Cissy Brady-Rogers
Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers Cissy Brady-Rogers

Tag: garden wisdom

Last week I introduced a group of entrepreneurial Christ followers to the use of contemplative prayer as a means of self-care. I led a simple breathe and body awareness practice, inviting them to “just be” with themselves in God’s presence and notice their experience. What was it like to just stop, let their minds be still, notice their experience without “doing” anything in response to whatever thoughts, feelings or sensation came to mind?

A newbie to contemplative practices reported that for a brief moment, he felt his brain stop working and relax. A calm and bright smile spread across his face as he reflected on the rapid pace of his life and how his mind is always thinking about something. “It felt amazing to just stop and be quiet for a moment.”

Another participant noted a deep sense of gratitude flooding his awareness as he felt his breath and body move in rhythm with each other. He said he felt like God was breathing with him!

Contemplative prayer is a way of praying without words, or with very few words. It’s a way of paying attention to experience as we are held in God’s loving presence, letting our very presence become a prayer as we rest and trust in God’s love.

Miss Liberty Belle - 8 weeks old

Miss Liberty Belle – 8 weeks old

Recently, I’ve recommitted myself to daily centering prayer—a contemplative prayer practice popularized by the writing and teaching of Father Thomas Keating and the community at Contemplative Outreach. From 2007-2014 I had an almost daily practice. Then, a two-week vacation to Ireland and the arrival of Miss Liberty Belle two years ago threw me off my game. Some days, it takes an enormous amount of discipline to show up for my practice. But I know from my experience of both yoga and centering prayer that these simple tools are powerful resources for helping me be a better lover of God, my neighbors and myself. So, after two years of rather sporadic practice, I’ve renewed my commitment to daily centering prayer.

Perhaps you too could use some practical tools to support you in being more at peace with yourself, a kinder and gentler partner, a less reactive employee or boss…Whatever the change you seek, strengthening your capacity to just be with your experience in a loving, non-judgmental way, can be a powerful support in the slow work of becoming!

On September 24th I’ll be leading a women’s retreat on how contemplative practices support spiritual growth—especially in facing the disturbing and disquieting aspects of ourselves that we desperately long to change, but also greatly resist.

Transforming Beauty from Ashes – Saturday, September 24th Retreat

Miss Liberty Belle - 1.5 years old

Miss Liberty Belle – 1.5 years old

I’d love to have you join me and the Alive and Well Women team at the LA County Arboretum from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. for a day of opening up to the life that wants to be born in and through you as you rest and trust in God’s transforming love within compassionate community. The $60 registration fee includes admission to the 127 acre gardens, spacious time for individual reflection, experiential teaching on contemplative practice, facilitated small group and community conversations, and light refreshments. See more details and registration at the Alive and Well Women website.  I hope you can join us!

In case you were wondering, Liberty is flourishing. Thankfully, I’m not as easily distracted by her charming ways I as used to be!

I love Mary Oliver’s poem “When I am Among the Trees” so much I committed it to memory. It reminds me of who I am and what I am called to be. Like the trees, I have come into the world “to go easy, to be filled with light and to shine.”

This week has been tough. Personal and professional challenges show up to dampen my days, weigh me down. I practice gratitude, pray for help, do all the things I know to do to be well. But the clouds have hung close anyway.

I found my quiet center and a lightening of my load as I sat at my kitchen island and took a mini-retreat with my colleague Joy Malek’s  Sacred Space Retreat Kit.

when i am among the trees

She introduced me to Wendell Berry’s “I go among the trees” – reminding me that like the trees that shed leaves in the fall, stand naked through winter, and bloom again in spring, my life unfolds one day at a time and nothing lasts forever.

Both the blessings and challenges of life must be worn lightly, not clinging too tightly to the goodness nor resisting the struggles. It’s all part of the cycle of life that enables me to be filled with light and shine, even when I’m naked in the midst of winter clouds.

Joy’s kit is a series of simple reflections to create a pause in your day, go within and find your quiet center. Or, as Joy puts it, a life centered in soul. A wonderful way to pause in your busy or burdened day and “go easy, be filled with light and shine.” Even if you can’t get away to the trees, a few minutes at your kitchen table or before you check your email might be just the thing you need to lighten your load today.

I’ve blogged about the dangers of use, misuse and abuse of alcohol before. A recent N.Y. Times discussion got me thinking about it again.

Studies indicate an association between binge drinking and rape on college campuses. As one of the N.Y. Times bloggers states: there’s nothing liberating or empowering about getting so drunk that you make choices to go places and do things you’d never do if you were sober!   If women think that being free to “drink like a man” is a sign of liberation, they’ve got some serious self-reflection to do on the meaning of life.

Encouraging women to drink responsibly is not about putting the blame for rape on the women, it’s about taking personal responsibility for our own welfare. Moreover, the same message should be sent to the men who rape them. I wonder about my own experience: would that man I met in the bar have raped me if he were sober? Would either of us made the choices we did if we’d met at a coffee shop instead of a bar?

Another author asks an important question about the abuse of alcohol: When did it become a social justice issue to defend anyone’s right to get so inebriated they make decisions they’d never make if they were sober?

And so the conversation continues…

While I was away on vacation a plague of mildew took over my summer squash. Most of the leaves were speckled with white powder and some were turning yellow and dying. But in spite of the attack the squash were still producing–so much so that when I offered my husband some steamed squash one night he replied “Squash again?”

Determination

Saturday morning I went out with my clippers to assess the damage, prepared to tear it all out and begin planting for fall. But buried beneath the sea of mildew I discovered strong new shoots making their way towards the sun, determined to keep producing in spite of obstacles!

I went to work. I thinned out the damaged branches, cut everything back to the vine, tidied up the dead leaves, freed the new growth from potential contamination and opened them up to reach toward the light.

Humans and plants share the same basic growth instinct to fulfill our destiny. All God’s creatures great and small come equipped with everything we need to thrive. But, like the mildew that keeps the squash from flourishing, many life factors inhibit our innate potential to become all we were created to be. We all bump up against both internal barriers (character defects, defenses, limitations) and external obstacles (unhealthy relationships or workplaces, accidents, losses of all sorts that we can’t control).

Even the most determined among us weren’t intended to grow alone. Like gardens, we need the support of loved ones to overcome the many forms of dis-ease and dysfunction that inhibit our growth. We access the support of others within the broader community. We come alongside one another, helping each other prune back the diseased leaves, find the right combination of nutrients and light to make us strong and steady.

The determination of my plants to keep producing in spite of obstacles inspires me! I loved discovering the new life beneath the sad old leaves. And it gave me joy to prune away the old growth so the new could flourish.

Help!

Living from within, following your soul, being true to your deepest calling–whatever you call it it–depends on both personal determination and willingness to let others help. Habitually in the caregiver role, like many of the women I work with, learning to ask for and accept help has been a lifelong lesson.

Yesterday I sent out an email to a group of my soul sisters requesting prayer for wisdom regarding my work. I’m determined to share my unique understanding about health, spirituality and transformation with others. And, I need support in doing so.

How about you? What are you determined to do in this season of your life? Who will you ask for support?