Checking the Weather

by Jennifer “Birdie” Shawker

God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

I woke up yesterday morning and checked the weather. That’s something a lot of people do, but I’m not talking about the temperature outside my house.

I’m talking about my inner weather. My inner weather was overcast and chilly with strong gusts of cold wind. I had this feeling I was forgetting something.

I looked at the calendar and realized it was my mother’s birthday. No wonder I felt like I was forgetting something, right? For most of my life, I’d have gotten her a gift by her birth date. But a gift was not necessary this time, she had passed about six years ago.

But I was glad I’d checked my emotional weather and recognized a system of grief was in my vicinity. This helped me understand to take it easy on myself, and not walk through my day unknowing of my grief. There is no way of transforming our inner state without some level of self-awareness. Perhaps if I’d walked around unaware, I might inflict my inner weather on someone else, and create stormy outer circumstances.

But I was glad I’d checked my emotional weather and recognized a system of grief was in my vicinity.

Instead, I had a self-care day. I had hot chocolate. I took a nap. I lit a candle for my mom, and since I felt a compulsion to get her something, I did. There were roses on sale at the grocery store. I bought some, and as I arranged them in a vase, placed them on my home altar I said aloud, “Happy Birthday, Mom,” giving thanks for her, and giving thanks for my practice of checking on my inner weather.

Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic wrote a wonderful poem about emotions and their function, called “The Guest House.”

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Rumi

I might have tried to avoid my inner weather of grief at another time of my life, but avoidance has its perils. We tend to do things that aren’t great for us when we try to avoid emotions: overeat, overdrink, or overwork and more….. I’ve found, over time, leaning into all my feelings is far more desirable. Those feelings do not last forever, and self-awareness has a wonderful way of empowering us. Knowing our inward state helps prevent outward mistakes.

Emotions are important and have a function beyond those little emoji images we use in texts on our smartphones. I know this sounds hard, to greet all our emotions, to name them, to acknowledge them, to feel them. Not just the happy ones. Giving attention to all our emotions helps us live in a balanced way and experience the fullness of life. I promise it is well worth it.

We got this, my friends. Practice checking your inner weather every day, without fear. I’m up for the task, we all are, as offspring of the Divine we inherit traits that make us capable of facing any emotional weather, as it states 2 Timothy 1:7: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

I thank you for reading, be blessed this day.

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Jennifer “Birdie” Shawker

Jennifer “Birdie” Shawker currently serves at Connally Memorial Medical Center as a chaplain and at Unity of Boerne as their Social Media Director. Along with Rev. Jay Mulky, she co-founded and facilitates Path Lighters, an online spiritual community that gathers to intentionally pray and meditate. She served at Unity of San Antonio for eight years as the Communications Coordinator. Prior to this, she served as Youth and Family Ministry Director at Unity Spiritual Center, San Angelo, for 10 years. She has been a guest speaker at Unity of the Rio Grande Valley, Unity of Kerrville, Unity of San Angelo, The Center for Universal Oneness, Unity of San Antonio, and Unity Spiritual Center Corpus Christi. Birdie has been interviewed on Unity Radio about her role as a hospital chaplain during the COVID 19 pandemic on “Voices of Unity” and “Accessible Truths.” She has completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education through Baptist Hospital System in San Antonio, Texas. Birdie is a Registered Nurse and has worked in many settings, including hospitals, home health, and psychiatric care for over 25 years. She resides in Floresville, TX with her husband Frank, and a plethora of pets.

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