Seeing God

For the past two weeks I have been out of my familiar space. Instead of my usual farmland vista, I look out at a Toronto skyline. Instead of deer and coyotes, the wildlife consists of black squirrels and squirrelly grandchildren. By city standards, this part of town and this apartment building are remarkably quiet. Still, I am lonesome for home and hubby. I know that in two days, when I leave here, I will be lonesome for the little ones instead, even while relishing silence.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not a very good grandmother. My patience is short. I had two very different grandmother experiences. We lived with my paternal grandmother. Her patience was short too. I think I understand her better now. She was 67 when I was born. I know she loved us, but I remember her as stern. She taught me a lot, but she was definitely stern. I think I am like her in my grandparenting.

My mother’s mother lived an hour away. We would visit on Sunday afternoons, between morning church and evening milking. I also saw her Saturday mornings at the market. When I was five, I was allowed to stay for a week at her house. A week between Sundays.

Her house was full of cousins. I was the youngest. Cousins from two of my mother’s sisters were visiting at the same time. There were boxes of dress up clothes, and a neighbourhood of extended family. We were outside a lot, wandering and playing in a world very different from today’s Toronto. It was a very different world than my grandmother’s neighbourhood, today, for that matter. My cousins and I could safely troop up the middle of the road in 1962. I wouldn’t do that today as an adult. Such is progress.

I had so much fun that I begged to stay a second week, and Grammie said yes! I don’t remember her ever raising her voice. When I think of my Mom’s grandparenting style, I don’t remember her raising her voice either. Mom and Dad allowed us to live with them for a year while we built our house – four extra people for a year. Our house is next door to the farmhouse, so my kids could run over through the orchard any time at all. That’s patience. I need extended periods of solitude, something my mother never had. It amazes me.

So this morning I was thinking about how we have been taught to think of God, whatever God is, as Parent. If I think of God as Parent, I think of the level of patience required, and the sadness of watching Human Children make choices with uncomfortable consequences.

I also think of God inside each of us, of seeing the Biggest Big, that we call God, in each other’s eyes, including the eyes of squirrelly grandchildren. We sometimes think of God as being free to do whatever God wants. Yet God in the form of grandchildren is not free. I, as grandmother, have to curb their freedom to squeal in delight, out of deference to neighbours just through the wall, or their napping mother. I have to ensure that their bodies grow strong with real food, not marshmallows. Et cetera.

Each of us has to learn to self-limit. No one has full freedom, because we live in families and neighbourhoods. My grandgirls resist limitations. All of us do, whether it surfaces as impatience in traffic, or the normal struggles of getting little people into bed. So I was thinking of the Biggest-Big-as-Parent self-limiting to allow Human Children freedom to live and learn, while we push against the rules of biology, for example. None of us can stay awake forever.

But what about God as Grandchild? Perhaps God as Grandchild is about love. No matter how stern I have to be, my girlies still want cuddles and story time. They forgive my impatience and somewhat arbitrary rules again and again. In myself and my granddaughters I see exasperation, and wonder at the infinite exasperation of the Biggest-Big that we call God. Infinite exasperation. Infinite love. Infinite patience. And I am amazed.

Establishing Holy Sanctuary

It used to be that I hated housework. I did it, well enough, but I never enjoyed it. Then something shifted in December. Keeping things tidy became a holy task.

A couple of years or so ago, I determined that my home would be a holy place, a sanctuary. But it was more of an idea than a practice, something that I must have thought would occur through the power of intention. If my attention lapsed, so did the intention. Now that is different.

I do my household tasks as a meditation, calmly, prayerfully. Now, I have to say, these prayers aren’t word prayers. Instead, the prayerfulness is more a sense of Presence and Companionship. The Holy surrounds me. The Holy fills me with each breath.

Holy Sanctuary is not just inside my home. This morning my tasks included taking out recyclables and compost. I discovered that yesterday’s ice storm made for easy passage to the compost pile. (While I was out, the plow truck scraped 2 inch thick chunks of ice off our road.) The ice held my weight well enough that I took a walk to my Holy Hill, footprints showing in the skiff of snow on the surface.

On my Holy Hill, my prayers had words. May the powers of the Universe come into this Earth under my feet, into the water deep below, and out to the world. May the powers of the Universe cleanse and renew this planet. May the Spirit of Earth and Sky, and the four directions, protect me and my land.

The view from my Holy Hill

Getting Older

I don’t feel my age. Some people say they feel 90, but I feel like 30 something, younger than my daughter. How does that happen? It’s good to feel younger than my years, but sometimes lately I get stopped up. Like the other day when my daughter took a picture of me with my beautiful granddaughter Anna. (Sorry, I’m not sharing her sweet face, just my own.) I was having fun, as you can probably surmise from the photo on the left, but gracious! I have grey hair! I thought maybe makeup would help, and maybe it does. I’ll let you decide.

I know it is inevitable to get grey hair, and other such changes, and I’ve decided I will be my natural self without colouring. Well, I’ve done purple before, and may again. There are other changes that you can’t see, like the sweet little red polka dots that seem to sprout up all over me. I feel like a banana, with all these spots. Bananas, in my opinion, are most delicious when well spotted. So I am getting more delicious all the time.

This morning I read Philippians 3:20 and 21, and it spoke to me in a different way.

We are citizens of heaven, exiles on earth waiting eagerly for a Liberator, our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come and transform these humble, earthly bodies into the form of His glorious body by the same power that brings all things under His control.” The Voice 

What if this is what aging is, the transforming of our humble bodies into a glorious spiritual body? It’s a work in progress. Our younger bodies may be lithe and seemingly physically perfect, but what if our real bodies are what is yet to come? And this delicious banana ripening stage is part of the glorious process? It’s all under control. It’s all good.

It’s Official!

Today I am officially retired from my career in private practice psychology. Auspicious to close that door on the last day of a decade. I have been essentially retired so long that I forgot this aspect of the date until someone reminded me. Then I needed to mark the day in some way.

I chose to burn things. I wished I had a bonfire, but a New Year’s Eve snowstorm kept me indoors. I burned things in my woodstove instead. Although my husband disapproved of ash buildup, the burning satisfied the need for ritual.

In my search for appropriate burnables, I discovered printouts of old Dream Bringer’s Studio webpages. THOSE did not go into the fire. Perfect timing for reconnecting to that part of myself that had been tucked away.

I have to disagree with one friend who says I will always be a psychologist. That is a term I can no longer apply to myself, a legislated term only used by appropriately trained and approved people who pay their dues. For me, somehow, psychology was only a job. I think I was always a pastor, my true calling, flavoured by a Dream Bringer soul. Psychology paid the bills until life lined up. Now that door is closed. On this side of the door, I have a heart full of experience, wisdom, and ideas.

Today, the first day of 2020, is lit with clear blue skies and pristine sparkling snow. I am excited. 🤸‍♂️🎉🤸‍♂️🎉🤸‍♂️

Ask for a Sign

The other day, I felt a message coming in. I don’t know how to describe the feeling, other than a warmth and an invitation from somewhere inside of me. Perhaps that place is my Heart’s Cave, a place inside of me where I meet with my Soul, and slip into the Ocean of Possibilities, the Ocean of Creation. Jesus meets me there. We often sit by a bonfire on the shore, just hanging out.

On this particular day, I had been thinking about Isaiah 7, where God, through Isaiah, tells King Ahaz of Jerusalem to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses. After all, the Ten Commandments said that he should not “test the Lord“. But God wanted to give Ahaz a sign, proof of Presence, to comfort and encourage him. If you’d like more info on that, listen to my Dec. 22/19 sermon; here’s the YouTube link.

I was needing encouragement and comfort too. There had been a couple of deaths in my family. Plus, I’m still, on some level, recovering from August’s surgery. It was a busy week. I was tired.

So when I felt the nudge to look for a sign, first I turned to my little For Today devotional. The Dec. 17 reading said, “We were not now nor ever could be like normal eaters. that was the beginning of freedom.” When I’m tired or sad, I want to eat. But I’d already eaten a very good breakfast. I wasn’t hungry. Something shifts when we finally accept that we are not normal eaters. It is a new beginning. No need to fight what is. To be, in this new normal, is freedom.

Next, I opened to Dec. 17 in Celtic Daily Prayer (Aidan readings). It told me a story about a vase that survived a fire. Before the fire, peple said, “What a pretty vase.” After the fire, they said, “What pretty flowers!” It’s not about me, the vase. It’s about what my life contains, and how I draw attention to God’s creation. Here I am at 62. My body still works perfectly well, but it isn’t as lovely as it once was. Still, it holds and highlights a beauty beyond my own. It has been through the fire of “life”. I need to accept my new normal, and love it, even if it means getting tired more easily than I used to.

Finally I drew a card from The Heart of Faerie Oracle. Queen of the Night. The Queen of the Night embodies longing, and I had been feeling the longing to write again, to blog, to say things that don’t fit into a sermon or a learning disability assessment report. Don’t ignore that longing, the Queen of Night was saying. Go ahead and write. It may not be good writing, or well received, but follow the longing and just do it.

The Queen of the Night also says to draw another card, to make sense of where the longing is taking me. I drew the Queen of Shadows. Writing here, writing what I need to write at this point in my life, means I can’t just look at the sunny side. There are neglected parts of me that need dusted off and brought into the light.

And so, here I am, blogging once again, taking the risk, committing. What was old is new again.

Deep Dark before the Light

Winter Solstice 2019 — the deep dark (here in Canada) before the return of the light. As I write this morning, the sky is just beginning to brighten. All is quiet, unless you count the hum of household systems. Peace and coffee.

2019 has been a transformation year for me. Transformation isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Seven months of Bright Line Eating to reach my right-sized body. Six months now of maintaining. Two years since deciding to have genetic testing for breast cancer risk. A year and a half since learning I’m BRCA2+. Two preventive surgeries in 2019. Four months of slow recovery from the second one.

Seven years since I finally accepted that I was called to ministry with the United Church of Canada. Two years of study with United Theological College, graduating just as I was turning 60. Then in May 2019, I was ordained — Rev Alice Finnamore. I saw my last two psychology clients in October. Officially I hang up that professional designation on Dec 31, and continue in ministry with Prince William Pastoral Charge, where I have been since 2016.

Transformation does not happen overnight. This morning I received an email about global transformation. Aluna Joy reminds me of how we dreaded Dec 21, 2012, seven years ago, as if our entire existence would shift when the clock ticked past midnight.

We woke up the next morning and everything looked the same. But transformation does NOT happen overnight. We expected either mass destruction or instant utopia, but the sun simply rose as usual. Aluna Joy wrote today about global detox and global renewal — slow transformation on a different level than my own 2019 transformation.

I am still changing. As I wrote yesterday, I can’t be or do just one thing at a time. My soul is multi-faceted. The Light comes through this prism of Alice in distinct and various ways. I’m excited about tomorrow. The days will get longer here, bit by bit. Spring returns. Rejoice this Winter Solstice, and notice how you too are transforming.

This is NOT my first blog post

Dream Bringer’s Studio has been around for a long time, even before I started blogging in 2010. I was a professional and business owner, but being Gemini, I was never one to do just one thing at a time. I was also a writer, workshop leader, and dream teacher.

I birthed Dream Bringer’s Studio to house all my other interests, but my professional colleagues were confused by my multiplicity. So was an insurance company that paid for my professional services. To clear the air and settle the muddy waters, I took down my website, stopped blogging, and began the search in earnest for a life that would allow me more freedom. It took a while.

2019 has been my year of transformation. I expect I will be writing about that. I’ve saved all my old blog posts. They will likely show up in here too from time to time.

But for now, imagine me in my kitchen years ago, wondering what I would call my new endeavour. “Dream Bringer” was a name gifted on me by Robert Moss, who trained me in dreaming well. He saw me as one who could manifest a dream into waking reality. So there I was, in my kitchen, sweeping and thinking. Music was playing, and my heart was light with wonderment.

It felt like a dance, and the words “Dream Bringer’s Studio” popped into my head—a place to dance and create, both with words and with the hearts of the people I met. And so, Dream Bringer’s Studio was born, right there, with the dancing broom.