One thing that never stops, whether I am in a writing hiatus or not, is the continuous collection of words of wisdom spoken and written by others. I seem to have a mountain of them on my desk or collected in my computer. I have noticed that there is one modern day spiritual writer who seems to speak much to my heart. His name is Paul Ferrini and he has been involved in spiritual work for more than 35 years. He is a prolific writer with many books to his name and one day I hope to attend one of his retreats. You can learn more about Paul at his web site www.paulferrini.com. In the meantime here are just a few of his spiritual insights.
“When you don’t want to do something, say "no" clearly.
A simple "no" said clearly from the heart can prevent the drama of self-abuse.
When we no longer betray ourselves by saying "yes" when we want to say "no", we will no longer attract people into our life who will disrespect our boundaries.”
“Some people complain about the boat.
Others try to escape it. Neither choice is helpful.
Until you accept the boat for what it is, it cannot take you to the other side.”
“You are the judge and the savior
No one else can condemn you for your mistake or release you from your guilt.
You must come to terms with what you have done.
You must acknowledge your error and atone for it.
The forgiveness of others is nice to have, but it means nothing if you cannot forgive yourself.”
Your compassion arises
when your ability to love
no longer depends
on how others treat you.”
God doesn’t ask you to pretend to be someone or something you are not.
God wants you to be who you are with all your contradictions and dichotomies.
If you have to deny any aspect of who you are to be spiritual, then you are creating an inauthentic spirituality.
True spirituality should be an instrument of revelation, not a tool for denial.”
I hope I have peaked your interest enough that you will go running to Paul’s website. I find him to be a magnetic yet gentle spirit even before I have met him in person. Blessings on your journey.
I’m not quite sure how this posting is going to come out, so I haven’t even given it a title yet. I’m not even sure what I want to say. Just know that I have to say it. So I guess I’ll start by recounting what sparked my need to write something, and then I’ll see what unfolds.
A few days ago my husband and I had a minor quarrel. It was more like a very tiny spat in the bigger scheme of things. I was going from one thing to another, my usual meandering self, and he was playing a game on his X-Box. All was well, or so it seemed. But as I meandered from one activity to another I became aware that I was getting irritable. As I stood at the kitchen looking over the counter at him playing, the irritation burst out in words: “You’re getting a bit obsessed with that thing lately!”
As soon as they flew out of my mouth, like poisonous arrows in the air, I regretted them. But the dice was cast, and as he replied a little testily to my accusation I knew I was going to hold ground – come what may. That awful need to be right sat right in my throat. It didn’t last very long, thank God. I am very grateful for the great love that Richard has for me. He gently reminded me of the time I spent (obsessively?) reading books and he never complains, and I backed down. But the whole thing left a bitter taste in my mouth and a yucky feeling in my heart.
The next morning during my quiet time, I had to take a look at that little scene and examine where it had come from. And I realized that it was the second “exploding irritation” that I had initiated in the course of a couple of days. The other one was less of an explosion and more of a “passive-aggressive” attempt to bring Richard’s attention to something – a fault of his. Even in that instance I was aware of that wretched need to be right. And today in the remembering of these incidences, I am reminded of a very short poem by Ruth Harms Calkin titled Confession.
It suddenly occurs to me
That the most severe conflicts
In our marriage
Seem to come when I insist
On exposing my husband’s faults
Instead of confessing my own.
So what was going on here? It hadn’t been a “severe conflict” but I had been taking my husband’s inventory instead of keeping my own. I prayed and I prayed, and out of the blue, floating across my consciousness, came the phrase “I’m out of kilter”. And I immediately remembered a dream that I had had just over a week ago.
Here I need to explain that I very rarely remember my dreams these days. In my “old life” I would wake up in the morning and remember every detail of all my dreams. And most of them were quite dramatic and very colorful. But since making huge changes in my life, my nights seem quite dreamless. At least I do not remember them. And if I do I’ve discovered that it usually means that something is off balance in my life, that I’m a little off center, “out of kilter”.
So what I was remembering was in fact just a fragment of a dream. The fragment went something like this. Richard and I were “somewhere” (didn’t recognize the place), and he was sitting at a table. A phone rang and he answered it and within a few moments he had put his head in the hand that wasn’t holding the phone, and his body sagged. After he hung up I asked what was wrong and he said, “Our daughter is in jail.” I had snapped awake instantly.
And there I had it. Fear – the underlying cause of all my irritation that had quietly been building. I hadn’t shared my dream, or fragment of dream, with anyone. I guess it had seemed such a trifling thing at the time that I thought it didn’t need attention. I should know better. Nothing connected with my daughter is trifling for me.
I have done a lot of work, spiritual, mental, and emotional, around my daughter. I guess the lesson learned here is that there is always more work. So before I go to bed tonight I will share my dream fragment with my husband and tell him that I love him very much, and also reaffirm the apology that I have already made to him for my barbed tongue. Life is too short to allow fear and irritation rob me of my joy. Oh, and I need to find a title for this writing.
As we were leaving Italy to come here in January 2004, many people told us about the Florida weather. We were to expect mainly mild winters that resembled an Italian spring. They warned us about hurricane season and gave us many tips for preparing for them. But mostly people told us of the typical summer climate: hot and steamy with lots of rain and summer storms.
So as summer 2004 approached I mentally prepared myself for hot steamy mornings followed by afternoon summer storms, and clear evenings. I also listened to advise that was given on various TV channels and in the newspaper, and stocked up on water, canned food, and batteries in case of hurricanes. Then I hoped for the best because my husband was deployed!
Well the hot and steamy arrived, and sometimes we had afternoon rain. Some of the rain was pretty torrential and I know that certain areas suffered flooding. Occasionally there were some crazy storms and we even rode the edge of a few hurricanes. But we never really experienced the “typical Florida summer weather” – until this year.
I have never sat through, driven through, huddled in my living room through such storms as we have had this summer. We have had some real humdingers and they have been almost daily. We’ve had a few patches of just really beautiful days in between, but for the most part it’s been sunshine in the morning, cloud build up around lunch time, and skies opening up by early afternoon.
Today was probably the worst storm yet in my opinion. The sky slowly blackened, the wind picked up, and with a sudden explosion lightning lit up the sky and the thunder crashed in quick succession. Almost immediately there was torrential rain, so fast, so heavy I could hardly make out the back yard fence. It was scary and dramatic and reminded me of another storm that I experienced in Italy in the late summer of 1980. A storm so violent that I wrote this poem.
A distant rumbling from a blackened sky,
As though some celestial beast of prey
Was growling its deep-throated complaint
From behind iron bars.
Then came a sudden daylight burst of light,
And the heaven-bound lion roared its angry disapproval.
Without warning giant drops of heavy water
Cascaded from the skies,
Tumbling helter-skelter in their haste
To quench the parched ground.
So thick and fast they chased each other to the earth
A never-ending curtain stretched from all eternity.
Then, much later, with a final bellow of rage
And one last blinding flash of vivid blue,
The beast, its anger fully spent
Slinked belly low to a corner of the skies,
Leaving a sweet soft silence hanging in the air.