Tag Archives: contemplation

Unloading the Dishwasher

I have not regularly unloaded the dishwasher for years. It was always my husband’s chore. I ignored the process unless there was a quality control issue. He never complained. Now he watches, unable to help, but supportive as always.

Over the past few months, I have noticed a pattern emerging of loading and unloading, of placement and displacement. I notice this morning that it has become a contemplative practice for me. It is like a form of Tai Chi, a whole body exercise, as I move back and forth between cupboard and dishwasher.

I find myself thinking about the day ahead. I pray for people, for situations, for grace…

They say that the best way to learn is to teach. The past six weeks have been filled with contemplative practices – often in theory. I speak of contemplative knitting as we get to know both ourselves and God and of contemplative collage as a way of waiting and discernment for the way ahead.

Undocumented until today, I practice without awareness – contemplative unloading of the dishwasher. This must be similar to – an updated version of – Brother Lawrence’s prayer while peeling potatoes of four centuries ago. God companions us when we are unaware – even as we develop our awareness skills. Hmm.

“Fall on my Knees” lyrics

http://thebrowders.com/lyrics/onmyknees.pdf

for the song check out Matthew Browder on youtube

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“Unloading the Dishwasher” DS

Contemplation and Work

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“Lions Gate Bridge at Night” smartphone photo DS 2015

I find I am most productive when I am busy up to a point. When I am continually working and the studio is filled with projects at various levels of completion, connections between them just happen and a new seemingly unrelated work is created.

On the other hand when I practice a rhythm of work and rest, as has been experienced in monasteries for centuries, I find inspiration even when I sleep or read or visit galleries.

I am also more receptive to including what I see modeled by friends, colleagues and mentors when I am contemplative and grounded in a spiritual/mental/emotional/physical practice.

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Book of Ephesians

“Ora et Labora” St. Benedict

The Abundant Life

The Abundant Life detail

“The Abundant Life” detail DS

It has been over a year since I posted on my blog. Life in all of its fullness suddenly overwhelmed me. The blog slipped away with regret. I simply could not write a post.

In the past year life has been overflowing with all kinds of experiences. My husband’s health took a strong dip but now he is on the mend again. I had a milestone birthday but have taken it in stride. There has also been so much good stuff happening it is hard to contain it all.

The workshops have been ongoing if sporadic and the participants have been life giving to me. I know it is a cliché to say that they are ‘special’ but clichés proliferate because they are so often true and defining. A two-year supervised ministry partnership has now come to an end. I miss the women already.

I have been cleaning up of late: sorting art supplies for my new studio, shredding old notes and correspondence, and re-organizing files. As a result, I have found myself reviewing my life. As it turns out, life so far has been even more abundant than I realized – especially of late.

Research material and supplies are still languishing in heaps shocking visitors who enter the wrong room on their way to the loo. I have taken to leaving the room door ajar so they can peak in rather than have the surprising experience of being faced with over-the-head piles of pink boxes, paintings and miscellany. “Oh, that’s the storage room,” I say.

I have come a long way from my neat and tidy roots. Instead of feeling the shame of the woman whose goal was perfect housekeeping, I feel the freedom that comes from succumbing to a creative lifestyle. I can now laugh at myself, sometimes. But I digress.

“The Abundant Life” is actually an art exhibition that will be showing at the Carey Centre, U.B.C. in the month of June. Something in me hopes it will become a travelling show. Twelve paintings with reflections witness to the goodness of God in my life. It has been so wonderful these days I just had to share this with you, dear “Shellseeker” followers.

Heroes

 

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Last evening the “Women in Waiting” workshop series began with a friendly but rough start. People were stressed from difficult lives of juggling children, jobs, court cases and memories. A couple arrived late and some were no shows – or so we thought.

The contemplation part got off to a belated start with a rushed quiet time. We listened to some soft Taize music and breathed or not breathed, as was our need. I gave them the heads up that the instrumental piece was 5 minutes long. It was a good way to re-orient us from our busy lives and the long commute to get there. Amidst sisterly annoyance, hugs and ‘no you’re not late’, joie de vivre begins.

Much of the contemplation time was taken up by telling the stories of women. We imagined ourselves into the life story of Mary the mother of Jesus. She was a devout Jew. Her life was difficult too. We recognized her courage in telling the angel that she would willingly bear God’s Son. She found comfort in her visit with Elizabeth who was pregnant miraculously in her old age (as prophesied). We talked of her feelings atop that donkey at almost 9 months pregnant and finding no place to give birth right away. We see her mystified when Jesus at 12 years old teaches in the synagogue. Her grief was discussed when she was present at the cross and the strangeness and joy she must have experienced at the resurrection. We recalled that Jesus had asked John to look after her.

The conversation progressed to a recognizing of more modern heroes: Malala, Queen Elizabeth II, Gabby Giffords. The name of Anne Frank was raised and a World War II personal family story was told. I thought of Corrie Ten Boom, Teresa of Calcutta, and Teresa of Avila, Julianna of Norwich, Kim Campbell, Adrienne Clark, Alison Redford… All were women with feet of clay – some celebrated, some not so much. Our desire as women of seemingly ordinary lives is to live well, to flourish, and to be heroes if only of our own stories.

The evening continued with more people arriving and being let in on stories and instructions. The ideas of saints and collagists and the era of Dadaism filled the excited air. Our times too are filled with uncertainty and turmoil. Some have life decisions in the hands of judges, of doctors and of counselors – and some of God (if not all).

We collaged women and shadows, text and flowers, colour, paper, images all a seamless mash-up of art mixed with life. Once there, no one wanted to leave. As I drove home tired and happy they chatted in the halls and dark driveway of the church. A Dieu dear ones – until next week.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

 

 

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“Tartan Waves I” DS

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

St. Patrick

A Celtic Blessing from Roma Downey

http://www.andiesisle.com/ThisBlessingIsForYou.html

Spirit of the Triune God

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 “Shamrock” Photoconceptual art 2014, DS

The three-leafed shamrock is the symbol of the Trinity for Celts.  In Celtic Christianity, both art and spirituality were used seamlessly as they went about their work.  One finds that the people made a point of acknowledging visual reminders of God in their daily lives.  As I enjoy this new shamrock plant I too am reminded to contemplate God daily, especially in remembrance of St. Patrick.  These are my thoughts today:

The Spirit’s main task is to bring salvation to sinful humankind (Grenz, 357).  He has been at work as one of the three persons of the one God since before time began.  He brooded over the waters in Genesis 1 in his role as Creator along with the Father and the Son.

There are numerous proofs of his deity in the Old Testament but it is not quite as clear how he is a full person as the Father and the Son are.  We trust that he is because of his work in the creating and sustaining the world as being that of God.  He is both similar to and different from the Son (Ibid, 371).

He is the relationship of the love between the Father and the Son.  He is the power behind Jesus’ ministry as shown at his birth, the beginning of his ministry and his resurrection.  When Jesus went back to heaven he left the Spirit to remind believers of what Jesus had taught them.  He filled the disciples with his power at Pentecost to bring about the new community of God on earth.  By his love and power he sustains them as they become witnesses for Jesus and build the kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit brings about the new creation of the earth and heaven (Ibid, 377).  In the meantime he gives the ones who live for Christ a foretaste of things to come when he establishes God’s full rule in the world.  He is the One responsible for “engendering love for God” (Wilken, 287) and drawing humankind to God to find true happiness (Ibid, 273).

Theology for the Community of God, Stanley J. Grenz

The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Robert Louis Wilken

No One is an Island

 

‘No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself;

Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

As well as if a promontory were,

As well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

Year 1624 MEDITATION XVII Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne (1572-1631)

The language is outdated but the sentiment remains.  We are affected by those around us – for good or for ill.  We influence our circle whether worldwide or village narrow. In this as in everything who we are and what we do as a person matters.

Yet as in our solitude we create, in our community we recreate each using our gifts.  We do not really operate alone.  Like these workshops in contemplation and creativity others are generously involved:

–       mentors, friends and participants

–       pray-ers, encouragers and supporters

–       those that introduce and recommend

–       administrative support, advertising, hiring

–       those that provide space, clean up, coffee

–       those who have trained and graded and 

–       those who take a chance

–       suppliers of glue sticks and scissors

–       laughers and criers

–       those who affirm the calling and ignore weaknesses

–       those who long for rest, for creativity, for connection with God

thank you

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