Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Bread Broken

     There is no finish line to keep you from running free but even freedom can be a weapon if left to gnaw on itself. You cannot hide either your hope or its freedom. You must share your hope so others can hear, follow and leave their own closets of fear. Leave yourself no other option, cut off all escape routes fearing not the grief or chaos nor clinging to the spring and peace.
     Gratitude will ground and steady you and your innate goodness will keep you safe so keep your foot on the base, your heart. Tis not a wish which can vanish in the night, it is the prayer of love which cancels the debts of the past so that you can walk boldly into the sunrise, every day a new day, a clean piece of paper.
     Remember to tend the source in everything you do so that life becomes a ritual of honor to the giver of the breath. Lose not the feel of the earth underneath your feet so that the mud can remind you that even that which is not perfect or clean can make you squeal with delight if you are accepting.

It is, after all, at the beginning and end of the day, your choice.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Pearl Necklace - The three are really one

Life can be viewed with a Polaroid camera, one snapshot at a time. Life can be viewed with a video and framed action with a definite beginning and end. Sometimes, if you pause, you are blessed to see all the little pearls lying on the ground like disconnected treasures. And with that vision gentle hands place into yours both needle and thread by which you create a beautiful pearl necklace.
This week was such a gift. I humbly offer to you my little pearl necklace. Each one could stand by itself but the beauty is in the three becoming one. They are numbered for your reading. They are precious for my solace.

The Pearl Necklace Part 1: Steel Toed Boots Required

      My work shoes are steel toed boots. Not an easy feat when you consider the child labor laws in this country. I wear a size two and a half. I’m a Buster Brown kind of gal. In the old days, the clerk, no matter how embarrassed, was required to give me a balloon just like he gave the other customers – children under ten. Lest you think financially my shoe size is a bonus (cheaper), mind you the money you may save is offset by the choices of shiny paten leather pilgrim shoes with a giant bow, sneakers that light up when you walk and little kids, worse yet, their parents, staring at you when you stand alone in the children’s section of the shoe store.
      Alas, I have, as usual, digressed. My work shoes are steel toed boots. I love my little boots that look so grown up, so woodsy and earthy. They wrap your feet and ankles up in a well protected cocoon. They even make my five foot two inch frame taller by at least an inch or so! Double bonus. Who cares that to keep them on I have to wear really thick socks and lace them so tight I almost make my hands bleed. They are adult shoes. They’re real shoes. They’re work boots and I am a blue collar kind of gal who thrives in the sweat and oil of physical work.
      There is something magical or special when I put my little boots on in the morning that tells my spirit “work is to be done.” When I come home, unbind them and clomp them on the floor, with a heavy thud, my spirit knows my “work is done.” Technically, my job is an office casual shoe type of job. The sweat and oil one encounters in the office is trying to find the paper jam in the copier. But, as they say, I have ‘taken it to the street’ and spend as much time in the plant, walking the plant and talking to the shop floor employees as possible. It is for them and their voices that I can keep my sanity in a world of numbers and 50,000+ lines of Excel spreadsheets. Thus, my work shoes are steel toed boots.
     Until this week. My work shoes are size two and a half hiking boots from the children’s department. I can no longer wear my steel toed boots. The weight and steel plate are too much and have damaged my little feet. The doctor (and my feet) has said no more. Hiking boots are cool. Safety requires a thick sole in the plant and the hiking boots have been approved as an ok compromise for the steel toed boots. I am still in the plant zooming around like a little beach sand piper. But I miss my work boots. I miss the weight. I miss the stiffness. I miss feeling like I was one of ‘them’ and not an ‘office’ type. Maybe that was the real cocoon they provided. Perhaps they shielded me from a world, where at heart, my heart is not.

Pearl Necklace Part 2: Hiking Boots - A Simple Hello

      Not a good day. NOT a good day. Not a good way to start the day telling yourself ‘not a good day.’ My work morning begins at 6 a.m. or earlier with a definite routine designed to get all the required reports ready for management before 8 a.m. There I was pouring the nectar of life, caffeine, when an email popped up on my work computer and crashed my routine. Despite my best efforts to keep a well intended process improvement group from ‘going into the light,’ they were storming ahead.
      Now you must understand that this fifty six year old woman looks upon the workers in the plant as her children. I am, to say the least, a ferocious mother bear when it comes to protecting them from the suits and clean finger nail level of management who see only profit and not people. Management was pressuring them. They were stressing out and not thinking. Thirty plus years of experience and wisdom scars told me they were going the wrong direction and headed for disaster. I felt like a parent trying to convince my puberty ridden teenager that just because everyone else was jumping off the roof doesn’t mean they should jump.
      Not a good day. NOT a good day. As their message to be delivered to management seared my heart another message reached my brain: stop pouring, STOP pouring! Like a waterfall spilling into the river lake my precious life sustenance overflowed the paper cup and was table dancing on my desktop. Rat farts batman! I must have verbalized my reaction because my buddy across the hall came over to make sure I was ok. I looked at his face, his gentle eyes and huge grin and pointed to the computer screen. His jolly Santa Claus face chuckled and he pointed to the coffee cup. We both stood there laughing. Shaking his head he left me alone to figure it out.
      Fast forward past the clean up. More messages continued to pop up related to the first as well as other disaster fears and I was beginning to feel Henny-penny was right. “Over my dead body” was ruled out as an acceptable response to the email. One fire at a time. I collared the guys and brought them into my office.
      As we all took a deep breath before the battle my work cell phone buzzed with a message. A gentle sister of light sent a ‘simple hello, you were on my mind’ email. That was it. I stared at the phone screen and folded my feet up in the lotus position. One of the guys cleared their throat to bring me back to reality. I looked up at them, down to my folded feet and back to the phone screen. My heart exhaled. When my blue teary eyes met their stare I smiled. My steel toed shoes made my favorite sitting position painful, my hiking boots did not. I did not need the protection. I didn’t need to ‘feel like one of them.’ I am who I am, I am me. I needed only to let the love of a mother bear spill over like my coffee cup. ‘Hello” I said to them with my eyes bowing to theirs. A simple hello. And we talked.

Pearl Necklace Part 3: A Treasured Necklace

      This week I’ve been taking dancing lessons from the sisters of light. I think we may go on the road, so stay tuned. Anyone who knows me would not associate ‘dancer’ with Beth. The railing is my best friend when I go up and down the stairs. I walk like Charlie Chaplin. Marathons and arthritis have made my knees stiff. No, a dancer is not my avatar.
      This weekend was my turn to clean the little church I attend. Headphones on and the music breathing in my brain I began to sweep the dining hall. The week’s events played tag with the guitar chords and harmony on the MP3. The dust mop was taller than me, which I realize is not saying much, but it is big. I found myself moving with the music. It was inevitable. The pull was too much. The mop handle became my Fred Astaire and I was Ginger Rogers – you can laugh now, better yet guffaw. We twirled and glided and a nifty back bend, rumor has it, went on display.
      Sensibility was regained and the task at hand completed. Up the stairs to sweep the entrance. On my way back down, the beat between my ears reached down to my little feet. There I stood, head bobbing slightly with the music stair staring. Could I? Do I dare? She bends her knees. She hops, she skips she dances down the stairs! She scores! A gopher dance, more my style, spontaneously broke out.
      My work done my dance partner was returned to the broom closet with heartfelt thanks. As the door shut, the MP3 shifted to storytelling songs. Harry Chapin’s voice, singing “Mr. Tanner” drifted in my soul,
“He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes.
Music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
(And) he did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.”

      Disconnected loose pearls, treasures in themselves, when tied together form a necklace of love, laughter, life and hope. Steel toed shoes hung up in and with pain. Laughing, hope and a friend’s gentle touch spilling over in my heart like coffee in a full cup. Hiking boots folded in the seated position of mindfulness and breath. A mother bear defends from the heart and not her steel claws. A little gopher finds a dance partner. Dancing and writing, may not be my livelihood, but they make me feel happy, they make me feel whole. They are the thread of life that connects the treasured pearls.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The River Calls

     The shift is a disinterment. I refuse to allow the experiences and challenges I have overcome remain forever buried in a potters’ field marked with a nameless piece of rock. I will call them by name and honor their remains. It is not the bones and ashes that I wish to resurrect but the organic life of hope, courage, faith and surrender they have bequeathed me. 
     Hope does not cross its fingers. Hope knows its path, the sound of its voice and its eyes are never dimmed. Hope is the migratory scout that finds the food. Hope flies at the point so the other birds can draft.
     Deep in my soul there is a river. Its bed runs deep and its banks are wide. The winds may bellow and the rains may fall. The bed is deep and all is still. Deep in my soul there is a river. I call it home, I call it hope.  Tonight the deep calls.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sacred & Profane Meets the Gopher Dance

"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."
"Depends on what?"
"On whether I'm on the top of it or underneath it."
 [A.C. Milne, Winnie the Pooh, “Chapter 9 In Which Piglet Is Surrounded by Water.”

     Sometimes it feels like I am straddling two parallel universes. Or, perhaps, I’m at my beloved Gulf Shores and I’m standing on two different banana boat floats, riding the waves with two very different minds . Unlike Gumby, my legs are only so short.
     There are moments of absolute blazing clarity and mindfulness where everything I touch, do, hear or see creates a connection from within myself to the world, those I love, Life, God or to feeling alive. There I am in a time/space where my heart is a sponge absorbing life and at the same time I am twisting and turning the sponge pouring it back upon the world. Suddenly, without warning, whoooosshhh … there goes the other banana boat float. I suspect that the best gymnast in the world could not handle that split. Ouch.
     Theologians, philosophers, anthropologists and writers have long pondered this sacred and profane relationship. In our attempt to reconcile these worlds, people have run off to live in caves, communes and let’s not forget my 60’s Flower Power and Love movements. It’s not so much that we want to leave one world for another. It is the desire or hope that we don’t have to sacrifice the ‘sacred’ when we walk upon the dusty path of life.
     As I was wrestling with this two day old philosophical bunion of frustration an email popped up on my screen. No, not an email, an answered prayer, computer screen type that exuded joy and happiness and a warrior’s bravery rewarded. I caught myself doing the Caddy Shack gopher’s dance. I read and re-read the email. I danced some more, little arms and hands dancing and my feet dangling from the couch. I closed the email and this post in progress continued to stare at me. Glared at me. Mocked me.
     “Ha!” I declared, “I do not have an answer so there!” With that retort Pooh’s words floated into my own little brain and I laughed. Perhaps you have figured it out, if so, please share. But for now, I’m taking Pooh’s advice and if I should find myself underneath one of the banana boats, I shall dance my way back on top and continue to float. Of the many ways people would describe me, dancer is not one of them. I’m sure I’ll struggle again with these banana boats. But for tonight, the sacred has set me atop and my boat is no accident. Neither is the answered prayer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The ABC Song

     Tonight the power of association is wafting with the music deliberately chosen to soothe the savage beast. The amount of information our brains have accumulated is overwhelming and mind boggling. I would venture that there are songs that transport you to a specific day, place, time and emotion. You are absolutely there again no matter how many days, years or decades have past. There are commercials that all you have to hear are the opening words and you can finish the jingle. Smells, sounds, touches, words and looks can make the Star Trek transporter look like the first wheel. We learned our alphabet through the infamous “ABC” song. We were given pictures of objects and learned their names and pronunciations. Short of a neurological illness or injury, those associations do not leave.
     And yet, I can walk into a room and stand totally clueless as to my intent. I become the personification of tabula rasa, perfectly blank. But, if while I’m standing there, you ask me about one of the million bits of cultural trivia, events and people from decades ago or a certain song plays and I can carry on with the detailed minutia of an IRS Code.
     So where is the “ABC” song of faith, hope and love? Where are the jingles and pictures of respect, courage and humanity? What if we learned “A” is for “authentic”? What if we learned “B” is for “belief”? What if we learned “C” stands for “courage”? What if the pronunciation was embodied in both teacher and everyday life? What if the child, learning to speak, when he or she saw someone could point their chubby little fingers and say “courage”, “energy”, “lost”, “love”, “human”, “scared,” “warrior”, “peaceful” or perhaps even “angel”? What if with the same rote redundancy of the multiplication tables, the attributes and gifts of the heart and spirit were etched within us and poured forth with the elegance and ease of two times two equals four? What if the first pledge of allegiance we learned was to our own authenticity and from that service to others? What if we sang “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother” instead of “Old McDonald”? What if we knew people’s names and dreams like we know batting averages and other sports statistics?
     This is not a tirade against the educational system. It is the rumination of a warrior, who is a child, playing quietly with my building blocks of letters and wondering, whispering and daring to ask, ‘what if?' What would be different?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Your Arrival Gate is....

I do not typically leave two posts in one day, but writing that speaks and provokes the heart sometimes requires the scrich of pen to paper. This is inspired by Calming Reflections. (you can click the link to read the heart speak) Thank you Bernadine for your soul and your journey.

“How will I know when I get there?”
     “Will you still be looking?”
“I’ll always be looking.”
     “Then are you going somewhere?”
“I do not understand.”
     “If you’ll always be looking, what is there to find?”
“I believe there is always more and other doors to go through.”
     “Why would you go through a door?”
“To see what is on the other side. Is this like the chicken?”
     “If there is something on the other side, perhaps a chicken, does that mean you’ve found IT?”
“I suppose. But what then? Do I just stop there?”
     “Were you looking for the chicken?”
“No. I did not know the chicken was on the other side of the door.”
     “Then you found something but not what you expected.”

“Agreed, but I’m getting so confused. How will I know when I get there? Forget the chicken.”
     “You found something you didn’t expect.”
     "You say you will always be looking.”
     "Do you appreciate what you find?"
     “And you keep expecting?”
     “Then, my little one, you have arrived.”

My Zoey Homesick Heart

      Dust bunny snow is falling outside. Large flakes gently floating in the air like dust bunnies when you sweep. I stare at the computer screen watching nature’s own YouTube reflect on the computer screen. What hand has reached into the pool and stirred such homesickness within my heart. I will confess that this writing is unabashedly selfish. I am homesick for what something, someone I met for only an hour or so. She has been my internet photo. Her name is Zoey and she is my great niece. After we met for the first and last time, I wrote this letter to Zoey. This morning I plundered through my journal and found the writing. Today I am sending her letter into cyber space where there is no time, everything is now. It will be safe there, free from the untimely demise of hard drives and unintended deleted files. The letter, her memory and my heart can dance in the timelessness of space forever. And who knows, perhaps sooner rather than later, I will have the chance to read the letter to her myself, with my own voice. May dust bunny snow fall upon you today and remind you to look around and hug those close and far away. Consider yourself so hugged.

     Somewhere on Interstate 40 in northwest Arkansas I left my heart. Only seven days had passed and I still find myself musing about the night we met. Did you know I wore that same T-shirt to bed that night, complete with your drool and unwanted milk you gifted me. Somewhere on Interstate 40 in northwest Arkansas I felt the kick in my heart when I realized I would never get to hold you like that again. Your tiny body, squishy and soft like a plush toy, recognizing a stranger's hands, touch and smell became rigid.
     What do your eyes see little Zoey? Am I just an unfamiliar shape or can you distinguish faces and mine was not one you knew? Did you know that I had never held a baby before? I know how to hold puppies and kittens and at night I am a pillow for a very timid cat. My fingers can fly on a computer key board, they even played the piano, and my handshake has made more than one man wince. But I do not know how to hold you Zoey. I know puppies like a clock on their first night from their mama, it reminds them of her heart beat. I will place your heart against mine and introduce myself. Hello Zoey, I am your great aunt, Beth. Namaste Zoey. I bow to you. My spirit, my heart honors you.
     What wonders await you Zoey. There are so many textures, colors, sounds and smells, find your favorite and bask in it but do not exclude the others. Know the horizon is your playpen, the breath of God makes the wheat fields dance and the birds await to accompany your songs. Know the clouds are your personal Etch-A-Sketch and the rain is an outdoor shower and pool so find the mud and be cleansed. The grass will be your carpet to feed your play animals and scratch your back, so be sure to roll and wiggle.
     The sun will be your angel by day so fear not your shadow. The moon will give rest to the sun, and watch you by night even when it is but a sliver. The moon and sun dance Zoey – take your cue from them. You cannot see the sun or light in the night Zoey but remember the dance. Good dance partners merge as one and you cannot tell them apart. That's how the sun and moon dance so fear not the floor beneath your bed, the dance will turn the sun quickly to shine upon you once again. Practice your numbers counting the stars in the sky and shells on the beach. Learn your colors from the flowers, sunsets and sunrises and the hues of a stormy cloud. Do not fear the thunder, it is but me clapping my hands in joy, telling you I'm over here if you want to sit in my lap or lay beside me for a while.
     People will marvel at your talents Zoey and tell you how good you are at this or that. And you will be - but the choice is yours. Learn to hear your heart, the one that is beating next to mine and mine next to yours. Learn your rhythm from that beat. Find what makes you laugh and do that as often as you can. Stay close to what makes you feel butterflies in your stomach but know the joy of just being, needing not the highs and fearing not the lows. Learn to hike the hills and forest trails so you are comfortable when your path is steep and uncertain. Trust your footing and your balance even when walking on asphalt or traveling a different path. Learn to pause and listen. Learn to hear your thoughts. Learn the beauty and power of words and feel the scrich of the pen moving on paper as you write your dreams. Finally, my little squishy great niece, a person, a gift, my prayer is that one day this letter, this memory may be a bookmark in your favorite book. Hello Zoey, hello to all you will be.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Applause and Thanks to the "Orange Net" Award Recipients!

     Ok, I'm tired of the snow and that made me drift back to the beach, Orange Beach in Alabama to be exact and THAT led me to give thanks for people and groups that have gifted so much warmth in my life. In honor of these, both named individually and others in their groups, I have created the "ORANGE NET AWARD". But first, a word from the sponsor... the origins of the Orange Net.
     The all girls week at the gulf was coming to an end. The last morning, typical of other years, we choose not to walk and instead sit on the balcony soaking in the sound, sand and texture of the experience. It is a sanctuary, quiet, sacred and no one speaks.
     “OH MY GOD THERE IS A CRAB STRANDED IN THE POOL!” thunders one of my companions. You could see the stranded land creature crawling along the side of the pool trying to escape. One companion, Holly, starts to make a mad dash to rescue the crab but we realize the effort will be in vain without a net. We have a net! A spontaneous impulse led me to purchase a child’s net so I could nab shells in the surf. Holly grabs the net and scurries off to rescue the crab. The crab doesn’t recognize his rescuer and moves towards the deep end. Holly cannot swim. You can see the dejection soak into her body like the morning rain that is beginning to fall. Her head hangs down as she heads back to the elevator.
     Like superman without a phone booth, I unpack and put on my swim shorts and T-shirt. I meet the crestfallen warrior Holly at the door, grab the net and head down the elevator. There is our stranded friend sitting on the bottom of the pool. I enter the pool slowly. NOT WARM! I dive under water and push the net towards the blurred underwater dark spot. I break through the surface, check my handy tool and to my delight there is our friend. Cheers bellow forth from the seventh floor balcony – much to the delight of the other guests still sleeping at 7 a.m. Down the boardwalk to the familiar sand, like superman I carry my own little Lois Lane and gently put his feet back upon the familiar sand. Nothing. He doesn’t run. He doesn’t blink. I wonder if I was too late. I watch for a minute and then decide to leave him to recover. I will trust that he is ok.
     My reverie is broken by the sudden realization that, in my haste to change into my superman outfit, I neglected to put on a bra. Rat farts batman. I wring the T shirt as dry as I can and scurry back to the pool and elevator. There stands a gentleman who wants to talk about the crab rescue he witnessed. My mind is ranting ‘this ain’t no wet T-shirt contest buster! I’m out of here!’ Without warning I laugh out loud. Me worry about a wet T-shirt contest? Me, the girl whose brother bought a T-shirt that said ‘front’ and ‘back’ so people would know if I was coming or going. Me?! Let it cling to your body girl and celebrate! Who would have thunk it!
     I return to our gulf home and we celebrate the rescue. A warm shower and hot coffee are the delicious final toppings. My three companions, rejuvenated by the experience decide to go for not a final, but simply one more walk. I decide to stay, let my hair dry and enjoy my coffee before the’ Ripley’s Believe It Or Not ‘record for the most stuff crammed into a tiny car, begins. It has been a week of wonder and healing. I will take with me the texture of the sand eroding under my feet as I walk in the surf. I do not fear falling, the beach always sustains me. I will take the sound of the surge unseen in the blackened night. I will take the memory of the beach sand upon my face. But, as so often happens in life, just when you think you’ve found the best, the most beautiful and spiritual, life points you back to the simple things and says remember these – feeling silly buying an orange child size net, a stranded crab, a brave warrior who tried, the feel of cold pool water at 7 a.m., a successful rescue, the feel of wet dripping clothes clinging to my body and a wet T-shirt contest. Ahhhh, the simple delights.

And with that explanation, I would like to award the “Orange Net Award” to those who dare to release the wonder of their child and jump into the cold ocean of Life. Diving deep into her experiences your gentle orange net of words releases our imaginations, hearts, souls, tears and laughter. You are not afraid to bare your hearts and other bits. You stand before us unmasked, as you are, soaked in your own experiences, orange net in hand and set us free.

     To Sharnia – Your experience still jumps up and grabs me with unexpected splashes of laughter. 
     To Sai – From the kitten that invited herself to your work cafeteria, to Hope and to your gentle and fearless spirit your words are the warm gulf breeze against my heart, flowing, creating movement and ever, ever so quietly strong.
      To Mansi  We always want it all Mansi. Your writing scurries along the beach like the sand pipers leaving tracks in the sand as a reminder that perhaps we do.
    To Marcime Your post “Internal Bikini” is quite appropriate as it stands. But it is the last paragraph that still leaves me standing in pause like watching the sun rise over the gulf’s horizon for the first time.
     To Calming Reflections - Your words are the undertow moving the waves on and off the shore, reminding us to look beneath to what we do not see.
     To Katherine Jenkins – You call us to the deep waters, to sit in the silence of meditation’s waters silencing everything save our heart beat.
     To Bill and Lisa - You remind us to see the beauty of the storms upon the Gulf.
     To Healing Morning, the Dawn – Your words are like the dolphin whose song penetrates the silence of the deep and whose energy and grace bursts through the surface to leap and dance like magic. Yes, magic is crisp and it does exist.

    To Writer’s Rising  and Authentic Bloggers  You are the beach, welcoming the tides, ripples and swells, those who can wear a bikini and those who can’t. You each have a child’s magical orange net of words by which I am constantly in awe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name

      Today I was pondering the Christian celebration of Ash Wednesday and the Jewish celebration of Passover when Romeo and Juliet wandered through the mine fields of my mind today. Bear with me, please. I actually Googled Shakespeare’s play and re-read some of the famous passages. Yet again, a frequent topic of discussion in blogs and comments, synchronicity, emerged. Ahhh, the pain and angst of teenage love. There are no areas of gray, the world is either “my way” or I shall die. No one but the two teenagers in question have ever been in love or known the passion and beating hearts that the two young lovers feel. NO ONE! Teenage love is cataclysmic. Mock it, deny it, deride or minimize the young love and the hell that is wrought by a woman scorned will feel like a goose down duvet compared to the fury you will unleash.

The only other comparable nuclear reaction occurs when you offend another’s religion or their religious and spiritual beliefs. I still shudder when the infamous family gathering emerges from my memory banks. Born in the deep south and raised in true deep south Southern Baptist tradition, I knew how to pray. The family had “circled up” (that’s southern for gathering in a circle and holding hands) for the meal time prayer. I was called upon to do the honors. Taking a deep reflective breath, I uttered the fateful words, “Creator of Life. “ Before the ‘ife’ rolled off my tongue my brain started screaming “Oh my God!”’ Now mind you, my brain was screaming, “Oh my God!” but the name, “God”, was nowhere in my prayer. Ever the resourceful one, I figured if I was going to die by lightning let it be now while everyone was circled up and would not dare break the circle of prayer to drive a stake into my heathen heart. I continued the blessing as I would normally pray and changed not a word or name or descriptor of the Divine Presence, God or Creator from whom I sought the blessing for us and the food.

Romeo replies to Juliet’s call of ‘who is there?” with

“By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am. My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, Because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word.”

If Helen of Troy’s face could launch a thousand ships, the name of “God” has launched even more armies and wars. It is a “name” that has or can be so misrepresented, maligned and abused that you have to wonder if the presence behind the name shares the same feelings as Romeo. It is a “name” that can create an impenetrable wall dividing countries, families and even churches. It is a “name” that can cease discussions, understanding and even belief.

It is a “name” but it is not the presence, the being, the force nor the essence. Juliet, thinking of Romeo speaks

 "Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, not a Montague. What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. ... Retain that dear perfection which he owes without [the name of Romeo]. Doff thy name; and for that name, which is no part of thee, take all myself.”

When Moses asked G-d whom should he tell the people of Israel had called him, G-d answered “Tell them I AM." I AM that “dear perfection” which causes our souls and hearts to cry out and respond. I AM that force, power, energy, hope and love that moves within and without. I AM that “dear perfection” which is not the flavor of the day, a little bit of this and a little bit of that to suit my tastes, needs or opinions.

I AM that “dear perfection” which is, what? I do not know. Perhaps I do, but then I risk placing a name between you and I. This I know and to this I promise to be true: if I should write of G-d, God, Buddha, Bodhicitta, Creator of Life, Divine Presence or any of the other descriptors of this “dear perfection” my heart has no intent to offend. It is just that sometimes without “a name I know not how to tell thee who I am.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hanging Out the Wash Award

Being from the south, you can imagine the honky tonk dance in my heart to receive this recognition. Marcella has described the award as for writers who are not afraid to hang out whatever they have. Marcella - thank you dear from the bottom of my pea picking laundry hanging heart. This is so cool. The only thing better is Marcella's blog

Ripples and Swells the Words of Writing

   I went through a door today. Well, I almost went through a door. My brain saw a door and literally, without thinking, I went through. Almost. That’s what you do with doors. You see a door and you go through the door, unless it is stuck. It was one of those embarrassing moments that usually happen when you’re running into a store and push on a door with a huge lettered sign that says pull. Like a bird mistaking the reflection of the trees in the window for trees I went crashing into the door. And yes, there was an audience, there’s always an audience. Like the tiny bird I just stood there looking at the door. It was a door. Doors open. You go through doors. You go in doors. You go out of doors. Maybe it was the concussion that made me daft but this really bugged me.
   The long strong arm from a production worker who, with one motionless swoop, opened the door cleared my daftness. As I exited the room I warned those I met to be on the alert for the infamous door. They thanked me. Unfortunately I caught a glance of them looking back as the door opened with grace and beauty. Harumfph. I was so not pleased now.
   “What do you see when you write?” was the innocent but teasing question asked of me not long ago. I knew the answer. I had visualized it day after day for more decades than I care to count. “Bread crumbs” was my reply. Writing is my way of leaving bread crumbs for those who come down the path after me. Writing was my prayer, my bread crumbs that would hopefully leave a trail for others. Bread crumbs to warn of danger. Bread crumbs to encourage others to not give up there was water just around the bend. Bread crumbs to let them know they were not alone that others had walked this path and were not far away. My words were bread crumbs.
   Tonight I see a different image. My words are no longer bread crumbs. My words are ripples, little swells in the ocean of life. A water skier can use them to gain speed. A child floating may giggle as the swell tickles its way underneath the raft. Another boat may follow the current left by the swell. A renegade beach ball may be pulled from the shore by the swells. The course they take, the path and current they travel are their own. Our ripples and swells may crash against each other and merge into yet an even bigger ripple and swell. There will also be times when my words, the ripples and swells will lie still or imperceptible beneath the surface. That is ok for that is what swells and ripples do.
   Perhaps it is a concussion but I am left with one final image-why would I leave bread crumbs to a door that I think is stuck? No, I think my words shall be ripples and swells. I pray they will tease, delight, carry and hasten the journey of others or give them reason to pause and just float. Everyone’s path or current will be different than mine, for the path is just that it is every one’s, not mine. And with that, I shall go check out concussions on Web MD and bask in the swells of others. That’s what ripples and swells do. I’ll save the bread crumbs for our lunch on the beach.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saying Yes

    If I say ‘no’ to my dog when it lunges at someone I am considered a responsible pet owner. If a parent says ‘no’ to a child when their tiny hands reach towards the hot flame they are considered teachers and protectors. If I say ‘no’ to what has been asked of me it feels selfish and weakens me. When is ‘no’ responsible and wise?
    Today my soul needed to say ‘no.’ It wasn’t the teenage pouting angst that slams the bedroom door kind of ‘no.’ It was a ‘no’ that could easily have been a ‘yes’ with its invitation of unknown opportunities and possibilities. It was a ‘no’ that parted my road into two paths and imposed a choice. Perchance the problem with ‘no’ is that it shuts a door or draws a line in the sand. I was not saying ‘no.’ I was saying ‘yes’ to a different path. Is that the twisted labyrinth of ‘no’? It is more than semantics or a word game it is a quintessential ‘yes’ that causes you to navigate one way or another.
    I drew my breath in carefully and uttered the feared words. I said ‘Yes. I choose this.’ Honesty mesmerized my heart. Hope has never rung more true. I loosened the moorings and set sail down the chosen path, the ‘no’ that was a ‘yes.’

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love Letter

    Reflecting on the images of Valentine’s Day, the chocolates scanned at the cash register, men staring at the card rack putting card after card back into the slots and the florist vans scurrying up and down the streets, my mind drifted to love letters. The trees are shrouded in hoar frost this morning and the bunnies have left their foot print necklaces upon the snow. Valentine’s has come a day early and here is the love letter left to me, to you and to all.
I am here. I cannot promise that I will be here tomorrow. If I am not, it will not be because I chose to leave. Sometimes the path we travel can take an unexpected turn. But for today, as you awake, know that I am here. Unlike your coffee, you do not have to wait for me to brew. My gifts, my smile, my laughter and touch are waiting for your eyes to open.
    Awaken my love and let the day begin. Awaken and grab hold of me as you did those Christmas mornings long ago. Squeal and grab hold of me with the same abandon you tore open the paper wrapping. Worry not, I have not bought you socks, and if I did, I promise they would be festive. Awaken my beloved and play with me for hours. Let me see your eyes grow big and sparkle with delight. No single day to say ‘I love you’ or present a bouquet of flowers. Look around my love the earth is your vase. I am here my beloved and I am yours.”

    If nothing else is remembered, if all reflections leave me, if my musing spirit grows quiet may be this be the one that remains with me. May I always call to mind the love letter each day leaves for me. May I greet each day with the anticipation of unopened opportunity, gifts and love. May each day be the best gift ever because I was brave enough to ask, to open. May my eyes be open, and bold to read the letter, Life’s Valentine, and in reading, to write my own and then give away.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Today's Lesson Is

    Tonight, the snow on the evergreen trees looks like the walls of the kitchen the first and last time I ever used an electric mixer. I failed to turn off the power before lifting the whirling beaters covered in white frosting, correction, were covered. I didn’t know. Somehow the thought of licking frosting off the walls did not seem to offer the same delight as when I was a child and my mother would hand me the beater dripping in chocolate. 
    My mother never taught me to cook. She did, however, buy me a Barbie Easy Cookbook. Years later, after I’d left home, I stumbled across the book and told myself that cooking could not be that hard. Hours later, exhausted, I called my mother. I told her my frustration that not one single store in my city had Tisp flour. How was I to make the recipe when I could not get Tisp flour? I could hear her puzzled voice across the states as she asked me just what in the world I was trying to fix. I read the recipe to her word for word from the Barbie Easy Cookbook (emphasis upon ‘easy’). Silence told me what was about to happen was not going to be good. Slowly, even for a deep southern drawl, she explained that ‘TSP’ (translated Tisp) stood for teaspoon, not a brand. I didn’t know.
    I walked up to the stereotypical librarian, an older woman with gray hair and glasses dangling from her neck. I made sure my eleven year old body stood straight and tall and reflected my important mission. As polite as my excitement would permit, I explained to her that I wanted to know where I could find the book Ibid. Almost every book I read referenced this book. It had to be huge. It had to contain all the knowledge in the world. She put her glasses on her nose and looked at me. I could tell this was not going to be good. As gentle as one can burst the bubble of an enthusiastic child she explained ‘ibid’ was a footnote reference not a book. I didn’t know.
    Some days what I don’t know feels so much heavier than what I think I know. On other days what I don’t know feels like a five dollar bill discovered in my jeans while doing laundry. What is the connection of these disconnected musings that hold me hostage tonight? I don’t know. I do know when I eat frosted cake I glance at the nearby wall and chuckle. I know when I see a bag of flour in the store (on my way to the frozen food section) I smile. I know when I see ibid in a footnote my eyes feel sparkly. Drat, I don’t know how to end this but there is lesson for me here. It will be good. Ibid.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sleeping and Living Past the Snooze

      Do not fear, no alarm clocks were totally harmed in the making of this day. Slightly injured but a full recovery is expected. I awoke when the first morning report should be falling off the printer’s paper tray. The adrenaline rushed through my body. Feet thudded on the floor and then I stopped. It was a complete and unequivocal stop. The wave of adrenaline subsided, the phone call was made and I obeyed the voice in my head, perhaps the heart or perhaps they spoke in unison. This morning I say thank you for the voice that says sit for a while and be still. Sit and know your heart. Sit and hear no voice but your own. Sit and listen to your breath, your skin and your eyes blinking. Sit and know who you are.
      I offer my thanks to the voice that said stop- the justice of the world, the hope of the world, the work of the world must first begin with me. Today, for twenty four hours I am retired. For twenty four hours I have a new to do list. I have a new set of meetings to attend and they all start with me. Today, I will make a deposit into my own bank account, I will pay myself. Today I will hear my own voice of need. Today I will save the world and the world will be me. And this I do so that tomorrow I may reach out and love You, the world.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dockers, Snow Angels and Hope

      A lone parking lot silhouette, I stared at the snow mound. The fight and flight impulses were fully engaged. The urge to just sit in the snow like Rodin’s “The Thinker” statue or fall on my back and make a snow angel began to equal my flight or fight impulses. I could only imagine the healing that would spawn from the laughter and spontaneity. Somewhere, between the decision process of sitting in the snow, the snow angel and running for the hills I realized that the corporate fires were slowly melting my belief in what I believe. I also believe that sitting for the remainder of the day in very wet and cold corduroy Dockers would not be pleasant.
      Stomping your feet expedites the snow shedding process. Unfortunately I cannot shake like a dog to get the snow off my back. The remainder of the walk did not seem as plodding or treacherous. When you are the snow you tend to have better traction. I enjoyed a rolling chuckle to myself as I marched on to the next battlefield to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other foot soldiers in the corporate wars. My spirit had plunged itself deep into the snow mound and joyfully created the biggest and best snow angel that ever resided in a parking lot snow mound. I was healed even though my outward appearance was totally dry. The strength of hope’s breath cares not about outward appearances, perceptions or the fear of sitting in cold wet corduroy Dockers. Hope sees beyond what is to what is possible if you will let go, believe and dive into courage’s snow mound. I understood and the thaw was gone. Shoulder to shoulder with the other foot soldiers I laughingly apologized for the snow.