In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Monday, June 24, 2013

Peace, Beauty and A Warning

                                              Heil Ranch -- Color is mostly grass in early summer

This morning I am particularly grateful for inner peace.  This deep feeling of peace came unexpectedly last night after a week of stress and a day when it seemed to pile up.  The stress of having our "new" Voices For Children CASA Executive Director resign after not quite six months is a real one (I'm president of that board).  Unusual inner anxiety about my two "up front" tasks at the church service had passed without a flub.  The discovery of the strong relationship my Healing Ministry Group back-up leader has with our Rector--evidenced in our meeting when it seemed that I was the observer -- provided stress on my ego.  It's always an initial jar to see my replacement so clearly, although it was also comforting and freeing.

The absence of my daughter in my life too was brought close in an unexpected way.  On Facebook I discovered that a high school friend had come to Colorado to vacation with Michelle, and I hadn't heard from her.  This friend has become one of the few I always see when visiting Nashville (was one of the girls who called me "Mother Means" and as an adult sometimes refers to me with that name).  

There was a fantasy relationship that I was also letting go.  With all of this sloshing around, I wasn't peaceful!
Even the anticipated pleasure of going to Nashville this Friday for my 75th birthday celebration with family and friends wasn't easing the stress.  Then as I sat on the bed and half watched a re-run of Elementary, a deep peace surfaced.  It was (and I can still touch it, though not so profoundly) that "All will be well" peace.
Amazed, I simply sat with it.

With the prospect of a busy day with an emergency board meeting of VFC CASA, I put away the novel I was reading early and went to sleep.  It seemed that I barely closed my eyes when a strongly distressing dream woke me.  It escaped being a nightmare because I wakened immediately.  In a vehicle, I was being high jacked by first one, then two, burly characters, taking over the driving and pushing me into the back seat.  When I tried to open the door, another burly character blocked my way--and as I was beginning to feel there wasn't a way out, I woke up.  For me, this dream was clearly a warning that the path I was supposed to be on was in danger of being high jacked.  Whether the three characters had meaning, I haven't discerned.  However, it was clear that I was taking the VFC CASA concerns as my mission to solve--that old ego saying, "It's up to me."

I had readily accepted my first choice as the Search Committee chair's reason that he couldn't serve.  He just received a big promotion.  Last year's chair is waiting on confirmation of a new full-time job before saying that she will even be on the committee this time.  These were obviously valid reasons for limiting participation.  Why could I not have easily seen that while my "work"--focusing again on obtaining an agent for the memoir and working to schedule programs in other areas--was as valid and needed my time?  It's that old thing of the obvious need in front of me calling--and my ego's "I must be the one to solve this problem."

Interestingly, our Associate Rector's homily had focused on the danger of letting our egos take over by puffing up--or by believing that we were indispensable!  So today I'm meeting with a newer board member who has enthusiastically agreed to chair the Search Committee and letting go of (at least trying) my feeling that she will need propping up along the way (and of course, that I will be the one to do it!).  I'm saying that I trust that the person we need to lead VFC CASA's important mission of being a voice for neglected and abused children in the Boulder County Court system will show up.  I know that the more I trust, the more I can let go of the angst that this resignation has brought--and interact with compassion with the one who is leaving.

Inner peace is a blessing.  It doesn't necessarily mean that all of these insights will promptly cause calm, assured behavior.  It does give me a place to dive into as a swirling of stress begins to form.

Rivers meet along the Camp Dick Trail

Soon I'll write and put up photos of early flowers that i intended to include this morning.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hiking a Back Country Trail

                                                       Ouzel Falls, RMNP, June 7, 2013

While insights abound these days, this bright Sunday morning, I'm sharing my recent hike to Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park, a favorite in the early hiking season.  The falls is at its best during the snow melting season, and with the late snows this year, I was sure the water would be gushing over the rocks and spraying the logs where we often sit for lunch.  (And some may remember the falls as my first blog cover photo.)

At the ranger station, I learned that the bridge at the Calypso Cascades, more than halfway to the falls was out.  I would need to take the back country trail, one I had never hiked, to reach the falls.  The parking lot was full of tourists' cars (it was Friday), and I noticed that most were walking on toward the Cascades rather than taking the trail to the falls--and the clouds were gathering early.

I could not help but think of this trail--old and faint at times--with life's journey--and was reminded that delightful surprises exist no matter the difficulty of the path.  The photo below doesn't do justice to the beauty of the aspen leaves beginning to unfurl against the background of boulders and pines.  I simply love this beauty.  The back trail is more shaded so the aspens have been slower to leaf out.
I stopped to photograph and admire their beauty over the first part of the trail and was surprised by big raindrops that began to fall.  When it seemed that they were not presaging a downpour nor were they going to stop soon, I slipped my poncho over my head and walked on.  I was reminded that I was more prepared for the rain than I often am for the showers of life.

This trail meanders away from the river so as its flow got louder, I had to go off trail to see and listen to its sounds--as those of you who have followed me for a while know--a sound that is comforting and healing for me.  It feels as if it is cleansing the dregs and crevices of my life.  I crept close to the water, knelt and let the water flow over my hand.
I didn't know where on the usual trail this one would come out--life for sure--and the few I met were newcomers to the hike and had no idea what my question even meant!  Not so many guides on this part of my life's journey either!!

Since I must quit and get ready for church--I'm the scheduled reader at our church picnic at Flagstaff Amphitheater and am giving a ride to an 86-year-old friend--I'm going to rush along.  When the trail ended, I was about a mile up from the falls on the Thunder Lake trail--not one that was familiar.  Backtracking, I came to the Ouzel Lake Trail and a series of brightly colored boulders (and thought of you Judith -- actually many times on this hike.)  Here they are--beauties of nature that give me great joy!

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Under the Armour

Did I know what I would find when I realized, last fall at a Snowmass Retreat, that I had a breastplate of armor that had protected me growing up, and that I needed to set it aside and allow the emotions hidden there to surface for healing?  Since I was familiar with the anger that could arise from behind that armor, I knew the emotions were strong and the experiences difficult.  I also knew that this would be healing and freeing.  I had first become aware of that ball of anger when a man I spent time with in the early 90's touched that pain with words.  It was as if a knife was slicing through my guts. I have touched it many times in my healing journey, but have never been able to get inside it.  So this work has been a long time coming.

I needed that armor and am deeply grateful that I had it.  I count the young girl who developed that armor and the Divine that allowed it to form as one of the greatest blessing in my young life.  The core of the ball that is still unraveling is the fear of being destroyed.  That is strong language, and in my case, this was sometimes a warranted fear.  Other times, there were words, tones of voice and looks that activated fear that felt as if I was being torn apart, thrown aside--feelings that were especially strong when the person triggering them held power over me.

Storm clouds and their shadows can be beautiful, especially when blue skies and white cottony clouds can be seen in another part of the sky.  However, when a vicious storm has brought damaging wind and rain, when lightening has ignited a nearby forest fire, those storm clouds may cause a knot to form in our stomachs, and fear to course through our bodies.  The same is true for words, voices and looks that activate old, often unconscious fearful experiences.

As my ball of fear and pain has been unraveling, I've become aware of why I unconsciously created fear in the two 6'4" men who worked for me in the early days of managing growing grant and loan programs in economic and community development--and how I used some of the same tools that had been used to create fear in me.  Fortunately, I've become friendly, if not always friends, with many of my shadow parts so I am not devastated or upset the way I was when my lovely administrative assistant, after hours on her last day before moving on to a full professional position, told me that these two men were afraid of me.  My mental picture was of a slender 5'4" woman standing between two men, each a foot taller, trying to get them to understand the urgency of the projects they were working on and my frustration when their looks of slow understanding and unhurried voices expressed the opinion that I was expecting too much.  They could have as easily said, "We are state workers.  What do you expect?"

That anger was triggered recently in an e-mail dialogue with one of our pastors regarding the expectations of attendance in the healing ministry discernment group that I chair.  My reaction was over-the-top though the worst of it I kept to myself.  I should have realized the pattern that often occurs when an old deep pain is working its way through to consciousness.

My use of those tactics--a steely look in my eyes, a cold tone of voice (not loud), and words have long been my tools of protection.  At times words are not needed.  I have prided myself on not needing to raise my voice to get across my point--get out of my way, don't touch me, stop now.  I could write an essay, maybe a short book, on the looks that shot fear and feelings that I needed to be squashed--sometimes literally--growing up.   Changing those looks in my life to ones of compassion is the transformation necessary--and God will provide that healing.  My job it to be open to the Spirit's work.