Saturday, July 31, 2010

Head and Heart

I am reading two phenomenal books right now.  One by Edward Abbey and One by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.  One is prose about life in Moab, Utah in the late 1950s while Mr. Abbey worked as a park ranger in Arches National Park.  The other is a collection of stories reinforcing the spiritual life, "stories you tell that may save someone's life, stories for anyone interested in an age-old tradition of spiritual literature that asks the hard questions of the human condition."  These books feel linked to me, and I'm enjoying reading them simultaneously.

This is a pretty hefty quoted chunk from the latter book, The Spirituality of Imperfection.  I've read these last few paragraphs five or six times, and each time, they say something different.  I need to share them.
Fundamental to human be-ing is a root sense of connectedness--and specifically of that connectedness as somehow lost, missing, or wounded.  The resultant yearning to be in some way united with reality beyond or larger than one's self underlies all art, religion, and love.  When that connection is not present, we experience alienation and separation, a sense that "something is wrong" or, as the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead put it in locating the origins of spirituality, "Something is awry."  We reach out to touch, we ache for contact, but something is missing.  In the absence of that connection, we experience the sensation of being fractured, torn apart, pulled in a dozen different directions. 
Putting the fractured pieces back together again--setting the bone back in its socket, bringing some wholeness to the sense of "torn-to-pieces-hood"--requires acknowledgment and acceptance of the essential connection between vision and feeling, between head and heart.  Yet from the beginning of humankind's thoughtful presence on earth, human beings have been breaking themselves up into two--body-mind, thoughts-emotions, head-heart.  Having made that division, philosophers for thousands of years and physicians and lawyers in more recent times hold lengthy debates about which bodily organ--the brain or the heart-- is more critical to being human. 
Weaving in and out of this debate are the gentle voices of an august company of spiritual thinkers who resist these efforts to make the human being a one-sided conversation, a monologue, with either the head or the heart running the show.  Our two-sidedness, our being both/and rather than either-or, means that we may be distinguishable, but we are not divisible.  To be "mixed" is not to be divided; a stew is not a salad bar.  The head and the heart are not only connected, but if we are to live a spiritual life, that essential connection must be nurtured and protected.  How can we discover wholeness if we persist in dividing ourselves up into conflicting parts?  
The American Spiritual genius Jonathan Edwards is but one of many who steadfastly opposed all efforts "to divide human nature into separate compartments of mind, will and emotion."  Edwards loved to speak of "the sense of the heart":  In rooting "the mind, will and emotion" in the heart, he was insisting that there is a center of human personality, so that "what we think is inevitably the product of the set of our wills, which in turn results from the basic direction of our hearts' desires."  

There's obviously more.  I mean, this is just four paragraphs in a book of stories and thoughts on spirituality.  The part that is profound to me is the last:   what we think is inevitably the product of the set of our wills, which in turn results from the basic direction of our hearts' desires.

While here in Switzerland I've been meditating and contemplating the 11th Step, "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."  Reading this quote about what I think is inevitably a result of my own will, which is in turn the result of my heart's desires calmed me.  I don't know what God's will is for me.  I only know to do the best I can today, pray my focus be turned toward God, and leave the outcome, the results to God.  I do know I have desires and wants.  It can be a blurry place--to want a life, things, relationships, and relinquish these wants--to truly release them to what my Higher Power would want for me instead.

Are they linked?  Is God's will for me the same as my own?  I have no idea.  I know I'm created by God, and God has given me this heart, full of desires.  My will gets in the way when I'm not willing to change a behavior, be honest, be kind, tolerant and loving.  When I'm not willing, I feel I am most drenched in my will. Stubborn insistence my wants and desires be met is sign for me I'm not open to what God has in store.

So, I wait.  I sit and wait.  I read Desert Love Prose in the form of Desert Solitaire while the weather here in Murren, Switzerland is cold, raining and cloudy.  I dream of the heat the sun will grant me when I get home to sweet Arizona.  I look forward with anticipation to what God has in store.

I am uncertain and unsure.
I am also willing, in this moment, to turn my entire life over to the care of God.  To trust the outcome of my life to God.

And that feels safe, lovely, sweet.
No matter what book I'm reading. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Edward Abbey (v. 4)

from Desert Solitaire
Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution?  I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed quick to extinction.  Where this is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless. Therefore the frogs, the toads, keep on singing even though we know, if they don't, that the sounds of their uproar must surely be luring all the snakes and ringtail cats and kit foxes and coyotes and great horned owls toward the scene of their happiness.  
What then? A few of the little amphibians will continue their metamorphosis by way of the nerves and tissues of one of the higher animals, in which process the joy of one becomes the contentment of the second.  Nothing is lost, except an individual consciousness here and there, a trivial perhaps even illusory phenomenon.  The rest survive, mate, multiply, burrow, estivate, dream and rise again.  The rains will come, the potholes shall be filled. Again.  And again.  And again.   

I love, "where there is no joy there can be no courage."  I love this book.


You died two years ago, this date.  It was a Wednesday.  I knew when I left you on Tuesday, I was saying goodbye for the last time.  I hope you're well and flying free without pain.  I hope you are soaring among the sounds of music and laughter.

I miss you.
I am grateful you were my Gramms.
My Gramma and Me, November 1979.  

Mad Men.

Now, I don't have cable television. I have hulu and netflix and I like it that way.  I listen to npr for my news and go to for more substantial news coverage *giggle.*  I enjoy watching Glee and Parenthood on hulu and getting television series on disc via that lovely red envelope in the mail.

I finished Season two of Mad Men June sometime, and really, really love this show.  iTunes was running a special before Season four came out on AMC this month, and for only $10 I got Season three...


I think this historical drama is worth checking out, if you haven't already.  The way women are portrayed, idealized, victimized, and treated is phenomenal---only forty+ years ago is this show set, and it is such a pivotal time in our country's history.

It helps the men in this show are daringly handsome.  Oh, Donald Draper!!! How dreamy you are!

No links or photos in this post because I'm lazy but a shout out anyway to the awesome show that is Mad Men.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

breathing. in. and. out.

Words for today:
it's not about what another person does, or why he does it.  it's about learning about myself and knocking down my walls.  along the way, i hope to treat others with love, kindness, and tolerance.  

I'm going through a little growth spurt.  It's a little achy but other than the aches, I feel confident all will work out as needs to.  I am well loved, and well provided for.

I cleaned to my iPod today, to a Genius Playlist from Fanfarlo and it was so so so good.  While cleaning, Ambling Alp by Yeasayer came on and the lyrics proved very applicable to my growth today.
And when those thunder clouds are crying in the skies, in the skies
And when those fireflies keep shining in your eyes, in your eyes
Keep your mind for the time, with your ass on the line
Keep your feet, feet sliding to the side, to the side

Now, the world can be an unfair place at times
But your lows will have their complement of highs
And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you
Raise your head and wear your wounds with pride
I am safe. 
I am worthy. 
I am without fear. 
(In this moment, anyway).

Good night, world.

and the sun came out, and i wept.

We've been five days in cloud and fog and rain. The sun greeted me this morning. It was a joyous, warm, exciting feeling.
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Jump Around!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

the steps of the journey.

This is post is very image-heavy! 
(and to see them larger, just click on them.) 

I think total I've logged around 50 miles in Switzerland. FIFTY MILES!!! 
Of course, I must quote Edward Abbey in this post...I mean, come on!! How can I talk about hiking and not mention the words of Cactus Ed?!?!?
The longest journey begins with a single step, not with a turn of the ignition key.  That's the best thing about a walking, the journey itself.  It doesn't much matter whether you get where your going or not.  You'll get there anyway.  Every good hike brings you eventually back home.  Right were you started.
Last year, I didn't do a whole lot of solo hiking or adventuring on my own.  A lot of the activity we did was as a family and it was amazing and wonderful!  JJ and I spoke about this summer, and when I first arrived I was certain, CERTAIN!, I felt WAY more comfortable and would like to adventure on my own!  And, it's been such an amazing summer in that regard!  The opportunities have been phenomenal....Oh, Gratitude Flows with the hiking and moving of my body...the steps of my journey...and as I approach the next week, I begin the journey home.  

Here's a photo post of the hiking experiences I've been privy to this Summer...
Bryndli Peak!! Matt Brown and I ventured out for a day hike Sunday June 30.  I was drawn to this peak and its stark, dramatic landscape and Matt offered to be my own private guide.  It was a great way to get my body movin' after my arrival! 

Wild Flowers!!!

Posin' in the Alps. 


Feeling Pretty on top of the World.  

Zen Cows. 

Blissed Layla 
On July 8, we took a family hike in Zermatt to Zum See. I attempt to summit zee Matterhorn. 

Zermatt Navigation

Layla as Vanna White

The first time I've had a Panache (beer & 7up!) as a refreshment after a long hike!  Such a sweet treat!

More Blissed Layla

Hiking in Waist High Wild Flowers

Buried in flowers, love this!

On July 9, JJ & I went to Riffelberg above Zermatt to hike to the glacier and the lakes..We hiked at 10,000 feet....This is me silly with the goofy Swiss Cow. 

the Matterhorn & God. 

Sweaty Layla and the Matterhorn. 

More Summiting of the Matterhorn. (it never really got old.)

JJ & Layla among the many, many Japanese tourists. 

Layla & the Matterhorn, resting. 

Blissed out Hike Love. 

Glacier Love. 

Glacier Silliness

Layla & JJ

Dueling Peaks. 

We finished with a panache in Zermatt.  5dl of deliciousness. 

There is a magic to sharing this place with a trusted and sweet friend.  What a great adventure!!


On July 13, JJ and I did an overnight hike to Alpiglen.  This was at Stalden, where we had a snack: cherries and almonds. Swiss cherries taste just like cherry pie filling. They're so sweet and delicious!

This is Biglenalp, where we had lunch...We had view of that waterfall for most of our hike, and it was so big and so awesome.....


Sweet JJ, on a super rocky path en route to Kleine Sheidegg. 

Me, with a giant alligator head rock formation in the background. 

Super Sweaty on our arrival to Kleine Sheidegg.  Man, that was one long hard push to get there!!
Clouds filling the North Face of the Eiger. 

We did it, We did it, We did it, HURRAY!!!
Navigating the morning of July 14. Check out the sunrise over the valley!!  We decided NOT to do Eiger Glacier trail....We're tough, but not CRAZY. :) 

Layla, posing by the glacier water fall

JJ showing you what amazing snow melt we had--on July 14!!!

Filling my water bottle with fresh glacier snow melt. YES PLEASE! 

Incredibly Hiking Buds! 

JJ crossing an enormous ice field, which until we found out from Troy, we were certain we were crossing a glacier.  No, just an ice field.  Crazy scary just the same!

I'm vertical.  The slope of the ice field is nearly, too. SCARY!
I was grinning like a fool!! This is inside Trummelbach falls in Lauterbrunnen on July 20.  The rush of the water, 10m HIGH! Swirling and raging at such force the entire structure to look at the waterfalls hummed and vibrated.  It was chilly and the water was majestic.  It is a magical place!
This is looking down one of the falls.  Ohmygosh, amazing. My literal prayer in my head, "God, thank you for hydrostatic bonds and hydrogen molecules and oxygen molecules and how powerful they are together."  I'm TOTALLY A DORK. 
On the way to Obersteinberg. 
Navigating to Obersteinberg. 
So, I found these blueberry bushes and ate about ten or so wild blueberries and they were so so so so so good.
Then, I came across this scat filled with blueberries. It made me giggle that the wildlife was enjoying them as much as I did. 
I was cracking myself up sooooo much about taking a picture of poo!!! You know you're a nurse, when......
The waterfall on the way to Obersteinberg.  That peak is Breithorn. 
Sweaty on the way...Such a great, great hike!
Me, Obersteinberg Bench, Waterfall.  It's a bombshell kind of life. 

The trail leaving Obersteinberg on July 21.  So small and so powerful and such a huge fall down, if I had tripped or misstepped...Instead, I put one foot in front of the other, and trusted the outcome to God.  It was a Spiritual Experience. 

Me, on top of Tenzbodali.  I made it.  It was frighteningly scary, and it was so gorgeous on top of this flat dance floor.  My only regret is I didn't spin and dance.  (I was too afraid!)
What I climbed to get to the top of Tenzbodali.

What Tenzbodali looks like---the dance floor and the shark fin
From further away..I was on TOP of that flat part...the dance floor.  I ate my lunch, cherries, almonds, peanut butter and jelly and a square of dark chocolate, drank a liter of water, and watched the world.  It was bliss. 

Almost to Gimmelwald.  I am a powerhouse of Hiking Love, Intentional Movement and Grateful Glory.  

Thank you, God, Hainsies and all involved for this amazing experience.  I return home in a few weeks time a changed person, remembering that 'every good hike leads me home.'