Category Archives: community

Water Ballet at the Community Pool

Loyola Spirituality Center
As each person is awakened to the sacred in all life, 
the world is transformed.
“Celebrating Summer Solstice and Joining Loyola”
…During one summer of despair, I knew I had to dig deeper to find ways of connecting to the moment, and that is how I discovered what is now a favorite summer hangout – the outdoor community pool! I had taken my daughter there when she was little, but then when she became too cool for the pool, I got the urge to go alone one difficult day after work. I entered the deep end and then danced my own water ballet while kids splashed and screamed all around me and the sun beat down on my face. Something about the weightlessness of my body as I treaded and stretched as well as the otherworldly feeling when I swam beneath the surface made me feel especially connected to the moment and to my body, my spirit, my neighbors and my Creator. Going to the pool regularly became a part of my yearly summer rhythm. I let myself melt into the community waters and become one with all that is…..

 

Depressed? Connect!

Depression is disconnection.

Disconnection from:
self,     others,      the world around you      and      the great Mystery.
Medications and therapy ease the symptoms, but are not a cure.

You know that, right?

My guess is that every person reading this either takes, or knows someone who takes, anti-depressants and still experiences some level of depression.

Why? Because CONNECTION is the only path to relief.

Anti-depressants can give us the boost we need to get out of our ruts and seek connection,
but without that critical step – connection – there is no real end to the misery.

Need some ideas of what can connect you?

I have suggestions,
but the key is to do something mindfully,
meaning that you are present in the activity
rather than just trying to get through it or pass the time.

Connect to the moment.

Be present to the moment and clear in your intention.
If your intention is to connect with yourself,
then create something that releases your spirit onto a physical form – paper, clay, garden plot – even if just for your eyes only. Or move your body in a way that focuses your attention on how the air fills your lungs or the sun warms your face or each of your muscles pulls and releases. 
If your intention is to seek connection with others,
then be mindful during your interactions with others of feeling tenderness for each person. Dare to have deeply honest and meaningful conversations.
If your intention is to connect with the world around you,
then be present to the clouds, the grass, the birds.
If you intention is to seek connection with the great Mystery,
then let your mind soar into the space of your ancestors, the moment you came into being, or the source of all Love and Beauty.

You can connect by:

gardening, painting, writing, running, playing, volunteering at a senior living center, dancing, volunteering at an animal shelter, taking a slow walk in the forest as the trees graciously fill your lungs, performing your own water ballet in the deep end of the local pool, meditating, volunteering at a crisis nursery, praying, heart to heart talks with an old friend, heart to heart talks with a new friend, doing something for the sheer joy of it, reading a book that questions reality, watching a movie that shows you life through fresh eyes.

What works for you?

If this sounds overwhelming or you don’t know what will connect you and you don’t have the energy to find out –
then get the boost you need from medication, therapy –
and then take that next step towards
connecting yourself to what brings meaning to your life.

Women’s Marches Shifted the Earth

Yesterday mattered. Having worked with girls and young women for decades, I know this.

St. Paul, Minn. (David Joles /Star Tribune via AP)
Girls have been grabbed, groped and assaulted forever. Yet even though every girl’s mother, grandmother or sister can relate to the feeling of being sexually violated, every girl is still made to feel alone in her experience – singularly shamed, isolated, judged, dehumanized, slutty, guilty or bad in some way.

Generation after generation, we let our girls feel alone in their experience of sexual violation.

Providence, R.I. NYTCREDIT: Sait Serkan Gurbuz/ AP

Yesterday mattered. Millions of women and girls, on every continent – including Antarctica – made anti-grabbing, anti-rape culture signs and took to the streets.

Let that sink in for a moment: Millions around the world took to the streets and proclaimed that a man’s grabbing, groping and assaulting is not okay.

Sioux Falls,SD. NYTcredit: Joe Ahlquist/Argus Leader via AP

Millions spoke out against all forms of injustice, and wherever there is injustice – sexual violence exists.

Sexual violation of black and brown girls was legally sanctioned through slavery and accepted by their white sisters. 

Today, sexual slavery still thrives. FBI statistics tell us that the average age of those forced into prostitution is 12 – 14.

People who are most vulnerable to the whims of those in power – refugees without documents, poor women and girls, black and brown women and girls, LGBTQ youth – are also most vulnerable to sexual aggression on the streets as well as forced prostitution.

Prague, Czech Republic, 21 January 2017. NYTcredit: Martin Divisek/European Pressphoto Agency

Millions of people marched against these injustices yesterday.

I couldn’t be at the march, yet even watching from afar, I could feel the cultural shift. A seismic shift.

Yesterday, grabbing and groping became less culturally acceptable.

Yesterday, girls became less isolated in their experience.

Yesterday, girls learned that metaphorically “grabbing back” is a valid option.

Dublin, Ireland NYTcredit: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

That matters.

Sexual violation will still happen, and girls will still feel alone – but a little less so.

Boise, Idaho (Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman via AP)

Yesterday was a Spirit Full day.

NYTCREDIT: Chang W. Lee/The NYT

Legacies

  • I’m watching an American Experience episode about Walt Disney on PBS. He certainly was a flawed human, but I’m fascinated by his early designs and models of Disneyland and how deeply satisfied he was when his vision finally came to fruition. He kept an apartment underneath Disneyland’s Main Street USA, and could be found walking the park early mornings in his bath robe.

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  • Six months after Prince’s sudden death, people are flying across the globe to visit his home and studio, hear the music he was creating and absorb his energy. Just as he had hoped.

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  • A few days ago, I met with a dear 90 year old friend, who after serving as an important spiritual and meditation mentor for decades in our city, is retiring out of town. She presented me with beautifully printed booklets of her writings and icon paintings.
  • Meanwhile, a dear longtime friend, my age, has entered into hospice care. The trees around her house are filling with ribbons placed by friends and loved ones, each bearing a blessing for her. Messages are pouring into the house, telling stories of how she has impacted the lives of others and positively influenced her community. I read some of the messages aloud to her, and she smiled.

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As I sit here only middle aged and in fine health, I can’t help but wonder:

What can I do for my loved ones and my community?

What can I create that will surpass me?

I also wonder about the connection between the quality of the relationships we nurtured, the work we’ve done in our communities, the creativity we brought to life – and our comfort with death and dying.