Kathrynjz over at RevGals is pondering the various ways her life is blessed and some of the signs of those blessings. For her these include reognzing the blessings of our priviledged life like having computers and internet, and a morning cup of coffee. She asks us to reflect on the blessings of our lives, that which helps everything feel "right with the world the moment I am enjoying them."
Those who know me are aware that over the last few years I have faced some profound challenges. There's no need to go into the details, but suffice it to say that I have struggled deeply with the question of God, life, faith, "happiness," and what it is that enables my soul to be at peace even when EVERYTHING is challenged..... In fact I wonder, even now, if I can "play" this game.
So, here's my attempt at five "perks" I give thanks for, even if they don't exactly make everything right with the world:
1. Exercise. Or, at the moment more specifically the gym. My daughter gave me a membership at a gym. I take yoga, strength classes, barbell classes, use the elliptical, swim, sit in the hot-tub and steam room. This exercise is an add on to the frequent dog walks. A few months ago, when I was really struggling I exercised hard - really hard - like I was trying to beat out of me the pain and suffering - sometimes pushing back tears as I worked out. It usually worked though and I felt much better. It helped to balance the insomnia and age related hot flashes and night sweats too. I love that at the gym I am anonymous, no one knows a thing about me and I can leave all my struggles behind while I strive to help myself become healthier in mind, spirit, and body.
2. Meditation. I first learned to meditate when I nineteen, at college, the year, 1976. Transcendental Meditation was all the rage. I practiced that form of meditation for many years until I learned centering prayer and became of aware of Christian contemplation and silent prayer. Now I pray/meditate 40 minutes a day. Well, I usually do. I also have years when I don't - when for one reason or another I just can't. But always when I pick it up again I feel better, more at peace, more centered. This, along with exercise, may be the primary reasons I have made it through the last year with any kind of faith intact and inner peace.
No, all is not well with my soul. Not at all. But I work on it every day. And as a result I live in peace even as I continue to struggle with my faith, with God, with what has happened, with what will happen.
3. Knitting. I can't always knit, I'm not always able to sit and focus or relax enough. But on the other hand I love knitting, particularly socks. It's fun, it is relaxing, and it's creative. I love the variety of yarns - so many beautiful choices. I hope to take a class on knitting sweaters in addition to socks and scarves...So, knitting helps my inner self find peace, when I can do it.
4. Coffee. Yes, I love my morning cup of coffee. Not sure it falls into the category of "all is well with my soul" but I do look forward to a cup of coffee. True I use to buy only fair trade. Now, for a variety of reasons - ok, due to my financial situation...well actually due to being unemployed, I can't afford good coffee. So now I just drink the best coffee I can afford, which isn't saying much. If I think about it my morning coffee will actually unsettle my soul because I'm not doing one of the things I really want to do to help the global economy. So. I take it back. Not coffee. But the idea of fair trade coffee and those times when I can buy it, drink it, and help.
5. My work with the National Council of Churches, USA and the Episcopal Church on the language project, "WordsMatter." I have written about this often. You can learn more here. I also look forward to more work around the prevention of domestic/intimate partner/teen dating violence. I wrote four prayers for the sixteen days of prayer against gender violence. (Not sure if any of my prayers will be used...). And I am a nominee to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women the end of Feb. 2011 as a representative from the Episcopal Church. This work definitely feeds my soul and helps me feel like all is well within me and the ways God is calling me to be the hands and heart and voice of Christ in the world.
Not an easy Friday Five....but that doesn't mean that I don't live everyday with some sense of gratitude and most importantly with hope.