How to come back to yourself…


img_0899      The present moment…

Everyone needs ways to return home, to oneself. For me, learning to come back to myself, to be present, has been a life long journey. Because it has not been an easy journey for me, I have had to learn and to re-learn, again and again, ways to return to myself.  That doesn’t make me good.  What it does make me is a resource for simple, practical ways to return to oneself.

Sometimes, we don’t want to return!  When we are feeling pain, or anger, or frustration, when our emotions seem to be overwhelming, it is difficult to make the choice to return to ourselves.  The deeper journey of life is not about ignoring or avoiding “negative” or “difficult” feelings.  The deeper journey, the journey to a full, complete life, includes the willingness to enter and to accept all feelings, including those that are uncomfortable, and even frightening.  Embracing, accepting those feelings is part of the journey of coming back to yourself.

How do you return to yourself?  One of the simplest, most powerful ways to return is to be present in the body.  For some of us, this is easier than others!  I pride myself on being a “city girl,” comfortable on the pavement, navigating between soaring buildings, enjoying the lights and the people I pass.  That source of pride is also a weakness for me.  I have had to learn, in later years, to return to myself, my body.

Take a few moments to sniff the air today.  See the colors around you.  Look at the sky.  Watch the movement of the soft wind in the trees.  What color are the trees, now, this moment?  Sit for a moment, and feel yourself sitting in the chair.  Know the pressure of your feet, in your shoes, on the floor.

I love to sit in the grass sometimes, and I am grateful for our luxurious plot of grass in the city.  On the earth, my senses seem to come back to life.  I smell and see and even hear the world in a more present way.  When I am present to my moments in the grass, I am present to the present moment.  And that is all there is.  The masters speak of this, again and again.  Our prayers, our meditations, our sitting, return us to this place – this place of presence, the present moment.

The present moment is the greatest gift, the greatest grounding of all.  When, for a minute or an hour or a day, you are present, you will discover this greatest gift.  You will want more and more of this, this presence, this being-at-one with yourself, in your body, whole, complete, in this moment.

You are deeper, you are more than your anxieties, your fears, for all those things that possess you and keep you trapped – trapped outside yourself.  You are here, now.  Join in the return.  Come back to yourself, now.




This holy time…


When I was a young girl, my mother told me the story of Jesus dying on the cross on Good Friday. I know she had told me the story to explain why I couldn’t go off and play that afternoon, and so I stayed dutifully in front of our flat on Ring Street.

I don’t remember Mom telling me the story, but I do remember hanging from the iron hand-rail that led to the sidewalk, thinking about a man who was dying somewhere that afternoon, on a cross.  I remember looking out across the street, imagining the scene in my child’s mind.  I wondered about him.  I had a sense of loneliness, as if loneliness hung in the air that day.   I couldn’t see what was happening, but it was somewhere, then, in present time.

It was a quiet afternoon.  In the 1950’s, activity stopped and stores closed from 12 to 3 on Good Friday afternoon.  Folks who went to church, did.  And many folks did in that Midwestern city, good and faithful church folks who sat for 3 hours listening to sermons about the 7 last words Jesus spoke.  Then, they returned to whatever else they were doing.  In Milwaukee, I’m sure, Friday fish fry meals at taverns across the city and state would be full that evening, as they usually were.

My family were not church-going people, and so it seems strange, in a way, that Mom told me the story, but she did.  Stories have power even when they are not our stories.  Stories that are told, again and again, have more power.  Stories have more power than fact or history, truly.   And stories we tell become our stories, have a way of working their wonder and fear and meaning inside of us, all the time.


Now, I love the quiet season of Lent, that time of year when winter gives way to spring, slowly, with each lengthening day, with early buds on slender branches, with each storm that may be the last for the season.  And I love the movement of the moon across the sky.  I wait for the evening when I see the Pascal moon, the full moon that heralds Passover and Easter, an off-shoot of Passover.  That same moon marked the day and time for the telling of the story, Jesus taking a meal with his closest friends, honoring the ancient story, also.  The moon marks the time when winter slinks into spring, when green appears, when life that was under the earth comes back from the death of winter.

I watch the moon.  For as much as we modern folks know, moon is mystery.  For a time, it gives reflected light that lights up the white cover on my bed as if it was lit from within.  In the evening and night, moonlight comes into the bedroom, and by morning, it is far across the sky, hanging over the Pacific in the west.

Moon is mystery enough.  All those other things, those theological understandings and explanations, do no justice to the moon.  The passing of time is mystery enough, also, that I would reach back in memory today to see myself hanging from that bar, on that lonely day, the street quiet, and me, safe  in the assurance that Mom was close by, checking on me from the upstairs window, often.