weareallpilgrims

Camino de Santiago

Month: February, 2017

Love Is An Open Door

frozen-elsa-and-anna

As I mentioned to you in a post recently, my granddaughter, Katherine, has fallen in love with the movie “Frozen”. She loves the music from the movie and one of the songs she has me play for her, often, is called “Love Is An Open Door”. This song titled got me to thinking about the truth of this simple phrase and how important it is to be incorporated into our thinking and how we live our lives.

At Boeing, I was a first line manager, for quite a bit of career. One thing I really strove to live out was to have an “open door” policy (though for many years of my life as a manager I did not have an actual door to my office). The idea of an “open door”, though, remains the same regardless. Those that worked for me, always felt welcome to come in and talk to me. I truly tried hard to remain open to them. To “love” them by making it a priority to hear them (reference my last blog article). It was not easy to keep this policy at times but I can say I honestly tried to do this to the best I could.

One thing about walking the Camino, is the close quarters you often find yourself when you stay in the Albergues.  You are all in the same situation. You are all very tired and all you are looking for is a shower, some food and a good night’s rest. You let your hair down. You open yourself up and you just share your lives and times together. You keep an “open door” to others.

This principle of being open to others is truly an expression of “love”. How can we love others if our door is shut? How can we love others if our fears are driving us to the point where “we are not thinking straight”, are we not we “shutting the door of our mind” in this situation too? How can I love my family when my doors is closed to them because I am too busy to even truly listen to them? How can I love my country, if my head is filled with fears (anger, anxiety, hate) and I shut my door to anyone I don’t agree with? How will I ever understand those I do not agree with if I don’t open the door to at least try and understand what they are feeling and thinking at a deeper level? This is hard stuff. I am not saying it is easy in anyway but to really love others is not a feeling it is an action and it not easy to do in all situations.

I read about a survey that has been conducted every year for the last decade in America to measure our stress (think fears). This past January it took a significant statistical jump up from the slow decline it has seen since it was started in 2007. We are in a stressful time and there is a lot of fear but I say let’s not let those fear rule our lives.

To love means to be “available and ready to hear” others and this is not always easy to do as we find our minds filled with fears and we want to run away (distract ourselves) or fight (be angry and filled with hate at others we find we do not like).

Let’s keep the doors of love open!

Blessings and all good,

John

Photograph of the Week

The Balsamroot Speaks

I thought with Spring just around the corner I would put up a Spring flower photo up to get us in the mood for Spring. A great Spring hike is Icicle Ridge over near Leavenworth.

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To Hear Someone

listeningThe Hebrew word for “Hear”, is “Shema”, it means something different than our English translation of the word. In Hebrew the word, “Hear”, it means something more like “doing”. It is a more active than to just hear someone. Hearing means doing.

This I found interesting and lead me to think how often I really don’t “hear” well. I am not very good at really “hearing someone”. You see by the Hebrew translation, it is something more active. It is doing.

To be a good listener is really does take action/doing something. It is not just hearing words but it is putting oneself into a doing/action position. First, I think it is important to take the effort to look at the person that it is talking to you. To turn and look them in the eye. To put down what you looking at and actually turn look at someone directly.

The next part of being a good listener is really hard, it is another action/doing step, it is setting aside my agenda or formulating my response as I am listening. It is a focusing action. To  focus on the person. To just simply, listen without judgemental thoughts. This is really quite difficult if we already have found that this person is someone we are in disagreement with.

The other important part of being a good listener is be actively involved and curious to understand each person’s situation. The action of being a curious listener, actively interested in trying to understand the other person, takes real effort.

I have been thinking about the issue of being a good listener. As a nation, I think we could do a lot better than we are doing right now. One way for us to draw closer together as a nation I believe is for us to begin to practice being better listeners. To actively try “to hear” each other.

One of the things that walking the  Camino did was it really “level set” us all to a similar situation. We were all doing the same routine each day, day after day. We could easily relate to each other’s situation. It was easier to relate and to “hear” each other.

I am working hard these days to be a better listener, to really hear someone. I dare say it is something we all could do better.

Blessings and all good,

John

Photograph of the Week

Stilly Winter Landscape

I posted this image this past week on my Blue Skies Facebook page but thought it would be good for others that are not on Facebook to see it as well.

I love the Stillaguamish River and this winter I have had several opportunities to see in many different winter conditions. To make this final image I chose to use a number of creative techniques in the post processing but I think it really works well for this image.

 

 

The Music Of Heaven

sing-out-the-beauty-of-nature

“There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing” (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

As many of you may know, I have been singing in our Church choir now for a number of years. I love to sing, even though truth be told, I am not a very strong singer (I need lots of help around me to help me stay on tune). One thing I have learned about singing is how it makes me feel. I lifts me up and my soul seems to take flight. I have discovered that, if I only just read the words of the songs we sing at Church, it would not be nearly as powerful and life giving as when we sing them as a choir together. The music is what lifts and makes those words soar in my heart and lifts me to places I could never go without it.

This quote also got me thinking how this also applies as well to the “Music of Heaven” seen all around us in nature. I realized that how if one only spent their time looking at photographs of nature, there would be a very limited understanding of nature. I try very hard in my photography to convey the amazing beauty of nature to the reader of my photographs. I know that they do help bring folks closer to seeing the beauty of what I have seen but there really is no substitute than to actually personally experience that amazing sunrise or sunset. To be present in nature to its raw beauty is to “sing” out its beauty. It lifts you up and you feel it’s real raw power to heal us and renew us.

Recently I have taken to taking video of the scenes of nature, in addition to the photographs. It seems to me that the videos are getting one a tiny bit closer to the experience of immersion in nature but still there is really no substitute for being there. If we really want to our spirits to soar, we need to “sing” out the beauty of nature by being present with all our senses to its amazing beauty.

As I write the blog today, it has been snowing and there is a fair amount of snow now across the city, covering everything in a beautiful white coat. No need to get in a car and drive to the mountains today to “sing” out the music of heaven. It is right outside our doors. Go and immerse yourselves its beauty! Sing out!

Blessings and all good,

John

Photograph of the Week

Well, I decided to depart this week from a photograph only and will offer to you something that might be closer to “singing out” natures song. Here are a few videos I have taken this year from different trips to the mountains to experience the frozen beauty of the waterfalls of our region as well as a special winter getaway trip to warm and sunny Santa Barbara. I have added music that our Holy Rosary Edmonds Catholic Church choir sang back in June 2016 to this as well.

Enjoy and immerse yourselves!

Sing Out Nature’s Beauty