Acts of Labor: A New Year Dawns!

 The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life, the more you realize that how you use it, how you manifest it, is all your responsibility.  We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while.

– Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi

The burden which is well borne becomes light.


 It is Twelfth Night, the Twelfth Day of Christmas; tomorrow Epiphany begins.  Epiphany is a season in the Christian calendar that’s about proclaiming Good News (“Go Tell It on the Mountain”).  And there is good news to tell:  the Holy Child (cosmically and symbolically) arrived once more, the days are lengthening with the sun’s return, and we have moved beyond 2012, into the time beyond the Mayan Calendar.

The Sun, Guatemala City - 2011

A new year dawns!  And yet….

 In more than a few spiritual direction sessions this past week, I sat with clients who were expressing fatigue and fear toward all that needs to happen, seemingly all at once.  Can you relate to this?  2013 feels positively pregnant with importance – personal resolutions, community requests, brittle economies, work demands, business unfinished and choices to make, all of it is so important and it can feel so stress-fully pressing.


When? Where? (Lauren explores Tikal, Guatemala 2011)


The metaphor that keeps appearing for me is a birthing room.  And while I have never been the one physically birthing that fragile little one, who seeks freedom and liberation, I have certainly attended women in labor.  And all of us have been midwives for our own ideas and projects that so desperately wanted us to birth them into being.


Baby Sylas, 2007

And, OH!  Oh, what a sacred and focused effort birthing is!







This is the thrill, the blessing and the challenge of bearing our True Nature in the world.  So often, that which we most love and want to bring forth is accompanied by the fatigue and fear of uncertainty.  Think of it right now: that part of yourself that you wrestle with – perhaps you are ready to bear it for the very first time, or maybe, you’ve done it countless times before but, ever-reliably, it successfully still sets you SMACK on “your edge.”  And so, thrashing and obedient, enticed and terrified, we allow the contractions to happen.


Somewhere, in the excitement, in the urgency, in the discomfort of it all, the one who is laboring realizes that, in order to withstand what’s being asked of her and her body, she must find a pause, a still place to breathe…even as it is happening all around her.


She Who Waits (altar give-away, 2006)


And in my conversations this week, my clients and I spoke of this.  How will we remember the simple, radical act of inserting ourselves into the perceived quickening of this time?  Making real our True Nature, giving birth to ideas, to healing, to projects, is important.  And to do it well, with the care, wisdom and support of others that we so rightly deserve, invites us to do what midwives have instructed through the ages:  Exhale.  Soften.  Notice.


And then, right there, in the messy-middle of it all, the burden becomes light.   Joyful, reverent blessings to you in these first days…Happy 2013!


Rites of Spring Begin with “B”

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.

– Ranier Maria Rilke


Earlier this week, it happened; the sun and earth danced in such a way that, for equal portions of time, we knew light and dark.  And then, just as quickly, we were pushed beyond the balance into a new season –- for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Spring!


Spring Rites abound: birds returning, daffodils bravely pushing through cold, dark soil to reveal their strong, sensitive beauty, and of course “longer” days – the journey home from work includes appreciating the sunset, each one later than the evening before.


More personally, I noticed this week that my Rites of Spring Begin with “B” for Blessings:  Blessings for Boys, Birthing, Blogs, and Bees.  I’ll be Brief:

Isaac extends Blessings



  Blessing Boys – please enjoy my post on the Ritual I co-created with Joel and Jessica for their sons,    Isaac and Emmet;




Tristy & Justin Birth Anew


 Blessing Birthing – learn about the Ritual I co-created for Tristy and Justin, honoring their journey   from  unsuccessfully trying to make a baby to birthing new, child-free possibilities;




Blessing Blogs – when you read my blog it feels like a blessing! And, new this week, there’s a SUBSCRIBE feature, so you don’t have to miss any new posts!! Thank you, so much, for reading.


Blessings Bees – Ah, yes! Well, I don’t want to tell you everything all at once, so stay tuned for this story. Sneak preview? I bought a beekeeping suit yesterday. Buzzz, buzz…begins with “B.”


Happy Spring!!! Now stop reading this, Silly, and get out there to enjoy it…


Go Forth and Blossom...



Inciting Epiphanies

Hello, and welcome to Lauren’s Blog!

Yesterday was the Twelfth Day of Christmas, or Epiphany.  For Christians, Epiphany marks the day the Wise Men finally arrived, having followed a star, to behold theChristChild.   It is, in essence, a “making real” of the event.  After the rather homely beginning in a manger with shepherds and barn animals, and after the rest of us respond by staying home from work, singing “Silent Night,” and “Away in a Manger” lullabies, and celebrating with our loved ones, the Magi arrive and up the ante: “This baby is a big deal.  We need to protect him and there are repercussions for us all!”

It’s a good story on its own and symbolically, there’s a LOT here.  I am arriving in these first days of the New Year feeling so grateful for the ways Nature pointedly guides us through the final days of December – the DARKEST days of the year (Northern Hemisphere native, that I am) – and provides a transition plan so that we might receive the increasing length and brightness of the Sun (or Son) in the days to come.  I’m obviously not describing yuletide practices as instructed by mainstream media, but if you’re reading this, you’re likely not either.

In short, Epiphany seems to me a great season to go *live* with my blog.  This entry and the one before it (Dec. 31st) mark my own movement from 2011, through the Solstice, and into the beginning of a New Year.  I would be beyond pleased if even a morsel of something written here incites an epiphany for you, or someone, somewhere:

epiphany [ih-pif-uh-nee] 

1. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity;

2. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or
essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple,
homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

More importantly, as you live into these first days of 2012, may epiphanies happen!  Plain and simple.  May they happen within you, in the lives of those you care about, in the lives of those we do not know, in our communities and throughout the world.  A new day dawns….

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Acknowledgements: This blog has been loooong in coming.  I would be remiss if I didn’t offer gratitude to those who nudged and pushed me along in its creation: Dad-lee, T. Taylor, A. Brucker, M.M., CMK & the EOL community, C. Morris, “V.P.K.,” B. Arnall, Davemo, M. Abed, A. Lattanand, M. Himel, and the students at ChI.

Living Compassion, a homily

[This homily was offered at the inaugural (now monthly) service for The Interfaith Congregation for Healing and Creative Ministries]

Living Compassion

Happy Summer!  Right now, we are in the season of transformation.  In this time of long-lit days, cornstalks stretch high in the fields, grapes grow heavy & plentiful on the vine, and humans gather on porches and patios to tackle projects and share new ideas.  It is a time of empowerment and inter-relatedness, and I’ve been asked to share some thoughts about “Living Compassion.”

What do the World Religions say of Compassion?  Truly, the sources are many, but to keep this succinct, I’ll offer just a few:

Buddhism: “The Great Compassionate Heart is the essence of Buddhahood” (Gandavyuha Sutra)

Christianity: “…be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (1Peter3:8)

Judaism: “The world stands upon 3 things: upon the law, upon worship and upon showing kindness.” (Mishnah, Abot 1.2)

Sikhism: “Make your mosque of compassion, your prayer mat of sincerity.” (Adi Granth, Var Majh, M. 1, p. 40)

Chief Seattle, of theDuwamishNation: “Our God is the same God, whose compassion is equal for all.”

Are we getting this?  I imagine I’m quite literally preaching to the choir.  Fundamentally, we agree with these texts and teachers…

Hinduism: “When a person responds to the joys and sorrows of another as if they were his own, he has attained the highest state of spiritual union.” (BhagavadGita6:32)

And this experience of spiritual union, of inner peace, our True Nature – call it what you wish – is something for which I imagine we strive.  These sacred texts and plenty of other others reiterate what we might label as, “The Golden Rule,” and yet, for me when compassion is presented in this way, it’s just too theoretical.  The operative word here isn’t “compassion,” but “living!”  This implies active embodiment.  And since it’s all too easy to say and make plans about what I’m going to do the NEXT time I encounter another who deserves compassion, I want to invite us to live compassion in this moment, right now.

Place a hand on your heart, and call to mind a few activities that made up your day today. You may have been chipping away at a long-term goal.  You may have been addressing an immediate task.  First and foremost, did you bring compassion to yourself in this process?  Did you speak kindly to your perceived sense of being inadequate or failing?  Did you take the moment to celebrate an accomplishment, or to nurse a hurt feeling?  Did you firmly guide yourself away from self-destructive tendencies and back into the game when part of you rebelled, threw a tantrum, or gave up?  This is living compassion; in this way, our life becomes a sacred text for ourselves and in our relationships with others.  And it’s NOT simple!!! It demands vigilance, and tough love, and it’s essential in our pursuit of health, wholeness and peace.

To close, I want to draw upon the strengths of the season at hand.  Just a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the solstice, the longest day of the year.  Hafiz, the Sufi poet, reveres the sun thusly,

Even after all this time 
The sun never says to the earth, 
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with 
A love like that, 

It lights the Whole Sky!

Did you know that since it was born a star, our sun transforms 4 million tons of itself – every second – into light?[1]  No self-empowerment issues there!!!  And talk about inter-related!!?? This outpouring of sunlight creates the photosynthesis upon which our lungs and stomachs depend!

Like sunlight becoming the earth’s vitality, does our living compassion toward ourselves grow inter-relatedness with others and all of life?  I believe so…and I invite you to think about it.  As you go about your lives in the next days, notice what feels heavy in your heart.  What in this world brings fatigue that is yours to tend and transform?

May we set about to penetrate each moment of our lives with compassion.  And may we find therein wisdom enough, space enough and love enough to light the whole sky.  May it be so!

[1] Swimme, Brian.  The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story, pp. 40-42. Orbis Books, 1996.