Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let's All Become Namers

Magical Morning

I have always loved to name things. The morning I left San Damiano Retreat Center there was a perfectly lovely sunrise. I didn’t just see the sunrise that morning; I took time to experience it. I have posted the sunrise above and its name is MAGICAL MORNING.

My fascination with naming things began early in my life. Once when I was a very young thing, surely not past nine, I went to my mother almost in tears and said, “It isn’t fair; everything is already named.” At this late date in life, I can’t recall her exact words but she seemed to suggest that I could create new names—and so I did. I’ve been naming things ever since. I name the places that speak to me. I name special trees, gardens, brooks, big rocks, meadows and valleys. I name experiences and growing seasons. Sometimes I give people new names. I often use these names in my prayer. A few days ago when I was doing my “memories prayer,” I prayed, O Holy One, do you remember our velvet evening of so long ago?That was all the prayer I needed. I simply beheld the velvet evening again remembering exactly where I was, what I was feeling, how I was growing.

There is power in a name. We can enable others to feel beautiful by the way we pronounce their name. I think of Mary Magdalene in the garden on resurrection morning and can only imagine how she felt as she heard Jesus saying her name, “Mary!” Your name can become a prayer by the way you pronounce it. Sometimes I use my name as a prayer mantra when I am meditating.

It is very important to honor people’s names. We must do all in our power to keep people named and never un-name them I learned about un-naming others in Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wind in the Door. I will quote a bit from the book but first I must tell you that a cherubim named Proginoskes and nick-named, Progo, has come to Meg’s planet (earth) to help her understand that when you do not love others you un-name them.

Progo, you said we were Namers. I still don’t know: what is a Namer?”
“I’ve told you . A Namer has to know who people are, and who they are meant to be. I don’t know why I should have been shocked at finding Echthroi (evil) on your planet.” (and Meg asks, Why are they here?) “Echthroi are always about when there is war. They start all war. …I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming—making people not know who they are. If someone knows who s/he is, really knows, then s/he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet, Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then Echthroi (evil) will be vanquished.”

And so I say to my readers:


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Left My Voice in San Francisco

Home from the San Francisco bay area where I was leading a silent retreat at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville. The 84 retreatants were edifyingly quiet. I was inspired by their faithfulness to the silence. The photos here surely portray that this is a place of graced beauty and you might consider coming here some day for a soul journey.

The amusing irony of it all, which may actually be a bit prophetic, is that I lost my voice almost as soon as the retreat was over. Perhaps God is telling me to eat my own words. I flew back to Arkansas in silence, even wrote a note to the airline attendant so she would know what I wanted to drink.

Every experience is a teacher and so I am trying to learn from this silence that was not on my schedule. Most of the things on my TO DO LIST for today I have put aside. Sleeping, reading, resting, caring for my health: those things I tend to put on the back burner, are right up front now. They have my attention. At the moment I can only whisper. It is silent in my heart too. The prayers of the retreatants have followed me home in silence.
I think we talk
what lives inside silence
scares us.
-spoken by Angel in Linda Hogan's book, Solar Storms

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Hopefully it is not terminal but I do believe I have the beginnings of blog envy. Since envy is one of the capital sins I would like to free myself from its grip just as soon as possible. I have felt it creeping up slowly when I am surfing blogs. It isn’t likely you will find me surfing TV channels since I watch TV so seldom but I do love words and enjoy reading about people’s lives, their dreams and hopes, their favorite books, even the things they like to eat and grow and who they would enjoy having tea with. It would be easy for me to become part of a blog community if I had the time.

And oh my, as I surf, there are these little voices in my head that begin to talk to me saying, “well look at this creative blog.” (i.e. Lila's photo above) Why can’t you be a bit more creative?” And some blogs have all those neat backgrounds—and features I’ve never tried to use staring me in the face until even my blog starts talking to me, saying things like, “Why don’t you spruce me up just a bit? I’m a little dull next to some of these beauties.”

“Well,” I try to explain, “I’m a beginner and am likely to make a career out of being a beginner. After all, you are a contemplative blog and so you need a lot of white space. Some of these other blogs, much as I love them, are a little busy,” I tell myself—hoping for some consolation.

After all, the most sensible thing to do is to follow the advice given in the name of Beth's blog: Be yourself---everyone else is taken --I find that most consoling so I will try to be myself and stumble along in BlogLand as I am able.

And I do thank Lila for allowing me to use her (what shall we call it) eye poem, dream board, creative collage, whatever: knowing all the while that if I had more time to experiement I could have inserted her blog page so that it would open up to the very page of her creative display above.

Oh well...Enjoy whatever page you are on; and truly as Beth says, Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. And you are just fine whoever you are--wherever you are.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Slow Turning


Of course I am waiting for the brilliant flare of autumn. Waiting for that glorious nest of gold and red to sweep me off my feet! Today, however, as I wandered through our spacious gardens of trees it came to me that the slow turning is sometimes missed because we are looking for something a bit more spectacular.

Today let's watch for the slow moments of transformation in the trees and in the heart. For the heart, too, must learn to appreciate the process. Here is a gentle reminder from one of my favorite authors:

...There is nothing in your life

too terrible or too sad

that will not be your friend

when you find the right name to call it,

and calling it by its own name


it will come upright to your side..."

~~Laurens van der Post

Ah! Yes! But you must call it by name! And you must embrace the slow process of the turning leaves of your heart.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn Surrender

Autumn, my favorite season, is a mystical time with a beautiful language all its own, a language my soul understands, no translation needed. A kind of eternal longing wells up in me that seems stronger in autumn than it does in other seasons. Perhaps it is my own forgotten memories of a source of life behind the life I now know, my own unrealized yearnings to return home.

…I often hear people talk about spring cleaning which involves anything from going through closets and downsizing, to cleaning the house from top to bottom. I personally like to use the season of autumn to do this. It fits well with the house cleaning that nature is doing. For the past few years, it has become my custom in autumn to evaluate what needs to be relinquished in my life. Sometimes possessions weigh me down. At other times it is my character flaws that burden not only me, but everyone who lives with me. I look into my closet and into my heart each autumn and ask, “Is there anything I could surrender that would help me become a freer person?

One of the things I enjoy about autumn is that, unlike myself, it looks like it’s having fun surrendering. There is a playfulness about it. All those bright colors and falling leaves! As a child I used to stand in the midst of dancing leaves on a windy autumn day. My face turned upward, my hands stretched out, I would gather the leaves in my arms like birds falling from the sky. On some days I would try to keep my eye on a single leaf, following it wherever it led me, which was sometimes over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture. One day, having worn myself out, my mother found me asleep in a big pile of leaves. The memory is a good one and I find myself wishing I would wear myself out playing a bit more in my adult years.

—taken from THE CIRCLE OF LIFE, p 186
by Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I wanted to discover a new room in my soul, but I found instead an old room suffering from neglect. I went to the country to pray—away from my office, from schedules and conversations and anxiety. I was going to build on an extension to my life: a new soul room that I could slip into when I needed a great deepening. I soon discovered it doesn’t work that way. The most praying I can say I have done is that I refrained from incessant working.

I sat quietly in an easy chair and gazed out into the meadow mindlessly. Was that prayer? I slowly cooked up a comfortable pot of soup. Was that praying? I read from the scriptures and from Eckhart Tolle’s book, The New Earth. I read slowly not trying to figure out the meaning of each sentence. I read as though I was walking though a garden keeping company with the plants and flowers. Was that prayer? I fed the donkey slices of apples and pears. Was that prayer? I sat by the pond and watched the mist rising up shrouding the old bench with a mystical ambience. Was that prayer? I sat in candle light trying to be present to the age-old mystery that ever so sweetly haunts me without end—always the mystifying haunting. Was that prayer?

I’m not sure—perhaps it doesn’t matter if I prayed or not. Perhaps prayer is simply connecting with the Source of my life. Perhaps I don’t have to build a new room for my soul after all. Perhaps the room has been here with me all the while just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps it is about being utterly present to WHAT IS without analyzing it or trying to own it. Perhaps it is about putting away my tools of production (on occasion) and just being with the mystery. Perhaps it is about not tying to figure out if I am praying or not; and I have been told that the truly wise ones pray even as they work.

©Macrina Wiederkehr