Tuesday, May 28, 2019

At Least it's Not Cancer

This woman did a beautiful job communicating something that I've experienced..... hearing "at least it's not cancer" can be indicative of just how little people understand the spectrum of disease.  We have a culture that gathers around those with cancer as they undergo treatment, with a motto that we're fighting cancer!  But how do we react when someone knows they won't get to remission,  and cancer becomes a chronic illness that they live with?  I dont know the answer as I don't have cancer.

What I do know is that we tend to ostracize those with serious chronic illness because there is no end goal.   The illness waxes and wanes, and people grow tired of the illness pattern (heck, I'm sick of it too!).   We push people away knowingly or unknowingly even as they undergo the same treatments as cancer patients, because we don't understand the magnitude of the disease.   Let's face it,  who could understand what it's like unless they've lived it?!  An analogy.... how do you explain natural childbirth to someone who has never experienced it?

I've had my fair share of minimizing and disbelief from other people,  even those closest to me.  I've been a part of communities that have rallied for those undergoing cancer treatments, yet have never spoken a word to me.  And this is what I've learned....

Never minimize the suffering of others.  Those in pain are worthy of support,  not judgment.  I've endured enough judgment for a lifetime.   That said,  it's been a beautiful teacher as I've finally learned to let go of the opinions of others and walk God's path.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The LOVE of the Spirit

A Meditation by Franciscan Fr Richard Rohr

"The highest expression of the spirit is the one that opens us to the Great Other, in love and trust. It establishes a dialogue with God, listens from the conscience to God’s call, and delivers us trustingly into the palm of God’s hand. This communion can be so intense, say the mystics of every tradition, that the soul of the beloved is fused with the Lover in an experience of nonduality; by grace we participate in God’s very being. Here the human spirit is touching the hem of the Holy Spirit’s garment. —Leonardo Boff

The Holy Spirit is the love relationship between the Father and the Son. It is this relationship itself that is gratuitously given to us! Or better, we are included inside this universal love. This is salvation in one wonderful snapshot.
Jesuit Richard Hauser (1937–2018), who focused much of his teaching and writing on the Holy Spirit, saw that the indwelling Spirit leads to union and love:

This love has as its object God, as well as other people. Christian theological tradition has most often seen the Holy Spirit in the Trinity as the bond of love between the Father and the Son. . . . The primary effect of the Spirit acting in people . . . will be love, both for one another and for God. . . .

God’s Spirit joins our spirit; it does not replace it. The good acts we perform are truly our acts, not simply acts of the Holy Spirit in us. The deepest part of the self is the spiritual dimension. From the center flows all our freedom and love; at this level we remain free to choose to move or not to move with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is indeed active in us at all times drawing us toward greater love and service of God and others, but the Spirit does not control our response. That flows from our freedom. [2]

This loving relationship shows itself in myriad forms, such as the endless diversity of insects and wildflowers, culture and art, medicine and science. Each manifestation expresses God’s endless desire to create new forms of life and externalized love. All things good, true, and beautiful are already baptized in the one, same Spirit. (Read Ephesians 4:4-7 anew!)
The Holy Spirit shows up as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else. Anglican mystic Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941) defined mysticism as “the art of union with Reality.” [3] The Spirit is the artist painting this union through us!

The Spirit’s work is helping us stay in relationship and building connection. The Spirit warms, softens, mends, and renews all the broken, cold places in and between things. Invisible but powerful, willing to be anonymous, the Spirit does not care who gets the credit for the wind from nowhere, the living water that we take for granted, or the bush that always burns and is never consumed."

Monday, May 20, 2019

Contemplative Rain

There's a fine line between feeling like a bump on a log and noticing that you're practicing good self care before a fledge that will most certainly be physically taxing. 

The difference of course is attitude. My attitude sucked this morning.  

As I have attempted to be quiet, I have felt the engine within telling me that I need to make progress on my to do list in order to feel worthy of even being called human.   Negative self talk has been coursing through my brain today as i attempted to gently take on one task at a time. Knowing that I was being hard on myself,  I went so far as to Google what it's like to heal from a serious infection.  Turns out the CDC had a fact sheet on the topic.   Ahhhhhh yes.... the message was simple.... go slow.... healing takes time.  

So I opened the back sliding door on my mountainside home to let my dog out,  took a deep breath of moist forest air, and then it began to RAIN.   Sitting here,  listening to the pounding RAIN running through the boughs of old growth cedars and down rivers of rockery, it became clear that time in the quiet is one of my spiritual practices... and I have gotten away from it recently.   Yet meditation is a key component of my monastic life.   I needed to see that I had reframed meditation into some kind of laziness.  How unkind.  What part of me is pushing so hard against the contemplative monastic life that I joyfully feel called to lead?

I need to paint the answer to that question. In the mean time, i shall be grateful for the insight today.   Healing means listening to my body, avoiding judgment of where I am, and giving my body what she needs in the moment.   Be still.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Meditation 2. Choosing to LOVE my Body.

This is the second day of my writing experiment. It seems so simple — a selfie and a meditation/reflection every day for a while…8 days, 8 weeks, 8 months…how long will I go? I don’t have an answer this morning, as my focus must remain in the present moment — today is only Day 2.

Click here to read the story on Medium.... 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Meditation 1. The Pain Clinic 5/6/19

It begins today with me. Join me as I walk into the unknown of treatment for chronic illness and rare disease…

“Meditation 1. The Pain Clinic 5/6/19” by Heather Thompson
Read the full text on Medium https://link.medium.com/jNp4vKM6tW

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Speaking Up

Reading all of the quotes from Rachel Held Evans,  a young theologian writer who suddenly passed away this weekend.... i'm feeling deeply moved.  She had the courage to be bold with her voice. She spoke openly of doubt and faith.  And now it's her voice, translated from thought to writing,  that remains as she is gone. She was only 37.  Watching this unfold creates a sense of urgency for me. I have so much in my head that I haven't said aloud,  things i'm afraid to write,  but things that need a voice (art, poetry, words).  I shall pray for the courage to speak with the bold voice that I have been given.  I will give the implications of my words to God, as St Augustine teaches that my words can be an interior journey between me and the DIVINE... it doesn't have to be for anyone else.  And as I pour out the truth as i know it, avoiding my desire to spin things for the comfort of the audience,  my body will heal. Am I finally ready?

Proverbs 31:8 ESV
"Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute."

“There is so much I thought I knew... A meditation on Empathy.”

Go to Medium to read this latest article.

“There is so much I thought I knew... A meditation on Empathy.” by Heather Thompson https://link.medium.com/VeBo6JiIqW

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Empathy - A morning meditation on Rumi

There is so much I thought I knew... in my business and personal life I really thought that I understood what another was going through because I'd gone through something similar.  With empathy at the core,  I attempted to relate,  advise, coach, and teach on everything from sales training to business strategy to the painstaking challenges of growth.  I had a strong voice for keynotes, and I was therefore in high demand on stages across the country.   I focused on the importance of bringing empathy back into healthcare, placing it at the center of an organization's brand and making it an authentic cornerstone of all aspects of operations. It was a powerful message, one that arose out of the pain of walking the hospice path with my former father in law.  

While my words were motivational and inspiring to business entities, I had a lot to learn about empathy in the very human to human interactions of daily life.  My former understanding of empathy placed me at the center of relating to another.  In other words,  I found myself saying..."I too have traveled a road like that so I understand how you feel. " 

As much as I don't want to acknowledge it at times,  there's an arrogance that can accompany this kind of empathy.  Even with the best of intentions, I find myself judging the other person because i'm only looking through my own experiential lens.   

How could I possibly know what it's like to stand in their shoes?

I can't.   This is among the most humbling realizations of my life so far.   It's why I embrace the "little way" of Franciscan Theology,  and do my very best to acknowledge the reality that I don't know what another is experiencing...i simply can offer to walk with them, sit beside them, or hold them in prayer.

Today, i'm learning to use my voice in new ways.  I'm learning to listen without attempting to relate from my own life experiences.... and instead attempt to relate from the field that Rumi describes..."Out beyond ideas of right and wrong is a field,  and I'll meet you there. "

Alas, i'm also human.  So i'm I know I'll make mistakes and exist in the non dualism of my own failures. I suppose that's why Maya Angelou said that "when you know better you do better. "

Today's meditation may give rise to more meditations.... and if they do...I will share them as i'm realizing that my voice is emerging and i'm choosing to let it flow.  Perhaps using my voice in this way will heal me as it has done for so many others.  I cannot know; I simply keep walking.