Monthly Archives: July 2020

Inner Peace

It is summer and summer for me means “ocean time”. This poem articulates how I feel at the ocean no matter how chaotic or stressful my life can be. The sun and waves calm me deep inside. I haven’t been to the ocean yet but I have my memories and moments of bliss at the ocean. The sun on my skin, the rhythm of the waves, the saltiness of the water, the cold rush on my feet and my laughter that gushes over at another story told by my friends. We each have these little moments of bliss that we tuck away, our souls recognize them. Don’t tuck away those memories too far away during this time. Even if you are not getting to your place of peace, know you can access your previous experiences and let them soothe your soul when things get rough.

Inner Peace

The wind whistles past my ears.
Closing my eyes, I lose all my fears.
The waves crash into the rocks.
Out here there is no time on my clock.

The serenity I feel here just soothes my mind.
A peaceful day so hard to find.
The breeze just calms my soul.
Helps me think about what is my life’s goal.

I then look out over the ocean,
And it feels like my life has lost its commotion.
The sun sets down over the clouds.
But the orange glow around makes me proud.

As the night draws near.
I feel like where I need to be is here.
The soothing nature this afternoon brings
Just feels like such a beautiful thing.

I sit and wonder where life will go,
But right now all I want is for time to slow.
To enjoy this moment and feel free,
To clear my mind and find some glee.

It’s days like these I truly treasure.
Amazing nights and beautiful weather.
It may not seem like much.
But it’s moments like these I want to clutch.

For once I feel like life is bliss.
So many hard days in which my happiness was missed.
I could get lost listening to the waves.
Listening to the birds and watching how the clouds behave.

I could close my eyes and fade into the night.
The tranquility I feel helps me win the fight.
As the waves keep crashing into the rocks,
I feel the happiness in my heart become unlocked.

The day is drawing to a close.
The peacefulness I feel right now I’ll only know.
Right now my mind is finally clear.
It’s time to go as the night draws near

Joshua Fraser, August 11, 2018

May you find just a moment of Bliss in your day or in your memories.
May you be the love you hope for the world.


Prayer for Uncertain Times

This prayer is from the Catholic Tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. Sometimes the sisters say it best and though this is back from March, I think it is a very honest prayer that can ground us in the longer view of our lives with an eye to those who have less. We include each other in this insightful prayer of hope. May a word or two pop out and give you a spark for your afternoon.. the word that arose for me is “courage”. I see it in you. I yearn for more of it.

May you be the peace you hope for the world.

A Prayer For Uncertain Times

March 17, 2020

God of infinite mercy, hear our prayer!
In this time of bewilderment and fear, we ask you to give us the courage to take care of one another. For those who are ill, especially those who are frightened and alone, for those who cannot access healthcare, for those who are homeless and lost, hear our prayer!

In the midst of our sadness and grief, we ask you to give us words to comfort one another. For those who are dying, and for those who have already died from this virus, for those who tend them and for those with no one to tend them, hear our prayer!

In the midst of our own anxiety we ask you to give us the courage to support one another as you would. For those who are unexpectedly unemployed, for employers who share what they can, for our government and financial institutions and those who lead them, hear our prayer!

In the midst of our struggle to ensure a healthy future for all who live on this planet, we ask you to give us the hope that surpasses our current understanding. For healthcare workers, spiritual leaders and our faith communities, for artists and poets, for prophets and teachers, hear our prayer!

In the midst of our growing awareness that all life on Earth is connected, we ask for the heart to respect and cherish all life. That all peoples recognize that we are all your children, hear our prayer!

We trust in you and your power working in us. Please hear and answer our prayers.

Sister Cynthia Serjak

All my best,

Meditation w/ Bill Bushnell

Back in March, before Barrows closed down but after we had stopped gathering, Rev. Kimberly Wootan recorded Bill leading Mindfulness Meditation in the chapel. You can watch it below. Bill leads a 25 minute meditation with reflection afterwards and closes with the Metta Prayer.

Grounding Ourselves

I remember as this was beginning when I would see residents who were out without their masks on and they’d see me with my mask on and would apologize: “oh, I am sorry I forgot to bring my mask.” I remember thinking and sometimes saying, “it’s ok, you were just going about as usual in very unusual times.” We’ve had to make a huge adjustment to a very strange new kind of living. And no matter how many times I pray, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” I go back and forth between accepting and raging against this “new normal.”

I found it helpful and I know others did as well – when I read trauma specialist, Jennifer Yaeger, name that what we are collectively going through is indeed trauma. And since it is a kind of trauma we are in the middle of, even though we find ourselves doing many of the things we might do on an ordinary summer – and perhaps we find stretches of time, maybe days, when we forget or at least seldom think about being in the middle of a global pandemic – for many of us it is difficult to not be reminded constantly that we are here, under pressure and a threat the like of which we had not ever had to live with before. And that is stressful, that is anxiety-inducing, that is indeed an ongoing experience of trauma.

So, though we may have to accept many of these things under the heading of “that which we cannot change,” we can also move to “courage to change the things we can.” And one of the closest and perhaps most important things we can change – is the responses we have to our reactions to the pain and stress this all causes. We can choose to have compassion on ourselves as we name the weight that this is and what this unusual strain can do to us. We can choose to have compassion on our families, coworkers, residents we care for, even the strangers on the street or in the grocery store.

We can choose to have compassion on ourselves for the burden that this is, and be understanding when we don’t feel the way we think we should, or can’t do the things we think we ought to, and when we need to we can muster courage to reach out for support – maybe by contacting EAP, or reaching out to someone we trust and can simply confide in. (And we here at Spiritual Care are always available to listen and support you – never hesitate to reach out).

I found this graphic put out by Trauma & Co. to be a helpful reminder that it’s ok to feel and experience the extraordinary feelings and experiences this time brings. Naming these reactions as ok goes a long way in lessening the unnecessary burden we can find ourselves carrying.

And so I offer this little grounding exercise by Marchaé Grair from the collection Michelle and I have been sharing this past week or so. I invite you take a few moments sometime today to read through and follow the instructions of this small ritual (you’ll find it helpful even if you aren’t in the middle of an anxiety attack).

Ritual During My Anxiety Attack

When my skin keeps crawling,
Wrap me in your loving embrace.
When my breath keeps quickening,
Give me sweet release.

Pause to bless something you hear, smell, see, touch, or taste.

When my weeping consumes my being,
Lead me toward self-compassion.
When the “what-ifs” feel too scary,
Help me stay present in your presence.

Pause to bless something you hear, smell, see, touch, or taste.

Tend to the undercurrents of emotions
That burst forward in ways beyond my control,
And release me from any grief and shame
I carry just for feeling my feelings.

Pause to bless something you hear, smell, see, touch, or taste.

Ground me in my divine resilience:
I am still here, I am still worthy.
Ground me in your divine companionship:
You are still here, I am never alone.

Repeat the final stanze as many times as needed.

Writer’s note: Engaging the five senses during an anxiety attack can lessen the symptoms and length of the attack.

I hope this week you can stay hydrated, and take good care of your emotions as well as the body that houses them as we continue to navigate this uncertain time together. The good news, is that we are more resilient and stronger than we ever can imagine, and especially when we open ourselves up to the connections outside of us that sustain us and always have.

May you be well and supported today and may the blessing of God or all that sustains you, Keep you safe, grant you peace and fill you with all that you need, just for today. Amen.


Blessing for Face Masks

Many of us have a complicated relationship with our face masks. I find most of my frustrations involve my glasses – steamed up lenses or glasses falling off if I’m not careful in taking off the mask. Sometimes the loops pull my ears in such a way that the glasses no longer sit snug and are constantly in a tenuous balance on the ears. (I suppose I should just look into contact lenses.)

So I want to offer a blessing for our face masks this morning. It comes from a collection of blessings that Michelle shared with me, written for this strange time of pandemic. Here we are, taking on this daily new article of clothing – a new decision about what and how to color coordinate, inspiring creative ways to drink our morning coffee as we work. Here we are in this new time. Let us, then, bless these face coverings, see them for what they are, for what they do, and then take on this “holy inconvenience” in love.

Blessing for a Face Mask
By Mary Luti

God of health and wholeness,
of neighbor love and kindness,
Bless this mask, my slight shield
Against great ills:

Bless the fabric that repels the drops,
The ties that go behind my ears,
The wire that fits snug against my nose,
The folds that cup my chin.

Make me grateful for my mask
Even when it makes me hot,
Even when I look funny in it,
Even when I’m dying to take it off.

Bless me also, and everyone
Who for their own and others’ sakes
Put on this holy inconvenience every day,
Our minds made up to love.

When Great Trees Fall

Yesterday I came back to my office with the need to express a very simple and very heartfelt lament. “Why does everyone have to die?” It’s a lament as old as my first memory of death, when I was four and saw my mother crying on the phone as she heard the news from the States about her mother’s passing while we were living in South Africa. I remember going to the funeral in Beloit, Wisconsin and dropping my matchbox car by accident into the hole they had dug for my grandmother and all of the tears came forth in this more tangible experience of loss for a four year old.

We ache anew with the fresh losses that come, and come, and each new one presses on the rest like old bruises. And we have also found after each one that something new comes again in the landscape of our being.

My 3 yr old son has been fascinated with volcanoes recently (hashtag parenting in times of disaster?) and we’ve been reading a book “Gopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story.” While so much of the landscape is devastated by the volcano’s eruption, gopher is digging and surviving and is the protagonist in the recovery of the ecosystem after the eruption, aerating the soil, providing shady spaces for emerging frogs and salamanders. It’s a beautiful story of what happens in a landscape after huge loss. And it’s been giving me hope. And I thought of that gopher, and about the resilience of our hearts to emerge anew after every loss as I read what Maya Angelou has so beautifully articulated in this poem. So I offer this to you with a word of solidarity – this is hard and disorienting, and the same healing that has carried us through before is carrying us through even this.

When Great Trees Fall
By Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance, fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
dark, cold

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

May you be well and supported today and may the blessing of God or all that sustains you,
keep you safe, grant you peace and fill you with all that you need, just for today. Amen.

– Rev. Joel Eaton

Luna Moth

I am a bit teary as Chuck Poirier just came by and shared this story from his daughter-in-law, Cindy, with me. I wanted to share it with you. It is quite incredible and if you don’t know what a Luna moth looks like, look it up. They are magnificent creatures.

We were at the cabin one weekend in June. I got up bright and early to take Hazel the dog for her morning walk. Business done, we returned to the cabin where I noticed a large leafy thing on the front door. I did not heart a storm overnight and was wondering how a leaf could have been blown so hard it struck to the door. As I got closer I realize tis was not a leaf at all, but a moth. A very large, green moth, about 4 inches long. It was amazing looking, like no moth I had ever seen before! I carefully opened the door, trying not to disturb the moth, and went inside to get my camera. Coming out again slowly, I took several pictures. The moth was so still I was wondering if it was dead but dared not touch it to find out. I did not was to scare it away before Mark got up and had a chance to see it. The moth stayed where it was on our front door. Mark got up and we were able to identify it as a Luna moth. The moth stayed with us all day, despite our going in and out the door many times. It’s position changed slightly from time to time so we knew it was alive. Darkness came. We walked the dog a last time and closed up for the night. The moth was still with us. By the next morning the Luna moth was gone. It struck me as odd that a moth would remain where it was for 24 hrs with all the movement and activity nearby. It seemed special somehow, like we were chosen to be blessed by its presence.

The following weekend we were back at the cabin with our friends Connie and Choy Leow. We were showing them pictures of the Luna mother and telling them about it’s stay with us. Connie told us that in Chinese culture when an animal comes and stays by you like that it is the spirit of your deceased loved one come back to visit you. I recalled that I had been thinking of the moth as if it were Pat visiting us. She had passed away only a month before. Mark recalled the same. While neither of us had spoken to each other of it, we had been thinking the same thing. That Chinese culture held this belief just reinforced what we felt in our hearts. Mark’s mom had come to say goodbye and leave us with a little reminder of the miracle and beauty of life.

Special thanks to Chuck Poirier for sharing Cindy’s lovely story.
May you be surprised by something beautiful and mysterious today.

May you be well,