Transformation, Pursuits and Productions


A Recolor page that brought me fond memories of my beloved Uganda

My mind needs rest and renewal. My soul needs trasformation. My heart needs peace and serenity.

The problem is that not many activities relax me. Being the wretched Type A personality that I am, I turn every pursuit into a production. A dear friend has a saying that she uses when a task morphs into more than it should have been. β€œThat was a production!” she would say, and we all knew what she meant β€” a project got way out of hand!

Such is my life. Compulsive. Driven. Perfectionist. All words that have often been used to describe me. I have to work on it diligently, this need for serenity and the renewal of my mind. Reading Scripture leads to writing a sermon, an opinion piece, or a blog post. Praying leads to a plethora of things I feel I must do. Swinging in the sunshine leads to working in flower beds that need tending.

My first waking thought is always about what project I will do or what meal I will cook. That decision influences my day. When I have decided what I will do, I’m off. I’m all in to get it done.

My greatest need is to find my way to peacefulness and serenity, to experience a renewal of my mind, to learn to be quiet and still so that in the stillness, I might find God in new ways. And I might even find myself in new ways and learn some things about the depth of my β€œself” snd the longings of my soul.

It is my soul, of course, that craves the serenity. I work on it often β€” deep breathing, brief praying at many times during the day, singing hymns (to myself) as I fall asleep at night. All of it helps. None of it makes a permanent difference.

Interestingly, I have found a pursuit that does not lead to a production. It is a computer app called Recolor, which is simply for coloring on devices like the IPad. Each day, Recolor adds two or more pages for coloring with your finger or a stylus. I have found nothing that relaxes me more than getting lost on a coloring page. As of today, I have colored 1,062 pages and have received 66 thousand β€œlikes.”

One might observe that this pursuit is not at all a spiritual practice, not a contemplative activity, and is pretty much a waste of time. The thing is, it really is a spiritual practice for me because I am learning how to waste time. I needed to find a way to immerse myself into a creative activity that did not consume me. I needed an activity that would clear and renew my mind. As the Scripture urges, I need to be transformed by the renewal of my mind.

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

β€” Romans 12:2 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

So I will continue coloring to clear my mind and slow me down. And I will keep working on the renewal of my very busy mind. Who knows? Someday I might find myself transformed.



Just to Be Alive


Another day to be alive! It’s a day without the need to prove anything or to accomplish anything. It will be enough just to be, to enjoy the brilliant sunlight, the warmth of the day, the colors of the autumn trees. It can be a day to refresh and renew. If we let it.

Bishop Steven Charleston writes, ” Make doing nothing a value.” Here are the rest of his wise words.

Turn your light within that you may shine that much more brightly for others. Do not neglect the care you give to yourself, the time you need to rest and be renewed. No hamster wheel of expectations is as important as minding your health: body, mind and spirit. Draw in the hours around you, making space for doing those things that help you the most. Give a priority to having fun. Make doing nothing a value. The best of our lives is rarely spent at the grindstone. Allow yourself the space to be, to think, to dream, to wander. Discover again how good it feels just to be alive.

My New Normal


Do you ever wear an “I feel good” mask? I certainly do, trying to convince everyone that I feel,physically strong. Keeping up that image can be exhausting.

Maybe it’s time to admit that trying to appear to feel good all the time is a burden. It’s even a burden to pretend I feel good. The reality is that I have end stage kidney disease and, because of that, I push and push to feel normal again, to have the energy I used to have. I seldom admit the feelings of deep-down fatigue I experience. I struggle to keep a pace that makes me feel as strong as I used to be. I simply have not embraced or admitted my “new normal.”

Even with my family, I often try to present a good front. And sometimes, I just long to be honest about how I feel with them, and with myself. The truth is that I’m afraid if I give in to my real feelings, my strength will go down even further. So I am compelled to push myself, sometimes at my own peril. I think my husband, in fact, is the only one who knows how weak I really feel.

Still, I rest in my faith in God, who knows me better than I know myself, and who gives me strength when I am weary. One of my favorite Scripture passages never fails to bring me hope.

He gives strength to the weary,
And to them who lack might He increases strength.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble and fall:
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not faint.

– Isaiah 40:29-31

On my harder days, I will lean on the promise of that Scripture. But I also want to make peace with my “new normal” and be honest enough with myself to determine what it really feels like. My life is far from over, but it is different, and I need to embrace that.


Oh no! Mercury is in Retrograde!


My friend, Martie, is always the first to sound the dire warning, “Oh no! Mercury is in retrograde.” She announces it with such emphasis that you believe her prediction and heed her advice. This phenomenon is one of the few that affects everyone in a fairly uniform way, and its effects are always obvious. Once you begin to pay attention to how events in your life change during these phases, you will soon see how important it is to take note of them.

I won’t go into detail about what Mercury is actually doing. You can look it up online if you’re interested. I’ll simply report that The Huffington Post confirms it: “The planetary cosmos has an evil plot to make your life go crazy from August 30 to September 22. It’s called Mercury Retrograde.”

The critical advice from all the best sources boils down to these ten points:

1. Don’t Make Agreements. It’s a horrible time for negotiating contracts or making decisions.

2. Don’t Accept or Start a Job. If you do, you may regret it.

3. Don’t Try to Close the Sale. Closing a deal is often based on taking advantage of great timing. Unfortunately, you’re timing couldn’t be worse when Mercury is retrograde.

4. Don’t Initiate New Projects.

5. Scheduling Meetings. Avoid (or minimize) scheduling meetings and events during Mercury retrograde, because you’re more likely to experience confusion, mistakes and cancellations.

6. Avoid Traveling A Lot. If you can’t put certain trips on hold, just be aware that you can expect an unusual amount of last-minute flight cancellations, meeting postponements and long transportation delays.

7. Don’t Purchase Computers or Begin Installations. This is when you’ll discover that you bought the β€œcomputer from hell.”

8. Don’t Repair Your Auto unless you absolutely have to.

9. Don’t Buy Things.

10. Don’t Select a Roommate or Move in With One.

So if you believe the planetary situation, you’ll basically lay low between August 30 and September 22. It may be a good time for recharging your batteries, taking care of your soul, contemplating all that is good in life, spending some time listening to God, otaking some deep breaths and gathering your strength.

That’s what I plan to do.


I Am Creating Me


As a fledgling artist, the metaphors in this quote by Bishop Steven Charleston resonate with my experience.

You and I are artists of time. We bend and shape, color and texture, make and form what is to come by what we do now. Now is our tool, our brush, our chisel, with which we work diligently to create something new. We use all of the materials we have at hand, our experience, our memories, our dreams, and seek to put all of those into a finished piece both recognizable and beautiful. Our work never stops. We are born to this art. It is our vocation, our passion. Time is our medium, life our creation, reality our gallery, tomorrow our masterpiece.

What a lovely way to say that we are the creators of our lives, that our experiences, our memories and our dreams fill our canvasses with untold beauty. We are each unique, artists in our own right. We work incessantly, through wake time and sleep time, through every season, to create this art. Indeed, it is our masterpiece.

The reality is that I am in the holy process of creating me, and no one else gets to add to the masterpiece.

We create our darkest tones in difficult times. Brighter days call for the most vibrant and bright colors. Melancholy blues . . . joy-filled yellows . . . greens that hint of growth and change. Our palettes are endless as we swirl and mix the colors of our lives.

So we must never let another person disparage what we are creating. We must take our inspiration, not from other individuals, but from our own souls and from our Creator. This gives a whole new meaning to the declaration we should imprint on our hearts, “I am beautiful!”