Measuring The Intangibles

Measuring The Intangibles


As I sit here in one of my favourite “offices,” I am grateful for the sun shining through the enormous windows, for the white walls with local artists masterpieces, the the fresh air sneaking through the slightly opened front door!  Spring is here and in this moment I feel very alive!!!

As I reflect upon the past few weeks of learning in my course (Epistemological Foundations of Learning), the section on “intangibles” comes to mind.  Much like my observations I shared as I opened, many of the most important parts of my life are marked by intangible characteristics or experiences…moments of presence that physically seem fleeting at times.

Spirituality is a very sacred part of who I am.  I find a deep connection of faith and spirituality in community with my church.  This connection has evolved over time and to be honest, sometimes I wonder how I came to this point to find such peace within a Christian community.  Many, many years ago I shared with a group of women at a church my mom had us attend briefly that my stepfather had sexually abused me.  We lived in a small community and they basically told me that there was NO WAY that he would’ve done such a thing.  At that point, I built high walls around my heart which I thought were protecting me and actually they imprisoned me…

There were many reasons that led me back to a place of connection and community within the Christian faith.  The main influence was my dear grandmother whom lived until she was 105 years old.  Her unwavering faith, strength, and resilience no matter the hardships she’d endured drew me in.  Her tenderness and unconditional love blessed me and continues to bless me.  God showed up through my Grandma Dot and I am grateful for the life-changing encounter.

I overheard a very bitter conversation about Christians from some of my peers at residency.  Again, I started to build walls around my heart.  As I journeyed further into my courses, I began to feel conflicted as I hid such an important part of who I am.  Slowly, I allowed myself to share bits and pieces of that part of my story with certain colleagues and began to acknowledge not all members of the community held such bitterness.

This brings me to the section of our study on wisdom in daily life.  Over the years, as my faith has deepened, I have come to understand that it is wise for me to allow my actions to show who I am versus immediately sharing verbally.  As relationships build and friendships blossom, my spirituality organically emerges.  I often hear from others that I am nothing like the other Christians they know or what they’ve come to know from the media.  I just smile…

In my readings, I  struggled with the idea that wisdom is innocent and effortless.  This statement seemed incredibly contradictory to what I felt my experiences have been.  However, as my advisor shared that the concept was referring to the very moment when wisdom arises, then it clicked within my soul.  The past week I have spent snip-its of time reflecting upon this. “nugget” and have been deeply moved by this learning.  My heart sings, “yes, yes, yes!”  This release and emergence of daily wisdom is the catalyst to the joy I embrace despite the trials and hardships


Traveler, the path is in your footprints

and nothing more;

traveler, there is no path,

Your footsteps create the path,

and looking back

you see the track

where you won’t pass again,

Traveler, there is no path,

but only wakes on the sea.

–Antonio Machado 1912


This poem evokes so much within me.  I appreciate the tone of no judgment, merely observation.  As I look back and see the track of my life, I am in a sense of wonder and awe.  Some experiences may draw me to want to experience them again (knowing that it would not be the same, yet nostalgia beckons within) and some I am thankful that I won’t experience them again (holding space and honouring that even in those difficult times, those moments have helped in creating who I am today).  I am uncertain if my Grandma Dot ever read this poem, but her spirit calls to me as I read and reread the profound words.  In the past, I journeyed through seasons of extreme fear of the unknown.  As I’ve learned to accept, embrace, and lean into discomfort and the unknowns, now I experience a sense of exhilaration and beautiful anticipation of what my path will unfold day by day!

The experience of beauty happens in the happening…again, an intangible quality which is so hard to express in written words and varies from person to person and moment to moment.  I, too, have a difficult time with trying to explain beauty in words because I feel as though I somehow take away the sacredness of the moment, the happening in the happening.

However, I do observe and honour the flow and mystery within beauty.  Just now I engaged in a brief yet authentic moment of connection with a one year old boy who’d just woken from his nap.  As he toddled around, I delighted in conversing with him, hearing his contagious laughter, and looking into his deep brown and wide eyes as he explored the world around him!  I think about how my sister is so beautiful and encourages me through love to engage in the world as she does.  I look down at my hand and see the two-toned gold rings that I’ve recently decided to wear because they were my mother’s.  I notice how small the set is and that my finger is the same size as hers, I marvel how such small rings can fit my finger.  I have intentionally worn these rings to honour her memory.  Now I am at a place along my path that I can show love to her and hold a peaceful place in my heart for her even though so many years were wrought with conflict and strife.  I think of the recent past experiencing the miracle of birth with my daughter as she took on such a profound role as doula.  I look back and notice that part of my path where mine crossed my husband’s and how our paths are now intertwined.  I can see in my mind’s eye the sparkle in his light blue eyes as he’s told me over and over again how beautiful I am and now I can believe his words and embrace the beauty within myself. And…



Deb Martens

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