Friday, September 25, 2009

Gifts continue

We each pray in our own unique way. No two of us pray in the same way. Why? Because none of us have the same relationship with God. Each one of us, we pray from the way God has taught us and is teaching us at this moment. Some pray with words, others with voices, others with body, others with work and the list goes on and on.

Over the years I have come across people who compare their prayer life to others. This results in one of two things: Either they get disappointed in themselves because they cannot pray the way someone else prays or else they get into hubris and wish the other person to be on their so-called "good level" of prayer and relationship with God. We must each have reverence for the other person's holy place because God is reaching each person in the place where they are at, there is no place and I really mean NO place that a person can find themselves in that our God cannot reach. The very fact that we exist means we are present to God even though, at the time we may not realize it or be aware of it. We can each learn and be taught from the prayer life of the people we share the secrets of our hearts with, which is the essence of prayer. There must be no judgement, no criticism, only a reverence for the presence of God in the place the person is standing in IS HOLY Ground.

One evening I was watching the sunset in San Diego and noticed a musical group standing on the bluff, facing the sun and playing their musical instruments. In those last dying moments of a setting sun, a new creation of music took place. I would love to have listened to a CD of that music, that is if there was one. Maybe those musicians choose to create a one of a kind music for a one of a kind moment. Music for a moment that never was before and never will be again. They made music for the here and now. We all need to ask ourselves the question, what is the music our lives are creating for ourselves and for others right now? What is the music that you are invited to dance to right now? In this dance there are no right steps or wrong steps. That is a great consolation for those of us who don’t dance too well. Do say we cannot dance because we cannot dance too well, is an excuse not a reason to join in the dance of life. Our steps will be guided by the truths within each one of us. The dance, our outwardly expressing right now are the thoughts, feelings, emotions of our present human condition. Our dance of life is a very unique form of prayer.

Recently, I have become more aware of the writings and the work of a Celt from Scotland by the name of John Muir. He was known for his passionate and eloquent descriptions of nature. This is something that he wrote many years ago, but it seems to be so pertinent for our day and age. There are no longer thousands of people entering into the wildness of the wilderness, it is now up to the millions.

He wrote the following,

“the tendency now days to wander in wilderness is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home: that wildness is a necessity: and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, fountains of life.”

“Climb the mountains to get the good tidings. Natures peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”

I am happy to say I have been blessed with this experience and I wish the same for each one of you. That is why I write this blog. I see in nature a great revelation of God's dream for you and me. We together allow God to realize His dream for us and for all of His creation.

A dreamer's journey continues....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nature's Gift

There is a great peace, a great quiet, in nature, in the wilderness. You do not meet too many couples fighting or having arguments as they hike along [the only fight sometimes is between me and myself]. There is a great healing gift offered to us by nature. I remember a number of years ago starting out on my vacation, I was not doing too well. I was not in a good place. My entire vacation was spent with nature. I was in the woods, lakes, mountains and of course on the seashore. That vacation was not an easy one to endure. I was not looking forward to returning to the challenges of everyday living. When I returned from my vacation I was surprised, even shocked, to find out that there was a new attitude, a new energy, a new enthusiasm for life and for work. When was this gift given? I do not know. All I know is when I returned there was a difference. Later, I read in a John O’Donohue “nature heals you by itself”. Nature brings out, but only over time, that essential goodness deep within each one of us. This essential goodness is just waiting to be experienced and so be released to enhance the goodness of all of creation.

I further noticed over the years, I noticed the following: when on my vacation I to face difficulties and challenges with myself, the better I was able to handle the challenges when I returned to that life we call "normal". I have never how this happens, but I have also met other people who have had the same experience.

Ever watch couples, families, groups being caught up in the viewing of an ocean sunset? As the sun slowly slides beneath the horizon of our world and our vision it is telling us another day is ending. When people are in the presence of an ending, whatever it may be, somehow they move a little closer. Arms are extended. Couples are joined and children huddle a little closer to their parents. Arms entwined, people encircled in a very reverential silence. Each one is somehow left alone to be with who they really are at that moment. There is a special moment. A moment of silent awe, a moment of silent wonder. Hence, it is indeed a moment of grace. We are praying?

A dreamer's journey continues....

Saturday, September 12, 2009


“The trees, the animals, the streams, the flowers, preserved as much as possible in their natural state of beauty, will in turn help preserve our most precious resource—the human spirit.”
Laurance S. Rockefeller, June 12, 1955.

Those on hikes will greet you from where they are at and meet you where you are at. I was on one of my favorite hikes in the Tetons when I noticed a mature couple coming towards me. They walked slowly, together, in obviously harmony. They exuded a comfort with themselves and where they were at. Mature couples have that. They were dressed like they belonged to the front cover of a hiking magazine. I saluted them with my usual greeting “How are you doing?”. Back came the answer in a very peaceful, rich, calm voice “uniquely”. What a great answer? I was so taken back by the answer I was stuck for words to say.

Uniquely is the way we all go through life. We tell our own unique story in the unique living of every moment, of every day, of the life we are given to live. The unique part of God’s story is incarnated in our unique story, to be revealed in the place and space each one of us is placed in. When we fail to get in touch with our uniqueness, we betray our special giftedness, we are then unable to fulfill our God-given destiny. The result is a deep awareness of our emptiness, our loneliness, and a great sense of being disconnected. To be other than who we truly are, is a denial of the wisdom of God and a disbelief in His creativity. God does not make copies. God does not duplicate. We copy, we desire to be other than who we really are, because we either do not know, who we are, or we do not want to know, or in some cases, we are afraid to know. We must always keep in mind that we are created from God’s love through his freedom.

We are always on a journey of discovery. A journey into our unique selves. There is a certain aloneness, loneliness in being unique. We have no one to truly connect with except He who is the source of our uniqueness, God. He who is Alone. It is in the discovery of the God who is alone, we find our home. It is here we find rest and peace. When we are immersed in solitude, in a hike in the wilderness, we are forced to face ourselves in a way we would prefer not to. Fr. Rohr points out, “When you are in solitude, any place of solitude, you have to face your issues of addiction, negativity, fear, and control”. Out in the wilderness you have none of the everyday medicators to distract you from your disturbing feelings. They arise again, and again. They apparently have a will of their own. Like all feelings, in order to deal with them, we have to process them. We have to experience them, express them, let go of them, and then most importantly, welcome God into the emptiness, of the letting go. With the letting go there is now a vacuum, a void which if God does not fill up with his love, then evil will have that space all to itself. We are told that neither the physical or the spiritual can tolerate a vacuum. It is always our choice to make, time and time again, to choose God’s presence, God’s grace, His love, to fill the void, empty space. We will each respond to this uniquely, in our own special way, as we respond to God’s grace. God gives us a special grace so we can slowly, and sometimes painfully become the “me” God knows and loves. We are always responding to life out of His creative love, the Holy Spirit. If not, then we are responding out of our ego, leading to destructive living.

I was just thinking, if our response to that question, “How are you doing?” was always, “uniquely”, what a difference it would make in our own world and in the world of the people we encounter. It would really make people stop and really take notice of who we are and where we are coming from. When we answer “uniquely” we are not being the person they think we ought to be, or who they expect us to be. We are not who they wants us to be. There in the answer, we are expressing our uniqueness and recognizing they too are unique. Hence, because they are not us, they have a different unique being, so they will never understand completely what we think, say or do. What they can do is respect, and reverence our uniqueness, because this is, God’s way. We did not choose to be unique, it is God’s special gift to each one of us. The more that I am who I really am in God’s mind, I am contributing to God’s unique special plan for all of creation. God has chosen you, me, from all of eternity to hike our own special trail. The awe-full, lonely, difficult trail of uniqueness.

A dreamer's journey continues...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Life Hike continues...

“The Eternal silence of these boundless places strikes awe in my soul.” -- Pascal

When you are on a trail, you know it’s just you and the trail. The trail welcomes you with no judgment, no conditions, no restrictions. It opens before you all the possibilities. You will only walk the trail once. Every hike is unique, one of a kind. I have hiked some trails many times. Each time I begin the hike I bring what has happened to me, making this hike a new encounter between the person on the last hike and all that has happened since. There is a possibility of experiencing a new me as I place one foot in front of the other.

The trail will be shared at times, and then intersect with the trail of others. This is good, necessary, and helpful. One day I was on a hike in the mountains outside of Estes Park. It was a trail I had never hiked before. I had no idea how difficult it was. The trail kept getting steeper and steeper. I was beginning to move slower and slower. I notice when I get into a situation such as this, I don’t take long strides, but revert to baby steps. With those baby steps I can make my way higher and higher. I met a fellow hiker – he was on the way down the trail. He looked at me, then with a big, warm, encouraging, welcoming smile [must have been Irish] offered these words of encouragement, “it is not far now and it is worth it.” Those words somehow picked me up. I got a little strength back in my step. I completed the hike. Yes, it was worth it.

As you have been given, so you want to give back. I was on Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park. I was on the way up, on the path to the lake. I noticed a hiker ahead who had stopped and was leaning against a rock. It was obvious she was finding the hike difficult. As I approached, she said, “I cannot keep up the pace of the others.” I found myself saying, “You are going to get there in your own time and at your own pace, not the way your friends are going to get there.” I moved on.

Later, in my car driving “the road to the sun,” I was stopped in a long line of traffic. We were going nowhere. I got out to enjoy the fantastic scenery. Then I heard somebody say, “There is my encourager.” It was the lady from the hike and her friend united. That began a wonderful conversation, as we say in Ireland “the craic was mighty.” After a time, the traffic moved on and we moved on never to meet again, yet from that encounter the gift that was given was given and received. These moments we call moments of grace.

How often do we find ourselves in similar situations in our everyday life -- which is really our spiritual life? How often when we need encouragement, some kindness, do we receive it? People we meet will not only pass you by, but blow by you. They blow by you as if you were invisible and even if you are a reality, they want no part of you. They are so enclosed, wrapped up, in their own agenda, the wonder of others and of all creation is sadly missed by them. They are focusing on the little picture of their narrow, losing out on the wonder-full exciting picture that is all creation.

On the other hand, on the hike, you receive greetings and smiles. You hear “hi, how are you,” “great day,” “wow this is wonderful,” “have a good one,” “joy.” This summer on South Mountain, there was the constant comment, “I cannot believe this is June.” You respond with a comment and there is many times a response. You are recognized even for a moment. Some people you meet on the hike, really listen and pay attention. Strange as it may be, when you meet them again, there is a welcome and recognition. It is this atmosphere of hospitality that makes a hike a wonder-full, warm, freeing experience. In this you receive encouragement to move on and on and on.

The dreamer’s journey continues…