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…and a little child will lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

Each of the last three summers in July, our family has been graced by the addition of a new grandchild. In 2012 we welcomed Caleb, in 2013 Evelyn, and in 2014 Joshua. Since Caleb is now almost three, we have started going on what he likes to call “adventures.” Recently, we spent a morning together at the Richardson Nature Center. We put on a show with the various animals in the puppet theatre, played the wildlife matching game, sat (almost) quietly in the outdoor observation room learning to use our binoculars, employed our strainer and magnifying glass to explore pond water life, and played imaginary games inside the big tree branch fort in the woods. Happily exhausted and hungry after a full morning of activity, we were walking hand in hand to the car with the promise of a Dairy Queen lunch ahead when Caleb called my name. “Dita,” he said, in a rather reflective tone. “Yes, honey,” I responded. “You are a really fun girl!”

As silly as this might sound, those beautiful words meant more to me than I can begin to express. In the weeks since, I have continued to return to that sweet exchange countless times in my mind and I have also happily shared that story with just about everyone. Each time I recall it, I find myself encouraged, heartened, and inspired. I am at a juncture in life where I have a strong desire to rediscover parts of myself that have been more dormant than I’d like, to resurrect my spontaneity, creativity, and playfulness! I have long felt that children are very discerning, wise, and honest, so the fact that my grandson deemed me not just a fun girl, but a really fun girl felt like a true call, an engaging invitation, the most timely and meaningful blessing.

Receiving that wonderful gift prompted me to think of other blessings I’ve received, precious words shared at tender times that continue to echo through my soul with their goodness—my best friend telling me that she always feels she’s come to know herself so much more deeply having spent time with me; my husband calling me his soul mate; my mother, on her death bed, telling me what a beautiful family I have; my son-in-law sending me a hand written letter explaining his decision to call me mom.

I also found myself remembering powerful blessings I’ve witnessed and some that I have offered myself. When a dear family friend was dying and had his family gathered around his bed, he chose to take that opportunity to share a final word of wisdom, encouragement, or challenge with each person. These messages have been remembered and referenced often in the years that have followed. As part of a Bible study I was in, I was encouraged to write notes to all the people in my life who had helped shape and influence my walk of faith. I wrote to over twenty different people and spoke specifically of how each person had blessed me through his or her example, encouragement, knowledge, or commitment. Some of those people still remind me of what it was like to receive those letters. One year when three cousins in our family were all graduating from high school, I suggested we celebrate them with a sending circle where all the relatives literally gathered around them in a circle, to name gifts, strengths, and positive memories associated with each graduate. Those kids left that day, soon on their way to college, having been wrapped in the love and positive regard of their family members. Several years ago at our large, extended family Christmas, we enhanced our tradition of gift giving by adding the gift of words. Before a person would open his or her gift, the givers would take a moment to affirm things they most admired, appreciated, or enjoyed about the receiver. We soon learned that everyone was blessed by hearing the many wonderful attributes that were highlighted.

Of course the Bible is filled with all sorts of stories that include blessings. One of my favorites is from Numbers 6:24-27: “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Our church often sings this blessing at the end of services and also invites us to say it as we extend our hands of blessing over various groups of congregants as they venture forth to camp, the mission field, or their work in the world. Because of its importance in our lived experience, our youngest daughter asked her grandfather to pray this blessing over her and her husband at the conclusion of their wedding last September. Shortly thereafter, he passed away, but these precious words continue to echo in their hearts.

 

In his beautiful book of poetry To Bless The Space Between Us, author John O’Donohue includes a section at the end on how to retrieve what he feels is the lost art of blessing. He explains that in his native Ireland, the act of blessing is part of daily life and that not just clergy but everyone can offer blessing. He encourages his readers to learn to bless not only others but themselves as well. By the blessings he includes—for beginnings, desires, thresholds, homecomings, states of heart, callings, and endings—he seems to suggest that nothing is outside the reach of a heartfelt blessing. Best of all, he defines a blessing as “a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, to heal, to strengthen.” He goes on to describe exactly what I recently experienced with my dear Caleb, that “a blessing calls forth wholeness and forebrightens the way.”

Within the next few months, I am overjoyed to report that we will be celebrating the arrival of two more grandchildren. As you might imagine, I have already written a blessing that I am praying as we await their arrival.

 

 

 

 

Baby Blessing

Our loving and gracious God,

As we come before you in prayer today, we stand on tip toe, holding our breath, eyes wide with anticipation , awaiting the arrival of our brand new family members!

For these precious babies we pray:

~May your journey here be smooth and safe

~May you hold fast to the spark of the Divine that you carry within you

~May you have a healthy body, a keen mind, an adventurous spirit and a deeply caring heart

~May you be blessed with a strong sense of self worth and always know how cherished you are by your Creator, your family, and your friends

~May you bless this world in countless ways by who you are and by how you choose to live

 

And for the parents we pray:

~May your hearts be filled with peace and joy as you approach this special delivery

~May you trust that the beautiful love you share will only expand as you welcome this sweet child into your family

~May you embrace this amazing opportunity to grow with your child in wonder and in awe of our beautiful world

~May you always look to this child’s Divine Parent for guidance and direction

~And may you know that our family is an unending circle of love and support, with you and for you throughout this lifelong adventure

May it be so. Amen.

 

They can be like the sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field.

 John of the Cross

 

 

Reflection Questions

~What feelings or experiences do you have around blessings?

~How have you been blessed by others?

~How have you blessed others?

~What are the ways you bless yourself?

~Is there someone whose blessing you are longing for or who you are longing to bless? How might you create the opportunity for this to happen?

 

 

Warm Greetings! I’m Tracy Mooty, a really fun girl!

I am one who enjoys listening intently, making meaning, and deepening my capacity for joy. Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago, and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure! Thank you, Janet!

 

May you go forth to bless, to be blessed and to be a blessing!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connecting the Dots

 

As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10: 46-51

 

May is a very special month in my life. Not only is my birthday in May, but also my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. At the opening of my spiritual direction session recently when my director asked me how I was, I told her I felt saturated in celebration. I went on to say that it was as if God just showered me with so much love throughout the month that I couldn’t help but take it in. She, more than many, knows my long journey toward greater integration as an Enneagram Two, an important part of which has been God’s gentle process of helping me learn how to receive. As I shared a bit more, she said it sounded like I had spent the month marinating in love and that my heart had become deliciously tenderized! Of course she then asked me to expound upon this.

 

I happily responded with various excerpts from the month, one of which related to a joint 60th birthday celebration I enjoyed with four of my closest friends from high school. All but one of us live in the Twin Cities and the one who lives out of town was planning a visit, so we decided we’d craft a wonderful weekend of merry making. Shortly after we finalized our plans, I woke up one morning–which is often when God speaks most clearly to me, before my own wheels get turning– with the realization that we hadn’t planned anything for Saturday morning. I immediately had the distinct sense that it would be my joy to share part of who I am and the work I do with these dear friends by offering to do a small retreat at my church. None of them attended church regularly and none of them had ever attended a retreat, but that didn’t deter me. At the same time, I didn’t want to overwhelm them so I went to my computer and emailed them the idea I had been given of gathering that Saturday morning for a mini-retreat entitled Sixty Minutes on Turning Sixty. To my surprise, within a very short time, they had all responded with a resounding “Yes!”

 

It was this amazing experience (which lasted well over an hour!) that I was enthusiastically sharing with my director when she offered a deeply meaningful observation. In essence, she said that beyond the wonderful details of the retreat, she noticed that I became quite “loud”, animated, and enthusiastic as I described this experience and that she rarely observed me being “loud.” I, too, had noticed this and felt quite sheepish as she was pointing it out.  She went on to surprise me with a question about whether this being “loud,” or giving full voice to something, might be a clue for me as to when I am living out of my true, God-given, and most authentic self.

 

Her question served to help me connect with another powerful experience I’d had the previous Sunday in church where our pastor was preaching on the Blind Bartimaeus passage from Mark. There are a handful of Scripture passages in this last year that continue to call to me and this is one of them. Each time I sit with it, I usually find myself in tears, in awe, and aware of some new perspective. Early on I gave much prayerful consideration to the places in my life where I felt sidelined, blind. Later, I was struck by the fact that, just moments after the crowd had attempted to quiet Bartimaeus, Jesus involves those very same people in calling Bartimaeus forward, though Jesus could have easily called him forward himself. That caused me to think about the importance of community in my life and how critical it is to discern which voices are truly for me and which are not. I’ve also devoted much thought and prayer to exactly what cloaks I have worn in my life, what they have signified, and what it has meant for me to throw them aside. Of course, with each reading, I continue to sit with and deepen my response to the ultimate question Jesus asks: “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

Well aware that there were still several parts of this passage to which I had not yet given careful attention, I was interested in hearing it again to see what God might stir in me this time. Much to my surprise, nothing I would have expected spoke to me, but instead a small part of the passage I had never really noticed before. “Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” There it was, an invitation to deeper healing, and it involved someone being “loud!”

 

Raised to respect all authority, to be a rule follower, to be compliant, to not rock the boat, and quite a pleaser and a first rate accommodator in my own right, I saw in a new way how susceptible I have been to the voices of the crowd in my life, be they the voices of parents, family, teachers, friends, or employers, well intended or otherwise. Far more than I would care to admit or even realized, these voices have frequently been more of my God than God. So when I step into this Scripture passage, right into the cloak of Bartimaeus, and I hear that Jesus is passing by, I, too, begin by shouting with all my might: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” But that is where the similarity can too easily end for me. When the crowd rebukes me and tells me to be quiet, I have too often either acquiesced or simply silenced myself with these types of thoughts: they must know more than I do; I shouldn’t upset him; maybe I don’t understand this as clearly as she does; this is probably not worth it; I don’t want them to feel badly; maybe I didn’t really feel or sense what I thought I did; good Christians wouldn’t cause a disruption…..

 

Bartimaeus challenges this thinking when, in the face of rebuke, he shouts all the more loudly. My spiritual director challenges this thinking when she asks me to consider the connection between a God-inspired idea, my delight in bringing it to be, and my loud declaration of its goodness. For me, then, there seems to be an invitation to learn what it means to be “loud” in my pursuit of Jesus, not allowing anything to stand between us; and what it means to joyfully declare the good works He does in and through me.

 

Gracious and loving God, help me to learn how to flex a new muscle, to cast off all that hinders me from drawing closer to you, to be loud in my listening for and pursuit of you. Amen.

 

 

Questions for Reflection

~As you reflect on your pursuit of and response to Jesus, where have you allowed yourself to be quieted and why?

~Have you been quieted more by the voices of others or by your own internal voice? What more do you need to be aware of about this?

~Around what issue or experience are you being invited to cry out more loudly?

~What are the risks and hopes you have in doing this?

 

 

Warm greetings! I am Tracy Mooty, lover of Divine Mystery, my family, our pups, and dear friends. I am one who enjoys listening intently, making meaning, and deepening my capacity for joy. Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago, and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure! Thank you, Janet!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Celebration

 

As a gift to myself for my upcoming sixtieth birthday, I signed up for a writing retreat in northern Minnesota.  I have always loved to write; in fact, I’ve lived much of my life with pencil in hand.  I’ve written journal entries, letters, papers, prayers, poems, retreats, and eulogies.  Writing has long been my way of making sense of my life, but with little formal training, I thought this might be a wonderful time to learn more.

 

Though the writing portions of this retreat were mostly helpful and engaging, what I soon learned is that God wanted to use these four threshold days before my birthday to nourish me in mind, body, and spirit, to offer me time to remember what is important and to put my precious life in perspective.

 

My room, partly underground, was like a small, pine planter box that readily became my haven.  Its simplicity, with space enough for bed, desk, chair, and sink, graciously kept my focus on rest and the germinating seeds of my writing.  I spent many hours there feeling safe and held.

 

We began and ended each day in the chapel for twenty minutes of silent meditation.  One flame on a center table served as the orienting point for those who gathered.  Each morning I opened my spirit with a resounding “Yes” to whatever the day might hold, and each evening I invited my spirit to close the day with a resounding “Thank You” for what had been.

 

Mealtimes were sacred events.  We would begin with a prayer or blessing, sometimes spoken, sometimes sung, always thanking God for our sustenance.  The host for each meal would then give a detailed description of the meal that had been carefully prepared including the intention behind the menu and the source of the various foods.  Loving attention had been paid to every detail.

 

 

I took a long four-mile walk every day either on the road past the open fields or through the woods.  Using a wonderful healing prayer I learned from Father Matt Linn, for the first mile, I would take all that was heavy in my heart and lift it up to God; for the second mile, I would open myself to all the love and light God wanted to pour into my open hands; for the third mile, I would wrap myself from head to toe in the light and love I received; and for the fourth mile, from the abundance I had been given, I would ask God to show me for this day all the ways I could share this light and love with others in my life.

 

One day as I returned from my walk and came up the long driveway to the turnaround, I was greeted by a pile of stones or a cairn, created by one of the retreatants.  Of all the writing prompts thus far, this visual evoked the most interest in me.  As I sat there for much of the afternoon, I was first reminded of how cairns were used in Biblical times as a sign or memorial of what God had done.  I was then led to see the cairn before me in a similar way, as a marker of God’s handiwork in the six decades of my life.

IMG_3784

…………………….

 

Landmark

 

I can see now

how each stone

has been carefully

lovingly placed

decade upon decade

 

First wonder, stable and round,

the delight of discovery

 

Followed by angst, edgy and lopsided,

the uncertainty of belonging

 

 

Next focus, polished and sharp,

the vitality of contribution

 

Then connection, smooth and wide,

the power of love

 

And purpose, deep and textured,

the gift of life

 

Onto change, narrow and worn,

the impact of transition

 

I pause here

to remember, to give thanks

for the years of light and shadow

that have brought me here

all necessary in their own way

to the overall creation

 

Whatever the story and shape

of this next stone

I claim my intention

to savor what has been

to celebrate what is

to embrace what will be

and to trust, to trust

this foundation upon which

I am being formed

 

 

…………………….

 

For place, for prayer, for provision, for people, for perspective,

I give thanks.  Amen.

IMG_3784

 

Reflection Questions

 

~What elements of your life does God want you to notice, to appreciate?

 

~How would you describe each of the decades of your life thus far?

 

~What about your life are you being invited to see from God’s perspective?

 

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Hope In Hospice

 

As I write, my father in law’s long and wonderful life is drawing to a close. Thankfully, he is in a residential hospice just blocks from our home. My story of hope is about his graced journey.

 

Dad is the benevolent and well-loved patriarch of a large, blended family with five children, sixteen grandchildren, and fourteen great grandchildren.   He is also the most accomplished person I’ve ever known. He is a pillar in the Twin Cities legal, business, and educational communities, deeply respected and admired by all who have had the pleasure of working with him. He recently celebrated his 70th year of legal practice. In every positive sense of the word, he is a legend.

 

Having experienced nearly perfect health his entire life, Dad began noticing some abdominal discomfort in the late summer. Though not feeling very well, he attended our youngest daughter’s wedding at the end of September where he joined together with her fiance’s grandfather to give the final blessing at the end of their ceremony. What a high and holy occasion that was! Shortly thereafter, Dad learned he had pancreatic cancer. By Christmas, and having tried several chemotherapy treatments, Dad’s body was in great distress. After several trips to the emergency room and an extended hospital stay, Dad chose to discontinue chemotherapy and begin hospice care.

 

For many, this decision can be too frightening and can even signal a giving up, a defeat, a sure sign that all hope is lost. While I can understand, from one perspective, how these conclusions could be drawn, I have found this experience of accepting and preparing for the inevitability of death to actually be a fulfillment of the hopes that many of us, anticipating similar circumstances, might voice.

 

~The hope of having time and space to prepare to meet God:

Dad’s well-worn Bible is always at hand and he would spend many quiet moments communing with his God. Though he has read it cover to cover many times in his life, he wanted to work through some remaining questions he’s had and to discuss those with his family, his pastor and the visiting chaplain. Now that he is bed ridden, he asks family members to read Scripture to him. All who have had this privilege have been blessed with great comfort and peace.

 

 

~The hope of being able to bring a gentle and loving closure to family relationships:

Since his arrival in hospice last January, Dad has probably been visited by at least one of his adult children every day. Together they have shared laughter, tears, meals, memories, hand massages, spoken and written expressions of love, and quiet moments of being. A special gift has been the weekly Face Time calls between Dad at hospice and Mom at a different care facility. Though not very familiar with this newer technology and grateful to family for assistance, they have been overjoyed at the opportunity to spend sweet time together affirming their lasting love.

 

~The hope of leaving a lasting legacy:

Because of who he is and how he has lived his life, Dad is both deeply loved and highly respected by his grandchildren. Thanks to the creativity and foresight of his sons, Dad had the opportunity to be filmed with the various family groups of grandchildren as they each asked him what they deemed to be three important questions about his life. Not only was this experience deeply impactful for all involved, but this keepsake will also be a treasured gift for generations to come.

 

~The hope that this life mattered:

From the beginning, Dad has welcomed an ongoing stream of family members, friends, and business associates who have come to express their love, respect and appreciation for him and he too has been able to express these same things in return. Through these visits, he has had the privilege of hearing his own living eulogy and thereby has had the significance of his life confirmed and celebrated.

 

~The hope of leaving affairs in order:

Each week, Dad has taken the next steps in getting the myriad of practical details from his far-reaching life brought into a manageable semblance of order. He also wanted to participate in conversations about his funeral arrangements. It is clear that his greatest motivation in doing this is to leave those who follow as well informed and organized as possible.

 

~The hope of reunion:

Throughout his hospice stay, Dad has stayed in a cozy bedroom with lovely windows. Two of his most prized possessions are framed photographs, one of his beloved first wife, the other of his dear parents. While many special moments of connection have happened in hospice, the one that seems most holy to him is when the sun streams through the window and falls directly on these loved ones. No matter how tough the day, Dad sees this as an encouraging sign from above and he lights up too with the hope of seeing them someday soon.

 

With likely a few days left at most, we are all gathered around, some in person, some in spirit, praising God for this hopeful experience and waiting for the time when that heavenly sunbeam lands on Dad to take him home.

 

Ready

 

The springtime symbol

of chrysalis

graces my thoughts

as you lay dying

 

Such a vital and long life

you lived, to the full

until your body signaled

the time to let go

 

As in life, you have given

your all to this process

cherishing every connection

arranging every detail

 

But now you are turning

turning inward, onward

and soon death will gently

wrap you in its embrace

 

Let me remember

while it may appear

that all I’ve known of you

is no longer

 

Just beyond my seeing

but well within my knowing

you are being readied

for flight, for your risen life.

 

 

Postscript

Just a few days after this was written, on the very day that I was going to send this essay to Janet, Dad broke forth from the chrysalis of this life and rose to eternal life. My husband and I and a few other family members were fortunate to be with him and to cheer him on as he took flight.

 

A few days earlier, as our daughter was putting our two and a half year old grandson to bed, he was saying his prayers. When our daughter explained that Grandpa John was going to be leaving soon for heaven, her son commented on how very special he thought that was. He went on to say with certainty, as one so fresh from God himself, that Grandpa John was going to get a sticker when he arrived, followed by a haircut. He was then going to be doing lots and lots of somersaults. May it be so!

 

 

 

Reflection Questions

 

~How is it for you to think about hope and the experience of dying?

 

~What hopes do you have for yourself or a loved one at the end of life?

 

~What symbols bring you comfort as you think about death?

 

 

Warm greetings! I am Tracy Mooty and the consistent theme woven through my life is soul care. I’ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups! We’re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every card and board game. Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago, and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Words

 

In my opening essay, I mentioned my desire to speak from my lived experience to Janet€’s themes of beauty, hope, and healing and began last month with beauty.  This month, I would like to share a story about healing and how, through God’€™s boundless grace, I was surprised by a very deep healing at a time and in a way that I would never have imagined possible.

 

My story of healing involves my father.  With depression as his nearly constant companion for most of my life, my father, large in stature and quick tempered, was a man of few words.  Because he had more than he could handle just surviving day to day in the world of commercial banking, there was little left of him when he came home at night.  Quite unaware of the real challenges he faced, my sister and I, in being our mostly exuberant, silly, chatty, and noisy childhood selves, would be constantly reminded by our mother that we needed to find a way to contain ourselves because our father needed to rest.  As he frequently sought refuge in his bed and books, the back of his head became almost more familiar to me than his face.

 

Though my sister and I tried in various ways through the years to find and maintain a more positive connection with him, we were mostly unsuccessful.  His pattern of withdrawal persisted.  Upon his retirement, sleep became his most welcomed friend.  Though he would wake and come to the table for meals, he would soon quickly and quietly excuse himself and retreat to his room.  When the demon of dementia consumed what was left of him in his early eighties, the few words he had used were taken from him, leaving me with the jarring awareness that my hope for some semblance of a relationship with him had disappeared with his speech.

 

One morning, as I quickly readied myself for the heartbreaking time we would spend together at the eye doctor€’s office that day, I felt what I have come to refer to as a God nudge when I applied my hand lotion.  It was if I heard the instruction, €”Take that lotion with you!”€  Bewildered, but too consumed by the clock to engage in any further analysis, I threw the little tube in my coat pocket.

 

What was supposed to have been a fairly straight-forward and brief visit with the doctor turned into quite an ordeal due to an unexpected and significant delay in his schedule.  An hour into our wait, as I shifted in my seat, I became aware of the lotion in my pocket.  I felt both confused and reluctant.  In his prime, my father had been a large, intimidating figure who took his roles as authority figure and disciplinarian in our family very seriously.  If words had been few between us, any sort of nurturing physical contact was almost unheard of.  Why would I think anything could change now?

 

Still, compelled by the God nudge and longing, always, for any possible form of connection, I haltingly asked my father if he might like a hand massage.  At this point in my adult life I had experienced the privilege of serving as a hospice volunteer and had witnessed the calming effects that hand massage had on many patients.  Before I could even begin the process of reaching out into the air between us to frantically retrieve those words, to get that question safely back into my mouth where my frightened self was sure it belonged, my father offered me both an affirming nod and his hand as well.

 

In that moment, I realized that while the dementia had seemingly taken that for which I had long hoped, it had also graciously dissolved many of the other barriers that existed between us.  Just to hold my father’€™s hand in such a tender way brought a flood of emotion I simply couldn’€™t nor did I even attempt to contain.  Any concern about the time evaporated as I focused instead on feeling the warmth of his hand in mine, sensing the pulse coursing through his veins, and studying his life as it was expressed in the shape, the texture, the lines, and markings of his hands.  Soon, not just my father, but the two of us together, were joined in a place of calm connection we had never known.

 

From that day on, I had lotion in my pocket at all times.  It helped ease long waits in medical offices; it reduced anxiety in unfamiliar settings; it brought peace and comfort during times of transition; and most importantly, it provided many opportunities for healing between us in the sacred space I never knew existed beyond words.

 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”€

Eph 3: 20-21

 

Questions for Reflection

~What person or situation in your life seems beyond your (and maybe even God’€™s) reach?

 

~How is this for you?  How might you share these feelings and fears with God?

 

~What about the idea of a God nudge resonates with you?

 

~How might you open yourself to the possibility of a God nudge in your specific circumstance?

 

Warm greetings!  I’€™m Tracy Mooty and the consistent thread woven through my life is soul care.  I’€™ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups.  We’€™re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every card and board game!  Janet and I first met at Colonial years ago and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’€™ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats.  She’€™s also the reason I’€™ve entered into this adventure!

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

MOVING

In accepting Janet’s gracious invitation to be a guest writer for her blog, I wanted to remember what she had named as her original intention for her web site. As my search unfolded, the phrase that captured my attention was the one that described her desire to create an oasis of “beauty, hope, and healing.” I immediately felt drawn to the possibility of speaking into these themes from my own lived experience. So, I here begin with a story about beauty and have included a picture of myself (see photo at end of story). While I understand how this pairing likely appears quite presumptuous, please allow me to explain.

 

For better and for worse, I arrived in this world a highly sensitive, largely introverted caregiver and not surprisingly found myself growing up in a family that seemed to need a lot of what I had to offer. Hardwired to fix and to please, I mostly unknowingly functioned from the sole motivation of trying to heal all the hurt I sensed around me. (In later years, I often thought the perfect epitaph on my headstone would read “Died Trying.”) While most of the behaviors this purpose fostered were applauded, like getting top grades, assuming positions of leadership, etc., some of the other behaviors, the self-abandonment, the perfectionism, the anxiety, weren’t quite so positive. In essence, these more challenging parts of myself have comprised what I have gradually and affectionately come to understand as my “life work.”

 

Early on, my grand plan, and as you might imagine I often had one, was to approach this desired work intentionally and gradually over time through periodic workshops, visits with a trusted counselor, and much later on, in ongoing conversation with God and meaningful engagement with my spiritual director. That plan was gaining momentum as I left college for the world of work and was in forward motion as I married and later left the world of work to raise our three daughters.  As is often the case in my life, my well-laid plans don’t always yield the hoped for results in the desired timeframe. Another plan was yet to unfold, a series of events actually, that I have come to call my ten-year tsunami. In those ten years, my one sibling and I moved our parents from their home of 35 years into assisted living, companioned them daily as they faced the ravages of advanced age, and celebrated their lives when they died within six months of each other. At the same time, my husband and I helped send our three daughters across the country to college. Shortly after they graduated, we helped plan each of their three weddings and offered our support as they all moved out of state.   We then welcomed three grandchildren. Finally, we decided to sell and move from our large family home and build the home where we now reside.

 

I fully realize that for many people, perhaps most, this is merely the stuff of life and nothing whatsoever to come undone about. I, on the other hand, who was often referred to by my lifelong friend as a “bag of nerves” and who frequently observed myself, in trying so hard, as someone who could wring the joy out of absolutely anything, was all but undone. For me, and I was able to see this most clearly in retrospect, this was my refining fire. Given how I am wired and with what felt like so much life coming at me, I could hardly see straight let alone maintain any semblance of balance or health. My default response of rising to the demands of life in white-knuckle fashion and running as fast and trying as hard as I could until everything was seemingly taken care of was no longer working. It eventually became apparent to me that if I had any hope of surviving, God was going to have to help me change my long held ways. That thought, on top of everything else that needed doing, somewhat comforted but mostly overwhelmed me.

 

Thankfully, the phrase God began gently whispering to my soul was “in the midst.” As I cleared interior space for this idea to more fully unfold, a few things became clear. I could no longer wait until the demands of life ceased, to begin taking care of myself. While I didn’t have control over much of what was happening in those years, I did have control over how I would respond.   Making sure that my core habits of praying, eating, sleeping, and exercising were in place was mine to control. At this same time, a dear friend suggested that I consider asking myself on a daily basis, “What is my part to do? In other words, where is God, where are others? As unbelievable as this might sound, I had always simply taken on as much or more than I could, so the idea of a part presented a whole new perspective. I also began to understand at a far deeper level the statement my spiritual director frequently made, albeit with great love and gentle humor: “Tracy, there is a God, and you’re not it!”

 

As I further opened myself to the idea of a new way of being in the world, I was deeply moved by the divine guidance I continued to receive. It was actually about two years before the close of this ten-year tsunami that I was celebrating a birthday and also well into the seemingly unending sifting and sorting that accompany a downsizing move. I was bringing order to my external world, so why not my internal one as well. I decided to make a list of all the ways God was encouraging me to reshape my being and doing. I wanted to name and claim these emerging awarenesses and then, in time, secure them to one of the main doorways in our home as a daily reminder. On my birthday, I invited Janet to join me in front of our home, still much under construction, as I proclaimed before God and her the learnings I was beginning to gather from my tsunami, those things God was inviting me to bless and release and those God was inviting me to claim and embrace. This ritual was deeply meaningful and invigorating. Unfortunately, in the process of moving, the list was inadvertently misplaced and assumed lost.

 

Just recently and again in what seemed to be God’s perfect timing, as I looked for something else, I happened upon this list. What a welcomed reunion and what an impactful surprise to recognize all the important growth and movement that had occurred in my life. My precious proclamation reads: release a life of overwhelm with few limits and boundaries and claim a life with healthy limits and gracious margin; release a life of self-abandonment and embrace a life of self-compassion; release the desire to be enough and embrace the desire to be whole; release a life of compulsive giving and helping and embrace a life of balanced giving and grateful receiving; release a life filled with obligation and embrace a life of celebration; release a life of being stuck in anxiety and embrace a life in the flow of creativity; release the tendency to please and embrace the desire to be authentic; release the need to control and embrace the capacity to accept; release the burdened adult and embrace the playful child!!!

 

As only God could orchestrate, New Year’s Eve was a day away and 2015 would mark the year of a brand new decade for me, the big 6-0! Our home happens to be on a small lake and one evening some kind neighbor went out with his snow blower well past my bedtime and created a path around the entire perimeter. The first thing that occurred to me when I awoke the next morning to see it is how much fun it would be to skate again after a mere thirty years. With our entire family home for the holidays, I asked if anyone might want to make a trip to Play It Again Sports. Many of us piled in the car and “Dita” (what my grandchildren call me) and a few others returned with skates. Just as the sun was setting on New Year’s Eve, our youngest daughter and I sat on our dock, laced up our skates, and, haltingly at first and then quite gracefully and very joyfully, glided around the lake. This convergence of breathtaking soul growth, courageous body engagement, and glorious life timing was an exquisite gift, a true turning point for me. With each stride, I felt lighter, freer, more invigorated, more excited to embrace the beauty that is my life.

 

………………………………………………………….

 

In writing this piece, I became aware of my natural inclination, when reflecting on beauty, to look for and see beauty in others, in the natural world, in art, in dance, in the phrasing of music or written word, but rarely in myself. This is especially so when I wrestle alone with all of my shortcomings. I was then reminded of the following gloriously powerful message:

 

Woman Un-Bent

By Irene Zimmerman

 

That Sabbath day as always

she went to the synagogue

and took the place assigned her

right behind the grill where,

the elders had concurred,

she would block no one’s view,

she could lean her heavy head,

and (though this was not said)

she’d give a good example to

the ones who stood behind her.

 

That day, intent as always

on the Word (for eighteen years

she’d listened thus), she heard

Authority when Jesus spoke.

 

Though long stripped

of forwardness,

she came forward, nonetheless,

when Jesus summoned her.

 

“Woman, you are free

of your infirmity,” he said.

 

The leader of the synagogue

worked himself into a sweat

as he tried to bend the Sabbath

and the woman back in place.

 

But she stood up straight and let

God’s glory touch her face.

 

 

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

~How might you relate to the experience of a life tsunami or refining fire?

~What fruits were born from your experience of this?

~How has God been whispering to you, calling you forward?

~What points might you want to include in your own proclamation of growth?

~What are the ways you see and celebrate beauty in your precious life?

 

 

Warm greetings! I’m Tracy Mooty and the consistent thread woven through my nearly sixty years of life is soul care. I’ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband of 32 years, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups. We’re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every board and card game! Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago and thanks to her mostly gentle prodding we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of retreats and programs. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure. J

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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