blockages, hiatuses, and noticing

Taken by: Katy LaFond 1/2013
Lake Dillon Reservoir looking over Rocky Mountains in Dillon, Colorado

A few weeks ago, I went skiing with my mom in Colorado (first time on real mountains!).  Some of the runs were just long, slow, and incredibly peaceful–it was like a retreat; on skis!  I snapped this picture from our condo porch.  It was so peaceful and those mountains were just stunning.  I love nature and reveling in it as a connection to prayer/spirit.  For me, this is the perfect image which describes precisely what I’m writing about today…there is such beauty in the stillness and the opportunity to notice what’s right in front of you sometimes…

Ok…so….I’m sorry for the hiatus; kind of.  I haven’t been inspired or moved to write anything lately.  When I began this blog, I decided that if what I had to write didn’t fit into one of my mission categories (real.truth.experience.joy), I wasn’t going to write or post it.  It’s not to say that nothing has happened, just haven’t had the urge to write.

What do you do when you have a writer’s and/or idea block?  Do you push through it and write/create anyway?  Do you accept that’s where you’re at and wa

it for the spark to connect?  Do you try a routine?  Music?  Exercise?  Do you let it be?  Does it stress you out or is it more “meh”?  Are you “too busy” or just not creating the space?

I used to be more, hmmmm….how might we say this…concrete…nope…i

t’s just darn rigidness.  “I said I’d post once a month, so I’m going to post once a month!”  I’d put myself on some weird new routine to coarse myself into getting this magic idea or be determined that a new “practice” would help.  Inevitably, my new practice would die out after a few rounds.  It’s not that I have trouble following through with things

…it’s that I have trouble stepping out of the boundary of what is my truth and genuine inside of me.  If I don’t feel like writing haiku’s…writing a haiku a day for a year just isn’t going to work for me.  I used to get stressed and irritated that I wouldn’t just “buck up” and write (create).

Clearly these strategies served me so well…NOT.  So this time around…I was aware that I hadn’t blogged. No pressure…no stress…no frustration.  It’s MY blog!  It’s supposed to be a release, a hobby, a stress-reliever not producer.  But I was aware that “it was time” and then “way overdue”.  What struck me is how I began to notice differently, listen differently, pay attention to what draws me and why in a different way.  Occasionally, I caught myself asking, “Should I blog about x?”  “Hmmm…no, not this time.”  The amazing thing was, I WAS OKAY WITH THIS RESPONSE!

I’m a reflective person.  I need quiet and space to let things soak in and swim around a little bit.  Being able to honor that need for processing in something as simple as a blog entry (or non-entry) without judgement was a huge thing for me.  Noticing…who knew it was such a powerful thing?  Who knew Ms. Katy Marie LaFond would ever be able to image beauty with this scenario?

I do realize the irony in writing a blog about not writing a blog…just know that I noticed this a while ago and waited for the spirit to say, “now’s the time…” (without judgement…argh…that’s the tough part)

What do you notice and step back without judgement? Do you experience the beauty in the stillness?

real.truth.experience.joy

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Sanctuary

sanctuary—safe haven—refuge—asylum—shelter—harbor—retreat—protection

 I’m visiting one of my “happy places”—Door County, Wisconsin.   I have been coming here since I was an infant with my family; usually camping at the beautiful Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek.  I’m not the most spontaneous person, but a couple weeks ago, I got it in my head that I needed to come up here for a few days.  (Now, some of you may argue that a couple of weeks is not being spontaneous, but for me…well…) 

I wanted just a little, tiny, cabin with a space to make some simple food and enjoy the wonderfulness that is Door County.  I couldn’t find the right spot.  Labor Day weekend in Door County?  The somewhat “last hurrah” for a Northwood’s vacationers paradise? Ummm…not only was it difficult to find a place…rates were through the roof.  I figured that my way impulsive and crazy ideas were just too plain crazy (yeah…going to Door County…sooooo crazy!) for this timing.   No big deal.  I did one more search and came across this website for a “retreat cabin” called Sanctuary.  It looked cute, simple, everything I needed, accessible to all my favorite things…and you wouldn’t believe the price.  Serendipitous! 

I don’t have it in my head that I’m on retreat; that was not really my objective.  However, incorporating some retreatish space comes naturally.  Today, I woke up (after sleeping until 10…thank you Jesus!) and had a curiosity to ponder why I’d be led to Sanctuary and what that might mean for me right now.  I don’t know that I’ve come up with anything (ha ha), but I thought it might be worth writing about…(my stream of consciousness/”not planned out” blog entries always end up interesting to say the least.)

I began reflecting upon that I’ve been pretty lonely these days; especially in my new place since when I moved in May.  The contrast which struck me is how I’m feeling “full” and content here in this place of intentional solitude.  I like quiet.  I like space.  What is it that makes this intentional solitude a place of comfort rather than a place of anxiety/loneliness when I’m at home? 

I don’t know…so if you figure that out please write to me…fast!  Have a nice day; until next time…

Ha!  Just kidding (although part of me would love to leave my readers hanging like that…).  I really don’t do feelings very well…but if someone held me down and my life depended upon naming one, I think I could name loneliness with some accuracy.

I’m just going to put it out there…loneliness sucks.  My image is this dead-like weight that holds you down while you walk around looking like a Neanderthal almost standing upright, but not quite.  It duct tapes you to the pity pot and forces you to think pitiful things.  Loneliness, schmonlieness. 

For me at this point, loneliness feels like the scratch in the record (CD? I guess you can’t scratch an MP3…) that when it hits, the damn song starts over or running on a treadmill that has no emergency shut off cord.  It reminds me of where I’m not (living in community), what I don’t have (community, friends, etc), and what I deeply desire.  When I’m in that rut…all I feel is the same old pain, anger, and frustration.  Icky! Icky!   Enough already…own it, acknowledge, blah blah don’t stuff…but seriously…I’ve had enough.

I’m an optimist by nature (although, if you don’t believe me because of my  latest writings…travel back in time to www.onefunnunslife.blogspot.com and read some of the early writings…it’s true…it’s in me somewhere, still trying to find her!)—when I’m walking like the Neanderthal and duct taped to the pity pot, I get mad and frustrated.  Oh…those are two helpful things in this situation!  NOT.  Mad+frustration+lonely+duct tape does not = optimism or a catapult out of the rut.  Truthfully…I want to focus on where I am…what I do have…what I deeply desire, yes…and see it as possible.   

Maybe this is what Sanctuary is providing me right now.  A refuge and protection from duct tape and scoliosis—reminders that solitude doesn’t mean alone, my crushed dreams and annihilated inner self don’t mean terminal, and that Sanctuary is sometimes serendipitous and exactly what I need to find another starting point.

real.truth.experience.joy

day 4: mary, mary, quite contrary?

day 4: Mary’s not so sweet lullaby…aka Magnificat

(if you missed day 1, day 1.5, day 2…click on the previous episodes. If you missed day 3, I’m sorry, I wasn’t feeling well…so no day 3 for you.)

I’m learning some wonderful things: spiritual, personal, scriptural, practical… Allow me to share a few:
1. If you look younger than 35, no matter where you are, you become the resident techie and cell phone specialist.
2. I’m not the only one who has had a “biblical icon” crisis. (I’m currently in one with Sarah, Abe’s lady, but I’ve had my fair share of Mary confusion too)
3. Wearing tiaras at birthday parties are essential. (no matter who you are(even the prioress), what you do, or how old you are…you wear them! If you’re lucky, you get feathers!)
4. It’s ok to not participate, especially when you are choosing self-care (some people reading this should be applauding loudly…you know who you are)
5. Dominicans make the best cookies and lemon bars I have ever had. (Seriously, I should join for the life-time of these cookies. In fact one may have had an image of something holy on it and told me to become Dominican, but then I ate it, so I’m not sure. Hahaha)
6. Good preaching starts off with a story…I just so happen to have a few stories for you today! Yippee!

I’ve never been a Mary person. I mean, she’s ok…I’m not anti-Mary or anything. I didn’t get into statues, I had a couple rosaries over the years and didn’t really connect with that way of praying. I got to be the revered 2nd grader…the “chosen one”, if you will…to crown Mary in my communion dress. I didn’t really want to do it because my dress was so ugly (another funny story actually) and I didn’t see what the big deal was. But then girls were crying because they didn’t get chosen, so I thought I better suck it up and do it. Mary…momma of the big J…great!

When I got older I was more than disgusted with these frail, dressed in blue, hands perfectly folded gazing upward images. I decided she must be pretty boring and not much personality. I even went to a nun camp with a Marian order of nuns who love Mary more than anyone I’ve ever known. They even start all their prayers and meals with a Special Mary prayer! I thought I must be missing something.

Then when I became aware of women’s roles, treatment, impacts, etc in society…I perceived Mary as a strong woman and was irritated by those images even more so. I didn’t pay much attention to how she was written about in the scriptures, but I knew she wasn’t one of those “mouthy, renegade” women that we are warned about. I truly admired her faith and her ability to say “ok, angel…that sounds good”…or so I thought…

Then today, a newly inducted member on my “oh my gosh, you’re brilliant and an amazing teacher, and my hero/ine” list: Sr. Barbara Reid, OP gave us some new lenses and ways in which we could view Mary with the eyes, ears, and heart of a woman.

Story #2…I made a silent directed retreat right before I was received into the novitiate. My director gave me the assignment to write my own Magnificat. It was a great assignment! I was so happy…i praised God for EVERYTHING…just like Mary, in her innocent, frail, good girl way. Great…I’ve mastered the Magnificat….WRONG!

Sr. Barbara suggested that we take Mary from the perspective of her singing like a prophet. She helped us break open the Greek translation to come to the understanding that this was no “sweet lullaby” sung by a wimpy, blue veiled, child. Nope…now I’m intrigued and way into this.

Mary’s song could be interpreted as a counter-cultural ideology for her day. She urges, dreams about how life can be different for oppressed women in society. Naming God as “Lord” was sticking her tongue out at the emperor. It’s subversive, a dissent on the Roman Empire and treatment of women. Mary is basically saying “nan an nan an na na…you cant have me, I belong to Go-d, and I’m empowered…”. It’s her dream for new life…which coincidently is then taught to us in a more direct way by her son. As Sr. Barbara said, ” Well, when mom is singing songs like that at home, what political views would you work toward?” Now I’m in. Mary is awesome….and no wimpy Jew either!

So…relating back to my Kumbaya version of the Magnificat 5 years ago, I thought, what would I sing today, knowing this new lens and interpretation? That’s how I spent my afternoon, reflecting and composing my more historically accurate Magnificat.

Recently, someone asked me if I truly listened to God in prayer and in my formation. Um….yeah…that’s kind of a dumb question. She went on to tell me that she didn’t think I did listen or go deep enough because it was clear to her that God was not calling me to live religious life. I was furious! Let me be very clear…NO ONE, has the right to interpret and tell you how God is speaking to you in your heart. A vocation is a personal conversation with God that should be discerned with trusted people, yes, but no one can have the answer except you.

As if you can’t sense some of my passion for religious life…fire is an important symbol in my life. It speaks of me to intense passion and love. It is a God symbol for me. My Magnificat had to include fire. Between my rough spots the last couple years and trying to continue to move forward, frustrations with hierarchical structures, lack of integrity..etc…I, like Mary, stepped out of bounds to address God aflame in me today. Enjoy!

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

God fires my life with love; Guides me to spread the fire among those who experience darkness, those who need warmth, the hungry. God persists with love beyond those who wish to snuff out my flame; from now on my spirit is ablaze with you, my God.

God loves through this and every moment, how blessed is the love of my God.

The fire of God’s love is a healing flame…sterilizing selfishness and greed, ego and ignorance; God torches misuses of power. Seemingly destructive, but not so, God blazes paths for new life.

God whisks away my abusers, fooled by the smoldering embers. With that same gentle breath, breathes me into a passionate blaze, recognizing the flame that once carried my spirit forward, responding to God’s call in me.

God’s flames envelop me and all those who walk their journeys with integrity. Fueled with this profound message, my flame rises. Today, her embers have transformed into quiet, gentle flickers in the night air. Trust provides her with the promises of blazing new trails again, raised up by those who are likewise impassioned to walk with integrity and passion in their hearts.

Only you, God, can light the fire within me. Fire my life with your love, my God. My fire has been lit and tended to by your love and persistence. My heart’s fire is not determined by ones who lack integrity and justice, nor those who use fire to destroy. Only for you and your people who burn for justice and with joy is this song being sung.

My spirit is ablaze with you, my God. All that I am, all that I will become, sings of the fire of your love in me.

real.truth.experience.joy