Emily Dickenson on Fame

Emily Dickenson wrote a poem years ago that for some reason resonated with me even though I was young. I think I intuited that being known, being famous, has its downfalls. In my responses to the blog I wrote about Trump the other day, I alluded to the problems that come along with fame and power. Here is what
Emily wrote:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Blessed is the man who has fame but understands it’s pitfalls and chooses righteousness. He knows himself.


Poetry in Four Episodes

I am itching to get back into the habit of blogging. When I first started, I committed to daily writing. I can blame my book, of course, since that was about all I could handle for a good while. But now she is published and I have failed to pick up the old commitment. Yesterday began the Easter Season. The Lord has risen and so must I.

In October of 2017, I wrote in my journal of a number of mini-spiritual awakenings. I had just come off of a recovery retreat which I myself hosted. I had also signed a contract with a publisher and the work to do the final editing on my book was before me. Here are the entries in my journal, poetry in four episodes:

October 1
Connecting – we are One – all is One – all is Now – I am Here – I walk and my Here changes but Here is where God is. Here – so close – Herein. I Am.

October 19
I feel a glow – I thought it as a break in the clouds, or my opening up to this higher place. Like bobbing my head above after swimming under the lily pads for so long. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

October 27 
My soul is healing from the last two years of darkness. I am beginning to experience slip-slides. Moments when it seems the planets are aligned or I am sliding on black ice…it is time!!! All is well – wood is in – a fire is burning.

October 30
This is how I operate – I water the flowers and ignore the weeds.

Getting My Life Under Control

Whenever I feel lost, I grab for my calendar. I look at the days ahead and ponder empty time spaces to fill with things I feel I need to do: write, organize, call people. make appointments. It always helps me feel for a while that things are under control. If I can add to that an exercise plan and an eating menu, Wow!

There it is, all on paper, my organized life. It gives me hope. It makes me feel that all will be well.

On the day I die, will a family member pick up my plan of attack and and see that I have 3 birthday cards to mail…and mail them? That I had intended to call two friends…and call them? That I was in the middle of organizing the medicine cabinet…go there and finish the job? Will they appreciate that I had, at least, had the good intention to weed the garden and to make soup out of the steak bones in the freezer? Will they see the last dish towel I’d started to embroider and decide to pass on it half done? Will they read my last entry in my journal to see how I was feeling that day, what was on my mind. Was there a nugget of wisdom there that might be shared at my funeral?

As I attempt to get my life under control I have to remember that it is just an illusion – my life will never be so. All I ever have is good intentions and the gift of the last step forward.

From the journal of Judy Jeub, May 7, 2014

Christmas and Incarnation

Christmas is about Incarnation, God coming into the world through or in the body of a particular baby born in a stable in the town of Bethlehem. My spirituality has gone to a place that is very difficult to explain to another person, but Richard Rohr wrote this morning using words and images that seem to work quite well for me. I will intersperse my own words with what Richard offers.

Rohr begins with the teachings of Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a Byzantine Christian monk and mystic… Symeon believed that humans had the capacity to experience God’s presence directly. He visualized  this union happening within the “force field” of the Body of Christ.

I believe that this force field is available to any human person. It is not necessary to enter “in the name of Jesus.” Jesus himself knew the difference between someone proclaiming him to be Lord with their words and one whose heart was in the right place. No matter the path, it is into this relationship that God calls us.

Rohr shares with his readers a poem written by Symeon, his “Hymn 15”. He says that these lines say it all for him and move him to an embodied knowing, where one can know mystical union on even a cellular union. Here is the poem and I have the same reaction to the poem as Rohr:

We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ. He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.

I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly whole,
seamless in His Godhood.)

I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightening.
Do my words seem blasphemous? – Then
open your heart to Him

and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ’s body

where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,

and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed

and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
we awaken as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.

My belief is that Incarnation is about all of us. As the Quakers say, there is “that of God” in all. And that of God is one unique expression that dwells within us. It is both our own True Self and the “Force Field” of the whole Body of Christ. It is the very foundation of the Oneness that Jesus preached.

I am especially drawn to the second-to-the-last stanza of the poem. It gives special meaning to the changes I am experiencing as my body ages and deteriorates. Even suffering and ugly parts share in this amazing Presence. I don’t know the “why” of Incarnation, but being awake to it is an amazing thing.


The Oxford dictionary defines serendipity as “the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. I am not sure this is how I have come to understand serendipity. I remember Carl Jung telling a story of coincidences of events and symbols that he began to notice. I can’t recall his examples but he suggested that they happen all the time but one needs to notice them. I person who is more intuitive is more likely to see, if you understand intuition as a kind of seeing from above or seeing with the heart. Some people will look for signs out and about in order to know how to make a decision. I am not inclined to do this simply because I don’t believe we can ever be completely sure whether a decision is perfectly right for us. For me, choosing is about stepping onto a different path and each path leads to a different set of outcomes that will be “right” for us. In other words, I believe that if your decision is made with good (loving)  motive (and perhaps with some information-seeking) you should be able to relax in it. My husband and I had a conversation recently about some of the decisions we made over the years. We realized that his decision to change jobs or our choice to move to a new location put us on a different path. The paths we did not choose may have been just as good for us. We will never know, of course.

An example of serendipity happened to me yesterday, though I don’t think it will effect any major decisions in my life right now. A poet friend of mine, Dianne, posted a short piece she wrote about moving through fog. It was a positive poem. She finds fog-walking to be comforting. I made a comment that I used to think about fog-walking as well and it helped me get through a difficult time.

This morning, I was reading an old journal. I wrote on July 30, 2008:

Oh, the motions I go through to try to grab hold of God. God, in a sense is like fog. I can walk in it – and it keeps me from seeing – but I breathe it in and breathe it out. I sense divine activity all about  but can only see a short way in front of me. So all that binds life together – the great connection – is a mystery to me. Nevertheless, I try to guess – I create a master plan in my head because I am afraid that the truth might be that there is none. Alas. Well, I keep grabbing. I cannot hold God in my hands. But breathing in and out seems to help – for as long as I am alive – I feel somehow connected to something greater than myself. Life itself – and I wonder, perhaps, that God is Life Itself – no face – just Life. 

Serendipity. It seems the only decision I need to make is to take the next step and have confidence that God is here.


Too Many Books to Read before I Die.

Yesterday, I posted a journal reflection from 1997. This is my reflection this morning, June 5, 2020:


There was a woman at Good Shepherd Nursing Home. I always passed her room when I was going down the halls to see (my friend) Olie. She lay on her bed, usually on her side, reading. I could see the books but not the titles. I can imagine that she couldn’t always sit to read because, like me, her ass end would get numb and the circulation to her legs would get pinched off. So she’d stretch out on her bed and read, read, read. The learning continues.

I don’t know if she is still in her body. Olie is gone out of her’s so I have no reason to go there anymore. But she comes to mind this morning and I thank God that her eyes continued to work so long. I pray that there is a library in heaven so that when I go there I will visit her and we can talk about all the books we have read while on the earth.

My Journal Entry Today

I am trying to get used to the idea that I may one day be living in a monarchy. What does one do? I am 74 years old. My world is getting smaller each day. That is, my world of influence.

What does one do when children are suffering? Would hopping on a plane and going to the boxes that hold them, banging on the doors, parking on the concrete and crying “help” do anything?

Would such a gesture mean anything in a monarchy? I don’t know. So far I have not had to live in one. I didn’t think so, anyway.

I have studied history. I have studied religion and philosophy. Some of my most profound teachers have lived under monarchical systems who prayed and wrote and served the poor. Some who lived in democratic sytems did the same. Some were activists, known by many or by a few. But all lived their lives authentically, no matter the context in which they lived. They were free, even in shackles or behind bars.

God’s ways are so far above mine that I am breathless. I have to stop in my track to rest. I look. I listen…what is to be my response? I pray for these who act, even if their actions seem to lead nowhere. They inspire me. They deepen my belief in a God Who may not really care about systems, but about loving. Just loving.

I don’t know. I care, I love my neighbor in my little corner of the world. This I can do.