Wendy invited me to participate in this meme called “100 Things.” It has prompted lots of good reflection, although I have only worked my way through half. Knowing that the rest may take another few days, I share here what I have written so far in response. I invite others who read here and blog to give it a try. Let me know if you do!
I have lived
1. in an apartment in midtown Manhattan, eight blocks from the United Nations, the place of my upbringing.
2. in an apartment in Vienna during summers of my growing up, visiting my grandfather for a time on our way to the mountains.
3. in an apartment in Paris when I was 19 years old and studying abroad and I would walk by the Louvre and along the Seine River every day to get to class.
4. in lots of dorm rooms and college apartments, including my last summer after graduating having the challenging experience of living with three male roommates.
5. in a pink Victorian house in midtown Sacramento, that my husband (boyfriend at the time) would call the Pink Palace, and my roommates and I were the Pink Palace Princesses, complete with stone lions in front of the house and a troll who lived in the basement apartment.
6.in a lovely apartment complex in Sacramento with a manmade lake in the middle and fountains and ducks, one of the most peaceful places I have lived
7. in one side of a duplex house in Woodland, CA, the place we lived for a year while I was recovering from illness, applying to doctoral programs, and where we first adopted our dear dog Duke.
8. in an apartment in San Francisco one block from Golden Gate Park and across the street from a Carmelite Monastery and Ignatian Church. Great inspiration for studying for my history of spirituality exams. If I leaned out the window I could see the ocean three miles West down Fulton Street.
9. in a tiny apartment in Berkeley, three blocks down from ‘Holy Hill’ (Graduate Theological Union).
10. in a warm and cozy condo in Seattle, a place we are putting down roots and hope to be for a very long time.
I have witnessed
11. my mother lying in the ICU after five days taking her very last breath.
12. my sweet dog gently going to sleep forever, his body going limp.
13. two pale dead bodies being pulled up from the East River adjacent to where I went to school in NYC.
14. humpback whales bubble-feeding and breeching in the Alaskan wilderness.
15. the wonder and awe of glacial peaks in the Austrian alps.
16. the power of the arts to heal and transform.
17. the beauty and stillness of a Buddhist monastery in China.
18. a sea turtle swimming below me in the ocean of Kauai
19. my father’s slow path of self-destruction until it finally ended his life.
20. my own capacity for love enlarged wider and wider, until I think my heart will simply tear wide open.
I have heard
21. the sounds of a cello playing on a busy city street so beautiful it brought me to tears in the midst of people rushing by to their next appointment.
22. the sound of my own voice wailing loud and long when my mother took her very last breath.
23. the sound of my dog barking through closed lips as he lay dreaming, even though he never barked while awake.
24. my beloved whispering our wedding vows over and over to me as we lay together holding one another.
25. the sound of my body’s wisdom singing to me.
26. my dreams reaching from the Great Night, calling me to wholeness and life
27. the whisper of the sacred presence from deep in the woods.
28. the song of the holy through the rhythm of ocean waves.
29. the sounds of glaciers calving in the fjords of Alaska.
30. God’s voice, clear and resounding in my heart, again and again
31. my husband beyond measure.
32. sitting for hours perched at edge of the sea.
33. being deep in the forest.
34. friends with whom I can be completely myself and who call me to growth and wholeness.
35. spending hours at a time lost in the pleasures of writing or art-making.
36. finding a new poet or musician or artist who brings my world alive again.
37. going on long retreats in wild places.
38. animals, those wise creatures of the earth who teach us another way of being, of God’s Otherness.
39. Sabbath time, the gift of being fully present to the moment.
40. being fully present to someone in spiritual direction or to a group of students, and witnessing the Spirit at work.
41. the fact that on September 16 I received my first Christmas catalog (Land’s End).
42. the word “diet” and a whole million-dollar industry that markets unrealistic body images.
43. multi-tasking and productivity tools.
44. when contemplation is marketed as a coping strategy rather than a way to transform the world we live in.
45. streams of constant noise and sound and being woken up on a weekend night when the bar a block away lets out, by people oblivious to the world around them.
46. intolerance of any kind, especially my own
47. the fact that our country determines that killing people is a way to show that killing people is wrong.
48. the ways women are oppressed in a multitude of subtle and outrageous ways.
49. the ways we take the earth for granted and suffocate her in the name of progress.
50. every act of cruelty, every turning away from humanity
Still to come. . .I have lost, I have found, I can, I hope, I am trying. . .
-Christine Valters Paintner