My Friend Has Moved to Assisted Living

I found her sitting for the last time

in that comfortable chair

on her beloved front porch

where each day for who knows how long

she has sat

observed the neighborhood

waved at friends

entertained guests

and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells

of the place her home has occupied these fifty years.

“I don’t have a very good attitude,” she said,

as my heart filled with grief

and my mind’s eye saw the view

from her new “place”—tree-less commercial construction everywhere.

How can we not become attached

to place and things and people

since our nature embraces beauty in all?

How can we not meld into our environment

in almost indivisibility?

How can God’s Spirit compensate when

our oneness with creation is torn in two?

Oh, Lord, have compassion!

Ann Glover O’Dell

2 July 2018

Your Inner Wisdom Awaits You

Your Inner Wisdom awaits your engagement.  Whatever you choose to call it—Guardian Angel, God, Higher Power, Holy Spirit, it is that secret inner part of your personality.  The creative part.  The part that cannot be controlled by your conscious willful self.

Your Inner Wisdom is a force that can do for you what you cannot do for yourself–make you into your original self.  It is always a force for good.  It wants health and wholeness for you and can give that to you if you cooperate.

Your cooperation is required in the form of giving your Inner Wisdom permission to do whatever needs to be done in you to make room for the goodness it has to give you.

You can glibly say to yourself, “Sure, I give permission for something good to happen to me.”

But that is not enough.  In a written dialog you need to converse with your Inner Wisdom until you realize you want a new life with all of your conscious might.  And you need to discover that your Inner Wisdom is a benevolent force.  Then the permission becomes authentic.

You are always in control of the conversation.  And can stop it at any time.  There is no coercion. Your free will is left intact.  The conversation is not surrender, a leap of faith, a courageous act.  It is a dialog—questions and answers.  Begin with any question and listen for a response from deep within you.

You are on your way to experiencing God’s special miracle for you.

Eggs and Rabbits

Easter traditions abound all over the world, and they vary from culture to culture.  Often  people who observe them do not know their origins, but something in the individual and collective psyche of the people embraces and celebrates the traditions each year. Usually people don’t  think much about them until some visitor asks.

In the West some of our Easter customs are even rather contradictory.  Rabbits don’t lay eggs, yet every Easter the Easter Bunny brings them to fill children’s baskets on Easter Eve.

Germans immigrating to US brought the idea of the rabbit as the spring symbol of reproductivity.  And they are also believed to be the ones who brought the idea of colored eggs.  An ancient Teutonic legend states that the rabbit was originally a bird and was transformed by Oestre (Ostara, Eastre), the goddess of spring, into its present form.  In gratitude for his transformation, the rabbit laid beautiful eggs each spring in honor of her festival. Our word Easter  comes from her name.

Rabbit and egg give a double symbol of new life–and thus are exactly right for us.  Some of us  seem to need to be told twice–and in unusual metaphors.  Trouble is, we seem to have lost our desire to investigate the metaphor.  It sometimes takes internationals coming to this country to inquire as to why we engage in such a strange ritual, and even then some of us are content just to admit we simply don’t know.

Rabbit is an ancient symbol not only for fertility–since it reproduces so quickly–but also for the divine.  This idea comes from ancient Persia to Africa and was brought to us by the slaves–in the stories of Br’er Fox, Br’er Bear, and Br’er Rabbit.  Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear have great schemes for capturing Br’er Rabbit, and often do, but Br’er Rabbit’s wit always serves to save his life.

The rabbit is one of few animals that has no natural defense system and is easy prey for larger carnivores.  But in some cultures it’s the very vulnerability of the rabbit that appeals as a symbol for the divine–the idea that God doesn’t come as king of the beasts but as a defenseless creature. The rabbit is a timid, harmless, peaceable creature, who will not retaliate, no matter the provocation.  It has teeth similar to rodents but will never bite, not even in self-defense.

The egg has been used throughout history as a symbol of new life.  And today  in Eastern Europe Orthodox Christians exchange red eggs at Easter as a symbol of their faith, new life, and joy, red symbolizing the blood of life.  In a number of countries the decorating of eggs has evolved into a painstaking and beautiful art form.  Pysanky is a time-honored folk tradition, established in the Ukraine, handed-down from one generation to another, whereby intricate and beautiful designs in color and wax are painted on the shells of raw eggs. The wax seals the porous quality of the shell and eventually the egg dries up.

We need  dig only a little into the soft soil of symbolism to discover that the Easter Bunny is much like St. Nicholas–a metaphor for the God who has good gifts for us–and the egg–representing new life–is one of the special ones.  A passage from Luke has Jesus comparing the kinds of good gifts we give our children to the gifts God has for us.  The lesson is that even though we can identify what are gifts good enough for our children, we cannot imagine all the good gifts God has in store for us.

In addition to everything else the Jesus narrative tells is the GOOD NEWS that we are EASTER EGGS–each one of us unique and precious, a gift from God.  And each of us has a new creature–God’s holy creature, our original being, inside, wanting, trying to hatch out.

Some of us are a lot like the Orthodox Christians who paint over the shells of their Easter eggs.  We are porous, vulnerable creatures, and we’ve tried to make our shells impervious to cracks, nicks, anything that might penetrate and further damage the already wounded  self we know ourselves to be.

But there are individuals who have had egg-cracking, hatching out experiences.  They identify with Humpty Dumpty but recognize they don’t need to be put back together because something wonderful has emerged.

The Ukrainian Pysanky eggs dry up eventually.  If one of those eggs is kept safe from cracks, the yolk and white eventually dry up and the egg has almost no weight. We may get to a point where we feel life drying up within us.  But God has a better idea for us than that.  The Resurrection narrative tells us the shell must be destroyed so that new life can emerge.

Jesus was trying to patch up the brokenness of the world’s shell–by preaching, teaching, touching, healing, performing miracles.  But that was not enough.  God’s design was to show the world the human Easter Egg–whose body/shell,  cracked and broken, opened the way for new life to emerge.

Whether we believe in the Easter Bunny is not the issue.

Whether we believe in John 3:16 is not the issue (For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believed in him should not die but have eternal life).  The issue for us is the Easter Egg and the question it presents:

Do we want new life–in this flesh–in this body–enough to cooperate with the new creature within us that is trying to hatch out? to cooperate in stop trying to glue the cracks in our shell? to stop trying to paint over the vulnerable parts and protect ourselves from further wounds?

The spiritual pain and psychological agony in our lives is telling/begging us to quit gluing and patching and let the birth–the hatching out take place.  This new creature within is like a little chick who has developed inside the egg shell.  The chick must grow until it has a beak strong enough to penetrate the shell–from the inside out.

See how God likes to do the opposite of what we imagine.

Think about eggs this Easter season.  Think about yourself as an egg–-with a beautiful new creature inside ready to hatch out. Think about yourself , already a beautifully decorated egg, having something even more beautiful inside that wants to emerge.  Think about the real you pecking against the shell–from the inside.  Think about letting your egg shell crack open and the new creature hatch out.

Ann Glover O’Dell

March 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Room for a Baby

Sometimes babies are born in the most unusual places: a subway station, the back seat of a taxi, the corner of a crowded restaurant.  We never know where a baby might choose to make his appearance into the world.

The pregnant mother makes all possible preparations, packs a little suitcase for her trip to the hospital, or lays out all that will be needed when the midwife arrives.  A little nursery is made ready, a place for the infant to lie safe and warm.  If there are available funds, colorful decorations are hung to attract the infant once his eyes are able to focus.

But all the time no one knows exactly when the baby will decide to be born—or how much in a hurry he will be to get here.  Sometimes the mother has no time to travel to the clinic or wait for the midwife.  She is not able to make the baby postpone his appearance but rather must cooperate with this child who is eager to become a citizen of this earthly kingdom.  Babies generally have their own time-table and will not be thwarted in their determination.

The godchild within us is indeed one of those with a birthing mind of its own.  We absolutely cannot predict when God will bring our transformed spirit into our conscious awareness.  It is God’s secret, meant to reinforce his design and determination to have his way, to act on his own time schedule.  And it matters not whether we have made any preparations at all.  In fact, our ability to make any preparations is highly unlikely.  This birth is God’s surprise for us, the best Christmas gift ever, whether it comes on December 25 or any of the other 364 days available.

Ann Glover O’Dell

18 December 2017

Prophesy and Reality

The prophesy and the Nativity story both give significant clues as to God’s intention and activity.  The prophets talk of something new emerging from something old, of a culture where all animals live peaceably together with no danger to humans; of the appearance of one who manifests characteristics of Almighty God himself.  The foretelling emphasizes the determination of God to make this happen and the energy He will use to bring this about.

Furthermore, God’s design, energy, and essence are to be known throughout the earth by all.  The birth narrative confirms prophesy and impresses on reader/hearer alike that the new being is conceived and nurtured by none other than the indomitable will of God.

Are we ready to see that both prophesy and Nativity story are what we want to claim for our own?  Not simply a belief system but rather transformative agents in our individual lives?  If we want that it can be ours.

Do we feel old in our spirits and want a new beginning?  Are we weary of all the conflict in our lives?  Do we yearn for a peace that passes understanding?  Are we ready to encounter the prophetic voice deep within us, to dialog with it to learn if it has a special annunciation message for us?  If so, become the scribe of your own wise messenger.  Ask a question and write the reply.  Allow your Inner Wisdom to give you the information you need so that you may, as did Mary, agree to cooperate with the process.

Ann Glover O’Dell

18 December 2017

Be!

When God’s voice said, “Be!”

and all the guilt and anger in me vanished

I began to know as I am known—

to understand in deepest heart

that what our mind has told us we must do

can never be divine directives

because our mind attempts to be God,

not listening for his holy will.

When God said, “Be!”

He gave me new relationship

where tasting, feeling, sensing

takes precedence to thinking and deciding.

When God told me to be

I became a born again as Jesus once described

those apprehending life’s abundance.

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

20 November 2017

To Hell and Back

John Noonan says religion is for people who are trying to keep from going to hell and spirituality if for people who have been there and who don’t want to go back.

In order for us to be in intimate relationship with God, something that is not of God must die within us.  As we witness that death, we experience our own personal hell.  There is no way around it if we would truly know God.

Jesus told his God to work out his will.  Jesus gave permission to whatever would follow.  Jesus cooperated with God’s will.

If a death was necessary for God’s plan to materialize in the life of a man like Jesus, how much more is a death necessary in us.

Ann Glover O’Dell

22 November 2016