The all-too-familiar instinct
kept nagging at me, Don't do it, Karen. Don't
do it! You're trying
to shove too much into the afternoon. You're going to greet your guests
with an aching back and hostess' anxiety.
But I did it anyway. Because I
really wanted to attend the
Naperville Art Festival, and because a friend really wanted me to spend
time with her, I crowded my Sunday afternoon. Ten people were coming
for a "Bag
Team" brainstorming dinner that evening. The table was set, guests were
bringing parts of the meal, but I still had to pick up the special
I use and some whipped cream at Jewel-Osco, and the homemade chicken
soup (that my family loves) was not in the pot yet!
Obviously, I was hurriedly
making a choice that I was not
carefully considering. Now I was on my way as my friend drove down
to see this remarkable exhibit of artists' works about which she had
exultant. The time was 12:30. While stopped at a traffic light, I
to do the calculations. It would take a half-hour to get to Naperville:
I would have to leave by 2:00,
run to the store, get home, debone the chicken, make the soup, mix
liqueur into the whipped cream and create a sauce for the blackberry
recipe taken from my Cooking French
book. If I returned
home by 3 o'clock,
would I get everything done by the time people arrived?
I knew I was really in time
trouble when my friend mentioned
that she probably would have to park three to six blocks away. Was I OK
walking, or should she drop me off at the Festival and meet me? You're never going to make it, Karen. You
know better than to crowd your days. The inward voice again.
Busy talking, I suddenly
noticed we had been sitting at the
light for an inordinately long time. A policewoman was holding up
she actually had what looked like a remote control in her car that was
our northbound/southbound traffic lights turned red. Only then did I
that an apparently endless line of motorcycles was passing by going
when I looked west, as far as the eye could see, there were motorcycles
motorcycles after motorcycles. We had obviously bumped into a
and they were not going to pause for us—no way!
After what seemed like ten
minutes, with the motorcyclists
still driving past, and some of them now circling back on the westbound
my friend and I turned to one another and said, "We're not going to
it to the Artists' Festival, are we?" "No, we are not!"
It was kind of the Lord to use
about 500 motorcyclists to
get my attention, wasn't it? Uh, Karen,
you don't have enough time to do in this day all you want to do. Let me
perfectly clear. Hey motorcycle guys and gals! Let's help this little
To attend—how hard I still work
at this. To pay attention. To
listen. To listen well.
I am on Chapter Six of Daniel
Siegel's The Mindful Brain. It
"happens" to be about what occurs in
the neurology of the brain's circuits when we pay attention! Siegel
that we develop the capacity of not only of being aware but "mindfully
difference between the
two would be me saying, while stopped at the light on Warrenville
Road, "Oh hey, they're a
lot of motorcycles going past!" and "Why is this happening and what
am I feeling at this moment and what is my response in the middle of
Being mindfully aware has much to do with reading the meaning in the
with reading my own meaning as I am collecting data in the moment. This
called "metacognition"—being aware of awareness.
Siegel says that developing the
habit of being aware of
awareness leads to biological and psychological attunement, a being at
with ourselves in the world and at being in harmony with others.
that people who train themselves to stop, look and listen develop a
well-being. The impact of being aware in this way can be specifically
by brain scientists. "We can actually focus our minds in a way that
changes the structure and function of the brain throughout our lives.
mindset, being aware of the present moment without grasping onto
offers a powerful path toward both compassion and inner well-being.
what science verifies and what has been taught over thousands of years
practice." Certain areas of the brain
thicken with mindful awareness,
like muscles in the arms
that have been exercised.
To be mindful when halted by
the motorcycle rally means me
my goodness! I am being interrupted in the
hurtling projection of my life by an endless line of motorcycle hogs.
I choose to ignore that inward nudge: Don't
think you're going to be able to do this?
it be possible that God orchestrated this
whole encounter to delay me?
am I feeling right now about this? Why, I
am actually feeling relieved—and
at the same time, I am
also thinking this
is very, very funny!
psalmist writes in Psalm 49 (vv. 1,2):
Listen to this, all you people!
Pay attention, everyone in the world!
High and low, rich and poor—listen!
For my words are wise, and my thoughts are filled with insight.
Last night I sat on a bench in
the backyard to watch the
light dimming and the sunset change from soft pink to a brilliant
I caught a flicker of movement. Was it—could it possibly be a
to the feeder that had been vacant all summer? Yes—yes—a hummingbird.
No, two hummingbirds. Were they
ruby-throated? Metallic green—yes, but I couldn't see the identifying
throat and black chin.
The birds chased each other
around the red plastic feeder,
which was about five feet from me; then they zoomed two feet off above
only one returning to feed and feed again. And the sky to the west
shouted glory to God, shouted anthems.
I began to practice being aware
of being aware.
What was happening? The
hummingbirds had come to the feeder.
But what else was going on?
Because I took the time to
pause, I was being given a glimpse of the infinite creative presence of
What was going on in me? How
was I responding? Oh, with awe,
with praise to God, with tears and emotion.
How did I feel? Lifted,
stunned, privileged, filled with
knowledge of the unbearable brightness of being.
to this, all
you Soulish Food readers!
everyone in the world!
and low, rich
words are wise,
either nudging our souls inwardly,
writing in the
world and in our hearts is filled with insight.
Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold
bags @ an average of $20
margin each = an estimated
already sold = $1,495 toward our goal.
Goal to Go: 466
bags = $10,505 (!)
Have you considered giving GBLP
tote bags as gifts? One of
these shopping bags was recently purchased "in honor of" a person being
celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the
purpose of the GBLP
bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP
tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming
wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as
favors for a
To receive your own Global
Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP
Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a
check made out to Hungry
Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.
Advent 24-hour Retreat of Silence
Wednesday and Thursday
Bishop Lane Retreat Center in Rockford, IL
(for details, click this link)
The Theme Is: Fear Not
Partly because Valerie Bell and
I will leave for France with
a total of 15 pilgrims October 24 to return on November 4, we are
early registration for the Advent Retreat. If you register in the next
weeks, the fee for early registration is $100. After October 1, the
will be $120. However, if you bring new people to the Advent Retreat,
welcome fee for any new attendees (and for you) will be $90. The cutoff
for registrations is November 25. Contact our volunteer registrar
Melodee Cook (
) for more details.
Group Cycle for 2008-2009
Begins Week of October 13-18, 2008
We meet once a month in groups of three to four
for two and a half hours.
The groups will
continue for eight months to June 2009.
If you are in the Chicago
area and would like to be part of a Listening Group for the purpose of
spiritual growth, register with
These groups are built upon the amazing discoveries science is making
what happens biologically in the brain when people feel heard, listened
really understood. One actual result is that new “social circuitries”
be formed in the brain. Listeners and listenees (new word!) experience
social scientists term “attunement”—a peaceful, wholesome, deeper
with themselves, with one another, and with God. Listening prayer is
practice around which we have built the architecture of the Hungry
I’ve interviewed almost all of
the members of the last
Listening Group cycle. Unbelievably, many said in one way or another,
Listening Groups changed my life.” These positive results seem to be
disproportionate to the small amount of time allotted to listening to
another and to silent prayer: We meet once a month for about
hours. Most of us do not know one, nor do we see one another between
meetings. If you are being nudged inwardly, I strongly challenge you to
join a Listening
Group. You may be ready for a remarkable journey
We are establishing the
parameters for a qualitative
research project under the supervision of Dr. Tom Altepeter, a Ph.D.
psychologist. To make this research project viable, we need 50 to 80
join (12 to 20 groups). Any one who has been in a previous group is
start again. We also will need 12.5 (!) to 20 group leaders. If you
start a group in your neighborhood, among friends, or in your church, Hungry Souls will be conducting a
two-hour leaders training Saturday morning, October 11. Contact me at
if you are
interested. We have about six leaders who have gone through listening
ready to lead their own groups; so we need six to 14 more leaders.
For those of you who are
outside the Chicago area, I will be
happy to set up teleconference training for group leaders. And for all
in Chicago or across the country, I will be more than happy to be
consultation and supervision.
Meeting of Women’s Minds:
A Microenterprise Journey to Kenya in March 2009
details and day matrix for the Kenyan Microenterprise Journey are
complete! I am terribly excited about this trip. We
will be meeting
and dialoguing with many Kenyan women who are working to solve their
problems. The purpose of this journey will be to discover
ways we can
collaborate in these solving-problem ventures. United Nations
(World Health Organization) studies have shown that the most successful
grassroots projects in Africa,
ones that are
sustainable and effective, are organized and run by women.
will be leaving the States March 25 and returning April 6.
need to know by October 31 if you are intending to join us. Follow
this link for more details and costs.
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted bi-weekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the bi-weekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.hungrysouls.org.
"It was kind of the Lord to use
about 500 motorcyclists to
get my attention, wasn't it?"
Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of
Well-Being by Daniel J. Siegel
Siegel, co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center, blends
personal experience with scientific research, attempting to capture the
spiritual as well as the physiological phenomenon of "mindfulness".
“The Mindful Brain marks a major landmark in the emerging field of
Daniel Siegel offers a provocative, highly original, and brilliant
theory integrating mindfulness meditation with brain research, one that
will shape thinking in the field for years to come.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the science of mind and
—Daniel Goleman, author
Social Intelligence: The New Science of
From the back cover copy.