Be like a jellyfish. Go with the flow…

Be like a jellyfish. Go with the flow…

When I saw these jellyfish at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, I was mesmerized. Apparently, so was everyone else, because the crowd around their tank was several people deep. Isn’t it funny how this odd little sea creature that can send us running to shore if we spot one near us in the ocean is, upon closer inspection, so incredibly beautiful.
As I pondered my busy Monday and even busier week ahead, I suddenly thought back to these jellyfish and imagined myself just floating in the sea of life, not clinging to to anything, not plowing ahead at full speed, just floating and moving with the current rather than against it. (Disclaimer: I am not a marine biologist and have no idea if that’s how jellyfish act/move, but it’s how I see them.)
So today, as you settle into whatever groove you’ve got going during this steamy last week of July, imagine you are a jellyfish. Float, drift, let go, be. Feel yourself supported by the world around you, by the Life Force that created this amazing world and all of us. We are of no more significance than those jellyfish, when it comes right down to it. And isn’t that humbling and refreshing — and freeing.
đź“· @marydtp518
#jellyfish #letgo #gowiththeflow
Fear or trust? Which will you choose?

Fear or trust? Which will you choose?

Full disclosure: I was never a big Carlos Santana fan. Okay, I wasn’t really a fan at all. That is unless Rob Thomas was singing as Santana played. But then I heard from multiple sources (my husband being the main one) that Santana’s autobiography, The Universal Tone, was fantastic, especially since he weaves in so much spirituality. They had me at “spirituality.” I got the book on Audible, all 19+ hours of it, and started to listen. You will now find me asking my Amazon Alexa to play various Santana songs (My family has been singing “Oye Como Va” because of this), and sometimes I just pause to write down something that sticks with me, like today’s quote: “You can have fear or trust, but you can’t have both.” Amen. Absolute truth, but so hard to live day in and day out.
What fear is getting in the way of you trusting God’s plan, trusting the universe, trusting yourself? Can you take a deep breath and exhale that fear out? Can you trust you are where you are meant to be? Fear or trust. Which will you choose?
Finding your soul home

Finding your soul home

As I paddled a kayak across the crystal-clear water of an Adirondack lake on a gorgeous Friday afternoon recently, I turned to my paddling partner and said, “If everyone could do this, our world would be a more peaceful place.” General overstatement? Yes. Absolute truth? Also, yes. Why? Because nature heals; silence heals; self-reflection heals. And all of it opens our hearts and minds to something beyond ourselves and the problems that weigh us down. All of it makes us more compassionate—toward ourselves, toward others, toward our beautiful-but-broken world. And that is the beginning of peace, our own and the kind that stretches beyond us.

To be honest, I almost skipped the overnight trip to Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y., because I thought maybe I should just stay home and take care of the responsibilities in front of me. But my better angels won out, and I packed my life vest and hiking boots and headed north. As soon as I turned onto the long road that cuts through the woods and leads to the lake, my shoulders relaxed and I said (out loud), “Home.” Because this sacred spot that has become a regular destination when I’m in need of spiritual renewal—and where I lead a retreat every September—really does feel like a soul home, a thin place where God’s presence is palpable.

At a time when the news coming at us from every corner of our country and world is beginning to cause a collective sense of hopelessness (at least based on conversations I’m having), stepping outside our routine can help break that cycle and remind us that no matter what is happening around us, there is always beauty to be found.

Oftentimes, all that’s required to make that shift is intentional silence—no kayak or lake required. It can be a little more challenging to do that right where we are, but it’s worth the effort. What does it entail? Simply finding a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed, and being willing to silence your phone, turn off the TV, and go inward. If you can add a little natural beauty—your backyard, a pocket park, even a beautiful view spied at 55 MPH from a car window—all the better.

When I lived in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx many years ago, I found so much joy in the beautiful maple tree just beyond the fire escape outside my window. Today it’s the towering oaks in my backyard in upstate New York that keep me anchored and aware. Find a spot that speaks to you.

What do you do once you get there? You wait for the still, small voice, just as Elijah did (1Kings 19:12). It can be a challenge at first, so start with just a few minutes at a time. If it suits you, read some Scripture and contemplate a line that speaks to you (known as lectio divina), but don’t be afraid to do absolutely nothing. You’ll be surprised how healing it can be.

Years ago, I wrote about my early forays into this sort of meditative prayer, and an editor slapped a headline on it using the term “navel-gazing.” It was meant to be derogatory, and it served as a reminder (at least to me) that too many people out there see silence and self-reflection as a waste of time or self-indulgent; it is anything but.

It is only when we sit face-to-face with God in silence—gazing into our own hearts (not our navels)—that Spirit will speak to us. If we’re always talking, running, doing, there’s nowhere for God to get a word in edgewise. But, when we stop all the doing and take time to just be, whether it’s in the middle of a quiet lake or from our seat on a crowded commuter train, God speaks, beauty surfaces, and we are found.

Mary will lead the next Stillpoint retreat at Pyramid Life Center Sept. 9-11, 2022. For more information, visit the Events page.

This column originally appeared in the July 1, 2022, issue of Catholic New York. Copyright Mary DeTurris Poust, 2022.

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