Thursday, December 23, 2021

Gifts of In-Breaking: Part 3


In Part 2 of In-Breaking, I spoke of the “O” Antiphon “—O, Oriens” (the Morning Light from the East). The in-breaking of that light comes as gift to each of us in unexpected moments—leaves blazing autumn; smile dawning on a face awed by kindness; gnarled hands soothing a sobbing child. These can be moments of great enlightenment and wonder. They are always moments when, to paraphrase the English poet Wordsworth, our “heart leaps up.” 


As we move through the seasons of our life, the gift of light—insight—grace blesses us. Each moment of utter awareness becomes a treasured bead. From these beads, we make our life’s rosary of gratitude—gratefulness. The beads slip through the fingers of our mind whenever we need to recall the quiet, the peace, of blessedness.  


That startling moment of in-breaking for me last Tuesday brought questions . . . answers . . . and recall. 


In years past, I crocheted; worked jigsaw puzzles; walked four miles each day; macraméd; peddled a bike 10 miles before work; volunteered; protested; got out the vote with; served as an election judge; painted watercolors; used a piano keyboard; practiced yoga; worked in my vegetable, perennial, and rock gardens; baked; tried countless new vegetarian recipes; threw dinner parties; studied classical Greek; memorized a stanza of a poem each day, . . .


When light broke in; I realized I’d left it all beyond. All the joy of it. The feeling of accomplishment. The delight. My life had narrowed to five items a day; I’d pinned my entire attention on writing a memoir.


That in-breaking also helped me realize why this had happened.


In October 2019, I published The Reluctant Spy, an historical novel. The novel reflected my own search for who Yeshua was and is, my struggle with a personal God, my dreams of Wholeness, and my dawning belief in Oneness. 


The Reluctant Spy represented 20 years of living, reflecting, researching, and writing. And . . . it was . . . it is . . . a dismal flop. Only a few—maybe 15—copies have sold. 


Six weeks after its publication, I had my second knee replacement. The recuperation from that, unlike the first replacement, was long. Difficult. Problematic.


Possibly because of the stress from those two incidents or from the changes wrought by climate change or because I’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s that is “progressive and intractable,” the disease kicked in and for the past two years has been—it sometimes seems to me—ever present. 


What now? What after the gift of grace? 


First, gratitude abounds. Second, I’m taking baby-steps to redefine my life and put back into it those activities and thoughts that bless me: Puzzle pieces litter the dining-room table; the keyboard on the card-table beckons my fingers; yarn lies ready to be crocheted into an afghan. The yoga DVD is in the player. Two textbooks—one Greek, one Latin—await my inquiring mind. All invite me to create a new life as I move toward the Beyond.


Then, wonder of wonders, that in-breaking brought to me the first paragraphs of the memoir with which I’ve struggled for two years. It is, I believe, the perfect entryway to the telling of my life.


This sudden and welcomed in-breaking then is the gift of Advent and Christmas. Life truly is good.




NOTE: The writings of Richard Rohr, whom I mentioned yesterday, explore a theology I no longer embrace. But often, his daily meditation provides food for thought about Oneness. 


I also read Cameron Trimble who writes for “Convergence.” His down-to-earth stories always bring new spiritual realizations to me. 


Photo from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"O Oriens"--An Inbreaking: Part 2

Part 1 of “The In-Breaking of Light” provided the background for today’s posting about an in-breaking that lifted my spirits out of a malaise that began in November 2019. In future postings, I hope to explain what happened two years ago that brought me to what felt like an impasse. 

Let us begin:


As I explained yesterday, my rereading of my December 7th posting left me befuddled. Last Tuesday, I went to bed somewhat disgruntled about myself. For a few minutes I played spider solitaire on my iPad. Then, wearied by my own loss of hope, I leaned back into the headrest. 


Closing my eyes, I went to the deep center of myself where Oneness dwells—has always dwelt no matter how I’ve tried to flee or ignore or remonstrate. Always there. At the deep center of my being. Always.


I let myself sink into the River of Oneness flowing through that center. Always and ever, I, a diminutive drop of life-giving water for humankind, enter the stream that moves inexorably toward Wholeness—toward the vast Ocean of Oneness that absorbs us so that all touches all and we unite in the great Alleluia of Life and Light, Love and Being. We become One.


This is the way I now meditate. It’s not the way of my thirties and forties. That served me well . . . then. The meditation of myself in Oneness has served me now for some forty years. I never read anything about what I’d come to believe and hold blest. I simply experienced living and reflected on it. Slowly the realization of Oneness came to me.


Yet just this past year, I discovered a writer who has published several books on Oneness. I am now on Richard Rohr’s daily meditation mailing list. For now, at least, he and I seem to be on the same path in our spiritual journey. He’s traveled farther than I; I stumble along trusting Oneness.


So, I’m meditating last Tuesday, flowing within the River of Oneness, and suddenly, light breaks in. Some would say, “an insight.” Raised as a Roman Catholic, I’d say I experienced a lovely grace—the Presence of all those who, throughout my life, have raised me, taught and educated me, befriended me, mourned with me, rejoiced with me, cherished me.


In that grace-filled moment, a sudden, and to me, surprising, thought came: “Why has my life narrowed down so?” 


With great certitude, I realized that it had nothing to do with the pandemic. No. I, myself, have allowed my life to narrow down to five activities: meditating, struggling to write a memoir, puzzling over spider solitaire, listening to mystery novels, and watching BritBox. Five!


Then another thought: “When and why did writing become the thumbtack that nailed me to only one definition of success: a published book read by many?”


It was then that the light promised by Advent dawned within me. The “O” AntiphonO Orienssaid at Vespers on December 21 each year beseeches Oneness to send us light—the light we all need if we are to grow into wholeness.


O Morning Star,

splendor of eternal light and sun of justice,

come and shine on those who dwell in darkness

and the shadow of death.


For Christians, that Morning Star is Yeshua. For myself, Yeshua is one human—a beloved one—among many. Among all. So that Morning Star is the Oneness of all humans who—however and whenever and wherever I have met them—have shed light into the darkness of my own doubt. 


Tomorrow, I hope to share with you how that River of Light that streamed through my bemusement brought change. You will, I trust, rejoice with me when you read the next installment. 




Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The In-Breaking of Light--Part 1


Two weeks ago, in my first posting since July, I shared with you the despondency that had come upon and over me due to an inability to find an entryway into a second memoir. 


That posting was, perhaps, too personal, too revealing. It reveals the “inner skin” of my thoughts, not just the outer.


However, I always tend to write the words that come to me in the flow of inspiration that passes from head to heart as I sit here at the computer. For several days, the words for this posting have been bounding forth like a river bursting its dam. Today will be background for one or two more postings. (Such is the baptism of graciousness that has been given to me in the past two weeks.)


So let us begin.


I’ve reread the December 7th posting several times and been somewhat dismayed. Why? Because the temperament of the Dee Ready displayed in much of that post was from the first ten years after I left the convent. 


In the depths of that Dee was an insecure, somewhat narcissistic, self-absorbed, self-centered, immature young woman—a consummate actor—who fled the life she’d been living as a Benedictine and continued to flee—from Missouri to Ohio to New Hampshire to Minnesota—for ten years. Never looking back, seldom keeping in touch with those she met, she fled like an immigrant from the rubble of the war waging within her troubled mind and bewildered heart. 


In the months that I’ve struggled to write another memoir, I’ve come to cherish and, yes, understand that young woman. Within that deep center of myself where Oneness dwells, I’ve sobbed for her pain and her despair as she fled the three presences/entities/hallucinations that accompanied her from the convent. I’ve come to admire her strength and her bravery.


When I reread that last posting, I wondered if that strength had deserted me. In the ten years of my flight, I'd found my strength in meditating—in the Jesuit style—on the four faith testaments of the early Christian churches in and around the Mediterranean. 


I did not see those four “Gospels,” or proclamations of good news, as exact accounts of the life of Yeshua. They were not memoirs, biographies, or autobiographies. Yeshua never read those words written about himself. He planned no Church; he dictated no unambiguous letters to be left to posterity. 


I suspected then, as I do now, that were he to read the faith testaments, he’d be somewhat surprised by them. Surprised by the stories, the beautiful myths, that the authors used to convey the wonder of his birth and childhood.


The four faith testaments, written by four early Christians, represent the beliefs of four communities—for instance, the Church at Antioch. These communities (first of Jews and then of Gentiles) found in the man they called Yeshua the answer to their questions about the meaning and purpose of living and dying. Of loving and forgiving. Of embracing and accepting. Of letting go and holding on. Of reaching out to others and even loving those who might act as enemies.


These four, plus others, both men and women, wrote down what they had seen for themselves or heard from others about an itinerant Jew who had assiduously and prayerfully studied the Hebrew Scriptures and found there a God who called on all humans to seek out the poor, the outcast, the homeless, the sick, the refugee, “the other.” 


To seek with the belief that in the Holy Oneness of All Creation we find the answers to our deepest heart-wishes and we embrace kindness, mercy, and generosity with open hearts made lovingly compassionate by an acceptance of our own weakness and vulnerability.


That’s all for today. I’ll continue this tomorrow with a quotation and the great grace—the inbreaking of light—given to me this past week.




Photo from Wikipedia.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

To Thine Own Self Be True

Six months have passed since this blog had its last posting—six hundred words on two quotations that summed up what I’d learned in eighty-five years of responding to the question found in the Book of Micah in the Hebrew Testament: "What does Hashem require of you?” 


The prophet offers the following unadorned but profound response to that question: “To do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." (Tanach translation of 6:8)


To illustrate his response, I used—in that July posting—what I’d gleaned from my journey with Meniere’s Disease. A quotation from Maya Angelou and one from Philo of Alexandria encapsulated the gift of gratitude that had grown within me as I’d stumbled and stuttered my way through life. 


However, that posting, in and of itself, stopped me in my tracks. I admitted to myself that I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. How so?

For eighteen months, I’d been working on a memoir. I started with the ten years following my departure from a Benedictine convent, but I could not find the warp of those years


So I began again, this time with the twenty-two years before entering the convent. Once again, the tapestry of that period eluded me. I found myself entwined in the weft of the events that had resulted in my experiencing—even now—the diagnosed symptoms of PTSD. 


Writing a memoir is a humbling exercise. I had hoped to find healing; instead, I found how often my actions had hurt others. Night after night, since July, I’ve tried to find sleep. It’s ignored me, insisting that I sort through the events of the past, making culpa again and yet again each night for my many mistakes and misunderstandings. Guilt and shame ensnared me.


In truth, I’ve spent months beating up on myself for not being that person Micah encourages us to be. For those of you who have read my memoir about the convent, this probably is not surprising. Always I am haunted by the need to be perfect—a need breed and born in the traumatic years of my childhood.


Repeatedly in the past six months, I’ve given up writing; I’ve let go of my love of the cadenced sentence that evolves into story. 


A friend of many years recently observed that I’m a concrete thinker, not an abstract one. To me that meant that I wasn’t a deep thinker. So how could I write anything worthwhile if I didn’t have the intellect to find its meaning? Only one answer presented itself to me: throw in the towel.


But there’s more to this story then my depression, reluctance to let go, and, yes, despair. 


And this is the more: As I listened to a Fannie Flagg book in audio last weekend, a sudden peace settled within and about me. A peace born of the acceptance that I may not be a deep thinker, but I am a storyteller. That is my identity. I’m not mother, wife; baker, cook; photographer, sculptor. No. I am a storyteller. 


Then let me embrace that. Let me tell the story just as it meanders through the labyrinth of my mind. Let me let go of seeking the metaphor, the smooth transition, the telling word, the ah-ah moment. 


Let me simply tell the story of my life so as to follow my mother’s legacy. Many more times than once, she said to me as I grew up, “If you look for good, Dolores, you will find it. And if you look for bad, you will surely find that too.”


This weekend, I realized that I do look for good in others, but I fail to look for it in myself. I’m oblivious to it. Looking within, I find only the worse in myself. 


I tell you now that in this month of December 2021, I have committed myself to looking for the good in what I have done and said. In the way I have touched the lives of others. The memoir will be the whole of who I am—failure as well as triumph.   


I will be kind to myself.



Photograph from Wikipedia.

Note: I have no idea why so much of this appears as if it's printed on ticker-tape! Technology continues to baffle me. Peace.