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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Books, books glorious books!

"Never underestimate an old woman who loves books 
and was born in September".
I love this T-shirt!

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has several books on the go at once. It is said you can tell a lot about a person from the books they read. So here's what I'm in the process of reading (or re-reading) at the moment. These are in no special order but the last one is the one I'd take on a desert island if I had to choose from just this list!)
Ground breaking science about ways to look after the cells in our bodies. 
A great integration of science and practical strategies including mindfulness, meditation etc. I'm a great proponent of mind-body-spirit connection and the emerging science around it.

A novel by one of my favourite authors. I've read almost all of the ten in this series and I'm just catching up on one or two I've missed previously.

A memoir by a renowned British brain surgeon. I really enjoy memoirs. I did wonder if, having had brain surgery myself, I might not like reading this! But it was sensitively written and very engaging.

I've read two previous books by this author. (The Grace in Aging and the the Grace in Dying). This one is really about reflecting on one's life and writing a memoir based on the grace you have experienced in key moments. Excellent. Maybe I'll do it!

A well written sweep through themes I'm pretty familiar with from past study.
Lots of very good footnotes for those who want detail. 
I've just started this book. I'll probably skim read!

I'm re-reading this because it is of particular importance to someone I'm talking with. It made a big impact on me when I first read it and it is just as thought-provoking and hope-filled as it was on the first reading. (I've also re-read the sequel Map of Heaven). I thought I'd written about these two books in a previous post but if I did I can't find it!

I think I've read all of Cynthia's previous books and been on several retreats when she has come to NZ. This one is superb for anyone who is a serious practitioner of Centering Prayer. I so appreciate how Cynthia keeps writing about complex issues in a clear, contemporary way. If you've read her first book on Centering Prayer don't think you won't need this one! While it does review the basics it goes a long way further in and deeper down.

I have heartfelt gratitude for being able to read 
and for the people who write books!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Come sit awhile...

On my morning walk along the beach this seat and tree attracted my attention. Of course since it is on someone's front lawn I didn't "come sit awhile" though it seemed to invite me to do just that. Instead I took a closer look from various angles.
Shelter from the building storm

Protection from prevailing winds

A place of reflection - in more ways than one!

Many years ago I remember a series of films (not DVD's back then!) called Parables in Nature. Maybe that's what sparked in me the life-long habit of seeing parables everywhere I look. I won't spoil this morning's parable by spelling it out. Parables are meant to intrigue you to see for yourself!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Want the change...

Most of us do not like change - unless of course it is one we have chosen and planned.
This poem came my way today as part of a Spirituality and Practice series.

Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two XII, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
Where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne,
becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

"Live like a river flows" (on the road to Milford Sound)

Many of the lines stay with me to be mulled over in a Lectio Divina kind of way. Here is the beginning of my mulling...

Want the change...
It's hard for me to want the changes I see happening to friends and family members as they age. I can't avoid the fact that some of them are beginning to happen to me too. 
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
I certainly don't want to be like that! So I guess this requires adapting to change with openness and flexibility. I'm certainly very open and flexible about the things I read, explore and think about. Interesting! I realise I am happy with internal (mind/spirit) change - I really do want that. To me that's growth. The changes I resist are the physical/energy changes. They feel like diminishment.
What turns hard becomes rigid and is easily shattered 
Yes I get that. I don't think I'm hard or rigid. I hope not. 
Pour yourself out like a fountain
This line reminds me of a line from another poem (called 'Unfinished Poem'!) by John O'Donahue: "I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding". Both of these images suggest letting life flow freely wherever and however it goes. To me that speaks of allowing change without resisting it, rather than wanting it.
What you are seeking....with ending begins
Yes - every ending is the threshold to a new beginning. The 'end' of this life will be the beginning of true 'fulness of life' - which is what all our ultimate 'seeking' is about.
Dare to become the wind 
In Greek mythology Daphne was a nymph who transformed herself into a laurel tree. So to be as free and flexible as a tree in the wind a previous identity might need to be left behind.
Shaped by the wind (Cornwall Park)

Plenty more mulling to do! Maybe different lines are the ones for you to chew over.