Dee's Blog
Tue 02/19/2013
The Wisdom of Heraclitus
Topic: spirituality

It is difficult to separate spirituality from wisdom.  For true wisdom requires that we be in tune with spiritual things, I'm convinced. 

How often we confuse wisdom with being intellectually gifted.  Not so!  Geniuses aren't necessarily wise at all.  A study of terrorism will lead to plenty of examples.

One of the wisest Greek philosophers was Heraclitus. He lived 1500 years ago.  He could teach us all the difference in genius and wisdom. 

Two great quotes:

"Much learning does not teach one to have understanding." 

"Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day."

I see nothing in there that encourages me to spend hours in front of the TV or playing some mindless video game.  Nothing that makes me want to surround myself with people who want, above all, to accumulate degrees, monetary goods or power simply for personal gain.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:23 PM CST
Fri 01/11/2013
Do We Worship a Loser?
Topic: spirituality

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, wrote an important article a while back.

Rohr writes about the difficulty that men have in expressing feelings, especially sadness.  He contrasts this to the richer inner life of women in a world where women have more inner choices while men have more outer choices.

What he had to say is complex.  It weaves in spirituality, inner emotional conflict, and the problems of violence.  He points out that all of us lose when we frame the world's population in terms of "winners" and "losers."

The most important question he raises, in my opinion, is one that will keep me thinking for a long time.  In referring to Jesus' death on the cross, he asks: 

 How do we dare to worship a “loser” and yet so idealize winning?

My immediate answer is that Jesus wasn't a loser, except that he lost his earthly life.  What would yours be?  How does this compare to your own experiences of losing?  Can we be both winners and losers at the same time?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:27 AM CST
Tue 11/20/2012
Topic: spirituality

Good gardeners do not usually have to wait years to see if a seed is going to sprout. The little packets come with instructions and reasonable expectations as to when there should be some evidence.  Total crop failure, year after year, means something is seriously amiss.

Not so for those who plant seeds of thoughts or ideas, planting with the hope that at some future season there may be evidence that we have ever communicated.  Seeing results of our efforts may take generations, as any good teacher or minister will tell you.

"Sometimes planting seeds and watering them tries my patience. I want a forest right now," Renae Cobb recently said to me. Renae is a mother and a therapist.  At times, she writes of her observations, joys, and frustrations in her blog

Having evidence of things not seen is a part of Renae's unwritten job descriptions!  Oh, how I relate to her feelings!

If we choose our words carefully, there seems to be a stronger chance that the seeds will some day bring forth what we envision. Yet, truth is, we never will know with some of those "seeds." We may never see evidence; for the seeds may be carried far, far away, perhaps even passed on to another person while blowing right over the head of the person for whom we intended. This can happen even with generations. Our peers may not be able to relate to what we are saying, yet a little child sitting nearby may be taking notes.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth." (John 3:8) For me, this means that there are many factors beyond my control, determining when and where the "seeds" that I plant may decide to grow while others lie fallow, perhaps forever. Keep planting and watering, knowing that the only fertilizer you need is hope. For only in persistently doing so can we experience positive, creative change in this world.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:28 PM CST
Updated: Tue 11/20/2012 2:56 PM CST
Fri 05/25/2012
Wait for the Rain
Topic: spirituality

While we often associate rain with sorrow, I find it just as useful to think of rain as refreshment.

For two weeks, here in Kansas, we've had a dry spell. Being the lazy gardener that I am, my preference is to wait for rain before I start digging. Not only is it easier, I get a lot more done in record speed!

Rain can also be associated with the Spirit.

Age has shown me that many of the things I've longed and prayed for will never be. Yet many more have come to pass while I was waiting for the rain.

What's important, as a gardener AND as a mover and shaker, is to work with the unpredictable rain. To be ready and not to fill my life with "busy work" that may make it difficult or impossible for me to act when the Spirit moves me to do something that will change the landscape of my own life or the landscape of others, whose lives I'm privileged to touch.  Even as they change and inspire me.

 Survivors often ask "when are things going to change?" They sometimes are referring to the downward spiral that seems to have come into their lives.  Other times, they refer to systems with hard hearts.

I don't have the specific answers they are looking for.  Yet I know that many good things happen for those who have the patience to wait for the rain.

 Hang in there.   Storms may seem endless, but they eventually bring rain.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:19 AM CDT
Thu 05/24/2012
The Broken Urn
Topic: spirituality

Nancy Biele, MSW, spoke to a group of survivors of clergy sexual abuse (mostly Catholic) at a Linkup conference back in 1994.  I was in the audience.

 Nancy talked about the beauty of being broken, though she never came close to minimizing the pain and suffering.  I have often gone back to her illustration.  In great detail, she described a gorgeous urn that was shattered into a thousand pieces.  It's heart-broken owner decided that she could not part with it, so began putting it back together piece by piece.  Finally, she sat back and looked at the finished piece, with all of the cracks.  It had taken on a new shape and still had jagged edges.   It really didn't resemble the old treasured urn at all.  Yet, she admired the work of art that she had put together, piece by piece, herself.  Suddenly, it dawned on her that she now loved the new piece far more than she ever loved the old.

 How I can relate to the artist, though my "urn" was far from re-assembled in 1994!

What I've come to realize is that I need to sometimes take a hammer to parts that need to be re-examined and put back together again.  Yet the sense of wholeness and balance remains, for I am comfortable knowing that I will always "know in part" and operate in a state of incompleteness.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:31 AM CDT
Mon 01/30/2012
Welcoming the Unexpected
Topic: spirituality

Yesterday, an hour before lunchtime, I got a call from my son.  Did we have any plans for the day?  Nothing really, I assured him.  Suddenly we had wonderful plans.  They decided on the spur of the moment to come our way.  Just as quickly, I figured out that the frig happened to have just enough for 4 adults and 2 granddaughters.

Here they came an hour later, toting three doll cribs filled with baby dolls.  Oh, what joy! 

It's the sudden things that can so lighten our hearts--those things we don't plan which seem to crop up because of the foundations we've laid.  They bring hope for the future and energize us all.  They inspire us to continue the day-to-day mundane tasks whose importance we may even question at the time.  

Rest assured, whether we are speaking to power or simply nurturing others so that they may someday do so at the most unexpected moments, if we keep our focus on the future and how we can help to bring about change in our world, then we truly will have lived life to it's fullest--no matter what the unexpected may be.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:51 PM CST
Sun 01/22/2012
The Power of Silence
Topic: spirituality

This week I realized how thirsty my soul was to sit in silence with others of like mind.  As I've done from time to time before, I went to sit with my Quaker Friends. 

The church I attended is "unprogrammed."  Unlike many others that have programmed services with leaders, a lot of music and speakers or preachers. 

Recently, I was telling my 12-year-old grandson about the Quakers and their interesting way of worship.  He smiled and said that it sounds very boring.  For my personality, which takes little time to be still, I should think it would be to me, as well.  Yet.......

Whenever I sit in silence, I learn what's most important to me.  My heart searches for what I need to contemplate during this luxurious time.  Most of my thoughts come through musical messages, spiritual songs I have learned to treasure in the past.  Nobody else gets in the way of my communion with God.

Today, I was reminded that the world continues to turn without me thinking about what to do or say.

I was reminded that so many times my greatest witness has been through my refusing to respond to the forces of power that would "pull my strings" and use what I have to say as a trap.  There is truly a time to speak and a time to remain silent.  May God give me the wisdom to know when I need to be silent as much as when I need to speak.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 5:05 PM CST
Tue 01/17/2012
Still Believing
Topic: spirituality

"Don't stop believing" the song lyrics tell us.  Believing what?  That depends on who you are, where you've been, with whom you associate, and where you think you should be going. 

I believe everyone deserves a wonderful life.  I believe institutions and their leaders should be transparent.

In my earlier years, I naively believed that anyone who had attained power could be trusted--at least in the "almost perfect" world view that I believed was close to utopia.  I believed that there would always be a greater power to stop anyone who stepped outside the line very far.  If not another person, certainly God would stop them.

Enter reality..........

I still believe that most people can be trusted to do the right thing in ordinary situations. 

When it comes to power, I still believe that institutions and their leaders should be transparent. 

Now, in my old age, I also believe that neither  powerful people, nor the institutions they serve, can be trusted to be transparent. 

I believe we need powerful people.  We just need to have the courage to remind them that the world is doing all it can to make them transparent--especially reminding those who are fighting to see that it doesn't happen!

For more insights, see


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:40 AM CST
Updated: Wed 01/18/2012 7:05 AM CST
Wed 10/29/2008
Good Grief
Topic: spirituality

Getting news this morning of Wilma's death wasn't a total shock to me.  My mother, who still prefers to write letters over all forms of communication with relatives, wrote of the failing health of her 90-year-old friend just last week. 

Wilma went peacefully, in the wee hours of the morning.  She was alone in her room, in her own bed, with her older daughter sleeping in another room of the house. 

The news came in a very impersonal way, but that wasn't a problem for me.  Her younger daughter, a very close friend in my growing-up years, somehow had my husband's e-mail address in her address book, instead of mine.   Fortunately, he saw it and called it to my attention immediately.

Wilma's death put me immediately into a process of good grief.  She had a very good life, full of much happiness.  And she spread that happiness to many.   Her older daughter in a retired psychologist who does a lot of volunteer work these days.  Her younger an outstanding professional pianist.   Her son, the baby of the family, who was a dear playmate despite the fact that he served me right on one occasion in my teens, by holding me down long enough to rub Vaseline in my hair when I wouldn't stop annoying him, is today following in his father's footsteps as a very successful businessman.  All are testaments of their mother's watchcare.  Wilma had a voice that was like music when she spoke--even when she was firm or needed to raise it.  She was a woman of great confidence in her ability to set limits, to the point that I would not have dared question those limits or do anything to displease her. 

Her death stands in sharp contrast to a lot of griefs I've sustained in my life when friends or family made decisions that had repercussions that brought grief of a different flavor.  She leaves behind so many intangible gifts and an internal voice that will never die for me, as long as I live. 

She was one of several women who have helped to shape my thinking and the way I view the world.  All of them such blessings!

It's still grief I'm experiencing.  Yet this is the Charlie Brown variety that has my heart feeling light and grateful.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:15 AM CDT
Sun 10/26/2008
Understanding Grace
Topic: spirituality


Ron and I had supper with a great friend last night.  He's a survivor who also happens to be a very spiritually-minded Quaker minister.  In the course of our free-flowing conversation, he mentioned a survivor to whom he had been a support person for several years. 

Sadly, he'd recently received word of her sudden, untimely death from natural causes.  The one who informed him commented that the woman had, sadly, never been able to experience the grace of God.

To which my friend replied that he rejoiced that she was, at least, now experiencing the grace that God had been trying to extend to her all of her life.  That's how he understands grace.  I thought that was beautiful, yet can only be comprehended by a small percentage of people.

May the grace and peace that comes from deep within, connected to the higher power that you understand today, be yours.  Thereby connecting you to a great, universal spirituality that is beyond comprehension for all of us.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:32 AM CDT

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