Category: Intimacy


 

Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

On New Year’s eve this year, I made a decision (not a resolution) to write monthly letters to friends or family whom I deeply care for. I never know what I will talk about, but when I start writing I try to share stories or history or interesting things that invite dialogue.

So far only one person has written back. My brother. We still talk periodically on the phone, living 2000 miles from each other, but the letters elicit different thoughts to write about and to respond to. My children living very very busy lives (we hear that a lot, don’t we from our adult children?) have informed me that for now not to expect a letter as they are swamped with the responsibilities of family life, children, social events and have no time to skim a letter, let alone write one. I have to remember my days past when I sort of lived what they are living now but in simpler and slower style culturally. 

At least we have texting.

Still I know that spiritually and psychologically  a happy letter in the mailbox is a delight to see…and a surprise too..whether or not it is mindfully read in the moment.

Maybe I also know that I write a letter to them, for me, to allay the sometimes feeling of abandonment when we become…  well, you know..the Elders in the family apart from the mainstream of our once inclusion in active family life. I also feel that as an Elder in a fast-moving, superficial and skimming-over society, that I have a responsibility to share the stories ..our stories… for the sake of posterity.

Living now in an apartment complex, there is no lawn, no personal garden nor a mailbox by the road. There is a built in wall of mailboxes inside the building. My mailbox is only slightly smaller than my apartment, which of course is delightful..this my new home. But I will continue to write the letters, a practice akin to writing in my journal or on this blog. And if you are on the end,it would be grand to hear from you……. 

From Christine, the greening spirit

Moi 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she mad to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both shared. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

Cranberyy 2

 

 

 

In Joan Chittisters’s wonderful book, “The Gift of Years”, she writes  “The French call the years after  (official) retirement ‘the third age’ “.  She goes on throughout this lovely book to encourage and cheerlead those from about the age of 60  right until past 90 to see this time period as one filled with many blessings, though of course requiring  some attitude adjustments.

One of the blessings of this time for me ( and I am still working/teaching part-time and far from 90!) is the ability to look backwards down through the years, coming to better understand where I had been, be more acutely aware of the preciousness of NOW in this moment, and have a new tenderness, patience and compassion for those who are ahead of me and closer to eternity.

Inotherwords, perspective.

We have different agendas at each phase of life and Joan’s book eloquently captures all of them in her fascinating chapters.  For me, people- watching at the beach often captures the poignancy, humor and understanding of the different phases we move through…an enjoyable pastime for me in the now-available “floating” times I have to meander out and about with my camera, trying to capture in images what Joan offers  in words.

The beach and beach walkers all have different agendas. I have grandsons and know so well how little boys cannot resist skimming stones and small rocks across the waves…testing how far they can throw their dreams out upon the waters. Is the horizon the limit? Or is there more adventure beyond that? And the retired couple…holding hands, a slow stroll, maybe no need for talking, reconnecting after the active frenzied life of  youth and the middle years of  work and accomplishments, family and friends and many responsibilities, challenges and adventures.

share different agendasI PICA MG_5686 (2)

What about the Girlfriends? Such a familiar scene…. best friends…when teenage, sharing giggles over boys, middle years, long commiserations about relationships and challenges with husbands or lovers, shared wisdoms about raising kids, sisterhood guidance about following new paths of inspiration…. and older years…women soulsisters reminiscing and proud stories of grandchildren and adult children, comparing notes about health and lifestyle changes… I love this picture of these two girlfriends, deep in conversation along the beach, determined to keep sharing stories besides the challenges of the swirling gusts of wind threatening to snatch hat or skirt hems.

share E Mat People Pic one

And then, there is another agenda that is not age-related, but “spirit’  related when beach time is a no- agenda solitary time to just be, bringing nature and soul together in solitude to the music of sea and wind.

SOLOFof Scar PICA little blue boy (3)

share Lady on the rocks PIC Fisherwoman (2)

I am glad to be in this “third age” of life, giving me time to devote myself to writing, photography and pondering where I have been up to this point, where I am NOW in this gifted moment, and how I want to craft my life living at the edge along the shores of existence. Always a walk at the beach will inspire me to know the right way for me to live more fully.

From Christine, the Greening Sprit

share E Mat two book hand (2)

 

Mandala Fam Dark Moon

Ah Cancer! Motherhood, Fanily, Nurturing, Food, cooking, the Tribe, gardens, memories and heritage, the home.

Once a Mother, always a mother…this is one strong experience I have learned over the many years I have shared with my daughters since they first popped out and into this world until..well, right now! They are mothers also in the ongoing process of learning how complex a job it is to usher and guide another human being through life and I have loved watching them unfold into this role. I have seen a documentary in which the Dalai Lama himself said that the most important job in the world is that of the Mother..and being an astrological Cancer-rising woman myself, I would have to agree.

My daughters have always been an exquisite delight as I was raising them and I have loved them dearly. There has been laughter, warmth and comfort and I have been blessed that they are fine, funny, responsible and gifted women, mothers, and wives.

But no family is without challenges and heartache and over the years we have had times when things worked exceedingly well between us and times when there was struggle or temporary distance and stresses, grasping for undertanding, grasping for appropriate words to challenge or address perceived slights or disappointments. Add to the mix of “life”, the divorce between myself and their father, my own struggles in single-parenting for many years and the re-arrangement of family loyalties and connections in the course of their own marriages, the balancing of me and their father and in-laws…well, sometimes heartache and frustration are an inevitable part of the  family mix until we learn to share needs and hurts diplomatically, truthfully and gently for the good of all, which surely does take practice! (Knowing when to remain silent and just let it go is a skill as well)

After one such time of challenge in relating in new ways, the dark moon/new moon in Cancer allowed me to look at where we were and re-evaluate and re-new what was important for us as a family and as mother and daughters.

Our family times together with me and the girls doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, living in three different states and they with full-time jobs and families. To bring us together at a time when life may have drifted us apart I called on the word “respect” to remember that in the time when they are now adult, responsible and meeting all kinds of demanding requirements of their own lives and relationships I must “respect” the changes of new family connections, time commitments and responsibilities that re-shape our own original connection.  Anyone who lives in a family knows that words are not always crafted well under duress and both  giving respct and claiming respect for oneself in interactions  is an important part of  “relationship-ing”.

In this mandala, the ocean for me represents the vast sea of emotion that is part and parcel of the connection between my daughters and myself. Compassion, tears, cleansing, moods and tides flow through our lives. Especially true when astrological Cancer is part of the emotional make-up or phase of the moon.

In this mandala, a tablesetting and delicious food…always a virtue of Cancer…has always been a part of our life… cooking and eating together when they were growing up was a priority of our family life and is always a highlight when we manage to get together all…”You (or I) are coming for a visit? What shall we plan for our meal!”. Communion around the dinner table is such a healing ritual….a ritual that is much compromised in this fast and over-scheduled culture.

In this mandala, books and knowledge…always part of our homes. Books, books for grownups, and for children!

And over our heads, the flower Echinacea as a protection and healing totem…Echinacea that stimulates the immune system to be strong, resisting toxins and illness that periodically weakens us or brings us down. Echinacea that stregthness our ties as Mothers and Daughters, with the children ..daughters and sons…the family connection….

This is one of my favorite mandalas…

**** Note: This series is being prepared for a book on the Dark Moon/New Moon, how to form a monthly gathering, the dark moon mandala art project  and journaling with the moon mandala.

Mamma GroupieFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

MoonCircle Three

Ah! The Dark Moon/New Moon in Libra. Libra: one-on-one commited relationships ie business partners? Professional and client? MARRIAGE? (also ­art, harmony, beauty, balance/imbalance, dependency/co-dependency, negotiation vs autonomy, gracefulness, diplomacy, and nice-nice for the sake of peace at all costs).

Journaling:

I have spent a good part of my adult life in partnerships and a bigger part of it as a single. In each of those two states I have been fully “in” it as it unfolded.  And I have learned important things in each……relationship with other and relationship with self.

The experience of being single and “in charge of myself and decision-making” without having to negotiate with another has afforded me the deep silence and extended times of chosen solitude necessary for the creative expressive part of my life’s calling. This freedom is an intense personal need that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

The single life allows me the quiet and mental space in which to hear the inner promptings of inspiration and creativity. Just like the woman in the mandala alone in the greenhoouse planting beautiful flowers or the the woman taking time out to sit back and just be, without guilt or having to follow another’s schedule, I have  treasured the autonomy of being “single” and have somewhat chosen this in spirit if not in reality. I think. Because..

I also know that the warmth and sharing of devoted partnership or one-on-one intimacy is equally precious …when it is working at its best….in shared commitment and loyalty,  hugs, family time, conversations, brain-storming, task-sharing in the household, private games and shared jokes and humour, the history of trials and steadfastness…gifts, all.

Perhaps it is possible to have both, but I have yet to solve the challenge of that and though I am grateful to have experienced both, I am not sure exactly what it is the path that is truly the right one for me as I get older… now.

In this Dark Moon/New Moon in LIBRA mandala, my feelings gravitate towards the two images of the solo moments. Perhaps it is that as I have gotten older, have been partnered/married I am not now willing to give up large portions of my soul just for the sake of “peace” within relationship that threatens that. The partnership images are enticing…but it would definitely have to be the right person who would allow me to take periodic sanctuary into my own private personal soul-space.

Maybe it is a lifetime exercise in all relationships to work with the balancing of “self and other”.

Dark Moon Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Eyes See You

                                                          Eyes See You

Yesterday while finishing up the transaction in line at the grocery store, the young clerk handed me my change and the receipt. As I took it, I did something shocking. Smiling,  I caught his eye  as I said “thank you” and for the briefest second or two a flash of human connection happened which startled him before he shyly smiled back his eyes locked with mine.  Not just a clerk and a customer and a quick  “have a good one”  but an actual rich moment of recognition, appreciation, acknowledgement and respect between two strangers.

How rare that is these days, as we mindlessly look away from people,  and out or down into distractions…hand-held phones, I-pads,  lists, or the never-ending agendas and self-talk in our mind  blinding us from really seeing and “being-HERE- now” in the present situation. How equally rare it is to  “wake up” amd turn away from those many other things crowding awareness of who is right in front of us…to consciously break away  from distraction for a moment to actually turn and LOOK at another directly eye-to eye to SEE and be SEEN.

It’s a tricky thing,  this eye-contact because we are stepping into the area of intimacy, vulnerability and the momentary revelation of our deeply personal tender human-ness. As it is said “The eyes are the doorway to the Soul”.   To not look at all into the eyes of others is to dismiss them and be only partially present. But to turn and look directly for even a second too long breaches necessary personal boundaries and is rude and even worse, invasive.

But when we can, to turn and let our eyes truly see whom we are talking to, or to risk the exposure in letting ourselves be seen fully for even the briefest moment can be the healing balm of connection in the often fast, soul-less pace of modern life. A “sparkle” in the ordinariness of the day.

For the briefest moment, the precious gift or blessing of “Eyes See You”  between people…and SMILES… can, I believe, change the world within oneself, within the other and  in the World.

**** An Art installation: “The Artist is Present”…sitting silently gazing eye-to-eye with strangers…until… “a (familiar)stranger” from the past emerges…. exquisitely beautiful and moving…another Eyes See You……

 

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_oFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship,but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

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