All posts tagged overcoming

Altared Perceptions: January 2012- “Love”

Published January 8, 2012 by Susan Woodward

Rev. Scott Taylor’s sermon today reiterated the monthly theme of “Love”, but focused on how lack of self-love has led to a “numbing” of our souls in always expecting the worst in situations.

I gazed quite intently at this month’s altar as I listened to Scott’s words.   The more I heard about self-doubt, self-criticism, self-loathing, and self-defeating behaviors, the more I saw the scarcity of branches on the tree.  It reminded me of how I have written about my feelings of being disconnected and isolated.   Before the decorations were added, I would highly doubt that even Charlie Brown would have chosen this as a Christmas tree!  It must have looked bare, scrawny, and neglected before the love was added.   So many times I, too, feel like that tree must have looked in its natural, undecorated state.  One of my Mayan-sized resolutions for 2012 is to work on that feeling inside myself by letting go of fear of rejection.  If I were this tree, I would certainly feel neglected, scrawny, insignificant, and not lovable.  Too often, I DO see myself that way (ok… not the scrawny part…), but in learning to let go of my fear of rejection, I can learn to love me.

Even the trees without an abundance of branches still have something to offer.  This tree is able to provide a branch for a bird feeder to offer sustenance to others.  Like the tree in December, this one also is a gift.   In loving myself, I can see what I CAN do for others instead of focusing on my self-imposed limitations.   The hearts can symbolize not only the love that the tree has for the birds in providing them with food during the cold times, but the love that the birds have for the tree in providing that food as well as perches to rest themselves upon.   No matter how I view myself, I know that I always have the ability to give to others who don’t see the limitations that I do when I look in the mirror.

The flowers at the base of the tree are white and remind us of the snow at this time of year (well, most often at this time of year, anyway… no snow presently in 2012!).   The snow is a blanket of beauty spread upon the Earth, but most often it is viewed as a reminder of the cold that surrounds us.  But this tree offers its gifts in the midst of the cold… a place to hang the bird feeder and a place for the birds to land and rest.   And winter is a resting time.  The Earth is at rest after working hard to provide its inhabitants with the food that we enjoy year round.   We all need a time to rest after hard work… winter reminds of that.  It’s a time to recharge our batteries to get ready for the work ahead.

The heart at the top of the tree is to remind us of love… love for others, as well as love for ourselves.  The tree top is placed on the tip-top of the trunk of the tree… the same trunk that I viewed as sparse and unwanted earlier.

Again, I am only sharing what I see in this month’s altar, and if anyone would like to add comments here, I welcome them gladly!

Diligence Pays Off: Accepting the Road of Trials

Published October 16, 2011 by Susan Woodward

Close your eyes and relax.  Now take three deep breaths: one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit.  Take one last very deep breath and hold it.  Just when you think you cannot hold the breath any longer, pull in just a bit more air.  Again, when you feel as if you cannot continue holding the breath, pull in just a little more.  When you finally do release your breath, do so very slowly in a long continuous exhale until you have released all that you were holding.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you continue to relax.  Relax all the muscles of your body: your legs, your arms, your shoulders, and your jaw.  Completely relax.

Imagine that you are sinking down into the furniture, and in turn sinking through the floor.  Allow yourself to continue sinking down and down, all the while feeling completely relaxed.   You continue to sink down until you find yourself curled up, awakening at the bottom of the pit into which you’d fallen.  Although it is a bit cold and damp, you are not afraid, and the rest has done you good.  You are confident that you will find a way to get out of this place and continue your journey.

You stand up and stretch, bending slightly at the waist to the left and to the right.  Rolling your head slowly in circles, you work the kinks out of your neck from sleeping on the pile of dried grass.  While you are stretching, rain suddenly begins to fall lightly.  Stand still with your arms outstretched and let the rain wash over you.  It is refreshing in spite of the fact that you are in the bottom of a deep pit.  Let it run into your hair while you run your fingers in a circular pattern in your scalp.  Open your mouth wide to accept the refreshment that has been offered to you.  So many others might have viewed the rain falling at this time to be something negative, saying, “Great.  Just what I need right now!” in a sarcastic tone.  Fortunately, you know better… it IS what you need right now.   Allow the blessing of the water to fill you.

It’s time for you to better assess your situation.  Again, you look for handholds so that you might climb up and out, but there are none.  Even though the walls are packed dirt, they are very smooth, and the rain has made them slippery.  Moving around the circumference of the pit, you very carefully run your hands over the walls trying to find any roots that may be sticking out that you may use as rungs.  While you are doing so, your hands come across a depression in the wall that you hadn’t noticed before.  It’s very slight, but enough for you to begin digging with a fingernail.  Small clumps of dirt begin to fall away as the depression seems to formulate into a crack in the wall.  Eagerly, you begin digging away with your fingers at the crack, and before long, the crack begins to reveal the outline of a doorway.  Ignoring the pain in your tortured and bleeding fingers, you continue to pull away the dirt, using some of the rainwater pooled on the ground to help soften and loosen the soil.  After a few hours, you find yourself standing in front of a door that had been concealed by a dirt covering.  Rejoicing loudly, you push with all your might against the door until it finally begins to move ever so slightly.  The adrenalin pumps through you, making you feel stronger than you know you should be after these hours of digging.  At last the door opens when you throw your entire weight against it, and you fall through the opening.

You can’t believe your luck.  A long, dark tunnel proceeds beyond the doorway, and you notice that there are torches already burning brightly to light your way.  Going back to gather your garment and your satchel, you enter the tunnel and begin to make your way along it.

The tunnel winds back and forth, to the right and to the left, and soon it is difficult to figure out which direction you are heading.  So far, there is only one passageway, so at least you know for sure that you haven’t made any wrong turns.  Where did this tunnel come from?  Who might have built it and why?  These questions run through your head as you continue walking along this strange path.  Shadows form on the wall, making you feel as if you are not alone.  Looking back, all you see is your own shadow in the flickering light.

The further you go into the tunnel, the cooler the air becomes.  Fortunately you have your garment to keep you warm.  Put it on and keep walking.

After a short time, you begin to hear the sound of falling water.  Excited, you begin to mover quicker along the passage, but this time you are more wary of your surroundings.  You do not want to fall into another pit!  The floor becomes wetter as you continue, and soon the tunnel opens up into a huge cavern.  Look up.  The ceiling is gleaming from the torchlight reflecting off a huge array of beautiful crystals that protrude from the rock.  What color are they?  What kind of crystals do you suppose they are?

To your left, you see a waterfall coming down from an opening high above, splashing into a beautiful subterranean lake.  Because you’d emptied your water bottle while in the pit, thirst overcomes you, and you move to the water’s edge to take a drink.  After splashing some water to wash your face, you proceed to drink the most delicious, refreshing water you can ever remember.  Fill your bottle with this water.

You sit down on a rock nearby to rest and take in your surroundings.  What else do you see in this cavern?  Describe this place in great detail.  Do you see any discarded items laying around that you might wish to pick up?  Look around to see what you can find.  Place anything you wish to take with you into your satchel.  You are surprised to learn that no matter how large the item you try to place in your satchel, it manages to fit, leaving room for more. What have you found?

Returning again to the water’s edge, you notice a large pile of soft moss, about the size of a bed, growing there.  After the strain of your earlier digging and the long walk through the tunnel, you realize just how exhausted you are.  The moss is so inviting, and when you sit on it, you feel how soft and comfortable it is.  It makes a wonderful bed after sleeping the dry grasses last night.

Wrapping yourself up in your garment, lie down and stretch your body.  Although it may ache a bit from the hard labor you’d done, you know that this is a good type of ache…one that comes from hard work that produces results.  So many others might have resigned themselves to the fate of dying in the pit because they didn’t pay close attention to detail.  They probably would have given up and wasted away, but not you.  You were rewarded for your diligence.  Congratulations.

Smiling, you close your eyes, knowing that after you’ve rested, you will be able to resume your journey.  Take a deep breath and feel yourself drifting away into the darkness.  Soon you begin to feel yourself rising from the soft moss in this beautiful cavern.  As you rise, you become more and more aware of your surroundings, and soon you are able to sense the furniture beneath you.  This is the room from which you began this journey not so very long ago.  As you become more and more aware of the room around you, you remember how your attention to detail and your hard work paid off.  You are proud of yourself and believe that you can overcome any obstacle along your road of trials.  These images and feelings will stay with you as you awaken from your rest.

Taking three deep breaths, one for body, one for mind, and one for spirit, you open your eyes to find yourself in a familiar place.

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