Monthly Archives: November 2020

Reflection from Kimberly

Anger-

It is hard sometimes not to get angry. Nonetheless, I have learned in my meditation practice that the feeling under anger is mostly fear. Fear of the things I can’t control. Fear of loss. During the upcoming holidays it can be easy to slip into anger…..at people’s behavior or lack of caution. It is easy to get angry at all the things and people who are “not being safe during the holidays”.

Yet I believe we are called to love, over and over again. MY anger is a shield that I need to drop so that I can see the fear, label it and let it go. When I live in fear it is like being stuck in the mud with big boots. The more I pull the harder the mud holds on till at last it lets go with a big whose and I fall into the abyss of dirt, water and slim. I know that when I am stuck it is better to take stock, move slowly, and to gently pull my boots out at an angle.

These steps work well for anger. Gentleness is the best way to confront it. This is the path of love and compassion. When we see others through a lens of compassion we are set free, when we move intentionally with creativity, not to be taken advantage of or hurt but to acknowledge the humanity in all of us we see the divine in the situation.

So I offer a prayer for the understanding of one of the harder emotions (adapted) from Marianne Williamson:

Dear God,
Take from me my rage.
I feel such anger from my pain, my frustration,
and my disappointment.
I throw my anger in so many inappropriate
places.
I do not contain it or use it creatively.

Dear God,
Please grant me serenity and peace that I might
know my power within my peace.
Transmute my rage, transform my anger that I
Might not direct it against other and myself,
that it might be undone,
Unraveled through the grace of God.
Where I am focusing on someone’s guilt, please
show me their true heart, for I know that my
attack on them is my own undoing.
I am willing to see everyone’s inner heart.
Please show it to me.
Thank you.
Bless us all.
Amen

Reflection from Michelle

I have to say this is what we do well at HHH…hospitality of the heart. I know this cultural value starts with the residents.
AND it is the staff that lives and breaths it back to them.
As you may be feeling the weariness and weight of the struggles of life in this time and place, stand up proud.
You are part of a community that knows something about hospitality of the heart. You are valued and appreciated in your part of it.

A poem
for your reflection

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
That a spring was breaking
Out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
Water of new life
That I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
That I had a beehive
Here inside my heart,
And the golden bees
Were making white combs
And sweet honey
From my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
That a fiery sun was giving
Light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
Warmth as from a hearth
And sun because it gave light
And brought tears to my eyes..

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
That it was God I had
Here inside my heart.

By Antonio Machado

Be the tenderness you hope for the world, first to yourself, then to your beloveds and then to your enemies and then beyond and beyond.

Reflection from Kimberly

One thing I like about prayers is that they are adaptable to circumstance and intent. Well known prayers also change across denominations. The way we said the Lord’s prayer in my catholic church was not the way my father and brothers said it in their Mormon church. Nonetheless, whatever our beliefs prayer in times like these; as numbers climb and we are worries increase, can help us cope within the moment. As the holiday season starts I’ll be sharing a few of my favorites from multiple sources. Below is a rendition of the Lord’s Prayer translated from Aramaic by Douglas-Klotz.

Our Father who art in heaven:

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, you create all that moves in light.

Hallowed be thy name

Focus your light within us — make it useful: as the rays of a beacon show the way.

Thy kingdom come

Unite our “I can” to yours, so that we walk as kings and queens with every creature.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Create in me a divine cooperation — from many selves, one voice, one action.

Give us this day our daily bread

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

Forgive our hidden past, the secret shames, as we consistently forgive what others hide.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

Deceived neither by the outer nor the inner — free us to walk your path with joy.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

From you is born all ruling will, the power and life to do, the song that beautifies all from age to age it renews. Amen.

Reflection from Joel

Sometimes life these days feels like a broken record. I remember comparisons to Groundhog Day people made early on – “what do we need to do differently to magically move forward?!” We find ourselves with so many questions in our hearts and minds – and feeling overwhelmed at times by the energy that seems required of us to work, to care for our families and loved ones.

As I was thinking about the long and sustained effort that living during this time is requiring of us, especially those of us working in places like HHH, the words of the prophet Isaiah came to mind: “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

No sooner had I typed out these lines from Isaiah (this is the way my mind works) then the song “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes came into my head.

Like Brittany, who wrote the song, we find ourselves overwhelmed by life – and the pandemic is an intensifier of our already existing troubles. We find ourselves at times feeling stuck and like giving up. And then if we wait, if we let the dust settle for a moment, we often can hear a still, small voice, “Someone up above, saying ‘Come on, Brittany, you got to get back up.”
You got to hold on.”

We “don’t want to wait, but we “gotta wait.” And remember that love and care is what brought us into the work to begin with – and while our resources can be exhausted, the energy of love in which we live, move, and have our being, what many of us call God – is not exhausted. And will not be overcome by any adversity – if we can find ways to stay connected or reconnect to that deeper source of our life – we will find it a little less overwhelming to keep on caring and keep on loving. Meditation, walking mindfully are ways to reconnect – and prayer too.

So this morning I offer you this blessing from writer Kate Bowler:

“a blessing for the cost of continuing to care”

oh God, this pandemic is eclipsing more of our lives
as the year unfolds, and caring well is going to cost us

oh God sustain us.
help us bear the cost of kindness
when it keeps us apart

God have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Spirit have mercy.

love always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:7)

God have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Spirit have mercy.

blessed are we,
weary from the complicated math of this continuing pandemic,
bone-tired from trying to understand what we have to do,
how we need to pivot
to manage our lives,
and take care of each other.

blessed are we, adjusting our eyes to the light of this new normal,
realizing that as one season has blended into the next,
there are coming decisions we hoped we would never have to make.
we are in this for the long haul.

blessed are we, living in this strange new space, the liminality
between what used to be, and what now is,
between what used to be possible, and what now isn’t.
we are adjusting, adjusting, adjusting,
and reality has sat us down and told us plainly
that things have changed.
we are starting to understand.

blessed are we, willing to start the hard conversations, do the long division,
and begin the slow thinking about the holidays, and those most vulnerable.

blessed are we who understand
that kindness can’t look the same this year, can’t feel the same,
but it still counts as love. eversomuch.
it’s in the eyes of the family members sharing virtual feasts,
in the faces of nurses who register relief when they see someone wearing a mask,
and in the relaxed hello of neighbors when people wave, but keep their distance,
in the grateful body language of workers when people are respectful.

blessed are we who choose kindness
until the storm passes.

God have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Spirit have mercy.

take a deep breath. help is coming.
just do what is gently possible.

“love is patient; love is kind.”
(1 Corinthians 13:4)

Reflection from Michelle

Yesterday, the US hit 250000 Covid 19 deaths. Yikes that is a ton of lives lost and I have also been feeling the losses for those families and communities. We in our own small circle continue to experience losses of loved ones not even in that number or plague. It is heavy.
A lament is a prayer searching for understanding and peace in the midst of suffering. The Hebrew Bible psalmists and prophets wove many such prayers of lament into their writings.
Below is a prayer of lament over the coronavirus pandemic.
Hear our cry, Almighty Creator. Listen to our prayer. How long will we have to hide in our homes from this invisible enemy? Where will it strike next? And whom? And what if…? Our screens relay a continuous escalation of suffering and death around the world. Panic and anxiety abounds. Our souls are weary from the strain of the life-altering unknowns.
Source of Our Being, from the depths of our pain and confusion, we cry out to You. From fear-filled hearts and anxious minds, we plead with You. Rescue us, God of compassion and grace. We lift up our eyes to You, the One who promises steadfast love.
On all who have contracted the virus, have mercy
On all who have lost loved ones to this sickness and are in mourning and anguish, have mercy
On all who are unable to earn an income because their jobs have been suspended, have mercy

We cry out for healing and needed resources
We cry out for comfort and peace
On all medical professionals and caretakers attending to those infected with the virus, have mercy
On all scientists and technologists striving to find a vaccine and to make it available, have mercy
On all leaders of institutions and governments as they make decisions to try and contain the virus, have mercy

We pray for strength in the long and exhausting hours of labor
We pray for wisdom in the research and difficult decisions
On all who have not yet contracted the virus, have mercy
On the most vulnerable of our society who are unable to buy extra food or get proper medical attention, have mercy
On all those who follow the way of Love discerning how to reflect goodness to others within this crisis, have mercy

We plead for protection of health
We plead for all to remain calm and kind
Life is sacred and precious in your sight. You are the God Who sees us and sustains us.

Nothing can separate us from the Your unfailing love and kindness, not even sickness or the fear of tomorrow. You are our Light as we walk in this darkness. We will remember to celebrate the beautiful gifts You have given us in this present moment.

Almighty God, You are our Rock, our Refuge, our hiding place.
You calm our frantic thoughts and fill our despairing hearts with joy and strength.
In Your Presence living water springs forth in the wilderness.
You restore our souls. Amen.

Be the hope you hope for the world. When you are weary, lean in and on the power of love.

Reflection from Joel

Mark Miller composed this song, “I Believe,” as he was grappling with a despairing time in his life.

The words, anonymous, were said to have been found inscribed on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany where Jews were hiding from Nazi persecution.

I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.

I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.

I believe in God even when God is silent.

I wonder how the person who scribed that on the cellar wall struggled to find that clarity of hope – that resolution not to give up. I wonder if there were several there debating whether all was truly lost for them. At some point the person, or the people huddled in that dark place wrote out their creed – and it continues to ring through the ages.

I invite you to take a moment to listen to this song – and let the words and the heart of the music speak a fresh reminder to you that beauty and goodness are deeper than the fear and despair that can cloud our minds, and love is carrying us through even when we don’t feel it.  

Reflection from Michelle

Lovely video from Leading Age in appreciation for all of us.
(Jane, Thank you for sharing it!)

Courage don’t you dare fail me now.

A bonus video from Kelly Clarkson and Pentatonix

Bring me a higher love…. Sing it out!!!

Root yourself in song and your heart will be in good stead…

Be the courage and the love you hope for the world.

Warmly,
Michelle

Reflection from Michelle

In the cold of November, the skies at night are incredible (if you can get away from the light noise). My eyesight isn’t as good as it was and one of things I miss is seeing the night sky with the clarity of my younger self. But the night sky can be such a blanket of light some nights or a dark blanket bringing all things close. The questions tend to quiet in my mind and heart in this night time.
I invite you to enjoy the night sky this week, get out and let the beauty of the night sky burn away the weariness of the bright day. When I go out with the dogs for their last trip out at night, I pause and look up…. Sometimes I even gesture to the heavens, the planets and stars and galaxies swirling above us. The universe can make us feel very small and it can make us feel precious…. and everything in between.
The night sky… ah…

A Psalm of My (Our) Whereness by Edward Hays (Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)

The question “Where have I come from?”
Rises up and haunts me;
Lingering, it floats like a flower
From somewhere deeper than I know,
In the place where I am held to the divine breast,
The voice of God echoes in reply:
“You, my beloved one,
Were hidden in my heart
Before your sun burned bright.
“You were the dream of my delight
Before the Earth was born
Of the dust of long-dead stars.
“Before I shaped a single star,
I nursed you with the essence of my life.
“In my great lap I play with your infinite childlike form
And gazed with love upon your original face,
The mirror form of my own image.
“I laughed with delight at the marvel of your being,
The flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.
“And you laughed with glee as I winked,
As the four winds sprang to life
And suns like dandelions
Lit up the dark lawn of space.
“Where did you come from? O my child,
You in whom Live all my hopes and loves,
You came from me.”

You are woven into the cosmos in love. Be the peace you hope for the world.

Be well.
Michelle

Reflection from Kimberly

We never know where and when understanding will come into our lives. This week we celebrated Veterans Day and Monday I came in and was proud to be a part of the program we did for our veterans here at HHH. Wednesday, like so many of who help or work in health services, I worked and was able to talk to a few of the veterans that I know about their experiences during WWII, the Korean war and even Vietnam. I know you all hear those stories too. The heartache and the loss brought to mind by the heartache and loss we are facing now in this time of a pandemic.

Trauma, is one of those things that doesn’t always soften with time. Healing from trauma is complicated and messy. We experience this here among the other staff and residents as well as in ourselves. Nevertheless, healing can happen. And from my perspective it takes more than Talking or family and friends to facilitate it. Community is just as important.

Last night my son participated in a culminating performance (on zoom) of adapted Greek tragedies and poems written and performed by veterans who had seen battle. It was through a program called Warrior Bards and it was organized through the California State Colleges. After the program there was a chance for the veterans, teachers and audience to have a question and answer time. It was moving. As a chaplain I could see the value of the shared experience between the teachers and bards. As a mother I could experience how healing it was for my son and family.

We, the other chaplains and I, have been thinking about what we will do after the pandemic to heal from the trauma some of us are experiencing now. We don’t have any definitive answers but know that we are thinking, brainstorming and looking for ways that we can help after. This will take the whole community. We all will have a part to play. Last night I saw one program that I would like to adapt. In the meantime we go on. Here is an excerpt of my son’s poem:

Separation

We Wait.
We get really good at waiting
Professional you might say
Every day we wake up, get ready, and head to formation
Where, We Wait.

15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior to the 15 min prior – has us standing by half the day
And, We Wait.

Counting down the days until we get home

As we wait for…..whatever comes next know that you are not alone. We are here together and there will come a time of healing. As we move closer to the holidays and dream of all the things we will miss, the things we have lost we can also dream of the days when it will be our turn to heal. Heal from the separation, loss and heartache. Together we can grow by our commonality with all who experience this time.

This is the lesson my son, the warrior bard, has taught me.

Reflection from Michelle

Is this the darkness of the tomb, or of the womb? I don’t know. All I know is that the only way we will endure is if each of us shows up to the labor. —Valarie Kaur

I grew up listening to Leo Buscalia on PBS when I was in junior high school. (I know I know what a nerd). He captivated me the way he explored to multi-dimensions of the word “Love”. It was a seed that has continued to grow to move away from the sentimental, purely emotional definitions to something richer and deeper, more about how the holy moves and heals, more about ethical action and intentions. Do you need to reclaim “Love” for your own life?

Today from Fr. Richard Rohr’s daily meditation  he lifts up a new voice Valarie Kaur who is currently reclaiming, deepening and complexing the idea of “Love”.

“Love” is more than a feeling. Love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life-giving—a choice we make over and over again. If love is sweet labor, love can be taught, modeled, and practiced. This labor engages all our emotions. Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.

“Revolutionary love” is the choice to enter into wonder and labor for others, for our opponents, and for ourselves in order to transform the world around us. It is not a formal code or prescription but an orientation to life that is personal and political and rooted in joy. Loving only ourselves is escapism; loving only our opponents is self-loathing; loving only others is ineffective. All three practices together make love revolutionary, and revolutionary love can only be practiced in community.

Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World: 2020), xv–xvi, xvii.

A prayer for us:

All that is Holy and Grace-filled,
Help us to open to Love
That it may heal our broken places
Help us to open to Love
That we might reach across aisles, across streets, across borders
Help us to open to Love
That we might step in the shoes of our nemesis and understand
Help us to open to Love
That we might stay curious and open (even when it hurts)
Help us to open to Love
That we might let the stars spark light in our darkness
Help us to open to Love
That it empower us to love one another in fresh ways. Amen.

Be the Love you hope for the world and allow Love to embrace you in times of challenge.

Be well,
Michelle L DeCoste