Tag Archives: connection

The Loudly Beating Heart of 2017

Evelyn de Morgan “Aurora Triumphans”

Right now, we are the woman draped in roses in this painting. The trumpets are sounding for the dawn of the new year. 2017 crawls away. Soon, we will have no choice but to get up, get moving and create 2018.

But first, we rest in the liminal space of what was and what will be.

Perhaps my reflections from this liminal space will bring to mind gifts you received in the passing year…

In 2017, I joined the team of spiritual directors at Loyola Spirituality Center in St Paul, MN and listened to the spiritual journeys of people ranging in age from 18 to 67, from atheists to Christian clergy.

It’s hard to articulate just how much I love this work I do, how much I love each person who comes to my office or home to share glimpses of their heart.

While the outside world of 2017 was ugly on many levels, my work as a spiritual director keeps me tapped into the beauty of the human heart. In one way or another, each seeker reveals to me their earnest desire to be more…  (genuine, balanced, whole, loving, mindful, thoughtful, open-hearted, joyful, close to the Divine, aligned with their true gifts and purpose and so on.)

It is this ache to embody the fullness of who we really are that is so beautiful, and I get to witness it daily.

Also in 2017, I spent months assisting a friend through her dying process. I walked her through her fears, held her during her final night and the next day I offered a blessing during her bedside service. I stayed there in her house with her loved ones all through the next day too, and when I finally emerged out into the public – a grocery store, to be exact  – I was nearly knocked over with love for the first stranger I saw. It was weird, because at first I pictured this stranger dead, and then I saw his light shining within and all around him

and then my heart felt “we are exactly the same” – this man of a different age, race, gender and size than me – we all have these bodies that we carry around and we are all the same light.

I guess spending so much time in that veil between the physical and spiritual realm gave me a glimpse of this reality in a visceral, visible way. That is the greatest gift I received in 2017, and I credit the expansively loving nature of my beautiful friend who died.

In sum, 2017 cracked open my heart and more fully connected me to the hearts of others. That was not my goal or new year’s resolution, it is just what happened. Less poetic things happened too – financially, physically, etc – but my expanded heart and the gift of a vocation that makes it beat louder and stronger all the time keeps everything else in perspective.

What gift of awareness did 2017 bring you?

Happy New Year, Everyone and

may 2018 bring you closer to embodying the fullness of who you really are!

Are you interested in trying a spiritual direction session?

Email me at carolyn@loyolaspiritualitycenter.org



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.

Connecting Our Kids To the Wonders Of the World

The world is much bigger than it seems on the internet. My first real glimpse into the vastness of place and possibility happened when I was small and trapped in the front seat of a pickup truck with my Mom, Dad and two German Shorthair dogs as we drove from Chicago to Florida.

I remember listlessly leaning my face against the window glass, staring at mile after mile of telephone wires strung across field after field. Boredom surpassed all known limits before exploding into a loop of sing songy nonsense rhymes and visions of an imagined life lived differently than anything I knew.

Then we were at the ocean and I was running right into the sensory tsunami of salty waves, fishy smells, and hissing white foam. My spirit burst with the contrasts of life, the vastness of the physical world and all that I might someday do and see.

Not long after I became a parent, I drove my newly adopted daughter from our Minneapolis home to my cousin’s house in Madison, Wisconsin. Twenty minutes into our trip, she saw the “Welcome To Wisconsin” sign and exclaimed “We’re here!”

“Yes, we’re in Wisconsin, but we have another 3 1/2 hours to Sheryl’s house,” I said cheerily.

“But you said she lived in Wisconsin and now we’re in Wisconsin.”

“We are now on the edge of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a big place. Sheryl lives in the middle of it.”

Blank stare, then “But you said we were going to Wisconsin.”

I put in our audio book and half listened while I thought about how to teach my daughter about our world.


From the beginning of our relationship, I established a rhythm of pointing out something cool every time we went outside. “Hear that? It’s a cardinal?” “Look at how pink the sky is!” “The snow is so pretty on the tree branches!”

After many weeks of this repetition, she began to look up from the fog of her grief and trauma and notice cool things on her own to point out to me. “That’s a turkey!”

(Now it is nine years later, and just last week she dragged me out in my pajamas to look at the full moon. I could not have been more proud.)

Our first Christmas together, I gave her a talking globe. She is proud of her memorization skills, and loved beating me in games of naming the countries and capitals. “Look how teeny Wisconsin is to the rest of the world!”

We began to take longer road trips together – with (almost) no screens and audio books that we heard together. So far, we have driven cross-country four times. K has taken a boat to see whales and pods of dolphins leaping around her. We have laughed outside in a sudden downpour near Niagara Falls, been lost in the north woods of U.P. Michigan and bored senseless on the highways of Indiana.

I think boredom is important. It gives us a glimpse into infinity, it makes us wonder, it helps us experience the size of our world and it creates a contrast with simple pleasures that we might otherwise not see.

When my daughter was little, there were many tear-filled nights when she could not sleep. Here is a bedtime story I told to soothe her:

“I remember the first time I went to the ocean–I was about seven or eight, I think. I stood in the water and looked out to where the sky touches the sea and I felt very, very small. Very small, but in a good way. Small in the sense that this big, beautiful world is so huge, that I will never run out of new things to see, new places to go, new adventures to have. I felt small and young with a whole big world and a whole lifetime ahead of me and knew then that the ocean would always be my favorite place to be.

And now I look out into the endless sea, and think about all of the whales and dolphins and multicolored fish and who knows what else that fills the oceans and how most of these creatures will never even be seen by human eyes. They exist because a Creator chose to fill the oceans with beautiful living things. And the whole world is filled with beautiful creatures, and trees, and flowers and people, too. We could never run out of places to explore, sights to discover or wonderful new people to meet. There is so much good in this world.”

Helping K fall asleep with a smile on her face felt better than running into the ocean that first time.

(Before you think “What a great mom!” read this disclaimer.)

Image courtesy of http://www.h3dwallpapers.com/world-in-hands-5758/