The Fertile Fields of Our Soul

I’m working today (horror of all horrors) but thought that I would post a new entry while I was here, slaving away at my mother’s desk while the students complete pages of paperwork. Muahahahaha. I love substituting for my mom, since I know exactly what she expects, and she always leaves the students plenty to do (the less I have to hear them speak, the less I have to be discouraged by the current state of our students and society in general).

I spoke of change in my last few blogs, and how I’ve been patiently waiting for Synchronicity. Of course, it’s too early to determine anything, but I feel it finally happening. The wind is shifting, and the light is bursting through the cracks of the doors in my life. I’m blinded by the occasional glimpse of Beauty awaiting me. I’m hopeful, and I’m smiling in the inside… all the time. I can’t sleep at night, because I’m bombarded with Hope and anticipation. When I do sleep, my dreams reflect my hopes, and I wake with the blurriness of pseudo-reality becoming Real.

I’m happy to be alive again.

My last post was a poem – “Meanwhile, You and I.” I still haven’t recovered from this piece; it was formed straight from the fibers of my soul, and I am honored that I was allowed to create art with my words. It had been a while since I had written something new, and I was glad to have the dam finally burst again, upon the page. I never cease to garner great happiness from writing… nothing in the world makes me feel more alive, or to believe I have any truer purpose.

One of my dear friends has been hurting lately, overwhelmed by this life and the realities it offers us. Financial and emotional entanglements are strangling her, holding her back from her purpose. She is beautiful, and filled with such promise and light. I want her to break through the walls that hold her back, and press herself upon the world in a powerful way. She has the power to redefine her reality, and I think she is becoming aware of this. I want to be by her side as she comes alive. I am so proud of all that she is, and I hurt when she hurts.

If only I could ease everyone’s pain, just a little. Perhaps then we could all breathe for a moment, and with that breath offer the world a bit of Peace.

Someone new has come into my life and validated my soul. I wanted to share this, for it has added new wonderment and joy to my life. I feel as though my soul is reflected in another, and this offers me hope for the future, and the knowledge that I am not alone.

When we find this reflection in another, it is a glimpse into the earthen depths of our lives, into the grace that is God, and the gift that is our souls.

I am quite obviously slipping into my “purple prose” for this entry, something I have been critiqued for by every English teacher I have ever had (save one or two). I can only hope that I am slowly stripping myself of cliche, and other such saccharine sweetness, and rather delving in the deliciousness of the soil – the vibrating richness of the world.

For we all need a little poetry in our lives. 

We all need a little randomn love and beauty.

  

Dublin: Dreams & Deliberations

Tonight is definitely one of those nights when the only place I want to be is: HOME. It’s just been a really long day, and Kara and I are back to having absolutely nothing planned. So we’re left to stumble into random, smelly hostels and try to find a place to stay. I definitely had these days while on my Americana trip, as well, and they were never fun. Those were the days I ended up being hungry and tired and sleeping in my car. Here, however, in another country, and with another person, it’s a different story.

Yet here we are, at Paddy Wagon Hostel, in Dublin, Ireland. I may be hungry and tired, but at least I’m clean and safe. Of course, all I wanted was a hot shower, but instead I got the type of shower that you have to press down on a button for water to run, so it’s more of a battle of wit and skill rather than a relaxing time to unwind.

And I miss Bill and Katie- I’m not going to lie. I even miss our sketchy little cabin in the woods, because we were all together, and we were happy. I don’t know whether I have ever known such camaraderie and kindness.

I guess now all I really want is a week straight in a lovely cottage in County Clare. For some reason, Kara gets really annoyed when I mention John O’Donohue, but I have to admit, he is definitely one of the reasons I am still believing in anything beautiful in this world. And the thought of being in the land he loved… it means the world to me. If I really get to visit his grave site (we found the location), I will be beyond honored. However, simply to be in County Clare and West Ireland – it will mean so very much to me, and I am anxious to be on its soil. A place that cultivated such a soul, heart, and mind as that man – is undoubtedly a place of palpable power and purity.

Even though he has passed, the fact that John O’Donohue even lived gives me hope. The idea that there are people out there who understand and revere the concepts I have secretly clung to – is so beautiful to me. To find someone, perhaps one day – even one person – who can speak of the landscape and the language of a place, and pull poetry out of the earth – oh… it makes the trek worth trekking.

I can’t imagine returning home. It’s very hard for me to accept, even while simultaneously I am eager for it. It is quite the contradiction.

And I miss love. At the same time, I am terrified and desensitized by it.  I suppose it is O’Donohue’s talk of the ‘anam cara’ that calls to me – that person whose presence in one’s life breaks boundaries and conventions, and transcends this world. I know it is possible – and I have certainly tasted it briefly before; however, in a world so numb and devoid of passion, it is hard to still believe in.

Writing this has made me feel a bit better. Perhaps I can sleep now. I will talk to God for a while, since I have been very silent with Him this past month. And then I will clutch Panda to my side and fall into the world of recovery and Dreams.

John O’Donohue: in memoriam

“To enter into the gentleness of your own soul changes the tone and quality of your life… you learn to see how wonderfully precious this one life is. You begin to see through the enchanting veils of illusion that you had taken for reality. You no longer squander yourself on things and situations that deplete your essence” ( 78 )

I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking about John O’Donohue. It is unlike me to care so excessively about the loss of someone I’ve never met, and of a sort of “celebrity”-like status. However, I can feel the loss of his presence on this earth, and it saddens me on a very selfish level that I was never able to meet him, to shake his hand, to tell him how profoundly he has affected me.

I know that it’s a beautiful thing that he has returned to the earth that he has always cherished so dearly, but as I said, selfishly I was looking forward to many years of him bestowing his wisdom to the world, and to me. I also anticipated joining him for one of his week-long retreats in Ireland, and it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that this can now never happen.

As a (small) tribute to him, I want to take the time to type up a few excerpts from my favorite of his books, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. This is a publication which has absolutely changed my life. I mentioned it briefly in my earlier post, saying it is a book of which I have been unable to read past the first 100 pages; its effect on me is that profound and brilliant. I hope you take the time to read some of this, even if only because I took the laborious (:P) effort of typing it out. Ignore the fact that I type 75+ wpm, and humor me. 😛

“The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere – in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. Some of our most wonderful memories are of beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of the soul… In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act… Without any of the usual calculation, we can slip into the Beautiful with the same ease as we slip into the seamless embrace of water; something ancient within us already trusts that this embrace will hold us.” (2)

If you notice, this passage can be located on page TWO of his book, and it is just a small glimpse into the genius that is his piece of art. I remember the day I found this book – I was with my Aunt Gin, and we were in Tatnuck Bookseller in Worcester, MA (now out of business) and I wandered over to the Spiritual section. The title caught my eye, and as soon as I opened the book and read a passage, I thought I was dreaming. I turned to another page, found myself transported again, and could barely believe my heart. Here were words that perfectly reflected the secret thoughts and dreams of my Soul. Here was a man who was unafraid to write about the great Truths and Beauty of this world. And after that glimpse, I was never the same. For a while, I would read a page or two a day, but after a bit even that became too intense for me. Now, I usually read a couple pages a month, and that is enough to carry me through, to transport and inspire me.

“Beauty is mostly forgotten and made to seem naive and romantic. (3) Sadly, whether from resentment, fear or blindness, beauty is often refused, repudiated or cut down to the size of our timid perceptions.” (4)

This following passage calls forth ideas that I am currently considering for a book of my own:

“There are secret sources of courage inside every human heart; yet courage needs to be awakened in us. The encounter with the Beautiful can bring such awakening. Courage is a spark taht can become the flame of hope, lighting new and exciting pathways in what seemed to be dead, dark landscapes.” (6)

“When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world. We were created to be creators. At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty… The wonder of the Beautiful is its ability to surprise us. With swift, sheer grace, it is like a divine breath that blows the heart open.” (7)

“Our deepest self-knowledge unfolds as we are embraced by Beauty.” (8)

A section of his book that really started to unfold secret parts of my heart was a section called ‘In Difficult Times to Keep Something Beautiful in Your Heart’. It begins like this:

“There are times when life seems little more than a matter of struggle and endurance, when difficulty and disappointment form a crust around the heart. Because it can be deeply hurt, the heart hardens. There are corners in every heart which are utterly devoid of illusion, places where we know and remember the nature of devastation. Yet though the music of the heart may grow faint, there is in each of us an unprotected place that beauty can always reach out and touch.” (16-17)

Honestly, this is taking a lot out of me to even glance back at the passages in his book which I have marked up and starred- words that have completely altered my paradigms and encouraged my soul to breathe again. I wonder if without the seeds of hope and beauty Mr. O’Donohue has planted in my heart with his words, if I would ever be where I am now – on this incredible journey. Dreaming dreams long forgotten.

John O’Donohue writes about how a single thought can alter a person’s entire life-world, and that concept has always held so true with me. He writes that “a person can dwell inside a thought. Sometimes a thought is the most intimate and sacred temple, a place where the silence of the earth is wed to the fire of heaven.” (43)

“It is everywhere, and everything has beauty; it is merely a matter of discovering it.” (49)

Oh gosh, I will stop this now. Partly because I don’t want to go on too long, and lose your attention, and partly because I may burst. I guess all I’m trying to convey is the profound effect this man and his words have had on me, and how he will continue to inspire me on my own journey to touch the world and people with my thoughts and words. We have lost a great man, but the world beyond has reclaimed something pure and beautiful, which always belonged to another dimension. I will attempt to gracefully accept that, but damn it!

Damn it.


“True poetic beauty emerges when the poet is absolutely faithful to the uniqueness of her own voice… the depth of that exposure seems to call beauty.” (81)


Grace Center, Franklin, TN

I have let this go for far too long.

Last Sunday, I attended church with Kelly and Tim – they attend the Grace Center in Franklin, TN. It actually received the “church of the week” award on national television for the way the center helped a sister church by donating over $200,000 to them after their church burnt down. And as they said, “This isn’t a reflection of the wealth of our church, but a reflection of God’s desire for extravagance. He is an extravagant God, and he calls for us to give extravagantly of ourselves.”

It is sentiments like that which have opened my heart back up to the Lord, and completely re-awakened my heart. As the song went today – “I’m falling madly in love with you.” – it feels amazing to fall in love again, and this time with God.

Last week was simply mind-blowing, and it was fascinating to see how different last week’s service was compared to today’s. Kelly assured me that every week is different, and completely dictated by the will of God and what He wishes to accomplish, both with us and through us.

At 9 AM, before the actual church service, there is a time where people can attend the “soaking room” where… well, I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s in a small room, which can hold about 50 people or so, tightly squeezed in there. There are about 30 seats, but beyond that some people lay on the floor, some against the wall; others stand. And what it is…. is… a place… where the Holy Spirit is allowed to come and sit with us, stir us… and create music. There are a few musicians who sit up in the front, and a couple singers, and what happens is a completely improvised music session, led by the Holy Spirit.

If you think that sounds strange, it gets better.

Some people shout out random things like “Amen” or call out to “Jesus!,” while others are moved strongly enough to dance around, or wave streamers/flags. The emotion and presence of Him in the room causes many people to cry, while others laugh out loud, or even start giggling – filled with Joy. It is really fascinating, sometimes overwhelming… always beautiful.

Last week was intense – Kelly told me that it was usually never like that. It got so loud in that room that she almost had to leave, but for me, since it was brand new and I was entering with absolutely no expectations, I was extremely moved. The room was packed, so we sat on the floor, and I was surrounded by interpretative dancers and music and people and I just sat there and my eyes were filled with tears and my heart was filled with God – a feeling I had been without for years now.

Today was more relaxed and much more calm than last week, but it was still intense and beautiful. It was Father’s Day, so some people occasionally spoke into the microphone (and even their words sounded like music) and talked about fathers. One woman came up and almost broke my heart. She started crying at one point, talking about how she was going to “give herself back to God – give herself all over again” – and that would be her gift to Him on Father’s Day. It definitely started my tears – her talking about how God has never lied to her, or taken advantage of her, or hurt her. “You are always faithful to me; you are such a good daddy.” – oh my gosh that almost destroyed me.

The woman who sings in these sessions is named Laura Rhinehart. She has a CD out entitled “The Soaking Room” so I guess she knows what she’s doing. 🙂 Anyways, she has this gorgeous voice, and then the words she speaks inbetween the music are just lovely. Today she said:

“All the things that you long for… are a breath to Him.”

I could go on for hours. And I hope to one day write a beautiful story about my entire experience being part of this church for the last two weeks. But the end of the story is this: I am in love with God, again. I hope to keep this in my heart forever this time. Kelly and Tim have taken me into their home for the past ten days, and they have been like family to me; I am honored to know them. Their goodness simply emanates from them, while at the same time they exude a naturalness and a simplicity that makes them very human. Kelly knew from the beginning that she was supposed to take me into her home, and she trusted that feeling, and in doing so has given me a safe haven where I have been able to explore my faith again.

I have been on this road trip journey for over six weeks, and I am finally in a place where I can begin to handle all these questions and emotions I have.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how yoga almost caused me to have a breakdown – and eventually I did break down, in the front seat of my car at five in the morning, panda clutched desperately to my chest. Three weeks ago yoga was too much for me to handle, since I had so much pain residing in my soul and my heart… I had soul pain that took away my breath. Yet one week ago, I sat in that soaking room and was enveloped by the Holy Spirit, and yes I felt pain and yes I felt intensity, but mostly I felt peace, and joy, and completion.

Just to know how far I have come in a few weeks is so encouraging to me. This trip truly is restoring my spirit – and more than that, it is opening up doors for me that I can walk through for the rest of my life.

And as Laura said today:

“Jesus came to take us to the Father.

Jesus is the door.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the door.”

http://gracecenter.us/index.php#home