MF 007 Sister Florence Franciscan with Kairos Retreat Center

MF 007 Sister Florence Franciscan with Kairos Retreat Center

Interview with Sister Florence, a practicing Franciscan for 40+ years. She founded Kairos Contemplative and Meditation Retreat Center

This is a summary (not a full transcript) of the interview 

How did Sister Florence get started with a spiritual practice? She started reading about catholic needs for houses of prayer. She wanted to have a place for retreat. She got approved to look  into houses of prayer. She went to Detroit to help figure this out.

It is like a dream to Florence, she was not the carpenter, or organizer, but helping hands came to do what needed to be done. She credits God with wanting the work done. She wanted a place out in the country. In 1976 she bought the place in the Northwest for $51K, with 27 acres. Her intent was to offer a place, (she believes we’re all directed by our unique history) the silence will be number one, withdrawal time from the busyness.

She makes a home for groups and individuals. With groups “they’re already on the train”, they respect and honor that. For individuals they make a home, and provide love and caring, so that they too know the “truth of their own wonderful being”. She and Rita want to do “God’s work”.

How did you pick the name Kairos?

14:30: She asked for input, and then she went to the chapel and picked up a book. And the author used the word Kairos in contrast to Chronos. Kairos is always momentary, always present moment. No past, no future, can’t use either. Present moment is the sacred of saintly living. She can pray sweeping the floor, or whatever else task. Inner attitude of service and love. It’s an atmosphere more than telling.

16:00: What is your meditation practice like? 

They start their day with quiet contemplation, reads scriptures, and then listen to various sound good teachers on spiritual practice. Some is Tibetan, or Buddha, some Christian. They are just here to facilitate in whatever way that occurs to them. Being human, we like to feel good and accomplished.

There’s an inner attitude that says that whatever the moment holds, you hold it in a prayerful way. Because to want the pleasures or the consolations, and they don’t come, then we usually don’t go back. We want things to satisfy the human person.

We learn to live the way of the cross, resurrection joy. To enter the human suffering. There is a place for us, because of our fidelity to the journey. A lot of that is just plugging away. We may not get anything for weeks or months. Don’t expect anything, receive what is given, with thanks. Everything has a purpose.

20:00 What is your advice for folks who go to retreats, and they losen up destructive habit patterns, but then they struggle a week later when they’re out of the retreat. What do you do when you struggle to integrate what you learn into their daily life?

  • “You have to will it, you must find a way to enter the silence.
  • Let nature teach you the wisdom, that is within nature
  • To broaden the inner scope.
  • We’re here for one another
  • What you do, or you do.. Ups me, or Down’s me.
  • We’re one human spirit in different bodies.
  • If you chose to continue in this, it’s important to watch your judgments.
  • Say Yes to the moment, no matter whether it is painful, or whether it is glorious.
  • We vacillate between good and down, but if we enter all , we enter the suffering of Christ.
  • You clear the mind, and sit in a state of receptivity, “get behind the thinking mind”.
  • If we stay true to the course, we’ll change.
  • We’re more than our bodies, we’re more than our thinking mind.

We don’t get it because there are so many distractions, materialities, and other things that draw us. We complicate things by putting our time and effort into things that are passing. It just means the journey has to go on.

We put our wisdom traditions in a pot and mix it together. We touch that sacred moment, wed the human spirit to that person. It’s a sacred moment. I haven’t come anywhere in 45 years, I’m still very much as I was, but my insights taught me to be faithful to the journey, don’t seek the good, don’t seek the destructive. But put your spiritual eyes towards “God”. She talks about Finley and how she likes listening to this teacher.

24:30 How has this practice helped you through times of struggle?

Yes, because you know everything is transitory, everything passes.  Next second it’s gone. But what people struggle with is how things emotionally grab them. You are not your emotion. Repetitive negative reactions depend on how they were wounded. So much pain for some people. Sometimes she’ll recommend someone with suffering first go to a therapist, counseling, before taking the next step with them.

No matter who she is, does not make her better than anybody else. Because the infinite love has no time to look at sinfulness. The brokenness that we walk in through our live. Everyone has a place where nothing has ever invaded, it’s sacred, the temple of our bodies. You don’t talk this way in Buddhism, but you seek the way beyond thinking.

27:30 The kingdom is spread right here, nirvana is right here, the kingdom is within already, what happens if people don’t realize that it’s already here?

Sin for her is contrary to love, but we’re all broken, we all have our shortcomings. Some of the most wonderful people she knows are recovering alcoholics.

We have pictures and words of God, but of course none of that is really god, we really don’t know. All unloving things in the world, are because of human pain. We don’t know what we say is heard. We all hear the same things differently because of our backgrounds. If we all do something loving, we help lift them up.

32:00 Violence in life

33:00 What has she learned from all the groups that have come to Kairos. 

We can find a way to let them to who they are. Everything good is given. We were at one (Adam and Eve), but we thought we could do it on our own. But we can’t. We can see after a while that there was a purpose for that. In order to see light you have to go into the dark. And that is why in groups you can do it, without having to do it alone.

34:00 Sister Florence then talks about her parents. Her father gave her the spirit to simply let things be, and to know love. Her mother made her do things she didn’t want to do, which was also good. You become that love, let it through you. She never met a person that she didn’t like. She may not like their dress, etc, but she never met a person that she didn’t reverence.

36:20 What do you say to folks who don’t have time to go to retreats? What advice do you have for them?

  • Take walks, and feel the in-breath and out-breath,
  • Let the body be an instrument of quieting
  • Take a scripture, or Zen reading, and sit 15-20 minutes, and stop when something strikes you, and then stop and journal it.
  • Journaling helps us objectify our inner thinking. After a week or 2-3 you start to see growth.
  • She gives some examples
  • You have to work at it, not as a labor, but a labor of love.
  • Do it daily
  • What do you do with the time you’ve been given, those 24 hours?
  • Put away your gizmos away for a small period of time every day
  • Just let “God” love you, don’t worry about deserving the love, or doing praying to “get something”.
  • Mentions the Prodigal Son. The last verse is the most powerful, I’ve done everything you wanted me to do, but you didn’t give me a feast. “Son, all these years I’ve given you everything I have”. Right now, every moment God is loving us. When we know God’s love, we will see a new creation.

She’s positive at the end, and thinks we’ll get through as a human species.

 

MF 004 Hal Rowe Student of Zen Buddhism Meditation Interview

MF 004 Hal Rowe Student of Zen Buddhism Meditation Interview

Hal Rowe Student of Zen Buddhism Meditation Interview
(Pictured above with his partner Debbie)

Hal Rowe is currently a student of Zen Buddhism. He serves environmental causes, loves the outdoors, poetry, and describes his path into a Zen practice through reading Alan Watts as a late teen.

He was influenced by Daoism and its appreciation of nature, Chinese philosophy,  Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism.

In this interview, Hal talks about how he started meditating, then got more consistent over time. He describes how he gets inspired.

He describes how his practice and understanding of being interconnected influences and informs how he consumes, how he deals with cravings, greed, and anger.

Hal then reads a few poems from the poet Cold Mountain and Matsu.

From Record of Matsu

If one wants to know the way directly:
Ordinary mind is the way,
Everything is the way
Mind – ground is the Dharma-gate
Mind-ground is the inexhaustible lamp.

He also talks about his environmental activism, and the interesting way he brought together and highlights how the two sides, of environmentalists and loggers have a lot in common.

He currently practices with the Zen Center of Spokane.

 

MF 003 Author Gail Storey on the Spiritual Journey of the Pacific Crest Trail Hike

MF 003 Author Gail Storey on the Spiritual Journey of the Pacific Crest Trail Hike

Author and meditator Gail Storey hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with her husband Porter Storey

(Note: below is a summary, not the entire transcript of the interview)

Gail Storey has meditated since the seventies, and has also authored 3 books.  The Lord’s Motel, was praised by the New York Times Book Review as, “a tale of unwise judgments and wise humor.” Her second novel, God’s Country Club, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. She has won numerous awards, and her fiction, poetry, and essays have been widely published.

The book that is relevant to the Meditation Freedom podcast, and in which she talks about her experiences with meditation, mindfulness as well as perhaps the most awesome trails in the US, called the pacific crest trail, is a memoir called, I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. The book won a number of awards, the National Outdoor Book Award, Colorado Book Award, Nautilus Silver Award, and Barbara Savage Award from Mountaineers Books. It was praised by Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, as “Witty, wise and full of heart.”

I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail is the hilariously harrowing story of Gail and Porter’s hike of the 2,663-mile trail from Mexico to Canada over the highest mountains of California, Oregon, and Washington. In their fifties, they carried Porter’s homemade ultralight gear to climb and descend twenty miles a day, trudge across the searing Mojave Desert, kick steps up icy slopes in the High Sierra, and ford rapids swollen with snowmelt. Through the permeable layer between self and nature,  they walked deeply into the wilderness of love, and the question Who am I?

A former administrative director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, Gail now writes, hoopdances, and jumps out of cakes, not necessarily at the same time.

She writes:

“I have a hunger to hike the whole trail” , Porter (Gail’s husband asked her), “It’s been growing in me for years, intensified by the work with people living their dying. But what keeps you going?” [Gail writes] For once I was at a loss for words. What wanted me out here? Not my body, it was falling apart. Not my thoughts, alternately confident and doubtful. Certainly not my emotions, unreliable in their swings from high to low. I wanted to be with Porter, yes, but even more, I felt inseparable now from the vast green and blue and white of the wilderness. I looked out on the lake, shimmering under the moon. I was as sturdy as the trees. I flowed over obstacles like water over rocks. I was as solid as the mountains, as clear as the sky. The wind blew through my heart. I was what knew the wind. What knew the world was here in me, pulsing in the trees, water, rocks, mountains, moon

Questions asked in the interview with Gail Storey

I’d like to start with how you got started on a meditation path, what prompted you to start thinking of doing a meditation practice? and why Buddhism?

You did some long retreats, how did those retreats and practice help you in our daily life?

Moving on to a different type of meditative retreat, let’s talk about your book, “I promise not to suffer, A fool for love hikes the Pacific Crest Trail”.

When you and your husband Porter where thinking about this epic trip along the Pacific Crest Trail, you were initially not totally thrilled with spending time in nature, as you say on the first page of your book, you “never much cared for nature, or rather, thought it OK, as long as it stays outside”. Was it the sense of your own mortality, as well as the circumstances (Porter quitting his job) or also those years of practice influence your decision to join your husband? (since you couldn’t join him on the Appalachian Trail).

Besides spending alone time, and relief from stresses of career, was it also nature that was calling you?

As you went further down the PCT, your relationship with nature changed…

You also mentioned that you wanted to fully experience each moment, instead of the endless “Cartesian chatter” as you call it.

You wanted (as you mention on page 94) the wilderness to make such claims on my body that my thoughts would settle like silt on the bottom of a lake.

Maybe you can describe a bit the experience you had on the trail, starting with suffering. As the book said, you made a distinction between pain and suffering. Explain what you mean with that to the audience.

Where you no longer had a clear sense of inside/outside. Where your persona, your face (as you say), everything dropped away, and your relationship or identification with nature transformed.

How has this affected your sense of authenticity?

Your husband Porter called it a vision quest, what was the main insight he got from this trip?

Resources

You can find out more about Gail:

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Thank you so much,

Sicco

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