Tree of life and light
family, friends, gather round
Faithful People gather here
worship, song, prayer, dialogue
sisters, brothers, all
accomplishing a harvest
for the greater good
Natures morning gift
under the weeping willow
We may not agree
but unite by covenant
Each day I take my greyhound and my chihuahua on long walks through the country roads of the tiny village I live in. A small woman, between two extremes, we catch the eyes of many commuters. Our definitions of walking are somewhat
different. My idea of walking is to get exercise and watch the natural world as I pass by. It is a time for processing life events, time away from the activities of my personal and/or professional life. I walk to disconnect.
The dogs believe a walk is for scratching the dirt, sniffing under the leaves, looking below the surface, and uncovering their dog truths. They seek to connection with their world beyond the house. They love to check things out. While they are checking I watch for my everyday connection with strangers. There are those I wave to, who without a word between us have become important to the start of my day.
This is the way that chaplaincy entered my life. Clinical pastoral education was a seminary requirement, not a career option. All of a sudden it became an important start to my day. Initially, I understood that seminary was my way of becoming the best religious educator I could be. This is only one of the ways in which my theological education would expand my understanding of caring for others and changing my own life. Once I experienced hospital ministry I came to understand the real reason I went to seminary. Chaplaincy became the goal and board certification as a chaplain, the standard I set my sights on. This goal took me for an unanticipated journey that included four Clinical Pastoral Education units (CPE to the initiated), one ordination, one denominational endorsement, one appearance to yet another group for the granting of board certification Ten years of hospital chaplaincy later, I find myself on an unfamiliar path. I have chosen to leave a stressful hospital position.
In Writing 101 today’s assignment is: Choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?
“If only there were time enough or word enough or rhyme enough, I would take you there.” Harry Nilsson
How many words have been written to evoke the ideas of place and what it means to us? Who am I, (an unworthy writer) to describe the place I want to go? Despite my disclaimer I will do what I can to take us there.
In this place, the sun pours in, creating a feeling of warmth and calls up the appearance comfort. How does comfort appear? On a creamy white plate, It is fresh baked just buttered. Little pools of sun shining on a raft. Through an open window light streams in, lulling me to relax. As if someone extended an irresistible invitation, like the sand at water’s edge on your feet. The perfect mix of coolness on your feet and warmth on your back. A hint of a breeze dancing on your face.
When I am in this place I feel complete surrender and the willingness to engage with all my surroundings. Mind, body and spirit are one. I am completely at home in myself and the world around me. Like a chilled glass of water, I breathe deeply and drink it in. It is the place where sunflowers wave to me in the wind and clocks stop. Although I’ve pictured many images that call summer to mind, in this place, weather doesn’t matter. I could be standing in a soaking rain, but not feel it, or feel it and enjoy it. I am weightless here and held completely by the feelings of strength. It is as if someone is holding me and I trust them so much that I can melt into the security they offer. I know they will accept and carry me, enveloping me like a warm sweater.
Like Dorothy, we can all go there. How we get there may not be by clicking our heels, but it is a place many of us yearn for. It is where we are most at home. If I had my choice I would stay there most of the time, but I resign myself to the times I must leave, because those times heighten my feelings of wanting to get back there as soon as I can. When I am stressed or feel the heavy cloak of fear choking me, I go back there, calling up some of the images I’ve shared. While I think of it as my actual home at times, what it really is, is that feeling of being comfortable and having a place in the world. It is love, but love is so many things to so many people I cannot begin to say what it is for each reader. For myself, I know it is this nearly indescribable feeling that fills me with joy and purpose. It is the feeling of acceptance, trust and harmony.
Because music is often my vehicle for arriving at this place I’ve included links to a couple of songs that take me to this place. I’d love to know what takes my readers to this place so please share your songs, images or memories of home/love/acceptance, should you choose to comment.
“And it’s my mind, and there’s no time when I’m alone.” Lennon and McCartney
Warm weather invites
outside with neighbors
chopping, cooking, sharing bread
This is communion
Being with people
sharing what each new day brings
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