know that I was doing exactly what I was passionate about and then allow myself the luxury of being grateful for the experience.

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Smoke Signals

When I was in junior high our school mascot was a warrior.  Ironically, my children go to a different middle school and their mascot is also a warrior.  A warrior has a significant meaning in our native culture and is often thought of as “fighting the good fight”, heroic acts and bravery.  Who wouldn’t want to emulate a noble soldier when faced with fierce competition?

I live in a society that values a good fight.  We like to support the underdog and cheer for the little guy.  In the fervor of the moment, it’s easy to forget sometimes all of the preparation that precedes the battle.  Every warrior spends a minimum amount of time sharpening his blade and spends the majority on planning for the rest of the community.  They store up supplies, train others, and most importantly, lay the groundwork for communication.

 

Definition: communication (noun) kə mju ni’kei ʃn  1.  Exchange of information; the exchange of information between people e.g. by means of speaking ,writing or using a common system of signs or behavior.  2.  Message; a spoke or written message.  3. Act of communication; the communicating of information.

Etymology of communication:  late 14c., from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication), from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare ”to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” from communis (from etymonline.com)

 

A good warrior fights, but a great warrior knows who he is fighting for. He fights for his community.  Funny how both communicate and community stem from the same word isn’t it?

I’m a part of many different communities.  There’s my family, my neighborhood, my church, my workplace, social organizations and a bunch of others.  I had a beautiful warrior moment this last week in one of those communities.  I had been fighting what I thought was a good fight; standing my ground, praying for strength and patiently listening for answers.  But I had been going into battle unprepared.  I didn’t do the work a good warrior should do.  A few days ago the battle field was completely leveled with one simple conversation.  We “made common”.  This person sought to understand my perspective.  I reached out and laid down my weapon long enough to hear them out.   Here I am on my self-proclaimed year of mindfulness and I was thinking much more about how this person “wronged” me instead of thinking of what or who I was fighting for.

To call it a healing would be a tremendous understatement.  That simple act of communication was a miracle.  I’m so grateful for the second chance and I’m looking forward to a different and decidedly more positive communion with this individual.  What a blessing!

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Shattered

Sunday morning I woke up optimistic with a full plate of fun things to do. The night before we just had a great party with family celebrating my 2nd grader’s first communion and my 8th grader’s confirmation, so Sunday was going to be a day of rest and fun.

I walked out to the driveway to take my six year old to his friend’s house to play and my jaw dropped to the floor. The back window of my conversion van had spider web markings and a giant hole in the center. My brain was having a hard time processing things at first. I looked at the window and thought it was just a strange shadow from the tree in the front yard. Then I saw all the little pieces of glass on the driveway and my heart just sank. The first thought was “Who on earth would smash my car window???”, then a more rational thought came to mind…….golf ball.

Yep, on the back seat of the van was a shiny white Titleist 2. It looks like it was just taken out of the box for its virgin voyage…..never to return again. Our back yard runs alongside the fourth fairway of a golf course. “Golf ball incidents” are part of the price of having a back yard that is beautifully manicured, maintained (at someone else’s expense) and vacant for 8 months of the year. I have had several broken windows on the house; however, to hit the large conversion van in the driveway in front of the house is an incredibly bad shot. Chances are the person that made the shot had no idea that they hit my car. They probably never heard a thing. Our house sits about 150 yards from the tee box so when I add the fact that this particular ball veered another 150 yards off course and hit a window that is designed to shatter and stay in tact, instead of crashing to 1,000 pieces, maybe the golfer was as responsible as they could have been.

So, for the next hour my husband and I got out the vacuum, duct tape and ply wood and started cleaning up. I’m still wondering if the golfer had any idea what an interruption his bad shot had. I’m picturing some gentleman enjoying the 18th hole with his friends and happily imbibing in a cool beer at the club house, totally oblivious to the fact that he shattered something. He will never know the damage caused. He will never experience the tiny little shards of glass that I will be finding in the back of my van for months to come, the headache of calling to order a replacement window to find out the company that makes the window has gone out of business or the fact that it’s raining cats and dogs today and the only barrier between the water and my leather seat is duct tape, ply wood and a dark black garbage bag.

I wonder how many times I’ve done the same thing. When have I left a gaping hole with a casual yet hurtful comment? When have I carelessly left shards of sharp glass on someone else’s lap? Was it when I forgot to call my sister on her birthday? Could it have been when I was too tired to go to a celebration for a friend of the family? Did I ever unknowingly cause an interruption in someone’s life like a golf ball through the window?

Of course I have. We all have. And we will probably never know if we have been forgiven for it or not…..because, frankly, we didn’t even realize we shattered the glass in the first place.

I think I will need to have some faith in forgiveness. I have knowingly been the beneficiary of someone’s forgiveness in the past, many times. I hope God finds a way to bless forgiveness on anyone I unknowing hurt in the future. I think the least I can do is forgive u2018Bad-Titleist 2-Golfer’ too.

originally published on May 7, 2008

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Contrast

I had a nice 5 day weekend and spent most of it with Strep.  Yuck.  However, in an effort to be more mindful, I’m taking some well learned lessons from the contrast of sunny weather that makes you want to go outside and do stuff against bacteria that just made me want to sit in a chair and sleep.

 

Definition:  contrast (verb) kon trast 1.  To compare in order to show unlikeliness or differences; note to opposite natures and purposes.  2.  To exhibit unlikeliness in comparison with something else 3.  In linguistics, to differ in a way that can serve to distinguish meaning.  (noun)  1.  The act of contrasting; the state of being contrasted.  2.  A striking exhibition of unlikeliness.  3.  Opposition or juxtaposition on different lines, forms or colors in a work of art to intensify each element’s properties and produce a more dynamic expressiveness.  4.  In photography, the relative different between light and dark areas of a print or negative.

 

Every Memorial Day weekend for the last few years we have gone camping with a few other families.  It is something my boys look forward to.  The adults love the rest and relaxation.  This year we were making plans as usual and several things kept interfering.  Large school projects, a Memorial Day parade that would allow a son to not take a final exam if he participated, the boat was in the repair shop and then……strep throat.  Camping just wasn’t in the cards.  I’m pretty grateful my dark patch for the weekend is righted with a five day course of antibiotics and fluids.  After replaying the weekend through my mind I know I was exactly where I needed to be even if initially I was feeling pretty bummed out about not going.  Truthfully, the boys even enjoyed some things they usually don’t get to participate in.  That old saying that goes “If God brings you to it, He brings you through it.”, kept creeping into my mind.

I really don’t like that adage.

First of all, there’s a big difference between being too sick to go camping and major life obstacles like a death in the family, terminal illness or something truly catastrophic.  Sometimes, you just don’t “get through it” like illness over a long weekend and you come out completely changed.  God doesn’t fit neatly into a quip little phrases.  We like to think we are helping ourselves and others by offering these don’t-worry-be-happy mottos Christians have been chirping for decades.  I believe they do a disservice to real work God might need you to do in your life at that particular moment.  Perhaps they make us feel better for a moment, but having that phrase run through my head over the last few days was downright annoying!

When something not so awful like strep or absolutely horrible like a major loss happens there is an opportunity to do some deep digging.  It’s vital that we ask ourselves “What does God want me to do with this?”  I can guarantee the answer isn’t “I just want you to get through it.”.

As I was looking through social media I saw one of my dear friends from high school was remembering a solemn anniversary of the loss of her brother to suicide one year ago.  It’s still so incredibly painful for her family.  I lost a brother once too and all I could think to say to her was that one day that awful heart gripping, gut wrenching pain she feels will soften and she will be able to remember him without dissolving in a puddle of tears.   I didn’t want to tell her anything about getting over it, because I know from my own experience you just don’t.  It always hurts, but somehow we grow closer to God and we come out changed for the better.

God is full of contrast.  There is no way to experience His light without understanding the darkness.  No one is grateful for suffering, but we can always find something to be grateful for in the suffering and see God’s work first hand.

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Lessons From a Comedienne

Ok, back to mindful eating.  It seems like I’ve gotten a little off track with my theme for the year.  Honestly, I have probably gotten off track with it in life as well.

I recently read a trending online article about a British comedienne named Sarah Millican that was nominated for an award on a televised award show.  She wore a pretty flowered dress and floated on cloud nine as she enjoyed the amazing company of her successful peers only to have her feelings crushed when she went online to read the reviews blasting her choice of attire.  You can read the entire story here:  http://bit.ly/1hNANPy

My favorite quote in the article is this:  “I thought I had been invited to such an illustrious event because I am good at my job. Putting clothes on is such a small part of my day. They may as well have been criticizing me for brushing my teeth differently to them.”

I have no idea who Sarah Millican is, what kind of comedy she performs or anything about her personal life, but this quote made me want to stand up and cheer for her.  It also made me think of how often we succumb to the mindlessly cruel thoughts of others (or even ourselves) and let it sway our opinion of what we think is beautiful, special or sacred and keeping something as small as selecting an outfit for a special event in the insignificant place it belongs.

 

Definition:  significance (noun) sig nif i kuhns  1.  Importance or consequence.  2.  The quality of being important; the quality of having notable worth or influence.

 

Reading through her response to wounded feelings stuck with me for a few days.  I admired her perspective and it made me wonder how often I lose my own.  It challenged me to think of how often I make a mountain out of molehill when it comes to my food selection.  I labor over certain things and give it more significance that it really deserves.  Sometimes I am harder on myself than those critics that grade celebrities on their fashion choices.

 

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”  Matt 15:11

 

Part of mindful eating or mindful anything has everything to do with significance.  Giving thought to what we decide is important and will influence us is the cornerstone to any spiritual practice.  Recognizing God in those influences always moves us to select the right words, the right decisions and the even the right food.

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What Is Truth?

I took a few days off from blogging and I haven’t posted something since the Easter holiday so I want to be sure to wish everyone a Happy Easter!

This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the Easter season and how it lingers on for weeks.  The symbolism and significance of being Easter people and having an Alleluia attitude (see my post from April 2011).  The week leading up to Easter we enjoy reading through the Lord’s Passion and my favorite readings come through the book of John.   I have always been intrigued by one particular exchange between Jesus and Pontius Pilate.

John 18:37-38

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”

 

I always thought, in my nerdy-wordy way, that it was interesting that Jesus said he came to the world to testify to THE truth and Pilate’s question lacks the word “the”.  He doesn’t ask what is THE truth, he simply asks “What is truth?”.

 

Definition:  truth (noun) trooth  1.  Something factual; the thing that corresponds to fact or reality.  2.  True quality; correspondence to face or reality.  3.  True statement;  a statement that corresponds to fact or reality.  4.  Obvious fact; something that is so clearly true that it hardly needs to be stated.  5.  Something generally believed; a statement that is generally believed to be true.  6. Honesty; honesty and sincerity.  7.  Conformity; adherence to a standard or law.  8.  Loyalty; faithfulness to a person or a cause.

 

I’m probably the only person in the world that feels badly for Pilate.  He has to be the most confused person in the Passion narrative.  Pilate can’t figure out why this individual standing before him negates a rote process that has always been business-as-usual.  He doesn’t want a riot, but he doesn’t understand what is so horrible that the Jewish leaders would want to put this man to death.  Pilate is questioning not just Jesus, but the entire process of Roman law that he has made a career out of upholding.  Pilate is the Easter poster child of being caught between mortal and immortal, secular and spiritual or earth and heaven.

How often have we been in Pilates shoes?  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have struggled like Pilate!  I think this is why I feel so badly for him.  When I look at the dictionary definition of “truth” it’s clear why Pilate and the rest of us struggle with understanding the deep meaning of this word.  Loyalty, fact, reality, conformity and honesty can all be incredibly subjective based on your associations and your surroundings.   We question truth when passing a homeless person and struggle with the notion that our idea of helping this individual might not be the “right” thing to do.  When we are in the middle of a conversation and someone makes an off color or racist comment and we don’t pipe up and call it out as wrong, we struggle with the definition of truth.  When we see laws and procedures in place that marginalize and disregard an entire class of people but actively participate in those processes, we are in essence, Pontius Pilate.

Pilate perfectly illustrates our human nature by asking this question.  He remained loyal to his position and conformed to Roman law.  The fact of a likely riot at the freeing of Jesus and the reality of paying steep consequences for that probably solidified his decision.  We do not know how Pilate moves on after the crucifixion. We don’t know if he remains a governor and brushes off the entire exchange as a crazy day at work or if it transforms him.  We only know that he questioned what truth really is and then went ahead and did what he had always done.

I always pray that I will have clarity in the “Pilate moments” of life, but hindsight tells me I don’t always get that clarity.  I often go with the flow instead of pushing against the current with truth.  How often do you ask yourself “What is truth?”?

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Three Different Signs of Hope

At the start of lent I decided to try a little Paperwhite Narcissus project.  I planted bulbs in three different containers hoping to recreate the idea of having something that was dead come back to life.  I wanted to see if I could feel the hope that clings to improbability and uncertainty that the disciples felt on the first Easter.

 

Definition:  hope (transitive and intransitive verb) həup 1.  Want or expect something; to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.  (noun) 1. Confident desire; a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen.  2.  Likelihood of success; a chance that something desirable will happen or be possible.  3.  Wish or desire; something that somebody wants to have or do or wants to happen or be true.  4.  Source of success; somebody or something that seems likely to bring success or relief.  5.  Trust; a feeling of trust.

 

My hope for blooms appears drastically different in each of my plantings.  My large three bulb container has loads of green stalks.  They are spilling over the sides from the weight.  However the end of each green shoot is starting to turn brown.  When a bud has appeared it quickly turned brown and crunchy and hasn’t produced any flowers yet.  Even though I haven’t seen the blossoms I was hoping for, I’m thinking this pot has the most potential.  It has encouraged me over the last few weeks and I see two more buds in there.  This has been due to none of my hard work.  I kept forgetting about this pot because it was in the home office and not in my line of sight on a daily basis.  I am hopeful that by Easter morning I will be as surprised as the women at the tomb and might have one fragrant bloom.

My tiny one bulb pot I brought to my office.  I have no windows at my desk so all the light it has gotten has been artificial.  I didn’t think it was going to do very well but about two weeks ago it started shooting up!  Now look at it; tall and proud.  Like Thomas, I doubted this one until I actually saw something happening.  I purposely used the smallest one because in my mind I had decided the office setting was going to give it the least hope of survival.  I was wrong.  Just like putting my finger in the holes of His hands, I needed to see it to believe it.

 

 

 

The one I thought would do the best hasn’t budged an inch.  It looks just as dead as the day I put it in the dirt.  My two bulb pot is in a sunny spot in the kitchen where I have kept plants for 12 years.  I’m starting to realize that this location is a plant Golgotha.  They all eventually die here too.  I have only been successful with terrariums because they need so little water.  This plant is perplexing me.  I have given it a lot of attention!  Everytime I was at the kitchen sink I checked the soil, gave it water if it felt dry and moved it to sunnier locations.  Perhaps the issue is that I didn’t give it up and let nature take its course.  I’m forcing a bulb my own way instead of the way it should naturally go.  The result is dashed hope, non-belief and skepticism.  It makes me think of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders that had the Son of God right in front of them yet couldn’t believe.  They assumed they knew better and would recognize the Messiah without a problem.  They even went so far as to persecute and put to death the very sign they were waiting for because they couldn’t move past their own limited  thinking, rules and human expectations.

I have a few more days until Easter morning.  I’m still hopeful that one of these pots will have a beautiful, white, fragrant bloom.

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The Need for Teeth

I had five children within eight years.  If you do the math, I was pregnant for almost 50% of my late 20s and early 30s.  The idea of going to a dentist appointment under the nausea and discomfort of a baby-invaded body was not very appealing.  After the fifth child was born I was usually too tired, too broke or too distracted to make a dentist appointment for myself.  I did what typical mothers do, I made appointments every six months for my kids but never for myself.  I dreaded going to the dentist because I knew my neglect was going to cost me considerably in time, pain and money.  The inevitable happened and a few years ago I got an exceedingly bad toothache.  Aside from the obvious tooth in question, there was thousands more dollars’ worth of dental work to be done.  The dentist suggested a priority list so things wouldn’t more get out of hand then they already were.  Plan in hand, my dentist changed, my insurance changed and my priority list was sidelined and renegotiated over and over.

While it’s a hot mess, I do need teeth, real or artificial.  Now that my fifth child is almost in high school I’m finally getting that priority list straightened out.  I had an incredible wave of gratitude sweep over me this week as I finally addressed one of the most annoying tooth issues.  It’s all getting taken care of, but it took years to get the ball rolling and it will take another year or two to finally get it all done.  How ironic, or maybe it’s providential, that my long list of dental work is happening during my year of mindful eating.

 

Definition:  Eat (verb)  eet  1.  To consume food; to take a meal.  2.  To take into the mouth and chew for nourishment; to chew and swallow.  3.  To consume by or as if devouring gradually; wear away; corrode.  4.  To make (a hole, passage, etc) as by gnawing or corrosion.  5.  To ravage or devastate.  6. To use up, especially wastefully; consume (often follow by up).

 

For years I have been mindfully eating and not even realizing it.  I have carefully selected foods based on how my teeth could handle them.  Fragile and jagged molars made me pause through each meal and snack.  I calculated consumption based on how likely a crunchy or chewy item could snap a temporary filling.  In public places I had to think about how convenient it would be when I needed to excuse myself to the washroom and select from the variety of dental floss from my purse.  My children were getting in the habit of grabbing a toothpick for me at the end of meals.   I missed a 4th of July parade because of major oral surgery the day before.  I spent a three day work conference not enjoying the fantastic meals that wholesalers wine and dine us with and instead stuck with soup and mashed potatoes because I had stitches in my gums.

If you learn nothing else from my experience, learn this……go to the dentist.  Go often.

I am finally reaching a point where my food selection does not have to be based on my chopper’s ability to disintegrate it to a digestible mush.  I can begin to nourish myself with whatever I please.  The practical process of eating is something I can release and start embracing the nurturing aspect of a meal.

I’m grateful that I have had this awareness of how mindful I have been.  I had been putting an awful lot of consideration into what, where and how I’ve been eating for years.  Now I can change the criteria of food consumption based on much more.  Instead of asking myself if my tooth might break, I can ask myself deeper questions as to why I choose to eat what I eat.  I can ponder what I’m really feeding.  Is it fear or abundant love?  Am I nourishing a life with Divine purpose or gluttonous irreverence?  All are good questions, and they have nothing to do with teeth!

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Blinded

I love the song Amazing Grace.  It’s such a timeless classic that very few people need to refer to a hymnal for the words.  It’s almost like a national anthem or a childhood lullaby in that you instinctively know what words come next without thinking about it.

This weekend I was reminded several times about the last line of the song;  “Was blind, but now I see.” Not only was the Sunday reading about Jesus healing the blind man, but it seemed like the theme of blindness was central in a lot of things I read or saw on TV.  I couldn’t deny that there was probably something for me to learn about sight and blindness.

 

Definition:  blind (adjective) blaind  1.  Unable to see; unable to see permanently or temporarily.  2.  Unable to recognize; unwell or unable to understand something.  3.  Uncontrollable; so extreme and uncontrollable as to make somebody behave irrationally.   4.  Unquestioning; not based on fact and usually total and unquestioning.   (adverb) 1.  Without prior examination or preparation; without previously thinking about or preparing for something.  2.  Using only instruments; in aviation, using information from aircraft instruments without being able to see.  (transitive verb) 1. To make someone permanently or temporarily blind.  2.  Make somebody unable to judge properly or act rationally.  (noun) 1. Window covering; a device that is pulled down to shut out the light from a window.  2.  Cover or subterfuge; something that is intended to conceal the true nature of somebody’s activities.

 

In terms of defining, there is a lot more to blindness than I originally thought.  Blind can mean many things to different people.  Being suddenly able to see would be a blessing or a burden lifted in some circumstances, yet an unfortunate development in others.  This was certainly true in the blind beggar that Jesus healed in John 9.  While being healed meant he was able to see and live a life free of darkness, light was also shed on the fact that people didn’t believe him, his parents denied him to save their own skin and he was thrown out of his own church.  Definitely a mixed blessing!

How has my own sight been blinded and how would having light shed on the circumstances, relationships and attitudes that I have in my everyday life change in perspective?   I don’t know that I can fully answer that right now.

I have always subscribed to the idea that our faith should make us feel uncomfortable at times;  that real worship challenges our mundane beliefs and pushes those thoughts closer to God.  This should be difficult, not easy.  As a human being I am entrenched in limiting ideas that make me blind to something greater.  But the road to the magnitude of what I can’t see is going to require losing what I might be very comfortable with.

The blind man lost the only life style he ever knew, he lost his parents support and was thrown out of his church and most likely his community.  But what he gained with that sight was more precious and worth the trial and tribulation.  This lent, I feel like I’m ready to lose the limiting thoughts, but I know I will instinctively resist the change because it’s difficult and rough.   To know that “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” is indeed a sacred blessing, but a mixed bag of nuts.

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