Sea Kisses

It’s been one of those days spent embroiled in fantasy to escape the storm.

A friend of mine called me and told me to get up.  Now.  Get off the couch.  He gave me specific directions.  Drive 1.4 miles up the street from your house, past the condos on the beach, and park at the white gate.  Walk down the rise to the water and get in.  I don’t care what you’re wearing just get in.

I followed instructions.  Walked through the hole in the gate and down the drive to an abandoned foundation of a house reclaimed by the sea in Hurricane Ivan.  The drive has long been eroded away with holes and eaten edges now claimed by bur grass and sand.  There was a single family to the East and clear beach to the West and, still unmoved, I sat down.

My friend, as though stalking me on bbm, said “ok now Bushy, get in.”  But there’s a family in the only spot free of grass!  “Swim out past the grass.  Just do it.”  And so I did.  But not far.  Half-sitting, half-floating in 4 feet of water my body began to relax.  Tension eased out of the shoulders as they let go.  And then I saw it.

I stood up straight, shocked to see what looked like a head sticking out of the water about six feet out from me.  Relieved to find sand beneath my feet I shot up about 2 feet out of the water to see better, and then thinking better of it, I clambered to shore.  Squinting out with concentration I watched for it again.  And there it was!  And  another one!  I asked two little girls walking the beach if they saw them – did you see that?!  They looked at me and smiled at eachother in agreement (this one’s nuts).  When I turned they had disappeared.

From the height of the shore, when they reappeared I could see better the graceful animals as they came up for air and dove right back down out of sight before anyone else could see them and believe I was anything but insane.  When I was alone again they came up for longer periods, eyeing me as they swam across my view back and forth, their leathery heads and the hint of a shell sparkling as they broke the water.  My heart just about burst with a smile, looking at my fellow Caymanian creatures swimming in waters that our ancestors have shared for generations.

Seeing them and feeling the connection as our eyes locked, I walked back into the water with calm and a singing spirit.  To any onlookers I must have looked a fool!  A woman up to her neck in water blowing kisses and singing to turtles no one else could see.

My Sheets

Monday morning sunshine

calls me singing from my bed,

a million busy thoughts

fight for attention in my head,

the daunting tasks at hand

grow into mountains in my sight

but my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

The week is full of battles

folks to lead and lives to save,

Goliaths gang up on

my inner David forcing brave.

The thought that fortifies as I

face down the righteous fight

is my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

As Wednesday grows more bloody

and defeat feels very near,

the arguments grow louder

with defense and craven fear.

To just make it to sundown I

turn my cheek against my plight

for my sheets are gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

The tide begins to turn

as solutions bubble up,

energy swims to surface

as I drain my coffee cup.

I focus on the goal

with eyes squinting all my might

at my sheets of gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

Finally the week is ended

and war melts down with the sun.

Kicking back my soul reflects

upon the battles God has won.

Grace rains down in drops of beauty,

my heart rests and dreams take flight

in my sheets of gentle satin

and my pillows feather-light.

Resistance

It was a blur of calls to clients, making sure the checks were cut, the bills both corporate and personal paid, instructions left with the helper, the assistant, provisions made for the care of my canine children, duties distributed to employees, bags packed, passport in hand, and currency enough for one week carefully stashed in safe and secret places.

For the past few weeks – perhaps even months – I have operated on fumes as fuel quickly burned off from my last replenishing vacation.  So much strived for, battled against, lost and accomplished.  My mind and body and spirit screamed at me as I reamed out first gear.  Begging for a time in PARK.  Rest.  Stop.  Quiet.  Nothing.

And so I got on a plane knowing rest would not be available to me at home with the needs of friends, family, co-workers, employees, animals ever present and pressing.  I was delivered safe and sound to Kingston airport by Cayman Airways, stood none-too-patiently for an hour and a half ot get my passport stamped (thinking all the time I would FIRE the person who scheduled five flights at once!) and was collected lovingly by my brother and his girlfriend.

Rest is what I came for.  But fear is what I came with.

It has been 48 hours and already I’m going crazy.  I am a ball of pure unreasonable resistance.

There is no rest in my weariness, no relief in my repose.  Today I tossed and turned as my tummy twisted in turmoil – perhaps a tummy bug but more likely the fear that if I succumb to this quiet I will lose something.  Or find something I don’t want to find.

But instead it found me.  The predator long of tooth and sharp of claw has waited for my quiet to make his presence known.  He takes the thoughts of my mind and roughly yanks them toward himself, a part of myself, the part I run from with my meetings and engagements, my sushi and coffee dates, the problem solving sessions for the problems of others, my busyness and business.  He is the part that is left last to fall asleep at night.  I push myself daily to breaking point to make our nightly encounters brief so that when my head hits the pillow I am too exhausted to feel his bite into the artery of the neck of my soul.  This piece of my soul called by the male gender for his ability to hurt me, known best by the smell of lonely tears about to burst, and fears of childless and loveless futures, is most dangerous when his presence prompts regret and self doubt.  Never have I left behind a love that did not need leaving and my brain knows this but this animal asks me like a spoiled and nagging child over and over and over and over… “are you sure?”  “would you not be better there than here alone with me?” “are you sure?”.

Already on this quest to rest this bastard has wrung tears from my dry eyes.  My challenge is to find peace and not be won over by the compulsion in my nature to work myself to the bone and into a state so distracted by tiredness that his voice is lost in the babble.  For tonight I must lose myself – especially this hungry, febrile, visceral part of myself – in the peace of simply BEING.

Pray for me.

THE YAG (Mysterious Happening #2)

It was the same weekend as Mysterious Happening #1 and it was a miracle explosion.

In 2011 two young women from my church began a discussion about starting a Bible study for young adults.  They met a few times, talked around the subject with the pastor, but it didn’t quite take off.  In November they invited myself and another young woman into the conversation and now there were four of us.  We looked up a Bible study, selected one on relationships, met once, and still it didn’t take.  A little bit disheartened, we prepared to launch in January.  In our preparation we ordered books, selected a venue, worked out a menu, and launched the CIBC Young Adults page (Now called The YAG) on Facebook.  All of a sudden we were official!  Now to see if there were others out there like us who were wanting to study as well.

The Sunday before our first meeting we met with our pastor and prayed for guidance, for attendance, for the Spirit to prepare our group.  We expected five people at our launch of RELATE.

Twenty-five showed up.  The seats in my living room were all taken and some of us took the floor.  All our books were gone at meeting one and we made another order.  At meeting two there were even more people!  It was called AFTERGLOW, and we were blessed with music from Jordan and Heather Richmond, and there were no less than 40 people there.  And now we need to order MORE books!  Almost immediately it was too big for my living room and a couple from our church kindly donated the use of a warehouse that they have refurbished – wooden flooring, air conditioning, plush rugs and cozy seating.  Our Friday night (to Saturday morning) meetings continued to grow as we got deeper into the makings of good relationships.  It is the Happiest Happy Hour I’ve ever been to!

Our study is one of the Threads collection, called RELATE.  In our first meeting a visiting theologian gave us an introduction to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was quoted in our study and was, coincidentally (nah no coincidence) the subject of his own thesis.  The first topic was Understanding Relationships.  We came to understand there is one fundamental need every human being has in their relationships – either Security or Significance.  With this foundation we came to understand more about ourselves.  We discussed the revolutionary idea that relationships are NOT ABOUT US but about the purpose we were created to fulfill.  The six “one anothers” of the New Testament were broken out for our exploration and the relationship armour of Colossians 3:12-14 were also chewed on for a good amount of time.  We are now half-way into session two – Developing Relationships, what our stumbling blocks are and what we should aim to bring to the table.

“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community.  What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ.  Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to the both of us.”  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

In the short space of a month this has snowballed into much more than a Bible study.  It has become a whole new community, a social circle, a support system.  Young adults are coming from other churches – Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Church of God, no church at all – we are coming from all walks of life – teachers, civil servants, lawyers, students, unemployment – and we find belonging with each other.  Friendships are being formed, relationships are being rescued, issues are coming to a head, characters are being strengthened, and each of us is making the journey of the others rich in love and support, companionship and prayer.  It seems as though 2011 was a dark year for many of us – breakups, divorces, affairs, family drama, unplanned pregnancies, unemployment, alcohol-soaked violence, baby mama/daddy drama – things that make my haircuts seem trivial.  Our members have each walked out of their own individual pool of pain and into the arms of the others.  Our Facebook group has over 100 members – for an island of 50,000 people that’s pretty revolutionary!  In the space of a month our lives have begun to change – we have had a Bitterness Burning, a Baptism, a Birthday party, Valentines Cupcakes, we watched Courageous together and we have members calling in from other parts of the world on Skype.  It is our deep-seated conviction that no one should go without encouragement.  And now we are launching our missions!  We are working with our church to host Nicole Mullens in two free concerts at the end of March and we are planning our first international mission as I type!  Perhaps it will involve cupcakes… who knows?

THE YAG - heart in hand

None of us could have predicted how far this would go.  None of us could have planned for any of the growth we have made!  The mystery is in the peace that comes with being together.  Now we long for Friday night and call out encouragement and help and meet with one another throughout the week.  We are so blessed to have each other and to rest in our Father’s arms together.  And as we are salt and light during our work weeks and in our communities, we take comfort in knowing there is salt and there is light just a street over, around the corner, at another desk, in another place, and that that person is also keeping us in prayer before our God.  At the beginning and in the middle and at the end of the day it’s all about Him.

And then I had this dream… handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.  It could happen!  In fact, before the end of the year I am sure it will.

Another time I will describe my own path to YAG and through YAG and how it has changed everything.  If you are interested in sitting in on one of our sessions, or even joining our group study, please drop a comment and I will send you material and arrange your link into our meetings.  We are setting the world on fire!  I invite you to be the spark that lights the flame where you are.

REST

Isn't this just the image of an ideal resting spot? © Brent Mclennon

It is a fact that we often mistake for a baseless opinion and shelve behind the important things we need to do.  Like run a company, write a book, meet so-and-so for drinks so she can cry on your shoulder about her recent breakup, classes that we Single Women like to fill our time with on the premise of “self-improvement”.

There is no good excuse for running oneself into the ground.  Yet we find them and invent them and sell them as though they would gain us commission.  Why?

I’m sure the answer for every Single Woman is different in the details but it usually boils down to fear.  The fear of losing momentum, the fear of missing something, the fear of silence, of aloneness.  Pick one or mix them up, but fear wraps its frozen claws around us subtly at the thought of what our thoughts will say if we gave them the silence in which to speak.

SINGLE WOMAN LOVE THYSELF!

Your SELF is your own precious Ferrari, given to you and designed by God.  Let your thoughts speak.  Trust the good at the core of your gift to temper your quiet conversation.  Take a day, a few afternoons a week, and sit in your own company at rest with your Self.  It is a very important relationship to maintain, this relationship with ones Self.  It will determine how you live, how fulfilled you will be and the direction in which you will go.  How can you have your dreams come true if you can’t take the time to actually find out what they are?

In Eat. Pray. Love., Liz describes the first time she actually meditated.  It excited her beyond her expectations and she has made meditation a daily practice in her life.  Sure, her New Age beliefs are not for everyone but the concept remains the same.  Spend some time letting the quietest of your thoughts do the talking and perhaps you too will discover profound truths within yourself.

It is no secret that regular and quality rest can add years to your life.  Sleep studies and stress tests are increasingly coming upon new information on the benefits of rest and the damage that the lack of it can do to your health.  Many of today’s most common diseases are stress triggered and avoidable.  Certainly we aren’t aiming for a quick race to the grave, are we ladies!

But what is rest?  The opposite of labour is the idea given by Jesus (“Come unto me all ye that labour and I will give thee rest”).

rest

noun

1.  the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: a good night’s rest.
2.  refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour for rest
3.  relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
4.  a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquillity: to go away for a rest.
5.  mental or spiritual calm; tranquillity.
In all of these there is a quieting of the mind and a gentle run of thought akin to the flipping of magazine pages and looking at the pictures (contrary to closely examining the text of a volume of the US tax code).  Eight hours of sleep is not your only option.  I find rest in many places like the chaise side of my sofa with a blanket over my legs, a cup of tea on the table, and a sleeping dog on either side.  I find rest in the hammock on my back porch with a good book.  In yoga, in meditation, in a boat ride, tanning by the pool, walking the dogs.  I find rest in long drives and beach walks.
Today I invite you to think about what rest looks like to you.  And embrace it!

To Know Why She Is Here

The answer isn’t found within anyone else.  You haven’t found yourself in singleness because the last one cheated or because you haven’t met the next one.  What is your reason really?

But before you ask yourself the question, why is it important to know the answer?

Every moment in your life has a purpose.  You have arrived at the destination of Today haven taken the train of Yesterday and now have to make the decision as to which train you will take into Tomorrow.  This decision is a crucial one, one that should not be taken lightly.  The wrong train will take you into danger and harm.  The not-so-wrong-but-not-really-right train will take you into uncertainty, doubt and boredom.  The right train will take you into confidence and success.  You want to have a good idea of what train you are on before you board it, don’t you?

This is why it is important to know where you are departing from.  Get to know your present, your Today, because in your Today are the clues as to what train you should take into Tomorrow.

So let’s talk about today.  Today you are a Single Woman.  Why is that?  If you struggle for an answer, try this exercise.  What is good about being a Single Woman?  Write a list.  What is bad about it?  Write another list.  Be very honest with yourself.  Don’t make any judgements, just let it flow.  Be open and clear and authentic in the creation of both these lists.  No one has to see this but you.  When you are done put the two lists together and you will have a rounded view of where you are on your emotional map.  This is where you are.  In finding where you are you should be able to see the Why of it – the purpose for being here.

This morning I, Bushlings, am a Single Woman.  The good things I have found about being single are…

  1. I get to sleep without anyone else’s snores, don’t have to share the bathroom or any of my space.  My space is my own.
  2. My money is also my own.  I don’t have to consider anyone else in making my financial goals or decisions.
  3. I have the time to do the things I have always wanted to do.  Like maintain a blog, sing in a band, travel when I feel like it, go dancing when the mood hits me.
  4. In singleness I am not vulnerable to being deeply hurt by a partner.  This is perhaps the greatest of my good things about being single.  If I am single no man can cheat on me.  If I am single I cannot be taken for granted by a man.  If I am single I will not be hurt by a man’s inattention.
  5. There is so much space for growth I can focus much more clearly on the things about me that I would like to fix without having to spend time navigating around another’s flaws.

The bad things I have found about being single are…

  1. There are times of loneliness when I could use a cuddle and there isn’t anyone there to be that person that I cuddle with.
  2. Fear of a future alone is something that pops up occasionally.  Growing old alone is not an attractive option.
  3. Maybe one day I will want children.  Perhaps if I am single too long I might eliminate that possibility.

…I can’t really think of any more.  But I suppose those three are big enough.

From this I have learned that my reason for being single is that I want to heal and grow.  I don’t wish for it to last forever but there are great benefits to this time that I am here to receive.  Knowing this about my Today will inform my decisions.  What train should I take into Tomorrow?  Perhaps I should go back to school or maybe exploring new hobbies is enough for my growth.  Learning about how to  heal my wounds and giving time for my anger at the wound-makers of my past to ebb away should probably be the focus of my reading and my explorations.  As I heal and grow I see more clearly the purpose of my singleness – Why continue to battle when I am wounded?

As you do your list you may discover that you want your Tomorrow to look like your Today – perhaps you want to be single forever?  Perhaps you are over your wounds and unwilling to go back into battle at all?  Perhaps you are considering a relationship and determine it to be the best way into your tomorrow?  What do your lists look like?  What is the purpose of your Today?