Monday, December 28, 2015

The end of a year and new beginnings

December 28, 2015

As the year is coming to a close, there is some quiet time between Christmas and New Year's. Today I decided to create my vision board for the coming year.  I spent about three hours looking through old magazines trying to find images or sayings that reflected where I am on my spiritual journey and where I want to be headed. 

Designing a vision board is a very contemplative activity, a process that connects us to our deeper selves, our intuition, and the intention for our life. I wanted my vision board to reflect where I wanted my ministry to grow this year.  Howard Thurman said "Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it. Because the world needs people who have come alive." I am most alive when I feel connected to the Divine and share my spiritual journey with others.  Spiritual Direction is the way I have chosen to walk with others on their spiritual journeys.  If you read my website , I explain what spiritual direction is.  Spiritual direction is NOT about telling people how to live their lives.  It has nothing to do with dogma.  Each person has their own unique soul path and this must be respected and honored at all times.Spiritual direction is about being a companion to someone who wants to live a deeper spiritual life. It's about listening.

I also want to dive deeper into weaving.  I began last December and with the help of all my friends who donated their unused yarn, I've been able to learn this new art medium and develop my creativity.  I hope to do more weaving next year and have it become another source of income.  I need to seek a mentor to guide me in this art. I have a good book which has been helpful but I want to be more creative.

My other intention for the coming year is to continue to eat greener and cleaner.  I'm very attracted to being a vegan and am going in that direction.  The health benefits have been proven over and over again. 

So with these intentions and my continued practice of mindfulness, I know the year ahead will be very exciting and fulfilling.

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 21, 2015

My own ignorance of all things technical has kept me from writing recently.  Mostly I forget to just read the screen and instead expect things to automatically do what they are supposed to do. This is another area where I've decided I need to practice mindfulness. When I took the vow "to be mindful and present with all of who I am" in my first year at ChIME (The Chaplaincy Institute of Maine), I thought it would be a simple practice of paying attention.  With ADD and dependence on my mind more than my feelings, mindfulness has been a dedicated teacher and I have been a somewhat lazy student. 
Part of me thought that if I just thought to be mindful, I would be.  But it is a practice. And like any other skill we want to develop, we must repeat it over and over again, with intention.  It is so easy to get tripped up, literally.  For me it has been a physical experience.  I have had a tendency to trip for a few years, caused by tightness in my lower back.  My legs don't always follow my mind. About nine years ago, I could walk only a few hundred feet before getting foot drag in my right foot.  Through years of physical therapy, massage, rolfing, yoga and weight training I am now able to walk 2 - 3 miles with no problems.
However, when my mind is out of my body and I'm not focused on what I'm doing, I trip, and it's usually on the road.  I've had many falls but have never broken bones.  I've been sore and mostly annoyed and angry at my body.  When I last when to my osteopath, I desperately wanted him to tell me there was something wrong with my brain, that the connection of body to mind got disconnected somehow and that's why I tripped and fell.  He paused for a minute and looked at me and said:
" It's really about mindfulness."   That sent me back to meditation on what happens when I trip, where is my mind? How do I get out of the present moment?  And so I have learned that my vow to be mindful was a gift I gave myself not only for my spiritual life but the whole connection of body, mind and spirit.

By making a comment, perhaps we can begin a conversation about mindfulness.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 15, 2015

I haven't posted anything in the past two years.  I've been studying and was ordained as an interfaith minister on June 7th 2015.   I now want to resume a weekly blog which may sometimes be short or long.  For those who are just coming to this sight, you would do well to read my previous blogs from the beginning.

My poem "Where Are You?" is an exploration of my understanding of God/the Divine/the Holy, as it has changed over the years as I have deepened my spiritual life and sought answers to the same questions that many of us deal with.

My two years at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, ChIME, were a graced period that allowed me to look at my spiritual journey over the past seventy years, beginning as a Catholic child with 12 years of Catholic education, followed by 30 years as a nun.  Now I have come full circle and I am free to trust in my own experience.

In the next few weeks, I intend to share insights and thoughts from my own meditations and readings, insights and challenges.

I'll be pleased if you want to share this journey with me.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

I just came across a poem I wrote earlier this year. The Buddhists speak of impermanence and I've often read articles where the authors used this concept to speak about detachment.  If nothing is permanent, they say, then we must not be attached to it because we could lose it and the loss could cause us to suffer. The problem is, one can practice detachment to the extreme and not be engaged in life. In the Catholic tradition, detachment was often spoken of in a similar vein.  Nothing is permanent here on earth because we were created for heaven.  That philosophy led to a denial of the body, fasting, corporal punishment to self, and a neglect of the poor.  We were told their rewards would be in heaven.

So I never liked the concept of impermanence.  I could never identify with the good of punishing the body.  If we believe in a Creator, then we honor the Creator by being grateful for the creation: to cherish life, the plants, animals and other humans.  To honor all things as they are, each bug or tree, baby or elder, homeless or secure, and especially our own bodies.

I now see impermance in a whole new light.  I see impermanence as a call to live in the moment: to cherish the person I'm speaking to and not distract myself by what I will be doing next; to pet the cat on my lap as if that is the most important time in my day, a moment to breathe, relax and just be; to slowly eat my food and be grateful for the farmer who chose to grow organically; to lay in bed and rest knowing this is a time for renewal and tomorrow will take care of itself.

This poem was written at the beginning of March, when the whether can be so unpredictable.


Ice covers the ground.
I risk falling as I walk
to retrieve the paper.
Thus I begin the rituals
of a Sunday morning.

Rain falls in torrents,
as I drink my tea,
work on the puzzles
the paper provides
for my pleasure.

Rain now falls softly,
as I prepare lunch,
resigned to stay home,
when the sky suddenly
lightens, full of promise.

The sun is shining
by mid-afternoon.
I dress and leave
to walk the beach
and ponder impermanence

c)Helen Rousseau

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012

Today was a perfect sunny November day.  I had to walk the beach and be close to the Source.  Walking the beach I remember.  Remember who I am in the whole economy of Life.  Remember where my feet have travelled before and grateful for the roads that brought me closer to my soul's journey and grateful for the roads I no longer need to travel.

I then went to see a friend who was moving.  She wanted me as a witness to how she left the place so it would pass inspection.  She was so behind in her packing that I stayed and helped for a couple of hours.  While sweeping she said to me, "I know you were a nun and I hope you don't mind if I ask, but do you believe Jesus is the Savior?" 

In the past I would have hesitated to answer not wanting to offend her religion, but today I could speak from my truth.  "No," I said, "I don't think he was the Savior as Christians have come to claim.  I don't believe he came to begin a Church.  He was a Jew and was preaching to Jews. I don't believe in the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  That is how Catholics came to define God.  Native Americans speak of Great Spirit, other religions or traditions have different names, gods and goddesses.  God, or the Divine is much bigger and so far above our human comprehension that our words are only attempts at defining spiritual experience.  We can't define what Divinity is but  I do believe we can experience it."  Then she thanked me for staying and helping her.  I asnwered, "Well, the Bible does say, do unto others. And that I do believe."

Oprah used to ask her guests "What do you know for sure?" I remember trying to answer that and came up wanting, as I was still shedding the old skins of organized religion.  But now, when I listen to the truth of my own experience,  I would say that we need to be humble at the question of God.  To be in awe of the magnificence all around us: that a seed has all the potential in it of a fruit or a tree. To be grateful when we experience a oneness with Life, when we meet someone at a soul level.  I know that we need to walk in trust for the very future we are creating with the Universal Energy. 

I know for sure that I am not alone. There are so many ways to be present to Presence.


Eternal ebbing and flowing,
beat of a heart
covering the earth,
arms encircling each continent
touching sand and rock
embracing presence,
holy place I return to
for renewal and strength.

Lost in this ocean sanctuary
I am reborn and find myself again.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"..if ever you were there at all"

where are you
god of my liberation
o joyful one
who led me on the
paths of dancing
ready with insight
and inspiration
blessing every new intention.

where are you
if ever you were
there at all"

Was it a god of liberation who led me, when I finally decided to leave an abusive relationship?  Did I dance because I was saved?  Did my insights come from outside of my being?  To all of these questions I answer a resounding NO. 

What I had done was to open myself to the information and help around me.  I attended a conference on domestic violence and my breath stopped when I saw the continuum of domestic violence written on the board... at the far left was verbal and emotional abusive and at the far right was death by a loved one.  I recognized patterns and behaviors in my relationship that were unhealthy and that were getting dangerous.  I sought counsel from a domestic violence program.  I talked to friends.  I made decisions that would affect the rest of my life, leaving behind a twenty-six year relationship that couldn't be saved. 

I decided I wanted to stop dragging my feet - I actually had plantar faciatis in both feet and had trouble walking.  My body was speaking to me.   I wanted to DANCE! 


dance out of your box
     and onto the sand
dance from the desert
     into the sea

dance all night long
     now because you can
dance with the wild flowers
     that know how to be

dance for the little girl
     who watched from the wings
dance for the young nun
     with passions restrained

dance for the barren years
     when you forgot how to sing
dance for your fredom
     and all you've regained

c) Helen Rousseau

     And so I danced into my future, finding new roads of expression, seeking to understand the spiritual road I had been on.

more later...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Darkest Night

"where are you
god of my darkest night
o missing one
who left me to my
own devices
ready with fear
and sorrow
hiding from questions that
had no answers"

As long as I believed that my depression, or difficult time, or lack of feeling God's presence, was either my fault because I wasn't doing something right, or, as some saints believed, it was God's way of purifying the soul, then my life couldn't change.  I was stuck in the belief that the change would come from outside of me by God's change of heart or by my working harder, fasting maybe to be more pleasing to God.

Really!!! What an infantile frame of mind but one which the Church kept us in, as many conservative churches do today.  The supposed loving god who is also a bully, hates his own creation, gays, for instance, and continues to impose stringent regulations about how to live this earthly life.  Heaven or hell, it's our choice.  Really!!!

I remember in seminary, when there was much discussion about the philosophers or theologians claiming that "God is dead".  I was never good with erudite arguments.  Of course, at that time, in 1978, I was appalled and thought these writers to be heretics.  Years later, as I created my own distance from the god of my childhood, I realized that yes, that childhood god is dead, because it was a false god, as all human images and descriptions of god are. 

My path led to a more humanistic approach.  I discovered the god spark within me and the energy from that helped me to change my life drastically, especially to take more responsibility for it.

Night vision

Darkness envelopes
too easily
the spaces in my mind.

No words, no comfort,
despair. Fear takes hold,
closes doors once open,
inertia of body and soul.

I doubt the worn paths
that lead to nowhere.
I release the questions
that have no answers.

I search within, instead
of beyond, find the divinity
of my being, and all of creaion.
In that space I discover
my night vision
as I learn to trust myself.

c) Helen Rousseau