Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prayer that precedes faith.

In her introduction to Every Eye Beholds You, edited by Thomas J. Craughwell, prominent scholar of world religions Karen Armstrong, writes that all the world's great prophets and sages have spent very little time telling their disciples what the ought to believe, that they have rather "insisted that before you can have faith, you must live a certain way." Prayer, in other words, is not born of belief but a practice that creates faith.

I love this idea. We in the western tradition have gone at prayer backwards, praying because we believe. To practice prayer this way means that we do not bring to our prayer preconceived notions of who God is. We do not force him into a mold of our own making. In this kind of prayer, God is encountered not seized.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't squander good news

Juliahna was diagnosed last August with acute myelogenous leukemia. Since then she’s undergone progressively more radical procedures, all the while keeping her friends informed of her progress through her Caring Bridge journal. The other day, while sharing the great news of hopeful prognosis for recovery, Juliahna wrote the following:

“As of today, I'm committed to really celebrating all the good news that comes. Too often I skip right into wondering how long good news will keep coming to me, which I've come today to consider a rather careless squander of good news. I'm wanting now to practice a more disciplined mindfulness of being present to this moment, this one I've been gifted with in this fractal of time. And in the bigger picture, I'm reminded that this has been and will continue to be the only way it can be: a moment to moment experience. I'm going to work to keep all of me with me in the only place I can be: here, now.”

What a powerful reminder of the vulnerability yet the giftedness of life. Juliahna's words resonate within me and spur me to a similar mindfulness. What better teacher than one who has entered the darkness and emerged filled with light.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A recipe

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time cooking lately. Now that we can no longer afford to eat out, I have been trying to bring variety and interest to our meals by using recipes. My husband, who has been semi-retired (out of work) for six months, goes a bit stir-crazy with just me and the computer for company so we've been inviting family and guests to share these meals with us.

I'm ashamed to say that I'm not always the happiest of chefs, even when I know that cooking provides some wonderful quiet time, time when I can place myself fully in the now, and as the Buddhists would say, cut the carrots in order to cut the carrots.

I want to finish my next book and write the two articles I've got slated for publication later this year. I don't really want to cook. And, there's the difficulty in finding focused concentrated meditation time.

Perhaps all that God wants of me right now is to accept what is. To be there for others, to put my own plans on hold and to give thanks that we've got food to share. To take each moment as the gift it is no matter what that moment consists of, including cooking.

About Me

My photo
Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.