By Another Way

*
You have looked
at so many doors
with longing,
wondering if your life
lay on the other side.

For today,
choose the door
that opens
to the inside.

Travel the most ancient way of all:
the path that leads you
to the center
of your life.

No map
but the one
you make yourself.

No provision
but what you already carry
and the grace that comes
to those who walk
the pilgrim’s way.

Speak this blessing
as you set out
and watch how
your rhythm slows,
the cadence of the road
drawing you into the pace
that is your own.

Eat when hungry.
Rest when tired.
Listen to your dreaming.
Welcome detours
as doors deeper in.

Pray for protection.
Ask for the guidance you need.
Offer gladness
for the gifts that come
and then
let them go.

Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here.

by Jan Richardson

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    I will not be attending Easter services today.
    *

    Creative Commons - from stock.xchng photo: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/698724I will not witness the rows of shiny, white patent-leather shoes, frilly dresses, and uncomfortable neckties. I will not gasp when the black shroud is dramatically pulled down from the cross. I will not hear the Hallelujah Chorus. I will not see the lilies. I will drink coffee. I will reflect. I will probably write. I will enjoy the Mason jars filled with orange tulips on my kitchen table. And later, I will decorate Easter eggs with my daughters. I might even open a bottle of champagne.

    I’ve been pondering all of this; what it means and feels like to be disconnected from this Sunday’s tradition, but still umbilically tied to its rituals, its in-my-DNA tug and influence. I’ve pondered even more of how Easter is not exclusive to the church; how if it offers meaning, if it matters, then its value remains and must be made known in ways that are rich and relevant for me

    And oh, how rich and relevant it’s been. This whole week, has been rife with symbol and sign (as all weeks are, really). This Holy Week (as all weeks are, really) has called me to story; to death and darkness, to sadness and loss, to questions without answers, to a can’t-see-how-it’s-gonna-happen-but-still-I’m-gonna-trust kind of hope, to perseverance, to risk, to courage, to voice, to confidence, to places and people who call me to more. This whole and holy week has called me to life; to my life. And isn’t this, above and beyond all else, what Easter is about – church, religion, or no? 

    “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” asked Jesus when he encountered Mary in the graveyard.

    Indeed. My holy and whole life (and yours) is to be found and experienced where life dwells: in deep breaths and coursing blood, in muscle and bone, in earth and water, in conversation and silence, in laughter and tears, in friends and foes, in facing fears and choosing love, in the sacred stuff of every day. 

    So breathe in and rise up. A new day dawns. Light gleams. Stones move. The earth quakes. Buried, silenced, and shrouded ends. Tombs are emptied. Veils are torn. Angels appear. Graveclothes are shed. Death does not have the final say. Song breaks forth. Miracles occur.

    *
    And resurrection always comes.

    *
    *

    Listen to the audio version of today’s post here:

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      The audio version. Click here.

      Where is wisdom to be found when you need and want it the most? 

      *
      Here’s the quick answer: within you.
      Here’s the more in-depth answer: within you.
      Here’s the known-by-all-women-throughout-time answer: within you.

      You’ve already got it, woman! All that you need. All that’s required. All the perspective. All the insight. All the knowing. All of it is yours.

      *
      If even the slightest shadow of a doubt enters your mind, I get it. It’s highly possible that your deep, before-the-dawn-of-time knowing has not been honored. It’s highly possible that it’s been questioned, critiqued, even shamed. It’s highly possible that what you thought you understood was said to be wrong, silly, uninformed, and impossible. And it’s highly possible that over time, you began to believe this. The voice got quieter and quieter within as the voices got louder and louder without.

      But here’s the good news: Silent, does not mean lost. Forgotten, does not mean absent. Hidden, does not mean gone.*

      Here’s just one way to call it forth:

      1. Picture/ponder the circumstance or situation in which you want insight, answers, direction.
      2. Without editing, censoring, or giving one whit of attention to what anyone else thinks (at least for this moment-in-time), say out loud, fast, and clear, exactly how you feel about what’s happening (or not happening). “This makes me feel ______________.” ‘Super-critical that you do this quickly – spur-of-the-moment – with complete freedom and permission to say whatever you want.
      3. Now that you’ve named the feeling(s), articulate what you want to be true – right here, right now. Again, without overthinking or critiquing, fill in the blank: “What I want to have happen is _______________.”
      4. Next, respond to this: “If my want or desire in this circumstance/situation were a reality, I would feel ____________.” (Is it safe to say that you deserve to feel this way? Mmm hmm.)
      5. Far more difficult, but oh-so-important is this: trust that what you long for is good, worthy, and valid; trust that you deserve this to be so; trust that you are right!
      6. Realize, allow, accept, and affirm that what you just said, what you see, what you envision, what you know, no matter what, is true; that it is wise; that you are.
      7. And finally, lather – rinse – repeat.

      Honestly, your wisdom is that clear, that accessible, that present. It can be trusted. You can be trusted; for you are so, so wise!  

      *
      It’s true: I can rattle off these 7 steps as though they are the most obvious and simple things to do, but do not be deceived. I have struggled (and sometimes still do), to make these practices my own; to actually believe that my answers could possibly have merit, let-alone the capacity to be real, to be wise, to be lived. It was (and sometimes still is) scary for me to admit what I actually felt and wanted, because it prompted an acute and impossible-to-ignore awareness of the gap between my current reality and what I longed for. It was far easier for me to settle, to downgrade my desires, to work harder to keep things on an even keel with the status quo intact, and no one the wiser. But in making that choice, I lost sight of one critical truth: I AM the wiser!

      So here’s what my wiser, wizened self offers you:

      Wisdom is your birthright. It dwells. It flourishes. It exists because you do. It’s all within you. Already. All the time. Amazing. 

      *
      May it be so.

      **************************

      Truly, there is little I love more than talking to women, hearing their wisdom, and being part of calling it forth when it (sometimes and still) slips into the background. It is privilege, honor, and gift to see them rise up into glorious, brilliant, and brave expressions of the Sacred Feminine; the Divine, really. I feel like I am standing on holy ground. I’d love to stand on such with and for you. Learn more. It’s time.

      ChristaRonna is one of the wisest, wittiest, warmest women I’ve had the privilege to travel the path with. I cannot imagine a more sage, humble and curious guide for doing deep personal work and answering the question of the call. I am blessed to know her, and will forever be grateful for her company. ~ Christa Gallopolous

      One of the other ways in which I experience, see, and hear women’s wisdom is through SacredReadingsI draw a card that holds on it the name of one of the many ancient, sacred stories I love. I listen for what she has to say. And I am always, always moved to tears. The Sacred Feminine shows up; the Divine; really. I feel like I am standing on holy ground. This too, is all for you. All you have to do is ask.

      I just received my sacred reading from Ronna. It moved me so deeply, I had to stop reading mid-way to feel everything it brought up. It couldn’t have been more ‘right’. Everything I felt in response was alive, exhilarating, and yes, scary in the way you know the truth has been revealed…a truth I must live. ~ Julie Daley

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        Today is the first day in a long time that I’ve been depressed. I mean really really depressed. Like don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed depressed. And then, when I do get out of bed, not-wanting-to-do-anything depressed. So I stay home. I stay home and drink a cup of coffee while reading email. Then I take a long walk…I put on my ear buds and selected the happy song play list from iTunes. The music plays but I barely hear it. It is white noise in my ears…On my way back home I stop at Ace Hardware for some dish soap because we’re out and I haven’t done dishes for three days. I do the dishes, and rinse away the dirt. I don’t feel better. I feel worse because I broke a wine glass. And when I’m depressed, I accidentally break things. I don’t know why I’m depressed. Something takes over my mind and I wonder what is the point? 

        So begins Janna Marlies Maron’s book.
        *

        Not all of us experience depression at a diagnosable level, still, we know its finger tapping us on the shoulder, its whisper in the back of our mind, its crouching in the shadows. It knocks the wind out of our sails and keeps us nearly immobilized. It causes us to lose all energy and motivation. It prevents us from making healthy choices that enable us to turn the tide. Its voice drags us further and further down. Janna knows all of this and then some. And she speaks of it in incredibly vulnerable ways.

        How to Manage Depression Without Drugs is Janna’s telling of her depression. But far more, it’s a profound and empowering story of coming out of the darkness; about how story, music, food, and ritual saved her.

        I met Janna a number of years ago. We sat in a bustling restaurant in Sacramento, eating lunch and hearing each others’ stories. We talked of her recent engagement, her business, her writing, her past. She was (and is) engaging, passionate, and delightful. But even then, she was hurting. Reading her book reminded me (again) that all of us live stories that not all of us see; stories that need to be treated with such tenderness, kindness, and care; stories that even if not heard, need to be acknowledged and honored. And reading her book invited me into places of healing and strength for her, myself, and others in incredibly practical, do-able ways.

        Janna is a brilliant writer, a gifted storyteller, and a woman who offers honesty and hope.

        I cannot recommend Janna’s book highly enough. Her writing swoons with integrity, courage, and hope. She offers a surprising and unorthodox prescription that ushers in light and life. 

        *
        I believe so passionately in the power and gift inherent in transforming our stories (and those of the ancient, sacred narratives I love). Janna believes this too – and lives it in passionate, powerful ways. She invites you to the same within these pages, within these practices, within her transformed story.

        Click here to read more about her book at her site. Preorder on iTunes. Preorder at Barnes & Noble. Preorder on Smashwords. Buy. Read. Apply. And step into a story of strength and beauty. You deserve that. And Janna deserves to be the one to take you there.

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          Click here to listen to the audio version of this post:

          For such a time as this…

          Sometimes if not oftentimes, the circumstances in which you find yourself are the last ones you want. You look around and wonder how you got here. You look back and see a few crumbs that help make sense of your current reality, but when you look ahead in the hopes of spotting a guiding light on the horizon, there is nothing. You swirl in a messy, oft’ painful, no-matter-which-way-you-turn-it-sucks reality. You want something to shift so dramatically that all the pain, all the frustration, all the darkness, all the fear just evaporates. And you want all of this to happen exclusive of you having to step in and make it happen. *sigh*

          I say “you,” but believe me, I know this all-too-well.

          I feel a sense of helplessness, the lump in my throat, the tears that brim and threaten to spill. I want relief, answers, clarity. And none seems forthcoming. In this place, it is easy to feel immobilized; no action feeling better, somehow, than having to step forward. I stay stuck. I wait. I hope. I might even pray. But despite it all, it appears that the only person who can bring about the needed change is me. At the end of the day, the work is mine. The steps are mine to take. The decisions are mine to make. The movement is mine to compel.

          I don’t like it.

          Truth-be-told, the temptation is strong for me (and I’m guessing you, as well) to feel excruciatingly alone in such spaces and times, but if we listen, we’ll hear a whisper that gently and insistently reminds us that we are not.

          “Hear me,” it breathes. “There have been other women who have known these binds and seemingly no-win situations. They see you. They hear you. They know you. And their stories surround, sustain, and speak – reminding you that, like them, you will survive; that you will make the right choice; that you do have the capacity to step up, step forward, stand tall. Because you are their daughter, their lineage, their kin.”

          For me, there are times when these whispers are corporate: a choir of women’s stories that hover and hold. Today, as I’ve chosen to be still instead of spin, it’s a single voice: the clarion call of Esther.

          She was a woman who had an entire book named after her in Scripture (one of only two who can claim that distinction). And though the well-known aspect of her story is that of being a queen, it holds far more dark realities than golden ones. An orphan, raised by her uncle. Forced to join the king’s harem when a violent roundup of all young girls was made throughout her village. Prepared for a year to provide the most exquisite of sexual favor and delight. Paraded before the king at his fancy and whim. Indeed, chosen to be the queen. Frightened by the discovery of a plot to kill an entire nation of people through genocide. Aware that to not act would cause the death of thousands and that to act would certainly cause her own.

          It was in this place, backed into a corner, and completely overwhelmed by what was required of her, that her uncle spoke these words:

          …if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

          For such a time as this…

          *
          This
          is the whisper that Esther breathes into my confusion, reluctance, and reticence. It is her voice I hear when I keep wishing for a savior, a fix, an easy-out. And it is her face I imagine when I take a deep breath and realize that it is up to me to do what needs to be done – no matter the risk, the cost, the consequences. She is the one who assures me I am up to the task.

          I would wonder if Esther’s whisper might be exactly the thing you need to hear right now, too; if maybe you find yourself in a place that feels trapped, damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t, and impossible to come out of without battle scars. I would wonder if maybe you need to be reminded – by her and by me – that you are not alone. And I would wonder if taking ownership in the fact that you are the lineage of a queen who dared greatly, risked profoundly, and dramatically changed the course of events, might just give you the courage you need to choose, to move, to speak, to act.

          • The circumstances in which you find yourself, though not preferred, are the very ones that invite you to be you. For such a time as this…
          • The pain you know and the fear your feel are the very emotions that declare the necessity of your perspective, your heart, your voice. For such a time as this…
          • The risks inherent and the nearly-certain costs you will bear are the very realities that compel you to rise up to your full stature, your royal identity, your core strength and step forward. For such a time as this…

          And in all of this, not alone.

          Esther whispers. Countless other women encircle and chant. The Sacred Feminine swirls, surrounds, and supports. And the blood that courses through your veins carries everything you need to do what must be done. You know this. You’ve got this. You are here for a reason.

          Is it hard? Yes. Is it scary? Undoubtedly. Is it necessary? To be sure. Do you-and-me-both continue to wish that something else, anything else could happen to shift the earth on its axis and prevent what we are called to do? Mmm hmm. But that is not to be your fate – or mine.

          “…And who knows but that [we] have come to [our] royal position[s] for such a time as this?”

          May it be so.

          ***********

          *
          You can read Esther’s text here. And if you’re interested, here’s a post I wrote just a week or so ago that tells of Queen Vashti – the woman whose bold stance was what created the context for Esther’s story in the first place.

          If you wonder whose voice whispers on your behalf, you can book a SacredReading with me. One card. One story. One woman. Just for you. And finally (at least for now), far more than a whisper, is the clearest, strongest articulation of my deepest desire on your behalf: that you not feel alone in these situations or any; that you know the women, the stories, the support that stands at the ready; that you step increasingly boldly into your truest and most sacred identity. This is what I do with and for you: SacredConversations. Learn more. It’s time.

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