Saturday, November 22, 2008

Words as Sacred

How do you frame the world in your mind? How do you organize your perceptions? I play with words-the sacramental vessels that create beauty and meaning for me. Others play with visual images, movement, or music. Some organize space or experience the mystical through numbers and formulas. For me, words are the units that create a Universe. (I'm reminded of the ancient Kabbalists who meditated on individual letters and saw these as sacred. Each letter represented an entry into an understanding of God.)

Words float in my mind, seeking order. The words themselves are numinous yet they also seek to be gathered together, to create tiny new worlds of meaning. Placing words in the "right" order is an incredible high-- and my duty.

Imagine each of us pursuing our own mystical medium. Whether vocation or avocation, witnessed alone or shared with others, such a practice would bring joy and healing to ourselves and the world.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I sit in the sun on a warm winter day, soaking up vitamin D and images of blue sky. After a hard work-week, I wait for my conscious and unconscious minds to reconnect-- like lovers who've been apart-these two just want to gaze upon each other, silently. I feel like a third party to this scene, wondering what is happening as I sit doing the "nothing" I've so desperately craved.

I sit while Mind wanders. Although I have many (mostly pleasant) chores that beckon, I ignore them. My most important task is to listen for my soul's voice. I've been too busy to hear its subtle message and now, like an athlete who's had to miss training for a week, I'm hungry to resume meditation.

How lucky to have unstructured time! But it isn't only luck; I've been determined to secure this. I'll downsize if necessary-- to preserve a healthy balance of work and rest. It's vital for my well-being and the discovery of my own genius. Stephen Covey agrees-- taking regular downtime is his Habit 7 - "Sharpening the Saw."

So I sit and let Mind wander. Today it seems that I will never get enough of this "do nothing" time. But I trust the process. My extremely demanding schedule--is that why I seem so starved for quiet? From experience, I know I'll eventually move from "ebb" to "flow." Then I'll have one of my "aha" moments and a seemingly new idea will burst forth.

Meanwhile, I trust and wait. Both Jungian psychology and current brain science suggest that much of our thinking and many of our perceptions happen below consciousness. So, even though I can't know what goes on in these hidden areas of my psyche, I can help myself by believing in what can't be seen or measured. I can help myself by resting and listening to the still, quiet voice inside.

© Lewis-Barr 2009
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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Two myths illumine my path this morning: the stories of the Hebrews wandering lost in the desert (how true that feels of my life!), and the image of a Grail knight lost in a tangled wood.

Today I wake from a dream (or, like one of those knights, an enchantment). These two mythic images give me hope that my longings and confusion will come to an end. I am, I suddenly see, on my own hero’s journey. Each bewildering detour is part of my own sacred labyrinth.

I've been practicing surrender. Is that why I see more clearly today? As I submit to my mysterious fate, I feel a peace, even in the midst of an excruciating loneliness.
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Power of Intention

Sophie wears me down with her focused intention. She wants some people food! She follows me from room to room. At the table, she follows me with her eyes. She is patient. She is vigilant. I forget that I’ve promised myself: I will not add additional treats to her already-doctored food. Her objective is working. Absentmindedly, I take my used plate and mix her dried food into the meat drippings. Sophie has trained me well. She reminds me of the power of tenacity. Sophie is determined and will cajole me until I take her on our daily walk, give her some people food, and tug on her toy. If I can’t (or won’t) accommodate her desires, she may give up momentarily, but she will resume her quest again and again and again. Sophie gets more of what she wants because of her dogged (pun!) persistence.

How much could I achieve if I was half as tenacious as Sophie? © Lewis-Barr 2008
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Conscious Endurance

Yesterday I gave a new training event in EI. Objectively it went very well. But not perfectly. As I collected my materials, I felt a great sense of relief but, if I was honest, I also felt deeply ashamed. I know I’m too hard on myself. I tried to distract myself from these feelings but my conversations with colleagues were filled with self-blame, excuses, and explanations. When I finally went for a walk, my rational mind offered another perspective and proclaimed me “innocent.” My mood improved but I still couldn’t shake a slight feeling of shame, crouched in the back of my mind. Now, the following morning, I try arguing with this old feeling, but it hunkers down. Is there anything more I can do, but endure this strange internal curse? Change takes time. Jung said that we aren’t cured of what ails us; we simply and eventually outgrow our neuroses.

Today I sit with this internal tormentor. I know she’s wrong about me. I can’t be perfect. But I still have to feel her quiet condemnations. I say “feel” because this programming is so deep within me that I only have a very vague sense of shame. Emotional literacy helps me here. If I didn’t recognize the source of this very indistinct mood, it would color all my behaviors and perceptions and I wouldn’t know what was happening. Now I understand: this is an irrational emotion that I must endure.

I am getting healthier—incrementally. I now question these feelings instead of simply living in them. But change takes time. How do you explain the “why” of suffering (“paying karmic debts,” “offering your suffering to Christ,” “building a strong character” etc.)? Whatever the reason for our seemingly intractable inner woes, conscious endurance seems to be a key for healing. I remind myself today that our culture’s promises of quick fixes aren’t true. Change takes time. Endure your inner world and the changes will come. © Lewis-Barr 2008
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