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The Walk I DidNOT Take

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I took a walk today up to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It was a beautiful fall day, cold enough that I needed my coat, gloves and scarf, but not too cold and no snow or ice underfoot. And the sky was blue. I walked up to the museum to walk the labyrinth, a fairly new installation on the grounds. A labyrinth is a "unicursal maze" -- which means there is only one path. One path into the center and the same path out. They are found all over the world, in every culture and faith, since ancient times. They hold this powerful spiritual message that one needs to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep going forward. One can NOT get lost. There is no wrong way to turn. Some labyrinths are marble mosaics on cathedral floors. Other's are created by hedges or stones on church properities. But the Nelson's labyrinth is all transparent glass. And walking through it is VERY disorienting. I entered the labyrinth...took a turn...took another turn and bumped into a glass wall...turned the other way...and felt completely overwhelmed. And dizzy. I'd only gone about ten feet! I slowly made my way out of the labyrinth. It's a cool idea. I applaud the artist. But it's not for me. I'll just keep walking in the real world.

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MLH148 11/27/2014 9:07AM

    Sorry about the disorientation- but enjoy this:
Chartres houses the only medieval labyrinth (installed in 1200 AD) with a center represented by a six-petal rose (please view the brief video accompanying this article which shows the details of the Chartres labyrinth). Sources indicate that this particular labyrinth was used as a metaphorical pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the years of the Crusades and as a tool during prayer while walking the path of its eleven circuits. McGowan views this labyrinth as a perfect correlate to the seven lessons contained in The Lord’s Prayer. She further suggests that the rose, which comprises the center of Chartres’ labyrinth, serves as a symbol for the perfect spiritual practice of prayer left to us by Jesus.

What are the seven lessons in The Lord’s Prayer and how does the six-petal rose of Chartres’ labyrinth correlate with them? Each petal (starting left and moving clockwise) represents a different basic teaching found in the prayer. According to McGowan, these lessons must be taken in order as they build on each other. The center of the rose represents the core lesson of love. Love, in contrast to the other six lessons, must be present throughout both the learning and practice of all the lessons. McGowan offers meditations and activities for each petal.

Petal one represents the lesson of faith (“Our father in heaven, may your name be hallowed”). It is necessary to first contemplate your image of who and what God is in your life, as well as establishing a strong connection to the Creator. The remainder of this lesson involves understanding and accepting your part in the Creator’s master plan. Why are you here? What is the meaning of your life? Evaluating what you are good at and what you love to do are clues to navigating this lesson.

Petal two represents the lesson of surrender (“May your kingdom come, May your will be done”). Praying these words involves making a commitment to make the world a better place. There are two steps to this lesson: (1) surrendering to the divine will (which is the most difficult aspect), and (2) turning one’s worries and fears over to God.

Petal three represents the lesson of service (“As in heaven, so upon earth”). McGowan claims that since human beings created the evils of the world, it is our responsibility to correct them with God’s help. It is through service, which includes prayer, that global transformation (or creating heaven on earth) is achieved. Service, however, must be motivated by love. Saint Teresa of Avila expresses this most beautifully: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world” (The Source of Miracles: 7 Steps to Transforming Your Life Through The Lord’s Prayer, p. 102).

Petal four represents the lesson of abundance (“Give us today our sufficient bread”). This lesson involves understanding that what you need and ask for will always be provided when you fulfill your spiritual promises and keep your service commitments. McGowan suggests that the cycle of abundance has five stages: (1) gratitude – giving thanks for all one has been given before; (2) clarity – being clear on what you want and why you want it, and being careful not to be too specific as it can limit the potential for God’s response; (3) commitment – sharing your abundance and fulfilling your service commitments; (4) trust – trusting that God has the best things ready for you if you surrender to the divine plan; and (5) gratitude – giving thanks for God’s answers to your requests while they are in process.

Petal five represents the lesson of forgiveness (“Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”). Being unwilling to forgive others constricts you and pulls you inward, while being willing to forgive others provides the opportunity to expand and open the channels of abundance in your life.

Petal six represents the lesson of overcoming obstacles (“And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from evil”). McGowan defines “evil” as the failing of our own nature which keeps us from accomplishing our divine mission. Sin is defined as a self-imposed limitation that causes us to stray from our path of service and from remembering that we are one with God through love and forgiveness. In fact, the seven deadly sins are identified as patterns of thought that stand in opposition to love.

Finally, the center of the rose represents love. McGowan identifies six expressions of love that should be expressed in all aspects of our daily lives. They include: (1) agape (spiritual love); (2) phila (brotherly love); (3) charis (the grace and kindness most evident in forgiveness); (4) eunioa (compassion and commitment to service in the community); (5) storge (the tender, caring, empathic love of children); and (6) eros (romantic love and sexual love when it is considered sacred).

McGowan’s conceptualization of the labyrinth’s central six-petal rose certainly makes it easy to remember the lessons associated with The Lord’s Prayer. She has also created a concrete visual aid leading to greater focus and understanding of the words we utter generally with little thought behind them. For those who read her inspiring book, McGowan has made it impossible to repeat The Lord’s Prayer as a mindless experience ever again.

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DJ4HEALTH 11/26/2014 10:52PM

    Just looking at it makes me dizzy!! emoticon

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SQUIRRELMOMMA1 11/26/2014 6:30PM

    That's a pity. Walking a labyrinth is a calming time. Very soul searching because it is just you and the walk thru the labyrinth. Maybe next time.

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NHES220 11/26/2014 12:18PM

    I hear ya! I don't know that I would do well with that either. I'll stick to the real world too!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

I ended the Fall 5% Challenge right where I started it -- at 209 pounds. This is where I have been (with all sorts of ups and downs) since Fall 2013. Down 45 pounds from my start on sparkpeople, but still a longgg way from where I want to be.

I KNOW there are things I need to do (and not do!) to get the scale moving.

So -- it begins (again) today.

I took a long walk in the snow today. That felt good.

I ate some roasted vegetables for a snack. That tasted good.

I'm going to bed at a decent hour.

And I'll be back sparking tomorrow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SQUIRRELMOMMA1 11/16/2014 2:15PM

    You and me both. I've been stalled for months now. Not sure what else to change up but I'm with you, I know I need to. Good luck.

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HIKING-4-ME 11/16/2014 12:00PM

    emoticon emoticon

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VEG954 11/15/2014 11:13PM

  Love your attitude!
Keep up the good work.

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Support Group Wisdom

Monday, November 10, 2014

I've been going to a support group for caregivers (my husband has a chronic illness). It's been really good. Tonight the leader talked to us about happiness. She said 50% of happiness is determined by genetics and temperament (some people just have a happy heart-or good brain chemicals!). 10% is determined by external circumstances outside of our control. And 40% is determined by our choices and habits. She said there are six things we can do to manage our stress and improve our happiness:
eat well
get some sunshine
engage in positive thinking/self-talk
engage in positive relationships

None of this is "rocket science" -- but it was good to be reminded that I can MAKE CHOICES that will make my life better.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MLH148 11/13/2014 6:58AM

    Not hard to accept- hard to do.

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HIKING-4-ME 11/12/2014 9:17AM


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NHES220 11/11/2014 11:42AM

    That is a great reminder!

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ROCKYCPA 11/10/2014 11:29PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LOSE4LIFE47 11/10/2014 11:24PM

    emoticon for the help you are getting from a group.

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Me and The Deer

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Friday was a bad day. I received a VERY CRITICAL email from someone at work and it really got to me. It was bad -- lots of tears and LOTS Halloween candy bad. I had a bunch of errands to do on Saturday but I ended my day at Happy Rock Park just at dusk. This is usually a very busy park, but with the sun setting there were no cars in the parking area and no one on the playing fields. I started to walk the trail. About halfway round the loop I saw the deer. Two of them. Very close to the trail. It was so lovely and gentle and peaceful. I finished my walk, went back to my car and drove home, not so hurt by the critical email.

Some of the criticism in the email was valid. Some of it not. I can take it as "information" and change and improve what I can. And not worry too much about the rest.

I want to keep a "mental snapshot" of the deer at dusk in my head and remember that quiet peacefulness. I want to feel that "communion with nature" when I feel so "at odds" with others.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SQUIRRELMOMMA1 11/10/2014 9:48AM

    There is something about being out in nature that really helps calm our souls. Glad those deer were there at just the right time for you. emoticon

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MLH148 11/10/2014 6:55AM

    What a great treat

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What I DIDNOT Eat This Week

Friday, November 07, 2014

The challenge this week is to give up, swap or cut back on a food or beverage to reduce my daily calorie intake by 100 calories. I know this will make me more mindful of my choices as I go through each day. Here's a record of what I DIDNOT eat:

I was at a conference all day for work. I ate breakfast (Greek yogurt, blueberries and Kashi Go Lean cereal) before leaving the house, so I did NOT eat any of the bagels or pastries laid out at the beginning of the day OR even any of the fruit snacks provided in the afternoon. I did NOT take any soup for lunch and was content with my sandwich and a salad (but that red pepper soup looked good...!). I did NOT have any dessert at lunch (eventhough there were cookies and a softserve machine!). Tonight was my brother-in-law's birthday party. There was lots of good food which I enjoyed, but I chose NOT to have any pop, just lots of water.

I did NOT eat any of the goodies after the 8:00 Mass or the donuts after 10:30 (I had a 60 calorie GoGurt instead).

I did NOT have toast with breakfast.

I did NOT eat any of the left-over Halloween candy left at work. I did NOT put butter on my roll at lunch. And NO cheese or croutons on my grilled chicken salad. I did NOT eat at chips and salsa when I met my friend Liz for supper at a Mexican restaurant (that was hard!).

I did NOT eat any of the goodies (bagels, donutholes, freshfruit, popcorn, pretzels, etc., etc.) at breaktime at the class I'm taking on The Parables of Jesus (I took a walk around the building instead).

I did NOT eat any of the bagels and muffins at the meeting today. At one point, I weakened and started going over to the refreshment table -- but I ran into someone I know, started talking, and then the breaktime was over. A close call!

I did NOT buy a goodie at the donut shop when I went to place our parish order for Sunday. I did NOT eat a roll at lunch.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

UMBILICAL 11/7/2014 11:08PM


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