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Friday's Inspiration Weekly
Pour Voir (To See)
What's the significance of seeing, having vision, exercising watchfulness and trusting insight
as resource tools of spiritual growth?

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The idea is to seek a vision that gives you purpose in life and then to implement that vision. The vision by itself is one half, one part, of a process. It implies the necessity of living that vision, otherwise the vision will sink back into itself.
Vision looks inward and becomes duty.
Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration.
Vision looks upward and becomes faith.

Entrée:  A 4 Hour Vision Quest by John Suler, Ph.D., Rider University
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In earlier cultures a method for gaining insight into oneself was the "vision quest" (a term associated with the Native American version of this practice). A person would go on such a quest in times of crisis (when an answer to a problem was needed), as a rite of passage into adulthood, or simply out of a desire for self-discovery. The person typically would wander into the wilderness alone, or go on a journey of some kind, searching for an insight or "sign" that would reveal some truth. Sometimes the person deprived himself of food, water, and shelter, perhaps for several days at a time, which induced an altered state of consciousness. This mixture of altered consciousness and an intense "desire to discover" caused something to happen - an experience, an event, a "sign" of some kind that resulted in an important insight.

Might there be features of such vision quest practices that resemble some of the therapeutic features of traditional psychotherapy? The following exercise incorporates some of these features. It is not a recreation of such vision quest practices, but it incorporates some of the basic elements. Here are the guidelines for the exercise:

  1. For a period of at least 4 hours, leave your room or home and go out somewhere, anywhere. Don't plan ahead as to where you will go or what you will do. Don't do anything in particular (e.g., don't go bowling, to the movies, to visit friends, etc.) Just go where your instincts tell you to go. Let your "intuition" carry you. Just wander (of course, don't do anything dangerous).
    Do this alone. This is very important! If you meet people you know, you may talk to them for a few minutes, but no longer than that. Continue on your way.
  2. While you wander, concentrate on some question about yourself, something you want to know about yourself, or some problem you have been experiencing in your life. You could simply focus on the question "Who am I?" or any similar question. Think, reflect, ponder this question - but also let your mind "drift."
  3. The whole time keep in mind that you are on a "quest." You are looking, waiting, expecting something. Something will happen. There will be a sign that will give you an insight into the question. It could be something that happens to you, something you see or hear. The world out there will give you the sign!
  4. Take along a notebook or some paper, and a pen. Every half hour sit down and write. Note the time, the place, and what has happened. Write about your reactions to what is happening to you. Write about your thoughts, feelings, and insights. Write these notes for yourself! ...During the exercise, if you're anxious, frustrated, or bored, ask yourself "why" and write about it. If nothing important has happened, think and write about why that is so. How could you make the exercise more effective?

Divide the paper into the following sections and use these headings:

  1. A SUMMARY OF THE EXERCISE: Summarize what happened to you during the exercise. What did you think about, do, feel? Where did you go? Describe as much detail as seems important. What were your reactions to this exercise? What did you learn from it?
  2. THE SIGN: In this section focus on the SIGN. Did you receive one, more than one? How did it happen? What did it reveal to you? If you didn't receive a sign, talk about that. Do you think there was a reason why you didn't? What do you think about the whole idea of "receiving a sign?"

About the author:

Dr. John Suler received his doctorate from State University of New York. The above article is a handout used in his teaching syllabus at Rider University. He devotes his spare time to writing, piano, gardening, exercise, and martial arts, especially Tai Chi. Without a doubt, he says, one of the most difficult things he ever attempted was piano. He supposes that if he had started piano lessons as a child - rather than at 40-something - he would have found it much easier. Learn more about Dr. Suler at his Rider U. Psych Dept. profile page. Is life important to you? is an interesting "quest" experience as described by Rider University student Matthew Clapp.

Main Course: Watching the Parade
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It has been a very busy last two weeks. Just nine weeks on my job, and I have been pressing toward the issue of an underground electrical drawing package, and that has taken most of my attention and energy. My employers have loaded me up with tasks, and I am delighted to be working, but it has become a position of leadership and responsibility.

On days like this Friday, it all gets too complicated, and I long for simplicity... and then I realize that there are ways I can find simpler times in my NOW. One is to realize when I am not called upon to lead the parade. Some must sit on the side of the road, if there is to be a parade after all, and watch. There absolutely must be a time when it is appropriate for me to sit and watch, to rest from my labors and enjoy the accomplishments of others.

It was that very point at which I found myself on Friday afternoon, around 1:30pm. My portion of the project was out and had been going thru the signature and review process just about an hour now, and it was up to me to see that the boys and girls were staying busy while the boss was out of town.

Shifting gears, I  chose simplification; The boss had taken the whole day off, to let us shine on our own, I surmise. I had come to a point in time to stop doing because my parade had marched on by, and to start being because it was time for someone else to take the point. I had done a good job, and I was content to watch the result.

I could coast from here. So could they. Good people, talented each in their own particular gift, they had worked together into a tight fit over the previous two months and more. I like them; they depend on me as I do them, because we had demonstrated our willingness to cooperate and communicate. So what if they won't be done with their portion of the project until Monday? John and I had loaded them up with work , and they were knocking them out as quick as they could. We were due out today, but hey, this is close, ain't it? The suits were happy with our performance, so far. It wasn't my job to crack the whip. We had pulled off a small but important miracle in just over 5 weeks. We will make it on Monday. I know these people, and I'll be there with 'em.

At 1:45pm, the two hours overtime from earlier that week were approved just 1 hour and 15 minutes late, so rather than taking comp time, I was forty-five away from the I FLY I-5 Friday Flee southbound on Interstate 5. For that three-quarter hour, I thanked the crew for their efforts, and they thanked me for helping them. I faxed our timsheets in, then simply sat back, and watched the parade go on by as they strived toward their goal for the day. Handshakes all around. Life is good. See ya Monday.

By 2:30pm, I was out the door, west on SR520 and then into the crush southbound on the 405. Hey, I do this part everyday. No prob. Life is still pretty good. Wish I had the Old Time Radio thing on XM, but the 6CD thing works. New car still lacks a sunroof... a good sound system makes up for a multitude of automotive sins. Almost 30 to the gallon, this week at $2.17 and climbing. On my third tank this week

Around 6:15pm, with the cruise control dialed in at 74 somewhere around milepost 68S where the traffic finally thins out, and driving conditions are good, I'm proceeding with cautious haste, finally. Got James Taylor on the radio. Got a snapshot of the sunset, too, on down the road. Life is great. Home by 7:30... traffic was b2b thru Olympia and Chehalis. It's why I live in Portland.

On Saturday, my thanks to Vicki Woodyard for a pleasant, uplifting chat. She has quite a parade going on in her life, too. I appreciate the work she does, as do so many. The lesson learned from our conversation was that I must be a human, being, rather than a human doing. So, I was a human, being this weekend. Yes, that was it. You've put your finger on it. Great energy and synchronicity.

Now, Sunday afternoon, I am just getting the newsletter out. I know, Friday's what'sit is supposed to be out on Friday. I needed the downtime that this weekend provided. Me time. Be Time. Sometimes it feels like the crush of 405 in other parts of my life, too. Hey, it's a lesson in patience. Go with me on this, will ya? I am done doing this newsletter, for now, and that is always a good feeling, because it will now come to be. Sometimes it takes until Sunday to wrap my head completely around the abundance of inspiration the week has held, until I have seen the whole parade pass by. So, see you all next Friday... on time, if possible. Hope this one was worth the wait.

I'll be back on the road northbound, once again flying I-5... ur, proceeding with cautious haste... in just a few hours. I'll call that oldest kid of mine (she's 32), as I do every Sunday evening, somewhere north of Kelso, and we'll laugh, cry and fade out a few times as I change cell towers. I have been watching that parade for a few years now, and the weekly updates are just what Poppa needs. That, and hugs from the grandkids.

Thank you to all of my connections, all of my relationships, all of you that cross my path or trudge alongside. Life is a parade, yes. I love to march, and I love to watch. Bring on another Monday. I think I am ready do some more doing, and be some more being.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2004

Second Helping: Lesson of the Mighty Oak by Eileen McDargh
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The grounds of the Immaculate Heart Center in Santa Barbara, CA are remnants of an 1833 citrus orchard. Orange blossoms fill the air, narcissus bloom, and pink ice plant glows in iridescent splendor. It makes me grateful.

The massive stonework house with intricate hand-carved teak ceilings, Italian tile bathrooms, and walnut floor speak of its first 1933 wealthy owners. Who could have foreseen that 10 years later, Rancho del Bosque would be sold to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart as a novitiate for their growing community and now, over 70 years’ later, serves as a place of gentle silence for guests. What has not changed: my mountain still beckons behind the house and the ancient oak trees still stand as silent witnesses to history.

The latter is important because, for the first time in nine years, my “mountain” was the call to begin writing a new book. I needed to climb into that rather than take the four-hour hike up to the summit.  Still, sitting for long stretches demands that I must at least run or walk at intervals It was such a diversion that brought me to a part of the oak grove I had never been. Before me was a posted essay on the background of this forest that once held giant species of oaks stretching clear to the ocean. To the Druids of Scotland and the ancient Celts of Ireland, the oak groves held special significance. I learned that the words “truth”, “trust” and “tree” come from a 4,000 year-old Proto-Indo-European word “dorw” which means “oak”.  If you ever tried to cut into oak, you know the sturdy truthfulness of its making.

I read that sign and gasped. It was as if a spark flew from those words to my head and heart. Here’s why: As I continue to refine McDargh Enterprises, I asked my clients to tell me what they thought were some of the unique benefits I brought to an organization or individual executive sessions. One of the consistent threads that appeared was, “you speak the truth with compassion and clarity. We trust the value we receive.”

Truth and trust. McDargh. “Darra” is Celtic for oak!

I went back to that grove at 3:00 a.m. the next morning. I stood in the center with moonlight filtering through thick branches and protected from the wind by the dark outline of these immense oaks. Grounded. Centered. Calm. A shooting star flashed over my head.

And that’s the truth. Trust me.

About the author:

Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, is an international speaker, author and seminar leader. Her book Work for A Living and Still Be Free to Live is also the title of one of her most popular and upbeat programs on Work/Life Balance. She is fun, funny, relevant and provocative, drawing upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations. Her stimulating, interactive presentations promote self-discovery and creative solutions to everyday situations - in the workplace and at home. For more information on Eileen and her presentations, please call (949)496-8640 or visit Eileen's Website.

Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Mail Call! - "Your words truly do 'N-Spire' me!" John(revpatos) wrote, during this very tough two weeks for him. "Hi Michael - Enjoyed your latest piece on joy, especially the sentence referring to Agatha Christie, "quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." Also, your final statement was quite good, "Joy is a prerogative." Very inspirational and thoughtful piece. Blessings..." All that from my favorite copyeditor, Toni. Actually, that final statement was from a quote in InboxInspirations, preceded by, "Make a conscious decision to let whatever happens be simply noticed, paying attention to the lesson to be learned from it, and you will be free to find the joy in it." Dearest Maralyn weighed in on Beyond the Cave, to say, "A great issue with SO many thoughts that could be life changing for all. Thank YOU so much, I wonder what I would do without your sharing.." This is why Plato's Cave allegory is so very useful as a parable of political theorizing, for political theory is a history of the search for enlightenment on the normative questions of politics. And I so enjoy your comments and prayers, my friend.

Here's something from a visitor to Friday's Inspiration Online Guest Log: "Michael, This is long overdue: what an enriching site! I first discovered it while searching for Simple Abundance quotes, and they led me to you. Sarah is one of my favorite daily morning readings, to set me off on the right path. Are you familiar with her book "Something More," written after her divorce? It is rewarding to see another person selecting authors and books that are important for me. I'm an expatriate New Yorker, living in Vienna, Austria, where I studied music (classical) and psychotherapy (person-centered) and also teach English - if you ever wind up in these parts it would be fine to meet and talk: just e-mail me beforehand. Many thanks again for your shared treasures. Peace, Norman Merems" Wow, thanks. Gee, Norm... you buy the ticket, and by-golly, I'll just take some time and pay you a visit! What an exciting place to work, huh?

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