Apr 14Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Playing catch-up today and dern it, Kelly, you made me cry again! (You're SO good at that!)

The Merton quote got me first, and then of course the boy in the lobby. But the Merton reminded me of the one mystical/spiritual experience I've had, which I may have alluded to on a podcast with you. I was so grateful to have had the time that day to write it all down afterwards, but the short version was this: I could see how we're each a tiny spark of the massive creative spark that created us all—the same life force that makes the trees bloom and the grass grow—and that we're most alive when we're connected with that same life force and using it to bring our own creations to life. It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced.

One of my friends, hearing me talk about it afterwards, said, "I didn't think you believed in God, but now I think maybe you do!" I'm not much of one for religion, though I've always suspected there's something else out there... and while I would never even want to try to put a name on something so much bigger than me, I can't deny her underlying point.

This happened two and a half years ago, and it has certainly faded. It's not something I think about all that often anymore. I do occasionally remember, and pull out that journal, and re-read it, and when I do, it comes back for a few minutes... and then it fades away again. Maybe it'll return again in a bigger or different way someday. Maybe it won't. But at least it happened once. And it's still in there, if quieter, fueling my fundamental belief that connecting with our creative selves is the fastest and easiest way to bring ourselves to life. :)

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1. Prison bars...Knowing I have them, that there’s a choice to step in or out, that the choice is mine - for me, that’s really, really rough.

I like how you take the reader along with you on your journey to seeing your prison bars. I like that you don’t start at the mountaintop and “preach.” I realized as I read that you don’t have to preach; you’re telling an “I” story, not a “we” story.

2. I was raised Catholic and through the age of seventeen aspired to become a nun. I won’t get into my path away from that, but it left a gaping distance between myself and God.

Your relationship with God is fundamental to your experience. What I enjoy about your writing is that your experience doesn’t feel like it excludes mine. It feels like two people walking side by side, having a conversation; you’re not ahead of me, calling back over your shoulder, waiting for me to catch up. How magical, I thought, that I can join the fold of your story without having to suspend my own.

3. I notice I feel inspired to think and consider. To challenge myself because I am drawn to, not because I’m told to.

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Mar 25Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Thank you Kelly. When I read your work, it’s like a lightbulb goes off in my head and I now have words to put to feelings. What a gift you have and thank you so much for sharing it with the world. I recently heard a line in a song that has stuck with me that helps me be in the present, The line is you know you’re in the moment when you give up your mind for your soul. Helps me get out of my head. Have a beautiful week-end everyone!

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Mar 24Liked by Kelly Flanagan

Dude, you have to put warnings on your stuff that it's not safe to read if you are trying not to cry in front of others in your radius.

I think I'm just sensitive this week. We are considering moving to a home that fits our family and it is prime house hunting season and all the insanity that comes with it including a lower supply of homes and people spending wild money on overpriced real-estate in the frenzy of economic uncertainty.

We are considering moving into the country. My work is primarily telework and the sacrifice of a little more driving to bless my family with comfort and stability is pretty heavily on my heart as I do the math on finances and consider future plans and realized how little time I have left with my kids before they are their own adults doing what I do now. We are thinking of the country because we want to isolate ourselves a little bit more. To get out of the hub and bub of life just a little more. To commune with nature more freely in our own private space.

Yet here I read your story. A story in the thick of what I don't want to be part of and finding that light and following it with an open and honest heart. That last line of the quote from Merton, "But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift." It got to me.

I wondered, am I selfishly hiding from the world? Am I denying the light of others by "escaping" in a Jonah fashion? Have I given up on people? I wondered it hard and then, I thought some more and realized that it's not this purposeful thing where you throw yourself into chaos, thinking you will redeem all in your circle of influence from the chaos. You weren't saving anyone. Not even the boy who needed a father. That boy needed to not have his father. That woman needed to have her bloody experience with the worst life has to offer as it demonstrates its delicateness. That desk clerk needed that vomit and that elevator ride. It is the messy truth of reality and we must face it. We must bind our hearts in solidarity as we collectively have our individual experiences. It's not about stopping the pain, cleaning the mess, or ending the misery. It's about having a shared experience and discovering over and over again the beauty and wonder of all of it from the very worthy and very [loveable] souls that make us who we are.

Me potentially moving to the country doesn't have to be some escape as much as it can be a way to energize my batteries so that when I come across humanity, I will be ready to see that sun emanating from within it. I felt a little redeemed by your words as they penetrated my own thinking and allowed me to experience something for a moment. A moment I needed today.

My comments on this section are as follows: "Thank You"

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Mar 24Liked by Kelly Flanagan

All I can say is wow! This hits at the core of what it means to not only be a follower of Christ but a basic human as well. Brene Brown once said "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." You wear your authenticity well.

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I cried my way through this chapter. I have been struggling hard, and yet somehow how nearly hard enough. Not fighting what I should fight but still fighting… something. Useless. Draining. I had forgotten that we’re all so beautiful. And as I read I recalled Andrew Petersons where he mentions the same Thomas Merton experience. I’m eager to see what happens next.

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