a sign?

The first time I ever received a “sign”–so to speak–from a greater Power, I was on retreat in Northern California. I had, at that point, spent three days without speaking. And I heard the message so loudly that it terrified me, and I asked if I could go home.

Oddly enough, that’s exactly how I feel now except that I am sitting in my home. And, I have learned to learn instead of to fear.

So here goes….

When I read “The Valkyries,” I looked up Borrego Springs and on a website for one of the hotels out there, I saw an advertisement for a special package to watch meteor showers in August. I am still thinking about going, but I am also thinking about sending a friend as a gift. Either way, this evening I wanted to look it up again to see pricing and the exact date.

I have spent the afternoon reading “The Pilgrimage” also by Coelho. And in this book he makes his way across Spain following the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago). I am about half way through the book and only put it down so I could eat. It has reminded me of this friend in a very interesting way so I remembered that I wanted to look up this hotel again so I could give dates and offer the gift of the trip.

At any rate, I sat down at the computer and typed “Borrego Springs” into the Google search bar (you can see it in the top right of this picture). Oddly, I did not get a Google results page at all. I didn’t even get anything that had to do with Borrego Springs. What popped up was a Wikipedia page about “The Way of St. James.” And suddenly, that feeling I had on a mountainside on a retreat returned so quickly. There was no way.

Just no way.

No way that the computer could accidentally link the two. No way that I could have mis-typed. I have done a screen capture to show that it occurred exactly as I have said.

Suffice it to say, I have spent the past half hour researching the Way of St. James. And I am almost certain that at some point in my life, I will walk it.

A sign, indeed.

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novenas & prayers & things

I feel like I have made repeated reference to this conversation I had a couple of months ago. It was via text message and with the co-worker-turned-friend who has become my prayer partner. Around January, she and I realized that there was some greater message that we were missing. It all came together in that aforementioned conversation.

I don’t think, though, that I have talked about what happened the next day. When I walked into her classroom, she had novenas in her hand. Printed from the internet.

I haven’t prayed a novena since I was 14. I remember the last time clearly. We lived in walking distance from a church so I actually prayed it in the church every day for nine days. My mom would walk with me. I don’t know what she did, but I would kneel in the front of the church and cry as I prayed.

The other thing I haven’t done since I was 14 is pray the rosary. My whole family used to pray it together after dinner. I’ve only prayed it since at funerals.

The unfortunate thing is that both of these things, particularly the St. Jude novena, are associated with negative memories in my mind.

In the past few months, I have learned to combine the two with my Ignatian practice of the examination of consciousness–yea, like to be alive. When I started that seven years ago, I would spend five minutes doing it. A few months ago, it was about 30 minutes.

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standing on a hill, in my mountain of dreams

I guess it was last week that I posted Led Zeppelin song lyrics online. I’ve been listening to “How the West was Won” pretty much on loop since then.

“Going to California” is probably my favorite Zeppelin song. And it seems pretty appropriate for this blog and for my life right now. I have been trying to train myself to constantly be aware of the signs around me. I was going to say look for them, but I haven’t had to search out a single one of them. They’ve all been handed to me, almost on a silver platter with a bow tied around them.

It was all Zeppelin on Friday night, and it really had nothing to do with me at all.

“Listen to the guitar right here.” I don’t think I said much at all because I was interested in what songs other people chose as their favorite Zeppelin.

The very next night, I returned home to find that I could set my stereo on a sleep timer so back on went “How the West was Won.” I think I made it through the first two volumes before I fell asleep. That makes for some very interesting sleep, I must say.

But it all goes back to people.

I feel that I have been super reflective in the past few months, especially the past few weeks because I don’t have to go to work. And I have realized that everyone who has come into my life during this time is in the same place I am. It’s an odd solidarity, not one that I’m used to.

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The Valkyries & Who is God?

I’ve been in somewhat of a cloud for the past 24 hours because of Paulo Coelho’s “The Valkyries.” In essence, it’s about the journey to find one’s guardian angel. I think it has rooted itself in my brain because of my dreams. For weeks, I had the same dream. I asked my father last weekend to identify the lake and the dock in my dream. He knew it easily. He remembered the moment I did easily, too.

I think I have to go there.

I was thinking about this last week, and I asked my friend if he would go with me. But I wasn’t entirely sure if I would do it or if it was that important. I didn’t explain it to him. I don’t know why. I guess it seems strange, and I like to test out the waters with people before launching into huge spiritual discussions.

I like the idea Coelho presents of “breaking the pact” in order to see one’s angel. I think maybe that’s why she started to appear in my dreams. In a lot of ways, I have freed myself from not attempting to fulfill my destiny. He describes how easy it is to speak with angels when you are a child, but how that disappears as you get older. That is, until you can break the pact of un-fulfilling prophesy. I like that idea a lot.

As I slept last night, I did not have the same dream. It’s actually been awhile, but I think it’s because I don’t need the dream anymore. I know the place, and I know the why.

So, I saw my friend again tonight. I did not ask him again if he would go with me. I thought perhaps that it wasn’t right to ask someone to go with you. Coelho does on his journey, but it is his wife. She understands why he’s going and what he needs to do. There’s no way, at this point, that my friend would know those things.

So, tonight, I asked him something else: “Do you believe in God? And how?”

I knew the answer to the first question. I could feel that answer when I met him. It was the “how” that I was interested in. The how would determine if I would explain this again and if I would ask him when I decide to make the drive up north.

I’m always a little nervous when I ask this question. I suppose, though, I shouldn’t be because I always ask it when I have seen a certain amount of a person’s soul. So, I must know somewhere deep inside me what their answer will be. I think I ask because I really love the interpretations of God that I hear.

I believe in a Creator. A Creator who split his soul up into the Earth and all of us. And it’s our job to figure out how to make them one.

I like that a lot. I can’t help but smile thinking about not only the answer but the fact that it was shared.

I didn’t explain the dream after that because I think it was a statement that needed its own space. Not to be muddled up by my thoughts–at this moment. So, I said simply, “that’s probably why I like you so much.”

I think, though, that I will explain the dream. If it seems right, I think I will ask again.

currently reading: the choices

I think I’m going to approach this in two ways. First, I think I want to explain why I choose the books I do. I think that’s important. And second, I think I’ll write about what I thought after I read the individual books. I don’t think I’ll backtrack to other books right now because I haven’t really been updating the side of this blog with everything I’ve been reading.

I made a trip to the library a couple of days ago and came up with the new “Currently Reading” and a few other books waiting to be read, and a friend handed me another book the other day.

First, “Run to the Mountain” by Thomas Merton. I’ve been listening to Joseph Campbell’s interview with Bill Moyers on “The Power of Myth.” The series speaks of the journey of the soul, which is exactly what Merton writes about from a Catholic perspective, which, of course, is very easy for me to understand. I have been wanting to read Merton’s journals for some time, but the six-part series is a little daunting. I have found thus far, though, that it is an easy read and a nice description of the spiritual journey of a person. And because of my current “going-with-the-“signs” philosophy, I was drawn to begin the series now because of the title of the first volume. A friend told me a story a few weeks ago: “Why did you climb the mountain?” and he referred to “meeting me at the mountaintop” a few days ago. Repeated references to a mountain and stumbling across this book in the book stacks made it seem like ideal timing.

I have to say as a side note that both this friend and another have made reference to sharing spirituality with me. I have to say that is very overwhelming for me because I have made a conscious decision to cultivate friendships with both of them because of the spirituality I see in each of them. So, I have started to see how we strengthen and develop our spirituality through the presence of kindred souls. I am grateful for my co-discusser on all things of the soul and my prayer partner.

The second book “Building Better Plots” is one that I picked up because at this point I’m inclined to read anything anyone has written about writing. Some of these books have been zero help, but some have been incredible. So, I figure I will power through them and glean what I may from each.

The third thing that I’m about 10 pages into and trying not to read until I finish the other two is Paulo Coelho’s “The Valkyries” which was handed to me a couple of nights ago by the same person who recommended “The Alchemist.”

on my mind

I came across (and by came across, I mean was handed by someone who from this point on will be referred to as my spiritual adviser) the DVDs of Bill Moyer’s interview with Joseph Campbell: “The Power of Myth.”

Campbell says something to the effect that our brain is a secondary organ. The soul and heart are first. And when we give the brain priority, we create a schizophrenia in ourselves.

I don’t have my reflection on this yet, but just wanted to say that it’s been on my mind for the past 24 hours.

“I Prayed for the Sun Just for You”

I have had, in my lifetime, the blessing of some amazing mentors. People who were actually assigned to me to help me learn to teach but became wonderful support systems, sources of information, and really good friends.

One of these beautiful people–from 3 jobs ago–called me up a couple of weeks ago and invited me to lunch. I finally had the opportunity to meet her on Wednesday afternoon. It was gloomy and overcast as I got ready in the morning, and I was a little disappointed in the gray clouds because she had promised lunch in the marina.

I made my way to her home, and she invited me in. We always talked about work when we were working so it was an amazing glimpse into the life of a 72-year-old woman (sorry for putting that out there!) who has done so much, loved so much, served so much.

She showed me her pictures–of family and her travels. Of flowers. Of caves. Of waterfalls.

At one point, I told her something I’ve always known but was solidified in this visit: “You are an amazing, amazing woman, and I hope you teach for twenty more years.” She laughed.

She took me out to lunch, and we sat in the brilliant sunshine.

“When I woke up this morning,” she said, “I prayed for sun for you.”

And I had to  hug her. What a powerful thing to do for someone.

So, I think that’s going to be my new commitment: Every morning, I going to choose one of the amazing people in my life, and I’m going to pray for sun just for them.