Monday, April 26, 2010


Last night I went to plug my cell phone into the charger and discovered I had spent the entire day missing phone calls!  It seems I had inadvertently left the ringer "off" all day, so every time friends or family or (twice, my boss) called, all they heard from me was my outgoing voicemail message.

At first I was mortified - especially to miss the important work-related calls.  But then as I reflected on what a great day I'd had, full of sunshine and relaxation, time with my daughter and time with myself, the cell phone faded into insignificance.  It turned out to be a day of Sabbath - a (not so intentional) day of rest and renewal.  It was a whole day without email or telephone calls, without reading anything for work or doing anything related to house-keeping.  It was a day when the Holy Spirit had a better than average chance of getting through the clutter of my normal days.  My daughter and I shared a special breakfast and lingered over her prayer of gratitude.  My puppy and I soaked up the sunshine while he ran off a little bit of his constant energy.  My creativity came alive as I began making invitations for my mom's upcoming birthday bash.  My body responded in kind as I swam my fastest half mile (38 laps) since surgery in March.  And in the evening I laughed aloud at the movie which transported us to another time and place altogether.

Sabbath.  We all need it, whether we recognize it or not.  We all need those days without busy-ness, those times for rest for our spirits as well as our bodies.  Because Sabbath can turn what feels like "never enough time" into time enough.  Sabbath can take the limits of our lives and expand them, making space for all of who we are and all we hope to become.  Author Danna Schaper writes, "Sabbath is time spent remembering what time is for."

I like that ... because I suspect when you get right down to it, time is for much more than cell phone calls, and even more than email!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Impossible Possibilities

I recently came across this quotation which got me to thinking... "Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."  It reminds me of a Biblical passage in which (purportedly) the apostle Paul writes:
"For consider your call, brothers (and sisters); not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are..."

It's a great image of the possibilities of the impossible.  And it offers encouragement to those who would attempt transformation in any form.  But I'm not sure I totally agree with the first quote.  I'm not sure it is a sign of intelligence to recognize what is impossible.  In fact, just the opposite may be true!

Perhaps it is a sign of true intelligence to recognize that all things are possible.  Certainly there are worlds beyond our own and worlds within each of us which are rarely explored, and even less frequently tapped.  So while it may seem "impossible" for me to start a new life as if from birth, it may yet be "possible" for me to do exactly that!  Just for today, I am going to try to see everything as a possibility, whether it be wise or foolish, weak or strong, exalted or despised.  Just for today I celebrate impossible possibilities.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Right now peace reigns in my house.  My daughter has gone off to play in the orchestra for tonight's performance of the spring musical, and puppy is sound asleep under the dining room table.  This is the time of day I like him the best....upon returning from a trip to the country field where he runs, leaps, fetches and runs some more.  It was a particularly good "chuck-it" day today with the warm sunshine and the dry field, so we stayed out longer than usual.

It is nice to have a tired puppy in the house.  But it is even greater to watch Reggie run with such obvious joy and complete abandon!  He is a living metaphor for enthusiasm, for energy, and for life.  So I've been thinking lately about Agility training for Reggie.  You've probably seen dogs competing in Agility trials - running through obstacles, jumping over barriers, completing a set course as quickly as possible.  I think Reggie would enjoy this kind of work, and have no doubt he would be very good at it.  So I've been thinking lately about Agility training for Reggie.

But I've also been thinking about Agility for me!  And not just in the obvious sense of partnering with my dog in this new sport.  In another sense, Agility training may be just what I need.  There's something about taking my newfound energy, and enthusiasm - my new life, if you will - and using it in practiced, disciplined, and agile ways.  I want to make the most of my rearranged insides and my remodeled priorities to bring joy into the world.  And that will undoubtedly require a little "training", or certainly a fair amount of practice.  

I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases a portion of the New Testament (Hebrews 12:1-3), which speaks to me about this whole notion of Agility:

"Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we'd better get on with it.  Strip down, start running - and never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. ... "

Christ never lost sight of where he was headed.  Because of that single-minded vision, because of his practice of agility, he was able not only to "put up with" anything along the way, but even to overcome it.  And who knows?  Maybe he's lying underneath God's table even now, resting while we get going at last.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Endings... and Beginnings

This has been a week of daughter-drama at my house. First I received a phone call from Brooklyn where my first born received word that she did not get the job she thought she wanted. After processing that, and all the attendant 20-something angst, the second daughter came home from school and collapsed into tears over a too-hard Calculus class (which I can do nothing to help clarify). As I reflected on the drama, I began to see similarities. Both of my children are struggling with endings...and beginnings.

College has ended for one, and it is about to begin for the other. Jobs are ending, friendships are changing, homes are moving, dreams are shifting. Endings are tricky things when one is 18, or 23, or 55! And endings are essential for beginnings. I am hard pressed to come up with any "beginning" in this life which does not at first demand an "ending" of one kind or another. Certainly this is true for the process of birth, and re-birth.

In this season of "beginnings", let me embrace "endings" ... and let me be wise enough to recognize the difference between them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Light tomorrow with today"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote that we must "light tomorrow with today". Profound advice for anyone engaged in re-birth, or even in simple change. What we do today will make a difference for our tomorrows... whether we are hiding in the dark or lighting even one small candle.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. echoed that sentiment with his words: "I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must SAIL, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

Too often it seems I have not noticed which direction I am sailing, nor have I given the "wind" - those people, experiences, circumstances, culture which make up my life - much attention at all. Re-birthing requires me to sail against the prevailing winds that have pushed me into this particular patch of sea. Sometimes that is frightening work. Sometimes it feels almost impossible. Until I am reminded of another truth about sailing: When going against the wind, you cannot expect to travel one seamless, straight line. Rather, the wise sailor knows how to tack to and fro, skirting the edges of the wind until eventually progress becomes clear and the direction is changed.

This seems to be what is called for at this stage of recovery from surgery... that nimble ability to tack to and fro and the patience to wait for progress to be revealed. While my body is still changing I find food has become a tricky thing. It is hard to know definitively which foods will end up stuck and which ones will easily slip through that pouch. Yesterday it may have been the shredded chicken? Or perhaps the 2 teaspoons of rice? It's hard to know exactly why the pain persists and the pouch pouts. So I will back off the wind, tack a little to the side, and stick to liquids again.

And I will remind myself that progress may only be seen in the long view of life. Samuel Butler described the human condition in this way: "Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on." Maybe the same can be said of re-birthing.

Well, here's to life! Today, tomorrow... and all along the sail.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am considering taking an advanced course in Improvisation this summer. It is being taught by folks I experienced at a previous training on "making transformational change". I think the power of Improv is in what it requires. In order to succeed as an improvisational actor, you must:
1. Listen deeply (you have to be able to hear what is going on in order to respond)
2. Listen with respect, without judgment
3. Be willing to let go of your own agenda (it is not possible to control the action when it is unscripted and spontaneous)

All good things to remember when you are acting - but also when you are living in the midst of transformation, even in the process of re-birth!

I have been absent from the blog for two weeks, in part because I was struggling with the improvisation of my days. After about a week of pain and setback (those doggone cooked green peas got stuck in the pouch!), things have finally returned to a steady progression of healing. It was fun to stop by Goodwill recently and discover I am now 2 sizes smaller than I was a month ago. And I know I will need to make a daily commitment to the improvisation of re-birth...listening deeply, with respect and no judgment, while letting go of my agenda for healing, for change, for life.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Poster Child?

Three weeks and 20 pounds ago I had gastric bypass surgery, and up until Easter Sunday (about 1 am) I could have been the poster child for the procedure. Everything seemed to go so well, my body tolerated this major change admirably, the weight loss was dramatic, the blood pressure dropped... Perhaps it was too good to be true. Or at least I got carried away, jumping back into 12 hour days too quickly.

Years ago when my youngest daughter was only 6 or 7, she developed some sort of food intolerance. We were never quite sure if it was lactose, or roughage, or something entirely different. There didn't seem to be much of a pattern, but for 2 or 3 years poor Kate would suffer stomach aches after eating. While I tried to be sympathetic, and certainly did what I could to help her feel better, I have to admit a part of me thought she was just a bit of a wimp. After all, how bad is a stomach ache?

BAD. It is really bad. If only I could have become more empathetic without the first hand experience! This newborn pouch of mine is angry, and not shy about letting me know it. Even heavy-duty, post-operative painkillers only begin to touch the edge of the pain. So, instead of being at my office first thing this morning, I am waiting to call the surgeon's office, hoping they will tell me I'm just a bit of a wimp. Because I liked being the poster child.