Soaring and Grounding

As a child, I looked to the towering clouds, capped with billows, and imagined walking atop them like I’d watched the Care Bears do. I imagined that’s what heaven would be like when I got there someday. As a teen, Jonathan Livingston Seagull brought me such joy, such heights to which to aspire, the tips of his wings touched with light as he soared to such transcendent levels. As an adult, I watched birds glide on the wind, effortlessly floating above the rest of the world and its worries. I dreamed my own body could fly and always felt great disappointment when my legs started to drift back toward the ground. I gathered images and ideas for tattoos with silhouettes of birds, wings spread, to serve as a physical reminder of opening up, letting go, and ascending.

There is a line, though, where metaphysical musings turn into depression and anxiety.

I began to feel a great sadness watching birds wheel through the sky, their wide open wings and swooping motions a freedom I would never have. Watching the clouds edged with light filled me with a longing that I would never have the peace I imagined lived among their water crystals. No amount or configuration of ink etched on my skin would seep that sense of freedom into my soul.

And then as I sat on a shaded deck this morning, forcing myself to focus on a wisp of cloud and nothing else, staring into the middle distance, forcing all thoughts from my head or repeating a prayed mantra – a pair of birds streaked across, running a parallel line with the shore in front of me. Their pointed wings reminded me of the swallows with which I’ve been obsessed. They darted and swooped and disappeared behind a house a few doors down.

It occurred to me then that I can continue to stay focused on the peace and quiet in front of me while noticing the promise of freedom. I can long to be truly free, but that doesn’t stop me from embracing the joys in the here and now while I wait. I will not be free until my soul flies up to heaven, but I can open my heart now to accept what this life has to offer. I can use this time between now and then to wait and lament and be miserable or live in each moment mindfully soaking up what is there instead of not seeing it because I’m so fixated on what I don’t have.

Photo by Jennifer Butler Basile

The Music of the Morning

The distant beep beep beep of a backing-up garbage truck
Residual rivulets of rain on the roof
Ringing in my ears

A Benedictine monk was told to repeat a Psalm over and over in his head
When it was all he could hear, he asked his superior what then.
Repeat it until you become it.

Without the outside distractions of beeping and running water,
the ringing becomes all consuming.
How can I turn down the dissonance and resonate with the truth?

psalmist

thegospelcoalition

Both Sides Now

There are two sides to me.

One side,
so dedicated to hope and wanting to believe in its existence.
In life.
The opportunity for joy at every corner
despite the struggles.
In the goodness of humanity.

The side that must be so strong
it survives
in spite of

the other side.

A dark pessimism,
the cloud of depression
that tells me it won’t work,
you won’t find joy.
You will constantly struggle and be weighted down by me.

I am the first side.
The second side haunts me like a shadow.
It won’t win, but it makes things a hell of a lot harder.

* thanks to Joni Mitchell for title inspiration 😉

I Am Proud

I see how you drag gray gunk out from under the drain plug with a q-tip
I see how you scrape dark purple nail polish from the bathroom tile
I see the smile you give,

the squeeze of a hand,

the rub of a knee.

How you tackle the monotonous and never-ending mountain of laundry

How you give and give and give
to the point of an extinguished flame

I see how tired you are
yet you keep getting up,
keep going.

I see how you love your children.
You think I don’t notice, but I do.
I see how you bear your pain for them.

Let me bear your pain for you.

Grace

The bounce in the step
the joy bubbling up and over
through words, demeanor, joie de vivre

The hearty laugh
blossoming at the core, rolling out in waves
infectious, contagious, sanctifying – us

The conscious breath
undulating and growing with each notice
the physical embodiment of our existence

It fills us –
if we watch for it
if we train our eyes with a gentle gaze
if we open our heart to the gifts around us

It imbues us with a calming peace
and a loving embrace

We can all glide through life with a little grace

Focus

Dogs barking
mammoth bees buzzing
The clunk of a workman’s van
The low, distant rumble of a jet

A child singing
A man whistling
A car passing

Why is it so easy to be out there
rather than focus in here

I don’t know if I’m scared of the work
or what I’ll find

Smash the Taskmaster

I will not feel guilty for doing what the Spirit moves me to at any given time.
I will revel in the mindless work of plucking pine needles from fingers of moss.
I will lose myself in the monotony.
I will let my mind drift along meandering paths –

    not to the should’ve, could’ve, would’ves.

I will write for the pleasure of it,

    not the drudgery.

I will not let unfinished business ruin the relish of the deal on the table.

There is no sense in feeding our souls if we are constantly counting calories.

open

Breaking Ground

Jennifer Butler Basile

Jennifer Butler Basile

Nature, fate, the universe, the Spirit – has a way of prevailing.

While we humans fret that we may impede it,
that if we do not clear the ground and make way,
the right way will not progress –
we give ourselves too much power, too much credit.

All shall move forward on its own course.
We just need to stay that course.

Slip(up)stream

I wonder if God intended our minds to race

to rush from the wonders of the universe to a bit of ham stuck in our teeth

the tick of the speedometer to the sun glinting in our eyes to the trickle of guilt in our hearts

Love, lust, and what to have for dinner

Are we to let it run roughshod over our mental terrain
or train it to a specific point?

hilarymurdoch.wordpress.com

hilarymurdoch.wordpress.com

Focus or freedom?

How much is intentional
and how much is divine inspiration?

Stream of consciousness
vs.
clogged waterway.

And how do we pull the plug?

Relearning Life

People in their right minds – or moods anyway – don’t anticipate their next inevitable bad day. The appearance of them every once in a while proves their unfortunate existence, but people in their right minds don’t dread bad days on a daily basis.

I don’t dread such days either. I live down days every day of my life.

A good day is the out of the norm experience for me.

The words, I feel good, dawn as a surprise, a foreign thought and sensation.

What should be the modus operandi of my life, with the occasional interruption of shitty days, becomes a cause for suspicion. A lightness of mood, a clarity of mind, becomes the bone of contention. That is the square peg for the round hole – rather than the overall scheme being the problem.

I feel my psyche has sucked me into a trap; luring me closer with the promise of bright light and fresh air, only to drape me in cobwebs deeper and darker than before. Instead of experiencing a ‘ lightness of being’, I drag around the weight of fear – that it won’t last, that my life will never be the way it was before the clouds.

. . . That we should all bask in the warmth of sunshine on our skin . . .

Irham Anshar

Irham Anshar

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