Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

   –Luke 2.19

I love the idea of pondering in your heart.

One usually thinks of the brain as the location of pondering.

But there is a pondering that also happens in our hearts, and it may be the best kind.

In December, my friend, Hayley Burch and I are offering our very first Spirit Trek, Ponder in Your Heart–A Contemplative Advent Retreat.

You may recall I have previously written about Spirit Trek. It is a joint venture to offer spiritual pilgrimages to lovers of God and the world.

Please find below, the invitation.

I hope you can join us.

Peace,

Patty

P.S. Sorry guys, but this first one will be for women. In the future, you will be included!!!

 
Dear women friends,
 
Many of you have heard me talk about Spirit Trek–a joint venture with my friend, Hayley Burch–first conceived over five years ago.
 
The goal of Spirit Trek is to provide spiritual pilgrimages for lovers of God and the world. It stems from the desire to wed the spiritual/sacred with the incarnate creation/body in a way the traditional church and culture do not–or cannot–seem to get right, much less embrace.
 
The philosophy–and need it seeks to fill–can be summed up in the title of a blog I wrote, There’s No Such Thing as a Common Crow. There isn’t. All creation is sacred, including us. There can be no separation, only union, between our loving God and the exquisite beauty of our ordinary life in the here and now.
 
Hayley and I have planned our very first Spirit Trek–“Ponder in Your Heart–A Contemplative Advent Retreat” which will take us to the mountains of North Georgia. We are very excited about it!
 
We would like to extend an invitation for you to join us, to be our very first guests.
 
The retreat will take place December 8-11, 2011 in Hiawassee, Georgia, at the beautiful Ridges Resort on Lake Chatuge.
 
We will enjoy prayer, silence, simple meals, a slow hike by a waterfall, the liturgy of the hours, God’s creation, and one another,
 
Please see the attached flyer and refer to my blog post https://pattywryle.wordpress.com for the specifics. We also have a page on facebook, under Spirit Trek. I will put up information and links on my facebook page as well.
 
We hope that you can come, and will make time within the busy Christmas season to experience the gifts of hope, community, and contemplation during Advent. We would like to have at least eight participants and expect it to be a joyous, wonderful weekend as we prepare our hearts to receive Christ.
 
Please email me at this address with your interest and questions or Hayley at hayleyburch@gmail.com. My cell phone number is 706.781.4616 if you want to talk more about it.
 
Thank you so much for being the persons you are, and for, hopefully, sharing in our first pilgrimage. You will help to create it!
 
Blessings and peace.
 
Patty
 
P.S. If you know of someone else who may be interested, feel free to forward the email to them. We are offering this one to women, but in the future, hope to include men.

Each morn when I wake up

Before I put on my makeup

I say a little prayer for you.

   —Burt Bacharach and Hal David, I Say a Little Prayer for You

 

Once upon a time, I sang the first few lines of I Say a Little Prayer for You to my congregation.

It was at the close of my sermon, and I sang it from the pulpit.

I’m not sure Martin Luther would be pleased, but I’m pretty sure Christ was.

For we are called to pray for one another on a regular basis. Before we put on our makeup, while we are applying lipstick, as we drive to work and drink our coffee from a thermal cup.

We are called to pray without ceasing.

I must confess, to you and to God, I have been neglectful in praying for you. I have been neglectful in praying, period.

I’m not sure why, or how this absence of prayer crept into my life.

Perhaps it is the way of all sin. It comes upon us gradually, in our thoughts, our intentions, our imagination. And then our action.

It is a Law of Attraction that our thoughts lead us into–or away from–behavior, habits, desire. Our very self, the God who made us authentic and full of Love.

Before we know it, we are self-absorbed in the false self. We are worried. Antsy. Restless.

We lose our peace and our center. We lose our ability to pray, intentionally and purposefully. We lose our focus.

And so, this morning, I confess to you–and to God–my sin.

And I repent.

And I say a little prayer for you..

Fire Starters

October 19, 2011

It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.

   –Pass It On

Last night, I bought fire starters.

The Girl Scout in me likes to be prepared.

Soon, it will be cold enough to build a fire in my wood stove. The heat will radiate into my living room. It will be enough to warm the entire house.

And it will provide great comfort–friendship–as St. Francis named it.

I believe we are called to be fire starters. To help others ignite with brilliant light, the warm glow of oranges and yellows.

Cadence

October 17, 2011

Yesterday, I walked in a Cobb County park.

I didn’t walk far because the sound of drums lured me to a bench.

On the bench were two men, one white and young with a congo. The other, black and older with sunglasses, a cool hat, and a hand drum.

They were making beautiful music together.

There is such healing power in the rhythmic sound of the drums. Like knitting, riding a horse, Bach, the regular patterns of sound and space, of the click of needles and the cup of hands, the gaits and arpegios soothe and comfort like a rocking chair. They move and sing and sway in a predictable pace.

I found myself singing with them, echoing the call. The old man called me sister. The beat woke up my battered heart.

So much of life is unpredictable. We don’t know what to expect from one minute to the next.

Yesterday, I didn’t expect to hear the beat of drums, calling me to a park bench, to an ancient rhythm, to the cry of my own heart in perfect cadence.

I wanna take you back to my place
You can do your dance on the kitchen floor
Wanna hear your boots knockin’ down that hallway
Right on through that bedroom door
I wanna lay you down next to me
Next to me
I wanna ease your mind, and maybe set you free
Can’t you see, I wanna take you home with me 
                    –Gloriana, Wanna Take You Home
 
When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful. 
                   –~Barbara Bloom
 
I’ve been listening to country music lately.
 
I’m not sure why, except that I have exhausted the limits of other genres on the radio. From Christian to Top 40 to Dave FM, I get sick of hearing the same music, over and over. And I love listening to the radio.

So, I switched to country–popular that is–and have discovered a whole other world.

Who says Drugs, Sex, and Rock’n Roll and a baby boomer generation, have a monopoly on sexuality and its relationship to music?

I have discovered, through lyrics and observation, the new Nashville sounds and younger generations of good lookin’ models, singers, and men, could claim the following mantra: Beer, Sex, and Country.

Their song lyrics leave little to the imagination. They are forthright and open. Here are some of the recurring themes: fishing, trucks, rivers, dirt roads, dancing, sex, and beer. Sometimes, they all go together. I can see why.

I’ve recently been line-dancing. It’s pretty funny and tons of fun, even if one New Yorker claimed it was the most boring dance he had ever seen. He likes to salsa and break dance. Good for him.

I thought line dancing would be easy, and some of it is. But there are complicated moves and quick steps, ways it can become more interesting and personalized.

Last night, I saw two young girls moving their toes in and out so fast, it made me dizzy and I saw two guys, complete with tight jeans, cowboy hats–and I’m not kidding you, neck scarves–full of themselves and having a ball, sliding across the floor and stomping. They knew they were good. One older woman named Mae, probably seventy, could shake it with the best of them.

I am recently divorced. Some people say ‘Single’. I’m not sure what that means because I have so many friends and family. I don’t feel single.

But, and this is a big but for a fifty-six year old woman, I’ve had five guys now ‘hit’ on me in the last few weeks. I don’t know why, except that people always respond to kindness and vulnerability. I try and be kind to those I meet.

One was Mexican. a waiter in a restaurant where I went to enjoy a margarita and the night air on their terrace.

He asked if I was married and then said, “I like you.” Everytime he came out to check on me, he said, “I like you.”

Finally, I said, “Why? Why do you like me?” probably not the greatest pickup response, but I was curious as to what he meant. He answered, “I like the way you look.” “Oh” I said while I paid the bill.

The second was the drunk guy at the Hickhop and Honkytonk I went to several weeks ago because I wanted to dance. I have previously written about how he offered to buy me a drink–diet coke–and never came back. Easy come. Easy go.

The third was an African American guy who waits on me at Subway. I go there a lot to get protein through tunafish. And some vegetables. I am bad about cooking for one and a wee bit lazy.

I was melancholy one day, soon after my divorce. We chatted. He was kind. I left and got in my car when I saw him approaching. He handed me a piece of paper with his number on it and said to call him if I needed to talk.

It seemed like such a kind gesture. I thought of him as an angel.

But when I returned, he asked why I hadn’t called him and that I seemed lonely–perhaps ‘deprived’–that is the word he used, and he’d like to help. “Oh” I said. “But I am old enough to be your grandmother, not your mother.” He said, “Age doesn’t matter. You’re a woman and I’m a man.” You couldn’t argue the last part.

The fourth was last night when I went to the same honkytonk–a classy one–to take a line dancing class at 7:30. I stayed a while after the class to watch the expert dancers and hear a good live band.

A young guy-by young, he was thirty, asked if I wanted to hang out. I said, “Sure”. Then he asked if I wanted to play pool. I said, “Sure.” So, we played a game of pool and that was the end of that, except he put his hand in the small of my back.

No one has done that for a very long time. It felt good.

The fifth is more of an ongoing thing at work where one guy, about my age, keeps making eye contact. It’s a game of flirtation and we both know it. I know nothing about him and he knows little about me, except that I make a mean cappacino.

I told my parents last night, when I went by to show them my new dance steps, about these guys. I said “Ma, he’s making eyes at me. Ma, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to marry me.”

They said, “Oh” and didn’t seem too thrilled.

They want me to marry again and pray for the right man, who is perfect for me, to come along.

“Who is this guy? Where is he?”, Mom aked the other day at coffee. “Will he just appear out of the mist?”

I said, “Maybe.”

“Oh” she said with a smile.