Chair By The River

Chair By The River

took a drive down a road not travelled
and discovered
a chair by the river
that called and spoke


come – sit – rest
gaze – ponder – exhale worry
question – dream – write
sketch – inhale peace – feel
believe – be –

that chair – a blessing
those surrounding trees – a blessing
the river before me – a blessing
peace within – a blessing


blessings around, above, beside, beneath, within
blessed moment-in-time
thanks to a chair by the river

˙© june maffin

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HOPE – LOVE – PENTECOST

HOPE – LOVE – PENTECOST

“It’s hopeless. You just have to accept that. Your child will never be a contributing member of society.  I can make arrangements for him to be institutionalized.  It’s all for the best.”

Those were the words the doctor spoke, telling the young mother that her son was “hopeless.”  

Hopeless? There are many situations that many think of as hopeless  … a marriage on the verge of collapse … a relationship that was desperate for reconciliation … war … a family that was estranged … a body that had run a good race for decades … corrupt politicians – hopeless?

When human problems beset us … when our personal lives disintegrate … when the world seems as if it has gone crazy – it seems that we seek answers from every other physician before we dare to “let go” and “let God” – before we resist putting our prejudices, our loneliness, our anger, our frustrations, our pride, our hatreds, our fears into the transforming hands of G_d, the Holy One, the Creator, the Personification of Love, the Bearer of Hope.

How long will it be before we reach out, like the woman with the hem who touched Jesus’ garment – or before we are like the story of Jairus, the ruler of a synagogue, who was searching desperately for some hope.  He’d tried everything and now, one last attempt.  When he finally found the man Jesus, he fell on his knees and repeatedly cried … “My little daughter is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hand on her so that she may be made well and live.”   Without a word, Jesus went with Jairus.  And while that’s all that Matthew’s Gospel tells us, the story appears in Mark’s Gospel as well and carries this story further as we learn that a messenger from Jairus’ home comes and says “Your daughter is dead.  Why trouble Jesus any further?”  To the messenger, the little girl’s death was the end of the story.  There was no hope.  There was no point in trying to go further.  It was hopeless.  Fear set in.

Like the day a phone call brought fear to a priest who the evening of the phone call, wrote about The Not-Knowing-Time:

“An ordinary medical test was done. Anticipating nothing unusual, and yet there was. “Redo the test” said the physician. “Nothing to worry about –  but let’s rule out …” So, the test was redone and there it was.  Again! “A specialist.  I want you to see a specialist” she said Friday morning. The rest of that day was a blur other than that ugly four letter word: FEAR. “Get me to the specialist.  Now! Let me know what I’m dealing with so decisions can be made and life can be planned. The fear is not of dying – the fear is of the not-knowing.”

When we are in such fearful and seemingly hopeless situations, is the God-of-All-Knowing the first we consider turning to?   Or turn to at all? Jesus said to Jairus: “Don’t fear, only believe.” 

In the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, the social context of the time was a significant factor.  She would have been looked upon as ‘unclean’. She was bleeding – she was a woman, a person with no rights, and would have been shunned at the very least for daring to be in the company of the men who surrounded Jesus and to touch reach out and touch the hem of his garment.  Perhaps she prayed/hoped that her fears would be relieved. 

What of the priest who wrote about “The Not-Knowing Time”?  A week after the phone call, another entry in her journal: “Unraveling the Not-Knowing Time.” Sunday night I wanted to stay home  and curl up in bed and watch some inane television program, but I couldn’t. I had responsibilities, but in that moment, I hoped that no one would want Eucharist and I could go home. But, there they were … the two of them. “When two or three are gathered together, there am I, in your midst.” Maybe something happened for the two who came to church that evening, but not for me. Nothing happened.  I felt no relief – no peace.  “The Unknown” still haunted me as walked home.

Home at last. A cup of hot tea brought solace, but no relief from the  Fear of the “Not-Knowing Time”. Then came the realization!  The panic had subsided. Monday arrived. The panic was no longer there – it was still gone! The phone rang with a message “Your appointment with the specialist is scheduled.” The “Not-Knowing Time” had begun to unravel.”

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Many others have desperate situations.  Perhaps they arefacing a seemingly hopeless financial crunch … a marriage that is on the rocks … a teenager or toddler that you can’t handle … a parent who no longer can communicate with anyone in ways others remember … a spouse who is imprisoned either in body or mind … living in poverty and/or war, addicted with nowhere to turn … grieving over the death of someone loved very much … a child/spouse/partner/parent who is ill or dying … dealing with their own medical crisis. And the list goes on.

There are countless stories that remind us that no situation is hopeless.  Does this mean that if there is enough faith, every dead person will be raised to life on earth? … that money for every financial need will appear?… that everyone who is terminally ill will be cured? … that a job will be provided for all the unemployed?   No. What it means is that we will be met in our fears and uncertainties and comforted in our Not-Knowing-Times.

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Long ago, there was a wealthy woman, an atheist, who lived in Hanover, Germany.  She wanted to prove to the world that there could be no resurrection. She gave orders to those who were to take care of her money after she died, to build a tomb of stone around her, so strong that her body could never rise out of it.   Since there was nothing illegal about her request, the men built her a great tomb, and around it, they built an iron fence.  What the builders didn’t notice was that a tiny seed fell into a crevice between two of the massive stones and one spring some years later, it sprouted.  As the seedling grew into a tree, it pushed aside the heavy stones and the unbreakable tomb was cracked open.  

If you go to a place in Hanover, Germany called Gartenfriedhof (Garden Cemetary), ask to be shown the Geoffnetes Grab (the grave that was opened).   You’ll have no trouble finding the tomb, because out of its great crack grows the finest tree in the garden. 
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The grave was opened.  Hope – Love – God – the Creator stepped into Jairus’ life.  Hope stepped into the life of the woman with the hemorrhage and healed her body.  Hope stepped into the life of the child whose doctor pronounced him to be hopeless. Hope stepped in – into the life of the priest – who wrote “Knowing Time … Holy Refuge”

“Procedures have begun.  Nothing untoward showing up so far. Other complications on the horizon. Getting older and having the body not move as it once did is not fun. I must try to “let go and let God.” The talk about the “peace that passes understanding” isn’t just ‘talk.’ It really exists. Should fear well up within me again… should the unknown frighten me … should the “Not-Knowing Time” seem to engulf and entrap and overwhelm and I can’t move beyond it, I hope/I pray I will relax  into the gentle, caring, loving hand of God – of Hope – of Love – of the Creator – and allow myself to move into “Knowing-Time” which, from God’s perspective – from Hope’s perspective – from Love’s perspective – from the Creator’s perspective is “Knowing-Time.”  Kairos … not Chronos. “Knowing-Time” exists … whether I feel it or not.
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No matter what situation you may be in now – or you may have to face in the future – with God, there are no “Not-Knowing-Times.”   There is always hope!   Consider this

—- on a wall in Dachau prison, these words were scratched:  I believe in the sun even when it isn’t shining. I believe in stars even when I see them not.  I believe in God even when God is silent.”   In a tiny room in a refugee camp in Sri Lanka, four women were teaching songs to barefoot, dirty, scantily-lad children. Since there was no room to sit, they all stood for this brief respite from the noisy, hot, humid, dusty and impossibly crowded communal living area. On the door, crudely printed, were these words “Life is a gift from God.”

The refugees in war-torn Sri Lanka, the concentration prisoners in Dachau – they knew Hope – they knew Love – they knew another word for Hope, for Love – they knew the Creator, God, By Whatever Name … even in the midst of a terrifying yesterday, a bleak and often hungry today, and a potentially fearful tomorrow. 

In many Christian churches today, people are marking Pentecost Sunday – a reminder that the Holy Spirit offers Hope – Love. May we never forget that even sturdy tombs crack open!   May we never forget that Hope/Love/God enters lives – enters the “Unknown Times” – enters the moments of apparent hopelessness.

In the midst of it all … just as in the midst of all of our painful pasts, hurtful today’s and unknown futures … we never need to live in “The Not-Knowing Time.”  How do I know? The “Not-Knowing Time” story is my story. The words are from my journal.

The Creator – Hope – Love – God – By Whatever Name – is … in all our times: yesterday – today – tomorrow.  


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Your comments on this and any Soulistry blog reflection are always very welcome and appreciated here.


© June Maffin
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Creative Spirituality Artist

Creative Spirituality Artist

The first time I heard someone look at something I had created and say “June, you are an artist,” I was taken aback.
An artist? No, not me.
I can’t draw or paint or do calligraphy or sculpt or quilt or …
I just play.
And then it dawned on me … just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is artistry / creativity.

But for many years, I denied that anything I had made was creative or artistic. Each time someone made a positive comment on a handmade card they’d received from me or a painting I’d done or a book I’d made, I mumbled something along the lines of “oh, I’m not an artist. I just like to play” and never uttered a “thank you” to the person for their kind comment.

And then one day, I heard my husband deny his artistic talent to someone who had just admired his work at an art show. I was shocked. Hans was an artist! His sketches, paintings, and calligraphy had sold; he and his artwork had been featured in national magazines and art shows; his work was proudly displayed by many in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Australia. That evening, I asked him why he was so negative about his work and didn’t thank the person for their comment. His reply echoed my thoughts about my own work … “I’m not very good, compared to …”

Ahhh, there was the key – comparison.

Calligrapher Peter Thornton often says “When you look at your neighbour’s work, you see it for what it is. When you look at your own work, you see it for what it isn’t.”  Why do we do that? Why do we see the value of our effort and work in comparison with the work of others and not for their own intrinsic worth?

There will always be people who do what we do, only better. There will always be people who are ahead of us on the learning curve – who we admire and want to emulate. But that doesn’t mean our efforts, our work, is of any less value.

That evening, as Hans and I talked about the way we both denied that we were creative/artistic, we agreed to not compare our work with others and try to see ourselves as artists. I’d been a school teacher (variety of subjects) for decades and loved seeing the light come on when a student “got it” – whatever the subject. After that evening, I found myself consciously encouraging Soulistry workshop students to see themselves as artists, not to compare their work with someone else. I hoped that seeing themselves in such a way would make a difference.

When a student wrote and reminded me of the import role of encouragement (of one another – of ourselves), I realized that I’d taken the conversation my husband and I had had, very seriously. The student wrote: “I want to thank you. I drove on a stormy day in October to attend your ‘Picasso Portraits’ class. During that class you quietly said to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not an artist.” I so needed that comment at that time. I was questioning why I was “wasting” my time making art and asking myself what the heck I was going to do with all that so-called art that I was generating. I held your comment in my mind. Repeated it to myself often, when needed. And yesterday I sold my first painting!!! I entered a piece on a whim, and it sold on the first day. I am encouraged to continue making art. Because it makes me happy.”

She is an artist! Not because she sold one of her pieces, but because making art makes her “happy.”

I believe that expressing our creativity, our artistry, deepens our spirituality. That deep belief was the inspiration for the birth of *Soulistry* – the workshops, then the book, then the blog, the website, and the Facebook page. And, and it’s why the Soulistry book has a sub-title: “Artistry of the Soul,” for I believe that every person can be an artist.

Whether we are a flower arranger, sculptor, writer, painter, paper artist, surgeon, chef, book-maker, musician, fabric designer, singer, sew-er, cartoonist, dancer, poet, graphic designer, woodworker, gardener, knitter, card-maker, tangler, inventor, jewellery-maker, calligrapher, hair stylist, miniaturist, blogger, weaver, quilter, car builder, beadmaker, etc. … whether we sell our work, win awards, are ‘the best’ in our field, isn’t the issue. When we create, we make a spiritual connection – we are nourishing our spirit – having fun – challenging the synapses in our brain -learning something new – exploring our playful nature – experiencing a sense of happiness and indefinable joy.

Many years ago, at the end of a Soulistry retreat where retreatants created several projects, each was presented with a certificate with their name and the letters C.S.A. – Creative Spirituality Artist – and encouraged to add those letters after their name. 🙂

I like that – not because I made it up <g> – but because it speaks to an understanding of who I am when I create … an understanding of who I believe we all are, when we create.

We are creative artists connecting to spirit aka “Creative Spirituality Artists”. May we all be Creative Spirituality Artists with openness, with abandon, with play and with joy!

© June Maffin C.S. A.

(The photograph is of an “acrylic pour” I did on a long-playing record was a gift for a friend who now recognizes that she too is a C.S.A.)

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WITH MOTHER’S DAY ON THE HORIZON

WITH MOTHER’S DAY ON THE HORIZON



With Mother’s Day on the horizon,
may we be mindful that there are women who will be celebrating and giving thanks
while at the same time
there will be women who will be grieving and in pain
— all on the same day.


With Mother’s Day on the horizon,
I think of and pray for experiencing a wide range of emotions
… the women who never birthed a child
… the women who birthed a child
… the women who miscarried
… the women who were infertile (or their partner was)
… the women who had an abortion
… the women whose child was stillborn
… the women whose child had serious health issues
… the women whose child ran away and put into custodial care
… the women whose child was raped
… the women whose child was taken away at birth by authorities
… the women whose child was kidnapped
… the women whose child died due to the pandemic, accident, overdose, illness, murder
… the women who began life as male, but knew they were not
… the women whose child lives in fear
… the women whose child became alienated from them and there is little or no communication
… the women whose adoptions fell through
… the women whose artificial insemination didn’t work
… the women whose surrogate changed her mind & kept the baby
… the women whose child is in prison
… the women whose child had a debilitating physical/mental disability
… the women whose child committed suicide
… the women who were surrogate mothers, carried the child to term, but who never became that child’s parent.
… the women in countries at war, trying to be strong for their children while separated from their partners, families, country and living with explosions, food shortages and the threat of rape, annihilation.
… all whose mothers have died


With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of, and pray for
those who are rejoicing because
… they gave birth to a healthy child
… their child had children and they became a grandmother
… they adopted a child
… each of us – for we all had a biological mother and were given life.


With Mother’s Day on the horizon, I think of and pray for
those who are mothers, but may not see their role
to be one of mothering:
foster moms, spiritual moms, mentor moms.


With Mother’s Day on the horizon,
I think of and pray for those who lost their mother
through death or alienation
– and all who suffered abuse from their mother.

This year,
with the reality that Roe v Wade was overturned in the United States,
I think and pray for the countless woman who will be forced to carry a child to term
… regardless of rape, incest, age or their own death.


And may acknowledgment of Mother’s Day,
be done with sensitivity, compassion and kindness
in churches
families
social media
and law courts.

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© June Maffin
https://soulistry.com/blog
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IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Yom Hashoah begins this night at sundown.  It is a time for Jews and all of the world to pay respect to those who perished in the Holocaust under Nazi rule – millions of people: gypsies, gays, clergy, ordinary citizens, Jewish people, many of whom had no idea they had Jewish heritage.

Yom Hashoah is a time we remember other moments of terror suffering, past and present too because as Rabbi Michael Lerner reminded us, the task at this moment in history is to “remind ourselves that we are inextricably bound to each other and to everyone on the planet. 

Will we will ever truly remember, learn from the past and ask the “when” questions?   Questions like
… if changes in gun laws don’t happen now … when?
… if hatred for ‘the other’ doesn’t end now … when?
… if immoral laws aren’t changed by new leadership now … when?
… if political leaders lie, steal, are corrupt aren’t voted out of office now, …when?
… if children are not given the opportunity for a well-rounded education taught by competent, professional, respected teachers who are well paid now … when?
… if those who are addicted aren’t treated as valued human beings who need professional help and are given that help, now … when?

IF
NOT
NOW
W H E N?

Rom Hashoah is not just a time to remember all who have died in holocausts of the past – but those who are in similar situations now around the world.

It is time to ask the “IF NOT NOW, WHEN?” question and expect answers that are honest, compassionate, respectful and helpful.


 

© June Maffin
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A YODA ATTITUDE – MAY 4TH

A YODA ATTITUDE – MAY 4TH

Do you remember Yoda from Star Wars?   
A legendary Jedi Master, Yoda may have been small in size, but he was
quite the theologian, philosopher and poet.

Yoda said “Do or do not.   There is no try.”  In those two short sentences, Yoda extended a call to *do.”
“Do* kindness.
*Do* acts of justice.
“Do” speak up for … the bullied … the disabled … the environment … the mentally ill … the lonely … the impoverished … the victimized … the grieving … the homeless … the abused animals … the frightening slippery slope that has followed the abolition of Roe v Wade … the elderly … the frightened … the planet … the chronically ill … the addict … the growing tension on university campuses … the addicted … the war in Ukraine and the Middle East and Africa and …


We’re going down the Rabbit Hole and further down the Slippery Slope because …
… “First they came for the women who decided abortion was the best response to their pregnancy and I did not speak out because I was not pregnant.
… Then they came for the LGBQT+ and I did not speak out because I was straight.
… Then they came for those who were not Caucasian and I did not speak out because I was Caucasian.
… Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”
(based on Martin Niemöller’s WW11 words: “”First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
 

Yoda set a challenge and put forth a reminder that
… change *can* begin
… peace *can* appear
… joy *can* be experienced
… hope *can* be rekindled
… voting *can* bring about change …

Perhaps only in oh-so-small steps, perhaps only in oh-so-small glimpses, but change *can* happen when a Yoda Attitude begins in our heart, in our mind, in our spirit, in our action.  The change might not happen in the ways we want … or expect … or in the time frame we need.  But change *can* happen.   “Do or do not.    There is no try.”  (Yoda).


On this, the fourth day of the month of May,  may we have a Yoda Attitude and m
ay the Fourth/Force be with us all.   Happy May 4th!

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© June Maffin
Photo by Eric McLean (Used by permission Pexels.com)

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