Forgiving The World

By: Nermine Mohamed, Writing Intern 2015

Blue ruffles; light blue just like the sea, dancing up and down so smoothly and so playfully just like the waves. I could still hear her voice; a girl in a ruffled blue skirt I met on a vaporetto in Venice on my way home. She was singing at the top of her lungs, laughing, giggling; covering the noise of the engine, all to blue girl italyherself. I kept on watching her, envying her a bit and I wondered from where all this could  possibly come from; all this unrestrained joy and happiness, this peacefulness, not worrying about a thing, and tuning out the world’s noise and living in your own song.

As I watched her carefree dancing, I found myself thinking about forgiveness. She gave me a reason today to start forgiving. To start forgiving the world I’ve been angry at for a long time now. The restlessness, the closed doors, the circle that gets tighter every day, how I got to be so lost and confused, all the thinking and worrying, all this must stop, must be forgiven and forgotten, because only forgiveness can make us lighter, freer, happier, like blue ruffles!

So it is okay; to have lost people, to have been hurt and disappointed. It is okay not to know who we are or what we want. It is okay to change our minds, to change course, to go back to where we started or to stop all together, take a break and think it all over again, because sometimes all that we need is simply to flow with life’s streams, without worrying where we will end up.

Blue ruffles taught me today that I should start forgiving: forgiving myself for giving up, for not trying harder, for losing hope, but more importantly I should start forgiving the world as it is—regardless of every hardship—finding on my way beautiful things to explore and beautiful people to know. In order to flow, to sing and dance around like blue ruffles, I must forgive.

I followed her after we got dropped off and she was still singing and dancing around while holding her granny’s hand (who was all the time attempting to control her to no avail thankfully) and I could not resist snapping a shot of her as I wanted to keep this memory for when I need a reason to hope, to forgive and to start afresh.

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Inspiration in Unlikely Places

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

Paper, Interfaith, Inspiration, WordsCopy rooms tend to be soul-sucking places. You can often find a teacher or office worker there, eyes glazed over, listening to the monotonous whirls and gasps of the machine and probably stapling in the same rhythm. The fluorescent lights flicker, the walls are bare, and you are sure this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

But while the machine sucks the soul and the school year gets long and never ending, there are still a few coworkers trying their best to inspire their students. I found a pile of hopeful homework left next to the copy machine. There they were, 150 neatly piled copies of a commencement address given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon in 2005.

This is obviously a famous enough speech, especially since it made it to the reading list of 10th graders in Shanghai, China, but I had never read it before. I had come to the copy room to make my own monstrous load of dead tree handouts and decided to read it while I waited for the machine to stop its weird mechanical noises of death.

I was not disappointed.

For those who are not familiar, the speech is a rather abrupt and depressing affair beginning with a fish and water analogy and spiraling down into the dark and monotonous truth of adult life. He describes the long hours at work, the struggle to get through a grocery line, only to get home, sleep, and get up the next day to do it all over again.

At first, it made me sad. Really, really sad.

I’m 26, and most of the time feel like I’m play-acting at the whole adult thing. That weird, giggly joy of stepping into your own apartment for the first time, or getting a paycheck that the 15 year old me would never have dreamed of, or laughing at myself in the mirror because my business suit looks exactly like a costume I had to wear for a children’s play a long, long time ago. It’s all a big game.

But then you get used to it all, the joy disappears, and it becomes the exact repetitive monster David Foster Wallace describes. The rat race is real, my friends. I became doubly sad realizing that as a 10th grader I would have waved aside this prophecy as a rant from a man who clearly had nothing better to do in his life. Now, it felt as if he had been watching me in the grocery store.

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. He leaves his listeners with a challenge to think of others as possibly being more important than yourself, and adjusting your lens with which you see the world. Small yet powerful words.

So there I was, in the copy room, completely engrossed in reading this speech and having a small existential crisis of examining what my adulthood has become. I decided that today is a good day to change and start seeing things in a different way. I snuck a copy from the pile and it is now in my desk, next to notes from students I read when I am feeling uninspired. I gave those a read as well, and suddenly life is feeling new again. Inspiration brings joy, energy, and much needed passion.

My prayer:

Thanks God, for inspiration found in unlikely places, and the pure joy of literature and the power of words. Thank you that the cliche “it’s never too late to change” is true. Thank you for a reminder to look above and around and even upside down, to shake up the world like a snow globe and stand to the side, rather than the center. Help me bring meaning to even the dullest of moments and joy in fluorescent-lighted rooms. Help me to pass on inspiration to others who need it, just as it was given to me today.

Amen.

The Ritual Of The Top Ten

We would be remiss to end this month of exploring the ever-evolving ritual of the “Top Ten”. As 2014 comes to an end we all want to look back at what the year has held. We have selected ten posts, not because they are the best, or the most popular, but because they have represented some important moments from 2014. Even though we have only selected ten, we have been honored by every post and every comment. We hope each of you has found lots of wisdom, love …and even a little lint on your spiritual journey this year. Happy reading and Happy New Year!

  1. A Prayer for New Beginnings— A prayer for anyone starting a new journey
  2. Millennials Strike Back with Professions of Love— A post from Jenni Taylor about the value of Millennials
  3. Ferguson: We Are Praying— A spiritual reaction to the racism in Ferguson and across the USA
  4. Fear Vs Self Worth— A post about bullying by a former Miss Arab America and a notMyKid volunteer
  5. The Choice of Leaving Syria–A post about one woman’s choice to leave her home in Syria.
  6. For the Love of ElephantsJenni Taylor thoughts on justice for all of God’s creatures 
  7. It’s Your Church Too— Patrick Cousins,a campus minister at Saint Louis University, writes about LGBTQ justice
  8. Secular Spirituality: Is That a Thing?–Hailey Kaufman’s eloquent post on atheism and spirituality
  9. Strength To Endure–a reflection on sexism and strength after the shootings in Santa Barbara by Autumn Elizabeth 
  10. Fear and Hunger for Justice–Hafsa Mansoor writes about fear and justice as a Muslim

On Being Awake

awake

By: Jenni Taylor

I want to be awake. Those neurons are firing in my brain, and I want to know the intricacy of each. I run and feel my heart pound and never want to forget how each beat is a gift. I breathe in that qi, that breath of life, that beautiful oxygen filling my belly and my back all the way down to my toes and I know my body is more amazing than I will ever be able to understand.

I want to feel amazed. I want to tell my students to draw pink trees or purple trees or green trees if they like but only if they want it to be green and not because they have to. I want to stop for that moment at night when I’m alone on the pavement looking at the sparkling city lights and feel that I am part of something so big and so beautiful and realize it’s not lonely at all, just quiet. It’s the quiet that comes before taking a leap of faith, and I wrap it around my heart like a promise.

I want to live bravely. I want to sing to the Chicago south side soulful church beat I grew up with, and stylize my oohs and ahhs with loud obnoxious ecstasy. I want to bravely learn to love myself on the days when all I see are flaws. I’d rather my heart be two sizes too big with enough room for tears instead of two sizes too small with no room for love.

I want to be wise. I want to embody Sophia, the wise woman, every day. I want to grow wrinkles that tell stories and laugh lines that show a life well lived. I want to ask the right questions, even if the right answers are hard to find.

I want so many things. It’s my time to get out of bed and live my life awake.

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant, total amazement. -Meg Ryan as Patricia in Joe Versus the Volcano

The Top 10 Tradition

We would be remiss to end this month of exploring tradition without addressing the “Top Ten” tradition. As 2013 comes to an end we all want to look back at what the year has held. We have selected ten posts, not because they are the best, or the most popular, but because they have represented some important moments from 2013. Even though we have only selected ten, (hey! it’s tradition!), the top thing to remember from 2013 that everyone’s journey is special and filled with wisdom, love …and lint.

  1. A Crazy World — A beautiful post about life and loss in war-torn Syria
  2. Mosaic — An artistic representation of the beauty and the diversity of humanity
  3. Eating our Values — A post about living one’s values through what one chooses to eat
  4. Creating Spirituality — A poignant post about religion, creativity and spiritual experiences
  5. In Defense of Prayer — A story about grief, confusion, prayer and atheism
  6. Doomsday for DOMA — A post that marks the end of the Defense of Marriage Act in the United States
  7. Heifer International and My Brother’s Gifts —  A sweet post about keeping a loved one’s spirit alive
  8. Manu Temple — A post from Jenni Taylor about a beautiful exchange in India
  9. Strangers and Angels — a post from Autumn Elizabeth about a beautiful exchange in Chicago
  10. The Proverbial Women —  the post that started it all…

Blooming Bridges

Today’s guest post for our Traditions theme comes from artist and social activist Yvonne Osei. Originally from Ghana and now graduated from Webster University in Saint Louis, Yvonne connects diversity,human complexities, and humanitarian issues to show the beautiful tradition of togetherness and cultural belonging across borders and boundaries.  More of her phenomenal work can be found at  her website

 Blooming Bridges
 
 
 
Artwork Details
Name: Blooming Bridges
Medium: Photography
Size: 20″ by 30″
Description: “Blooming Bridges” reflects diversity through a range of skin tones, hand gestures and vibrant colors coming together to enunciate ideas of connectivity. The work is a commentary on human solidarity in a contemporary world that continues to share ideas on a global scale.

The photograph was taken during a performance with four individuals from diverse cultures. They each had a different color in their hands and a task to interact with one another. The underlying principle was to make a mark on others metaphorically showing how several influences come to play in collective art making. Through the blends of color and outburst of energy in the varying movements of hands, there is a resounding affirmation of unity formed.

The title “Blooming Bridges” captures positivity and growth in the act of joining these separate hands as one entity, as each hand plays a vital part in building support systems for the others.

 
 

Traditions, Submissions, and You!

December is here!

12 months have gone by, folks. 12 months of joy, heartache, sunshine and clouds. It’s a time to reflect, and a time to embrace those closest to you.

This month we will focus on traditions- past, present, and future. We want to hear your traditions- the ones that warm your heart, remind you of something important, and bring an extra bit of love and light in the world. We want to hear the tough ones too, the ones that remember lives lost, love lost, or how to get through those black days. Please share your stories with us, by submitting to sophiaspockets@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint (and holiday cheer!)

Autumn and Jenni

Loose Thread: Thankful Thoughts

Theologian Meister Eckhart  once said,

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.

For our part, we here at Searching Sophia’s Pockets are, as always, grateful for all of you, and your creativity. We say a prayer of thanks for art and music, writing and dancing.

So once a week, we invite you to share something you are thankful for with the community of Searching Sophia’s Pockets.

What prayer of thanks do you want to share this week?

The Girl in the Mirror

By: Jenni Taylor

Hey, little lady. You are rockin’ that up-do. Don’t look so sad. Let me pick up this doll for you- here. You know, I look at myself that way in the mirror all the time.  I’ve tried hairstyles with a million bobby pins and red lipstick and new eyeliner. I’ve looked at the magazines, read the tips, dreamed of the dresses I would wear on the red carpet. I usually end up in front of the mirror, looking just like you.

Scootch over kiddo. Want me to do your hair for you? Here, let’s just poof it out in the front a little bit, add a pin here- good. Now a little bit of lipstick. Stick out your lips for me. There.

Honey, you’re beautiful. Playing dress up is fun. But don’t look at yourself like that. Trust me, I’m speaking from experience. Do you have any idea how beautiful you are? It’s okay if you don’t, because I do. I bet your mom knows, your dad knows, and even if they don’t, there’s someone else that knows.

There’s this guy out there, an artist, you see. And he’s told me all about you. He said you are fearfully and wonderfully made- fearful in the same way you put those pins in your hair, carefully and perfectly. He’s got plans to prosper you and not to harm you kiddo, plans to give you a hope and a future. He’s enthralled with your beauty, and calls you glorious. He chases after you, he calls you His. And bottom line, he loves you.

Do you feel loved, beautiful girl? Do you love yourself? It’s okay if you don’t. You see, because even if you don’t feel it or believe it, it’s there. You ARE loved. It never goes away, it never changes, it never grows. It’s just there. From the beginning of time, to now, to the end of the world. That love makes you part of infinity. Pretty cool, huh? Because of love, you were created to be part of the whole universe. Lipstick or no.

Baby, you’re not just beautiful. You are love incarnate. Every skin cell, every bone, from the tip of your nose to the ends of your toes, you’ve got swirly, sparkly, love DNA all over you.

When you look in the mirror, that’s what I want you to see. Your freckles are stars, and each one has a name. Your fingerprints are rotating galaxies, each one different and unique. That blood pumping through you is life, the miracle of the universe.

You are not one of many, love. You are much, much much more than that.

So let’s take these pins back out and have a tea party in the sunshine. What do you say? You and me kiddo. Forever loved.

Mosaic

Today’s post is from gifted artist Yvonne Osei. She comes to us as a Webster University alumna, with degrees in Art and International Studies. More of her incredible work can be found on her website. Her post for us today comes in the form of an acrylic painting titled Mosaic, and a few words about the painting and her journey as an artist. Enjoy!

Mosaic

Mosaic, as the name suggests, is a painting consisting of  fragments of little strokes of color to suggest a crowd. The idea of togetherness as well as individuality are both essential components of the painting. This piece highlights that although as human beings we all have our personal identity and intrinsic uniqueness, we create a resounding statement when we work and stand together as one.

My creativity is nourished constantly by my day-to-day interactions with people and environments. I experience a sense of self-discovery and a strong establishment of self identity when I learn from others; they inform my art making.

Being creative is a lifestyle and an ongoing adventure of learning to see, smell, feel and hear effectively. It is intertwined with the way I view the world.

Creativity through art is a precise, interesting and universal way of communicating ideas. It is the manifestation of our inner creations. As an artist, I am invested in using the fine arts as a way to solve problems in our shared world. I am dedicated to utilizing  visual art and design concepts, two globally understood mediums of expression, to achieve global solidarity.