Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Year and Spiritual Retreats...


My walk on a rare cloudy day...
Happy New Year my follow Pilgrims.

I hope your holidays were filled with the light and love that only comes from the warmth of the Divine. I have had a beautiful season. My mother was visiting from December 16 to January 16. We celebrated Christmas, New Year and her youngest grandchild's 10th birthday. It's hard to believe that my baby is 10.

So after saying goodbye to my mom and trying to locate and pack away the last of the errant Christmas decorations, I finally cleared my schedule for a few minutes alone with all of you. I have so many things to share about my plans for this year; but for now I thought I would share some details of the inner workings of my daily faith life.

I don't know about you; but there have been times when I thought I was doing this prayer thing all wrong. Honestly, I don't meditate everyday, don't sit down with Scripture for even a few minutes most days. I admit sometimes I choose sleep over prayer, or coffee with a girlfriend or even just to watch something mind-numbing streaming on my screen.  So the question becomes, how do you stay connected with the Divine when so much noise and distractions are surrounding your daily journey?

First, we need to re-frame what most of us consider time with the Divine. I'm not sure why, but many of us have grown-up believing that prayer time needs to be in a house of worship. While that can be a beautiful place to pray and for some among us, it centers us quickly, it's not always the best place. For many of us with Beauties, going to a service for years was part wrestling match, part hairy eye balls; washed down with many threats. A wonderful way to meet the face of the Creator.

Just this past Sunday; my family of four was so irritated with one another I replied while getting ready for church:  "We all need to talk to Jesus, because I don't have anything nice to say to any of you right now."

We then spent the 10 minute drive to Mass flicking and bickering with each other.  Mass was an hour where we couldn't talk to each other--which was a gift.  I'm happy to report that we were all smiling well before communion. I take great comfort in knowing, I'm not alone in having a bad day with my Beauties.

Which gets me back to your prayer life. Sometimes I'm distracted. So creating the space where I can be open to hearing the voice of the Divine can be tricky.

One of the best things about the move has been my ability to spend time outside year around. Before the move, I literately spent months inside in bed; too sick to move. The more temperate climate has changed my life. Within my neighborhood is a protected wild life preserve, Jeffrey created a simple walk for me that is a couple of miles. It's an easy walk, but filled with such beauty, mountain views, a small lake, birds and plants I have never seen. The walk brings me peace for which I had been searching--this special place is my Spiritual retreat.  I leave everyone and go for a lovely walk meeting the Divine in every view.

What makes this walk a retreat is my smartphone. Crazy as it sounds, it's an integral part of my walk. From the music I play, to the meditations, or even the podcasts by religious thinkers. My i-phone connects me to the Divine on this walk.

Many of us aren't smartphone savvy; I admit I'm not the best on my i-Phone; but it's easy to find great tools on the App Store.  One of my favorite apps is "On Being with Krista Tippet", which includes podcasts of Krista interviewing speakers that I love like Fr. Richard Rohr, Fr. James Martin and others.  Or I simply download some Gregorian Chants to help me meditate on my walk. Each of these offer me an escape. Each offer me a beautiful walk with a friend. Here is the best part, most of the podcasts are free! If you are looking for a new way to change your prayer life, look no further than to technology to connect you with voices you need to hear.  I also like that it's a two-fer, I'm getting sunshine, fresh air and building my prayer life.

So consider it my New Year's Gift to you... Enhancing your prayer life is as easy as a walk and a listen.

Till we catch up on the trail again. All my love my Pilgrims

Xo
Kathryn
The Pilgrimage Gal


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Christmas...

Santa Barbara Mission at Christmas...

On Friday my mother and I attended a mini-retreat at the Mission. The retreat covered one of my favorite readings. The reading from Luke on the birth of Christ.

In case your forgot or don't know it...

Luke 2:1-14

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.""



What I find so moving about this reading is well..., it's frankly so ordinary. Of all the mysteries of faith, this is so easy to understand. A young woman giving birth to a child. Perhaps that is why it still moves me each and every time I encounter it. I can imagine a young woman suddenly in labor: no ER, no midwife, no doctor available--It happens everyday in the world. It is the most simple of concepts, but no other event in our history has a more profound meaning. Perhaps that is why every Christmas Eve when I stand in my most uncomfortable but stunning shoes and hear this reading--I ugly cry.

You see, I look around in whatever church I have the good fortune to attend and I see myself in every face. I see my beauty and my brokenness, my love, my pain, my hurt and hope. In friends, in strangers, in my family, in the face of my Beauties, my husband and my mother. I see my faith, my community...

I'm reminded as always, that we are all saints and sinners.

I see little ones so excited they can't sit still, I see babies sleeping on parents, I see proud grandparents, I see the elderly couples sharing what may be their final Christmas mass together on this earth. I see young love and hearts that hunger for love.

I see Christ in every-face.

The folks who are in church to please, and faces that are in the same pew every Sunday, and I see the beauty of little ones having their first Christmas.

This my fellow Pilgrims is what Christmas is for me... The Community of Saints.

I have but one thought to offer you this Christmas. For those of you searching for a little comfort, for those of you searching the world to find the Divine, for those of you looking for a love to complete you. You already have it.

You see as you search to find the Divine, the Divine is already here. In you and in me. You just have to be willing to open the door, the door that sticks just a bit. To open yourself to the places in your heart you don't feel comfortable opening. That place that you think is dark, scary and unlovable. Because it is that place Pilgrims, that place that you can't imagine love, is where you meet God.

You see there is a similar place in a small and dirty stable in Bethlehem where God chose to share his unending love with us. It's in that stable where Christ became one with us. I often find it surprising that folks don't realize that God is in them, that love is God. That God is joy. That in community we support, we walk together, we serve, we are the face of God to one another and that God is in us.

So as you rush and run, wrap and toil, clean, make the beds and set the table, as you iron the dresses and shirts for your prince and princesses; remember God is with you, in you and around you always. That HIS love shines on us....

Remember that the beautiful translation of the Hebrew word Emmanuel is; "God is with us," and that, is the true meaning of Christmas.

May the light of the Holy Christmas season shine on you and all you love today and always.

Merry Christmas.

Kathryn
PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal