My Traveling Shoes

Done found myself a new pair of travelin' shoes to wear on this leg of my journey. Handmade to fit and suit me just right, supportin' and comfortin' me each step of the way.They are wild and colorful as I chose them to be, they suit my personality.
I've traveled so many miles in shoes that someone else bought for me, plain, poorly fitted, worn, second hand, hand me downs. Ohh, they hurt my feet and took me places that I didn't need to go, places that I didn't want to go. For many years I put them on. I was told it was my duty, but my heart was heavy and my cares so many.
Done found myself a new pair of travelin' shoes to wear on this leg of my journey. Handmade to fit and suit me just right, supportin' and comfortin' me each step of the way.They are wild and colorful as I chose them to be, they suit my personality. I bought these shoes. I own these shoes. They are mine.
by Jeanne leigh...copyrighted...2007


JOIN ME ON MY ECLECTIC JOURNEY.....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Sides of Compassion

 
 

Art by Jeanne Leigh Denton

 

Presently, I serve a small church in Virginia as a part-time pastor.
This past Sunday I spoke about the two sides of compassion, although I know there are many more. Sharing from the gospel of Mark I spoke of how Jesus backed his compassion with action. He did something to help those who suffered. We are to follow that example. Then of course there is another side of compassion. Those times when we truly have done all we can do and the suffering remains. We feel so helpless and uncomfortable in the presence of those who are sick or suffering with mental illness,  physical pain, addiction, etc. It is in those times that we must pray for wisdom and trust in what God is doing.
 

So, just as we are called to put our words, beliefs and faith into action, when we have done all we can do, we are then called to continue to express our faith by standing with and supporting “those that suffer.” If possible, we must find a way to walk with them through this.

 

I’d like to end with a quote by Henri Nouwen that makes a wonderful point concerning these situations. He says,

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to a place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.”

So, I pray we can learn more each day about doing for and being with those who are weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken. Let us practice being a loving and healing presence, and a light, especially in those times that we do not see them experiencing a cure, or when their problems are not solved, or their suffering does not ease. May we be mindful that we know that our God holds them even in this and be a witness to them of this very fact.

Thanks for stopping by! Til next time...Peace, Jeanne Leigh

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Quest for Understanding



 
Art by Jeanne Leigh Denton

WANTING OUR LIVES TO MAKE SENSE

All day long you do this, and even in your sleep…

pan for gold.

We are looking for something to celebrate

with great enthusiasm.

wanting all our battles and toil and our life

to make sense.

“I found it, I found it, I found it!” a hermit once

began to shout, after spending years in

solitude, meditating.

“Where? a young shepherd boy nearby asked.

“Where?”

And the hermit replied, “It may take a while, but I will show you.

For now just sit near to me.”

All Day long we do this, with our movements

and our thoughts…pan for gold
 ~ HAFIZ

Panning for gold conjures up all kinds of images. When we think of what this would actually involve, well to begin with we would need to ask ourselves, “Where would we possibly find this gold?” We’d have to carefully research this because location would be essential. Then we would want to make sure we have the means and equipment to begin this work. Once these steps have been taken we would begin the work of focusing on our search. We get down on our knees looking intently, exploring each pan-full of material and disposing of what is not gold and keeping what we believe to be gold. Sure enough some of it will be fool’s gold. Ah…but if there is gold to be found we will find it. This is the way it works. This is all part of the journey for there is so much to learn and so little time.




Joan Chittister has been a “light” in my life for many years. Through her work I have found many real nuggets of gold. Chittister has spent her life panning for gold. She is a “truth seeker” and a very brave one. I found this short video this morning that amazed me. That she could put that much wisdom and insight in a 14 minute and 43 second talk just astounded me. You may not agree with her present understanding of things. That is okay. I don’t know where you are coming from but I encourage you to listen and at least think about some of the things she is saying. As I was told a long time ago “Eat the meat and spit out the bones”. If something here feeds your soul or lightens your way, help yourself. If not,I hope you find what you are looking for elsewhere.Let us keep panning for the gold while we have the opportunity.

Thanks for stopping by. Til next time…be at Peace. Love, Jeanne


 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!




I just watched a 15 minute TED talk on compassion by Krista Tippett. Loved it. May I invite you to take 15 minutes of your time and give this talk a listen. It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe or where you are in your life. This talk can help each of us understand what compassion really is and how we can honestly seek it and practice it in our lives and how it can change our lives and those around us.

Today is Christmas. Those of us that celebrate Christmas are celebrating the birth of Christ, the birth of love, the birth of hope andgrace.  Jesus taught us all about compassion.Whatever our faith...whatever we are celebrating today, compassion is an important part of our lives if we are going to improve ourselves and our little corner of the world.

May we all seek to be more compassionate in our lives in the coming year. Here is the link:Krista Tippett: Reconnecting with Compassion. Please click on this link and open your heart and mind.

Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
 Love & Light! Until next time....peace, Jeanne

Thursday, December 6, 2012

TODAY


The last few years I have become so aware of the importance of living in the present moment. For anyone this is a difficult task. My Christian faith teaches me, “Therefore I tell you don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more then clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30) “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) These are beautiful passages that have been so meaningful to me throughout the years.
 
To this I have added the “practices” of Thich Nhat Hanh who has wonderful ways, methods for putting "mindfulness" into practice. He uses brief sentence meditations to focus on simple things. Example:"In the morning when you wash your face, think of how amazing it is to have water from a faucet, be grateful, pray for those who do not...think of where the water came from. He encourages us to focus on each task and try to be present to it. Another way to "practice" being in the present is by becoming aware of your breathing if you find yourself running off into worry or thoughts of yesterday's regrets, or fears of tomorrow. I love his teachings and practice them often. His books bring much peace to me.

The words of Rumi and Hafiz speak to my heart and have a very calming affect. Music does that as well. I often think of the young David playing his harp for Saul and soothing the rage that tormented him. Music can have a powerful affect upon our hearts.

I want to share a wonderful piece that has meant the world to me. It is written by Frederick Buechner. I saw it for the first time many years ago in his book “Listening to Your Life”.

TODAY

It is a moment of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there never will be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.

 

“This is the day which the Lord has made, says the 118th Psalm. “Let us Rejoice and be glad in it.” Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. The point is to see it for what it is because it will be gone before you know it. IF you waste it, it is your life that you are wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for and always missing.

 

All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from them. Today is the only day there is. ~ Frederick Buechner “Listening to Your Life”

Thanks for stopping by! Have a beautiful TODAY! Til next time....PEACE, Jeanne

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Guest House

I have a wonderful book called, A YEAR WITH RUMI Daily Readings by Coleman Barks. I love his introduction as much as the poems he has compiled for us readers. As I read yesterday’s poem, November 22nd I connected deeply with Rumi’s words once again. It was a perfect message for Thanksgiving Day.

We cannot get away from ourselves. We must befriend all that is within us. It is love that heals us, that will lessen the negative and wounded parts of ourselves. WE must look to God and our own love to save us. WE must choose to let that love move through us in our reality where we live every minute of every day. Think on these words:

 

THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness come
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably. 

He may be clearing you out
For some new delight. 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in. 

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond. 

~ Rumi
 

I am becoming more thankful for all of myself. I am learning to love and forgive my own weaknesses and to own and make useful with gratitude and humility, my strengths. Isn’t it interesting that we always refer to these as gifts? This is my prayer for my own life and for you as well! 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! With much love…until next time..Thanks for stopping by! PEACE, Jeanne

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let's Keep moving

What is it that we enjoy that can help get us physically moving? Whatever our age physical activity is important. We need balance in our lives to be healthy. If we are thoughtful and moderate we can make time for all the things that keep us balanced. Work, play, intellectual stimulation, aesthetic experience, emotional fulfillment are all important. We are being pulled in so many directions. Balance and time management can make it possible for us to care for ourselves.

 I’ve never been very athletic, but when I look back at my youth if I had it to do again, track would be the one sport that I would have loved. I was always thin and fast when it came to running. I did start jogging for a while in my 30’s until I tripped on a bad sidewalk in Chicago injuring my Achilles’ tendon which was a problem for several years. Once that was healed I did at times become an avid walker. Loved that, but would be consistent for years and then have lapses of lethargy for various reasons.

 For four years before we moved to Damascus, I sat behind a desk in a library 40 hours a week and played music on the weekend, so I never made time to walk. When we moved to Damascus, VA about a year and a half ago, the trails were calling so I began walking pretty much every day. Then last November I adopted a herding dog, Scout who is a Catahoula/Lab mix and she needs exercise to be happy, so I was even further motivated to get on the trail since I do not have a fenced in area for her to run in. It has been wonderful to get moving and to strengthen my body. I feel so much more energy now.
 A friend of mine Chris Dula wears the finger shoes for walking/running. I was intrigued with these because I have bunions and the beginning of other foot difficulties inherited from my mother. I wondered if they would be helpful to me, so I bought some this summer. I was amazed how it lessened the pain of walking. Walking shoes always hurt my bunions. These did not.

 One day, I was feeling a lot of energy and thought I might try and run a little bit. You should have seen the look on Scout’s face when I began to run/jog. She actually smiled….OH, SHE LOVED IT! Would you believe, I could only run 3 minutes. My breathing was awful and I was weak. This is after walking for a year on these trails. Well, I ran daily for 3 minutes until it became comfortable, then I went to 5 minutes. Soon it was 10 then 15, 20 and 50 minutes. It was wonderful. My feet hurt at 50 so, I went back to less. I don’t run every day…I am carefully monitoring my feet and how I feel. Scout really enjoys it and is a very happy dog when she can run.

 Who would have ever thought I’d be able to run again? Not me. I may not be able to do it for long, but I love it and when I am not able to run you will definitely find me walking. Just want to keep moving while I am able! So, what might be fun for you? What physical sport/activity would get you moving and energized? I encourage you to give it a try and keep trying! Thanks for stopping by…Keep on keeping on!!! Until next time…Peace, Jeanne

 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Time is Passing.....


Painting by Jeanne Denton
Time passes so quickly. What is happening within us as it passes? Are we growing? Are we deepening as human beings? Are we caring for our soul, spirit, mind, and body?

 In Sue Monk Kidd’s book Firstlight in a chapter entitled Compassion she tells a story of how when she was twelve years old, on the last day of summer while her friends were spending the day swimming, her mother insisted she go with the youth group to visit some elderly folks in a nursing home. Kidd was not happy about this and as she entered the room she said, “…I stood before this ancient looking woman, holding a bouquet of crepe paper flowers. Everything about her saddened me—the worn down face, the lop-sided grin, the tendrils of gray hair protruding from a crocheted lavender cap.” Kidd said, “She thrust the bouquet at her. The old woman looked at her with a look that pierced her to the marrow of her twelve year old bones. Then the woman asked her, “You didn’t want to come, did you child?” Kidd replied, “Oh yes, I wanted to come.” The woman knew better. Kidd writes, “A smile lifted her crooked mouth, “It’s okay” the old woman said, “You can’t force the heart.”
 
Kidd never forgot this and she goes on to say:
Compassion, which is the very life of God within us, comes through a slow and often difficult metamorphosis deep within the human soul. It happens through a process.

 If we look closely at the workings of creation, we find that God nearly always works through process. Think of it. First there is a seed then a sprout, then a blossom, and finally fruit.

God does not begin with a butterfly, but with a larva that becomes a chrysalis and finally a creature with wings.

Neither does God speak a star into existence, but sends dust floating into space, then interstellar gas that slowly heats up and eons later a star is formed.

Perhaps most mysterious of all is the unfolding of ovum, fetus, baby, child, adolescent, adult.

The universe is designed to move stage by stage, from incompletion to completion. Now why should we suppose that God has designed the heart any differently than the rest of creation? It too has its stages.

 I connected so much with what Kidd says. I truly believe that compassion and love and all the deeply spiritual fruits and gifts are developed and grown through such a process. We are all works in progress.
 
I came across this lovely piece by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin: 

 “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.”

 
Let us continue on with our hearts seeking love, compassion, truth, and wisdom trusting in the process. Til next time...thanks for stopping by! Peace, Jeanne  

Monday, July 2, 2012

GRATITUDE

(Artist Unknown)
I woke up this morning with such a gentle peace in my heart and soul. I felt gratitude for this life and all that I’ve lived. I was thankful for this body I’ve been given. I found myself giving thanks for it, from the top of my head to my toes and all in between, knowing that each part has made my life possible. Each bone, limb, organ, tissue, and flesh has carried me into life. This particular body, heart, mind and soul have made me who I am. All of it is a gift.

This deep connection I found with the Great Spirit/Creator when I was 19 years old has made it possible for me to follow LOVE, LIGHT, HOPE AND ALL GOOD THINGS and this connection has carried me through life’s sorrows.

This gift of the power to choose my path or at least to choose from the paths available to me is astounding and yet it has been difficult and confusing. There are so many voices, so many beliefs, with such different emphases …such a variety of philosophies of what our life, work, service and path ought to be.

I’ve done the best I have known, to choose the direction I felt I was called to walk and owned these purposes. Sometimes the path was all consuming, leaving me without balance and empty. I have had much to learn about caring for my own soul. I didn’t know the importance of this for a long time. I lived for that external locus of control, letting others tell me what needed to be done, pointing the way and directing how much. I lived a life of giving and serving others.

I have noticed at times when I am experiencing struggle and difficulty those old voices rally, peppered with fear, guilt, confusion and a feeling of being lost comes over me, but then I let go and turn to you, O LOVE THAT HOLDS ME. My heart becomes still. This life we live is so little, and small and yet so precious and magnificent. My heart, soul and mind tell me to be my true self, to remain open, to nurture my gifts and use them as life allows. To know, respect and love myself and live in the present moment loving and respecting others that I meet along the way. Do what I can each day. Seek not to harm others. If and when I do…make amends. Learn all I can each day. Make silence my friend. LISTEN. Care for myself, others, creatures and the earth. Loving my Creator with all my heart, mind and soul makes this possible.  This is what I am called to do.

Thomas Merton has a few words that say all that I am feeling. In his book entitled Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Merton addresses the problem of giving ourselves to too many things and NOT LIVING IN THE PRESENT. He says, “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence….The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

One last thought. We need to love and respect our bodies with all their imperfections especially as we are aging. As Barbara Brown Taylor says in her book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, “Our body ...is our soul’s address"!!  Thanks for dropping by.  Until next time, PEACE, Jeanne

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thinking About Prayer....




Some twenty years ago I was introduced to
Frederich Buechner. His words were salve to my aching heart as I began to reframe my faith and ask genuine questions about what I had been taught as a Christian believer. For the first time in my life I was making friends with the reality of MYSTERY in my relationship with GOD. I was just beginning to realize that I was being called to LIVE INTO THIS GREAT MYSTERY. With joy I began to discard the "simplistic answers" and the "empty language" I had grown so accustomed to. I was for the first time embracing the Greatness of my CREATOR, the Beauty of this MYSTERY.

I want to share this wonderful excerpt Frederich Buechner wrote on prayer. This helped me to see prayer in a whole new light.

 
PRAYER by Frederick Buechner  (From a book: Wishful Thinking, A Seeker’s ABC’s)
We all pray whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence we fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of us as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the skyrocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing with over our own lives. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to ourselves but to something even more familiar then ourselves and even more strange than the world.

According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about praying is to keep at it. The image he uses to explain this are all rather comic, as though he thought it was rather comic to have to explain it at all. He says God is like a friend you go borrow bread from at midnight. The friend tells you in effect to drop dead, but you go on knocking anyway until finally he gives you what you want so he can go back to bed again. (Luke11:5-8). Or God is like a crooked judge who refuses to hear the case of a certain poor widow, presumably because he knows there’s nothing much in it for him. But she keeps on hounding him until finally he hears her case just to get her out of his hair (Luke 18:1-8).Even a stinker, Jesus says won’t give hi s own child a black eye when the child asks for a peanut butter and jelly so how all the more will God when his children…(Matthew 7:9-11)?

Be importunate, Jesus says—not, one assumes, because you have to beat a path  to God’s door before he’ll open it, but because until you beat the path maybe there’s no way to getting to YOUR door. “Ravish my heart,” John Donne wrote. But God will not usually ravish he will only court.

Whatever else it may or may not be, prayer is at least talking to yourself, and that’s in itself not always a bad idea.Talk to yourself about your own life, about what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do, and about who you are and about who you wish you were and who the people you love are and the people you don’t love too. Talk to yourself about what matters most to you, because if you don’t, you may forget what matters most to you. Even if you don’t believe anybody’s listening, at least you’ll be listening. Believe somebody is listening. Believe in miracles. That’s what Jesus told the father who asked him to heal his epileptic son. Jesus said, “All things are possible to him who believes. “ And the father spoke for all of us when he answered, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-29).

What about when the boy is not healed? When, listened to or not listened to, the prayer goes unanswered? Who knows? Just keep praying, Jesus says. Remember the sleepy friend, the crooked judge. Even if the boys dies, keep on beating the path to God’s door, because the one thing you can be sure of is that down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer the God you call upon will finally come, and even if he does not bring you the answer you want, he will bring you himself. And maybe at the secret heart of all prayers that is what we are really praying for.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

We Go This Way But Once

Often I find myself asking, “What does love look like in this situation?” How can I best love this person? ” There is a fine line sometimes between knowing what or what not to do. My prayer is often, “How can I support my friend without being an enabler?” “When do I need to act and when do I need to let go.” Love is not an easy task. Love requires fortitude. Love requires patience and listening. Love requires a true desire to make peace and be helpful. I’ve come a long way from being a “fixer and rescuer” which was not truly love. My intentions were to show love, but my actions often hindered growth and healing for myself and the other person. I love the quote by Eric Fromm, “Love is union with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one's own self.” Boundaries are very important. Respect is big part of human love as well.

I don’t know about you but my life is so busy and full that I find it is NECESSARY to MAKE times of reflection and creativity. How else are we to begin to understand what is needed? Our souls must have a time for listening for seeking quiet wisdom.  We must open our hearts and quiet our minds DAILY to be ready to meet the situations and experiences of our day. We are all HUMAN and need not pretend to be anything else, but being human is a beautiful thing when we seek to be our best, when we seek to love.

We make a lot of mistakes and must make amends as soon as we realize them.  I love this quote by the Dalai Lama, “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” Sometimes we harm without meaning to. As soon as we see this, we must seek to make amends. This life is a beautiful journey that we must take seriously;  absorbing and retaining the lessons of each day and at the same time take lightly enough to enjoy the laughter, beauty, and fun of each day as well. We must seek to find this balance.

Here is a little poem found in a book by K. Quinn Lewis (1943) WE GO THIS WAY BUT ONCE:

We go this way but once, Oh heart of mine
So why not make the journey well worthwhile
Giving to those who travel with us
A helping hand, a word of cheer, a smile?

We go this way but once, Ah never more
Can we go back along the self same way?
To get more out of life, undo the wrongs,
or speak love's words we knew but did not say.

We go this way but once, then let us make
The road we travel blossomy and sweet
With helpful, kindly deeds and tender words
smoothing the path of bruised and stumbling feet.

Let us make time to be still. Let us seek to listen to our lives. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time…PEACE. With love, Jeanne