Week 5 Day 5: Soaked
Question: What activities take you outside of yourself?
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Transcript of Video:
One retreat day, I was out at Mount Auburn Cemetery and I got caught in a thunderstorm. And initially I hunkered down under a big tree trying to stay dry and then realized: there’s no way I’m going to get home and not get wet so – let’s just go! So I went to the – there’s the tower on the hill in the cemetery, so I went there and went up the tower. And it was this great day: there was all this succession of thunderstorms. And so I got there, and it was clear, and another one came, and I got to watch the downpour – and it was glorious.
Now I was in this tower, and so this song came to mind about: “You are my tower of refuge, my stronghold.” And I really felt it, being in this storm there, and I wanted to stay there. I just wanted to stay there. But I also realized I was due to be back in church to pray, so I left. And then it was so amazing to go through the cemetery and get really soaked as I went back to the Monastery. And there was thunder and lighting, and there were huge puddles on the way back going along Auburn Street, which I splashed in, and it was really delightful, and I loved it.
It was a turning point for me, such that now my Brothers know that if there’s a thunderstorm, I’m likely to go out in it, because I find that in that sense of play, I really connect with God in a deep way. And it’s one of the ways that I can let loose. I can be very stoic and serious, and the Brothers noticed, too, that when I started doing this, there was a difference. So I’ve tried to keep this going and now look for opportunities to play – which I find comes with precipitation. I can also get lost in snow shoveling or ice picking. There’s something in that that also really captures my attention.
And so going out in the middle of snow or rain, that’s where a part of my child comes out, and I can play. And so I look for opportunities like that where I can.
-Br. Luke Ditewig
Well yes, me too. Weather, every single day. And gardening as an extension of loving the changeability and oft spontaneous nature of weather. Being in the ocean. Walking in both urban and natural landscapes. Shooting photos. Design crits and urban planning.
Making music, looking after someone who is unwell, worship, petting the cat and painting take me our of myself.
Volunteering for a service that I have never done before!
Being on the Oregon Coast. It’s so wild and rugged, i can spend hours walking and beach–combing and not even realize time has passed.
My dear Brother… I share with you the joy of finding the presence of God in unexpected places. A friendly word of caution, before you dash out into the next thunderstorm… Taking shelter under a tree is less like play and more like living dangerously. While a bolt of lighting in a thunderstorm was God’s way of getting Martin Luther’s undivided attention, “St. Anne help me, I’ll become a monk!” not all lighting strikes have such a happy ending.
I love to forget I am an adult when I get the opportunity, especially with my grandchildren, and to turn back into a child and play on the beach, to be taken into the imagination of my grandchildren to look out for pirates, to build a camp, to have “messy” play and not worry about getting dirty and to laugh a lot. As I get older, I am forgetting all the rules that adults are told to obey and just do the things which make me happy and give me joy.
Sitting on the beach and listening to the waves…maybe with a good book!
I love to swim. Even though i’m not a great swimmer there is something about moving my body through the water that takes me out of myself.
It can be as simple as petting my cat and getting lost in the perfection of his little face and fur. Walking by the ocean on a quiet morning or evening brings me joy.
I have to admit, I’m having a little trouble with the questions for this segment — “Play”. Do I want to “lose myself” or “be present in the moment”? I can do either one with Work or Play. I think that’s where I’m getting hung up. Play type activities which take me outside of myself, where I’m not focused on me (or the past or the future), are usually total escapism, such as a movie, or focusing on another person — just listening to them, or helping them, serving them.
Bro. Luke, I love the vision of you up a tower in that beautiful cemetary in the middle of a thunder storm. I say bravo to you – just don’t get hit by lightening, another meaning altogether!
I tend to lose myself when viewing the arts – conserts and plays in particular. Closer to home I can easily lose myself in play with my grandsons and during walks in nature – whether the walks are in a spectacular place like the shore, along the river or in the mountains, or just walking through my neighborhood. I can so quickly become aware of God’s hand in the beauty that he gives us.
Listening to music and experiencing nature and playing with my cats.
Many people seem to play best by themselves. I spend a lot of time by myself and with kids, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that I lose myself best in play in the company of adults, whether we’re learning a song together or dancing. Sometimes my best play comes from games that I’m leery to initiate because they take effort and put me on the spot, say pictionary, but then I have the best time once I actually get started. Maybe for me play is best when it requires me to let down my guard and I am in the company of others where we all feel safe to let down our guards and laugh at ourselves. Or just try something I don’t usually get to do.
Throwing the ball for the dog .. I’m always amazed at how much he loves that .. and could do it for hours ..
Isn’t it positively wonderful how many different ways there are to find wonder, joy, and beauty in our world? Some of our choices were similar, some vastly different, which made the list we jointly compiled long and most beautifully varied.
There are a couple of activities that take me out of myself. In the summer, I love to walk along the beach looking for seashells or sea glass. I am reminded of my childhood going to the beach with my mother and sisters with another family for picnics. In the fall, I enjoy walking in the woods or along the bike path close to my house and kicking the dried, fallen leaves. I love the sound of the leaves. It reminds me during my childhood my dad raking the leaves in a huge pile and jumping into them. I also think of my young children playing in the leaves as we were attempting to rake them into piles. My son loved to be buried in the leaves while his sister raked.
I have my three grandchildren ages 9,6 and 3 with me for 4 days right now so sometimes I am outside of myself with them, but the responsibilities involved bring me back frequently to what I must think and do. I must say I am glad I am a grand parent now and not the parent.
Fishing, road trips and Disney World.
There, I said it. 🙂
I’m a docent at our church once a week. When a visitor wants to converse with me–about our beautiful windows or their faith or a prayer request, I find myself totally engaged with them, wanting them to feel welcomed and loved. My three hour assignment flies by in what seems like no time. I guess it’s lile losing a sense of self consciousness. This also happens in my Tai Chi classes. My own agendas just disappear.
What activity takes me outside of myself? Dancing. I’ve known for a long time I need to dance more. This week’s focus on play is showing me it’s time to do it every day even if it’s in my kitchen. I don’t have to wait for a party once or twice a year.
It is a good thing I read through what people have said about what takes them out of themselves because when I first contemplated the question, I had no idea. But I now am aware of some things that take me out of myself — shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, practicing church organ, and conducting some of my classes (I too sometimes have to be reminded that the class has come to the dismissal time).
Br. Luke, I feel the same way as you about these things, but my storms mine were on the beaches when ever I could. BUT I have learned how dangerous that can be!
You may connect a lot closer to heaven than you
planned. Be careful!
I have been involved with a long discussion on e-mail lately trying to explain to a sibling how I have found the way he has treated me unsuitable. Anyway today was a day when I could put a blanket on a picnic bench and for my dog to sit on and I could sit in my winter coat an toque to just watch the birds and squirrels as they come out of the winter season. Watching and sitting quietly helps time pass for me.
When I walk, I find I’m taken away into the world around me. I am able to get lost in the beauty of God’s creation and occasionally I become one with that beauty.
I am blessed to have this experience nearly every day. My profession is teaching college English classes, and when I’m in the classroom, working with my students on their papers or readings, I’m definitely “outside of myself.” I am in tune with them, their needs and projects. It is rare that I look at my watch or think about when the class will end. Rather, I’m usually so engaged that I forget to dismiss class on time. Other times I’ve been completely engaged in something that takes me outside myself have been when gardening, cooking, coloring—yes, coloring. I love doing mandalas. It’s so relaxing. All I have to think about is the next stroke of the pencil and my choice of colors. It’s one of my forms of therapy.
watching and hand-feeding pets and domesticated animals
Thank you Brother Luke for sharing your wonderful, freedom story with us!
Throughout my growing years, coping with judgmental and manipulative family members, I held tight onto my self. Whatever their desires were, my fear of losing my self in the fray were very real. I can honestly say I never was taken outside myself by activity. The more exciting, novel things always make me feel fuller and more alive.
Though there are times when the Holy Spirit inspires me to speak out, or to move on some precarious matter, assertively, and without doubt. When the Holy Spirit steps in, I’m happy and relieved. It’s a blessed time of feeling loved and whole.
Going to an art exhibit, going to a play, reading, having an intense conversation with a friend.
I do a volunteer project that takes a lot of repetitive sewing, which I do while listening to CDs. It’s a great way to hear talks by some of my favorite authors while working with beautiful fabrics. Choosing and buying the fabrics is an activity I enjoy also, as I scan hundreds of possibilities in stores or online and then pick my favorites that meet the criteria of the project.
Walking through the woods, playing the dulcimer, riding my bike, spending an evening with friends.
…studying and reading on prayer’full’ questions, that need ‘direction’…totally in another place
Almost anything having to do with water can get me outside of myself, and able to truly play — from sailing to swimming to even (don’t tell my husband!) washing the dishes. Getting soaked and watching the storm (from a safe place on shore) sounds ideal to me too!
When I paint, especially with watercolor. Because watercolor flows every which way; that’s the really the fun part. It’s just me, my God, the paper and paint so we get plenty of giggles
Driving in traffic takes my mind outside myself – need 100% attention on the road to stay safe. No this is not fun.
Sometimes an adult conversation with people who are truly engaged does the trick.
Cats! When I retired I resolved to have a cat. One adopted me and that was fine. Then I somehow got involved in caring for a family of six feral cats. Just as I was about to have all spayed and neutered, ‘Mom-cat’ surprised me with a litter of three new ones. I wound up fostering the babies. What fun! They all live in sturdy houses made by an Eagle Scout, with ‘guest cottages’ made of plastic for the occasional visitors. The houses are stuffed with straw from the manger scene at church. I thank God for my furry friends. Reading today’s responses has bee so fun! Thanks 🙂
I know this may not really be something that gives me “fun”, but it gives me satisfaction and certainly takes me out of my own concerns, problems, etc., and that is, my volunteer work in the E.R. at our hospital – no matter what is going on in my life at the time, I enjoy the interaction with those coming in and the nurses, clerks and doctors that are serving them. I enjoy feeling worthwhile, and I do lose myself in what I am doing there.
Praise Music; especially the music of the Mother Spirit as she whispers through the trees following a Spring rain.
quilting takes me most outside myself, because I’m usually making one for someone else and able to pray for them and hold them in my heart.
That is probably one reason my mother and several dear friends love it, too. I love the stage of fabric choices and matching of colors, choosing pattern and effect, but once it gets to stitching I am of considerably less use. 😉 My gifts may lie elsewhere, but I sure admire those whose gifts are in the stitching and quilting!
Yesterday I commented about “working meditation,” meditating in the midst of a repetitive task. I frequently lose myself this way. The trick is “coming back” when I need to. I sometimes take Thomas Merton’s “journey into the desert” as a Lenten or Advent exercise. It can be very difficult to come home if one is not careful.
One of the activities that take me outside myself, that give me a sense of freedom and oneness is sailing. To quote an excerpt from a Christopher Cross tune,” Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me, if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility. Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see. Believe me”. The other activity that accomplishes the same thing is riding a horse. Both of those things just feel marvelously good and pull me completely into the present.
I can get very lost in time, simply walking in nature, whether on the beach looking for beach glass, or in the woods picking up pine cones and acorns. I feel very close to God when it’s just myself and nature.
I also find a very playful side of myself when baking. It takes me back to childhood and sometimes I will turn on the music and dance around the kitchen while I’m baking.
It is fitting that Br. Luke should speak of a rain shower today….for in my part of the Valley in AZ, it is raining not a common thing….so as I began my day the Spirit led me to enjoying the rain of grace in my life, my life that at times like the desert is dry and needs the gift of water…the birds are singing in thanksgiving for the rain…they and I are in concert thanking God for the rain of grace in my life. Now I will go out with my dog and walk in the rain…something I enjoy doing…..he and I have fun in this weather….it is also cool and refreshing.
“sister water….clear and pure” I praise you.
Walking on a beach; being outdoors in rain–not a thunderstorm (not a fan of being struck by lightning in the literal sense); walking in the snow, when the world is white and new; watching a movie at the movie theater; listening to music; being swept up in the collective power of an audience at a concert when it feels like we become one body. The power that’s present in these experiences–whether loud (as in the case of a concert) or quiet (the snow, the rain)–helps me get outside of myself and connects me with God.
I can “lose” myself in many activities like riding my motorcycle. I like to ride quietly on back roads, especially to places I’ve never been before-it becomes an adventure. But when I think about going outside myself, it usually connotes getting involved in helping someone else and not involving just myself.
Shovelling snow when there is no time limit and I don’t have to go anywhere right away. also digging in the garden and weeding- also when there is no rush… Neither requires great accuracy although you don’t want to pull up a whole patch of poppies thinking they are incipient thorny weeds, so here is a case where slow, methodical, relaxed methods are better – both for my soul and the poor flowers
I agree, Laura. Shoveling, I love hearing the sound of the shovel scratching against the ground, sometimes running into a crack, sometimes gliding to my desired destination, and gardening…yes, that slow, methodical thinking that becomes rote after a while….Transcendent at times.
I get lost when I’m being creative and thinking about the possibilities rather than the limitations
I just love to play with children in water…have taught many to swim by just playing water games with them. Their laughter and pride when they realize that they are actually swimming is delightful.
One recent activity that takes me outside myself in play is splitting wood…using a motorized splitter, seeing the split wood pile up, it is a time for being outside myself.
Reading poetry that is in the traditional meter and end rhyme takes me out of myself. Reading today’s reflection led me to look up online the poem “Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl” by John Greenleaf Whittier to reread it. Yesterday I was putting some contemporary hymn lyrics into s prayer journal. I chose those that have end rhyme. I think it reconnects me to the childhood delight of rhyming words. It is a way to play.
Somehow Ogden Nash, Dr. Seuss, and Shel Silverstein leap to mind. 🙂
Play manifests for me when I am in a flow moment. It’s complete immersion. Aside from the obviously “fun” things, I find that sometimes work can be so enjoyable that it becomes play. I feel my deepest moments of this when I am fully engrossed. In nature, in conversation, with animals and often while cooking. Creativity is play for me.
Thanks to my father and grandfather, I’m a naturally playful person. When I am lost in play it feels more like I’m getting inside myself rather than outside myself…whole, at-one-ness… To play and pray are intimately related for me.
Back when I could run, I would always get lost in the joy of running; its not quite the same on an elliptical machine, but sort of. I can get lost looking up at the sky on a sunny day – particularly when there are trees to contrast with the blue. I can get lost in working with clay, in its texture and resilience. Its rare, but sometimes I can get lost in a good painting, And I can get lost in a fabric store – as long as there’s no distracting music – as I visually drink in the glorious colors and textures.
There is a gentle river in Pueblo, Colorado that is perfect for tubing. I love floating down the river observing nature. I saw a red fox one day. I also love putting a watermelon in the cold running water and eating it a few hours later. I need to schedule a camping trip!
On a daily basis, a beautiful Texas sunrise accompanied by the morning chorus is spectacular.
In church on Sunday the organist took me out of myself and gave me a sense of beautiful worship. God’s riches abound!
Oh, my yes, tubing and sunrises. Lovely ways to get out of oneself! Makes you just take a breath and say, “Wow” usually followed shortly by, “Thanks!!”
To get “outside myself” … what a glorious concept! It’s something I want to do in times of worship, but am rarely – if ever – successful. Otherwise, my adult-ness feels responsible , responsible, responsible … and always cognizant of great blessings (no complaints here).
The dancing exercise class, Cardiolite, does this for me. Music and movement and a teacher who asks us to smile. It’s great!
Me too– Music and dancing both have that effect on me. When I really need to get out of myself, I seek to help someone else. Sometimes that is as simple as calling someone to say hello and ask them about their day or share something positive I may have seen or heard without talking about myself and my problems. Its not as easy as it sounds, but it is effective medicine for my busy mind.
Things I used to do – skiing, riding, driving over and around sand dunes in the middle of the desert. They seem to be a route to a speed and grace not innately mine. I think I need to find a substitute! Every day during this season has been so provocative. Thank you!
I’d be too afraid to go out in a thunderstorm but love walking in the rain (under an umbrella) and feeling the occasional spalsh of rain against me. Also, I build snowmen with my grandson and experience the sheer joy of seeing nature through his eyes. I now have a one year old grandson and love to watch him explore the world.touching a leaf and just enjoying the feel. I
We cannot have that freedom from responsibilty that a child has but it is nice to relive childhood .
None that I can think of
Riding waves always makes me feel like a 10 year old again. When I have a chance to just float on them and feel the power of the waves rolling under me, I fell like I’m in touch with the very elements of being.
I play by running, biking, walking my dogs, sculpting, paddling a kayak or paddleboard,… I enjoy movement and getting out in nature. Quite often I find myself most in touch with God outside in nature. Like Brother Luke, when I’ve been at SSJE, I always run to the Mt. Auburn cemetery and enjoy a meditative time there…
I think my answer follows most of what I answered for the other questions this week. There are not many things that I can get lost in or that take me outside of myself, but those that do are wonderful to me. Woodworking, walking in nature, gardening, and especially playing my horn (which I currently am not doing, argh!) are all wonderful things to me.
Wow. Tough question today. I guess I’d again have to say making/throwing pottery. I love it. The smell of the clay, the sound, the feel, seeing something usable emerge from a literal mushed up globby lump of clay, it’s all wonderful. While there is the obvious play attraction of being encouraged to play in the mud, there’s also a sense of being an alchemist with choosing the right glaze for the right clay body, of applying it for precise effect. Even the waiting for the kiln to be done and the smell of the freshly removed pieces is an anticipatory pleasure. The whole process is incredibly creative with room for play but all within certain parameters that enable a piece to be able to make it out of the kiln and into the world.
But then…there’s this wild side called raku pottery. In raku, pieces are fired in an outdoor kiln, and you can look in, and see them glowing completely red as they fire. When they are ready, you yank them out, toss them in a fireproof box full of pine needles or wood shavings, which go POOF! in a most satisfying way, then slam down the lid, wait, and finally plunge them into a bucket of cold water. If they make it through all that, you get to see what you and the fire have created together. The results are wildly unpredictable in many ways, so you have to be willing to play, to release the end product for the fun of creating it. I was privileged to be able to experience raku days in my pottery workshop with an awesome instructor and some very talented people, so we all got to share that fun and adventure together. It was amazing and wonderful.
Hmmm…in writing this I was also outside myself, just thinking of how much I enjoyed all that. As just writing about it can do that for me, it makes me realize how very much I miss making pottery and how very much I need to make this a regular part of my life again.
Reading that was fun too, what an experience that must be!
Taking a walk outside, especially in a woods or forest, or by a river or at the seashore takes me out of myself — especially if I am really attentive to the sights, smells and sounds around me.
I always want to play but adults are not supposed to. Their ‘gravity’ holds up the world you know!
I too love to be drenched by summer rain and splash in puddles. Build snow men or a snow house in the winter. Walk along the beach with my small grandchild leading the way. Stop to build a sand castle. I always want to play. Sometimes even now as an old lady I take the liberty to. Thank you for permission Br. Luke.
What a wonderful gift your grandchild is giving you! To see the world through the eyes of a small child shows us adults the world again, a world that was new and held the possibility of something to discover around every corner, under every rock, within every flower. That world is still there; it never changed. We did. But children give that gift back to us when we experience the world on their level and at their pace.With children, playing and discovering that world IS their life work. Play on!
I’m a new grandmother (she’s 9 weeks old! and #2 is due in June) and am so looking forward to the same experience! I will use my grandchildren as ‘top cover’ for doing the things I still want to do – like building a tree house or swinging on a tire swing!
Grandchildren are such a blessing. When my daughter and grandsons come to stay the eldest comes to my bedroom when he wakes and climes into bed. We have a cuddle, he pretends to push my husband out of bed. (he goes to make tea), and then we play. Sometimes the bed is a beach,so we make sandcastles. A wave comes, and smashes them down. We pretend to cry, then comfort each other, and build some more. Sometimes we play games with words, sometimes we take turns in telling a story. Now his brother is older and can clime the stairs, he comes too. This short time before they go for breakfast is so precious, and i enjoy it so much,and it is FUN!
Teaching with mature students. Well actually, it’s facilitating their learning. Engaging in difficult discussions, listening to complicated answers, and learning things I didn’t know that I didn’t know. Flooding myself with that allows me to lose than me in the learning of the new