Scroll down past the photos for Part One.
I have lost
51. both of my parents (I am reminded here of that Oscar Wilde line: “to lose one parent may be regarded as a misforture, to lose both looks like carelessness.”)
52. my innocence.
53. my sweet animal companion.
54. friendships I thought would never end.
55. all four of my grandparents.
56. faith in moments of despair.
57. my ability to move my wrists freely.
58. my connection to my body and then over many years slowly re-discovered it again.
59. my Austrian citizenship (I had dual citizenship as a child)
60. touch with my aunt who lives in Brussels, my father’s twin sister.
I have found
61. great faith and hope in darkness.
62. joy in the simplest of pleasures.
63. laughter in moments of great sorrow.
64. the great love of my life.
65. friends who are fellow mystics and walk the contemplative and creative path alongside of me.
66. holiness in inhabiting my grief fully.
67. the Sacred Presence within me and I love her fiercely.
68. wisdom in dreams that led me to places I might never have ventured otherwise.
69. a deep and abiding love for creatures of the earth.
70. a love for the alchemy of cooking, transforming food into nourishment.
71. sit in stillness for hours at a time, drinking in silence like rain.
72. walk deeply into the forest and let a heart greater than mine lead me.
73. see beaneath the surface of things to hidden, shimmering depths.
74. explore other worlds through language and my rusty memories of French and German.
75. lose myself in cooking a meal, pouring love into each chop and stir.
76. giggle uncontrollably with delight.
77. let myself cry when I am suddenly lifted on a wave of sorrow.
78. see the faint horizons of the places to which God is calling me.
79. try to create beauty from words and images.
80. swim in the ocean and feel utterly free.
81. to live fully into my calling.
82. to be fully present to others who seek me out for guidance or friendship.
83. to create a healing rhythm in my life.
84. for the glorious days of autumn to wrap me in their beauty.
85. to live even more intentionally into the seasons and the changing night sky with her glorious phases of the moon.
86. to celebrate my 60th wedding anniversary in stunningly good health!
87. to one day be able to live part-time on a boat, sailing around the Northwest, our very own Abbey of the Sea.
88. to continue to let the beauty I love be what I do.
89. to care less about living up to other people’s expectations of me.
90. for the world to grow in kindness and care for one another, for the earth, and for her creatures.
I am trying
91. to become fully mindful of what I eat and aware of the ways I nourish my body.
92. to live and dance more deeply into my dreams.
93. to surrender more fully into my call to be writer and artist, monk and mystic.
94. to allow the wisdom of wild things to infuse me.
95. to live as deliberately as possible, to savor each moment as precious, each day as gift.
96. to trust fully what is emerging within me.
97. to trust that there will be enough.
98. to become myself.
99. to become fire*
100. to be free.
*from that marvelous little gem of a story from the Desert Fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?
PS — I thought of a few more things I love to add to Part One: homemade soup, Irish Breakfast tea with cream and sugar, cozying up under a soft blanket by a roaring fire, a long hot bath, plush towels, the smell of roses and lavender, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show,” the way my husband makes me feel absolutely cherished.
What do you love? What do you want to hold so tightly it will become knit into your very bones?
-Christine Valters Paintner