Make of your life a practice –

IMG_0792  Practice seeing, seeing the first blossoms of spring

How can I live my life as a practice, a practice of whole-ness, a practice of connecting with the infinite, the Holy, the Universe?

There is only this: practice, practice, practice…

The sages of all traditions knew this.  the Mother knows this, the monks in their cells in the hidden corners of the earth know this.  It may be that the person in the next cubicle knows this.  And you know it, too.  There is only practice, from one moment to the next, from one day to the next.

What is your practice, today?  In my life, my practice has often changed.  For a time, I spent hours every day in my car, driving from small town to small town in rural Wisconsin.  Then, I began this practice, this practice that has become my life.  I talked to God.  I talked out loud to God, crying sometimes, laughing, sometimes, and sometimes shaking my fist at God.  And I began to observe my life in its unfolding, as if I was looking at my life from another perspective.

Sure, I have had to make the choices we all make.  I have had to decide whether or not to go on to school, where to live, what to do on Friday night, whether or not this person was my friend – or not.  All of the external choices have been the same.  On another level, though, I have discovered that life is a constant of only this:  practice.

Practice is only my own way of connecting the Divine, to the Holy that is in me and is in you.  I have not been limited by my practice; rather, my practice has broadened my life, my experience, and even my mind.  Through my practice, I have learned to question everything I have been taught is true or real.  There are no limits to my practice.  Like the sea, which rolls onto the beach and roils into the deepest depths, my limits are limit-less.  Through my practice, I have questioned my deepest beliefs, and I have discarded some, and still question others, continuing to wonder what is true, what holds to be true not only for me, but for all of humanity, and all of creation.

I have learned that the Holy can hold all this, all my faltering practices, all my failures, all my ignorance, all my less-than-loving self.

I have prayed, an ever-changing, evolving prayer.  I have meditated, and I still do, two times a day, most days.  I have walked my prayers.  I have talked to the grass and the trees, and to my cat.  I have cried.  I have laughed.   I have nodded into a sky that does not answer, and yet is shouting  to me.  I have sniffed the sweet, wet earth, and smelled the sweet fragrance of lilacs and rosemary and lavendar, riches.  I have visited holy places.  I have worshiped in unfamiliar places, and I have honored those whose practice I have been privileged to encounter, although theirs might not be my own.  I nod to their Holy One, who may seem different than my own, but is not.  I honor that Holy One, by whatever name.  I have visited dark places, and I have arrived into another morning, giving thanks for nothing in particular, but for it all.

I have not only “tried” many ways to stay connected to All; I have practiced many ways to stay connected.  Some of the ways I carry with me now, like a bag filled with spiritual practices instead of groceries.  I reach into the bag and take out the one I need, now.  In any day, I use my practices to stay connected to Something More, Something Whole, Something Holy – something that is in me, that is me, and that is greater than I am.

Through my practice I have learned this:  I do not have to be good.  I do not have to do things perfectly.  I do not have to work to be worthy.  I do not have to know what is right or correct in any or all situations.  I do not have to understand to accept.  I am complete, here and now, just as I am.  This is what I have learned, what I am learning.

When I remember, I can still feel my little girl’s body on the seat of my first two-wheeled bicycle.  I can feel the strength of my Dad behind me, holding onto the seat, pushing me along the sidewalk, pushing me, holding on, and then, in some moment, letting go, until I felt the freedom of that ride, that long ride that has taken me to this time, to this moment, to this day.  Then, I was practicing.  Then, I had the safety of Dad’s strength and love and joy until I took off on my own.

As we get older, what we face is different than what we faced when we were younger.  What I have faced in my life – the choices, the decisions, the moments, the sadness, the losses, the small and great griefs – is changing.  It has always been changing, although now I am more poignantly aware that my choices are changing.  And I can honestly say that the only thing that has gotten me through, the ever-changing practices I have gathered and practiced and discarded, and even those I continue today, are the cornerstone, and the one constant.

Make of your life a practice.


Turning toward God


My whole life I’ve been turning –
turning toward God.
However you have perceived this one life,
this one soul:
I have been turning, turning toward God.
I have turned through the ages,
I have turned for the ancestors,
I have turned out of sorrow and loneliness,
I have turned when I have been afraid to turn,
afraid I might fall, but still –
turning, turning.

I’ve been turning, turning toward God,
that silent  One,  the One I love I have not seen,
the One who holds the turning,
that turning toward God.

meb/12/2015 – Advent, 2015




rounding out life…

question-mark-2-1409684289t9wI hope I’m a long way from dying.

We don’t know, do we? I am grateful to have lived this life that is mine, very grateful. I’m grateful not only for the “good” things, but even for the hard things. I count myself as privileged, in many, many, many… ways.

Now that I’m over 60, though, I am more and more aware that I am growing older. For the most part, my health has been good, all of my life. (I am grateful for this, also). Actually, I began to realize that I was growing older – like all of us! – when I turned 61. And so I can relate to those who are in denial.

That’s how I think of it. Sometimes, in an effort to sound positive and to not make that leap into a deep acceptance of growing older, I hear someone say: “I am in perfect health!” Well, maybe you are! But, like me at least, you are also growing older. You, too, will need the doctor more than you did in the past. Young people already look at you as if you are older – if they look at you at all.

Several years ago, I traveled with a small group to a wonderful retreat in Germany. On the plane flight home, I made my way to the back of the plane to use the restroom. When I left the restroom, several young men were in the aisle. They did not look at me at all, and they hardly moved so that I could make my way up the aisle.  I know the reality that “older” women are invisible.

Invisible!  How sad is that?  The wisdom-carriers, those who have lived, and not lived, and are alive to tell it…!  Invisible!

When the weather is warm and the days are long, I long for the days when I was young.  What a joy to bicycle to work, to spend long days in the sun, to enjoy a music festival under the long, long, sweet evenings, humid and languid.  What joy to walk barefoot in the streets, way past midnight!  What luxury to be a student, to set my schedule by classes and papers and interesting conversations in the Student Union.  What a joy to look at the young men – and to have them look at me!  What a joy to know that life lay ahead of me!

But those were hard times, too.  Things are always easier in hind-sight, aren’t they?  Those were fear-filled times, times of uncertainty, of not-knowing, of living with the anxiety of knowing I had to make that passage into being an adult, whatever that meant for me.  And there were the days of loneliness, of fears, of failed relationships, of being adrift in my life, until I began to realize I had to grow up, on my own terms, in my own way.  I had to take the road that was calling to me.

And – I did.  For that, I am grateful, too.  I am grateful.

One of the gifts of being “older” is that I know that when we take that step – when we step off the cliff to fall into the journey of trust in What Is, without seeing the safety net, without knowing the answers, without having someone’s hand to hold – except the hand of the great unseen, unknown one – the journey will not always be happy, or be easy.  It is in the nature of journey to have beginnings, and endings, like birth, and death.  And in the “in between,” in all those days and moments and years, there are lots of hard times.  I know it now.  I don’t expect to take a magic pill and be all happy, all the time.  Life – the spiritual journey included – is not happy all the time.  We do a dis-service to life, and to ourselves, by only expecting happy times, good times.

But I digress… or do I?  I am writing today about that ping, that small, silent, but strong ping that “pings” in my solar plexus, day after day, when I know I will never know those long evenings, that utter bliss – and terror – of being young.  I am older, now.  I am one who has lived for many years, now.  I am one who has known this life, my life, as it is.  I am one who now, as I am, must surrender again to the great expanse of time and distance and space.

Even now, I must say, “Yes!” to this time, to this call, to this journey.  Come what may.

And will I discover the wisdom in this falling, in this surrender?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  I’m not there, yet.  For now, all I have is the ping, that little ping that is the reality of this time, this age, this moment.




At the Cemetery Gate



I stop at the statue of Mary,
white marble dedicated a century ago.                                                                                                           There I pause – something in me turning to devotion at the sight of her –                                                             to behold this stone-cold effigy.
Together, we continue the silence that attached itself to me when I walked among the graves.

From there, I enter the gate, walk into the noisy city.                                                                                A dark-skinned post-man steps down from his truck,                                                                       sees her, too.

He genuflects, ancient devotion repeated for this stone-cold effigy.

meb, 2/1015