Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Otto's Run

Learning from Water

Off to the side of our home, is a bridge that leads over the railroad tracks onto a road which is bordered by deep woods.

When we first moved here, over two decades ago, the bridge was closed and there was no traffic on that road. The bridge has since opened, but the traffic remains very light.

We would walk back into the woods for miles, but only a few miles away is a large stream named "Indian Run", where Frank & I used to go for an escape with a packed lunch.

It is also where I used to take our first dog, Otto, for walks to relax after a good day of work, or to recoup after a bad day. We refer to it as "Otto's Run" as we seem to be the only people to visit there and Otto loved to play in the water.

Today, I took our dog Fritz for his first visit to "Otto's Run".

This beautiful stream just seems to wash everything away. The roadway can neither be seen nor heard from it, the walk there is fresh and never tread upon, and the tranquil privacy is particularly peaceful.

There is something about the sound of water that draws us to it. This stream can be heard from the road as it call out, yet the road cannot be heard from the stream.

There is something about water that drowns out the busy-ness of life and washes away all of our worries.

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life.

Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a stream.

We come into the world and begin our lives on earth the same way. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity.

We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows through twisting banks and over rocks and fallen limbs.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.

When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on to seek a level at which it comes to rest in a tranquil sea.

In our lives we encounter our own waterfalls. We may fall hard but we always keep moving on, seeking our own level and eager to rest in stillness.

Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar.

Water is peaceful.

Water takes the course that nature deals it, goes along its path, and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back.

Water is brave.

When there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark. But rather, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space.

In the same way, we can use our energy to pass the obstacle in out paths, and we can face the dark moments of our lives rather than run away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control.

It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance, leaving only cleansing results behind.

When we are able to move beyond our individual egos and become part of something bigger, when we utilize our energy to mute the sound of the traffic going by, when we work to seek our peaceful stillness, that is when we will find our place and we can glisten in the light.

With love & light,


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Emerging From the Grey in Life

The Grey Ways We Numb Ourselves

Perhaps it was the fact that this Winter was terribly cold and grey here in the Northeast, and across the nation.

We had beautiful snow in Pennsylvania, bit no sunshine.

We had ice, but again, no sunshine to illuminate it.

Life has been difficult on many levels all about the globe, and we truly do have many reasons to be discouraged and depressed.

We are born equipped to experience a complex array of diverse emotions.

Many of us, however, are uncomfortable confronting our most powerful emotions.

We may shy away from delight and despair and deny life’s colors by retreating into a world of monotone grey.

At times we sink into a depth of depression, and it affects us in ways that are beyond our comprehension.

We don't always know how to deal with it, so many of us may numb ourselves to what we are truly feeling.

We may do this with the use of denial or through agents such as alcohol or medication. Either way, it’s easier to suppress our emotions than to deal with them, so we may momentarily turn to pleasures such as alcohol, food, sugar, shopping, or too too much television or inter net.

We may even numb our hearts and reject those who truly care about us and whom we love.
While it’s normal to temporarily seek distractions as a means of coping with intense emotions, numbing ourselves prevents us from confronting our issues and keeps us from ever finding resolution or peace.

When we are numb, there is no pain or powerlessness, but there can also be no joy or healing.

The activities that numb us may seem harmless or pleasurable, but using them to numb
ourselves diminishes the quality of our lives.

Numbing ourselves so that we don’t have to feel intense emotions can often satisfy a surface need while blocking our awareness of a deeper need.

We may find solace in food or shopping, drinking alcohol or entertaining ourselves in other ways, when what we really need is spiritual nourishment.

The less we feel in life, good or bad, the less we feel alive and the less we are alive.

Our feelings and emotions add vividness to our experiences and serve to connect us to the world around us.

It is possible to disavow ourselves of numbing behaviors a little at a time and once again taste life’s rich flavors.

When we sense that we are engaging in a particular behavior simply to deaden our emotions, we must stop and ask ourselves "why?".

Examining the feelings that drive us to numb ourselves can help us to understand what is triggering our desire to emotionally fade out. With each numbing activity that we remove which once separated us from the realities of life, we often find ourselves being more aware and experiencing a greater emotionally acuity.

Senses once shrouded by the fog of numbness become sharp and acute. Traumas and pain long hidden then emerge to the forefront of our consciousness and reveal themselves so that we can heal them.

We have a powerful presence of mind and spirit.

It is then that we discover a deeper self - a self that is comfortable experiencing and working through intense emotions with courage and grace.

Often, with depression, there are times when withdrawing from our obligations and taking time to sleep in and be alone are necessary to rejuvenate our energy and renew our connection within ourselves.

However, there are also times when withdrawal is a red flag, indicating an underlying sense of depression or some other problem.

We may not even have consciously decided to isolate ourselves but wake up one day to find that we have been spending most of our time alone, in one manner or another.

We might spend time time with our families & friends only to discover that we've paid absolutely no attention to conversation or our time with them.

We might even become concerned that we have a hearing condition or memory failure only to one day discover that our minds have been consumed by thought and worry, or depression.

It is then that we begin to lose the most valuable pieces of our lives.

I've done this.

We also neglect the feelings and actuality of our partners, our families, our friends ... our faith.

Perhaps it’s been a long time since friends who used to be in touch have just given up on us.

With no one to invite us to a lunch or some shared time together, or with us not accepting the invitation, we sink deeper into alienation, and therefore depression.

The longer our isolation and depression lasts, the harder it becomes to reach out to people once we realize that we need them.

It is as if we have failed to exercise a particular muscle or limb, and now it is so weak we don’t know how to use it.

Many of us don't appreciate this reality, yet, in order to return to a healthy, balanced state of being, that’s exactly what we need to do.


We know that our heart is a muscle within our body, and we tend to that as we do a car battery, lest it ever fail us.

We're afraid of the "battery" that gives us life.

But, is it our heart that gives us life?

Our spirit is also a muscle in the eternal world world which we will have and hold forever.

The Spirit of God within us id what guides us, not only in this world, but through all of eternity.

Therefore, we must treat our spirit with love, honor and respect.

My partner wakes every day in in happy mood, loving each of our pets, laughing about everything he can and goes to sleep once his body says to, and he sleeps well.

We can each learn quite a bit from him.

If you find yourself a situation of depression, telephone, email, or text an understanding friend (as I did) who will listen with compassion, not a defensive friend who may have taken your withdrawal personally. The last thing you need is to be chided; a negative response could intensity your isolation.

If you don’t have the type of friend who can offer this, call a spiritual counselor, priest, or therapist. They may be able to help you determine the underlying cause of your depression and isolation and help you find your way out of it.

Once we've been in a pattern of secluding ourselves and are in the depths of depression, it can begin to seem impossible that we could ever reenter the world of friendships, conversations, group activities and success. But with time, trust and faith in the Spirit within us, we will.

Most people will understand if we take the time to explain why we've fallen.

We must then take our time, be gentle with ourselves, and rebuild our lives, starting with one person and building on from there.

We need to reach out to one new person, once at a time.

Before we know it, we will find ourselves back in the company of friends, right where we always were.

With much love & light,