My Urban Hermitage

I ran 22 miles yesterday and 5.4 miles today. I am entered in the Kansas City marathon on 10/17. I feel very good about my legs and conditioning. I am looking forward to the race.
On Friday, I met with the trainer at work. She gave me a proper weight workout, including how to use the weights effectively. She found some incredible weaknesses in my legs and core which are easily fixed. I was lifting weights, but not in a very effective way, because I didn\’t have the training. Now I do, and I quiver over weights less than 10 pounds.
The trainer thinks I will get faster if I do the weights as things will balance out and weakness be addressed. Gulp! She also thinks I am fast: 9 minute miles are fast. Gulp Gulp!
I am hoping to do another marathon 2 weeks after Kansas City; so I can qualify to be a \”Marathon Maniac.\” LOL!
So, I moved a few weeks ago. I have a one bedroom apartment in the city. I had to laugh at myself for how the space is used.
First, I sit at a table for spiritual study, which is usually an hour first thing in the morning:

Second, I sit at a built in desk to play with the computer and pay bills:

Third, I have a place for the work lap top, which is starting to trail me everywhere:


I have been keeping up with my daily silent meditation. Sometimes I do it in the church. Frequently I do it in a part of my home. I believe this to be direct communion/communication; albet not in words or language. Communion is valuable to me.

Inner Communion

I was filled with this idea this morning. I was pondering because: since I started going to early morning Mass, I created a lady who now expects me to be there and says something if I don’t go. In terms of A Course in Miracles, she is a perfect projection of my ego and it\’s guilt. But, her interest in me has ruined my ability to make a free choice because part of my brain, my ego, has to figure her into the decision: should I rebel or not? Come to think of it, I rebel against almost everyone who expects me to show up at their thing and tries to guilt me into it.

This morning, I realized I needed inner communion no matter what. If I didn’t have that, no outer communion (Mass) has any meaning. I start my inner communion in silence, mental and physical. I wait and look inward. This worked to bring me peace and a connection with truth instead of illusion.

I went for a short run in the cool dark. I am a city road runner now. I crunch over glass and kick other unseen debris. I wear a ball cap in order to shade my eyes from head lights. I have the orange reflective vest. I am still an unidentified phenomenon flowing through public areas.

After the run and shower and making my green smoothie for work, I had plenty of time to get to the church 25 minutes early and settle down for additional inner communion. I did that. I noticed that the first word I said today was “Amen.” It is now almost 8 am and I still have not said anything other than liturgical language.

I am still in inner communion.

Called to Contemplation

I spent the afternoon pretty much laying around recovering from my long run early this morning. At one point, about 5 pm, after finally taking a shower which left me sweet smelling, I was laying on the bed again reading. IT called me to pay attention to IT alone. This did not mean continuing to lie on the bed, diverting my attention from the book for a few minutes, but getting into a position where God would have my total attention. That meant moving my body to the meditation corner.

God does not call very loud. And answering the call does not mean feel good rewards perceptible in this world.

I have kept up this contemplative practice for more than ten years. Someone asked me if I do it out of love for God. I answered yes. But reflecting, I think I have to add that it is a married sort of love or an intuitive sort of love; not an ecstatic sort of love. It is like John of the Cross mentions (not quoted): the soul has taken flight and I do not know what she feels, but I am sure she is with the Living Flame of Love. The infusion of divine Love is wonderful, but not anything the ego can identify or feel.

I frequently mention that my relationship with God is very quiet and serene and not ecstatic. I do that because earlier in my life, I somehow got the idea that the relationship would come with strong emotions, orgasmic more or less. I’ve read in many books how ecstasy is felt in the bodily sense. However, since studying A Course in Miracles, I have become comfortable with the knowledge that total peace is benign, un-discerned by the ego (which lives in the physical body). I may know God with the truth of my being, but not with my ego; hence, I don’t feel God with my body or emotions. I know God with my mind, my thoughts, and in the depths of my heart, far away from the material world.

I\’ll also mention that God does not reward my contemplative practice on the level of materiality; that is, things don\’t go my way because I prayed. I firmly believe that my perceptions and thoughts create my reality. Contemplation helps me have a God consciousness such that I serve Spirit no matter what happens on the material level. That I got a good job has to do with Spirit\’s need for me to serve in a particular way; not that I was a good girl, said my prayers and therefore got what I wanted. I meditated and was able to hear what Spirit had to say; and then I did that. I am successful because I listened, not because I am in any way special.

Last week\’s personal statistics:
I sat for 30 minutes everyday, including one day where the sitting was in Adoration.
I made the 6:30 am Mass 4 times.
I went to 3 AA meetings.
I ran 42 miles (18.8 miles this morning).
I went to work all 5 days.

View from the Bed

I want to go deeper. I want to enter my depths. I want to get beyond the superficial level of reality. This seems to be an extraordinarily difficult task. The attempt means that all my thoughts need to be redefined: running is not about running. Mass is not about what the Church says it is. Money is not about making sure I have enough and hang on to what I have. Hassles are not about fixing things so they are my way or easier for me. Work is not about achievement. What I think of as life needs to be redefined if I expect to get beyond the material world. I have to be teachable by some level beyond where I am at. I need to be listening to the intuition.

I have always used silence. Now, I find I will need to weave more than one idea into the idea of getting beyond.

I took the picture with my Blackberry! On the wall is an icon of Abraham’s Three Guests and a crucifix. I ponder the man on the cross. I ponder the presence of God in the three guests.

I ran 10.8 miles this morning in the city park. It was a foggy morning since the air was about 50degF and vapor was rising off the Missouri River. Near sunrise, I saw five deer swim across the river. It was quite a site as I didn’t know deer could swim. They did great.

On my last lap, after 90 minutes of running, I had one of those precious instants: the solitary runner powering along the path, the sound of foot falls on dirt, quiet bliss.


What happened to that wonderfully spiritual blog full of insights and wisdom? It will be back after I learn the new ways, make new habits and clear out some brain space. Right now, I am learning how to use a Blackberry, meeting tons of new people and trying to find out where information is stashed in the computer at work. I have an office with my name on the door. A laptop to bring home so I can work 24 hours a day (LOL). Key card. New safety shoes. Air plane reservations to Germany. Numerous passwords. Complaints to the HR department for typographical errors in my personal information. New health care. New 401K.

I still get up early and spend an hour in spiritual study. Then, an hour of exercise. Then I either do silent meditation or go to early morning Mass. I have been fascinated by this quiet liturgy. I don’t connect it to Church teachings or the Bible. I connect it to whatever prayer experience I have that day. I am at my office by 7:30 and stay there until 4:30. Then, I either go to the park for a brief run or come home and work out on machines. Then, I usually mess with the computer and eat. Then, I prepare things for the next day, meditate for 30 minutes and lights out at 9.

I am recovering from an inner thigh strain sustained in the marathon on Labor Day. Yesterday and today, I was able to go for 3 mile runs at tempo with no pain. Good deal!

Thursday evenings, I go back to the church for an hour of Adoration and an AA meeting there. It came to me that Adoration and Mass are ways that I lavish my love on God. One of my yearnings for monastic life was to lavish my love on my Creator. I do it now, although at considerable more inconvenience than if I was a monk. I am dedicated to the Eucharist as surely as if I was a vowed religious. The total self gift is a choice. God accepts it whether it is a religious vow or not. It is a privilege to attend to God with one’s entire being. Not because God differentiates but because my ego does.

I still don’t know why I decided to answer the Call of God to return to Him consciously. But it is the most important fact of my life, and the motive behind everything I do and think.

Mass is Addictive

I have moved to the city and I have a new job with lots of responsibility. My life has changed from very empty and quiet to many relationships and demands for my time. I have again pondered the meaning of my life and what is my vocation now that everything has changed. I still want to know: who is the real me that is this consciousness? Releasing my inner divine being is still my life’s mission. How I do that now that my life has forced itself more outward is still a work in progress. I don’t know what surprises are along the way. Maybe I will join Opus Dei!

One surprise is Mass. I’ve found a thirst for Mass in the past few weeks. I disagree with the Roman Catholic hierarchy, but I want to go to Mass. I don’t agree with the Catholic explanation or catechism, but I want to go to Mass. All I can do at this point is surrender to the call and see where it is leading. Apart from Church teachings and A Course in Miracles teachings, I ask myself to contemplate the Mass in the now. If I look at Mass in a holy instant, what about love and eternity and salvation do I see? What is God saying to me right now?

Unknown to most people, I wear a crucifix ring. I love to contemplate the image of the man on the cross. Not the commonly told story of Jesus’ crucifixion but something deeper which I cannot even put words to.

There is a precarious balance between silent contemplation, Mass, AA meetings, running and work relationships.

Today I got up at 5:30 for spiritual practice, ran 5 miles, went to 8 am Mass, came home and made coffee, went to lead the 10 am AA meeting, and ran another 5 miles. This afternoon I have been involved with quiet contemplation.

Notes from my City Hermitage

I am more comfortable here in my one bedroom apartment in the city than I was in my dinky house in the country.

My first week of work went something like this: up at 4 for an hour of spirituality; lift weights and run for an hour or so; shower; work on the computer; go to work at about 7:20; get off work at 4:30; arrive home at 5 or 5:30 (if I stop for an errand); snack, nap, 30 minutes of meditation, eat, read a book, lights out at about 9:30. It seemed a bit hectic.

The first day at work, I forgot to hide the blemishes on my face; and felt out of place or ugly in my blouse and slacks. In the dark recesses of my ego, I feared no one liked me, would be unhappy with me and I was ashamed of myself. These feelings have no basis in reality. They are my normal mental reaction to success. I fear success; but if I pay attention to these lurking dark thoughts, bring them to the light of Jesus, they can be healed. If I allow Jesus to heal them, I won\’t have to sabotage myself with additional unconscious dark thoughts.

The only reason why most people even have a subconscious is we decide to ignore, deny and sublimate dark thoughts. I want to live in mental sunlight, so I bring all these ridiculous feelings to the light.

Other work impressions: The following days, I decided early in the morning to remember joy and to enjoy the people at work. This decision is a decision to spend the day with God instead of my ego. Then, I felt confident and happy at work. I was grateful to everyone and to my Higher Self. I took care of my day as I would a precious gift. May I always make such a decision and honor every one of God\’s days as precious. They are all a time to spend with God and feel joy.

On Tuesday, I could hardly walk due to quads filled with lactic acid from the hilly marathon. I worked out on machines. On Wednesday, I ouched my way thru a slow 30 minutes of jogging and did another 30 minutes on machines. On Thursday, wow, I ran great! (30 minutes) On Friday I ran a hilly 50 minutes. I am at this time dreaming of doing the Kansas City marathon on October 17. That gives me some more time to recover, do one or two long runs and then go for another medal and t-shirt.

Today, I have been in my hermitage. I had an hour of spirituality from 4:30 to 5:30; lifted weights; ran 5 miles and rode the elliptical for 15 minutes. I practiced silent sitting for an hour.
I ironed the shirts!

(instead of taking a match to them)

From the silence:

I am in the cradle: of silence.
I am in the jail: of silence.
I am flying in the wide open spaces: of silence.
Transcended, sunlight glints on my wings.
White bird flies free.
I soar on currents of spirit.
Peace is mine because I didn\’t judge, I flowed.
Here is light, holiness and safety.
This is love.
This is joy.
This is God.

Jesus, I want to go deeper.

Prayer is my enabler.

Many good things are given me in my new life. But I realized that many good things from my old life have vanished, silently stripped away. Not painfully gone, but lost none the less. I can\’t have both.

This morning, a 78 year old man hugged me and told me he loved me. I felt like I was in the arms of a man who loved me and that was a good thing (little known fact that most men do this to me, but I feel safer with the 78 year olds). If it is at all true that God is love, then God is love right now. Love would never require that I die first. It is true that God can pick one of my brothers to show me Himself. It is the Holy Instant of oneness.

The only death I need to undergo is the ego death; because egos cannot love, hence cannot know God.

What will I do today in my hermitage? Offer myself unreservedly with full attention to the Almighty? Or dither away the time, turning a deaf ear to the Call of Love? Somehow, at this time, I attended. I gave. My silent sitting is inextricably bound up with God. It is my exercise in wanting Him alone, above all else.

Heart of America Marathon – Report

Marathons are beasts. I never know what it will take to tame the beast on any given day. Why do I do it? I don’t know; but from time to time, I must go and ride the demon down.

Crap that hurt!

I did better than I thought I would.

Ok…my hotel is about 100 yards from the start so my last pee was in the hotel room (no line, haha). I’m on IBU, despite all the health risks, because I have cramps (50 year olds are supposed to get over this but I haven’t grown up yet). Hope three doodads will keep me clean for 5 hours.

Walk to the start. Stand in the dark for about ten minutes. They are making a big deal of it being the 50th anniversary of this race; and there are about twice as many people there this year. I get to the back and decide on a slow warm up, even though it is downhill. I’m a little worried about whether I’ll be having knee problems and don’t want to aggravate it early.

First mile: 13:30. Ok…unacceptable…I start going ten minute miles. It is pretty cool, 65F, and foggy. Very soon, I start to pass all the people who sprinted the first downhill mile and some are now walking up the second mile hill. Things go well. After about 65 minutes and a request to my Higher Power, I suddenly come up with today’s theme:

Little Old Ladies Rock.

LOL!!! I start telling everyone, even embarrassing one or two slightly younger women who don’t realize I am saying it about myself. About mile 9 I’m running with one of the miracle marathoners. I seem to meet these people in every marathon. They have overcome some issue with weight or health or life through running and are now marathoners.

The dirt road for miles 9 and 10 is damp and not dusty: great.

I get to the Easley hill at mile 12 ½. I walk up this hill. I already know I can walk up a 30% grade faster than I can run it and I don’t want to blow out my achilles. Half way point is at the top of Easley: 2:16. My brain has been working every mile, but now I know for sure what is possible and what is not possible depending on how much effort I put into this race. I have no injury issues but my legs are getting tired.

Things go along fine. This race is all hills except for mile 11 along the Missouri River. About mile 17, I see a two year old dancing by a car at the side of the road. I definitely need a high five from one of these little kids. Better than Gu or Gatorade by that time. The mother sends the kid over at my hand signal and I get some skin. By mile 18, 3:05, I can feel my quads. Actually, my inner thighs seem to be more stressed; a new thing. About mile 19, there is a four year old handing out water. I get another high five.

By mile 20, I realize that the race has drained me substantially. If I put everything I got in, completely give myself up to the beast, I can do 4:30. One more downhill and then mainly uphill until the last half mile. It is my moment of truth: start to shuffle or go through the fatigue and pain. I decide to put it all in.

Surprisingly, up hills are happier for me due to less pounding. I can put my head down and bull my way up. I do so. Kids hand out sponges at about mile 23; AWESOME!

I chug my way along, even able to speed up the last half mile: 4:30:15 (approx).

I am happy with this time. I had actually thought I might have a PW. But nooooo! I ran the whole way, except for Easley. I never got over my slow start. I don’t think I’m injured (that is the good part).

I didn’t get my AG plaque (if indeed I won one) because the timers were messed up and quit posting times. So I hitch-hiked back to the hotel. Showered. Jumped in the car to drive home. I passed one car (not too far from the city) with a 26.2 sticker on the back. When they passed me, I held up my medal and waved. They held up theirs and waved. I got free “Cookies for Jesus” at a rest stop and arrived home safe and sound. Oh man those 13 steps up to my apartment were a killer!

The beast has been tamed for another month or two. Maybe I should just hire someone to beat me!

Tomorrow, I start my new job and will go back to being a normal runner.

My summer vacation of running was terrific. I’m glad I survived it.

Heart of America Marathon 2009 – Prelude

Up at 3. Drinking coffee. Race time at 6.

After messing with, I’m settling into morning spiritual work.

4 am – Holiness. Holy Spirit. Nothing else seems to exist. “I am resolved to let You (Holy Spirit) speak through me…” (ACIM WB 296). The silence of the early morning has made Holiness and Presence almost palpable. I am grateful to stop and give myself to God for whatever could happen today.

Not special. I am willing to give up specialness. “The One you called on is with you…to acknowledge Him is to deny all that you think you know” (ACIM text 16.II.6). I can give up what I think I know in favor of the Power of Holiness. I can expect to run my race in the Power of Holiness. What happens here in the material world is of no consequence. Only Holiness matters.

What a miracle that my mind is opened to the Power of Holiness and I will not be running a race on the plane of pain and ego. I will be running a race with Him in me, as a consciousness partnership and awareness. OMG, THIS is how I want to live my life: always letting Holiness be primary in my mind.

Monday, September 07, 2009: the first day of the New Year. God has given me Himself. God has answered all His promises. I wanted to live on the plane of Inspiration and I am. The World of the Spirit has been my goal for decades. Today, I stand inside That Place. Light is all around, shining brightly. I rejoice at Love. I rejoice at being one with all my brothers and sisters. It is true that every single person is here in the Love with me. It doesn’t matter if you know it. We are Here.

The problem of today, running a marathon, I hereby give to the Holy Spirit to solve for me. He has never failed to solve any problem I have ever given Him. I am totally grateful to give Him this problem, today\’s problem. My ego fears the Holy Spirit’s control. My true self loves being under His Love. I put my faith in the Power of Holiness. I even offer my ego’s fear to Him for healing. The ego’s fear is the indigenous human condition which needs healing so we can consciously rejoin Heaven. “This is the year for the application of the ideas that have been given you. For the ideas are mighty forces, to be used and not held idly by…This year, invest in truth, and let it work peace. Have faith in Him Who has faith in you” (text 16.II.9). By giving my day to God, I hereby invest in truth.

Tomorrow, I go to work at my new job; a new place to serve Him.