Open-ended: That’s how I describe the home where my husband and I now live. Since we purchased our well-worn (shabby-sans-chic) historic house 3 years ago, we have been renovating and restoring. For us, it’s a matter of DIY (do it yourself) on a shoestring budget.
Despite our busy lives, we’ve managed to restore a great deal—with a lot of help from our friends. But nothing is finished; nothing is ever finished. If you’ve ever tried to restore an old home, you know what I mean. Just when you think you can breathe that long-awaited sigh, your eyes follow the wall up to an unsightly gap in the old trim. You decide to cover a radiator and it leads to the need for seat cushions which leads to the need for matching that material to the kitchen chairs which leads to recovering the chairs which leads to reorienting the budget which leads to rethinking the bathroom project entirely, ad infinitum. As Margo Kaufman says, “Remodeling is like pulling a loose thread on a cheap sweater — the job keeps unraveling.” . . . . more
Remember Algebra class and “solving for x”? A puzzle. An Unknown. A math mystery. Turns out, math and the spiritual life are not so far apart. In fact, in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, x is a symbol for “The Mystery” — the spiritual home for the great mystics and a vital part of every spiritual journey. Mystery, or the “Great Unknown,” invites us to make room in our souls for mystery, intrigue, and the ineffable “more-ness” of the spiritual adventure. But like math class, could part of that lavish landscape of spiritual unknowns include not only sacred mysteries, but very worldly ones as well?
To be honest, if I were given a word association test with the word, “Mystery,” I would surely blurt out “Agatha Christie!” As an avid fan of classic Whodunnit mysteries, I sometimes wonder if these entertaining books about clues and suspects and puzzling out the truth are contributing anything to my spiritual life. Does the murder mystery sleuth and spiritual sleuth have anything in common? . . . . Click here to read entire essay
When I was thirteen, my friend Debra and I would walk to her house after school, plop down on the floor in front of the TV and glue our eyes on the spooky soap opera Dark Shadows. We were so engrossed by the evil vampire, Barnabas Collins, we hardly paid attention to the snacks Debra’s mother had ready for us. After a day of muddling through math problems and sentence diagrams, nothing less than this delicious dish of melodrama — now considered a cult classic — could suffice. In my parents’ childhood, evil “lurked” on the radio show The Shadow, which provided the same devilish entertainment. I knew it was all fantasy and fun. Not until I grew older did it dawn on me that the shadow was real. It may not drink our blood and cast curses, but as Carl Jung reminds us, “everyone carries a shadow.” And it features prominently in the spiritual journey. That is why, in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy, “S” is for shadow. . . MORE
“In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.” ― Cynthia Rylant
For many of us, the end of November is littered with tall yard bags bulging with dry, brittle leaves. The heavy-laden bags are set out at the curb and picked up by big trucks in the early morning. We dust off our hands and heave a sigh of relief mixed with sadness. It’s over. The brilliance of fall waves goodbye in windy gusts of brown detritus. Nature now transitions—with a decided edge of melancholy—to ever-colder, darker days, culminating in the Winter Solstice.
The attenuated light seems to mirror our declining hopes for holidays-as-usual. In fact, this year will be quite different. We feel that instinctive need for family and friends more than ever this year because it has been, by all accounts, a tough year; yet, we know that to have loved ones outside the home around us now would be to perpetuate the virus and endanger everyone’s lives. Oh, the injustice of it all! But our cries get no sympathy from COVID-19. . . MORE
“We are more alive when we are actively involved with questing and questions. Keep moving. Keep crossing inner and outer borders. Keep asking.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spiritual Literacy
Over the years, Q, that once innocent letter of the alphabet, has been cruelly besmirched. Back in the 1980s, Star Trek began featuring a dastardly extra-dimensional being, Q, who could manipulate reality on a whim. Recently, Q has been co-opted by an unsavory conspiracy-theory group, QAnon, whose greatest accomplishment is illustrating the downfall of rational thinking in the U.S. To see Q continually fall to the dark side is disturbing beyond words, and so I feel the urgent need to restore Q’s good name. . . More