Grateful

Hello, friends.

 Just a quick little word to say how grateful I am that you follow and engage with my writing here. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for adding yourselves to these reflections. I’m very grateful for you.

See you here again after the holiday,

Renee 

See Joy

Last night, I ended up behind a car with a license plate that said, “SEE JOY.” This was such a simple thing, but such a great gift. Sometimes, all we need is for someone (in this case, a car – ha!) to remind us that we can open ourselves to the possibility of joy. We are invited.

Sometimes, there are consistent sources of joy where we know we can return continuously, 

Sometimes, we use our intentions to cultivate joy whereever we are, even in hardships that are anything but joyful,

and

Sometimes, joy just shows up, powerfully as a complete and utter surprise.

Whenever and however it comes, we can lean into it, open to the experience. Earlier this week, a friend shared some words from poet Mary Oliver:

Don’t Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its a way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

SEE JOY.

Renee Roederer

Preparing for the Best

We know that phrase, “Prepare for the worst.”

There may be times when this truly needs to be said, but I’m going to venture to guess that we haven’t heard these words spoken to us directly very often. So… I wonder, why do we so frequently assume the very worst outcome is going to happen?

I also ask this question of myself, because this is perhaps a bit of a paradox in my own life:

People experience me to be very optimistic, upbeat, and positive (at least, people tell me this) and every bit of that is authentic. And at the very same time, I have such a propensity to move toward anxiety. I am capable of imagining the worst possible outcomes. I’ve learned to live in the ambiguity of this, choosing joyfulness and gratitude as much as I can (that’s what makes me seem optimistic). But the paradox is always alive – these two truths at the same time.

Does that resonate with you? I bet others live this paradox too.

I thought about this again this weekend, and that’s when I thought, why not make it a practice to Prepare for the Best?

I don’t mean any sort of head in the sand or head in the clouds lack of engagement with reality. But I do mean, what if we spent time pondering what is possible? What if we believed more was possible? What if we lived in that direction so much that more actually was possible?

Despite my anxious tendencies in life, I believe in these questions, and I believe in what they can create.

So what if we spend some time Preparing for the Best?

Renee Roederer

The Universe

Milky Way. Night sky and silhouette of a standing man

Sometimes, I marvel at who is in my life.
Sometimes, I am stunned to ponder that I could begin alone
then
become
connected
to
who after
who after
who after
who.

And this never ends.

It’s like a Big Bang, really.
A Whole Universe of Belonging.

We each start as a singularity.
Then
each one of us
bursts forth,
brought into an abundance of connections,
born anew bit by bit
through the particularities of relationship.

And these particularities
create
build
form
nurture
cultivate
and
renew.

They expand.

This is an ever expanding Universe —
this Cosmos
of
who after
who after
who after
who.

Renee Roederer

Lean Into The Wish

FullSizeRender(1)

This is my Wishing Rock.

It comes from the shore of Lake Michigan and was given to me years ago. I was trying to remember exactly, but I my memory fails me. . . I’ve had it since 2011 or 2012. Somewhere in there. When the weather is warm, it typically sits on my dresser (because I’m not wearing pockets) but during the fall, winter, and spring, it usually rides around inside my pocket. As you can imagine, it’s gone a lot of places.

It’s a Wishing Rock because it has a full band around it. There are lots of traditions with rocks like these, but you can hold such a rock and think about what you most wish. Perhaps deeper, you can hope for what you most dream.

I’ve been thinking about this again this morning, in part, because it’s going back in my pocket. More significantly though, I’m thinking about the wishes and dreams we carry. Sometimes, they are ripe with possibility. Sometimes, they are weighed down with the reality of unlikelihood. But are these ever the primary or final story — that is, simply  whether they are possible or not possible? No, there is more than this.

Between those brackets of assumed outcomes (whether reality or our own perception) there are so many stories of what is possible. And if we want to see a wish or dream come to fruition, whether personal, for our communities, or for our world, we have to lean in its direction. We have to say ‘yes’ to it again and again. (After all, doesn’t it keep showing up in our consciousness again and again?)

To put it another way, we have to be a part of the very prayers we make.

So what is your
wish?
dream?
prayer?

How can you take even just one initial step, leaning into its direction?

Renee Roederer

Suddenly, I Heard My Own Prayer

prayer

Suddenly, I heard my own prayer.
As I was making my final rounds before sleep —
turning off lights, putting dishes in the sink —
I suddenly heard myself,
my deeper self,
reverberate words from a prayer nine years ago.

There it was,
from a moment I had actually forgotten:
The words rose up and found themselves inside me
like a thought I didn’t think.

It was a mantra I prayed during a Taize service
in a time of transition —
a time
for which I was not ready, yet
for which I was being prepared.

Two phrases of prayer, uplifted over and over,
anxiety lending itself toward trust,
wondering if change can change us
even if we would like to change its pathway.

Times like this can shape becoming,
our own shaping,
our own becoming.
Times like this can shape our meaning-making,
as we carry mantles we do not know to choose,
yet for which we are lovingly chosen.

Despite what we hope for,
Despite what we wish for,
even our Deepest Despite
can lend its way toward a world of meaning and becoming.

So I suppose if a prayer can return again,
we can return
to this truth,
to this wondering,
to this becoming.

 

To Greet the Day

praying-holding-hands

Last week, I bookended a post with quotes from Pádraig Ó Tuama. He is a poet, theologian, and the leader of the Corrymeela Community in Belfast, a peace and conflict center where a great deal of connection and healing happens daily. I encountered his words while listening to an interview with him on Krista Tippett’s On Being. I cannot recommend this episode of her podcast enough to you.

I listened to the unedited version of this podcast very slowly over the last three weeks. It was the kind of thing I needed to savor, because I found Pádraig Ó Tuama speaking so much needed truth, comfort, and tenderness toward me and the whole audience. I needed all of it.

Today, I want to share some more of his words with you. They are about prayer. He spoke these words at the end of the podcast, and they moved me so much, particularly in the presence of some grief I’ve been feeling alongside others.

Today, I want to say this to any who may need to hear it: Friends, it’s okay to say Hello. It will likely help us, and we do not do so alone. I also believe God greets us as we greet our days. These words —

Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer,

And we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit,

But

I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.

So every morning, I sit, I kneel, waiting,
making friends with the habit of listening,
hoping that I am being listened to. . .

There, I greet God and my own disorder.
I say Hello
to my chaos,
my unmade decisions,
my unmade bed,
my desire and my trouble.
I say Hello
to distraction and privilege.

I greet the day, and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus.

I recognize and greet
my burdens,
my luck,
my controlled and uncontrollable story.

I greet
my untold stories,
my unfolding story,
my unloved body,
my own love,
my own body.

I greet
the things I think will happen,
and I say Hello to everything I do not know about the day.

I greet
my own small world,
and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.

I greet
my story,
and hope that I can forget my story during the day,
and hope that I can hear some stories,
and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.

I greet God,
and I greet the God Who is More God than the God I greet,

Hello to you all, I say,
as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.

Hello.

– Pádraig Ó Tuama