Peace for your Path...

"peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." (unknown) http://www.labyrinthwellness.com

Monday, November 12, 2012

Upromise | Make the Pledge

Upromise | Make the Pledge: I am making the pledge for my child to help fuel their dreams and teach them the importance of saving for college. I am joining the millions of families committed to collectively save a billion dollars for college through Upromise by Sallie Mae.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

last week's gift from the sea (for me)

This was the Earth Day 2012 story I wanted to share...

When I feel all out of sorts, I head for the beach. A long walk, all by myself, helps me to clear out the gunk in my brain. It took at least half an hour last week for me to even begin to get my breathing under control, 
I was wound so incredibly tight.

I saw a very unique coral-tipped shell moments after I vowed silently that this particular morning would not be a time of beach combing for sea glass or any of my other favorite treasures like heart stones or sea beans. 

No, this walk was all about listening to God. No silliness. No self-indulgence. Just hard, fast walking and deep, intentional listening. Though my iPhone was in my pocket, I promised myself I would not even take any photos.

Absolutely NO blogging!
(yeah, right)

And so, I kept on moving...



But soon I noticed more, and more and then still more of these pretty little shells all along the water's edge.


And finally, I could not take it one more moment. I just had to pick one up and hold it in my hand. And I found, it was not a shell at all, but rather a pink-tipped rose petal - just as soft and as delicate as could be.



And so, I told the Ocean, from the bottom of my heart:





"I thank you. I love you. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. And I will protect you."



And that was our newest beginning...



Sunday, April 22, 2012

reflections and regrets

Earth Day 2012 has been a rough one for me. I totally wish I could have a "do-over." Ugh...


Our next door neighbors, who we like very much, informed my husband this past Thursday that they are having the very lovely, very tall, very healthy tree removed from our shared courtyard because "it serves no purpose." Apparently, in their opinion, it is too tall to be seen out their window, and it is shedding unwanted leaves on their roof. If the tree were six inches more in the direction of our house, we would share it and get to decide jointly in its fate. But it is not. The decision is entirely their own. And I don't know what to do.


All this weekend, I have been mourning about the imminent death of this majestic tree I have watched grow for the past eight years. This is most likely what led to my outburst at a dear friend after Sunday School today. We were all gathered under the breezeway for coffee, getting shelter from the rain, when a large beetle crawled right up to my foot. I bent down to greet the huge bug and to step sideways, to allow it access past my foot into the grass. Our friend quickly swooped in, pushed me aside and in one motion proudly crushed the bug then proceeded to drag its remains in a long and bloody streak across the pavement. I screamed out and violently slugged him very hard in the shoulder yelling something to the effect of, "It's Earth Day, you jerk!" He is an extremely sweet, gentle and thoughtful person who truly thought he was honestly saving me some great trauma with his action of heroism. He is one of our closest and dearest friends. My extreme reaction caught him utterly and completely by surprise.


I then walked into the sanctuary moments later, still shaking, but hoping for some sort of mention of Earth Day during the sermon. I knew just up the road at the Episcopal Church where the outdoor labyrinth is located, they were having a special Earth Stewardship message and a gathering afterwards of my Green Spirits friends to share in the fellowship of the day with a nature walk at the Japanese gardens. I really had wanted to join them for both, but felt like I needed to show up at our home church instead.


But there was no reference to anything environmentally focused at the Presbyterian church where we are officially members. The sermon was, instead, all about a call to missions. It was a powerful message about finding out what you are passionate about and then making that your mission in your community. The idea started brewing in me that maybe our new church IS my environmental mission field of calling. Perhaps God is calling me to prayerful work inside our own church congregation rather than outside its walls. Aside from one yellow recycling bin at the copy machine in the upstairs office, there appears to be no hint of conservation practices anywhere on campus that I have noticed in the past three years. Why this is, I cannot say. I love my new church family. I just don't always understand them. I suspect they feel the same way about me.

I returned from church utterly confused. I ranted in my journal for a while, then proceeded to try to nap away my feelings. I walked Lily in the neighborhood and then came home to photograph the courtyard tree and cry a bit more. I should have gone to the beach as I had planned to pick up trash, but I was just a mess of emotions and totally ineffective to manage to do anything but to stare at the evening clouds and sunset. In short, I succeeded in completely ruining the very day I had set out to honor and to celebrate.


And for what reason? Did anyone benefit from my emotional blow-up? No. Certainly not me. Certainly not my family or my friends. And, most certainly, not the earth or the beautiful tree that is just an arm's reach away from me as I type these words.

Clenched fists hurt others. Clenched fists are unable to pray. I am incapable of hearing God's quiet whispers when all I am doing is shouting. Missions - particularly my missions - are not meant to be militant.

I had really wanted to tell you about my beach walk earlier this week. I wanted to share with you the beauty and the joy of that special morning when God gave me roses from the ocean and poetry started bubbling up again in my heart and washing out onto the page. That was what I had really longed to tell you about tonight.

Maybe tomorrow...












Wednesday, April 18, 2012

my early Earth Day haiku


in Heaven

beach before breakfast
spooned through sand – sweet crème brûlée
on Earth, as it is.

By, Robin Bradley Hansel

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Labyrinthos has just launched a brand-new blog

Be sure and visit and subscribe to the new  "LABYRINTHOS: Labyrinth Resource Center" blog today!


(Photo copyrighted and used only with the permission of Labyrinthos)

You can still enjoy all the incredible information, photos, links and resources on the main Labyrinthos Website and keep up-to-date on events on their Facebook Page

***Labyrinthos was founded in 2000 by Jeff Saward & Kimberly Lowelle Saward to provide an information resource for those working with labyrinths and mazes. 




Friday, April 6, 2012

Peace for your Path - Good Friday and Passover



Join us tonight at The Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd in Tequesta, Florida for the annual Good Friday Candlelight Labyrinth Walk immediately following the Taize service in the sanctuary which begins at 7:30pm. We'll be gathering at the outdoor labyrinth to walk about 8:45pm. 

There is a full moon this evening and Passover begins at sundown. This promises to be a very special night...

All are welcome to this open walk and community event!

Peace for your Path,
Robin

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy International Women's Day 2012


In celebration of International Women's Day today, I have obtained special permission to share this photo of an original painting by acclaimed Bahamian artist, Chantal e.y. Bethel:

"Threshold"

Included below is the Artist's Statement regarding this painting:
 "In a world where violence, hatred, political turmoil and natural disasters are prevalent, human beings crave authentic interconnections to one another, to beauty and tenderness, to justice and peace, and to sustainable hopes for humanity. For the past year I found myself driven by a strong desire for Hope and harmony. With that consciousness, I have created works that invite the viewer to a peaceful positive experience of love, faith, resilience and luminous energy."

"Threshold is one of these pieces inspired by the Labyrinth in Freeport, and I would like to thank Barbara Chester - facilitator and founder of the Grand Bahama Labyrinth - for making this experience possible for all of us on the island." 


“Threshold”  36”x36” oil on canvas:  The experience involving preparing oneself at the threshold, as we follow the single path to the center, spending time in the center, following the same pathway out from the center back to the threshold, and responding to the experience.
Please visit the website of Chantal e.y. Bethel to view more of her incredible paintings, sculptures, carvings and public art projects: www.chantalbethel.com



*Special thanks to my dear friend, Barbara Chester, founder of The Grand Bahama Labyrinth in The Garden of The Groves for introducing me to Threshold and to the rest of Chantal e.y. Bethel's work last April. To read more please visit the labyrinth's page on www.thebahamasweekly.com 
(Thanks also to Editor, Robbin Whachell of The Bahamas Weekly).




Friday, March 2, 2012

a little devotion


Thanks so much to First Presbyterian Church in North Palm Beach for including two of my writings in their Lenten Devotional for 2012

My contributions were a little bit unconventional this year (i.e. one regarding Facebook and the other about Turkey Buzzards), so I especially appreciate the loving kindness (and good-hearted humor) of my treasured friend, Sara M., for including them.

Here they are: 


(photo above courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)


Saturday, March 17, 2012

“You must first understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” – James 1: 19-20 (NRSV)

            Facebook – do you love it or hate it? Maybe, like me, you simultaneously feel both emotions about the popular social media outlet. At times, my visit to the site uplifts me. I delight to read an inspirational article or quote shared by a friend. Other times, I am plunged into utter despair when I read hateful and judgmental statements which - more often than not - are sadly made by fellow Christians.

            I was in just such a frustrated state the other morning when an online friend complimented me about my good listening skills. Suddenly, I was rendered speechless. I realized with utter clarity that I had completely lost my spiritual gift for Sacred Listening when it came to Facebook. I was guilty of an intense, ego-driven need to constantly share my own thoughts, interests, and opinions. I began to consider that if everyone else was as consumed as I was with what they were personally saying, then could anyone really be listening to anyone else? And if no one was actually listening, then why in the world did we all continue to keep talking, talking, and TALKING?

            Five minutes later I posted a statement declaring my profile page a “Sacred Listening Space.” For the past week, I have (mostly) only permitted myself to listen intently to the conversations of my friends. I comment just when I have something positive to say. In fairness, I also force myself to read the postings of viewpoints with which I do not personally agree. I then try to use the period after my Facebook time for prayer and reflection rather than give into the sinful emotions of anger like I used to do.

            The wisdom I am learning through this ongoing exercise of discipline continues to bless me daily. With Christ’s help, I am learning ways to better love the people I dare to call my “Friends.”

“Holy Father, please zip my lips whenever I am tempted to speak on my own accord. Keep me silent until you directly place into my throat the words you wish me to share aloud. Grant me the courage to then speak those words with Love in Christ’s holy name - Amen.”
Robin Bradley Hansel





(photo above courtesy of Dr. Ron Hilliard) 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” – Psalm 91: 3-4 (NRSV)

The Turkey Buzzards are back. They are staring straight at me from atop my neighbor’s roof. In the past, I’ve counted up to ten of their dark, shadowy figures. Today, there are only three.

For me, the vultures’ presence used to elicit an ominous feeling of trouble on the horizon. This morning, I observe them with a peaceful soul for I know they merely symbolize the shedding of an old, decayed sin from my heart. Today, I am a witness to the beauty and grace of each awkward bird. They stretch their giant wings and shine brilliantly in the late morning light.

Interestingly, I’d found a Turkey Buzzard feather earlier in the week while walking our dog. Not realizing its origin at the time, I lovingly placed it on my writing desk dreaming of great majestic cranes, eagles, hawks and osprey. During dinner, I brought it proudly to the table to show my family. They burst into laughter recognizing immediately what it was. I angrily rushed to grab my laptop to properly identify it but found, unfortunately, that they were absolutely correct. I promptly threw the feather in the garbage and set about disinfecting my hands and every household surface that it had touched.

But today, on this quiet morning of reflection, I can laugh aloud for it suddenly makes perfect sense. First, I believe I needed to really take a long, hard look at my own brokenness. It was important for me to pick it up, hold it in my hand and turn it over for awhile. Eventually, I had to stop trying to justify the ugly significance of my sin and see it as death and destruction. I had to ask God to help me cast it out of my life. Only then would the Holy Spirit arrive with winged wisdom and reveal to me that through Christ’s love and sacrifice I was already washed clean.

“Loving Father, thank you for all the quiet ways you speak to me through your Creation.  – Amen”
Robin Bradley Hansel


P.S. Thanks, God, for this inspiration: http://greenletterbible.com/index.php




Monday, February 27, 2012

yesterday. a year.

Is this your angel-eye view of my coffee table right now? I hope so.

I miss you.

I meant to mark anniversary of your ascent in an extremely special way yesterday. I intended to write you a poem - or some other fitting kind of tribute - or conduct a private ceremony or make some unique remembrance of Love.

 But, I did not. Yet I did remember. All of us did. All day long.

What I did do, today, just now, was read a bit of Thomas Merton, take a nap, wake up slowly with you in my heart, sit quietly and perfectly still,  pet my dog, walk the labyrinth with my fingers (the same one you walked, too) while taking the time to really FEEL every crevice and turn completely, and then, finally, I lit a candle in your honor. 

It's oh so many colors, Virginia, - a mosaic of brilliance - flaming bright in the center of our Circle of Friends. Just like you.

And it shall burn all day and then on and on in my heart for all days - for always...

Peace for your Path, Friend. 
I  love you,
Robin




Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

in the flow

Many happy things to share with you, kind readers and fellow walkers!

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:UnderwoodKeyboard.jpg)


I'll soon be unveiling my newest little site devoted exclusively to my freelance writing/editing and social media consulting services. I've secured the domain name (which I really LOVE), and I've started the blog, but I still have much to do before the big unveiling...Please stay tuned!

Until then, let me know if there are any creative writing or editing services I might be able to assist you with as I'd be happy to help. Perhaps you are starting a new blog and need a bit of help installing widgets, plug-ins, etc.? Or maybe you want to add a Facebook Page to your personal profile or start learning how to use Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn to promote your own products and services? 

I'd be happy to talk with you and design a proposal that easily fits within your time frame and budget. No assignment is too small (or too large). If you are a little overwhelmed by all of this web-wonderment and just need someone who has "been there" to discuss how to learn-it-yourself, well, we can absolutely create a simple plan for that, too!

Peace for your Path,
Robin

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

labyrinths 101

In preparation for a labyrinth walk I will be facilitating tonight with a new group, I thought I'd quickly put together an easily accessible blog post with several of my favorite links about labyrinths all in one place.

This is just a very brief overview of resources. I hope you'll find it useful as you take your first steps on the labyrinth.

Veriditas: Guidelines for Walking the Labyrinth

The Labyrinth Society: Downloadable Labyrinths to Share and also a Virtual On-line Labyrinth Walk

The World-Wide Labyrinth Locator: Enter your Zip Code or City to Find Local Labyrinths to Walk

Labyrinthos: Extensive Labyrinth History and Incredible Photographs

Lauren Artress: Books and Resources

Walking the Labyrinth: My Article for Devozine

The Spirit of Veriditas, Voices From the Labyrinth: Latest Issue of our Quarterly Journal

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Peace for your Path,
Robin

Monday, February 6, 2012

this is my favorite issue yet!

But I think I say that every quarter, don't I?

As always, if you work professionally with labyrinths, or if you simply love to walk and share them with others, please contact me with your ideas for future articles and features.

Peace for your Path,
Robin
journal@veriditas.org

Robin Bradley Hansel, Editor
The Spirit of Veriditas, Voices From the Labyrinth



CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ISSUE TO SHARE! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

a beautiful journey

I am sentimental beyond belief over hand-written letters, my kid's art work, beach sea glass and old family photos. But regular "stuff" - not so much. That's why my grief over the decision to finally trade our thirteen-year-old car yesterday truly caught me completely off-guard.

Meet Black Beauty.


Our teenage son was not even walking when she first joined our family in the late 1990's. She faithfully carried him first in his car seat and then his booster seat on countless trips back and forth to preschool, kindergarten and elementary school. When he was finally big enough to ride without a booster seat, she promised me it would be OK. When I carpooled other friend's kids and drove on school field-trips, she promised me she would protect those children as well.


Much later, when our son was nearly as tall as me, she was there for our first, nervous side-by-side conversation on the way to middle school. And her air bag did NOT spontaneously or mysteriously deploy (thank you especially for this, old friend).


Our Black Beauty carried us on many, happy family vacations. We strapped a cargo carrier to her top when we moved our aging dogs with us from KY to FL, and she never once complained. Later, after both had moved on to Heaven, she drove us home again while our son cradled his brand-new puppy in his arms. She's hauled bicycles, surf boards, golf clubs, soccer gear, kayaks and so much more. Not one time did she ever leave me stranded alone and away from the house. If she had a flat tire or needed a battery, she always let me know while we were safely still in the driveway. Beauty helped me to avoid many potential accidents, and in all those years, we were never involved in even the tiniest fender-bender. 


The other day I had a nasty little exchange with an older woman driver in my neighborhood. I won't recount the details here, but I do understand now that part of my anger at this driver was related to my knowing that my days with Beauty were numbered. I felt this woman refused to see Beauty's true worth and instead saw only her 176,000 plus miles of weathered paint and dirt. Nor, could she seem to comprehend the preciousness of the cargo - my son and our dog - that Beauty was carrying for me at that moment. 


So, on Monday, I spent some unhurried, prayerful time telling Beauty thank you for myself. I removed the sea turtle, butterfly, dove, cross and love chimes that were draped around her rear view mirror. Afterwards, I stopped to look at the reflection of my own eyes for several moments, thinking of all the two of us had seen on Life's highway. Under the driver's seat, Beauty gave me one final gift - a tiny piece of amber sea glass. It must have dropped out of my pocket after one of our many trips to the beach. It's crescent moon shape found a perfect resting spot here beside me at my writing desk.


Afterwards, we headed off to car line pick-up, the grocery and then one final sunset together...


It's been a very Beautiful ride.












Thursday, January 19, 2012

a tiny contemplation from the Center



I had sort of a cruddy afternoon yesterday. My little temper tantrum was completely self-imposed, and I invited it to stretch far into the evening and this morning.

My son commented as we were turning out the lights late last night, "Mom, you were just looking for a fight today, weren't you?" I think I totally was.

Why is that? Why do I do look for trouble more times than I want to admit? What snaps within me that takes me from laughing one minute to wanted to claw someone's eyes out the next?

Hormones? History? Hysteria?

Whatever the cause, I totally know better. I've bitten the wormy hook of hate cast in my direction by others far too many times. I always seem to learn something whenever I allow misery to reel me in, and, thankfully, those lessons usually come while I still have a bit of breath left in me. Often, I learn them on the labyrinth.

After all our walkers were finished this morning, I removed my shoes and set out on the Path myself. I had much to ponder from yesterday's happenings and other concerns of the heart. Before I realized it, I was sitting within the Center's fifth petal feeling the sun's warmth upon my back. I intended to stay just a few moments, but remained there much, much longer. I simply did not want to leave that sacred and familiar space.

I walked in with all my questions. I was hoping - maybe even expecting - some definitive answers. I received none.

Instead, I watched an ant.

With a deep, contemplative awareness that I have been unable to attain since my retreat time at Advent, I watched this ant with my entire being. He crawled beneath my outstretched knees through the Center of the labyrinth and straight out the exit. After a few more minutes, I started to get up to follow him, thinking his exit might be a sign that it was far past time for me to leave. It was then that tragedy struck.

A Live Oak leaf blew right in front of him. He scrambled up it and teeter-tottered in the breeze for a few joyous seconds. When he climbed off, the leaf blew on top of him.

I thought nothing of this at first until he didn't move for over a minute. When I got up to investigate, I realized with despair that the leaf had actually sliced off one of his middle legs. Imagine being so incredibly delicate that a leaf becomes a deadly razor capable of ending your life...

The ant now crawled in an erratic pattern around the exterior of the labyrinth's center in apparent shock. The song "Fragile" by Sting started playing in my mind. I took a few, sad steps onto the Path. When I doubled-back to check on him, he was gone.

Vanished. Like the wind. Odd.

And I am left wondering, how is it that I can have more genuine compassion for an ant than for an angry human being?

And wondering, again, if the compassion that I lack for her or for him or for you or for them might be more deeply rooted in my own lack of compassion for -

me? 

I wonder.













Wednesday, January 18, 2012

walk the labyrinth with us tomorrow

Join us tomorrow, January 19th, between 10am and 12pm for THIRD THURSDAYS ON THE LABYRINTH at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. For more info visit http://www.goodsheponline.org

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

TheMotherhood.com has a brand-new design TODAY!

Check out the brand-new look of TheMotherhood.com and be a part of the first Live Chat of the year beginning today at 1pm Eastern Time!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012. May it be filled with Grace.

This tiny post is in response to someone else's which read:  "2012. May it be all you deserve."

God help us to receive not what we actually deserve, but rather please pour upon us Your divine Grace. Amen.