What if…

February 18, 2019

“You see, the what ifs are as boundless as the stars.” 
― Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon

What if you just walked out of your life? Literally, right now, just got up and started walking, with no destination in mind? That’s what’s unfolding in a delightful book I am re-reading: The Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish. It’s about a group of women who gather for a weekly book club, which translates into deep sharing and lots of wine. On one particular evening, the women end up in a cuddle puddle on the floor of the kitchen, comforting a distraught sister of the soul.

The woman in despair says, between sniffles, “Sometimes I just want to walk out of my life.” Another woman sighs, “Me, too.” Several “Me, too’s” echo the sentiment. Together they say, “Let’s do it.”

So, this group of eight women, of various ages, body types and lifestyles, start walking. And walking, and walking, and walking. As they walk, they talk, disclosing dark secrets that have, until the walking, been simmering on the back burners of their soul.

Soon their walking is all over the local news. Strangers meet them on the road with cheers of gratitude and delicious food—and wine. Plenty of wine. This brings national attention. Some people offer overnight accommodations, free of charge. The conversations between the walkers deepen. The tears flow yet the smile never leaves a face. Suddenly their walking becomes international news. These eight women inspire women all over the world to do the same. Unhappy with your life? Then just walk out of it.

What a bold endeavor! I’m not sure I would have that level of courage. Yet the story has reminded me of the times when I have walked out of my life. When I answered the voice that said, “What if I stepped away from unhappiness and discontent, knowing that there was something greater Out There for me. And, each time, the outcome was better than I could have expected?”

A college friend said to me, “What if you moved to Portland with me?” I left Iowa in 1975 for greener and wetter pastures in Oregon. I had $300 in my pocket, no apartment, no job, just a desire to be somewhere else where the thermometer read -24. Pieces fell into place very quickly. Sometimes I wonder, what if I had stayed in Iowa?

I left a job in 1993 without a safety net. Single, alone, with a house payment. Yet my psyche and soul could no longer tolerate the destructive environment of that work place.

What if I had stayed with that job?

My husband and I left Portland two years ago for rural living outside McMinnville, Oregon. I remember thinking, how do I make friends at this stage of life? That didn’t take long. And still I wonder, what if I had stayed in Portland?

I can “what if” myself into a corner. What’s relevant to me is to reflect on the bold actions I’ve taken through my life, each time rewarded. To give myself a pat on the back for such boldness. “I did that!” It also occurs to me that every great endeavor in the history of the world started with a What If. 

Today, I ask myself, and you: What has become intolerable in my life? What if I just stay and tolerated? Or, what if I made a bold change? Is there something calling to me that needs to move to the front burner? What if listened to the What If voice? Took a leap of faith? Trusted my intuition?

As expected, each walking woman in the book has some level of introspection and revelation. Some joyfully return to husbands. Some don’t. Some quit jobs to pursue a new career. Some awaken to stirrings they didn’t know they had, but now had to be pursued. One particular story is about a woman following the walkers on the news. Unbeknownst to them, she too walks out of her life in pursuit of a sunset that has called to her for 70 years. I can visualize her tears and her smile.

No more “what ifs.” The time is now, and we are the ones.

Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking
https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=youtube%2C+these+boots#id=25&vid=b5bab7061340cfb3b037c0e4a4c19ba4&action=view

Doorways

February 3, 2019

“If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” Anonymous

Have you ever tried and tried and tried to do something, be a part of something, to align with something, only to have the door slammed in our face, over and over and over again? As quoted above, “If it doesn’t open, it’s not your door.” I thought I was long past that in my life, until some uncomfortable experiences this past year and one even this past week. The stories are irrelevant. My reaction to it is relevant as a reminder that not all doorways are meant for me. Walking away is sometimes the best option. Here’s a time when I did just that.

Years ago, I was invited to serve on an advisory board for a group of ministers serving large congregations. Their goal was to take their spiritual teachings out into the greater world. The first meeting was held at a fancy retreat center perched high in the hills above Malibu, California. My assigned roommate was the minister of a small church, similar to the community where I was serving as staff minister. We caught ourselves giggling like school children, wondering why we were there.

Right from the “get go” I felt invisible. Yes, the high-powered ministers were all nice and cordial, but I didn’t feel like I connected, like I belonged there. I kept asking myself why. Low self-esteem? Because I’m from hippy dippy Oregon and not sassy flashy California? It was mind boggling, and yet I hung in there, wanting to grasp what was unfolding before my literal and spiritual eyes.

I muddled my way through the first retreat, coming home confused and befuddled. A friend advised me that it was low self-esteem making me invisible in the eyes of what I called “high-powered ministers.” She encouraged me to look in the mirror and get that I too was a high-powered minister. I tried, but couldn’t quite get there. But that wasn’t going to stop me. This open door was too enticing to ignore.

Given that this was an incredible opportunity to serve and connect, a way for me to become more visible in the global arena of ministry, I decided to return to the next year’s retreat. The same woman was my roommate. We enjoyed a dinner out upon arrival, each wondering why we were on the advisory board, and why I personally felt so invisible.

The next morning, after prayer and positive self-talk, my roommate and I walked into the conference room with dignity and grace. Ministers were hugging and laughing, filling the air with enthusiasm and joy. It felt good. Soon a minister from Southern California—looking very surfer dude like—started walking towards me. We made eye contact and both smiled at each other as a way of recognition. As I extended my hand to him, he walked right by me and hugged another minister standing right behind me. He didn’t even see me. I was flabbergasted, even more so when similar patterns emerged throughout the day. I was totally invisible, even after gearing up my energy body. By now this was amusing, as I knew something deeper was going on.

It wasn’t until the closing circle that day that I finally got the message. I saw this door and was beckoned in, but I never really entered. My participation was half-hearted, for a reason. This organization was not my Tribe. I do not resonate with their desire to take their agreed upon teachings out into the world. In my thinking, the world has enough religions. No one was wrong or bad. It just wasn’t my tribe. It was time to stop knocking on a door that was not mine.

What happened next? I don’t know. Either they stopped meeting or they decided to leave me off the invitation list. I am grateful for the two advisory retreats I attended, and even more grateful to the many doorways since that have revealed my true Tribes.

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Iva.
Iva who?
I’ve a sore hand from knocking!

Friendship

January 19, 2019

“When your spiritual study is sincere, the breaking-up of your material world—the desertion of friends, students, or family, a change in health or other outer activity—often ushers in the spiritual transition, or rebirth. This is the attainment of that which you have sought.”  – Joel Goldsmith, The Infinite Way

One of the assignments I was first given in ministry school, way back in 1993, was to make a list of the most important current friendships in my life. This did not include family members or partners. Then I was told to put the list away, and notice how those relationships may change over the next three years.  And change they did!  I was shocked the first time I returned to the list, just one year later.

One friend had moved to the East Coast, seemingly out of the blue. I greatly missed our spontaneous coffee dates and long conversations.  Another friend suddenly divorced and relocated two states away. I didn’t see the split coming, nor did I see her moving away. Like with the East Coast friend, our day-to-day interactions quickly faded.

I remember pulling away from a friend who had become toxic for me. Her negativity was predictable and a real downer. Not just with me, but with others when I invited her to gatherings in my home. These were spiritual gatherings! I heard from a mutual friend that she was very hurt by my withdrawal. I chose to do nothing, and just let it be. 

Then there was the woman I considered a sister of the soul. She dumped me as a friend because I was enthralled by my new boyfriend and his young children. “Kathleen, I never thought you would be the type to use me as a friend until you got a boyfriend.”  Ouch!  I didn’t even go through that in junior high but I sure remember the curse of it. What she didn’t recognize was that, in addition to school three nights a week involving a one-hour drive each way, I was working four days a week at a publishing company 20 miles away. During that time, I was building a relationship that would lead to marriage and step-parenting. Something in my life had to take the hit, and, sadly, it was her.

Did I lose friends that year because of my spiritual studies? Did I think I was too good for them, which is what the toxic lady accused me of? Or had these friendships just taken their course and needed to fade away?

Two years later, in preparation for ministry licensing, I was again told to revisit the list. I was surprised this time because of the healing that had occurred with some of the friends who had been filed under “former.” Facebook re-connected me with my friend who moved to the East Coast and the divorced friend that moved two states away. She’s remarried and happily so. The woman I labeled as toxic was moving away and wanted to have lunch. I was able to less clumsily speak my truth. We wished each other well. I became friends again with the woman who said I used her until I got a boyfriend. A few years later, she dumped me again. This time saying my request to not receive her right- wing rants post 9/11 was selfish. “If we can’t talk about everything, then I can’t be free to talk with you about anything,” said she. The bye bye was for good.

I share this memory inspired by Mark Dodich’s astrology forecast for this upcoming Full Moon & Lunar Eclipse. (see below) I share it too because of the Joel Goldsmith quote. (see above) I now know that when my spiritual studies are sincere—because I will be a forever student—some of my safety nets will fall away. Might be friends, might be heath, or might be financial security. That is as it should be. The blessing from this curse is that my friendships today are deeper and richer, with both parties more authentic.

Words

January 4, 2019

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot “one of the twentieth century’s major poets”

Do you ever get tired of your own story? The voice in the head that weaves a tale when trying to explain something unexplainable? A feeble attempt at making sense of the senseless? Proof that I’m righteous in my indignation? Always blaming someone or something else rather than taking responsibility for my reactions? And the more I tell it, the realer it gets? Affirming that I am indeed a victim and there’s no way out? These are conversations I’ve had in my head after nearly two years of health issues.

With the turning of the calendar from 2018 to 2019, I found that I had grown weary of explaining when and how my back pain started. “With the election,” was my common reply, to friends, family and a myriad of doctors and other health professionals. And I meant it. But in truth the election of November 2016 did nothing to me. I’m the one who chose to wallow in my sorrow and fear, for two whole years. “Enough,” I heard a voice in my head say right before New Year’s. Create a new story. One that is generative, supportive and, dare I say, fun! It all starts with a word. What word will guide me throughout 2019, making sure I stay on course and don’t slip back into stink’ thinkin’?

Nearly 20 years ago I had lunch with a friend who is a writer. She shared with me that every January she chooses a Word of Intention to guide her through the next year. I loved the idea and started doing this myself in 2001, sharing with friends, at churches, with social clubs, and with my mentoring clients. Take a gander at my list:

2001 Aliveness
2002 Visibility
2003 Allowing
2004 Co-arising
2005 Liberation
2006 Vision
2007 Presence
2008 Trust
2009 Connection
2010 Focus
2011 Grace
2012 Confidence
2013 Action
2014 Courage
2015 Audacious
2016 Believe
2017 Discernment
2018 Diligence

I use my Word of Intention every day in prayer. Regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs, the Word means nothing unless you incorporate it into your day. Every day!!! Here’s my prayer that I say aloud each morning.

Heavenly Father, Earthly Mother, Beloved I Am.
I am alive. I am awake. I am the holy.
I am the Diligence of the Living Christ in me.

There are juicy stories that go with each of my Words of Intention. I selected Diligence for this past year to help me complete a variety of on-going projects. I’m not sure what my word for 2019 will be, but I’m pretty sure it will be more uplifting. A word that will come to mind when I find myself spinning another tale about how who or what has let me down, disappointed me, hurt me, made my back hurt, yadda yadda yadda.

What will your Word of Intention be for 2019?

How can you incorporate it into your daily spiritual practice?

Consider a year from now when you look back and say, “WOW, that word really guided me!”

Foreign Nationals

October 24, 2018

“When people rely on surface appearances and false racial stereotypes,
rather than in-depth knowledge of others at the level of the heart,
mind and spirit, their ability to assess and understand people
accurately is compromised.” – Rev. James A. Forbes (retired pastor)

 

If I remember correctly, it was around 2006 when Ireland saw the arrival of 150,000 Polish immigrants. Known as “foreign nationals,” they were welcomed by some and not by others.

A Dublin taxi driver complained to me that crazy foreign nationals were now driving taxis. They not only got lost and created traffic hazards, they took the jobs from hard working Irish men. A tour bus driver told me that soon there would be foreign nationals serving as tour guides. “Imagine,” he said, “taking your groups around Ireland with a Pakistani driver.” A friend who works in the tourist industry complained that foreign nationals were taking hotel jobs away from hard working Irish nationals.

During that window of time, when the Irish economy was thriving, I had only pleasant taxi drivers and wonderful Irish bus drivers. But I did notice a difference at the various hotels. Most obvious was a language barrier. For example, I wanted to ship a box of gifts home to Oregon so I didn’t have to lug them around. I inquired at the front desk of my Dublin hotel. After several minutes of research, a very polite Polish man told me that the nearest UPS store was in a suburb of Dublin, perhaps a 20-minute taxi drive away. I stepped outside feeling frustrated because this didn’t seem right to me. Suddenly, around the corner came my bus driver. “Hey. There’s a UPS store just around the corner. Shall I carry your box for you?” Yep, the language barrier would have cost me dearly, both in time and money. But there’s another foreign national story that haunts me to this day.

My group of 22 women was staying at a lovely country hotel in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. Every hotel worker I met that year was from Poland. As a tour group, we were required to dine together, alone in a banquet room taking up several tables. There appeared to be only one waiter for us. A young man, tall and thin, likely Polish, tried to describe the dinner menu. I could see some of my travelers getting a little antsy. The beverage and bread course took several minutes to arrive, with a variety of mix-ups. Now more women in my group were getting annoyed. In whispered voices I heard things like:

“He can’t speak English. Why is he here?”
“This is bad business-. They should hire someone who knows what he’s doing.”
“Maybe they should stick with hiring Irish people, or at least people who speak English.”

I understood the annoyances, yet something didn’t sit well with me. Were we reducing a live human being to an ethnic stereotype? I found myself sitting quietly and just observing our waiter and my travelers. Although I knew our diners weren’t happy with the dining experience, I told them I would speak with the manager, and, they should still leave a tip. “Remember, we are guests in this country.”

When everyone had departed, I stayed around in hopes of speaking with the young man. He emerged from the kitchen, looking very sad and despondent. I apologized to him for my group’s impatience. He replied with a weak smile and shrug of his shoulders. After a long pause, I very gently asked, “Are you okay?”

Suddenly his head dropped as his shoulders drooped. I could barely make out his reply. “I got word this morning that my father in Poland died and I cannot go home to be with my family.” We both stood there in silence. All I could do was be his witness.

I see you.
I hear you.
I believe you.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen, heard and believed? Whether we are U.S. born, Irish born or a foreign national from wherever? I think about appearances with the immigration stresses in our country. Someone can appear one way—as a clumsy waiter—but underneath the appearance can be something vastly different—a real live human being with a broken heart. I think too about the millions of Celtic immigrants to the U.S., including my Connolly ancestors from Ireland and McKern ancestors from Scotland. Unless we are Native American, we are a nation of immigrants. As my grandfather-in-law, of German heritage, said on his death bed, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Have a listen to one of my favorite Irish ballads. Imagine what immigrant songs are in the hearts of those currently trying to come peacefully to the U.S.

Immigrant‘s Song Daniel O’Donnell – Cutting the Corn in Creeslough (County Donegal)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZyy8a65d0s

Are you a witch?

October 8, 2018

 

“When change cometh, she will bring peace at her back. She will not bend to your will; you must bend to hers.” ― Adriana Mather, How to Hang a Witch

 

There’s a rumor in my neighborhood that I’m a witch. At first, I laughed. And then, for a few days, I got scared and paranoid. I wanted to hide. I wanted to move away. I wanted to feel safe in unsafe times. For many of us, these are unsafe times. Yet hiding and moving won’t solve anything nor will it protect me. I wonder, is this how our burned-at-the-stake ancestors felt? That their very lives were on the line simply because they were spiritual women living outside the box of Christianity?

Women who never married nor entered the convent?
Women who walked outside at night without an escort?
Women who gathered under the full moon to share and commune?
Women who could take away the pain of childbirth?
Women who were midwives to the newly living and recently departed?
Women who had cats or warts on their noses?
Women who were just being women living under the pressure of patriarchy?

A dozen years ago, in late October, a group of friends and I put together a ritual theatre performance titled “They Called Them Witches.” The intention was to help heal the witches’ holocaust. All involved, mostly women and a few men, were dramatically changed by the experience, as was the audience. The research was stunning and sobering. So many were put to death for ignorant reasons. The creative pieces expressing the angst of real witch hunts inspired us to carry on our vision of a world that is safe for all women, including those who identify as witches. Wise women who know, embrace and express both the Light and the Dark, free of labels and senseless accusations. Are we currently in danger of another witches’ holocaust?

According to the dictionary a holocaust is, “… a great or complete  devastation or  destruction, especially by fire.”

Use of the word in reference to innocent women being burned at the stake–or drowned or tortured–in no way diminishes what we know as The Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Yet it applies to the Burning Times. How did this all come about? According to one source, “Historians believe the accused witches were victims of mob mentality, mass hysteria and scapegoating.” I add – women who were/are victims of idle gossip and speculation.

I propose that we are again living in a Burning Time—of distrust, paranoia and judgment. Does anyone really feel safe anymore? Safe to be who you are, at home and in public. To state our opinions, whether reflecting the Left or the Right, or the Light or the Dark. To have governance over our bodies. To have a say if we want to be touched or not. To have equal pay for equal work in a safe workplace. To live without fear of condemnation for just being a woman. Ultimately, to live without fear that someone could take your life because they think you are something they don’t understand.

From the King James Bible, Exodus 22:18: “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.”

Check out these alternate versions:

Do not allow a Sorceress to live.
Death is the punishment for witchcraft.
Put to death any woman who practices magic.
Never let a witch live.
A witch thou dost not keep alive.

Can you see why I actually felt fear when I heard two separate comments referring to me as a witch? I’m glad to say that the fear has passed. If we are living in another time of burning, then let’s burn away ignorance, distrust and separation. Let’s burn away accusations, judgments and persecution. Stop the gossip and idle conversation that diminishes rather than uplifts our spirits. Instead, let’s burn with excitement over our personal freedom and the future of our beloved United States of America. We the People. All people. Even witches. Let it be so.

For the record. I have been asked over the years if I am a witch. This is my reply. “No, I’m not a witch. But I’m also not Lutheran, but sometimes I do Lutheran things.”

 

 

Stay tuned for news of a Witchy Flash Mob coming to a corner near you!!! For inspiration, check out this video that makes the rounds every October. Doesn’t it make you want to dress up and dance?!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjUV-byB8ls
Wolfshäger Hexenbrut Walpurgis Wolfshagen im Harz

I Don’t Know

September 24, 2018

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
~ Isaac Asimov 

 

When I was in ministry school in the early 1990’s, our class had a lengthy dialogue about what to say when called into people’s lives at critical moments. This could be the loss of a job, a severe injury, death of a pet, or the sudden or lingering dying process of a child, or parent, or partner. What do we say when the one suffering turns to us, asking, “Why is this happening?”

One faction in our group said we must explain that God is a part of this, so therefore we must put our trust in God. The other faction disagreed, saying the best response is, “I don’t know.” Because, in truth, we don’t know why this is happening–if we stay in the mental realms of thinking. Once we soften and move to the heart, the respectful response is, “I don’t know, but I will walk with you as more is revealed.” In other words, assuring the one undergoing great stress, “I’ve got your back.”

The term originated in military combat. The ones who stay behind in the foxhole shoot to distract the enemy while one soldier dashes out of hiding. Through The Anam Cara Journey, it has been revealed to me that the declaration, “I’ve got your back,” is also metaphysical. An affirmation to remind us that we are never alone. Learning to value the heart as much as the head is my life’s journey. And, I’m not talking about just the front of the heart. The heart chakra radiates through the entire upper chest, including both the front, solar body, and the back, lunar body. Both are integral for whole-heart thinking. The Sanskrit word for the 4th heart chakra is Anahata. It’s meaning is unstruck, oftentimes described as “the sound made by two things not striking.” Ponder that a moment!

I can tell you to your face that I’m here for you. But, better yet, I can show you that I’m here for you in ways you cannot see. That is, by honoring the back of the heart that is invisible to the one suffering. A gentle touch and soft whisper can help us remember that there are many sources of healing at work, always seeking our good. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So when I whisper to an anam cara, my soul friend, “I’ve got your back,” I’m reminding them that they are never alone. There’s a council of ancestors, angels and soul friends right behind them. All they have to do is remember, lean back a little, and allow the mantle of Infinite Love to embrace them.

When we embrace this as Truth, then the words “I don’t know” can bring comfort rather than strife. And, a reminder that we’re all in this together.

NEW ALBUM FROM PAUL McCARTNEY
“I Don’t Know” 4:27
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aef2eV7GmQw

Bubbles

September 10, 2018

“…all bubbles have a way of bursting or being deflated in the end.”
~ Barry Gibb

Both of my feet have injuries, enough to require splints and constant wearing of sturdy walking shoes. It feels confining and restricting, as well as safe and secure. What bubbles up in the space between are lingering feelings of sadness and sorrow related to my feet.

I so wanted to be a ballerina, having started dance lessons at age five. My teacher wouldn’t let us dance “on pointe” until we were 16. This was for protection of the development of our bones. I will never forget my first pointe class. I showed up early with my shiny, new pink toe shoes. We were instructed by older dancers on how to put them on–stuffing lamb’s wool in the toe area, and then tying them correctly with the equally shiny pink ribbons.

Class began with the usual amount of warm up. I pictured myself as a member of the Joffrey Ballet, equal to the world’s best ballerinas. I remember well the moment when we faced the ballet barre, our knees bent in soft first position plie’. Our teacher called out, “Plie, releve’,” which meant rise to our toes. The bubble of anticipation burst with the first stab of excruciating pain. My hands clutched the warm-up barre in a death grip, as I tried again and again to rise with ease. Each time the pain worsened. When it was time to step away from the barre and move across the floor, I simply could not do it. But, oh, how I tried!

I struggled for a few more weeks, until my teacher asked for a meeting with my mom and me. She told me that my feet were not made for toe dancing. Although I was trim weight wise, my growing-into-womanhood body was stocky, and out of proportion needed for a ballerina. My heart was broken. I get teary remembering, especially right now with pain in both feet. The first bubble of my life’s desire burst. The sadness and sorrow was awful.

I eventually rose above the perceived tragedy under the mentoring of a savvy teacher. She helped me see that there were many forms of dance in which I could excel. Soon I became more of a “show dancer,” thriving in modern dance and musical theatre. I learned to turn the world on with my smile, and not rely on what my body can or cannot do.

I’ve come to see that life is full of desires that form a bubble of anticipation. Some of those bubbles take flight, and some just hover. In the end, every bubble will burst. What I do with that is in my hands and not my feet.

Father Ian

August 24, 2018

 

“Live by the trinity of what is true, good and beautiful.”
Alexandra Stoddard, philosopher of contemporary living

 

During my spring 2011 Ireland tour, I wandered into a contemporary Catholic church in the center of a thriving beach town in Co. Sligo. I was stunned to find the triple spiral everywhere. On the doors and the floor, even carved into the backs of every chair. Oh, how I would love to have those chairs at my dining room table! Later that day our B&B host said that she was so intrigued by my website that she invited her priest to come meet me. Now, being Irish but not Catholic, I felt a rush of fear. The priest is coming for me!!!

That evening I was introduced to Father Ian, a congenial fellow in his early 40s. He was a bit guarded in sharing. I thought talking about the church with the spirals would be a safe conversation. I told him that I thought it bold to have a pagan symbol throughout a Catholic church. He said it is not a pagan symbol, it is the Sligo Cross. (I had to laugh—a county in Ireland has claimed a 5,000-year old stone carving as their cross.)

I went on to say that I see the triple spiral as a more contemporary trinity, more fluid, freeing me from the traditional linear and patriarchal Christian cross. Father Ian, with hands clasped behind his back, leaned into me and added, “The Christian trinity is fluid as well.” I agreed, and then suddenly spurted out that seeing Jesus bloody and dying on the cross frightened me as a child. He was up there because of me. It was my fault because I am a sinner. And now I’m supposed to offer my prayers to him?!

After a pause, somewhat startled by my own passion, to Father Ian I calmly said, “The cross has not been comforting to me, but the triple spiral has.” I went on to say that, for me, a contemporary version of the trinity is Heavenly Father, Earthly Mother, Beloved I Am. It’s how I find my place within Christianity. I affirm this in prayer every morning. It brings me a measure of comfort that I previously did not experience with the traditional trinity and cross.

I was impressed to learn that there were three churches in Father Ian’s tiny village—his Catholic church, an Anglican (protestant) church, and the third a mainstream Christian church. Add to the mix that this priest had replaced a pedophile priest in this small parish. Father Ian had called together meetings and shared worship services with the three religious communities, with great joy and success. He urged me to let him know when my next tour group comes to his area, as he would like to host a special interfaith mass with us. Perhaps the triple spiral really is the Sligo cross!

A few years after meeting Father Ian, I took him up on his offer to bring my Anam Cara Tour group to his parish and share in worship with the three local churches. I was surprised to hear from the owner of the B&B that Father Ian had, sadly so, left the church. Seems he met a woman and they had married. I like to think that the triple spiral dialogue had something to do with that.

The blueprint for the Anam Cara Journey 9-month program for women is the Triple Spiral. Think of it as the archetypal yellow brick road, delivering you to your own personal Oz. There you find out that, like Dorothy and her friends, you had along the power within. There’s still time to register for the next circle, beginning Sept. 8th, mentored by Rev. Kathleen. All details are on under Mentoring. Be sure to scroll down and discover Rev. Beth Astarte’s next Anam Cara Journey for women exploring sacred sensuality and sexuality.

Causeway

August 9, 2018

“If you’re stuck in the past, you go forward in reverse” 
― Josh Stern, author

 

One of my teachers in Ireland often speaks of the “causeway.” Perplexed, and with a tour group in tow, I asked what he meant.

In times gone by, the approach from the road to a bridge was often land that was marshy and muddy. This is in sharp contrast to modern roads and bridges, which usually deliver us from dry pavement directly to the bridge and beyond.

The old causeways must have been difficult to negotiate. Picture yourself on a definite path, with a bridge ahead in clear focus. You know you will cross that bridge and travel on to your destination, but first you must figure out how to move through the mud.

It is my belief that many spiritual seekers get caught in the causeway. Whether the source is ancestral beliefs, dysfunctional family patterns, or society’s idea of who and what we should be, it’s easy to get stuck. The causeway can throw us off balance, sometimes forcing us to retreat back to safe ground, sometimes paralyzing us. With a clear picture that the bridge ahead will deliver us to our spiritual destinations, what will it take for you to move through the causeway?

One time, in a dream, I found myself trying to get from dry land to a house filled with friends from my earlier days in community theatre. The mud was wet and thick, and the area it covered would require a bit of planning. I was not wearing proper shoes for such an endeavor. Suddenly, one of my actor friends came out of the house and beckoned me over. I shouted, “I’m stuck in the mud!” He told me to move through it quickly, as that would be easier. I started to follow his advice only to get sucked in deeper. I stopped and looked down. The mud was now up to my knees. My friend called out, “You’d better not stop. It’s not mud you’re stuck in. It’s shit!” With that, I picked up my feet, swiftly disengaged from the stinky poo and landed gracefully on the other side.

Do you see the metaphor? When I’m stuck in the causeway, it’s because it’s a familiar place. I can see the dry land of safety behind me and the bridge of promise before me. Only I can make the decision to return or to move ahead. Remembering the dream, I remember that the poop is not my waste. It’s from somewhere else. I don’t belong there. When we realize that, it’s easy to take that leap of faith and move gracefully towards my destiny. Sometimes with the help of an anam cara, a friend of my soul.