Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remind Me, Who's in Charge?

When I need to get quiet and listen, I walk - no matter the weather. For a walk, Jacksonville's beaches have been spectacular these past few days!  And the beach has been covered by my favorite shell family - Olividae.  Shells from the Olive family have their own color and design due to a dye the animal secretes continuously over its lifetime.

My home is decorated in a style called "Beach Garbage." All over our house, you will find shark's teeth, sea glass, and sea shells sorted and arranged in containers.  So, when I walk the beach, I am often looking to add to my garbage collection.  

I deal with a lot of garbage.

These past few days, I've been troubled by the question,
"Am I doing enough to bring Peace into my life and the world?" 
Triggering my query was a homeless man's unprovoked verbal barrage while I loaded food for Mission House. Instead of feeling uplifted by what I thought was a generous, selfless act, I spent the remainder of the day confused and with tears in my eyes.  

A walk on a shell filled beach gave me time to commune with God.  As I filled my bag with incredible Olive shells, I could not believe the abundance! As I scooped up shells in clumps of 2's and 3's, I thought,
"This is like service work. We can touch people quickly who are ready to receive."  
I also wondered about timing.
"When is it not the right time for me to be involved?  Like what happened with the homeless man. What could have been different to enrich the encounter? Where did I go wrong? What could I do to remain open and positive?" 
I knew he was clearly angry and a danger to me. As I pondered these thoughts, I reached for another Olive shell. And as the tide came in, the shell slipped through my fingers. And God said to me,
"It's not your job. Let him return to swimming in my vast ocean. One day he will return to the beach. He is not yours.  He's mine.  Don't worry.  I have him."
Feeling comforted, I strode the beach - picking up speed until I arrived at an overload of Olive shells.   They were everywhere!        I froze.      Took a few steps.  I was overwhelmed and didn't know which one to pick up. I asked God,
"How will I know when it's time?  How will I know which ones to pick up?"
The answer,
"Keep going. I will give you special signs. What I want you to do will be clear."
At that moment, I looked down.  And there was a Starfish.

A Starfish is a rare find as well as an abundance of Olive shells!

Like those Olives, we each secrete continuously over our lifetime - creating our own unique outer shell in both color and pattern.  And the best part? We, like the Olives, are ALL beautiful!

Some of us are ready to be discovered in the sun on the beach. Others need more time in the ocean.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Of Service

36 hours from now it will all be over. Kitchen will be clean. Linens washed. Lights out. And I'll be in bed.  

400 people fed.

For the past 7 years, I've coordinated the volunteer effort at our church for First Communion Dinner.   We begin setting up for tomorrow night's dinner in an hour.  

I always marvel at how folks come together to pull off big events. A dark, empty echo-filled space turns into a magical, festive gathering filled with light and laughter and then returns to its original state.  This is the wave cycle of all manifestation.

People come together to be of service - to serve one another. It's what I believe we are called to do.

Today, I enjoyed a morning Yoga practice with a room of strangers, a well versed teacher, and an accomplished group of musicians - coming together to be of service to the greater Jacksonville community.

This morning, I was given the gift of a new awareness of how to be humble and serve with an open heart. Appropriate as I head into my service work this afternoon!

In the physical practice of Yoga, the asanas or postures, we often think of forward bending as a time to bow down to the Highest. Typically, in forward bends, I connect with the inward turn, the opportunity to reflect on my own heart while bowing to the Great Heart.

This morning, while in Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose), I went into a forward bend. The Assistant came by and walked his fingers up my spine from just behind my heart to the base of my neck. A soft, gentle reminder was all that I needed.

While we are honoring the Divine Heart, we long to connect to this Love. So, even in a forward bend, we have the opportunity to "Lift up our hearts to the Lord."

I guess I've been caught up in the idea that my heart lifts in backbends and standing poses.  

Wow, what a thought that I can be close to the earth in a position of surrender and still extend my heart - reaching and expanding into the Presence that connects us all.

I knew this. I just needed a reminder. I needed someone to serve me.

The lights are still on. We are all gathered here. And it's not time, yet, for our final rest. So, let's keep feeding one another!

May we continue to serve well.