Angry With The Divine...

Looking for the Divine at the beach...

Happy Thanksgiving, hope it was beautiful and magical and you had way to much pie. It's my favorite holiday of the entire year. It honestly is, I just love a meal with the people I love surrounding me. I especially love eating pie with coffee the day after.

My endless love to any of you who had a less than stellar Thanksgiving.

I received messages late yesterday and early this morning from three women that I adore. Each shared with me some tough news. Ugh, men behaving badly and sick grandparents are NOT what any of us want for the holidays.

But, the third call brought me to my knees.

I got a text from one of my most trusted inner circle. A simple text asking if I could chat. It was the perfect time, I was cooking in the kitchen still in pjs at 9am and there is nothing more delightful than a good post big weekend gossip session. I dialed immediately.

Now I have a quirk that most of my close friends know about me and find enduring... when I hear them answer on the other end, I begin my banter. I don't say, "Oh, Hi so-so and so how are you, blah, blah," I just jump in with some funny quip, mid story...." And just as we normally do I did that with my bestie.  But, she cut me off saying something to the affect of, "We don't have time for this, I need to tell you something." My first thought was it was her mom. My bestie has had an "Annus Horribilis" for all you non-Latin scholars its "horrible year".  I can't wait for December 31 to call her with champagne, telling her how happy I am to kick 2016 to the curb. All done 2016 for you!

Let me sum it up, three weeks ago she had shoulder surgery on HER BIRTHDAY, because it was the only day free with all the other stuff going on. Let me also share that my bestie is no martyr, she didn't have surgery as a woe is me. Honestly, it was the only free day in her life that she could schedule surgery. Cross off family dinner and cake, get her broken shoulder fixed. Check and check. Well you are starting to get the image, she has had a horrible go of it. With all of us, when life throws us a curve ball it's never the ball that stops you in your tracks. No, its most often that the ball knocks all the other things that are teetering, and it's that force that tips your precarious life out of whack--And so it was with this call.

So I stop mid banter and she blurts out the news. I will only share that it was a medical diagnosis related to one of her four children. It's a game changer. A life long medical diagnosis. It was a sucker punch to the gut. We have been here, it's familiar and its primal. It's not something that you ever get a day off from. It's the diagnosis that fills me with such rage that I want to break every glass, dish and plate in my entire kitchen.

This is the kind of friend that I am... She shares the news and my first response was not, "I'm so sorry, how are you? How are the girls?  Your husband?"  Nope if you want that in my friendship, call someone else... Because, she got, "WELL THAT IS (insert F-ing expletive) UNACCEPTABLE!  THAT IS NOT (insert F-ing expletive) OK!"

(If you want to see the expletive in all its NSFW glory, read my earlier post where I describe its use in detail...  

LINK

)

And her reaction to me was something along the lines of, "I knew if anyone would understand it would be you..." And she laughed her beautiful laugh and thanked me for just dropping our favorite curse word like you would say hello and telling her that I loved her a few hundred times.

We spent the next few minutes getting the specifics. The trip to the hospital, and checking in on everyone. Now I love these four girls as my own. I love these girls without limits... Perhaps it's because I love their mother so deeply.  Interspersed throughout our conversation was the ever present expletive.

We just let it rip. Locker rooms would have blushed to hear us...

And in the course of this 15 minute phone call we had mentally escaped, sitting in a bar, drinking shot after shot, smoking cigarettes, the cigarettes just dangling out of our lips as we cursed, feet up on the table, spitting on the floor, getting angry drunk. And of course, beating up every tough guy who looked at us sideways.

For a few short minutes we were raw, numb and unrestrained...

Which means I now need to dust off my soap-box.  I've said it before and will say it till every person on the planet stops putting that meme up on social media and needlepoint-it on pillows:

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle."

Bull-shit. Bullllllllll-shit. (Sorry for letting an expletive slip through, but I'm a little fired-up.)

Sometimes this life gives us more than we can handle. It's just that simple and in these moments, you had better get good and angry with the Divine. When I get angry with the Divine-- I'm always talking to a male image. I have a much easier time getting mad at men, just being honest.

But hold that thought for just a second...

Small tangent:

I want to share, one philosophical understanding of the soul with all of you. It comes from my friend Bob, who is in my prayer group. He maintains that when the Divine makes each of us, he takes a peace of his God-ness and places it in each one of us. I have interpreted that concept to mean our souls are part Velcro, the Divine is one part and we are the other. We move through the world as 1/2 a piece of Velcro, and when we die we return to heaven where we stick to God. It does jive with that understanding that we are all, "made in the image and likeness of God."

I have gone to take it even further, if our souls are part Velcro, perhaps we can share parts of our souls with others here in our lifetime. When we love, we give part of our soul to our friends and love ones, and that part of us connects with theirs and we glob together in a big Velcro ball.

In my soul, I can often feel that sacred connection with those I love most.  It is that sacred connection that I feel with my bestie, which is why I was so angry. I was filled with such profound sadness for her, that her life is really stinking hard. And I was pointless to ease her suffering.

After hanging up, Jeff walked through the kitchen--I told him I needed to go to the beach and pray. I was furious, absolutely furious.

It is in these moments that many ask, "What is the point of believing in God, if life is going to be like this?"

And my answer is always the same, because we can meet the Divine in the lowest moments too.

And today I met the Divine on a beach in California... and we had much to discuss.

I got to the beach and put in my earbuds and went walking with The Rolling Stones, Eagles and Joe Cocker blaring in my ears. Each song was as angry as I was.  The sky was grey, the wind was blowing, and the waves were crashing. I could look out on the edge of the horizon where the sky was clear, sunny even, with soft clouds and endless sun, but I was in a different place and the contrast was stark.

Halfway into my walk the wind was so strong it was pushing me back, I noticed a few yards away from the surf a bend in the sandstone cliff--which could protect me from the strong wind. I ducked up against the cliff and dropped down onto the sand. To my left the cliff was my protection, my refuge from the wind and I could sit and focus my attention on the ocean. And for a long time, I sat and watched the wind and the surf claw toward the shore. I could feel the ferociousness of the wind, the anger of ocean as she formed the waves, and then witnessed the rage as each wave crashed onto the beach. When I was walking, I could see the tiny shards of shell that were littering the beach. It was the same intensity at which I would have shattered every dish in my kitchen. Nature had mirrored my rage and tossed it at my feet.

As I watched the waves, the wind would hurl towards me, casting sand in every direction, I would bow my head down, and yet the sand would still sting my face, my lips were coated with sand, and my mouth was gritty with the taste of salt. But I continued to sit, and listen, and then in the midst of all of the noise, deep in my soul, the voice of the Divine spoke to my soul.

"Don't you think I'm angry too?  Let me show you how angry. Watch all of this creation and see my rage. Look at the ocean, feel my presence in the wind, feel the cold in your bones." 

I never have had an encounter with the Divine in which I understood the depths of the power of God. That in my suffering, I was missing the fundamental nature of the Divine, that she too was suffering with me, and that she too understood my pain in a place so fundamentally raw.

Because she showed me hers too. I was reminded in the pain, the Divine wasn't just the soft place to fall-- she was the place to safely unleash my anger, my hurt, my disappointment and know that she understood it because she had given me that piece of her. That piece to love so completely, why wouldn't that same being of love struggle with me too.

I'm reminded that in all the hardness of life, the beauty is often hidden from our view. As I walked back to the car, I snapped photos of the sand blowing and looked at the pain of broken tress littering the beach from lost storms. As I passed one tree, I was drawn to the roots and the decaying of the bark. As I looked at the tree, I marveled at the seaweed and all the different forms of life that sprung from its decay, and then I saw something that caught my eye.

A white object between all the brown. I thought it was a piece of a Styrofoam cup that had lodged in the tree. When I picked up the "Styrofoam" base I realized it was a large white shell covered in barnacles of seaweed.

As I rubbed off the seaweed, the beauty of the shell reappeared, it would forever be changed by the seaweed, but what made it so stunning was that the brilliant whiteness of the shell now had more silver, green and brown tones.

When he came home from school, Ian looked at the shell and replied, "Mom it's perfectly imperfect, like us..."

That summed up the thought of the day. In all the darkness that surrounds our bad news, the decay of life, in between all of the mess, there hides beauty.

The beauty of two friends that could have a smoke and drink in an imaginary bar and make each other laugh in what was a very difficult conversation.

The love of friends, who you know always have your back and the faith that even in the darkness, you are never alone.

Finding peace in the perfectly imperfect in our midst.

The Divine in me will forever Velcro to the Divine in you...

Namaste

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credits: PilgrimageGal

When Life is a Little Complicated...

When life is complicated, be open to the Divine...

Hello my fellow Pilgrims...

I got a text message from the Holy Spirit today. Did you know she texted? Well she does.

The Divine reaches out in ways large and small. Today she reached out to me in the fingers of my 4th-8th grade teacher, confirmation sponsor, the woman who proclaimed the reading of First Corinthians to us at our wedding 24 yrs ago. This spiritual teacher has also attended the baptism of my children and the woman I lovingly refer to as my second mom. I call her Momma G.... or MG. I wrote about her a while ago in a post about

amazing teachers

.

MG sent me a text late Sunday from the East Coast. Before I had my second cup of tea Monday morning we were on the phone having a lengthy conversation. MommaG had cleared the decks to talk to me. That is a gift. As with all her communications, the Sunday text was sweet and loving. To paraphrase,

Just checking in, want to make sure I haven't missed any of your blog posts and that all is well...

We don't talk often enough; because we don't know how to have quick chats. Jeff questions if I know how to have any quick chats! Calls and texts from Mrs. P are gifts, that I tie up into a little bow and get stored as

exquisite everyday moments

.

The text was sweet as pie; it was a check-in. A pulse check to make sure that all was well... The Spirit never fails to send you an invitation and an opportunity for connection.

I wish every person could have at least one person in their life who sees them as the best version of themselves. Who sees you as the Divine sees you, beautiful, whole, worthy of love. This person who looks past your imperfections to see them as the gifts that make you stunning, whole, loved and as a precious child of God. MG has been that guide for me since I met her at age 9. A remarkable gift to be loved so completely...

Perhaps you can begin to see why I call her a blessing.

MG was wondering what so many of you must... Where the heck is Kathryn?!?!

I haven't shared any of my journey with you for a while. It may be in fact the longest I have gone with out sharing a tale from the road.

It's not that I haven't been writing--I have been.

Can I just say...

Writing is hard.

It honestly is.

When you write, you are sharing your soul, it's intimate. I share with you what is in my heart, where my soul is and how I see the world. It can be a tad bit frustrating when you can't get out of your own way when you write. You must be able to quiet your mind and still be open to listen. Writing requires you to get to your truth, find your sacred space where your mind and soul meet your fingers on a keyboard.

Perhaps that's why you hear so often the stories of great writers (I don't put myself in their company) and how they all drank. Many of them also used other tools to try to access that place that generates the words. They weren't healthy either. Thank goodness I have chocolate, goodness if we have a world shortage of chocolate-- I'm in trouble.

I find my writing to be my safe place, it can also be a place of prayer for me. The things I share come from my own prayer life. What I have learned and what I still need to. This journey isn't easy, as a woman, wife, friend and mother. I too am plagued by insecurities, worries and get caught up in my own humanness. I petition the Divine for my way, for the outcomes I desire, not the ones that are best for me. I want the outcomes that I KNOW are the right choices. For some strange reason the Divine often has a different plan.

I'm currently in that space of jumping up and down, hurling profanities and having a 46 year old temper tantrum. Wondering why are things not going my way, why can't it be easier, why is life just so darned complicated some times!

That is where you meet me today. On the Island of Unacceptable.

Let's be clear, my life isn't any different from any of you. I don't have all the answers. I too am a Pilgrim. The only way I differ from all of you is I don't seem to mind publicly airing my foolishness. That is till recently.

After speaking with Jeffrey, I asked him why this time was different? Why was I having so much trouble putting my thoughts and feelings down in a blog post? Looking at me with a warm beaming smile, he answered:

"With you it's never just one thing--it's always a little bit complicated."

What Jeffrey is too sweet to say is everything with me is a wee bit more complicated. It's never just one thing, but a mosaic of a hundred little things that intertwine. My life is really hard currently. I will share the details in a second-- but it almost doesn't matter. Some of you will read my list and think...

Yep, that's hard.

Many of you will be in a far more difficult place.

UGH. My heart hurts that you are on your own Island of Unacceptable. I wish we could pull them all together and make a little community of unacceptable. I think that is why I'm finally sharing all of this with all of you.

MamaG listened to me share my truth and she paused for a second then said, "You are in transition."

I explained that I'm ALWAYS in transition. And without even seeing her face I can see her knowing smile. As we continue to chat, my heart becomes full knowing, that even while I struggle, this transition is part of my journey with the Divine. My life will always be transitional. I will always be the PilgrimageGal, I will never be satisfied. I am a seeker, I need to understand, to look, to go deeper, to understand the depths of the Divine that I will never fully grasp in this life. Please understand that doesn't mean I'm not happy. While this time is hard; it's also extremely joy-filled. Because while I'm struggling, my path is filled with so many opportunities to see God's hand in all of it.

My life has been a little complicated, which may in fact be why my writing is hard. Before I bore you with my details. Let me say this, the fact that I wrote this post is the reason that I will write another one. It may take me a couple of weeks-- but I will be in touch, that I promise.

Ready... Here goes:

I've been sick, actually really sick. My West Coast doctors have only known me fairly healthy, not nearly as sick as I was back East. And since I have been doing well, there were conversations with the entire team about me trying to ween off some medications that I have used for years. The hope? That some of them would no longer be necessary for my day to day wellness.

When you are a long-term chronic disease patient, you daily, monthly and yearly make choices about treatments/meds. Many have long term side effects, but with a skilled medical team; you weigh the options and make informed decisions. As a team, we all agreed to the decisions, I stand by them... the problem is that I'm the one who lives these decisions made by my team, it's my body. I can say without hesitation this process has been a a train wreck. Before all this foolishness, I would wake to my pain at usually lower than a 4 out of 10 and by the end of a bad day it would be a 8. For far to many days lately, I awake to pain north of an 8. There is no way you are going to turn around an 8 when you haven't even peed, brushed your teeth or seen the coffee pot. Two things that make me not so joyful---pain and my flipping cough. This process began in June and has continued through August when I had successfully come off all the meds in question. As I sit here in mid-October, we are sorting out the foolishness of these choices and hopefully, fingers crossed will have me better duct-taped together within a few weeks. This experience has been brutal.

 Insert sad face emoticon here...

Meanwhile while having ever so much fun, in mid-August my mother was diagnosed with a re-occurrence of cancer. It was clear in early August while she visited us in California that there was a significant issue. At mom's request, she differed treatment till she returned to the DC area and her medical team. Jeff and I weren't happy, out of respect for mom's privacy I won't go into the details. My mother is the toughest human alive, honest to goodness, and while she is facing a serious medical issue-- it will never slow her down nor do I anticipate that this will kill her... I may kill her for being stubborn, and foolish, but that is a totally different issue. I love you mama! You are the bravest and the best inspiration a daughter could ask for. xox

Thanks to the cancer diagnosis my mom got an emergency visit from her favorite daughter (I'm her only daughter) less than 8 days from her leaving California. The upside, I got to celebrate my 46 birthday alone with my mom. We went antiquing, had lunch, and watched old movies in bed eating potato chips and drinking classic coke! It was so incredibly special to spend my birthday with my mom-- That visit put life in focus.

My sweet little gig at the mission wasn't working for me and the family. The day after returning from my visit with my mom, I resigned. While visiting with my mom, she told me to walk away from the job. My mother has never told me to walk away from anything. When I told her I resigned; she was relived and happy.

"Good, it needed to be done. Focus on Jeff and the children."

I don't think I will ever work where I feed myself. I explained to one of my friends, you never want to work at your favorite restaurant. You don't want to go into the kitchen perhaps and see that it's a little dirty, or view your favorite romantic spot with the harsh florescent lights that come up at the end of the evening. You want the experience, not the reality. Meaning where I worship and work need to be two separate places. No words can describe how I loved the parish families and working with educating the children. The experience is the signal greatest joy in my life outside of my husband and Beauties. Nothing gives me more pleasure than incorporating my love of faith and sharing it with others. What I'm not good at is the humaneness of the church. We all know of her imperfections, I just didn't like seeing it. Let me be clear there was no crime, nothing illegal and nothing immoral taking place. Just the mundane bureaucracy, reorgs, budget discussions and other day to day "corporate" stuff, was not how I want to spend my spiritual life. In the corporate/business world it's easy to be political-- I'm not interested in doing that in a religious setting.

I mentioned joy a little while ago. There is a little jar in my living room that says: "It isn't Joy that makes us Grateful; It's Gratitude that makes us Joyful." What an apt description of how I see the Divine in my daily life. Gratitude for the text message from the Divine in fingers of someone who loves me for me. We are always being guided, listened to and directed to the path that was created entirely for us.

My journey has been a little complicated lately. I've made a promise to myself, that complicated or not, I'll document the journey a bit more frequently moving forward.

Thank you for walking with me on this journey...

Will talk again soon, that I know for sure. xoxo

The Divine in me bows and honors the Divine in you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Wisdom From the Good Doctor...

Dr. Seuss has always been big in our house...

Helloooo my fellow traveler...  How I have missed all of my fellow Pilgrims. Let's get the big stuff out of the way. I'm here, my health is good, my Beauties are good; Ian graduated from 6th grade, Jeff is still the love of my life.  I have been too busy and that has kept me away from all of you. I thought this post would be a tad different... Hope it resonates. xo

I wasn't a Dr. Seuss fan as a child... It just wasn't the books of my childhood.  My fist real exposure to the Seuss was sitting on the floor of a Barnes and Noble with Jeff in California, four months after we started dating. We had flown out the day after Christmas and I was meeting (for the first time) the entire Ferguson family. We had gone into the Barnes and Noble to pick up books as Christmas gifts for his baby niece (now a lawyer) and nephew (who is working on becoming fluent in Japanese--for funzies!). Want to learn about your new boyfriend ladies?, go to the children's section of a bookstore. Jeff was insistent that the children were each getting a selection of Dr. Seuss books. So there we sat and Jeff read the stories that I had missed from my childhood. I on the other hand pulled out my favorite childhood book; "The Giving Tree".

Jeff of course had never read it--all the other Shel Silverstein books; but not that one. So there we sat; as I began to read my book; you guessed it, I began to ugly cry. Bad blue-eye liner ran down my face. Oh Lord, save us from the early 90's.

Both authors have remained integral parts of our married life. Dr. Seuss is quoted as much as world figures, saints and the lessons of the Giving Tree are evident in my marriage; so much so that Jeff proposed to me by reading me the Giving Tree before he presented me with my "sparkle" or engagement ring.

We have had so many Seuss books to call favorites, maybe because we read them so many times to the children. Or maybe just because the message is so clear. One of the most common graduation gifts is Dr. Seuss'; "Oh the Places you will Go" and it certainly holds up in my top 10 list. I realized that I have needed to pull many of the theme and quotes lately. We use the words from the book as mini-mantras in our home. The quotes seem to encapsulate where I find myself today.

This quote has helped me as I touched my toe back into the working world:

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” ― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

I do have brains in my head and I do have very cute shoes, which has made it ever so easy to tip-toe back into the working world.  In returning to the working world; I didn't realizes that having children has made me more confident then I ever realized. I think motherhood has made me at my core, critically aware of my strengths and weakness. You develop a real understanding of what you are--perhaps we all become titanium. I know who I am; I know what I need, I know where I want to go...

I also have learned when to identify my non-negotiables. I know for example, I can't sew a costume, but I'm amazing at ordering through Amazon.  I can cook an amazing, dinner but sometimes take-out is a better choice. Prioritize. Strengths and weaknesses. That has been such a gift that I didn't have about myself in my 20's... I now know my strengths, I now understand how to play to them. Returning to the workforce has also provided me with a better pair of glasses to see when things are not about me (at all), or when they are and how to know the difference.

Those skills have helped me work on my balance. But even with the best skills and paying good attention to my abilities and health and family; we can still stumble. Which is why it has occurred to me that recently I have stumbled into a slump.

"When you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” 

“You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.” ― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

While I have been working on my balancing and foot work, it has taken me away from all of you.

Balance, it often seems is the hardest skill to master...

The beauty and the difficult aspect of balance is it always changes. What works this week; may not the next. I have found that it is something that I constantly need to work on and rework.

I have also challenged myself to stop looking at the quantity of my work and take a better look at the quality of what I give of myself and look for in others. I for some reason have not recognized that everything I touch, every part of me is important. I use that trusty red pen to provide a failing grade on myself, because I don't value my contributions. I'm not a brain surgeon, a pilot, lawyer, or chemist... yet I look at these individuals and question my worth. That, what I contribute in the world isn't enough. And it is with that negativity about myself that I look to an amazing young woman and Saint/Doctor of the church St. Theresa the Little Flower

"When one loves, one does not calculate.” ― Thérèse de Lisieux

And there it is...      I'm calculating,     I'm questioning.      I'm fighting with myself.

I'm slumping because I haven't let my faith drive me. I'm once again, trying to wrestle for a false sense of control. For an understanding of this world that is fruitless. I have lost my vision to see that I need to be focusing on a deepening of my prayer life, a greater union with the Divine.

In an effort for that connection, I found the medicine that I need. I have been attending daily mass. For me the connection to the Divine is strengthened in the mass. In the 30 minutes daily where I meet Christ in his most human and Divine form. It is through that gift that I have shaken off the slump and met myself.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” 

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,

you're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So...get on your way!” ― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

May you find the Divine in your journey and stay away from the hidden slumps of this world.

Your mountain is waiting...

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo credit: PilgrimageGal

This is the 4th anniversary of my first blog post.  On this day especially, I want to thank you for walking with me.

My Duets with Mick...

What awaits me at the end of my commute...

I listen to Mick Jagger every morning when I drive to work...

I'm sure it's not the play list of everyone who works in religious education.  When you pass me on the road; I'm belting out the lyrics to "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Beast of Burden", "Sympathy for the Devil"  or even "Satisfaction". It's my morning therapy, I get everything out, all my stuff/worries for the day. And get ready to launch myself into the best day ever!  I have a personal rocking party on my 15 minute easy-peasy commute.  I have to be careful when sunroof and all four of my windows are down, I turn into the tranquil and peaceful mission grounds. I don't think anyone else has their sound system as loud or is singing with my intensity. Just me chill-axing with Mick.

I turn the music down, really low and gently pull into my parking place. I close my windows and grab my bag and start my day by greeting as many people as I can with a big smile!

My job title is Coordinator of Religious Education, some folks know it as its more formal name DRE: Director of Religious Education.  I'm in charge of the children's religious education for the parish. I work with the priests, parents, volunteer teachers and my favorite part--all the amazing Beauties of the parish. That's right, I get paid to hang out with kiddos! Teach them about God, the Church, and faith. I'm the Julie McCoy of religion. I get to be a cruise director of kiddos. (You are so welcome for the Love Boat reference!, younger readers, go ahead and

Google

it.)

It's as if the best job in the world fell out of the sky just for me! I love what I do. Every morning, I wake up with a smile on my face and thank God for creating a place where I get to be me. Where the very Kathryn-ness of it all get's to find a home. I'm tasked with helping parents raise their kiddos in the faith, that is such a part of me, it's not something I can separate. I can honestly say, I've never been happier.

And finally scoring the Religion award in school makes sense! All that education has come full circle. I'm the girl who had to download the Pope's document on the family 

Amortis Laetitia

 t

he "Joy of Love" and plowed through it the same day. Hello, geek alert! Next time I'm going to figure out how to get press credentials to read it in advance of the public release!

For some of you who know and love me, this job makes you giggle. Of course that is what Kathryn is doing. It makes sense. It's what I feel called to do, in the same way I knew I would marry Jeff or have the Beauties or that Santa Barbara was going to be amazing. I have found inner peace.

But, you may be asking, "how do I, find that in my daily life?"

If I can. You can too.

I'm not sure where the phrase follow you heart comes from. But, it really should be, follow your soul. When you begin to trust your heart, your gut, which thoughts are really your soul trying desperately to get your attention. You will find that these opportunities begin to appear. It's not luck--I promise you. It is your soul connecting with the Divine and you listening to where you are called to be. The voice isn't loud at first. It is this series of what some like to call coincidence that just keep happening. They are the bread crumbs of the Divine trying to get your attention. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you keep walking away from something, you eventually have that hammer moment where you realizes you should have been here all along?

I often think that for women, we struggle to claim what is ours. To say, yep I'm good at that, I want to do that--to put ourselves first. We make excuses why we shouldn't try something new or convince ourselves that we need to just keep doing what is safe. That it's not practical, now isn't the best time or one of a hundred other excuses.

Life isn't always practical.

What ultimately gives us joy? That sometimes takes trust, a leap of faith, digging deep and making it all work. Is that hard, even scary? O'my goodness yes. It is all of that and more. But the rewards... They aren't measurable.

For the longest time, I thought I was supposed to write a book. A book that would share what chronic disease, my Beauties, and my marriage have taught me. How my faith shapes my journey. Maybe, in time, that is what the Divine has planned for me. But, today I'm called to be Ian and Norah's mom, to help some beautiful families nurture their faith and to share that journey with all of you...

And the New York Times bestseller? Oh that may still happen, just not this week. The Divine has sent me off on a different path.  It may still happen and if the time comes, I will trust my gut (and the Divine) and jump in with both feet.

May you find the peace in the journey, jump in with both feet and feel the sunshine warm on your face.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you... Always.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence... and I'm always glad to meet another traveler.

Photo Credit: PilgrimageGal

Do You Believe in Coincidence?...

Coffee and the Holy Spirit

Do you believe in coincidence?

I don't.

You see for me, a coincidence is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. When you start to recognize the amount of special moments that occur in your life, moments that others call a coincidence, you open your mind to seeing the Holy Spirit actively moving in your life.

Let me give you a real world example.

This week on my way to work, I stopped at Starbucks. As I approached the door, I noticed oodles of young kiddos; 13-14 year old middle school-ers. Our local middle school is just a quick walk from the Starbucks; a perfect place to dash in for a sugar loaded, whip cream topped, caffeine infused faux milkshake on the way to first period. As I opened the door, I realized I couldn't walk in thanks to the line backed up to the door as I opened it! It was dilemma time; I neeeeeeded coffee and as I turned to walk away to find another coffee vendor with shorter lines--I realized the line was forming behind me. I was stuck. Standing in front of me, two young girls discussing girl's gossip and behind me a young man about 13 texting.

As I waited, I admit I couldn't help myself, I started to chat with the young man. After covering what he was ordering (an egg, bacon and Gouda sandwich), we discussed his first period English writing assignment and his future goals...  This charming young man asked me about my job, and I shared about my family, I shared that my kids went to a different local elementary than he had and how I worked for the Mission. We got up to the counter and I told the perky barista that I would be buying this young man his breakfast. I told him I couldn't recall a more delightful conversation with a young man. I can honestly say, I have never done that. And I honestly just couldn't help myself... The words just fell out of my mouth when I got to the barista. You can imagine his shock... A somewhat normal looking, but clearly crazy mom was trying to buy him breakfast.

In an effort not to appear any crazier... we exchanged formal greetings. I told him my name was Kathryn and he told me his name was "N".  "N" then went on to say that he was shocked that I had bought him breakfast. I told him that he was too kind and polite not to be rewarded with a free breakfast. He told me another time he would, "pay me back."

I explained, he already had.

My drink was ready first and I wished him a good day and good luck.  And I walked to my car.

Now as I walked; I instantly thought of his mother. If that was me, I would have been worried. Was I a stalker or crazy? It's hard at times to see the good in the world. And I said a little prayer that the mom would opt for interpreting my act as nice, not crazy.

The next morning after working for several hours the phone at my desk rings. A lovely voice on the other ends says something to the effect of:  "My name is "L" and you don't know me but I think you bought my son breakfast at Starbucks. I'm calling to say thank you."  How crazy is that Pilgrims.... right?

Well L was even more lovely than her son. It wasn't hard to realize where he got it from. We both laughed and I just told her she and her husband had done an amazing job raising their son. I only hoped to do as well with my two children. We chat for several minutes where we discussed whether she thought I was crazy (only for a second.) Besides, she really trusted her son's ability to read character and she trusted that a Mom of two and someone who works for a church was more nice than crazy. Thank goodness, right?, (but she still called to check, right?...)

As we were delighting in each other, she mentioned she wanted to meet me and that she would come to the mission for a formal introduction. She shared that she was a teacher at the other elementary school. I went on to share we had recently moved from DC...

L suddenly stopped and said, "This is going to sound crazy Kathryn, but do you have a daughter named Norah and does she play tennis?" I burst out laughing... Yes! She said, "Kathryn, I KNOW YOU!"  I'm V's mom!"

Turns out, we had several lovely chats during tennis lessons last summer when our girls were taking lessons together. I had that moment when my cheeks hurt from smiling.  L is one of those girls you meet and wish she had been your college roommate because she is so kind and loving.  L went on to say: "Of course it was you who bought breakfast for my N. Wait till I tell him-- I know you! I love the small town of living here!"  Her daughter had an injury over the summer and had to stop playing tennis. Norah and I missed these two. We discussed getting together and re-connecting...

Coincidence?, I don't think so...

Just the Holy Spirit reminding me to do a little something, a little act of kindness, like maybe buying breakfast for a polite young man.

A little act that takes just a moment, but grows into the best thing that happens all week.

Peace be with you,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence... and I'm always glad to meet another traveler.

photo credit:

Coffee break - Wellington

via

photopin

(license)

Spiritual Leadership...

The kitchen table is a great place for family discussions on faith...

Hello my Pilgrims... It's been too long. First, let's cover the important news of life in California.  All is extraordinary, the weather warm and delightful, and we are all healthy. While I haven't been writing, you are not far from my thoughts and are always in my prayers. A quick recap on my journey.

Since early January, I have taken on more volunteering opportunities at the Mission. The duties of my volunteer work has shifted my time from my writing to sharing my gifts with fellow parishioners.  I'm coordinating small faith sharing groups; about 80 of my fellow parishioners are participating in a six week program. The program runs on Thursday nights and Friday mornings. I have loved meeting so many of my fellow parishioners, while still running my own small group. And I still teach my weekly first grade religious education class; my student Beauties are adorable and I love the time I spend with them and their parents. Which means my weekdays are full with prepping for all these responsibilities.

That gives you a full sense of my "professional life"-- but I'm sure you really want to know how my walk on the pilgrimage is progressing.  I have answers for that too! Jeff's travel schedule has been consistent and just this past week he was in DC for a full week of meetings. I have shared that Jeff travels! He travels one to two nights every week; we have accepted that level of travel. When Jeff and I reminded the Beauties that he would be gone for a whole week... well that didn't go as well.  Ian my schedule keeper, expressed his disappointment, "A whole week?!?!".   We reminded the Beauties that Dad is the breadwinner; that his traveling is part of the responsibility of his job.  I made some off hand 1950's comment that Dad is the Head of our Household and with that Mini-me spoke up, "Well that makes sense. Dad is the Head of the Household, but Mom you are the Spiritual Head of our family."

I guess I am...

One of my dear friends, told me the story of the meeting she and her future husband had with their rabbi. The rabbi explained that as a couple they would determine how religious/observant they would be as a family. It's a wonderful comment, that I wish more folks would consider. I think for most families, their faith participation isn't considered--it's just done.  Done out of routine, or out of guilt, or the expectations of others...

Like taxes. You don't think about it, you just do it.  That Pilgrims is what we need to discuss.

If you aren't actively navigating you and your family's spiritual journey--Don't panic, I'm going to help you fix that today. It will be the easiest and most joyful change in your home life, if you are willing to make a few simple modification to your daily routine. I'm asking you to change the order of your to-do list--not add anything, just re-prioritize.

As the "Spiritual Head" of this household; I try to focus most of my daily life to recognizing and improving our spiritual life. I'm thinking about it during laundry, before dinner prep, many times throughout the day, I'm considering their faith life. How am I developing their faith?  Is it working to ensure they have a personal relationship with the Divine? I don't need to nag Ian every time to say grace before he dives into dinner (Norah does that.)

No, I'm in the tool box business. Yes, learning your prayers are important, but what matters most to me is that you have the Divine in your thoughts throughout the day. That the Divine is in your decision making process, in your encounters with strangers and friends alike.

I give my Beauties the same marching orders daily. You know the amazing morning routine of bickering, backpacks hitting ever surface, complaints about lunch boxes, violins, doors being opened with too much force--I lovingly remind them the hammer question that they know is coming at dinner:

"Who was the face of Christ for you today? And were you the face of Christ for someone else?"

Boom... that is Divine in action, no matter your tradition, it is the question that resonates. It's not just Sunday that they consider the Divine--it's hopefully in all they do, daily.

Another way to say it, "Where did you see the Divine/God in action today?  How did the Divine/God work through you today?"

I went to Catholic schools, I loved every second. It was my plan that my children would do the same. They aren't, both my children needed academic supports that our Catholic school could not provide. That's not a criticism, it was just our reality. That decision has given me a different world view and different challenges. I have had to use different muscles, I have had to take on more of the religious education, but more than that; I have had to work harder to create the opportunities of living in faith.

I admit that my weekly priority is faith, but it's not theirs. They are worried about sports, extra-curricular activities, school, homework, even Jeff's travel.  The question is, how can I weave the gift of faith into their daily living?

How do I do that?

Well it's more than just words and it's more than simple actions. It's about the priorities in our family life. You can take your children to religious services every week; but if it's not in your home all the time, you are not living in faith.

You can't farm it out. This isn't an activity that you can pay someone else to complete. 

You have to be active at living it. Are you discussing tough subjects with your children and explaining how your religious views frame your political, social and civic duties? Are you actively making prayer a part of your daily journey? Do you explain that you read articles or books on your faith? Are you discussing the homily/sermon after you go to religious services?  And if it was a crummy homily/sermon are you offering a different take?  I ask my Beauties what did you hear the priest say? Then Jeff and I offer what we have learned.

These are simple first steps.  Their are so many other opportunities that I'm sure oodles of you are doing. So share away. Let's not keep our ideas a secret, let us share how we are raising faith filled humans to live and support our world.

And I promise to be in closer touch.... I have missed all of you. Till we meet again on the road.

The Divine in me bows and honors the Divine in each of you.

xo

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on 

Facebook

Instagram

 or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence... and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. 

photo credit:

One of Soft Details

via

photopin

(license)

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

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

Sharing My Journey...

I love that I have met so many of you through this journey. Our Pilgrimage, our truth, our complimentary stories that overlap and create a quilt of love. Your square in that quilt warms my soul on the darkest days and wraps me in grace each and every moment.  I never question how the best loves in my world just fall into my life.  It always feels the same, as if I have known your soul for eternity.

You became part of my journey, because the Divine created a special space that belongs to you. You each hold the job of teacher, friend, guide and shepherd. Each of you show me a unique face of the Divine, a deeper connection to love.  I never question each and every gift, I just recognize that God has a plan and I'm trying to be open to this journey that is mine and love with open arms.

Which always leads me back to words on this page.

I'm often asked, how long does it take for me to write a post. That my Lovies is a difficult question to answer. Often it's quick, I sit down and the ideas pour out of me, I feel the Spirit is whispering in my ear and moving me to share my truth. Other times it is nearly impossible. The words won't come and I feel as if I have nothing to share. That I'm empty and I'm drowning in silence and agitation. I have found a pattern when these times have occurred, and it has occurred in the last month. I have found it difficult to share my inner life.

I have held back my truth, I attempt to sugar coat or make my life seem something it is not.

That has been the struggle of the last month. I have attempted to phone it in... and you have called me on my foolishness. I love how you know me so well you can feel the change in my spirit and have asked for clarification and just checked-in. That is accountability. We are called to be accountable to each other and to be open and honest as people who walk in the light.

The real truth is my health at this moment stinks. I have been in the doctor's office more than I like. Blood tests, and heart scans, the foolishness of chronic disease. I honestly just feel sick. When I'm sick, the cocktail of medications that I have makes me tired and edgy and well just not me!

A quick recap on my health is in order here: I have benefited from a therapy that has supported me for a few years. Sadly, the blocking mechanism is no longer preventing inflammation. My lungs are paying the price and I'm in constant thoracic pain. I have been in denial for three months, claiming the hot summer, the busy schedule and many other excuses, that take the gaze away from the truth. I'm regressing and I don't know what my medical team can offer.

To be honest it has been a difficult burden, I feel a little cheated. I have been spiritually obedient, I moved away from my beautiful East coast life, open and willing to forge a new one here. Only to find the road here much more difficult than the one I left. I have made some dear and lovely friends, but my health is tricky, my family and longtime friends are all back East. I have little support here and my husband travels constantly.

Yet in my heart, I don't want to go back.

I love that my husband loves his job, my Beauties are blossoming into beautiful tweens.  I love the weather, I love the lifestyle, and I love our faith community. This is my home and I'm grateful. The best way to describe my emotions is that I feel like the second semester of freshman year in college.  You love the school, but you are homesick for the familiar, you want things to be just a tad easier.

Whenever my health falters, I want that easy life. I feel entitled. But why? I honestly have everything I need. My health while painful, is stable. I'm not going to be hospitalized or die from this set back. Is the quality of my daily life greatly diminished? Yes. I don't have a moment in my day that is not filled with severe pain. Do I have the right to be angry? Of course.

But at the end of this pity party for one, who benefits from my frustration and despair?

The answer is clear, no one does.

I have a choice.

Will I look into my dark place and find what really is causing my disappointments? And honestly add voice to these thoughts? The answer is, yes. I will own my feelings and say...

I'm tired of suffering. I'm tired of not getting God's attention to make my life just a little bit easier. Not being willing to say, Why me? Why isn't my life cake, filled with rainbows and unicorns?  I look at others who seem to have a much easier journey. And I'm ANGRY!

BUT...

What is crystal clear is that my anger and despair will change nothing. Not a thing! What I have learned is that despair is a cancer. When given space, it overpowers you, until you are gone and all that is left is a shell.

I'm choosing to find joy. Because joy is infectious (in a good way), it is affirming, it is well, joyous.

My journey's horizon will widen because of this set back. I will meet more doctors, and in all of this suffering, I will meet more special people like you, who are on this path and part of the beautiful quilt that God has chosen for me.

That is all the medicine I need to find the hope and faith I need to continue on this Pilgrimage.

So if this week finds you filled with less hope and more sadness: do something to expand the joy in your circle.  This week, I'm tasking each one of you to send five messages of hope. It can be to anyone be it a stranger or the people you love. It can be an email or a postcard or a phone call, maybe you pay it forward with a nice note to someone you see everyday. Or maybe some cookies or a dinner for someone needing a lift.

Five messages of hope. Just think if we all did that this week. Shared a little bit of hope--our world would be incredibly more joyful.

So there you have it.  My life is bumpy right now, really bumpy...

But I need to run, we are taking dinner to two amazing families that need a little food joy from the Ferguson kitchen. One had knee surgery and the other had a baby... We are making pasta bolognese. My whole house smells like Italy! It's Monday and we are spreading a lot of love in Santa Barbara!

Hope you find time to spread some love and joy this week as well.

Peace be with you,

  Kathryn

  PilgrimageGal

T

hank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

Facebook

,

Instagram

or comment below. I personally answer all my correspondence...and I'm always glad to meet another traveler. xo

Photo Credit:

Pixabay

Who Are Your Poor...

Ice cream makes everything better...

O'my goodness it's been two weeks... How are you?! It's been too busy for words around here.

I had a birthday--wahoo 45! Jeff had a birthday, we had some parties. There was cake and it was delicious. We have been to the beach and the pool.

The Beauties went back to school--Thank you, Jesus!

There have been tears, ice cream, tears and ice cream, a diet coke and that is just me.

I went on a retreat for a day of reflection, Jeff has been away, home and away again; we have hosted and fed family members the last two weekends. There has been lots of cooking, cleaning, preparing and organizing. We located school supplies, did school shopping and hunted for hidden backpacks missing since June. We also have been in a heat wave, which makes us all cranky and hot. Did I mention we have no A/C? And one of the Beauties threw up in the car on the way to church.

In other words, nothing much going on here...

After writing all of this I feel like I need a diet coke and a shot of tequila. Welcome to the end of August. Where you find out what you are made of and it's never pretty.

This is why mothers should never write down what we do in a given day.  Some days it's just overwhelming, just shocking what we accomplish.  Which is why I was so happy to sit in mass today. Just sit and listen to the Word of God. I had no expectations, just gratitude for being in a house of worship. Father Charles Talley is our pastor and a Franciscan. We have been attending the family mass with the Beauties. One of the best things about going to services designed for children is the homily or sermon is crystal clear. I don't know about you, but sometimes I need very clear and very easy.

Now when I say easy, I mean easy to comprehend not always easy to do in practice. Father was explaining to the children something I thought was really profound. He explained to the children that helping the "poor" isn't always about the homeless person on the street. He explained beautifully that poor sometimes means the people that maybe just need a little of our time or a little more of our help than others in our daily journey. The people right in front of us, in our workplace, school and in our family.

What constitutes the poor in my life and how am I supporting them? I realized the poor in my life may in fact have more money, but may just be more isolated or lonely. Maybe it's the guy that's a little different who still sits alone everyday at lunch. We always tell our Beauties to be kind with the child who is a little different, but do we do the same? Do we have lunch or grab a coffee with the different or difficult person in our office? Do you ever invite "that relative" over for dinner? Or what about just talking to the single widower on your block? Just maybe drag his cans to the curb for trash day. We all sometimes stick to our own friends at school pick-up or drop-off, not out of meanness, but often just out of our own selfishness to catch up with our people. Or because we are stuck in our regular routine. Sometimes the "poor" are the moms who stand just a little to the side at drop off and hang back until the last second at pick-up; it's amazing how a hello and invite to the park play-date can change their day, or even just, "how are you doing this week?".

Helping the "poor" may also mean making yourself uncomfortable for the greater good. Jeffrey and I did that this week. It's not easy--believe me we have the sweaty and shaky hands to prove that!  If you will indulge me, I have a little story:

I'm not sure how it is in other faiths, but when you change parishes in the catholic faith you fill out a registration card with your vital information. The card also includes volunteer opportunities. Jeff and I checked boxes for a number of volunteer ministries. What we didn't know is that our new parish is really good a getting you to commit!  In our tradition, lay ministers read the readings from the Old Testament and the epistles or letters of the New Testament, while a priest or deacon reads from the Gospel (or the stories of Jesus' life found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.) Jeffrey and I were all ready to read in the children's mass you know the easy, no pressure a little less formal--no less important. When we got the email for training, we were happy to attend a training session. It quickly became crystal clear that we were being trained to do the readings for the main LARGE mission church, the one that I don't want to know the capacity because I may faint, not the sweet little no pressure chapel. The Mission is stunning and the readers are top notch, professional, everything is buttoned up and beautiful. I love attending mass in the main Mission church. It's glorious. Jeff and I are "B" team people and are so good with that. Who wants to have sweaty hands when you get up in front of way too many. We want to proclaim the Word to folks who are trying to distract their two year old from melting down.  Not to folks who may actually be listening, that's way too much pressure. Apparently, the lector coordinator thinks Jeffrey and I are ready--GULP. We have been asked to read at both the main Mission church in addition to reading at the children's mass in the sweet chapel. We were both stunned, gobsmacked. Did I mention we were stunned? We did what we are flawless at; we stalled.  We asked for a few days to pray, discern and think about it. That is code for how do we politely get out of doing this without looking like jerks. Yep, we wanted out.

Why? Well who needs to be uncomfortable every time they go to mass. Aren't there better people or other folks or frankly anyone else who can read in the large church. Isn't it enough--we were willing to do it in the small chapel?!?! And then the lector coordinator lovingly told us that this is a vocation and it was no coincidence we were there.  The Holy Spirit was calling us. Hammer moment, from our cartoon days when one character would get hit over the head and see stars. We were seeing our own stars, being nervous, uncomfortable and having sweaty palms wasn't good enough.  It just wasn't. We were being called to serve others, and some of those others may be the very poor that needed to hear the Word of God from us. The Divine was telling Kathryn and Jeff that life isn't supposed to always be comfortable.

What I failed to tell you in the beginning of the story was that we took Ian and Norah to the training session. They saw us practice the readings in the car and then stand up and essentially audition. My dress was wet with sweat from nerves. Nerves because I wanted to do well, wanted the Beauties and Jeff to be proud.  I wanted to in my own ambitious way, "kill it". To pat-myself-on the back, to know in my heart, I did it, I had made myself uncomfortable and then would happily go back to the kid's mass in the chapel where we belonged. With a little luck, hopefully never having to read on the big stage.

When we were done after 1.5 hrs, pushing  6 pm, I was hot, tired and I wanted a martini, but instead we settled on ice cream.  Jeff and I split French vanilla with peanut butter cups. The Beauties each telling us that we were the best readers. It was a lovely moment. Jeff and I trying to figure our how we were going to politely defer, we are so busy, I've got health issues, Jeff travels, surely you really don't want us...

What I didn't expect was the true gift the next morning--the first day of school. Both kids were nervous and excited and when Ian had a few tears leak out of his lashes, I was able to share my truth. "Hey Ian, I don't know if you realized yesterday I was soooo nervous and so was Dad. Did you realize that?"  He looked up with his soft and loving blue eyes, his long dark eyelashes wet with tears, when another tear accidentally leaked out, "No, Mom I didn't."  I went on to explain that I was clammy, gross, nervous and maybe a little nauseous to try something new, my hands were a little shaky and I worried what others would think, worried I would make mistakes, worried I just wasn't good enough. But I knew in my heart that I had to try anyway. I told him I understood exactly where he was. He looked at both of us, nodded and jumped-up, brushed the errant tears and dashed off; Ian turned just long enough to say, "I've got this."

Later, after school, over ice cream he would say he had a fantastic first day.

My email to the lector coordinator that evening said, "We are in."

The Fergusons are all in, looking for the poor in the unexpected places; looking for the people who just need to feel a little more love in their life. Those who may need a smile, a hug, or maybe just to hear the word of God from a very nervous reader or her cute husband.

Namaste.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.

xo,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Thank you for walking with me this week and always. I do use social media to keep in touch. You are welcome to find me on

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The Mighty Contributor

From Grumpy to Grace

The body of Christ...

I've been grumpy all week. Miserably grumpy. I'm not sure why, and that in itself makes me grumpy. I think all Mom's go through this, the end of the school year, and o'my we have a whole summer staring at one another.  No matter how much of a rock star we are, the inevitable, "I'm bored," will roll off someone's tongue and not one mother among us takes it well. That on top of the broken washing machine that destroyed my favorite sweater. Why not on my children's disgusting socks? Grrrr. You can feel my angst.

But, enough about me. A few weeks ago while at church the Franciscan that celebrated our mass was someone I didn't know. While in the church office, I asked his name. Turns out that the priest was Father Kenan Osborne.  He is a religious scholar, former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, author of dozens of books and articles. As far as theologians go, he is a rock star.

I have a secret passion. I read religious scholarly articles and books for fun. I know it's one of my quirks. I love the gossip rag Daily Mail out of London too. I take Kim Kardashian with almost as much interest as I do the Council of Nicaea which was held in 325. What can I say, I'm complicated. Back to the scholarly stuff. I love the footnotes, the references to obscure councils and documents, the whole bit.  I will read on any faith. Recently I devoured a fascinating treatise on Islam. Amazing, authored by a divinity scholar from Harvard.

As a post Vatican II child of the church; I have delighted in reading the radical ideas from some of my faith's most intelligent minds. I have also delighted in reading many documents that are far from my ideological view that I dive deeper to understand their ideas and truth. If you can construct a good argument, I want to hear your points. It only makes my truth more concrete and my arguments better. So to say I'm a religious scholar geek would be an understatement.

So today while we were rolling into mass in our usual Team Fergie hot messiness. The lovely Father Kenan stopped Norah. He spoke directly to her, asking her her name, how old she was and who she brought to mass. Norah then turned and introduced me. I gulped big and geek-ed out. Telling Fr. Kenan that I was reading his book on Sacramental Theology and had so many questions. He then explained that he had a new book out on 50 years since Vatican II.  I smiled like I was in a candy store. I explained that I would score the book from Amazon today, and then he touched my soul. He told me to read the book and then to give him a call so that we could discuss the book. ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME!?!?!

Here's why Fr. Kenan touches my soul. He is one of those folks who when you look at him you see light, that shining beacon. He draws you in. You want to hear every story, every detail. Every thought in his head. I want to see the God he sees because that God is filled with so much love you see the light hitting the ground around him.

We have been attending mass in the Franciscan's chapel, its where the priests have their private prayers. It is not a chapel that is normally open to the public, but as parishioners they offer a family mass. And this mass is a hot mess. Kids falling out of pews, talking, singing, carrying their stuffed animals and sippy cups. It's noisy, in a beautiful faith filled messy way. I have always loved family mass, but I will admit that when my Beauties were little... we got some hairy eyeballs during the mass. Which always hurt me. We have all been there, and for some of us it felt like we would never get past those years. My children were good in Church, because if they weren't we were in a cry room or outside. If only we could have gone to this church then.  This mass is for these beautiful children.

The children are the greeters, take up the collections, are the ushers too!

But what touched me most was the consecration.  The most sacred part of the mass in our tradition is at the consecration when the bread becomes Christ's body and blood. The priest holds the bread and wine, sharing old and sacred prayers. It's always moving, but today it made me ugly cry. In 99% of Catholic Churches you are on your knees, watching a priest perform the ritual. It's solemn, formal and set apart from the congregation.

But, today it was different:  Fr. Kenan called all the children forward around the altar and he asked the children to extend their hand over the bread and wine during consecration. So Norah was one of the oldest standing at the altar. Siblings holding younger hands, some stuffed animals were in one hand while the other was extended, in all a dozen or more children aged 2 to 9.  Picture it, all these little heads that were just peeking over the edge of the altar and standing on tip-toes to be witnesses to faith. If the chapel had been in total darkness, these little faces would have been able to light the entire church.  It took my breath away; I was witness, participant and present. These little hands holding up, praying and sharing love and Fr. Kenan sharing what we have been doing for thousands of years, breaking of the bread and wine.

Father Kenan, in his 80's, world renowned author, retired "in-residence", could be resting on his laurels, but there he is, up on the altar, surrounded by children, bringing light into the world.

It is a moment when you stop in your tracks and say. Yep this is why I'm all in. I believe and I'm so grateful for my faith.

It's meeting the face of God in others.

Today in-spite of my grumpiness, in-spite of my ruined sweater, I witnessed my daughter and the other children, shine the light of faith on me.  I was also reminded that the love and kindness of one person can touch so many.

Thank you Father Kenan Osborne.

I'm ordering a book from amazon and leaving my grumpy at the door of the chapel.

I saw the face of God in a bunch of people today... and that makes this Sunday fantastic.

Peace be with you,

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

Photo Credit:

Pixabay

Stress, Worry and Disappointing Others...

Unmailed cards and letters...

I met a new friend for coffee yesterday. Making new friends is a lot like dating. You often need several simple easy outings to see if you and the other person are clicking and other times you just know right out of the gate you will be a good fit. My new friend and I were sharing some honest truths when she asked me a great question, "What is the hardest thing in your life right now?"

Let me be totally straight; this post is FILLED with FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, my life is CAKE. So while you read this post; it's designed to remind all of us, that daily life often derails us. O'my goodness, we can get caught up in-it. The foolishness that just tanks our whole day, that are barriers to being present. The negative thought that constantly rolls across your brain like the crawl on CNN. We all have these moments.

I'm a pleaser. I don't like to disappoint. I don't want to be a burden. I love nothing more than having guests in my home, fixing the sheets, finding treats for their room. I love that experience. But this time, I'm the guest... and I'm a little nervous.

Norah and I are flying to Maryland for a week; my little mini-me and I are having the exact same feelings as we set off. We are excited and nervous.

Excited is so easy, I get to wake-up in my Mom's beautiful condo, with all her mama love and attention. I get to curl up and get unending hugs and snuggles, too. I will sit in her kitchen while she makes me breakfast in my pjs, giggle and drink tea. I get alone time with both my girls; my mom and Norah.  Norah and I have a hit list of favorite restaurants that we need to eat in a billion times! And of course we are on pins and needles to see everyone we love so much. We are spending two nights having sleepovers in friend's houses. Which is amazing since I have never slept in their homes before since we used to live next door!

I explained to my new friend, that I'm loved so well by so many that I'm nervous. Nervous I won't be my best for each and everyone we see. I'm worried about my humanness. I will be tired and my loved ones will be disappointed, that they won't get me at my best. That I don't have time for everyone and that makes my stomach hurt. I want to see each and every person I love.  The leaving was so gut-wrenching, it felt like my soul was being ripped out of my body, it was the death of part of my life. I have in the last 6 months come out stronger and healthier; I need my loves to see that. To understand that I'm really good. That we are on our way; we are all good. To see that in our faces, to feel it in our hugs, to know that we are loved and happy.

I'm nervous that I have to face NIH without Jeff. I need to do it on my own. And once again I have to face this disease. The one I never asked for, the one I tolerate, the one that is the gift that keeps giving. I don't want to answer the mind-numbing questions yet again. I want to play. I want to forget I have this horrible disease.

Then just a few days ago, Norah asked, "Mom, what if the plane crashes?" Thank you flipping 24 hour news channels... We talked her off the ledge, but really, why must everything be so hard.

So my head is just a little busy... With a whole ton of foolishness.

I came across a stack of letters I never mailed. The letters were written on the plane as I left Maryland 6 months ago and in the first days after we arrived. I never mailed them.  I found them last week. I can feel my pain in the letters as I re-read them. Oodles of thank yous and I love yous, and in-between the lines, the pain and worry that the personal connections will be broken by time and the miles of separation...  Thoughts never sent, to my friends and family; people that I love most in the world.

Interesting isn't it?  I'm the girl who spills it all out all the time. But, I just couldn't mail them, or reveal the pain... And I'm still not sure when or if I'll be able to send them...

Which gets me to my busy prayer life:

I have been reading the Act's of the Apostles lately. It really has helped me. This hot mess of early Christians; who find themselves in the same place I've been visiting. Wandering a little lost, but well loved. This group of folks who will build our church. A church from nothing. This group of believers, wandering around the Mediterranean talking about this one guy. We are being kind when we say none of them would have been on anyone's list to change the world.  To wake up and find their whole world suddenly turned upside down... I feel a special closeness.  I feel like them often.

I'm a little lost.

More aptly: I'm in the weeds.

When you wait on tables; often you suddenly have your station filled, you can feel paralyzed.  In the restaurant world, it's called being in the weeds. I'm in the weeds, as I head back to DC. Everything will be there; but I will be in the weeds. Trying to be healthy, trying to see everyone, trying to be my best.

So when I say, "first world problems," it's no joke. What an abundance of joy to be worried about juggling so much. The abundance of love, of kindness, of joy. What a problem to get out of the way of!  We are very blessed to be loved so well by so many... Sooooo many.

So as I rotate laundry, find my luggage, pack my things; I will do what I do best. Take a big deep breath. The Divine has this all in hand. Every second, I will work on being present, and know that the Divine has this all figured out just for us. Miss Norah and I will have so many unplanned moments of Grace, that we just can't pre-plan. We must allow the Divine to orchestrate the moments.

I'm off to pack too many shoes into one bag, find a book for the flight, and sit back and once again be reminded of how much love I'm about to be drenched in!

Norah and I are as lucky as we are Irish; and filled with an embarrassment of blessings--today, always and forever.

I'm taking a week or two off... but promise to be in touch when we are back home and rested.

Till then... Try looking at your abundance of blessings.

And as my dear SP says to me, "Go Gently..."

So as we depart, go gently till we meet up again...

Much love always.

Kathryn and this time Norah too!

XO

Photo credit:

pixabay

Tool Five: Faith...



Today celebrates week five of our resilience tool box discussions. Tool Five is faith, and for me it is the linchpin that holds everything together. You can't function without faith in something.  I see faith, like your body's skin, the largest organ in your entire body and without it the rest of your body would fall apart. Faith holds you together no matter the success or trauma, faith goes with you everywhere and just like your skin, it can't be separated from the rest of you. It is in every part of your life.

I find when my faith life is working, everything is working. I heal faster, tolerate the intolerable, and live better when I take care of my faith life first.

When I speak with my tribe, I inevitably ask them all the same question.  "How is your spirit?" The answer offers insight into so many areas. It provides me with what I need to know, which is: "How are you, at your core, how are you living?" When your spirit is wonky, your faith life and the rest of you are too.  If you want to be the healthiest you, have a rock solid faith life. It just makes all of you, work at your best.

I have had some dark times, sometimes when my health was teetering, when I had lost confidence in myself, didn't trust my body. Even during the darkest times, I still held onto my faith, because I knew that even in the worst of times, God was with me and making my path.

The Divine is revealed to us all a little differently and one needs to be open to the path that lies in front of each of us. The hardest part is understanding that you may not like the path that is being paved for you. Hello, California?!  Even when we share the same faith tradition; we both will meet the Divine in a different place. It is the greatest mystery, how the Divine is revealed to each of us. What that revelation is for each of us is different, but what we share is that we are all called to do something in this life, to find what our unique talents and gifts are and then to use them the best way possible.

We all have folks in our life who try to hide from their faith. Who think that they don't need a faith journey or who question why the rest of us have one. But, the friends that my heart hurts for are the ones who say, "If I walked into a church, God would laugh at me or the walls may fall down because; I don't belong in that place."  It is often said tongue firmly planted in cheek, but the intent is all the same. They claim that it is not the place for them.

Why? The Divine is waiting for you. Patiently sometimes, often not not so much. The Divine provides us opportunities time and time again. All you need to do; is listen to the invitation and come along. Perhaps you misunderstand how the Divine is calling you. I find comfort in Church. In a community of folks who share similar comfort in the order of celebration that I call home. How you meet the Divine is up to you, do you meet in your meditation, in your contact with nature, or in your art? Do you meet the Divine in others? All of these are acceptable, but my question for you is how are you strengthening that relationship?  It takes practice and dedication, to have the fluidity to meet the Divine. As with any relationship it requires time and attention.

I have found in my travels that the folks who seem the most at peace are the people who have a titanium inner core of a faith life.  Are they good people? Sure. But in addition to being good folks they have a peace that only comes from an active faith life. It makes sorting through the difficult somehow tolerable. I have found my home in the Catholic church, by no means does it need to be yours. But, what I have learned, is that my dedication to this path, has provided me the quickest connection to the Divine. And to be able to hear what I'm being called to do. Yours will likely be different, but I encourage you to find the right one for you.

So the final question, how does it make you resilient? If faith is the skin that holds you together, then your faith life keeps you together when the world falls apart around you. It enables you to get up, get dressed and move on. Maybe it's the trust in a universe bigger than you... Or maybe it's just understanding that you are never alone and that a more Divine being is looking out for you.

Whatever the case may be, it works for me.

And I hope it works for you, too.

Kathryn
PilgrimageGal


photo credit: Sonnenstrahlen via photopin (license)

Tool Four: Wrapping Up Love and the Hidden Tool...

Wrapping Up Love...
Can I just say, I'm delighted that you have made the stop on week four of our journey to resilience. This week, we are mixing things up a bit! I have created an activity, it's part meditation and part reflection.  Like everything we do together, it's easy and approachable.  I have even done this exercise with my Beauties, who didn't even complain. That is a miracle in my house!  I will call on you to use your imagination; then I will tie the exercise into the fourth tool and show you how it fits into the tool box.

Let's begin with the exercise:

You need to create a few mental images. I think we will call it, "day dreaming for adults!" Easypeasy. To begin, image yourself alone in a quiet and beautiful space. This should be a place you feel peaceful, safe and loved.

Where are you?  The beach?, or maybe it's simply your living room? Or a mountain top in Hawaii? A tulip garden in Holland? A quiet lavender field in France? For some it may be a place of religious significance.

The key is that it should be the most sacred and calming place that you can imagine, the place you feel most peaceful and connected with yourself.

Got it?... Good!

Next, I want you to imagine your LOVE. All the love that you have in your being. Do you have it? Good. Scoop it all up into your arms. You need to imagine it in an inanimate physical form. Maybe it's a heart, maybe its the word love carved in a stone, or just scrabble letters of L-O-V-E , or a piece of red paper cut into a heart, a charm from a necklace, or a vessel of some kind that can hold all your love. Just get a physical image.  I imagine love as the word. The letters carved in little rocks that I can fit into my hand.  Now place that object, your "love" in a box. Let's be clear, you are not losing love, you are for lack of a better description, cloning it.  A strange idea, I know.

My LOVE, I put into a beautiful square box. The box is cream and I have some airy cream ribbon to make a beautiful bow.

So imagine yourself, holding your box of love. You are sitting in this beautiful space you have created. In this place you are positively beaming, you never have been more relaxed, happy, safe, secure, practically giddy, just you and your box. I would have a glass of champagne, because well it's a celebration of me and my big O' box of love.

Now, turn and look around. You have company. You are not alone. Next to you is the Divine.  Yep, the Divine...

How great is that. Right?!

So let's talk about your image of the Divine. Who do you see?

Do you see George Burns from the 70's movies?  Do you see an old wise fatherly figure?  Or Morgan Freeman?  Some will see Jesus, others will see a woman. Some may see some sort of super angel. I'm fine with whatever physical form you use to meet the Divine.  I feel strongly that the Divine comes to all of us a little differently, so what you imagine is perfect.

Keep in mind, that you are not nervous, you are at peace sitting with your Creator.  The Creator that knows you intimately, that created you in the image and likeness of the Divine. So bask in the attention. You are home.  It's the BEST.

Great.  Now hand over that beautiful box O' love to the Divine.

So you give this gift of love to God.  Now what--right? Hang tight for a second.

Why are we doing this exercise?  I know for sure that God is in all of us--each and everyone of us. Sadly, sometimes we tune God out.  If we agree that love is how we connect to one another and to the Divine, then it may be worth considering how we use love.  Should we use it a little bit more? Do others need to stop treating love as a toy?

Recently, I have needed to remind myself that there are three of us in every relationship; you, me and the Divine.  I can't claim to have a relationship with the Divine and not acknowledge that you do too. So the folks who push my ever loving last button; they are in the same relationship with the Divine that I claim to have.

Imagine you just gave the Divine your box O' love and said, "Could you help me with this love business?" Would your relationships look different? If you let the Divine direct you a little bit, how would the Divine use your LOVE with others?  Would the Divine steer you away from some relationships, and shine you in a new direction?  Would the Divine, push you out toward some folks, and give you great insights into others?

This my fellow Pilgrims is the very definition of our fourth tool: Vulnerability.  The definition is simple: It's the ability to give and receive love in its most honest form.  Vulnerability is a two way street. In order to share where you are on your journey, you have to be willing to let others share with you.  As I like to say, love is messy.  Being vulnerable means you are saying, "yes" to the messy. You peel back that protective layer that we all like to keep covered.  Will others think my messy is too much?  Will they discover that I'm a hot mess or too broken?

All fair worries.

You are risking that someone you have given your trust to, may hurt you.

Is it a risk?

Yes.

Will you be hurt?

Perhaps.  But I have found that for all of my hurt in this life, the true members of my tribe far outweigh the few trolls who have hurt me on my journey.

Honestly, I have found that the better I use the tools, the more likely I am to find someone who is a perfect fit for my tribe, not an imposter!

So how does vulnerability allow you to be resilient?

Being vulnerable allows us to walk away from unhealthy relationships and toward healthy ones; which is a key component of resilience.  Choosing what is best for ourselves and our spirit. Vulnerability allows us to find others who "get-it," who will ultimately make up our tribe.  As you continue to build your tribe, your ability to use the tools improve.  The tribe members hold you accountable and you them. You create a safe-haven of trust, where you share and grow, you learn, listen and you get stronger in your own truth. When you peel back that layer; you create a space for vulnerability.  It's only when we are in this place (of vulnerability) that we connect on the deepest level and it's then that we see the Divine in each other.

If you are using your tools as keys to resilience; you can look with a loving eye at all your relationships.  You may find that perhaps the healthiest place for you is in fact not with the person you have chosen.  If you are in love with someone who has over time turned the Divine out; you may need to love yourself more and let go. Loving yourself means that you recognize that the Divine created you as a most precious beloved gift.  Love doesn't mean that you are trampled; love means you are treasured.

Which brings me to this question for you: How well are you using your love?  How well is your loved received? How much of your love do you share? How willing are you are to trust and be vulnerable?  Do you give your love away haphazardly?

Here is the kicker: Would the Divine use your love the same way?

O'my, right?

Really think about this: Take a few minutes to really consider it. We know that no one is better at loving than the Divine. So how would the Divine use your love in your life?

Please carry that question around this week. Own it, consider what that means to you and where you are meeting not only your tribe, but the Divine on this portion of the Pilgrimage.

So that is the exercise, everyday you and the Divine, sitting in your special place reviewing your day. Having a snack, or a cup of tea, or maybe even a cocktail.  A chance to look at your day with the Divine, one on one. It's the opportunity to check-in and see how your love meter is working. How you are managing the love around you. It can also be your first step into meditation. At the end of each day to sit in silence, creating the room for you and the Divine and listening to the reflection. If you and the Divine have time to meet up in the morning, even better...

So tool number four is vulnerability, check. You are doing great, really. And I love you!

Can't wait to hear how it works for you this week.

xo
Kathryn
PilgrimageGal

I love hearing from you, and I miss it when you don't reach out! So leave comments below, connect with me on instagram at PilgrimageGal or on facebook at PilgrimageGal or send me a private email by sending me a note in the form in the sidebar.

photo credit: PixaBay/blickpixel

Teachers...

Can you remember the most important school teacher in your life? I can, she came over for cake and tea this morning. My most influential, loving and wisest teacher is Mrs. P.  I have had many amazing teachers in my life, but this special woman, well she helped shape my soul.  I met Mrs. P in 4th grade when she became my teacher. For the next 4 years she was my teacher at school, but she became a life long mentor that always provided me a soft place to fall. Always. Mrs.P was the one who helped me dust off a bad day.

She taught me math and religion for the next 4 years. Now remember it was the late 70's and early 80's, a small catholic school, I was the only kid of divorced parents. I have never been the strongest student and I was also a girl who struggled with math.

But it all worked out because, Mrs. P is the best math teacher ever! 

Mrs. P says she would get a knot in her stomach when she would grade my papers. For good reason, inevitably, whenever I bombed a test, I would fling myself down, my long brown hair covering the desk, sometimes I was crying (most of the time)--at the sheer drama of my grade. Poor Mrs. P, why she loved me is a mystery!

When my mom had a brain tumor and was in the hospital, I lived with her family for a week. She was also the first call we made when my step-dad died. She rushed from a High School parent meeting to sit on my sofa and love me through those first difficult hours, while my Mom informed my grandmother that her son had died.

The difficult moments, Mrs. P was with me. 

We have maintained a close relationship for years, she was ring side for my happiest moments too!  She is my confirmation sponsor, did a reading at our wedding and was present for the Baptisms of the Beauties.

Without question she shaped my faith life. Mama G (her other nickname) took the responsibility of being my sponsor seriously and has been a guide, a place of comfort, and a spiritual home.  I feel blessed to have this bond, this relationship with her, she has watched me grow, from little girl with ponytail, to wife and mother. Along the way our relationship has grown too, we now are two women with life experiences to share, discuss, celebrate; the joys and sorrows of this journey called life. 

I could spend days telling you of the math facts, the religion foundation that she gave me, the bible stories, apostles songs and scripture references that she taught me. Little gems I have taught the Beauties. I can't go to Stations of the Cross without thinking of the years she took me to daily Mass and taught me the significance of the Stations.  I was in Church with my sweet Irish Prince this year and realized that I was in 4th grade when I had the same "moment" when I understood what the Stations really meant. Mrs. P had that with me years ago.

I'm struggling to find the words, how to describe the feeling, the delight of being in the same room with someone who l love so completely. Who's hands can't hold mine enough, who's embrace I can't get enough of and whose departure I delay as long as possible.  

I realized today that, what I feel when I'm with MG, is the Divine. It's the glimpse of the perfection that awaits us all in heaven. When you are with a person that makes your joy well overflow, the water of life and love that can't run dry, that is an internal spring, providing you joy, hope and a fire of love that won't extinguish. This love allows you to smile even when the topic is painful, that sheer joy; that is bliss.

That is the taste, the glimpse of heaven on Earth.

When you meet God in these moments you understand profoundly, that God is waiting for us. Patiently. These are the gifts that make the journey easier. Makes the sting of the hard days sweeter.  It is the hand in yours when you are exhausted and the hand of joy when it is good; the sense of perfection that is still to come.

These gifts, these relationships, they are spiritual food, too. Do you realize that you are walking with God? How can we forget, "when two or more are gathered," we are not alone. God is present. This is another opportunity to meet the Divine. The Spirit is with us.

When you realize, that is what you are receiving, a pull, a yearning for more... That is God calling all of us for a deeper relationship. That what He is offering is even more.

That is why we have a core circle. Our women, our sisters help us. We dispense with the pretense--don't we?

Who are these people in your life? What friendships make you better? What person do you have a tough time leaving? Just one more cup of tea, one more story, one more hug and kiss? Who is that for you? You never tire, you just have a peacefulness that can't lapse, a smile for days.

This is just another connection to the Divine.

MG is one of my treasures, she taught me how to access the Divine. She is my first Spiritual Director, she pushed my faith along. The reason that I see Christ in others. She taught me, showed me, made God real and tangible. Alive for me. She is just one of the gifts God has sent me.

Do you have more than one of these gifts?

I bet if you sit and think about it you realize that you do... That your network is deeper than you realize... Connect to that power supply, nurture and develop these relationships. They are gifts.

We often forget gifts come in many forms. What may surprise you is that the most religious of your circle may not be the connector for you. Maybe it's the friend who likes to walk in the woods, or the friend who bakes the best bread, pushes you to run harder, shares with you the best books, or makes the best cup of tea.  Remember everyone doesn't connect with God in the same way... Think outside of the box. There are many ways to find peace and connect to the Divine... Gifts are amazing, aren't they?!

Your homework: reach out to that special someone. Go old school and mail a card this week, make a phone call, tell that special person in your life what they mean to you. Make the connections. Meet the Divine. Your day will be better because of it! And so will theirs! And report back... I want to hear from you.

Now, I'm off to find some stamps!

Namaste my friends.

Kathryn

PilgrimageGal

photo credit:

Wilson X

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