Monday, October 31, 2011

"A true friend is the best possession." - Ben Franklin

It's time to close my singing about friends series!

A lot of my friends are in the same boat with me - we all have children growing up and out of the nest. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I cherished what doesn't go up and out - my friends.

Of course, there are friends that come and go, but I am happy for the friends who have stayed with me - through many moves, through births of our children, through crisis, loss, victories and elation.

In many cases, family members are my friends. But mostly, I count among my friends those who I have met along my journey, and our journeys crossed and intertwined and my life has been shaped and refined by their good graces.

Our capacity for friendship seems equal to our capacity to understand God. But what if there is a time when we are without friends? "Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank?" writes Mary Baker Eddy.  "Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love."  Even in times of seeming loneliness, there is Love.  It is the substance of life, it is its foundation. And from that foundation, we grow friends! 

Some gems on friendship:

My friends are my estate.
- Emily Dickinson 

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.
-Woodrow Wilson

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

A true friend is the best possession.
-Ben Franklin

Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shall drink it with pleasure.
- Sirach 9:10 

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
- Arabian Proverb

Love never loses sight of loveliness. Its halo rests upon its object. One marvels that a friend can ever seem less than beautiful.
-Mary Baker Eddy

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The power of Paula

Spiritual resource to share: our home

Although Paula was much prettier,
this photo
 reminds me of her. 
When she would sing, her voice
filled up every single room
 in the house.
Thinking about friends for this FRIEND series, I knew I had to write about Paula.  I have lost track of her now, and writing this blog helps me put out there how much this older woman did for our family.  She was a true friend and wonderful mother for our family, she will never be forgotten.

Our family regularly included someone living with us for one of any number of reasons: to house sit or to help out, to wait for another house to open up, to have a place while going to college, etc.  So to have another person come and live with us was a normal thing. 

Paula came to our house when we heard she needed a place while going through a transition in her life.  Paula was the one who gave our sons and me voice and piano lessons.  So, when she moved in, she continued and added helping with dinners four evenings a week. For me, a working mom with a heavy travel schedule, it was heaven!
Paula lived with us for a year and a half. Paula was a gentle woman of amazing stories. These stories were shared with a humble heart that had experienced a side of life that was totally foreign to us. 

Through her, I learned what it was like to live growing up with great grandparents who were former slaves, living through the civil rights movement, and daily dealing with racism in her work, her church and her community.  Throughout her ordeals, she never lost sight of what she loved and found a way to actively pursue her first love: singing opera.

After a few months of music lessons, we had recitals at our house, and she would show off the boys' developing talents.  Then, at our insistence, she would sing.  She would sing in Latin, then German, and follow it up with pieces from opera in English and Italian. She would get herself in a corner (an effective acoustic strategy) and then open her mouth and fill that whole house with sound.  Her opera training gave her a set of lungs that blew us away. 

Into our house of men, she brought the beauty and drama of a life well lived. Her care of the boys was very parent-centered and her mild manner and humility made it easy to immediately claim her as family. Her stories of her great grandfather and her early battles with racism, were received with respect and awe.

The power of Paula was such that she had a steely reserve and a gentle touch: an abundance of talent and the humble willingess to share it with us rookies.  Meekness, might, humility and grace blessed our home and she became one of our dearest friends.  She opened my eyes to the depth of character we all possess, and how an earnest listening ear can bring out the brilliance in another.  She certainly brought out all that was good in our family. She gave our home a consistency of mothering for that year and a half,  teaching us compassion, how to cook and how to live by singing out our hearts.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"There is no one alive who is Youer than you." -Dr. Seuss

Spiritual resource to share: authenticity

Today you are you,
that's truer than true.
There is no one alive
who is Youer than You.

 from Dr. Seuss

What a thought!  What an idea!  There is no one in the world quite like you.  SO how does this figure into the grand scheme of things.  What makes you You?  What is it about you that makes you so unique?

For some it may not always be easy to discover your unique gifts, and then have the courage to share them. For others, it's a breeze. But it is such a worthwhile undertaking to make that discovery.

First of all, coming from the basis that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and knowing that God is infinite, there is an infinite store of spiritual qualities each of us reflect. That we all have our own unique signature to give to the world, of this I am sure!

This was demonstrated to me early on in my career when I was studying dance at the University of Minnesota. I took an experimental class in Dance Improvisation. There, the teacher removed any guidelines, threw away all dance disciplines and asked us to start moving for most of the class period.

We all started out a bit intimated and feeling directionless. But one by one, we started experimenting with the moves that felt most natural to us. Pretty soon, as we took turns watching one another and dancing, it was becoming obvious that each dancer focussed his or her movements on a specific theme.

I loved exploring the spiral - movements rising, falling, turning inside then outside; another was fascinated with balance - each part of the body brought its own balance and imbalance to the rest of the body; another kept dancing within the theme of contrasts; another centered on the contraction and the movements that emerged out of that, and on and on. The point was that each of us had a strength that emerged and our own unique signature blossomed in an open and inviting atmosphere.

How can we do that today? Can we develop our own voice? Our own way of dancing through life? Can we identify our authentic self and give that to the world?


Do this fun exercise. Leave aside all expectations, and put yourself in an open and inviting atmosphere. Now, write down everything that you are. Come up with at least, let's say, 20 things. Done? OK, now remove any titles or jobs you may have (like professor, award-winning pie eater), any roles you have or positions that define you in relation to others (mother, second cousin, etc), any thing that defines you physically (drop dead gorgeous, short and round, etc.) and finally remove any dead end quality (like boring, lazy, etc.)

Now that outside expectations, labels and dead end stuff have been removed, you should have a list of your primitive spiritual qualities. (For more ways of discovering your spiritual qualities, see past post on the Spirituality Matrix.)

This embodiment of spiritual qualities is you, your theme. Let's say what is left on your list is grace, order and spontaneity. Or strength, precision and tenderness. Or maybe it's warmth, intelligence, promptness. Taking this cluster of spiritual ideas (which is actually you, now understood spiritually) how would you respond in a variety of settings? How would Grace/Order/Spontaneity respond at a family Christmas dinner? How would Strength/Precision/Tenderness deal with a new challenging project at work? Or how would Warmth/Intelligence/Promptness deal with paying overdue bills?

You are unique. And you bring your God-given qualities with you wherever you go - bringing a unique dimension of God's love to every activity in the way that only you can.

Signing off as Curious/Adventurous/Embracing,


To share your thoughts on this or to explore this idea further, please feel free to be in contact with me, add your own comments below, email this article to a friend, or add to the healing finds and sites on the web to the right.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The foreverness of friends - revisited

spiritual resource to share:  Friends ( third in my series)

The northern lights right off Lake Superior's coast

With one son off to school, the other son and husband off to a ten day wilderness canoe trip, I planned to take three days off to a hiking, swimming, camping venture on an island on Lake Superior with a friend I hadn't seen in about six years.

The morning of our trip, I got a call from her and as we were making rendezvous plans, she blurted "I can't wait! You're my best friend!" And she is mine, too! We have had an almost twenty-five year history of paddling whitewater, wilderness camping and leading trips including co-leading a rafting trip on the Rio Grande down in Texas' Big Bend area, and had a memorable hike on the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota that she wrote about in a regional magazine (as well as writing a book about the Lake Superior area).

The first time we saw each other in the parking lot on Day One of our trip, it was like we had never been apart. I have heard about that with other people who have really good friends. Distance and time just don't cut the bonds of friendship.

She brought another friend along, and the three of us proceeded to have three days of really good food, great stories, hiking along the rocky shoreline and walking the boardwalk and swimming in the clear waters. We figured out one another's life problems, read some, sang some, and walked some more. Then our last evening together was topped off with the northern lights.

Mary Baker Eddy has some great things to say about friends:

Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring to earth a foretaste of heaven. They unite terrestrial and celestial joys, and crown them with blessings infinite. (Miscellaneous Writings)

There are no greater miracles known to earth than perfection and an unbroken friendship. (Retrospection and Introspection)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

seeing through Laura's eyes

Spiritual resource to share:  renewal
I was starting to feel a bit dull about my life here.  After all, I have lived here for over six years, and I haven't lived in one place for over six years for a long, long time.  I was looking for a change.  Not anything major, mind you, but I was just wanting something different.

Then, my buddy Laura came for a visit.  Laura and I met through work during one of the most exciting work projects I had ever been on.  Although we had different jobs pioneering different tasks, we were both working on the same goal.  It was thrilling.  But then our jobs ended, and that's when our friendship bloomed. 

Laura was always the one to get new ideas started and going, and she took on Herculean tasks. Her energy, focus and determination was palpable.  I could feel her jolt just talking to her on the phone when she called to see if she could come for a visit.

I wondered how she would repond to my quiet life up in the Northwoods.  This is where it got interesting. 
The day came when she arrived and entered my house.  "I love this house!" she burst out, "It is so you!"  I had to agree. Later, we hiked one of my favorite trails.  "Oh, this is just gorgeous," she commented looking over the lake reflecting its fringe of colored leaves.  I realized she was right.  Another time, we cruised the main street of my town known for its tiny shops of antiques, clothes, tea and chocolates, hand-made quilts from the Midwest, and imported pottery from Italy and art from local artisans and more.  "This is fascinating," she oohed at a hand thrown bowl.  I could see I was starting to wake up.  "Oh you are just so beautiful," she said.  Yes, I am, I nodded in agreement.

On one of our hikes, I pointed out the remnants of several art installations that were put on the trail years ago.  We were so engrossed in our talking that we missed a major art sculpture just two feet from the trail. After a couple of days of non-stop conversations, she left to go back home, leaving me with the reminder of how good life is, and how precious and connected we all are to one another.  She left me seeing things in sharper focus with a brighter light, and I got to see the wonder that lives right here with me right now.

One marvels that a friend can ever seem less than beautiful.
-Mary Baker Eddy

Mocha sits next to the art sculpture
on the Raven Trail in Minocqua
Part of the Forest Art Wisconsin Native/Invasive Events by Edgardo Madanes of Argentina right in my neighborhood

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My breakfast with Cori

Spiritual resource to share:  our art --- of books and healing

Sitting down in to an early morning send-off, my friend and I had breakfast at my favorite place.  Last month, she had just completed a month long artist's residency at the Anderson Center in Red Wing and wanted to share her latest project.

Cori is a book artist, and her work has stretched and opened my ideas as to what a book is and can be.

She has distilled the meaning of a book to three of its native elements:  it is a narrative ( each sentence, phrase or word has its own story), it is interactive (the reader is integral to the book  --  can you have a book if you have no reader?*) and it is on a time continuum (whether you read a book cover-to-cover, read a sentence, or one word, you have a starting point and ending point).   Her latest book project would involve the highlighting of our life journeys: the importance of seeing the entire landscape, while at the same time idenitifying the singular weed  by the road -- all in a way that crystalizes those moments and puts it on a pedestal to make each moment sacred.

Throughout her explanation, over tea and mango eggs, I had to ask her to stop until I was able to wrap my head around some of the ideas she was sharing.  I had to give up how I normally perceived a road weed, a life journey, not to mention what I thought a book was!  Once I abandoned my own assumptions, I was open to see things in a new way.

"I need this kind of mind-stretching," I said.  "It keeps my thought fresh and open to new ways of seeing things."

"Kim," she said, "that is exactly how I feel when you explain Christian Science to me."

I immediately got the connection.  In Christian Science, we see beyond the limited and the stereotyped to the most primal spiritual essence of things.  We strive to see things the way God sees them - as spiritual.  In doing so, we change the basis of thought - from the material to the spiritual; the limited to the unlimited; the dull to the brilliant; the academic to the inspirational.  Only when this is done, can we make real (realize) our original perfection.  And in the case of our art, only when we slough off the limited, etc., can we make original, transformative art!  Mary Baker Eddy summarizes it like this:

When understanding changes the standpoints of life and intelligence from a material to a spiritual basis, we shall gain the reality of Life, the control of Soul over sense, and we shall perceive Christianity, or Truth, in its divine Principle. This must be the climax before harmonious and immortal man is obtained and his capabilities revealed.

*As each reader brings his or her experience to the book, so no one can experience the book in the same way.  And the reader, who is always a dynamic, growing force him or herself, can never read the same book in the same way.  This explains why we always seem to get new ideas from books we love and re-read over and over again!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Godwords - revisited

Spiritual resource to share: synonyms

Just about everyday, I list a handful of defining words about God. For today, I am looking at the words: persistent, patient, purity, power, potential as ways to understand God.

This stems from a definition of God that comes from Mary Baker Eddy's classic book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.

For a time, understanding God didn't really appeal to me. I didn't see the connection with the great I AM to my daily life - of having friends, enough money to cover rent and other necessities, and of school and work.

But slowly, I came to realize that it is our concept of God that gives us the parameters of our world view - that our world is as big as our God. Or in other words, God is our world.

So if my world is based on an understanding of God as punishing, erratic, and unknowable, my life may be characterized by a sense of caution, or maybe even distrust.

But if my world is based on an infinite God who is infinite good, my life might be characterized by more openness, less fear of the unknown.

Once I understood this, I made knowing God more of a priority. At first, my motive was oriented toward self. I wanted a bigger sense of possibilities for my life and a more confident world view, so I figured that knowing God would do that for me.

But as I continued to explore who God is, I found myself getting more and more curious to know God - just for the sake of knowing God. I mean, what does it mean that God is ALL power? God is Love and God is omnipresent. What does that mean that Love is always present? This was interesting quickly working its way into fascinating.....

To know the wholeness of God is a way to love God. Paul, writer of many books in the New Testament, was a passionate, adventurous and deeply loving man who wrote in his letter to the Romans:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

King David, poet and political and religious leader, wrote many songs in praise of God and his yearning to know God better:
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is....

Like David and Paul, when we work to understand God, we are actually developing our spiritual sense, and " to understand God is the work of eternity, and demands absolute consecration of thought, energy, and desire."
I find some comfort in knowing that we will never get to a point where we say, "OK! Done! I got it. I now know God. Next topic!" What we know of God becomes an ever-growing storehouse of wisdom. Good is infinite. Brilliance is never-ending. Possibilities for wonder abound. Solutions are always at hand.
Knowing God, we know more of who we are - as we are made in the image and likeness of God. We know more of our neighbor, and it follows that we understand the fundamental nature of all mankind. Mary Baker Eddy shares more of the impact of understanding God:
                     To understand God strengthens hope, enthrones faith in Truth,
                      and verifies Jesus' word:
                      "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Godwords for today: persistent, patient, purity, power, potential
Today, it is good to know that God loves for me is persistent and patient: the God's purity is the source of my health and well-being; that God has the power to maintain and sustain Her creation; and that God gives us the potential to understand all of what God is.

And I can't wait for tomorrow.

Friday, October 07, 2011

God is big.

Spiritual resource to share: a walk

Okay, walk with me on this one.  No, skip with me because that's how this fun little musing felt.  I kept thinking of ways to answer the question "Why do I love God?"  As I kept thinking about this and how I would answer, I kept bumping into different bits of songs from the book of Psalms.

I love God because.....
God is big.  Really, really big.  God includes everything that I love and everything that is worth loving.
God is about abundance, joy, triumph, satisfaction.  Everything that I love has its source in God and in what is infinite, eternal, substantial and real.
"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being." Pslams 104

I love God because....
I can relate to God.   I relate to Love and God is Love.  I relate to harmony and balance.  I love those qualities.  I love structure and improvisation - evidence of Love's order and spontaneity.  I love these ideas because I am made of these ideas.  I can relate to God because I am the very evidence of God -an idea of God - a child of God!  In the most basic way, then, God has made me.
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139

I love God because....
God is always more.   Although there is an end to the search for God, there is no end in discovering how far-reaching and all-encompassing God is.  There is no end to knowing how intimate and exacting God's care is and how infinite and available God's resources are.  Knowing God even in a small way, I recognize God's love when in a new place, I recognize God's provision in the midst of seeming lack, and God's guidance when there once was doubt. 
"The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets. From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance." Psalm 50

So it follows on this path, that I should ask you, Why do you love God?

Photo by Kim C Korinek
King James Version used in Psalms 104 and 139
New Living Translation used in Psalm 50

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

what Love does

Spiritual resource to share: poetry

I make strong demands on Love*
to dissolve divisions,
to clarify our connections to each other,
to soften our sympathies,
to teach beyond tolerance to tenderness,
to call for active witnesses, noble sacrifices and grand achievements*
to satisfy our searching.

Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way.
Oh, Love, show me what you love about me
and why You have chosen me for Your holy purpose;
Then show me how Your Love reveals what You love about each of Your children
and how each of Your children has his/her own Holy purpose.

Love is no respecter of persons.
God does not know the categories and qualifications of conditional love.
God's love runs through us like a river,
flushing away the false dams of
race, orientation, age, economic status, gender,
intellectual capacity,
and uniting us into
full force of sparking, brilliant achievement: 
we are all the loved of Love.

* See Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 250

Photos:  Top: Kim, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Bottom:, Arkansas River