Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Sunday, March 04, 2012
I’ve found that I have a certain gravitational pull to my thoughts, and reflections in general. I’ve perfected the skill of naval gazing and there is a part of me that resonates greatly in the search for depth and self-knowledge. I also know, that if left to my own devices, I will spend large quantities of time reflecting, even to the point of despair. This is both a gift and a growing edge. And so Lent proves to be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Mining the depths of my selfhood in search of the nooks and crannies of wrong turns and wayward searching is what I do, in the hopes that glimmers of life and growth might come. I can say that growth does come, but oh boy, what a process. And Lent? Well, there is more to Lent than the darkness and so I try to find a balance.
This year I’ve been focusing on some soulful practices, in an effort to find some joy in the midst of the search. I can let myself get bogged down with deep thoughts that circle inward or I can focus on the root of the message and the meaning that spirals outward. So for this Lent, I am focusing on the spiral outward…at least just a little bit.
The following are some practices that I’ve been engaging in that have provided to be very soulful and even thought provoking.
• Reading at a bar. Try it sometime. Take a good book, go to a bar on a week day. Order yourself a drink and read. Stop every now and again to people watch. Savor each sip from your drink. Highlight special parts in your book. Soak in the moment. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the bar tender. Smile at other customers. Order a dessert or an appetizer. Marvel at how different…uncomfortable or life giving the experience is. Get your check. Leave a good tip. Wonder to yourself…was this nourishing? It sure was for me. I’ve been reading a book called Anam Cara at a neighborhood establishment in the middle of the week. I met neighbors and even some new folks. I tried a few new drinks. And I even found an hour in my week to just be…and read.
• Go to a soulful event….something that inspires you. Take some notes. Recline in your seat. Take some deep breaths. So far I’ve gone to an open mic poetry night and a lecture about women’s liberation while quilting. It sparked my interest in the creative world again and I’m already working on some things.
• Listen to some music that feeds you. I recently got a new record player and let me tell you, music on the record is just pure bliss. I’m instantly brought back to some really great memories in my childhood. I’ve bought some records at a thrift store and I just sit there…listening to the faint crackle of the needle on the record and the music.
• Cultivate silence in the day. I’ve made it a practice lately to just sit in my chair and be silent for a little while. Sometimes it’s only a few minutes but I try to get a few moments throughout the day to plug in. It’s been refreshing and the silence has brought some clarity as well.
• Do some dancing damn it. I can’t tell you how good it feels to let it all out on the dance floor. Closing my eyes…moving my body…even dancing with someone else has been so….healing. One thing I am learning this year is that body movement really does make a difference. Dancing is just a soulful, sexy way of doing it.
So far these are the practices that I’ve been focused on. I have a daily meditation routine, but these are moments that really make me feel alive and full. I’ve been inspired in these last few weeks and that has made all the difference. I share there here in the hopes that it might cultivate a little fire within someone else to find something that might work for you. Lent doesn’t have to be so depressing. In fact, going into the depth of your self is also finding the things that you like the most about who you’ve become. Continue to cultivate that because it’s important to like the company you keep.
Friday, February 24, 2012
“The response from those who hope to advance the cause of humanity can only be to globalize solidarity, that is, to globalize the practice of love.” ¬ Dean Brackley
It all started when I was 20, with a two-week immersion trip to Guatemala. The next summer it was two months in Guatemala. The summer after that was two months in Belize. I got hooked. But really, I fell in love.
I followed my heart all over Central America and back again. I lost myself in crowded markets and in the rush of waves on a black sand beach. I learned some good Spanish slag while talking politics and adapted some new pick-up lines at a neighborhood bar. I walked dirt roads in rural areas, and crossed lanes of traffic, one at a time, to catch a bus in the city. I swam laps next to a police officer on Wednesdays and marched to the cathedral on Saturday evenings. I ate pupusas for breakfast and tacos for a snack. I went to international conferences in fancy hotels and shared a cup of coffee with a friend while sitting on the front stoop at dusk. I prayed at church, I prayed on the bus, I prayed at work, and I always prayed when my heart was stirred. This was just a taste of the fullness of my life as I lived in love.
Five years ago, almost to the day, I crossed a pedestrian bridge from one immigration check-point in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to another in El Paso, Texas. My friend Tom and I were on our last leg of a month-long pilgrimage through Mexico. The basic idea was to follow migrants through Mexico in an effort to understand the realities they faced while in transit to the US. The experience was intense and for me, this trip was the end of my life in Central America. I was on my way home.
The reality is, I didn’t know where home really was. After all, I had just spent the last 18 months living in El Salvador and I was returning to Connecticut, the place where I grew up. Where was my home anyway? And as I look back now, I can say that I was terrified of that time in my life. Afraid of the transitions that were about to take place, Mexico offered one last collection of memories to reflect on.
Here I am, five years later, and it feels like I was just there.
Here I am, five years later, and I am preparing for a new transition in my life.
The month of February marks a month of love for many. And that is true for me as well. On a sunny, February day in 2007, I crossed a border and began something new. I left Central America behind and tried my best to live in the present with every step forward. Cross-cultural living has become a part of my very soul. I fell in love at age 20 and that affair has continued ever since.
Living in solidarity with the poor, and for me, that means the poor of Central America, has changed my life. I learned how to love…and fall on my face in the process. It has been a humbling journey and one that I never cease to reflect on. The strings of my own humanity are tugged today as I remember that walk I took on that pedestrian bridge, straddling the two worlds that my heart still rests in.
With that, I leave you with the words of my friend and mentor Dean Brackley, as he shared some wisdom to a group of students embarking on their love affair in El Salvador. His words are so very true and important for anyone who is on a journey of solidarity.