We now have an established Lenten ritual: Winslow drops me off where the grass meets the beach in front of Gentlewood. How we greet one another is largely dictated by my mood. Today I smile, and after we share hellos, I stare at the water while she takes me in. She has no interest in my newly renovated home, that sits behind. Instead she quickly assesses me and smiles. Compassion first.
Mary, looking deeply into my eyes:
Let’s talk today about LOOKING.
She quickly turns on her feet to take in the view with me. I briefly wonder, does she ever wear shoes when she is with me?
I am so fortunate. The nature here is stunning.
It’s a perfect Spring day. No clouds, mild temps and I notice the many evergreen tops bent from the harsh winter windstorms.
Yes, it is inspiring to look at!
She turns to face the Path and we begin to walk.
When you look around yourself, what do you see?
I see calm waters. Nature dipping its toes into Spring. I see the Path. The pebbles, my feet.
(I look at Mary) I see your beautiful face.
We walk now at a slower pace which I really enjoy. I notice that Mary is holding a small piece of seagrass between her fingers. She looks ahead as she strokes the blades.
In the morning, do you look at yourself? In the mirror?
Well…sure. When I get ready to go out, I brush my hair and my teeth.
Do you? When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you look into your eyes?
Sally, I consider this a moment:
I glance, I suppose.
Yes, you glance. We’d like you to look into your eyes and really see yourself. When you look into your eyes, you are seeing into your own soul. It’s a remarkable thing.
When you honor yourself you bring your best to the world.
This is a solid concept. This was something to really chew on. A genuine self-compassion practice. I like it.
Afterwards, you look into your square. Or maybe a rectangle? I think of it as a square for some reason.
You mean my phone?
Yes! Your phone.
Well, yes, not right away but I do look at my phone as I begin to plan my day.
Yes, I understand. Where are you looking now?
The truth was I was trying to keep up with the conversational thread. Often, the Ascended Masters say things that contain several layers of meaning and I’m not sure which level to address. I learned it's easier to take things literally and assume the breadcrumbs are merely breadcrumbs. I stick with the obvious.
I’m looking ahead at the Path. The horizon.
I know you are a little tired today. (She pauses) The phone is about the schedule; it’s not about the Path. And sometimes the schedule isn’t even about you. It is a construct. When you look ahead it can be helpful. To be sure you are headed where you like but it says nothing about where you are. Or how you are.
When you look down, what do you see?
Pebbles, plants…my feet.
Yes, you see yourself. Are the pebbles small or large? Could you walk more on the sand?
There are times in your life when you need to walk on the larger stones, but in general, you will want to walk-to look where you want to walk-where it’s smoother. The Way isn’t meant to be a struggle. You must see and listen to your footsteps.
What do your footsteps tell you?
When you listen and look down-when you look at yourself-what do you see? This is the first question.
I admit it: I’m confused! The first question of what? And what does this have to do with Lent?!
The first question you ask to attain a vision. What do you see? Jesus had a vision. He led us with his vision. Looking ahead is about what you do. Looking at yourself, where you are at, is about who you are. Which leads to an important question:
How do you want to live?
In regards to what this has to do with Lent? You will see, Sally, you will see.
What I learned:
My focus has largely been on the path ahead as opposed to caring for myself first. If I am to walk the Path with a vision, to follow the Way, I need to consider my own being and face in the world.
When I am tired and/or confused, I must consider my ability to listen and look and adjust to a pace that is more self compassionate. I can walk slower.
What are you looking at these days during Lent? Do you look outward or inward?
When you consider a vision for yourself, does anything come to your mind or heart?