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Love Bears Witness

I am proud of my Oracle Community…and of those who serve it via the Oracle Community Center! Thank you for your giving-ness to others…not only during this Thanksgiving season, but also throughout the entirety of this past year! Your giving hands and servant’s heart will surely grow a harvest of blessings for all who dwell here. DEBreen

The whole universe story has come into being because God is a hidden treasure who longs to be known. If it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes a whole cosmos to bear forth the depths of divine love. Cynthia Bourgeault

What if there were a way of radical grace and truth through a post-Christian landscape? It could lead us to prioritize the breaking of bread with people, the breaking of cynicism to give thanks, the daily gift of being broken and given to the people around us. What if the body of Christ recaptured its vision? Recaptured its vision as the only collective in the WORLD that exists for its NON-MEMBERS!

What if the body of Christ became a community that lives its calling to such offensive grace that it looks like we’re soft on truth, routinely accused of being gluttons and drunkards because the King of our kingdom lived around addicts, prostitutes, and shady tax collectors, the broken-down, the busted-up, and the religiously disdained. And He never once explained Himself, only continually gave of Himself.

What if the body of Christ became a community that will not dish out condemnation but courage, that will lean in and listen long and love large. What if the body of Christ defines success as showing up and bending down, serving well over debating well, serving after the lights go off because there’s a light in us?  Ann Voskamp ~ The Way of Abundance

God wants creation to become fully conscious that it is imbued with divine love and living in that love. This final outcome is what Teilhard called “the Omega Point” and St. Paul called the Pleroma.  Louis Savary and Patricia Berne

I am running, consuming breath, consuming wind, yet I am renewed!
For the love of living whisks me into mystery; into possibility
;
So onward as pursued and pursurer I pleasure…Love!
And the mystery I perceive when I run?
There is no end…Love…there is no
end!

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Love Wins

I’m still on an emotional ‘high’ after finishing my first marathon (Marine Corps Marathon) on Sunday, October 28, 2018. The following words from these others capture perfectly the waves of emotion I am riding to the shores since crossing that line.

“there’s something about the marathon. whether you’re running against the clock, against your previous self, in memory of someone you love, to celebrate or fight against cancer, to prove to yourself what you can do—it’s all about love.” CarlySheree 2018 NYC Marathon finisher

The day will come when, after harnessing space, winds, the tide and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, [humanity] will have discovered fire. Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Love [people] even in [their] sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“When you don’t challenge yourself, you miss out on so much.”
Denise Sauriol ~ Chicago-based running coach (the marathon whisperer)

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”.
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

“What do I want my one life to really be about? What you most want is what you most love. And what you love is what you’ll ultimately have for all eternity”.  Ann Voskamp

“They say a good love is one that sits you down, gives you a drink of water, and pats you on top of the head. But I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch! I say that’s a good love; one that burns and flies, and you run with it!”
C. JoyBell C.

Catch me if you can…Love!
I am running, yet you pursure me..Love!
For the love of living does chase me down with relentless passion.
This one and only life I have been given, it demands to be fully liven!
So to the full I will live it, I will love it! I will run it!
And with overflowing gratitude will I give it.
I am running, consuming breath, consuming wind, yet I am renewed!
For the love of living whisks me into mystery; into possibility
;
So onward as pursued and pursurer I pleasure…Love!
And the mystery I perceive when I run?
There is no end…Love…there is no
end!
DEBreen

Showing Up…Is the Reward

I have never run a ‘race pace’ so slow in all the races I have entered in the last five years. But I have never felt more accomplished than I do now 9 days after completing my first marathon.  If you have read any of my previous blog posts from the past several months, you will know how meaningful this marathon finish is to me. I am exceedingly grateful and supremely amazed that I was able to convince my legs to keep moving for 26.2 miles non-stop for five and a half hours. Clearly, the body is able if the mind is willing and believing!

“All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and put one foot in front of the other.” — Kathrine Switzer

As a personal trainer, many of my clients had no doubt I could accomplish this distance to completion. But I had other thoughts and beliefs about my ability; thoughts that could not comprehend such an accomplishment. Giving attention to those kinds of thoughts did not make a finish line seem likely in my future. I did not like thinking those kinds of thoughts nor did I like the way those thoughts made me feel. They made me feel impotent in my striving; they made me feel foolish for desiring such a goal for myself; those lousy negative thoughts took away my joy. And whenever I caught myself in that downward spiral, I got mad and made myself wake up to change the channel of my thinking.

“You don’t need to do twenty-five squats today to build your quad muscles. You need to think five positive thoughts about your motivations for running, fitness, and lifelong health. Because it’s not the quads that will get your legs moving, it’s the thoughts.” –Amby Burfoot

Clearly, the work before race day had already been done in my physical training. And as the calendar pages flipped closer to my marathon, I realized the greatest obstacle I would face would be my own thinking thoughts. So there was nothing else for me to do except give myself permission to think thoughts about all those things that could and would go right for me during the marathon.

I remember now, how those kinds of thoughts felt like such a luxury to me during the race…truly like the wind beneath the wings of my feet. Astonishment was my traveling companion in those last six miles to the finish…how was it possible to arrive at this distance feeling so exhilarated and and so grateful?

I have never before known such personal determination. And yet, I know there were so many others who gave me assistance on my way to the finish line…of this I am most gratefully certain! Between the cheering spectators on the course and at home, I sit here today, nine days later amazed. Amazed that I moved my legs for more than fifty-two thousand consecutive steps to cross a finish line I set out to concur more than nine months ago…my first marathon finish. What an honor and privilege it is to run this race we call life!

MCM 2018 finish

Deb (#679) finishing the 2018 Marine Corps Marathon

“Life is for participating, not for spectating.”
― Kathrine Switzer

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From Ashes to Growth

Do Not Ever Be Afraid Of Ashes

What seems like Ashes in your life
Can be the actual fertilizer
that grows your life.
Souls grow most in soil
Made rich by Ashes.

Fire makes a fertilizer for growth, and
Ashes can be the best soil for
The best soul growth — period.

That flame of
the Unexpected,
the Unwanted,
the Unnerving,
that can make
Kindling of your life,
that disaster that burns up
Your people
and burns down
Your dreams?

What you can’t explain in your life
Could be explained as gift.

The Way of Abundance ~ Ann Voskamp

Authentic God experience always “burns” you, yet it does not destroy you (Exodus 3:2-3), just as the burning bush revealed to Moses. But most of us are not prepared for such burning, nor even told to expect it. By definition, authentic God experience is always “too much”! It consoles our True Self only after it has devastated our false self.  —Richard Rohr

Above All Else – Focus

SEEK TO PLEASE ME above all else.
Let that GOAL be your FOCAL POINT as you go through this day.
Such a mind-set will protect you
from scattering your ENERGY to the winds.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

Above all else…this is a high standard! Seeking to please HIM! In EVERYTHING! This means I will think first on HIM and of HIM. I will consider my thoughts, my words, my actions..first…for His sake. This seems a most difficult, lofty task, and yet when I consider how being ‘in love’ with someone makes even hard things easy. Then after all, this does not seem such an extraordinary request…for myself or any of us others who claim to love and follow Jesus.

As I consider this appeal from the perspective of my running life, I acknowledge the value and power of keeping my focus. And as a runner, the finish line is a mighty enduring focal point. A finish line, any finish line really, provides immense purpose and drive to keep one’s momentum moving forward. And today, with this devotional reading appearing before my eyes, I am reminded again that the great I AM desires to be at the center of my focus: SEEK TO PLEASE ME ABOVE ALL ELSE!

This is an energetic goal to train towards, is it not? To give the Divine One our attention and preference? This goal alone can consume one’s entire life’s purpose. If ever I considered myself an ‘athlete’, how now would I train myself to succeed in achieving such an ambitious goal? What sort of athletic maneuvers does one perform to become strong towards this end…to seek His pleasure above all else? When I contemplate this imperative, perhaps this task is not too difficult when love is at its core.

Focus your attention on the path just ahead of you
and on the One who never leaves your side.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

To please the One who is above all and above all others simply requires my trusting focus; narrow my attention to the path just ahead. Never forget His promise, “I will be with you always”. Yes, of course, this makes perfect sense. Isn’t this what I do when I run a race or run a long distance? Isn’t this how I stay above the fray of defeating thoughts when I am weary and full of worry and feel faint. When I lose heart and breath, this is my sign to focus on the path just ahead…not a mile ahead…not 10 minutes ahead. Just focus on the present moment…just attend to the rhythm of my moving feet, beating heart, breathing lungs.

POUR ALL YOUR ENERGY into trusting Me.
It is through trust that you stay
connected to Me, aware of My Presence.
Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

When I consider my true reality, that I inhabit any present moment in the confines of time and eternity simultaneously, I wake up to my strength in the ETERNAL ONE, because I am body, soul, spirit. I felt that strength on Sunday last. I felt it while I was slogging through mile 13…mile 14…mile 15…the steps toward the end were painful indeed. BUT when I thought of the One who lives and moves in Me, of how time and eternity co-exist in ME, I felt energized and lifted up towards the object of my goal…the finish line. For those present moments, I was able to transcend the momentary discomforts of putting feet forward. When I focused on my present reality, my weakness became my strength because His presence gave vigor to my breath and joy to my pain.

And now you know what I know; now you know what kind of thoughts give me GO and FUEL my fire. These kinds of thoughts propel me towards a seemingly un-obtainable goal…running for 26.2 miles…in ONE DAY. These kinds of thoughts fueled me forward last Sunday; even though the thoughts sputtered and flickered off and on, in and out. These thoughts of the ONE…ABOVE ALL ELSE…nourished my flagging reserves.

To think of His Presence…in Me…beside Me…lifted me onward and upward into something like bliss. Those last miles taught me, educated me, via aches, pains and fears of every imagining, that ultimately all things are possible when a mind and heart are focused…ABOVE ALL ELSE!

Matthew 6:30-33 The Message (MSG)

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Of Fire and Ice

Today marks six weeks.
Six weeks ago I took to bed a pounding headache,
Six weeks ago I awoke in a firey furnace.

But today, like so many days recently passed,
I awoke with gratefulness.
Not just because my health is much improved,
But because the remnants of my affliction
Reverberate still within me.

And with each new day I find a way,
To embrace the scrappy reminders with affection.
Like glowing embers after the inferno’s blaze,
The crackling sparks remind, remand, revive;
Jolting consciousness to awaken!

Wake Up!
To gratitude in gratefulness,
To acceptance in peacefulness,
To mystery in wonderment,
To strength in weakness,
To growth in restfulness.

Today marks six weeks.
Six weeks of persisting amidst the refiner’s fire.
Six weeks of re-learning, re-remembering, re-renewing!
Six weeks of gifting, receiving, and growing through it all;
Six weeks later, fully awake, fully alive!

 

Never fear the moments
you imagine will FREEZE you:
unexpected blasts of cold
can be what DRAWS you nearer
to the FLAME of His love.

Darn the COLD.

Thank God for the FIRE.

Welcome to the CLUB
of those braving the cold blasts
in a thousand DAILY ways. 

Every one of US,
in one HURTING WAY or another,
is in this CLUB.

The grace that’s in this MOMENT
is your MANNA.

Wish for the past
and you drink POISON.

Worry about the future
and you eat FIRE.

Stay in this MOMENT
and you eat the MANNA
needed for NOW.

The Way of Abundance ~ Ann Voskamp

grow through

The Refinery

In Going All Out, I describe my return to my running self and how energized I felt to be training for my first Marathon race. Since that post from May-2018, my race venue changed from NYC to Arlington, VA, but the change in venue did not reduce my delight in purposefully running again.  During the early summer months, it seemed surreal, the long runs, the speed workouts, challenging as they were, all of them gave me delight in knowing I was prepairing my body and mind for an epic event…running 26.2 miles on October 28, 2018!

If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.
Kathrine Switzer

Then, on August 10th, the wheels came off. Over a 24-hour period my body went from seemingly healthy and turned into a raging conflagration steeped in the melting pot of a full-blown shingles viral attack. I could not believe that this hideous malady had found me out. For all my good health and strength and well-being, I was laid out in such weakness, and racked with the firey pains so common to this hideous malady. How could this happen so suddenly, without warning? I was dumbstruck…awestruck really…with my unhappy fortune and especially for the disruption this had brought to my marathon training!

For three weeks I did little more than rest; and I use the word metaphorically. Sleep did not restore or invigorate; sleep could not be caught or latched onto; sleep only took me away from myself and cast me into strange, mysterious places of unknowing. Perhaps it was due to a lack of sleep together with a steady dose of unrelieved pain, but whatever the cause, I also realized a fermenting growth of anxiety sprouting like ugly weeds in my garden. Something like dispair seemed to ooze into my consciousness. I noticed these downward thoughts even while I accepted and acknowledged the fact that I am no different or exceptional from anyone else. None of us is immune from illness and disease. Even people who do everything right for their body can and will, from time to time, succomb to break-ins or break-downs in their well-being.

If we were to examine our diseases poetically, we might find a wealth of imagery that could speak to the way we live our lives. Following up on that imagery, we could attune our lives and allow ourselves to be corrected by the disease. That is what I mean when I say that without sickness we wouldn’t be cured, physically and psychologically. Care of the Soul ~ Thomas Moore

Thankfully, by the end of week three, I had an ephipany, a bolt out of the blue, rekindling the dark place of my pitiful thinking. Like an arrow finding its bulls-eye, the thought hit center and ran my runner’s soul clean through: You may actively recover your running (body) with the mindset of starting the marathon race! You may not be able to finish all 26.2 miles, but at least you may purpose to begin training…again. YES! YES, YES, INDEED! To toe the start line, come what may, would be my very own victory. Victory over illness; victory over dispair; victory over defeated thinking. The barb hit its mark!

A funny thing happened on my way to the Marathon…to be continued!

MCM