Thursday, April 20, 2017

To Every Thing

Yesterday, I woke at 3:30 and was wide awake. I got up, made coffee, and sat in sacred silence. I wrote the following blog post, but didn't post it. It wasn't time. It was time for me to write it, but not to share it. I listened to Chris Brunelle's comforting voice, for hours.

I felt my mother-in-law's spirit in a way I'd never felt before. It was "right here," and I prayed in thanksgiving that her sister, best friend, parents, and husband of 60-years, surround her in her final days, and offer her peace and their outstretched hands, to help her cross over.

We knew she was failing.

We knew she didn't have months left, probably not even weeks, but we thought we had days, at least, still with her.

After leaving my prayer space, walking Flicka and getting just a few houses away, I got a call that she had just passed.

These last few years, and especially weeks, have enough material for a book, and maybe that's what they will become. For right now, I sit in gratitude for that which we cannot see or prove, but can See and Prove. We exist on different spheres and fields of energy, all at the same time.

There are no accidents.

Amen.




***************************************************************************





The song comes to me, perhaps I've heard it at church and it just got stuck. Perhaps it has come as a message. Perhaps it's "just" a song. I don't think so.

"To every thing, there is season, a time to be born, and a time to die..."

Over and over again those words play in my head, a melodious backdrop to the crisis we are in, a constant reminder, a chant.

The words, the repetition, the truth, they comfort me as we do what you do in a crisis. You block out everything else. You attend to only that which is right before you. You gain focus, clarity, presence. The gifts of crisis.

Maybe crisis isn't the right word for it, not when you're talking about 89 years of a life well-lived. Transition. Transition is a better word. The reverse of transitional labor in the birth process, the pain and nearness of what is about to happen: death.

May the angels come to greet you.

May He wipe every tear from your eyes.

May you know sorrow no more.

May you find peace and joy in paradise.

Amen.




Ecclesiastes 3:1-8King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reusable Cup


I have a thing for long-burning candles with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on them. I generally get them at the grocery store, and they come in a tall glass container and will cost you about $1.99. They burn for days (seven straight, is how they were designed). I burn two during prayer time, and they last for months. Few things in my life give me a greater bang for my buck.

Found a new design at Fred Meyer, recently. Different shaped glass, and I impulsively bought four. I gave three to my fellow Mary-loving friends, and kept one. I quickly understood that I was going to need more than that for myself, and so promised myself the next time I was at Fred Meyer, I would get more.

Wil helps with an after-school program on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 90-minutes, and I have that time to kill. I often run errands. Sometimes I take my book and find a place to go sit and read until it's time to get him. I recently had a list of things to buy for my mother-in-law's birthday, and Fred Meyer seemed the place to go for one-stop shopping. With the exception of the three inexpensive candles I bought myself, everything else on the list was for another.

Took the receipt home, and was about to recycle it, but glanced at it before doing so. The receipt listed each candle as a "Reusable Cup."


Like any normal person, I've spent several days reflecting on that word, "reusable." Re-usable. Able to use again. Differently, perhaps.

It makes total sense to me, that Mary would lead me to understand ways I can be be of use again, differently, perhaps.

While it's very likely my lists: To Do, To Buy, To Go, To etc... are going to remain other-centered, when all is said and done, how do I remain reusable? How can I be of use differently?


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tarry


All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.
RAINER MARIA RILKE
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines tarry as a verb meaning to stay longer than intended; delay leaving a place.

The Synonym Finder lists such words as: remain, stay, abide, dwell, reside, live, settle, anchor, plant oneself, be established.

The word abide has long fascinated me. Wordy people will get this, others maybe not so much. Some words are just really evocative and "fun" to mediate on.

I recently hosted an evening in which a card reader came to do just that: read cards. She had with her Tarot, and two other alternative decks. I chose one called Ask Your Guides Oracle Cards. She did a 7-card spread: that which is passing away, that which is bridging, and that which is coming. 

That which is passing away, is, fortunately, exhaustion.


The Divine Helpers are here - step back and let them do their thing. It's not all up to me. "Overdoing is fear in disguise." She said I had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. She also emphasized that I've been using distraction to keep me from focusing on what I really want.

As my friends, Greg and Terry, said, "I hope you didn't pay too much for that reading." Sometimes we do have to pay to have pointed out for us, what's right in plain sight.

Seven seasons of "Sister Wives" can't watch themselves, and that's why I'm here. While I know TV is a distraction, it is also a way of resting, a way of healing the exhaustion, a way of getting water to the roots that have been thirsty for a long, long time.

Time spent with Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn (and their 18 kids) while fascinating, is not helping me to to touch the holy. It's been helpful, and I would't call it a waste of time, for it did just what it needed to do, but now it is to move from being idle, to tarrying.








Sunday, March 5, 2017

Good Question

Over the years, I've created a private sanctuary in my closet. When we remodeled the house many years ago, there was some weird space left over, only accessible through the bathroom. Because of the sloped ceiling, large window, and odd-shaped space, there was really only room for one rung, so although it's a walk-in closet, literally, it's not all that usable as a closet for clothes (although, that's where all my clothes are).

It has become my prayer room. I have a soft place to rest, a shoe-rack-turned-bookcase, an altar for candles and holy items, and the most brilliant part of all, a mini-fridge and coffee maker. Flicka and I are able to get up before everyone else, come into the sacred space and start our day with prayer and cuddles.

The best part about it is, there isn't a reason in the world why anyone else would ever go in there. It's not on the way to anything, it's, in fact, hard to get to. It's inconvenience is its genius.

Wil used to come bounding in and disturb the peace, the minute his eyes popped open. I've re-trained him not to do that until 6:30. He's on his own until then, and so, the earlier I get up, the longer I have in the prayer room. Today, Flicka and I were in here before 5:00, the dark and quiet of the morning, the low-vibration of the Earth, the feeling of Sunday, palpable and calming.

I remember the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry, Kramer and George are in the back of a taxi, and are talking about the different ways days-of-the-week feel. Kramer can "feel Tuesday" and George and Jerry think he's odd for doing so. I can feel each day-of-the-week, week-of-the-month, and month-of-the-year. Through the window, I see the turning of the seasons, the ebb and flow of sunrise, the differences in light and dark. There is a pattern, a rhythm, and tempo to the days, months and years.

This morning, I was in prayer and "heard" the question, "Do you have a cross inside?" I first was confused as to whose voice it was I was hearing. Was it external? Was it my sub-conscious? Was it Mary's? Being the very literal person that I am, I first thought of the crosses I have on the inside of my house. A moment later, I moved to the question of where and what my internal crosses may be. Of course, there are many. Enough to reflect on that question throughout Lent. 

Yesterday, I saw my best friend from junior high. We were only active friends for two years, before I moved away. But, those seventh and eighth grade years were biggies, and much of my personal work has come from the effects of those years. Some years of our lives are more concentrated than others, more full of upheaval, change and transition. We move through understanding in stages, and the "crosses inside" must be peeled back, layer by careful layer.

I'm grateful for the both the literal and figurative time and space in which to examine, and re-examine,  the cross(es) inside. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Birthday, Like, Like, Like



"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world."
Etty Hillesum

I decided months ago what I would give up for Lent this year. If anything, it's more of a gift I am giving myself, than a sacrifice. What will be hard is breaking the habit. What will be hard is resisting the urge. What will be hard is the FOMO.

I'm reading the story of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu's week-long communion in Dharamsala, THE BOOK OF JOY. It's an antidote to all the fear and hate that abounds. It restores hope. It is not complicated, we just make it so. Peace begins with us. There is suffering, the First Noble Truth. What we do in response to that suffering, is our choice. If we were to be pierced by an arrow, we would feel pain. To remove the arrow and keep stabbing ourselves with it, would be ridiculous, but mentally, that's what we do.

I'm teaching a little class at church for school-aged kids that are going to be baptized at Easter. We are talking about Lent - a dedicated period of time in which we increase prayer, giving and fasting. Over the years I've fasted from coffee, alcohol, one year I even fasted from Target. This year, I'm going to fast from social media, and with the time I would ordinarily spend on that, attempt to spend that same time in prayer.

With all that's going on in the world, in this country, and even in my own neighborhood, I am aware just how much I'm taking those "arrows" and stabbing myself over and over and over again with them. I am clear that this isn't working, and that if all this turmoil doesn't call me to action, it's wasted turmoil. I know I can't solve all the ills of the world. I know that I can't react and respond to every cause. How and what I do in response, needs greater contemplation. Greater clarity. Greater peace within myself.

For all of you having a birthday, happy birthday. For all of you posting cute pictures of your kids, pets, vacations and loved ones, know that I "like" them. For all of you posting what's on your mind, the outrage, the opportunities for action, the galvanizing of forces, know that I support and appreciate those efforts.


I am Peace, surrounded by Peace, secure in Peace
Peace protects me
Peace is in me
Peace is mine - All is well.
Peace to all beings
Peace among all beings
I am steeped in Peace
Absorbed in Peace
In the streets, at our work, having peaceful thoughts,
Peaceful words, peaceful acts.
                                                         Buddhist meditation







Friday, February 10, 2017

Dishing Up the Dirt


OK, all you foodies, you will want to be first in line for this amazing cookbook! My "niece," Andrea, is one kick-ass organic farmer, creative, healthy cook, and over-all wonderful person. There's not at thing not to love about her, not a thing.
Andrea has been posting daily recipes on her blog for years, yet, somehow, she created all new recipes for this special, season-by-season, farm-to-table cookbook. Her ability to put yummy ingredients together in ever-new ways, astounds me. 
Andrea's mom, the liz (whom I've often written about), drove out to Parkdale, yesterday, to be with Andrea as she opened her advanced copy. Only Andrea would bake something to give the UPS man:






You can pre-order your copy of the book right now! Her local bookstore is happily taking orders of the book which will be signed by Andrea and can be shipped worldwide. Follow this link for that.
You can pre-order on Amazon right here.
Pre-order from Barnes & Noble right here.
ENJOY!





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wishing a Life Away

I remember a brief conversation I had with a co-worker, over 25-years-ago. "I can't wait for the weekend," was how it started. Then, she went on to say, "then I'll say that again next week, and then how I can't wait for summer, then how I can't wait for retirement. I guess I'm wishing my life away."

You know how sometimes it's the "accidental" exchanges like that, that stick with you?

Personally, I struggle with holding the paradoxes of time. I don't want my birthday to roll around again. I don't want the school year to end. I don't want my 13-year-old, beloved Flicka Link to get any older. I don't want the parts of my life that are working, to stop working.

I can't wait for the era we're in, politically, to end. I want the hazards and inconveniences of winter to be over. I want it to hurry up and be bedtime. I want the humming to stop, the thumping, the steady beat that permeates the house. I want some of my seemingly endless responsibilities, to lessen.

I sit with the conflicting feelings, the want of endless peace and quiet, for instance, while knowing that for that to be the case, I would have to lose everyone I hold dear.

I fully believe everything is on a continuum. Everything. And what I really am needing to do, is just move the needle a few ticks, back into the "normal" zone - out of the red zone, to feel "better." I don't need endless quiet, that would drive me mad. I need more quiet.

I don't need bedtime, weekends, retirement, etc. to "come." I don't need days, seasons, phases to end. I need to sit with it all, hold it all, be with it all and let it all co-exist in the messy, chaotic, growth-producing, ass-kicking way that life does.

We incarnated into our particular lives for particular purposes, I believe. Original soul reasons. To try and shortcut through them doesn't serve our highest good.

The mess is where the learning is.

The chaos is where the clarity lies.

The noise is where we find our quiet.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Extra Love

Like many of you, I am trying to make sense of the times we live in, and am not quite sure there is any sense to be made. Too much thinking. Too much reacting. Too much fear. Too little prayer/contemplation/stillness.

I am making my way (slowly) through Richard Rohr's book, The Divine Dance. After several attempts to sit and read, I finally understood it would be most helpful for me to take tiny sips, over a long period of time, rather than one, long gulp. There was a lesson for me in that realization, that applied to so many other areas of my life. The whole idea of forward momentum. The idea of chipping away at something, even if for 5-10 minutes, rather than waiting until I "have more time." Sitting in quiet for three minutes, is better than zero. Reading five pages, consistently, day after day, will put me in the same place - at the end of the book, but probably not at a place of "completion."

Last night, I dreamed I was driving, and the steering wheel completely came off. I saw that the screw had fallen on the floor by my feet. I put the car in park, set the emergency brake, and asked the passenger, to please hand me the Leatherman from the glove compartment.

A Ph.D in psychology is not necessary, to understand that at least one meaning of the dream, is to take my hands off the steering wheel, and to ask for help from the "passenger."

Yesterday, I had spent six hours with Wil and his buddy, and they were delightful. They were also very chatty. And they spoke to me, concurrently, on (at least) two different topics at all times, while I (not the best driver in the world) was attempting to drive them all over town. The combination of multi-input stimuli, over a large amount of time, about blew all my fuses.

When the day was over, I put on comfy clothes and was going to go downstairs and pour a glass of wine. Wil was in the room at the top of the stairs. "What are you getting?" he asked. "Is it easy? Does it need cooking?"

When I answered him that yes, it was easy, and no, it did not require cooking, he said, "I'm all ears." I told him I was going to get myself a glass of wine.

"I'll get it," he said, and ran downstairs, returning with a glass and the bottle. "I'll pour it, " he said. He filled the glass beyond where I showed him with my finger, then added a splash more, "for extra love," he said.

Richard Rohr calls Mary, the model of contemplation. She allowed. She wasn't steering. She used her tools to keep herself on the road/path, while never "knowing" just where it would lead. When she got stressed and over-whelmed, she turned to her Son for some extra love.

Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Remember Me



I am lucky and proud to call artist Candace Primack, a close friend. Her oldest daughter was in Wil's small afternoon kindergarten class, 15 years ago, and a friendship was born that has grown through the years into something I cherish, deeply.

I have been buying her art for many years, and with each additional piece, my home looks and feels "better." I see new objects and images with time, I develop a relationship with each piece that grounds, comforts, inspires and delights me.

A few months ago, Candace had an open studio event, where people were going from studio to studio to meet local artists and purchase their art. I walked into the studio and saw, probably not for the first time, but for the first time, "Remember Me." It hung high on the wall amidst many others, it was big, beautiful, and spoke loudly, to me. What drew my eye first, was the "happy cup," the red "cup" with the "handle" and the "happiness" coming from it. Few things make me happier than my daily ritual of perfect coffee in the perfect mug.

I made the impulse decision to buy the painting, and Candace and I worked out the arrangements. It wasn't until we took it off the wall and put it into my car, several days later, that she told me the name of the piece, written on the back. "Remember Me." I knew without further explanation, that the "me" was me and not anyone else. I knew it in a way that dropped deep, yet was quickly forgotten in the life so many of us have: taking care of others. Between the duties and responsibilities, the day-to-day minutiae that can easily consume our best hours, it is easy to forget, and hard to remember, me.

I was with Candace the night before the Inauguration. We met with two other soul sisters and spent a couple hours in prayer and soulful discussion, about what WE can do, and what we can do. About hate. About love. About fear. About hope. About change. About resistance to change. About challenges. About acceptance. About division. About unity.

The subject of Candace's art came up, and she reminded me, again, of the name of my new piece. "Remember ME," she emphasized, pointing to me, "not Remember Me," pointing to herself.

I can easily look around and see those that have forgotten everyone but themselves. Those that have no problem remembering to look out for themselves and their self-interests. Can I, though, figure out how to remember myself? To discern what it most important to me, and to concentrate my time, attention and efforts into that, and not spread myself so thinly over everyone and everything that asks me to, that what I most value gets short-changed?

It's easy to remember all the others that clamor for our attention, "Remember me! Remember me! Remember me!" is a silent chant that thrums through our beings. The partners, the spouses, the kids, the pets, the elderly parents, the friends, those in our communities in need of help, our larger communities, our country, our world. All are in need of our love and attention, in a big, big way. That's just a fact and it's never going to change. There is no end to the needs and demands of others. There is no end to the number of people and worthy causes to whom and which we feel called to serve.

Fortunately, there is no end to our capacity to love.