Gathered Wisdom, Sept 21

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let dead things go.
– Author unknown

This week:

  • Today is World Gratitude Day
  • Dance With Life
  • How to Age Gracefully
  • Commandments for the Long Haul
  • “Death Doulas” Provide Aid at the End of Life

Today is World Gratitude Day

Diana Butler Bass reflects on how the practice of gratitude got her through the past 18 months. She writes, “Gratitude is resilience of sorts, the defiance of kindness in the face of anger, of connection in the face of division, and of hope in the face of fear. “ 

Read the reflection.

From The Cottage.

Dance with Life

“If we can just take the intelligence we have and temper it with wisdom . . .” In this lovely video from Green Renaissance, Sue Swain dances with trees and reminds us that “we have been blessed with an incredible planetary home.” 

Watch the video.

From A Network for Grateful Living.

How to Age Gracefully

Writing in the New York Times, author Jane Brody makes some decisions about aging. She has stopped dying her gray hair and using makeup. “Wrinkles be damned. I’m proud to have them.”

Read the article.

The New York Times.

Commandments for the Long Haul

Fr. Ron Rolheiser of Oblate Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, offers some practices for living long lives of faithfulness: “Give yourself permission to be inadequate.” “Be sufficiently loving and critical at the same time.”

Read the rest of them.

From the blog of Ron Rolheiser.

“Death Doulas” Provide Aid at the End of Life

While we spend a lot of time preparing for a birth, as a society we shy away from discussing death or preparing for it emotionally and spiritually. Hence the rising interest in end-of-life or “death”doulas who become companions to the dying, sitting with them, listening to them, helping them write their life stories and plan their own end-of-life memorials. 

Read more about “end-of-life” doulas.

Found in Daily Good.

Gathered Wisdom is an offering of The Wisdom Years, a ministry devoted to the spiritual journey of the last third of our lives.

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Gathered Wisdom, Sept 14

A weekly curated collection of essays, poetry, and reflections for your spiritual journey.  From The Wisdom Years.

We seek perfection in our days, always wanting more for ourselves and our lives, and striving for goals unattainable . . .
Where does it come from, this strange unquenchable human urge for “more”? . . .
Learn to value the small as well as the great.

-Kent Nerburn, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life

Found in Well for the Journey Daily Faith Reflections, September 8, 2021

This week:

  • Encountering God in Everyday Life
  • When You’re Afraid to Get in the Boat Who Soothes You?
  • How Small Moments of Empathy Affect Your Life
  • Participating in Original Goodness
  • Fire

Encountering God in Our Everyday Life

Many of the spiritual disciplines are like taking out the trash, says Joanna Seibert. The disciplines “are simply to clear our minds so we can hear God speak to our lives.” 

Read the rest of the reflection.

Found in  Joanna Seibert’s Daily Something.

When you’re afraid to get into the boat who soothes your fear?

“ I DON’T WANT TO GO” screamed the little boy who really didn’t want to get into the boat. The boy’s dad was beyond coping, but Grandpa could step in calmly with a fresh voice and fresh love. Everybody needs a grandpa.

Read or listen to the reflection from Heather Plett

More about Heather Plett.

How Small Moments of Empathy Affect your Life

On average, a person receives about nine opportunities to empathize with others and about six opportunities to receive empathy in a 12-hour period of daily life. Studies show that people who are empathetic are more likely to be generous and altruistic and less likely to be prejudiced against others. So what does that mean for our everyday lives?

Read the article by Jill Suttie.

Found in Daily Good.

Participating in Original Goodness

Everyone and every thing is created in the “image of God,” says Fr. Richard Rohr. Our part is to participate in this core identity by saying yes to it. Image must become likeness.

Read the full reflection.

Found in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation from Center for Action and Contemplation.

Fire

A poem from Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.

Read or listen to the entire poem.

Found in Awakin. 

Gathered Wisdom is an offering of The Wisdom Years, a ministry devoted to the spiritual journey of the last third of our lives.

If this post was forwarded to you, sign up to receive Gathered Wisdom in your email by subscribing at wisdomyears.org.

To learn more visit our website.

Our Fall Book Discussion Starts Sept. 9

Time to order your book and reserve your space.

September 9 through October 28, 2021
Thursdays, 4 to 5:15 p.m. (Central time)

“In a world of speed and distraction, pace of guidance invites us to combine the practices of measured movement and listening.” – Christina Baldwin, from The Seven Whispers

In The Seven Whispers, our fall discussion book, author Christina Baldwin invites us to clear away the clutter and seek the inner voice of wisdom from our own souls. Through seven phrases or whispers, we will find that it is our souls that connect with the Spirit and can teach us much.

Baldwin is a pioneer in the circle method of learning, through which participants claim their own discoveries and insights, a model The Wisdom Years follows.

Discussion sessions will meet by Zoom on Thursdays at 4 p.m (Central time) for 8 weeks. Participants will need to buy The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin. To purchase from St. Mark’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore affiliated with Episcopal Booksellers Association, visit St. Mark’s Bookstore or contact Carla Pineda.

To save your space in the book discussion, or for more information, send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com. There is no charge for the study. If you need financial assistance to purchase a book, do not hesitate to contact us. There is scholarship money available.

For more details about this book discussion, see this page.

Our Fall Book Discussion – The Seven Whispers

September 9 through October 28, 2021

Thursdays, 4 to 5:15 p.m. (Central time)

Most of us thought we would be done with Covid by now, and yet we find the virus surging and strong reactions continuing to tear apart our communities. Discussing how we foster peace of mind through these disheartening times may be the welcome respite we need.

In The Seven Whispers, author Christina Baldwin invites us to clear away the clutter and seek the inner voice of wisdom from our own souls. Through seven phrases or whispers, we will find that it is our souls that connect with the Spirit and can teach us much.

Baldwin is a pioneer in the circle method of learning, through which participants claim their own discoveries and insights, a model The Wisdom Years follows.

Discussion sessions will meet by Zoom on Thursdays at 4 p.m (Central time) for 8 weeks. Participants will need to buy The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin. To purchase from St. Mark’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore affiliated with Episcopal Booksellers Association, visit St. Mark’s Bookstore or contact Carla Pineda.

To save your space in the book discussion, or for more information send an email to Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com. There is no charge for the study.

For more details about this book discussion, see this page.

Learning Late – Compassion

Welcome to all of you who have recently joined us on the Spirituality for the Wisdom Years website. We plan to use this site to keep you informed about new events and resources and to offer some thoughts for reflection and encouragement. We plan to post about once a week, and we and welcome your contributions.

This week, Marjorie George recalls a time of teenage embarrassment in Meeting the Past With Compassion, a selection from our growing Spiritual Practices page. To learn more about spiritual practices, click here.

My father was one of those persons for whom life just did not work — a good man who got beat down, who couldn’t keep a job, who drank a little too much. “Bless his heart,” the old ladies would say, clucking their tongues and adding, “His poor wife and children.” 

I didn’t know why, still don’t know why, the promising lad from high school (he was actually class president) didn’t live up to being the most likely to succeed. Maybe it was because he was raised by a mean, cold, distant woman. Maybe it was the never-diagnosed clinical depression. Maybe it was the War. Mother wouldn’t talk about it.  No one talked about it. 

When Dad could get work it was driving a cab or mowing a lawn or pumping gas. Sources of shame for my teenage self.  I hadn’t learned yet that all work is honorable. That was many years in the coming.

The worst day, the very worst memory, was the shopping trip with my girl friends. One of us had a car, so we piled in and headed for the downtown department stores. Dear old Dad’s job at the time was taking tickets in the Montgomery Ward parking lot. Of course that’s where we parked. And everyone saw — MY father, in his khaki shirt and pants and a pith helmet shading his balding head from the sun. TAKING THE PARKING TICKETS.  I was mortified. I scurried across the parking lot with my head down, sure my friends were whispering about it behind me.

Shame then and shame for years because of my shame then. I should have been a better daughter, my critical adult self has hammered. I should have cut him slack for at least trying.

But that teenage pain was not something Eucharist or Bible study or even the sacrament of confession has been able to transform.  

Yes, it happened. Yes, it was painful. There it is; all these years removed I can name it.  And what shall I do with that memory?  The Spirit whispers: “Meet it with compassion.” Compassion for the man who was, indeed, trying, and who was probably in more pain than I can imagine. Compassion for the teenage girl who was still learning from the circumstances life handed her. 

“See it through the eyes of God,” suggests a friend to whom I have told this story. Invite the tenderness and kindness and forgiveness of which only God is capable into that remembered image. Allow it to be transformed with no effort of my own, only through the exquisite, unending, ever-enduring grace and compassion of God.  

My father died many years ago; painful memories have a longer lifespan. Like the unclean spirit that could only be cast out by Christ himself (Mark 9:14-29), some memories can only become life-giving instead of life-damaging through God’s grace and compassion.  As we review our lives and recall debilitating emotions like shame, pray that we will be able to appropriate that compassion for ourselves as well as others.

________________________________________

Practicing

In With Open Hands, the classic devotional guide originally published in 1972, Henri Nouwen  calls us to engage compassion. As you pray this, see how you can apply it to situations and persons from your past as well as the present. Recall the prayer when you are facing situations in which you might need to be compassionate.

__________________________________________________________

Dear God, 
As you draw me ever deeper into your heart, 
I discover that my companions on the journey are women and men 
loved by you as fully and as intimately as I am. 
In your compassionate heart, 
there is a place for all of them. 

No one is excluded. 

Give me a share in your compassion, dear God, 
so that your unlimited love may become visible 
in the way I love my brothers and sisters. 

Amen

We welcome your feedback. Leave a comment or email Marjorie George at marjoriegeorge62@gmail.com.