Glimmers

Promptings of Hope

Glimmers February 21, 2019

Dear Friends,

My son gave me a gift card from Stitch Fix for Christmas.

Have you tried this sort of service? It was new to me, but I was intrigued. I filled out the online form in great detail – sizes, body parts to cover or enhance, style preferences and so on. When Stitch Fix #1 arrived, I kept one item and returned four. Stitch Fix #2? I kept four and returned one! So far, the conversation with the stylist is working. She’s like a Guardian Angel in the world of shopping.

But the part of this arrangement that really captures my interest?  My willingness to “try on” someone else’s point of view about my clothes. Yes, I contribute to the process, but some of the styles that arrive in that box are new to me. I feel brave as I slide into extra skinny jeans or a scalloped edge sweater. Through my willingness to experiment, I give myself permission to explore more sides of my fashion-self.

Sometimes I “try on” feelings or ideas, as well. I give myself the opportunity to adopt a new attitude, even if its just for an afternoon. Last night, as my husband and I lit candles and shared some brandy, I was reminded of our visit to the Woodstock Inn in Vermont. So, our home became Beseck Inn for the night, cozy and charming.

This experimental approach has been helpful to those grieving a loss, as well. Instead of staying home all weekend, Janet decided to attend the library’s book sale to find a book for her niece. She expected people to ask about her husband and anticipated feeling the pain of her loss, but at the same time Janet wanted to stay connected with her neighbors. Her “experiment” created boundaries that protected her still-healing heart, while she explored life around her.

When Janet walked away from the library, she carried seeds of courage and hope. She has a little more confidence in herself. As I wear those skinny  jeans and receive a compliment, I experience much-needed encouragement to heal the shaming wounds from adolescence. Our losses come in all shapes, friends, and they all require our tender care. When we trust grieving’s wise guidance, we learn to hold those losses with love and allow the healing to unfold. 

These days, I’ll wear skinny jeans, drink brandy and thank God for the opportunities around me. I’ll honor the message of Dag Hammarskjold, a former UN Secretary General, with a shout-out to each of you;

“For all that has been – Thanks. For all that will be – Yes.”

 

with affection, Lisa

We begin again…

Glimmers January 13, 2019

Dear Friends,                                                        

I have missed you! I have missed the connection found through this monthly ritual of wondering what light I can offer, of holding you in my heart and mind, of listening deeply for the right words. This month, January 2019, marks five years that I have reached out in this way. When I began, I trusted an invitation that could not be ignored…these Glimmers and our relationship are the foundation for my ministry during five these years, including my books on grief. I am so grateful for each of you.

 

A new year, a new day, a new moment in life… we hear Mary Oliver’s wonderful question,

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?”

This wild, precious life of mine has been hard-won. I have climbed steep mountains and sat in lonely darkness. I have also rested in loving arms. For me, life is an unfolding, an unwinding of fibers, some coarse – some intricate lace, each a part of the tapestry that is weaving within and around me. Such is the invitation to authenticity.

What about you, dear friends? What do you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life? I am hoping you embrace the idea that your unique light is needed in this new year, it is gift. I am hoping you trust your light and let it shine! I close with words from Roger Wolsey for your consideration as we begin anew…

“You, the real you, knows the truth. The truth is you aren’t the things that have happened to you, you aren’t the things you’ve done. You aren’t the things you’ve failed to do. You aren’t your wounds or the ones you inflicted. You aren’t your regrets. You aren’t in anyway a should have, could have, or would have.

You are fully human and fully divine. You are the very incarnation of God. No, not the only one, but no less than one.

The unique prism of your life reminds us of who we are too. Thank you for your colors. Thank you for your light. Thank you for being a stained-glass window picture story of glory.”

 

With  affection and gratitude, Lisa

 

 

 

 

Let Love be Born in your Heart!

Glimmers December 9, 2018

Dear Friends,

Happy Advent! A wonderful season of hope!

Hear these words of Jan Richardson, artist, author, and minister, as she describes a “Blessing on a Strange Road:”

Now this blessing meets you…looking like nothing you have known, fragrant with some far scent and humming an unfamiliar song. Still, somehow…it calls you by name, curls into your hand, settles inside your heart as if it has always belonged.

A blessing that is familiar but new; intimate, but mysterious…such is the language of Love.  When we commit ourselves to love’s call, we travel a path that is ever-unfolding throughout our lifetime. We take honest looks at what gets in the way of love and seek healing. We learn to live with ambiguity, with a heart-centered prayer for increased trust during times of uncertainty.

I love the nativity story. In fact, I am again adding a creative piece to our nativity corner for this year’s Advent. Each day a new figure appears, and carries with it, another layer of my heart. As the early morning light hovers over an empty stable, all await the birth of Love, once again. I love the imagery of time, location and participants in the nativity story, it has given me this sense of freedom to play with more personal meanings, more transformative images. Together, we await a celebration of Christmas, but are we ready? Can we open ourselves to the gifts of love that are coming our way? Do we believe ourselves worthy of blessings?

Advent is, indeed, a strange road. It is everything that our commercial Christmas experience, isn’t. At the same time, it paves the way for fully entering the joyful craziness of Christmas, multi-colored lights and all! The path to the stable has enough room for everyone and for all the uniqueness of each one of us. Advent’s rich welcome of the heart even invites those parts of myself that I’ve kept hidden all these years. “Come, Advent calls out, let Love enter your heart! Come, let Love replace those fears and doubts! You are worthy of blessings! Let the Light shine through you!” 

Remember, Meister Eckhart’s words, “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”

How are each one of us being called to bring love into the world?

 

Friends, know that you are in my heart as these days pass by. I may or may not reach out again before 2019 arrives, but please receive my love and gratitude for your willingness to receive my Glimmers. It is an honor to share thoughts and feelings with you. I pray for your intentions and needs, hoping my words support your journeys.

Blessings of peace, of hope, and for the birth of love,

Lisa

 

 

I also wanted to mention that my prayer during these days of Advent has been supported by an online retreat with Jan Richardson, Illuminated 2018. She’s created a gentle, authentic experience of hope, shared prayer and intention for the season.

 

 

 

 

Live in Hope

Glimmers November 13, 2018

 

Dear Friends,  

You’ve been on my mind. The calendar turned to November and its time to write a new Glimmer. What shall I explore within the limitations of this online message? How does my point of view add to the crises, challenges and conversations that we’re experiencing all around us?

I choose to be a voice of hope.

Not “egoic hope” – the sort that is fixated on a certain outcome, that emerges out of fear. I choose “holy hope” – a combination of deep trust, a commitment to love, and an engagement with life. Through holy hope, we seek to dedicate our energy toward a vision that is embedded in the present moment. Those who have faced deep loss have learned the difference between these types of hope. They painfully understand that they can no longer control their future. They’ve learned to accept the limitations of their “new normal.”

Now, as holy hope unfolds in their hearts, these brave men and women surrender to a new dimension of soul. They trust the present moment as well as their own capacity for healing. They awaken to hope as a state of being. Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault explains in her book, Mystical Hope,

“Hope fills us with the strength to stay present, to abide in the flow of Mercy no matter what outer storms assail us. It is entered always and only through surrender, that is, through the willingness to let go of everything we are presently clinging to. And yet when we enter it, it enters us and fills us with its own life – a quiet strength beyond anything we have ever known.”

This is my prayer for each of you on this new day in November. As outer storms surround you, may you discover the seeds of holy hope flowing through you. May you learn to “live inside that hope,” as Barbara Kingsolver describes it, “Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under it’s roof.” May we, too, live inside hope and let it fill us with its own life. May we have the courage to join Kingsolver as she proclaims,

“Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.”

peace to you,

Lisa

Season of Change

Glimmers October 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

Leaves turn color and fall to the ground, illness appears and we slow down for a spell, friends arrive or recede from our life…change happens. Some changes we seek – a new house, weight loss or a new job – and we forget that loss is still attached to the transition. Some changes come without our permission, without our understanding – and the experience of loss is undeniable. Change sends out ripples into all facets of our lives. It asks us to adjust to, accept, and trust all the moving parts that change can bring. Somehow we’re supposed to accommodate something different, even as it seeps into our way of being in the world.

During a recent program on loss and grief, I was asked about the relationship between vulnerability and resiliency. I had been explaining that our willingness to be vulnerable in our grief is a key step toward healing. We know that the loss of a loved one is one of the biggest and most painful changes around, so I bring this question into the conversation: How do vulnerability and resiliency partner in our journey through life? What can we learn about them that might help us adjust to, accept and trust the changes?

Nature, once again, is our teacher. The leaves of autumn are just one stage in the lifecycle of trees. The daffodil bulbs that are planted today will wait in stillness and then bloom when it’s their time. The tiny, ruby-throated hummingbirds travel 500 miles to enjoy summertime here at Lake Beseck. Nature’s big picture reveals the over-arching resilience embedded in Life. At the same time, each hummingbird travels alone in solitary flight; each daffodil bulb is dependent on the sun’s warmth and the soil’s moisture. Each living thing returns to a vulnerable state to claim the gifts of its true self.

Our vulnerability and our resilience are partners in this journey, rooted in the gift of Life. One may shine more brightly at certain points along the way, our unique personality may have more ease with one or the other.  If we are to learn from the season of change, though, it is best to open our hearts and minds to both. Our most tender, vulnerable self and our creative, resilient self come together to guide us toward the wisdom that resides within.

This is my prayer for you, dear friends, trust the gift of who you are as you navigate the changes that life brings.

Blessings on this new day, Lisa

 

Lessons of Loss, Lessons of Life

Glimmers August 28, 2018

Dear Friends,

 After I offered an update on my 2016-17 writing project, my friend said, “It sounds like the book is writing you.” He was right. Each time I dipped back into the words to rework, edit or add source material, I re-entered sacred space. I returned to a place of waiting and deep listening. I hoped my message was authentic and true, at least from my point of view, and that it might help others. At the same time, the process of writing opened a place of honesty and humility that feels like home.

Thus began my journey back into the Land of Loss. My intention was to describe the landscape of Loss and offer tools to navigate it’s various territories. I knew the Well of Sadness and the demands of Surrender. I had traveled through the agonizing forests of Passage and was painfully familiar with Secret Yearning. But I also knew the Fountain of Hope, it’s waters had soothed my journey and I believed it could offer hope to other travelers in the Land of Loss.

I did not understand, however, the impact that writing a book to help others would have on me. I did not fully appreciate the influence of the writing process on my inner life. Each time I returned to Alone, Passage, Surrender and Changed – the four territories in the Land of Loss – I entered an emotional experience of feeling stranded, of surviving, of letting go, of allowing transformation. My work deepened after each revision, my heart claimed what I was learning.

My personal story is not woven into the body of the book, instead I shared stories of those I worked with at the hospital bereavement program to illustrate how I have come to understand grief. But my story is, of course, the place I return to retrieve wisdom and insight, to find my ground. It is the counterpoint to fellow grievers’ stories, the bereavement research and grief theories that I learned in my work as a chaplain. My story is my teacher. My friend’s suggestion that the book was “writing me” led me to a felt-sense of my own transformation and a return to my soul.

Writing and grieving are similar. They each provide a reliable, yet mysterious, template for movement through the unknown. As a writer, I may have a sense of where I am headed, but at the same time, I remain open to new ideas or shifts that ask a little more of me. Grief, too, offers a path to follow. But if I listen carefully, I might find myself asking questions or facing fears that come forward unexpectedly. While painful, grief guides me through loss toward healing.

Grief is my ally in the ways of Loss, just as writing is my companion in the mystery of Life.

The light that each provides shines just as far as I need to make the journey, one step at a time. My task is to keep going and to trust the great Wisdom that underlies the human story, that holds all of us in the arms of Love.

Peace to you, friends –

Lisa

Summer ponderings…

Glimmers July 23, 2018

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking of you.

I miss reaching out from my sacred space on Lake Beseck, to you.  As I write these words, the world around us seems to be moving at a faster pace than I like, not sure about you. I’m grateful for the connection we share…strands of light and energy that intertwine between us…connected in both subtle and obvious ways, we are a community.

My own life is moving a little faster, as well. After the publication of my new book (happy dance here), I began offering programs in a variety of settings. The idea includes selling books, but more. I offer an hour of talking about grief that opens a space for others to be with their losses. That is my goal – to bring grief from the closet (or basement) onto the coffee table…to light a candle of hope as together, we sit around the table and learn.

This summer has been a time of play and respite…floating, writing, swimming, yoga, wine, friends, travel. Hopefully, you’ve had some playtime as well? I’m flying to Seattle, Washington in less than two weeks to attend my 50th high school reunion. I hope to spend time with childhood memories, contemplate the face of Mt Rainier, and laugh with my companions in adolescence.

And you, my brothers and sisters? How is July unfolding in your life? Are you encountering joy? Are you feeling the pressure of responsibility? Is grief, perhaps, reaching out it’s hand to help you through a loss experience? I hope that regardless of what is asking for your attention, you are able to find the resources and friendships that will sustain you along the way.  I hope you’ll look over the listing of my activities for this coming fall, in the meantime let me add one more thought:

“In the tapestry of life, we’re all connected. Each one of us is a gift to those around us, helping each other be who we are.” Anita Moorjani

May we never minimize the place we might hold in another’s story. Without knowing it, we each can bring light into someone else’s day – hope into someone else’s darkness. Each of us share in an evolution of Love that is as present as the raindrops on my window, the wind’s rush through the birch tree, the stillness of a quiet morning. Let our moments of grace join with our moments of connection as we keep hope alive and well…together.

peace to you, Lisa

 

 

 

 

Do you hear Love’s Invitations?

Glimmers July 5, 2018

Dear Friends,Related image

I’ve been thinking about Love, lately.

I see it in the separate moments of my life, like beads on a necklace. Each glimmering sphere a window into Love’s gifts and promises. There are some moments where Love’s presence is palpable…seeing my sons after a long time apart…a selfless act…asking for forgiveness.  They become illuminated, as layers of love encompass them, and create pearls of light on my necklace. Some moments I take for granted, some are surprises. Some are formed through an agonizingly long process of acceptance and surrender…part of my life’s work. Each transforming moment an opportunity to let Love embrace my life.

There are days that I ask myself, how will I welcome this moment before me, this one that is filled with an uncomfortable feeling? How will I care for, listen to, wait with…this occasion of anxiety, conflict or sadness? I’ve been waiting with some moments for a very long time. There is darkness associated with these places, a curling fear that wraps its way into my heart. But even there, in that moment of fear, I wonder…how would it be if I welcomed that moment, that set of images and feelings, with complete confidence in Love’s presence.

I’ve found a new friend who thinks about Love, Ingrid Goff-Maidoff. Ingrid’s love affair with the Divine shines through her poetry and becomes a new starting point for me. Her language and images speak to my heart, perhaps to yours….

The heart knows
the night’s secrets.
The night knows
the heart’s secrets.
How they hold each
other, entwined!
This is one way
I try to describe
these inner
rivers of joy.
Not in exile,
nor in trespass
I’ve wandered
the paths of love.
Now, wherever
I go, I carry
my bundle
of souvenirs.
~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff
Moonlight and Remembrance

Ingrid’s souvenirs, my strand of beads … each a collection of life moments made sacred by Love. Our lives become an opportunity to see what is before us as gifts of light. We gather these pearls of wisdom in our skirts, press our bare feet in the sand, lift our faces into the sunlight…and with the ground of community and a lifetime of experience alongside, we smile and say, “Yes!”

That love is all there is
is all we know of love.
~Emily Dickinson
With a heart full of love for each of you, dear friends,
Lisa

 

 

 

Let Love into the Room

Glimmers June 3, 2018

Dear Friends,

For the past several weeks, I’ve been stepping into new rooms to share my thoughts about grief. Some are filled with books, others are more vacant, all-purpose rooms. Some rooms are set aside to allow quiet reflection… to support the travels of our hearts in the deep waters of loss or faith or wonder. When we come together, regardless of the shape of the room, we create community for a time. We agree to be together, let our souls brush past one another, in shared conversation or in the quiet of prayer. It’s been a gift to me to witness this coming together, this coalescence of hearts. For a time, we share an unspoken agreement to let Love come into the room.

I recently attended a funeral of a dear Sister of Mercy, here in Connecticut. Extended family, childhood friends, colleagues in ministry, Sisters, Associates and others gathered to remember Sr Joan. As I sat with my own feelings and memories, I found the words to describe one of Joan’s many gifts and the theme of this Glimmer…she let Love come into the room. Simply, with both delight and dignity, Sr Joan’s presence opened the windows and doors of wandering hearts…Love appeared in conversation and in silence, in a smile and in a tear. How blessed we were to know such a witness of Love, to receive her affection, to learn from her deep and hope-filled heart.

I grieve her absence. My heart is searching for her as I write these words. And yet, as I prepare for another program on the sacred art of grieving I return to the invitation and intention of coming together in Love. I imagine another circle of faces watching me talk about the pain of loss and the balm of grief, and I’m encouraged to slow down, to share my witness of Love, to make space for others to reconnect with their own experiences of Love. John Welshons said, “To heal our grief, we must know that love is a state of being within us.” He says that when we experience love with another, “what we’re really doing is touching the place within ourselves where we are love.”

So I go forward, in my own way, seeking to let Love into the room…to help heal grieving hearts, to enable community, to honor Joan, and to encourage you to reside in the place within yourself where you are love. Let Love into the room!

Blessings on this new day in June,

Lisa

 

 

 

Spring’s Invitation to Hope

Glimmers May 10, 2018

 

 

“We have no guarantee what will happen in the future, but we have hope. That’s what keeps us going.”

Tweet from the Dalai Lama May 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

A New England Spring is a feast for the senses! The slow greeeeening of the grass, the peeps and chirps that greet the sun, the fresh air with just enough moisture, the tiny little leaves getting a little bit bigger: all a welcome experience and testament to the promise of new life! This particular Spring comes after a prolonged winter; we sometimes wondered if Spring would ever come.

Nature is a great teacher of hope. The seasons do change, the living things follow their “primary directives” of foraging and growing, the sun moves across the sky – day after day. Hope is played out before us, as the dull, brown branches are slowly filled in with shapes and shades of green… once again…year after year.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share a day of reflection with folks carrying a grieving heart. We used Spring’s  unreliable patterns as a metaphor for the uncertainty of grief. We walked the grounds of Mercy by the Sea in a Celtic way of seeing, with a direct “link between the eye and the heart,” and breathed in the new life all around us. We opened ourselves to hope. That is my reminder to you today, friends, the promise of hope. It is steeped in the magic of Springtime, it resides in the skin of a newborn babe, it appears when our eyes open each morning – inviting us into the gifts of this day, of this moment.

This is not to say that pain, frustration, betrayal, and grief do not exist. The Dalai Lama knows this, you know it too. The question is, where do we place our trust? What is the foundation we choose to stand on when living through life’s challenges? Those who face loss are forced to confront this question, which is especially difficult during the tender time of sadness and vulnerability. But it benefits all of us to pause and explore our personal understanding of hope…to imagine it’s texture and shape, it’s depth and resiliency, it’s heritage and it’s legacy.

I close with this message from Rainer Marie Rilke. Let it join your collection of quotes about hope. Let it remind you of the substantial and sustaining qualities of hope that are available to you…now…always.

“Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer.”

With lots of love from a hopeful heart, Lisa