One of the ways I grow most as a human being is reading books on culture, spirituality, social issues, etc. from a wide variety of viewpoints other than my own. It helps me have a wider, richer view of the world and makes me a more well-rounded person (hopefully).
I recently finished several books on Buddhism. No Mom, I'm not converting.
I found it interesting for the first several hundred years after the Buddha died, there were no images of him. All there was were his teachings which were passed down orally from generation to generation. Eventually, people wanted an image to remind them of their spiritual ideal, and that's how statues of Buddha came to be.
The thing about having statues of Buddha is to remind followers of the ideals in that person they are trying to emulate. As a Catholic, I would say the same things about having a statue of the Blessed Mother or a particular saint; that is a reminder to me of the ideals in that particular person I strive live in my own Christian life. A visual reminder of what I want to be like.
The difficult thing about Buddha statues (or Mary or a certain saint) is that people could be tempted to idolize the statue.
It can become very easy for people in our world today (me) to idolize mentors and teachers, those people who support us an encourage us to grow. It can be so easy to look at big-name speakers or authors and think they have it all together; that through their own success have found the golden ticket to enlightenment, success, and joy. Because news flash we're all secretly the walking wounded, whether we realize it or not. On some level, none of us really have it together.
And I wonder if people stopped to consider that more there would less idolizing of each other or comparing my life to his or hers.
Let's just stop idolizing other people.
Look in the mirror.
Realize you have everything you need to learn your lessons. You have all the courage you need it takes to do those hard, scary things you may want to avoid. You have everything you need to live your one life well.
I know for me sometimes, I don't even realize when I start idolizing people because it can creep on me and I don't even notice it. What helps me most in breaking my mindset of idolatry is deep, heartfelt gratitude. I start counting "gratefuls" and it breaks through that tunnel vision.
One of my favorite authors Shauna Niequist wrote something beautiful on her blog last year sharing how often in the world of Christian-ese speakers and writers, people will identify someone as "The Next _____."
I recently shared with my spiritual director, that in living on my own right now I am much more aware and convicted that I am the only one who prevents me from things getting done. If I don't pray, it is only me that stops that from happening....or folding laundry or exercising or eating well.
Since I moved into my new apartment, I have been noticing how noisy my life is. I was almost always listening to a podcast or to favorite stations on Pandora or car dancing to the radio. And let's not even discuss the watching of Netflix. There was always something playing or going in the background.
When I started to notice this, it made me uncomfortable. And for this loud-mouthed extrovert, I knew I could ignore it or dig a little deeper to see what was coming up for me. As soon as I did the later, I knew why my spirit was really beginning to crave silence and why I so desperately need it right now in life.
In the silence I have to face something I was running from for a long time before and while I was married: a fear of being alone, lonely. And also fear of having to face my own wounds, hurts, and insecurities. Well who the Hell wants to do that!? #signmeup
When I finally got real with myself, I realized that restlessness was God's gentle way of nudging me toward something I had been avoiding off and on for awhile. Being on my own again, I told God I want to use this time well, purposefully and with intention. I want this chapter of life to be focused on healing, getting healthy, and facing all the unprocessed crap I dragged into my marriage.
I need the silence. And the more I make time for silence, the more I crave it.
Silence is showing me who I am before God, and what are the things inside me I can no longer run away from. Silence is helping me get healthy and whole from the inside out.
In a weird way I am learning to love the silence right now, like my soul actually craves it on a daily basis. Its like something inside my soul starts twitching if I sense too much external noise and distraction.
Silence in prayer can be intimidating. I think on some level I'd still like a diagram or picture of "How to do silence in prayer." There really is no wrong or right way to do it. Showing up (yes distractions and all!) is really most of the battle.
I trying (some days are better than others) to start and end the day with 15 minutes of silence. Nothing fancy, no long drawn out big words. Just stillness. Throughout the day, I try and looks for ways to build in silence: like no radio in the car or cooking dinner or doing chores or taking a shower.
Sometimes I use imaginative prayer to help focus me or just pray "Come, Holy Spirit," several times to quiet my mind.
Now all of sudden, I find myself on the look-out for moments of connective silence. Because when I make time intentionally to be still, I actually connect more deeply to God and my own true identity as his daughter.
Last weekend on the plane ride coming home from Minnesota, I finished a great book on the essential writings of Thomas Merton. One the things I most love about Merton is the way he writes about silence and contemplation for the average working man or woman, not just the monks or nuns in cloistered communities like his own.
Merton writes, "Contemplation is really simple openness to God at every moment, and deep peace." Sit with that one for awhile, right?? If we try to do it in a constant stream of noise, we can miss so many hidden opportunities.
Finding silence in your own life may be harder for you right now than it is me.
But even in little ways, you can seek it our or build it in you might be pleasantly surprised.
What a beautiful, amazingly awesome weekend #bisteamretreat turned out to be.
Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect as my plane arrived in St. Paul on Friday. I only "knew" these women from an online ministry we all are a part of.
We arrived on Friday as online acquaintances. On Sunday, we left as sisters and friends.
The weekend was full of laughter, lots good food, and even better conversation. Not to mention, all the cute babies that were constantly passed around like s'mores around a campfire. We prayed the rosary around the bonfire on Friday evening. We talked and dreamed some big dreams for the future + growth of Blessed Is She. We ate some AMAZING food. And we talked and talked and talked.
One of the most meaningful experiences for me was the small group discussion on Saturday afternoon with the three other women in my group: Mary, Jacqui, and Elise. We got real and vulnerable. There was tears, honesty, encouragement, and hugs. We opened our hearts and just laid them out on the table. It did something fiercely good for my heart.
Coming home, I was just in awe of it all.
As I drove back to my apartment on Sunday, I just wept and wept. Yes a few tears it had to end, but primarily tears of gratitude and thankfulness that I have such a community in my life where I can just be me. Where just being Patty is enough and a-okay. Where I am supported, loved, encouraged, and challenged just the way I am...
I want all women have such a community in their own lives.
Every woman I got chance to talk with and get to know on a deeper level was like adding another rare, precious jewel to a treasure chest in my heart.
I am so excited I finally got to meet these sisters of mine!
Do you have a community, a tribe to call your own?
If not, we would so love to have you into our home :)