Tuesday, June 28, 2016


"People aren't problems to solve.  It's not my job to fix anyone, but to love them.  The heart can stretch to hold things -- even the difficult things."   
- Kate Bartollata

You may remember that, a few months ago, I lost all my computer files and found myself asking "who am I if I am not all of that?"  Since that time, I have asked many similar questions: "Who am I if I am not all the things I own?"  "Who am I if I am not my titles...mother, minister, writer?"  Today I find myself asking "Who am I if I am not the Hero."

I have completed one month of my three month sabbatical.  May 27th to June 27th went quickly and involved the daily challenge of finding inner stillness.  Today is June 28th and I begin the second month sitting in a hotel room in Burlington, Vermont - a remarkably beautiful city that feels fresh and artsy. The sunsets are spectacular here! Stillness remains somewhat illusive, however... revealing itself - and then disappearing as suddenly as it came.

In questioning how it is that my stillness unravels, I recognize that I jump into "Hero mode" too quickly. Any problem that occurs around me has an impact so forceful that my entire being is moved into action.  It might be an issue a friend is having, something affecting one of my children, or even a global justice topic in the newspaper.  No matter what it is, I am becoming aware that when something concerning comes up, my mind begins to search for an answer, my muscles tense and prepare to "do" - and my entire nature shifts from still - to not still.  My immediate response is to look for a solution to the anxiety I feel.  If I can fix whatever the issue is - or take some type of action -  I feel better. I feel "worthy."  Worthy of what?  Hmmm...love...oxygen...I don't really know - but action resolves the anxiety and I feel empowered.

I'm realizing that I see it all (and I mean nearly everything) as mine to address.  Every problem requires my attention. I wonder how I got that idea.  "People are not  problems to solve."  People are independent Beings with their own free will  - and the problems that occur for them are their learning opportunities, not mine. A Native Elder once told me " the only sin is to steal another's lesson."  "Fixing" then, is the same as stealing. It benefits me by making me feel like a Hero - and can stop another from learning what is theirs to learn. 
The thing is, I like being the Hero who can make things better.  I like feeling powerful enough to leap tall buildings in a single bound in order to make the world a better place for those I love.  But people are not problems to solve.  People are independent beings with their own free will - and they are more capable than anyone else of fixing whatever is broken in their lives.  And. when they do - they are the ones who feel empowered - which is how it should be.

Each person we encounter is a gift in our lives.  Each one provides us with an opportunity to give and receive love.   That is what we are here to do.  And when we give and receive love, that LOVE has a way of making things better. Loving is the most heroic thing we can do.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


"Real love is a pilgrimage. It happens when there is no strategy, but it is very rare because most people are strategists." 
- Anita Brookner 
A dear friend is walking the Camino de Santiago this summer.  If I am remembering correctly, it is a 500-mile journey across parts of Spain and France. Since we  are both on sabbatical, I can't help but ponder her pilgrimage, and my own contrasting need for stillness.

Naturally, each of us will seek the Holy in our own way and, no matter how interesting and adventurous another's life may seem, one's transformation cannot be experienced on any path but our own.   I can't even begin to speculate the details of my friend's unfolding.  I can only say how much I admire her will and determination to keep moving her feet, placing one in front of the other, till she reaches her goal.  I find myself wondering if, in certain moments, she must tell herself "I can" when she feels like she can't.

My "I can" is different.  I've been asking myself questions like, "can I be still and quiet" and "can I put down the phone, leave the computer, ignore the books and my addiction to filling myself with more information ....and do no thing?"  To say I am challenged by this is an understatement that I am pretty sure will only truly be understood by some of my "Type A" colleagues.

Each day I spend an hour or more sitting on my front porch - which is shady and beautiful...and a great place from which to watch the world go by.  My body is slowing down, as a result, and I am feeling more relaxed.  Yet, it is my observation that, within minutes of sinking into my anti-gravity deck chair, my mind begins to whirl away, chattering incessantly about all the things I could be doing, or will do, when my sabbatical is over.  Again and again, I catch myself planning ahead instead of being in the now.

Why is it that being feels like such a waste of time?  When did I decide that my worth is proportionate to my doing?

In my wise-heart, I am so deeply aware that my greatest insights are almost effortlessly revealed when I am still and centered. Hidden under self-imposed layers of  mortal-world identity as wife, mother, minister, daughter, sister, and make-the-world-a-better-place-heroine-of-my-own-story,... is my interconnected soul, and the key to this journey.

In Unity, we call it the "I AM"  Presence.  My mother would call it "the spark of God inside every person."  No matter the name, it is a state of being the Divine Being we are born to express.  If I simply "am," - then  all the labels that I use to prove my worth and value in this world fall away and the sacred blossoms forth.  When that happens, there is nothing but now - and now is full of gratitude and joy.

It is the authentic soul-self I am seeking.  The journey to "I AM" is the pilgrimage...   I wonder how many steps there are between here and now....

Monday, June 13, 2016


"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. " -William Morris

I have been thinking about blogging for several weeks and have waited to begin because I am on sabbatical for the summer and in the process of unplugging from my day-to-day responsibilities in order to make time for rest and rejuvenation.  I was afraid I would simply turn this into another task that must be done.  I am a "doer" as a rule - and "being" has not come easily in the past.

Still, I want to record this experience somehow...to remember what I am learning - and to capture my feelings about the learning process.  So, beginning today, I will blog as I feel called.  And, if I do not feel called - I simply won't blog.  No pressure, right?!!!

I have been away from Unity Spiritual Center for a little more than two weeks now.  In that time, I have done very little "relaxing."  I studied for a test, traveled to Kansas to take it, and came back with three small assignments that the testing committee felt I should complete in order to receive their recommendation.   I've already completed two of the three assignments  - and hope to have the final assignment done in the next week.  I'm anxious to be finished with all of that and to step more deeply into this sabbatical.

Despite the fact that I have had things to do, I am noticing a significant change in my physical state of well-being.  The "candle-burning-at-both-ends" pace of my work-life as a minister causes me to ignore the aches and pains of a body that too frequently sits more than it moves.  I am often deep in thought and distracted when holding conversations with those I love.  Time goes so quickly and there is always something else requiring my attention.

Thankfully, in the past few days, I have noticed that I am smiling more.  The tightness in my body is releasing.   I am walking with more comfort in my step, and I feel a renewed appreciation for life.  I have begun to really feel my soul inside my body for the first time in a long time - and have spent several hours sitting on my front porch just enjoying the fragrance of the flowers blooming in the yard, the warming rays of sunlight, and the kiss of the summer's breeze.  Slowly...slowly...I am coming to myself.

The time I have been able to spend with my family is a treasure that I have no words to describe.  I am able to be attentive and more tuned in...hearing them more fully.  And, to my delight, hubby's kisses are warmer, and the hugs from my boys are lasting longer, as a result of my giving them more of my attention. Yesterday I snuggled the purr-baby for about an hour - and every day has included the devoted affection and sweet bounciness of four gentle-eyed pups who are each so unique and different.  Beauty surrounds me.

I am softening.  All is well.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

In Good Faith

 "A lot of littles make a much." -Rev. Dr. Dale Turner 

The column started out as my "little."  I wasn't sure how long the paper would run it.  I wasn't sure their readers would read it.  I wasn't sure the clergy would care enough to take on the extra work of writing it...  but "it" was my little effort to bring the faith community together - and to work toward peace in my little corner of the world.

In Good Faith ran its first column in the Colorado Springs Independent on May 1st, 2013. Since then, the column has run almost every week for three years.  While our panel of spiritual educators, clergy and scholars has expanded a bit over time, the purpose has remained the same.  Our mission is:  

To model authentic, respectful interfaith dialogue, to educate the public about various religious beliefs and practices,  to provide useful advice about common life situations, and to inspire people of different religions to converse and collaborate with one another.

In February of 2016, we expanded beyond print and created a radio show of the same name.  In Good Faith:  Dialogue at the Crossroads of Religions was born.  The same panel went from writing 125 words each for the newspaper column,  to a full-fledged 1 hour conversation that gave all of us the chance to really explore a variety of topics ranging from why sacred text is sacred, to how to handle addictions, to what to do to keep from participating in political rhetoric.

As we move into the summer of 2016, plans for the future include distribution of the radio show through public radio exchange (PRX), a local symposium, and the addition of weekly guests who are notable members of the community.  And, its time for us to find a collaborative project we can support.

All of this is the end result of hour upon hour of donated time by our dedicated panel:

Jim Daly, Focus on the Family
Ben Broadbent - First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Nori Rost - All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, Interfaith Alliance
Steven Todd - King's University
Eric Sandras - Sanctuary Church
Jeff Scholes - University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
David Gardiner - Colorado College
Ahriana Platten - Unity Spiritual Center in the Rockies, Parliament of the World's Religions
Stevie Bassett - Producer

Thanks to the Colorado Springs Independent, its Founder, John Weiss, and Publisher, Carrie Simison, for believing In Good Faith is worthy of dedicated and prominent space in this outstanding newsweekly - and to KCMJ 93.9 FM for make community radio a reality in Colorado Springs.  We are so proud to be associated with both of these media outlets.