The Long View

It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about.

We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces efforts far beyond our capabilities.

ladder

ladder ©VSpain

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way–an opportunity for grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders. We are ministers not Messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

~Archbishop Oscar Romero

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Sleep on it…

I had been struggling with a lack of physical energy for the last month or so. One night last week, after an acupuncture treatment, I had a long, sound sleep. I woke up refreshed and alert- I was not tired. My tiredness was not only due to lack of sleep, there have been other work and personal stresses, and I’ve worked with this acupuncturist for almost a year, but this experience reminded me that every time I get a solid night’s sleep – enough hours and no waking – I wake deeply refreshed.

Sleep and rest were also a huge help when I was sick. Sometimes all the focus on medication ignores the incredible healing power of sleep and rest.

Body care basics:

Diet – eat food, not too much, mostly plants (Michael Pollen)

Exercise – some kind of movement every day

Sleep – however many hours you need to feel refreshed

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And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new created.

D.H. Lawrence

Hint: If you need an alarm clock to get up in the morning you haven’t had enough sleep-experiment on the weekends with not using one and see how many hours your body needs to really rest, then try to apply that to your work week. Getting up in the morning without an alarm is blissful. I’m still working on it.

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Spring Poetry

after we parted

after we parted and got into separate cars
I meant to follow you to the highway
and turn left heading east
while you turned right
heading west and north

but when you pulled away
I got out of my car
went back to the hotel
and asked the bland blonde behind the front desk
a question I already knew the answer to
and went back outside

there was a lake in front of me
and a meager lawn on my right
where a mother chased a toddler
and a grandfather sat facing them
his arms wide open

I walked to the lake
overtaking a goose and her gander

stepping onto a dock
I imagined I walked on water
while beside me
first the gander then the goose
sank down at the water’s edge
as if kneeling
and slipped at once
into grace

©VSpain

oval crowned & glorified_MCC

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Jack of All Trades

Sometimes I think my blog should just be about diabetes–or about diabetes and food, or mindfulness and diabetes, or diabetes, mindfulness and food with some art thrown in–and maybe a poem or two every once in a while. In other words, I can’t focus on just one thing but fret that it should be about one thing, have one focus.

In high school, a music teacher, on learning that I wanted to change instruments, said, jack of all trades, master of none. I switched anyway (from tuba to cello) but that phrase rang in my mind for years, probably because I heard it all my life in one form or another, and in just about every sphere from work to the arts. Eventually I internalized it.

I now believe you can indeed do many things well if you are allowed to do them. Though often thwarted, I kept trying to do the things I loved, and without support, I did them out of sight, with whatever energy I had left after doing the thing(s) people told me I should do, but in my heart never wanted to–for years I felt diminished, powerless and unsuccessful…

mandala ©VSpain

mandala ©VSpain

Which brings me back to this blog’s content: diabetes, health, simplicity, food, spirit and creativity… everything that comprises a healthy life. Art is not separate from work, work is not separate from health, health is not separate from spirituality–none are separate from each other and all are connected, as we are connected to/related to every living thing.

For me, writing a regular blog is like drawing in a daily sketchbook. Over time, shapes, colors, symbols, and themes recur to create a unique visual language. Through blogging my interests, ideas, and concerns constellate around the subject of real health: food, spirituality and creativity.

 

We are stardust, we are golden and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. ~Joni Mitchell.

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Spring

4 balls on the roof ©VSpain

4 balls on the roof ©VSpain

Don’t go outside to see the flowers.

My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.

Inside your body there are flowers.

One flower has a thousand petals.

That will do for a place to sit.

Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty

inside the body and out of it,

before and after gardens.

~ Kabir

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A New Path?

Life and work intruded on my weekly blog posts- most notably: grant funding for the Mass in Motion program I administer is ending in September, 2 years ahead of schedule (!). The city may fund the program, but while administrators wrangle over budgets, I’m pausing to consider my life’s work- that’s the only way I’ve ever been able to think about work- not just as a job, but as one element in a seamless life.

angel

angel -VSpain

For a long time, I was confused by what actually drove me re work, especially since it didn’t seem to be what society said should be driving me. Though I never (really) let go of my desire to be both creative and do good, I thought they were competing desires. They’re not.

In  Brainpickings this Sunday, March 16, 2014 I read parts of Anna Quindlen’s aborted 2000 Villanova commencement speech on work and life. What a pleasant surprise to read someone who shared my career “resume!”

“I’ve never earned a doctorate, or even a master’s degree. I’m not an ethicist, or a philosopher, or an expert in any particular field… I can’t talk about the economy, or the universe, or academe, as academicians like to call where they work when they’re feeling kind of grand… My work is human nature. Real life is really all I know.”

Though we share share a resume, we don’t necessarily share the view that life and work are  separate. Quindlen says, enjoy life and don’t get caught up in the “rat race” of work, but if you’re persistent-and if circumstances aren’t against you-meaningful work consistent with a vibrant life is available.

Whatever happens with Energize Everett, I’m firmly on a path to engage life through meaningful work.

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Go to the Kitchen

Michael Pollen goes into the kitchen to cook, and finds answers to pressing health, environmental, social– even spiritual– problems.

“…what is the most important thing an ordinary person can do to help reform the American food system, to make it healthier and more sustainable? Another related question is, how can people living in a highly specialized consumer economy reduce their sense of dependence and achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency? … How, in our everyday lives, can we acquire a deeper understanding of the natural world and our species peculiar role in it? You can always go to the woods to confront such questions, but I discovered that even more interesting answers could be had by simply going into the kitchen.” ~Michael Pollen, Cooked

There is one thing missing from this quote, the thing you understand immediately when you read Cooked. Pollen finds answers in the kitchen because he explores cooking with great attention and care. He immerses himself in fermenting, cooking with fire and water and baking bread- its his mindfulness that connects him to the sacred, transforming aspect of cooking.

bread1

And the people he interviews, and who teach him to cook, also pay attention to the details-often with great passion.

What could we pay attention to? Our senses. To our hands stirring, kneading, cutting-to our hands kneading and the texture of the dough- to tasting the flavors melding in a soup or braise-give over to a creative act that is experienced.

Give in to the spell of the sensuous. Give your thoughts a rest.

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