Category Archives: Spiritual

Did I Ever Want to Know This?

My sister and brother-in-law were here to visit weeks back.  She and I have much in common.  We love gardening. We love little animals.  And we both suffer from  ailments that set us planted on our knees begging for Uncle sometimes.

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She explained that she had gotten her DNA tested recently and that her findings have helped her to understand her difficulties better and how she has been able to implement action to her betterment.

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I thought that was pretty cool.  So I did the same thing.  Did I have any idea of the door I was opening?  Nope.  Actually my findings were not a huge surprise.  After all, I have been living with all those “numbers” for 56 years, so I am somewhat familiar with their personalities.  I became familiar with my blond hair and brown eyes a few years back.

What was magical (or scary) was that all those numbers confirmed many things that I already knew.    And the many things I did NOT already know.

I think I thought that much of my “stuff” was environmental.  Or something.  Why cant I drink a cup of coffee without my nervous system freaking out?  Why am I not able to deal with medicine well?  Why do I go through bouts of mild (or not) depression?  Who dun turned me into an alcoholic?  Who was that bad guy/girl?  WHY AM I SICK ALL THE TIME?

I heard a scripture verse on the radio yesterday that has rung beautifully in my ears since:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.        2 Corinthians 12:9

I LOVE THAT.  He is here with me ALL the days that I am weak.  I rest surely in that.   I take great comfort.   I want His power splayed all over the top of me.  And His grace IS sufficient.  On the days when I ask for it.  Some days I forget to ask.

Knowing my DNA results did not fix any of these things.  But it gave me huge insight into those questions.  I don’t have to ask WHY?  Why me?  anymore.  The answers  to the question is this:  Because. “I SAID SO” (Ooops. My moms gene sneaking out of me.)  This is who you are.  In  large part, this is who you were born to be.

Huge blessings, I was born to be.  Wonderful, beautiful girl I was born to be.  Into a great, loving  family I was born to be.  Sickly?  Yes.  But there are millions of numbers attached to me.  What more could I ask?   So complicated.  So fragile.  How can I spend time complaining with all those numbers wanting to keep me upright everyday?    There are a few broken numbers I’ll admit.  And even some pretty scary things looming.  But for goodness sake, who is not suffering in this world?

Our  new little grandbaby had her baptism yesterday.  It was beyond precious.  The cycle of life overwhelms me.  SHE overwhelms me.  It was picture perfect with family and friends (we missed you Charlie, Sam and Lauren)  celebrating the entry of her little life into the church.  Immediately after being blessed with the water and oil, she literally flopped into a slumber from the exhaustive wait.  It was like the event caused her to pass out.  She is now safely and snuggly in the embrace of Christ.  Whew.

The weather was beeeautiful.  The party was perfect.

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I pray that she got the best of my genes.

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When we were slipping into bed last night, Pops said that days do not get better than that.  I agreed.  Days do not get better than that.  Life is not without suffering. I keep trying to convince myself of that.  We are born with it in our bones.  But the perfection that we get glimpses of between the shards make it ALL worth it.

Even if I don’t have a memory of it in twenty years.

It is all about this moment.

Peace,

Karen

 

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Who Tells Your Story?

“Who lives? Who dies? Who tells your story?”

“Who keeps your flame? Who remembers your name?”

Them be powerful words.  Written by the genius who wrote the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton.

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I am not a Broadway buff.  I am not a history buff.  I am not even culturally engaged really. But Pops gave me tickets to the Broadway show a few months back.  I had seen a few trailers on tv and it looked intriguing.  The original cast is winding up its first year and I was a lucky one to see them before handing over the baton, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius writer, and leading actor.

There is something striking about this musical that has struck me and many others.  It swept the Tony’s.

Maybe its  hip-hop meets 1776.  Maybe its the diversity of the cast.  Maybe its the tiny little  subtle nuances throughout the whole production that strike yours and my heart at different intervals.  Maybe it’s the depth of humanness displayed.  Maybe it’s America trying to absorb the history class they slept through in High School.

Who tells my story?   Hmmm.

Who carries my flame?

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Will my flame be too burdensome to carry?

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What is my story?  Does it matter to you?  Does it matter to anyone?  I have been reflecting on it lately.  Well.. since I have been trying memorize the whole soundtrack.  It is that awesome.

I know we all have a legacy that is left at the feet of our family, friends, community and for some,  far wider.    What is that legacy?  Money?  Children and Grandchildren?  Careers and talents?  Integrity?  Our sins and mistakes?   Our physical traits?  Our quirks?  Our habits?  Wow.  It could be anything.  And everything.

Sometimes I sit back and look at my art and the other efforts I deem important and wonder if this will mean a hill a beans when I am gone.  What are the sum of my parts?   Who will keep my flame?  Some people would believe it doesn’t really matter.  When you’re gone, you’re gone.  I am not of that belief.  I believe we are here for a mere breathe but the sum of our mere breaths are vastly important.   (Look at Hamilton.  His mere breath got himself on the face of  an US note.)   Every breath counts.  Every last one of them.  We have a huge opportunity to spread our love here.

I listened to the Hamilton song with my son, Charlie.  He told me that HE will tell my story.  He asked me what part of my story is important to me?  If I could be there to tell my story, what would I want said.  That is a good question.  A really good question.  If I had to give him a jump off place, I’d say:

In all things, she tried desperately to love Jesus………..

If you get a chance, go see Hamilton.

Peace,

Karen

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Filed under Art, Spiritual

Hen For a Best Friend?

A dear Canadian farmer friend who keeps me updated with the current events of the chicken  world  touched base today.  He and I were wannabe -chicken -farmer -dreamers years back and we both have made our dreams of chicken poop and blood orange egg yolks a reality.  His dream expanded far wider than mine and he is going to town on his farm in Canada. His dream is his livelihood.  Mine is my hobby.

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Farmer Doug

He sent me the following story of a young sailor guy who is sailing the world with a hen.   The sailor  desired an animal companion rather than a human. Gee, I wonder why.   He settled on a hen.  It is my guess you cannot imagine why in the world he would choose a chicken for a sailing mate.

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Please  open link to take a gander at his priceless photos.  Precious.

It is  my opinion that chickens get a bad rap.  They are stupid animals they say.  Well…I beg to differererer……Its all relative.    What would you expect given  their heads are the size of a cherry tomato?  Of course, we cannot compare their intellect with ours.  Is that what those people are doing?  Can we please look at the rest of their character attributes?  Intellect ain’t all there is, sista.

My chickens are gentle.  They chat with me when I enter their house. And they ALL  have a little to add to the conversation.  Personalities vary just like ours.  They know when I am coming to treat them and when I’m not coming to treat. They wait patiently for me to feed all the other animals.

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They walk quietly in single file line to their treating ground.  I could learn a thing or two from our “stupid” chickens.

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Chickens live in the moment.  They are honest about their moment.

They hoot and howl their eggs out.  These guys work HARD for your Saturday morning omelet.

They quibble and squabble away their differences.  No harm. No foul. No lasting resentments.  Unless of course there  is a weakling  lurking about.  I never said they were perfect.  Maybe that’s why the sailing guy chose only one hen to sail instead of a buddy system.

As with any being, if you love them, they can in turn love back.   If you give them room to grow, they will flourish.   If you keep the  creature locked in a cage  physically, mentally or emotionally where they can’t stand on their little legs, they can not blossom. They will lack the love and luster.

Every night after dinner, we abandoned the dirty dishes and run to  the swing to watch the chicken show.  There must be  some redeeming qualities in these little guys if we invest our evening entertainment hours in avian performances. Maybe I have the intellect problem.  Not the chickens.  I’ll have to think about that.  Or not.

They require no showers before bed time. No teeth brushing.   They march right on to their school bus (roost) at dusk  without being asked and lights out.   I do need to train them to shut lights.

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Could I go boating with one of my hens?  Oh yes.  If I liked boats.  Can I take her on a jaunt around the world in my pickup?  I’d love to.

 

Long live the hen.

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Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

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Filed under Farm, Spiritual

Naked. Nothing. Simple.

Many years ago in a land not too far away there sat two couples in a diner at two a.m. munching on something I am positive was not healthy.

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Not sure it was this diner but I am going to guess.  Same town.  Same era. 

The conversation turned serious for a minute when one young woman wanted to know what we were doing there.  “No, I mean, What  are we REEEALLY doing  here?  What is our purpose? ”  The other young woman, being me, dug deep for a profound answer that would knock the rest off their seats.  We were going to answer that question that has been in circulation for oh… since the beginning of time. One of the guys who sees things just as they are said, “I know exactly why we’re here.  Because we’re hungry.”.  We all laughed and the subject was changed.  Nothing was solved but I would put money on that each of us today could  say where and when that 1 minute conversation took place.  About 25 years ago.  Why do I remember that?

I have pondered that question over  the years.  Is it really as simple as that?  Or is it more complicated than that?

Ahh,  the olden days.

Fast forward to this summer.  I have been studying some spiritual things in nature.  The question has come up again.  Especially now that we have our very own first grand baby, Joan Marie.

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In my “spiritual things in nature” investigation, I have concluded that this little precious baby in her 2nd day of life is doing it better than I.

We define ourselves by what we do.   I am an artist.   I am a wife.  A mom.  An educated woman.  A gardener. Sorta.  An animal lover.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  I could go on but I would faint from boredom.   I have created this image of myself that I spend my days trying to live up to.  Exhausting.   I make lists upon lists to make sure the image is upheld.  When I go to bed at night I subconsciously check my list to see if I accomplished the tasks needed for the world to believe the self-image that I created for myself.

Isn’t honesty brutal?

Dang.

My  recent discovery is that when I was  born, like our precious Joan, I was already everything in God’s eyes.   It is a place of utter simplicity.  Not adorned or decorated with my created self images.  Naked and nothing.  Perfectly made and fully created.  “It is a place before having done anything wrong or done anything right”, says Richard Rohr.  A wonderful author of spiritual things (in nature.)

Pure.

State of “be”ing.  Not a state of “do”ing.

As I move along in life, I don’t want  to compare myself with others and their gifts or calls anymore. Richard Rohr also says, “All I can give back to God is what God has given to me – nothing more  and no less.”  Hmmm.  That is so good.

I have a great example that should neatly tie this baby up. My mother-in-law, Jo, who our new baby was named after, use to tell me every summer to make sure to let my kids just BE.  Don’t schedule  their hours up.  And when I think about it now….What she meant is …    Let them be who they are.  Who they were created to be.  Let them use only their little minds to figure out who they are.  Let them run through summer being nothing.  Naked.  Simple.  God will show each one of them who they are.   And that is all they can give back to Him.  Such a miracle.

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Oooh. She was right.  That Jo, she had more wisdom that I can say.   Especially when it came to children.

What I want to say and may be having a time trying is this……I am beautifully, lovingly made. I  have a purpose.   A simple and wonderful purpose.  I was born with it.  It is a gift to each of us.  I can take the self-made burden off my shoulders.  What is to be is already within me.  Just let it be and let it flow.   Let it ride.  No need to contrive.   I am not my own invention.  Naked.

I want to shout out to my son, Eric, and his beautiful wife and mother to my grandbaby, Emily…. Thank you SOOO much for naming your daughter after that great woman, my mother in law.  You have awakened her memory in me and I will think of her every time I look at your daughter.  I am so  grateful for that. A gift you have no idea.

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We miss you Grandma! 

Peace,

Karen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fill ‘Er Up.

Today, I attended a relative’s funeral.  This will be the ninth family funeral in three years for me.  Seems odd, doesn’t it?  It does to me.   Some were to be expected.  Some not.  Even before this funeral, I had been giving  this life/death thing  a lot of thought.  I have been accused of letting my head wander places that most heads would not  and, of course, it seems to have wandered that way again.   The joy in me doesn’t dwell too long  on life ending because I feel  certain that there is a life of eternal bliss that will follow this. I rejoice for those who go before me.   I will admit also, that I struggle in this world and often times feel I have no place here which leaves me daydreaming about what is to come.   I suffer from insomnia so I look forward to one day taking a very long nap.  And I can’t eat many foods that most people enjoy, so I look forward to an eternal mountain  of cookies when I enter heaven too.   I told ya.  My brain gets on the wrong train sometimes.

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So where did it wander to this time?  Memory Bank.  Making deposits.

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While we live, we possess an  unbelievably complicated gift of a memory bank.  We each possess one and it is full up.   Both of my parents suffer/ed from forms of dementia.   I am keenly aware of the gift of our memory bank.   And what a gift it is.  As I take my daily stroll through the woods, I can pluck out a memory from yesterday, or 45 years ago.  I can ruminate on it for a fleeting second or really dig in.  Maybe even end up on a couch over it.  In an office.  With someone listening intently about my precious memory.   Which I have many times.  Memories are not all good.  Each one makes up   who I am.  Good or bad.  Happy or sad.

But you know what?  My memory is mine.  It is very personal.  Very intimate.  I own it.  Our memory banks cannot go bankrupt(except with the dreaded disease) .  There are thousands, probably millions of them  at my disposal.  We can bask in our memories.  When you think about it (as deeply as I tend to think) it is  incredible that we are blessed with such a rich  deposit  of data that can be flashed before our eyes in the second of an adrenaline rush.  Or an aroma.  For me,  a song will send me back to a place that I can literally smell and feel.  Sometimes the stirring of a memory can make my heart hurt.  Just from the yearn for the long-lost time.

Life is really amazing to me and  I like looking deep into it because it’s all I’ve got.   And what a precious, wonderful, hard life it is.  I have very special memories about each of those relatives I have lost recently.  I can bring them around at will.  That is one heck of a good idea.

Peace,

Karen

 

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Filed under Health/ Nutrition, Spiritual

Try, Try As I might.

My plate is full and I cannot keep up.

Today and yesterday, I installed my 2nd panel for Marian University. Whew.  Taxing event.  But I had good help  (Thanks MC and Holly!)  and it is done.

2 down.  3 to go.

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Came home to very rainy beautiful fall evening.  The leaves were spectacular on the drive home.  I looked up our peak last year and it came a full two weeks earlier last year.  That was normal.  Peak the last day in October is not normal.

Happy Halloween.

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We only have three trick or treaters.   I dont know if they are tricking us or treating us.  Or are we treating them?  Or…. I never understood Halloween.  It falls in the same category as amusement parks and parades for me.  Maybe I don’t know how to have fun.  That’s it.  I’m no fun.

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My mosaic project is a large project for me.  Largest ever by far.   My farm duties, studio work, normal chores are spreading me quite thin.  I am thankful that the mosaic job is not a permanent add to my daily agenda. But am sure glad I have it.  It is all my passions rolled into one.  Art, God, and nature (The nature part is the fact that St. Francis, who the work is about, is a patron saint of nature. and I love him and nature).  He is the bomb.  This work is affording us to visit his hometown this coming Christmas in celebration of him, my work and Marian University.  My job will end and I will be able to resume painting and creating at the pace I am used to.  Everything I love to do will be given more attention.  Including this blog.  I have so enjoyed writing here.  Many days are spent in solitude, which I love, but I also love being connected.  This blog gives me that opportunity to connect.  Especially to those I miss so much from the ol’ hometown.  I am going to suspend writing until my mosaic is through so that I can fully pour myself into my work and  not feel pulled so thin.   I don’t even have any tomatoes put away for the winter  the pulling has been so severe.

I will see you next year!  I love you.   I  pray that God blesses us and keeps us until  next year.  And forever.   He is so good I can’t stand it.

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See you soon!  I will miss you.

God bless,

Karen

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How Far Would You Go?

News on TV is fear driven,  panicky,  and biased.  I try not to  allow myself to be swayed by the media.  Sitting for any length with the media is neither good for my stress level or my soul.   I like  the facts, ma’am, then I will find a quiet place to ruminate on the facts.  When you think about it, a news fact only takes a few seconds or minutes at most to relay.  When the media reports for hours on end, we are receiving far more than facts.  It is like an injection of  fearful stress.  

The weather channel.  Online.  They have cool reports of neat things that I wouldn’t ordinarily know. I can enjoy them and they do not affect me like the news media.  

Like wonderful cloud formations.  Or one of a kind underwater photos.   

Last week they took me to monasteries around the world that literally hang off cliffs.   And now I ask again….How far would you go….for silence and rumination?  Would you hang onto a side of a cliff?  Would that be far enough away?

Do we need to go to the ends of the earth to find that silence?  Is it the only place that we can go to get far enough away from it all so we can hear ourselves think?  Better yet.. so we can hear God speak to us?  Hear Him help us understand all being heard in this really loud world?   So He can help us sift the worthwhile from the worthless?

I don’t know about you, but I am easily scared.  If I listen to the news media for any length of time, they accomplish their mission.

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It would be worth my while to travel to any one of these sacred places.  Not to mention,  breathtakingly cool.    But I still question…do I need to, to get what I need…which is peace, perspective, quiet, and answers.

In my experience?  No.

God hears me everywhere.  And God takes me where I am.   AS  I am.  Thank goodness, cause there is always some business that He needs to address with me.    I cannot hear Him unless I make myself available.  Going somewhere quiet IS necessary for me.  Not sure I have to go to the ends of the earth though.  I can’t concentrate on anything when there is something else going on.  Can you?

Going for a quiet walk works.  Sitting in a Chapel works.  Sitting in a room by my self works.  Staring out a window works.  Actually,  sitting at stop lights work.   I suppose it is just a matter of getting out of the world for a bit and stepping into His world is all that it takes.  Tell me, Lord.  Show me, Lord.

Have you ever noticed people who like silence and quiet have a calm, joyful quality about them?   I admire that.   It just occurred to me the reason may be that through their silent and quiet time, they are hearing God and receiving His graces to be calm, and grateful.  Wow.  I want that.

No matter our circumstances, we all can reach that same place with Him.  Any one of us can find a quiet place.  It is just a matter of choosing to do so or not.

God bless,

Karen

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