Posts Tagged ‘Mother’s Plunge’

The angel of Assisi

June 16th, 2009    -    24 Comments


Here’s a little story about spiritual pilgrimage for those of you who are traveling to my city of angels this weekend for the Mother’s Plunge – and those of you who aren’t. The extraordinary response to the first splash has me planning a countrywide tour of backward steps. Where should I bring the retreat next? Minnesota? Arizona? Kansas? Tell me.

Even the man at Marshall Field’s who had sold me the yellow travel umbrella had said it: “You must go to Assisi.”

Everyone, it seemed, had said it – You must go to Assisi! – and so the fifth day of a solo trip to Italy became the day for me to go the distance. It would require a car, which I obtained from a rental agency a few blocks from my hotel in Florence. It would require getting out of town, which I accomplished with an angel on the dashboard. And it would require a couple hours’ drive south on the Autostrada, which I high-tailed in the slipstream of the surging traffic.

“You will see it on the hill,” another advisor had told me rapturously. And I did, in a purple haze of trees and tile and imagination. I steered my little vehicle onward in the soldierly direction, ascending the hill and circling the top, passing the marked parking lots with all the beached buses, inching slowly alongside the streams of tourists who had come for the St. Francis experience, motoring up the wrong streets and down again until I mustered my purpose and pulled over on a narrow hillside shoulder. I angled in among the other likeminded pilgrims who were committing, I hoped, the pardonable sin of illegal parking.

I strode upward to the Basilica de San Francisco. It was big, too big, outsized for its namesake, and oddly uninspiring, I thought. Inside to more frescoes, more pews, more people, and decidedly more organization than in the other sacred spots I’d stopped. This, I could see, was a system.

I headed down into the crypts containing St. Francis’ tomb and there uncovered the day’s only treasure. “Scusa, scusa,” the ushers whispered to those, like me, who had barged in to bystand at the wedding ceremony underway in the underground chapel. I lingered in the shadows at the rear, charmed by the elaborate smallness of it. A local couple surrounded by local people, wearing uncomfortable new clothes for the biggest event of their lives.

Leaving, I wandered the winding medieval village. The heat had turned the streets into baking stones.

“You will feel it in the air,” another friend had confided. I felt stifling languor and epidemic disinterest. Wandering into an antique shop, my idle browsing did not disturb the mistress at the back watching American TV soap operas dubbed in Italian.

Then the divine message arrived.

Every place is holy.

It was my departing thought, a conclusion and a comfort, and I headed home, satisfied.

The company of mothers

May 31st, 2009    -    5 Comments


The author Mary the poet Jena the joyful Myriam the faithful Chris the teacher Melinda the peacemaker Janet the mystic Melissa the first responder Nancy the traveler Sheryl the actress Holly the educator Jen the yogi Jill the artist Stacy the columnist Anissa the graceful Kathleen the singer Francie the manager Jody the gardener Amy the athlete Brenda the doctor Cassandra the cheerful Blue the leader Liz the writers the healers the cooks the scientists the coaches the doctors the lawyers the nurses the musicians the songwriters the sandwich-makers the crying the smiling the laughing the sisters the daughters the grandmothers the aunts the mothers the non-mothers the you that you haven’t yet met, just as you are.

Sixty women full of grace coming together at the Mother’s Summer Plunge on Saturday, June 20. The possibilities remain wide open, but registration closes this week. There is room for you; there will always be room for you and time for you in the company of mothers.

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The backward step

May 26th, 2009    -    3 Comments


Take the backward step and turn the light inward. – Dogen Zenji

re•treat
1: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable; the process of receding from a position or state attained
2: a place of privacy or safety: refuge
3: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction

Someone asked me to write about how to prepare to go on a meditation retreat. This is a good topic, since the matter of preparation is what often keeps us from going on retreat, whether it is for one day or 100 days.

How do you know if you are prepared to handle the silence, the physical rigors, the discipline, and the mental intensity of a prolonged meditation retreat?

Relax. You can’t know. You don’t need to know. There is no way to prepare. The very notion of preparation traps us in false expectation and self-evaluation. It shows us how often we are paralyzed by the feeling of inadequacy in our lives. We are never inadequate but we are immobilized just the same.

Continue reading and leave a comment to continue
the conversation on “The Laundry Line”
my new blog on Shambhala SunSpace

Take the forward step now. Register this week and you won’t miss the extraordinary company of 45 ordinary women all taking the backward step into an oasis of deep wisdom and empathy at the one day Mother’s Summer Plunge coming up on June 20.

My mother, my hero, my mountain

May 3rd, 2009    -    6 Comments


Heroic is she who stays even when she wants to run away,
sits and watches as the sky darkens and falls all around,

who cries, can track the patterns of loss and find
the truth like a birthmark of her own making,

who speaks when to speak is to risk everything
and is silent when to be silent is to protest

all the noise that drowns out the quiet hum of the love.

Heroic is she who waits, wading through impatience, willing to sit with rage, irritability, fear, annoyance –
all the makeshift states of the restless mind,

feeds the raucous morning birds whose song refuses silence,
abandons the stories that speed by like traffic going nowhere fast.

Heroic is the one who stays, even as the sky darkens and falls,
and finds herself in a pool of apple blossoms
after a hard rain.

Jena Strong

She is strong. She is soft. She is always.

She is Kuan Yin, Kanzeon, Tara born of tears, Mary mother of sorrows, Shakti, the great divine mother.

She is every mother.

She is the mother mountain, which is the very mountain of your heart.

See her for yourself when you come next month, or when you stay this week in honor of our mighty, heroic, eternal, compassionate mother selves.

I’m not afraid to keep company with tears and tissue. Just look who’s here with me.

The perfect I-don’t-want-to-be-the-Mother-day gift

April 19th, 2009    -    8 Comments


When talk turns to Mother’s Day, I get a wobbly tummy. I’ve always been remembered nicely, but I’d really rather be forgotten totally.

And although I’m often ignored around here, I’m hardly ever completely overlooked.

When my husband spends $75 for a bouquet of flowers, I inhale deeply, and then I just about wilt. Because what I really want for Mother’s Day is a day when I don’t have to be the Mother.

That’s why the Momma Zen Mother’s Day Gift Guide has just one thing on it: You. Coming here. For an I Don’t Have to Be the Mother Day. Surrounded by my very best friends and fellow mothers at the Mother’s Summer Plunge one-day retreat on Saturday, June 20.

Everything you’ll need to make it happen is right here.

I know, it can be hard to imagine your family getting by without you, but they probably won’t give you a single second thought.

Whether you are treating yourself by your presence or treating your family by your absence, it’s an all-around treat just the same. So sign up by May 31.

Use this downloadable gift certificate and tell your husband that this year’s Mother’s Day shopping is just how he likes it. Done.
Mothers Plunge Gift Certificate

When planets align

March 24th, 2009    -    3 Comments


Some of you are busy thinking about coming to the Mother’s Summer Plunge. I’m busy thinking about it too. I promise that I will soon stop all that needless air traffic. But for today, I’d like you to know that Southwest Airlines really is having a terrific sale on flights in and out of all the airports in Southern California. Click all the way through and see for yourself. Even on Friday flights, ahem.

Pluto has never been closer. Mickey too.

Pointing you in the right direction

March 22nd, 2009    -    8 Comments


Attention, please.

I’ve made a couple of additions to the right sidebar and I want you to poke around over there. That’s right, to the right. Down a little. Then further down. Right there.

First, you’ll see a link announcing my first-ever hosted retreat, a one-day summer camp I call Mother’s Summer Plunge. This is a big step for me right off the deep end. A test of my faith and dog paddling skills. But after being asked the question many times, I decided to change my answer to “Why not?” (Some of you know that it’s my favorite question, I mean answer, I mean the question that is its own answer.) The retreat is on Saturday, June 20, a date I selected because it was staring me in the face, and because it is my mother’s birthday. And if the first thing you think is, “I can’t come,” because like most things it isn’t reasonable or feasible or some such, I want you to notice that you think like that and not think like that anymore. There! You’ve put your toe in already!

Farther down, after the book order advert, you’ll see I’m asking for you to plug your email into a newsletter list I’m putting together. The thing is, when you get into the retreat business and other assorted unreasonable and unfeasible activities it can be handy to have a list of all the people you want to invite to a birthday party in honor of your mother. Please enter yourself! I promise I won’t abuse the info. In exchange for your trouble you won’t just have to put up with me reading your mind, whispering in your ear, visiting you in your dreams or collecting dust on your bedstand, you’ll have to fish me out of your junk mail!

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