Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clearing mental clutter

I've been spending my mornings with a new friend.  Most every morning recently I've been having my coffee with a friend who let's me do all the talking, without judgment or interruption.  I've been able to share my worries about my children, my new career, my relationships. Together we've explored my evolving faith. It's like starting my morning with my analyst.

This morning meeting has been with my journal.  Writing in my journal is completely different from other types of writing, primarily because of the lack of an audience. I spent the last few years writing for a living, writing advertorials and editing general interest articles.  While that was interesting and sometimes challenging, it wasn't personally relieving.  No brain dump involved - in fact it added to by brain clutter.

And I have kept a few blogs, which is a great tool, useful for communicating and sharing, maintaining and finding friends. But the public nature of the blog limits the topics. Some information isn't mine to share.  Some feelings I don't want the world to know about.

Last weekend we had the first in our series of Journaling workshops. We shared many ideas for inspiring and expanding our practice.  We talked about how journaling let's us explore the darker sides of our selves. Our discomfort with our anger, our anxieties, our depression or laziness makes us want to pretend those don't exist.  Ignore them and they'll go away.  But in journaling you get to explore those and embrace them as part of who you are.  It is both our darkness and our light that makes us who we are. 

If you've never tried journaling before, consider getting yourself a notebook and writing in it - every day if you can. Don't go overboard.  Limit yourself to 2 or 3 pages a day.  You'll be amazed at the relief you create for yourself.  Getting those thoughts out of your head creates space for creativity and growth.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Just the word Church can be a loaded subject.  What do you think of when you think of Church?  Committees and Meetings? Friends and Family? Oppression and Judgement? Or Comfort and Love? For me, it has meant all those things and more.  We have a guarded relationship, church and I.  When I was 16, I swore I would never step foot in a church again.  When I was 18, after much debate, I got married in a church other than my own. At 27, I became a Taoist. When I was 30, I felt like my kids should at least see what a church was about so they could decide whether it was for them or not so we took them at Christmas and Easter.

In 2002, after much debate, I stood at the altar of the church with my husband and children, being baptised, becoming members of the church I was married in. I'd like to say we lived happily ever after, church and I. But alas, 5 years later I swore I'd never set foot in the church again. I lied.  When I don't go to church, I start to miss all the hugs and beautiful energy of my church family.  When I go to church, I get annoyed at all the politics and craziness that goes along with having a family. Everyone wants things their own way.  Me too.  I will fight for your right to have things your way, however, I do understand not everyone likes things the same way I do.

If I were Queen of the world, my church would be Taize' style.  Taize' is a community built by a loving monk who believed worship should be a community affair.  Brother Roger said,
“Since my youth, I think that I have never lost the intuition that community life could be a sign that God is love, and love alone. Gradually the conviction took shape in me that it was essential to create a community with people determined to give their whole life and who would always try to understand one another and be reconciled, a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the centre of everything.”
Taize' is community worship.  There is no choir, the songs are not projected on a screen, they are simple, repetitive, easy to learn.  You can sing... or not.  There is silence, lots of it.  There is time to hear that "still, small voice" spoken of in I Kings 19.  There are readings but not necessarily just from the Bible, any passage that gives a feeling of God is accepted, all religions are honored.  The prayers of the people are truly that.  Anyone moved to speak a prayer may do so. Each prayer is followed by a short chant, as if the community is affirming the prayer.  No one is in charge.  Just God.  It's a beautiful thing.

Ritual is important in religion.  Many folks find great comfort in ritual.  Taize' is not for everyone, especially if you like structure and leaders.  But it is a refreshing change occasionally from the hustle and bustle of regular church service.  I am excited to get to plan 2 Taize' services for my church.  One is this Sunday for our Stillness class, the other will be during Lent.  The nicest thing about my church is that they are open to explore different things.  Like yoga. And Taize'. And Reiki. The hugs are pretty sweet too :)

Join us in Imagine Center Sunday at 9:30am for a Taize' Style Worship Service. Namaste'