Sunday, April 25, 2010

Unplanned Sitting

     It was one of those thoughtful Winnie the Pooh kind of days where one really isn’t walking as much as ambling, never lifting your feet too far from the ground. One of those days where you’re as apt to walk head on into a telephone pole as you are to trip over a crack in the sidewalk or step off the curb in front of a bus. You are nowhere and yet you are somewhere. In that somewhere you are very, so very present that now does not exist.
     Like the leaves that gave birth to many of Pooh’s rhymes, a piece of notebook paper drifts into your path. If it were not a thoughtful Winnie the Pooh kind of day, it probably would have gone unnoticed. The jagged perforations from its original spiral cover are tattered and uneven. The upper left corner has been torn. The wrinkles betray a piece of paper that must have been wadded up into a little ball and upon further reflection, restored. The writing almost fills the complete page, though the words it seems are few. And on this thoughtful Winnie the Pooh kind of day, you, of course, pick it up and begin to read.
     “I don’t know what I believe. I only know…” and there the message ended. The page was intact so the message was not lost. The ink looked full, not thin or blotched to make you think the rest of the message was engraved into the paper and not inscribed. No, the message was incomplete, or at least its written version. It had been torn out of a notebook and crumpled. Was there a completed version more pristine and profound? Was this just a warm up exercise or perhaps the question of the day, an assignment which was completed elsewhere? Or, was it a doubt briefly acknowledged whose humming was too shrill and swatted away like a mosquito?
     Since it was one of those thoughtful Winnie the Pooh kind of days, the message deserved a proper ending or at the least a proper disposal. Torrents of possible endings flood your mind, transforming the ambling into a sitting. Pulling a pen out of your pocket you complete the message.
     Looking around to see if anyone would notice, you return it to its journey like a bottle upon the sea. Your mission completed, you return to your ambling. After all, it was one of those thoughtful Winnie the Pooh kind of days. One of those days where you’re as apt to walk head on into a telephone pole as your are to trip over a crack in the sidewalk or step off the curb in front of Life.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Rains May Fall

     Laying my head back I close my eyes. Corralled tumbleweeds are given free range. The wind is howling. It is going to rain. Holding the coffee cup in my hand I watch the curtains of the day close and the rain descends. The tumbleweeds take a sharp turn and gather up the dust of past rains. There was the Conspiracy Rain in my early twenty’s. Late afternoon, the pinks of the sunrise were peaking out. The radio played one of those songs that makes you laugh and cry as memories tap on your heart like the rain on the windshield. I pulled into a parking lot, parked the car and opened the door. Finding just the right spot, I walked over to the perfect puddle of rain and jumped square in the middle. Just one jump was all that I needed.
     Then there’s the rain of the Benevolent Gods. While on a five month journey cross country on motorcycles, a severe band of rain squalls found us along one of those unending stretches of Texas highways. Unable to see we inched along until we found an overpass. Motorcycles safe from harm, we scaled the cement wall and popped a squat. There we sat in our bright yellow rain slickers soaked to the skin and pouring the water out of our shoes. Luckily we had a few cinnamon rolls left over from breakfast. You’d be surprised, when you’re hungry, how your mind can conveniently not notice the only food you have is as soaked as your jeans. As we carefully portioned out little pieces, as always with a picnic, the ants found us. I tossed a couple of crumbs away from us hoping they would follow the trail and leave us alone. Soaked, hungry, cold and wet I found myself drenched in laughter, almost falling down the cement overpass wall. Would they go back to their ant hill and tell the others about the day the Giant Yellow Cinnamon Roll Gods visited and gave them mana?
     There’s also the rain of the Not So Good Helper. Ever have that experience of watching a car accident happening and there’s nothing you can do? Watching the young construction helper work on the deck was one of those experiences. You just knew this was not going to be good. The day had been beautiful. When night fell so did the rain. With the rain came the flood streams into the house through the basement windows. I now understand the Little Dutch Boy nursery rhyme. Standing on chairs, step ladders and the back of a recliner I tried to abate the flooding as best I could. The rains lasted all night as did the towel vigil. I remember the combination of panic and anger welling up inside me with its own flood until my inner dam burst and I yelled out to my deceased mother “I could use some help here Mama!” With that plea, I dropped my weary arms, watched the water pour into the house and had to laugh.
     Finally there is always the Rain of Tears. We’ve all had those days. The Rain of Tears when the events of life so overwhelm you yet offers no reprieve, no sanctuary nor place to hide. Lest we think life malevolent or cruel, the skies open, the rains fall and we stand composed and camouflaged with our tears.
     Yep, it is raining tonight. Holding the cup of coffee I notice the tumbleweeds have settled. Alternatively, they simply could be plotting. Whatever their intent, I shall go outside and listen to the rain. I shall tell the stars, hidden but always there, to bring the joy of a mud puddle to those whose hearts are heavy. I will tell the clouds as they continue their course to feed those who are hungry – physically, emotionally and spiritually and keep them safe from harm. And to the ever present moon which is partnered with the sun, I will instruct these sentinels to seal and heal the broken hearts and those who are crying – silently and in the rain. They do not have to be so strong that they can only cry in the rain. Yes, it is raining tonight. This is good. Every drop that falls has a purpose.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Normal Days

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may for it will not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky, and want, more than all the world, your return.” ~Mary Jean Irion
    To see today’s gifts as they were, are and will be without greed or need is challenging. The rhythm of our life inherently moves us forward. The ticking of the second hand reminds us that the moment we call “now” has passed us by. We begin to feel an inner drive to do more, have more, become more, and learn more, always fearing the “waste.” To learn to accept today as it is presented and stand in awe of its wonder is the blessing of a normal day.
    I pause to contemplate the gift of a normal day with no need of fireworks, notable events or epiphanies. As I ponder, I notice my hands. My eyes move across the raised veins, tiny scars and slightly arthritic knuckles and bent fingers. I read the map of my days in the contours of my hands. I can see the battles and victories, the clenched fists and open palms of surrender. I can see the closed doors they’ve encountered and doors they’ve opened. I can see the health of my body and even its abuse. I see flowers held, Gulf water splashed, fist pumps of victories when I’ve crossed a finished line and touches to say good bye. They have never planted a flag on Mt. Everest, accepted a Nobel Prize nor held a winning lottery ticket. Like the geography of the earth they are a slow accumulation of days and lives. Layers of experiences. Layers of highs and lows and layers of normal days.
    Normal days are like your hands. You don’t think about them. You don’t consciously wake up and celebrate them, Twitter or send emails about your hands. Put one of your hands in a cast, a finger in a splint or even a really gnarly paper cut and you suddenly realize just how precious your hands are. Normal day, let me treasure you through my hands. Through the contours and layers of my days, ingrained in and upon my hands, may I celebrate the simple touch of a flower or friend and the ability to reach out for nothing more than to say I’m here. May I see each jar opened as a victory and be filled with the delight of its contents. May each tap of the keyboard remind me of rain drops and mud puddles.
    Normal days, when the inner rhythm of life, its wants, needs, hopes and even greed push me forward and away from you, guide my eyes to my hands. Guide my eyes to their open palms. Normal days and open palms-signs of both surrender and receiving, as is and as presented.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Moment of Sitting

     One summer, too earn extra money I took on a second job, with a store that was starting up. The new employees had to set up all the fixtures, stock the shelves and build the store from scratch. I emphasize summer because this was in the deep south. A typical hot and humid summer in the south.  We were working eight to ten hours in a building without air conditioning, no shorts permitted, hammering, lifting and toting (as we say in the south). I hope you can appreciate the full depth of my meaning when I say – I was filthy dirty. Did you know your teeth can sweat?
     It was so bad that when my dog ran to greet me, she came to a screeching halt, cocked her head to the side, looked at me and walked away. Hmmm, guess I need a shower. Did you know that at a certain temperature your clothes are absorbed by your skin? My knuckles were bruised and my knees were swollen. Short of having to save my life there was no way I could make a fist with my fingers. I was exhausted. I was so thirsty that I could not drink. I wasn’t sure “I” was even in my body. Maybe that’s why my dog was still sitting at a distance watching me.
     Sitting on the front door step (my dog’s reaction said I probably should not go into the house), I cannot tell you the thoughts rummaging around in my head. I’m not sure I was thinking. After my shower, as I was taking my clothes to the trash (yes they were that bad), I saw the gift on the front door step. I remembered sitting there earlier, just sitting with the sound of my heart beating in my head. I had been so exhausted I could hear my muscles and my blood flowing along its highways of arteries and veins. I think I could even hear the hair on my arms. No thoughts. No thinking. For that moment, suspended in time, brain, soul, spirit, body and skin moved as one to the rhythm of a silent dance.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fragrance of Life

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. ~~Rumi

     I have only smelled a rose once in my lifetime, briefly. I have never smelled the rain in the air. I have never smelled fresh cut grass or spring flowers. I have never smelled homemade bread. I have never smelled the salt water of my precious Gulf. I have never smelled the pine trees on my grandparent’s land nor the Red Woods as I stood diminished in my awe. I have never smelled the clean air of the Rockies nor the Smokies. I have never smelled perfume, after shave, incense nor candles. Quite simply, I have never been lost in an aroma or fragrance.
    My nose has never worked – it captures neither fragrances nor the air I breathe. It has one function – to hold my glasses on my face so I can see. If you have ever had a serious cold where you could not breathe through your nose, food tasted bland and you could not smell anything, then you have experienced my everyday world. I do not inhale life. I have learned to taste life. Salt and sugar are the primary tastes that I experience. One seasons and preserves the other sweetens and comforts.
    Breath enters my body exclusively through my mouth. Cover my mouth, and my voice is not only silenced but I cannot breathe. Cover my mouth, or have a dentist put their hand in my mouth and I feel as if I am suffocating. To breathe is the same as tasting life. I taste life because the fragrances and odors that help to define its color and texture are my very breath. To breathe, to be alive, for me, is to taste life’s seasonings and sweetness that preserve and comfort.
    Not being able to inhale the fragrances of life has its advantages, for example, skunks. Although you’ll just have to trust me, as bad as skunks may smell, their taste is horrible. Not being able to inhale the fragrances of life has yet another very serious disadvantage. For example, there was the time I did not realize my apartment will filling up with natural gas. I could not smell the gas. I did, however, think my parakeet was acting odd. If friends had not dropped by and opened the door and windows, I’m not sure I would be here today.
    As with much of life, everything has its good and bad, its advantages and disadvantages and its limitations and endless possibilities. And though I am extremely grateful for the ability to taste life, I am limited to salt and chocolate. I know there must be more in between. There are days, like today, when I recall fondly a brief moment when I smelled a rose and wonder would I appreciate that fragrance as much as I do if it were part of my everyday life? I do not know.
    As I pause on the path I journey, I inhale and taste what is and exhale the breath of what might be. I recall a partial line from one of Rumi’s poems, “… until my soul takes on his fragrance.” A slow smile breaks across my face. I know that fragrance. It is the fragrance of hope, acceptance, love, laughter, roses and thorns, storms and rainbows, unmasked and vulnerable. I take a deep breath, remember a rose and inhale life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Roller Coasters, Beach Balls and Butterflies

     Why do people ride roller coasters and rides that are designed to terrify you? I, personally, do not do rides. The last ride I was on was that apple shaped ride that spins around. Not exactly death defying. Knowing I don’t do rides, I wanted to join in the festivities with my friends. I paid my admission, sat down and felt my heart begin to pound. The carnival worker came by and locked the bar in place. As he made his way back to his station he passed by my little apple of terror. Pausing, he looked at me and unlocked the bar. With a friendly smile he took my hand and helped me out. “I don’t think so” said his smile. My apple companion howled with laughter as the carnival worker and I walked off the ride’s platform hand in hand. I was good with that. The holding of hands was actually quite nice and probably expedited the color returning to my face.
    To those I’ve questioned, they describe the thrill of being overwhelmed with fear and the adrenalin rush they get. Thrill and fear are not exactly two words I would put side by side. And then you add laughter and I’m totally confused. From all appearances – watching from the ground as a spectator- it is, as its name advertises, a roller coaster of emotions.
    Today began with me tossing a beach ball in the air. Not at the beach mind you. I was at work well before third shift clocked out. It had been a long week at work and sometimes you just need to laugh and play. Facing another eleven hour day, it seemed like a grand idea. Yes, I keep a beach ball on my shelf at work. I use it for stress relief and today, the beach ball, like I, had clocked in and began to work.
    It matters not the details of the day. Say to anyone that your day was a roller coaster of emotions and they immediately understand. Today was a roller coaster of emotions, beginning with the beach ball, feeling overwhelmed with laughter and smiles as the day progressed and ending with news from home that broke my heart. Unfortunately, there was no carnival worker to unlock the bar, take my hand and walk me off the platform.
     As I write, today is almost tomorrow. Reflecting on the day and its gamut of emotions which reminds me of the complexity and simplicity of life, I pause and give thanks. No, my heart still feels broken, for myself and others, but I have to give thanks that I can feel its brokenness. I can hear. I can see. I can feel. I am alive. The apple ride of human emotions needs no bar to lock me in and keep me safe. It is a ride that makes me human and alive grasping and releasing the depth of human emotions. The ride is not a “into everyone life a little rain must fall” attitude, no not that. The ride is one of butterfly wings that dance in twists and twirls often lifted or turned around by the wind. Butterflies are not meant to be captured and pinned to Styrofoam because of their colors. Their beauty lies in the elegance of color and movement.
     And so it is with the apple ride of emotions. I am not so wise as to understand it all but I do know if you mount a beach ball on Styrofoam the air will rush out leaving it flat and motionless. Like butterflies, the beauty and joy of beach balls are in their color and movement. The beauty of today, and all its emotions, vulnerability, joy and sadness lies in its movement and color. Knowing that, this is one ride I’ll gladly pay admission again and again. Movement, color, and texture – the feel and feeling of life. 
     Let the music of the ride begin. I lift my arms in the air ready to twist, twirl, laugh and dance and never alone.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Water Dance

     The Gulf has always been my sanctuary beginning with two week long family vacations when I was a child. I remember one such summer, I was probably between eight and nine and I had graduated to the swim alone phase, but not too far. I ventured out to my appropriate spot. I would jump in the air as the swells came to shore and where my height and small frame could not lift me, the swell would lift me higher. It was like flying.
     This day, however, was not meant for playing leap frog with the swells. The undertow or rip tide had made its way to my little playground. I leapt up with the swell to fly. The swell was deeper than I realized. I could not leap high enough. The swell knocked me over and under the water. The undertow quickly grabbed me. I still remember, after all these years, doing the most fantastic summersaults underneath the water as the undertow began to carry me out as it withdrew its arms back into the Gulf.
     The immediacy of the moment, the thrill of being carried by the tide and the summersaults quickly left when I went to gasp for air and inhaled water. I do not recall what I thought or whether I “assessed” the situation. My floundering arms underneath the water, the sandy cloudy vision and burning eyes trying to see under the water, and inability to breathe I’m sure told my brain – not good!
    Suddenly, mid summersault, my floundering arms met a solid object and my arm was almost yanked out of my shoulder socket. My father hands, clenched around my wrist, pulled me from the suction and I literally soared into the air. The remainder of the vacation was spent on the beach. I was not allowed back into the water.
    I’m considerably older now but I still return to the Gulf as often as I can. And when I cannot, there you will find my spirit day dreaming. There are times I remember that day and think how fortunate I was to survive. And then, there are days, like today, when I think, with wonder, awe, and total abandonment, what it would be like to breathe underwater. I dream about dancing, doing summersaults, riding the swells and just sitting on the bottom and breathing. Submersion and surrender as I simply breathe underwater. Today, I decided to not wait. In my mind, in my spirit, in my heart I dove in, jumped with the swells, and then released myself to sink to the bottom. Today, I breathed underwater, and it was grand. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moon Sliver

    From full moon to full moon is almost 30 days. In between the full moons we see varying sizes of slivers. The faithful sliver never disappears. No turn of the earth, nor gravitational pull or tilt will ever hide that part of the moon, that tiny sliver. It is always there.
    You can’t, however, say there is only a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky. It is the whole moon. The angle of the sun is what darkens the moon leaving only the sliver for the human eye. Those with telescopes can see the whole moon. Is it the intensity of the magnification that allows us to see the whole rather than the sliver? Or perhaps the lens is the willingness to ignore the sun’s angle, its trick of light, and see the moon as it is now, tomorrow and will be – full. We are astronomers of our hearts and this day. Without our telescopes in full power we would never know the presence that completes the sliver.
    I look up to the moon and remind myself to not curse the darkness of the night when I have only the sliver to guide me. I remind myself not to reserve my celebration only for the full moon which lightens and illuminates my way. They are the same, just different angles. I remind myself to see the whole and not just the part.
    I will walk with this awareness and like the full moon embrace the slivers. Before you think me wiser than I am, I must confess a tiny sliver in me thinks 30 days is a long time. I miss the full moon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Upon Migrating Geese I Sit

     For as long as I can remember, I have always sat in the lotus position. Long before the miles of running and arthritis left their calling cards in my knees and made what was a choice, a necessity, I never dangled my legs down from a chair. My friends say I have to ‘fold up’ and they are ever attentive in public places, like restaurants, to make sure the seating will allow me to ‘fold up.’
     I think it is a fair assumption to make that people, like myself, who write blogs feel a passion to write and express themselves with words. There is a need to release, to share, to celebrate and connect with others. We speak with our words. Writing is just another form of sign language. We speak with our hands. Our voice is in our hands.
     Sometimes, the only words of the heart that can be spoken are signed in silence. Webster and our hands, like my legs, fold up and disappear. I am getting wiser to their ways. What needs or wants desperately to be said has found a different voice to be heard. With legs neatly tucked in, eyes closed, one thumb tracing the life line of the other hand, and a slight tilt of the head I sit.
     Sometimes, the only inks available are the footprints left by the heart’s silent dance. Tomorrow, perhaps, there will be paper. Either way, my heart has spoken. Like the migrating geese, whose call I hear but I cannot see, my words will find their way to where they belong.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bewildered and Lost

All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there. ~Rumi

     My brother is the epitome of “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I actually do not think he has a blood pressure reading. It is not that he doesn’t care about stuff. He is very sensitive, he just, somehow, always manages to go with the flow. Me? Let’s just say we’re polar opposites.
     My brother dearly loves to walk the land, to be in the woods. He knows every square inch of the land he walks. One of my favorite lines from my brother was during a visit home.  My Dad, a friend of mine and I decided we would go walk the land. My brother called that night to see how it went. I went on and on about how beautiful it was. I had even brought home a rock to remind me of the land and the time there. I told him we walked so long we had to stop and sit at the little creek bridge for a while. There was silence. “Beth, there is no bridge on the land.” Angst! We had gotten lost and my rock wasn’t even from ‘the land.’ In his dearest big brother southern voice, he corrected me, not ‘lost’ just ‘bewildered.’
     Now, to appreciate what I’m about to say, you have to understand that my work involves zooming through data and turning it into information. I can take the most complex problems and analyses at work and purée them into their very essence. But put me in the paper bag of life, give me directions, ask me to do simple things like feed myself non boxed no cook food or to remember to do something, and I’m just goofy. Sometimes I think my friends enjoy watching the hour glass spin on my face and the little message “program not responding, please wait.” That’s me, and I’m ok with that. It’s a fun natural kind of dorkiness.
     When it comes to looking at life, the heart, its paths and our callings, I quickly disrobe the heavy armor of numbers and spreadsheets and the message of the hour glass. In this world there is no north or south, lefts and rights, boil versus broil nor endless meeting reminders. Here one just sits. ‘Sitting’ doesn’t mean inactivity, inertia or passivity. Sitting means being present and fully alive to your heart, your senses, the beauty and awe of this world and each other, as we are, right now- ‘simply me.’ Sitting means I do need to have it all figured out nor a map with detailed instructions. It is a journey not an arrival gate number.
     It matters not that the rock isn’t from my land. Where I am, where I am standing, where my heart is, is my land. The rock is perfect and complete, as it is and from whence it came. When I start feeling lost, I tend to hold it ever so tightly in a fist of anger. I confess a desire, sometimes, to use it as a weapon. It is when I stop, listen to my heart, and softly hold the rock without thought of what it means or tomorrow, that I understand the gentle difference between bewildered and lost. You must admit, you just can’t say bewildered without a smile. And a path that smiles is never lost. Just ask your heart.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Heart's Prayer

     I do not want to be told I am a sinner because I failed to meet your expectations. I do not want to be told I am a transgressor because I pushed the bounds of conventionality. I want to know I am a sinner because I have seen the face of God.
     I do not want to see the gates shut to Eden. I do not want to see the burning bush. I do not want to see the Promised Land or Jericho’s fallen walls. I want to know that You alone are God because my heart cannot but kneel.
     I do not want to stand at the manger and think what an unbecoming throne. I do not want to hear Lazarus called forth and fear the dead walking amongst us. I do not want to eavesdrop on Gethsemane’s prayer and hear the sweat fall from his face. I want to know you are the Son of God because I looked through the eyes of the thief.
     I do not fear the hiss that I could be God I fear the venom that tells me I am a sinner. Maybe it’s time to leave Eden behind and forget the gate. Maybe it’s time to remember the garden is where God walked in the cool of the evening and called out to Adam and asked “Where are you?” Yes judgment was passed, there are consequences to actions, but the first question was “where are you?” Perhaps if the answer given had been from the heart and not deceit the story may have been different.
   “Where are you my child that you feel the need to hide? Where are you my child that you fear the very power that created you? Where are you my child that you see only your actions and not your heart?
Where are you my child tell me what has happened. You’ve eaten from the tree of wisdom but to understand you need your heart, my breath. For when I breathed into you, you breathed your life back into me. Where are you my child? You are in me. It is not a kneeling, it is not a cry of belief, and it is not judging eyes you seek. It is your heart, our breath. It is to know you are loved.“ 
      And when my heart rises from the altar within my soul, I smile. To love because you cannot not love is to understand the love of God. And when that path is taken, if I listen closely there is a whisper asking “Beth, how is your heart?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Solomon's Wardrobe

    I am not a fashion horse. I try to look neat. Wrinkles and dirt just seem to find me. And then there’s coffee which sometimes just seems to find its way onto my clothes. Every now and then I find a particular shirt and slacks, the Woody Wood Pecker hair cooperates and I might feel cute. If I’m feeling particularly mischievous a certain twinkle in my eye will guarantee a lighter step in my walk and an inner feeling that I am cute. That is, until I drink my coffee and laugh. Alas, but even that is cute.
     I remember my Dad coming to visit me in Arkansas for my college graduation. My mother had passed away two years earlier. He wanted me to have something nice to wear for graduation – Mama would have wanted that. Now imagine a father who never shopped for clothes, standing in the women’s clothes department with his daughter in her jeans and sweatshirt looking for ‘nice.’
     Apparently our ‘lostness’ was not lost on the clerk, an older woman, who asked if she could help. We both looked at her with that blank stare that says ‘we haven’t a clue.’ She studied my wardrobe and off she went. I still remember her magic talent of finding that perfect outfit where a tom boy daughter and her old style southern Daddy would both smile and say ‘That’ll do.” I wonder if at supper that night she told her family, “you wouldn’t believe what I had to do today…..”
     We have comfy clothes, dress up clothes, work clothes, yard work clothes, beach clothes and fun clothes. When we put them on they create a feeling in both our brain and our body. The magic of the fibers and how we define them changes our attitude, our walk, what we will and will not do. Basically we become the definition we’ve given the clothes. The definition differs for everyone.
     There are days and nights, however, when appearances take on an entirely different meaning and feel. I find I am wearing the naked vulnerability of my soul, unshielded and without mask. That primitive vulnerability dares to say “as I am, as I wish I were, as I hope to be, this is me and for that I give thanks.” And the magic of life’s threads and connecting fibers whispers back, “I love you.”
     Solomon’s fields could not compare with that beauty or that wardrobe. And as I whisper back, “I am loved” another voice inside says “I’m cute.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dreams and a Rose

“What if you slept?
And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed?
And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven
and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower?
And what if, when you awoke,
you had the flower in your hand?
Ah, what then?” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
     I’ve always liked this observation because it begins with “What if you slept?” I don’t sleep a lot. Not sleeping a lot usually means you don’t dream a lot. My sleep is more like a crash and wake up type of sleep with little time to look out the window.
     There are two dreams that I do remember, both of which are quite old. The first dream placed me at the dedication of a historical museum in San Francisco. The dedication was on the waterfront overlooking the San Francisco Bridge. I was delivering the speech. Part of the speech has stayed with me like an old dog eared book. “It seems that as one ages a desire to bring the past forward becomes important. It seems that while one is still aging, that is to say, still young, the desire is to rush forward into the future, to leave the past behind.
     "This building is next to this magnificent bridge for a reason. It is here to allow those of us trying to bring the past forward to the present in order to understand the future, to meet with those trying to leave the present and rush forward into the future, because the past, to them, has little relevance – or memory. One cannot go to either side without looking into the faces of those going to the other side. To go “to” you have to go “toward.””
     The second dream is even older. I was sitting in a large waiting room resembling a cathedral or banquet hall. Names of the people were called out. I asked the person next to me how would they know we were there. When I was told we signed in when we entered total panic rippled throughout my body. They would not be able to read my writing. My signature and writing are notorious for awarding doctor’s for excellence in penmanship. All I remember is sitting there wondering if they would know I was there.
     There are days that feel like YouTube snippets of dreams. Sound bites of “one day,” “gosh I wish I could,” “if only,” and “if only nots.” Whatever the time frames, I am zooming from one side of the bridge to another, desperately moving from one video to another to find ‘what I’m searching for’. I am madly going “to.” Other days I suddenly look in the mirror, or I have to scroll up on the side bar to click on the year of my birth (more than one click sometimes) and I wonder where the dreams have gone. It is as if I’m sitting in the waiting room and for whatever reason, they no longer see me.
     And then there are days when I awake not to an alarm clock but to a voice that knows my name and calls me ‘toward’, no longer ‘to.’ My heart draws closer and I hear gentle laughter. Looking over my shoulder, there on my bed, where I slept and dreamt, is a rose. I pick up the rose and its crotchety thorn pricks my finger – a reminder to stay awake and remember. The fragrance tickles my nose making me giggle. And with that gift, whether from heaven or not, I hear my name, I have been seen and I cross the bridge moving toward.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bricks and Writing

     It is a night to write. Not for any profound insights. There are no great philosophical revelations. No threads to pick and pull and watch the mystery sweater of life unravel. Simply put, the wind is blowing like a freight train but I can only hear it if I stand outside. Inside, looking out, the only evidence of the wind is the dancing and swaying squirrel freeway (aka the evergreen trees). Why these two images make me think it is a night to write I do not know?
     I have always observed life. An appropriate occupation for a hermit. I listened for what wasn’t said while remaining ever alert to the “isms,” fighting words, hurting words and labels. I learned the power of words to destroy and heal, to inspire and to stifle. Listening fed the desire to write. I became irreverent in challenging why God would allow things to happen. I become reverent when I saw the hand of creation move among the earth and her creatures. I learned the power of “And then?” when I wrote, to challenge my own thinking and beliefs as well as others.
     Writing was a way a hermit could engage the world and yet remain behind walls. In building a wall to shut the world out Life gave each brick a tale, a name and asked “what do you see?” As I would write the bricks became inscribed with people’s names, their hopes, their fears as well as my own. Once the story was done I would cast the brick into the ocean of life. The water would explode releasing hope as the pain sailed away on a brick funeral pyre. I would write what I saw, until one day, I realized, at last I had no more bricks and the walls were gone. Perhaps that is when I learned to laugh.
     I write now to engage in the dialogue of what it means to walk this earth. I write to try to understand this journey called life. I write because I will not let the twists and turns of fate that have both daunted and inspired me upon this journey remain in a potter’s field beneath an unmarked grave. Both the daunting and inspiration have a purpose.
    Sometimes you can feel the movement of life brushing against your face, making you lean one way and then the other. You know it’s there and you create a dance. Other times you are just a spectator watching the evidence but you miss the touch, the sensation of being there and the dance. Writing takes me there and allows me to dance with the wind even when I am not physically present. I guess that is why I say I pray to write. I write to pray.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wind Horse

     His name was Dan and he was a gift from my grandfather (to the “joy” of my parents). Dan was an old mid size horse my grandfather happened upon. He would stay at my grandfather’s farm and I could ride him when we visited. The first visit I procured a box of sugar cubes. After all, horses like sugar cubes and this was our first meeting. I wanted to make sure Dan liked me. It was over an hour’s drive to my grandparents. All the way I watched the Alabama pine trees zoom by the window and dreamed of riding fast and furious through the clover fields and herding my grandfather’s cows. The more I dreamed the more sugar cubes I consumed. When we arrived there were two left.
     My grandfather lifted me up on the saddle and off Dan and I went…a nice steady walk. That was Dan’s style. His years of running fast through the clover fields had passed and the cows continued to graze. My dream? I never noticed. I was too busy listening to the wind of the clover’s dance beneath our speed. There was something so totally visceral about learning how to match your body, your posture, your tension and your movement to the horse’s body. It becomes a dance with neither partner leading. Dan and I would dance as often as we could and each dance lasted an eternity.
     Native Americans and Buddhism both have legends of the Wind Horse. For the Buddhist, the Wind Horse is the summoning of energy, prayer, healing and rising above. Many of the Native American stories talk of a horse who would care for and carry the wounded to safety. The Wind Horse is no more in these legends because he felt the love of an injured boy and together they made a final journey. Whether summoning energy, raising prayer flags for healing and restoration, rising above the shackles of earthly misperception, or, being touched by the stories and love of another, to ride the Wind Horse is to believe in something beyond yourself. It is a ride of trust beyond yourself. Like jumping off a cliff into the Ocean’s waters below, you simply let go and believe. You believe.
     I’ve often wondered what my father said to my grandfather as he sent me off, unsupervised, to ride my Wind Horse that first visit. I think, when I looked down with that child’s look of “Are you sure?” that I met the twinkle in my own eye as my grandfather smiled. And with that twinkle, that freedom, I sat off to ride my Wind Horse.
     Dan may have been my first Wind Horse but he was not the last. I have seen the Wind Horse in the eyes of those souls you meet and know your eyes have met before. I have seen the Wind Horse in my own closed eyes as the earth’s pain and those around me overwhelms me and I can do naught but summon the Wind Horse to heal us all. As profound as these experiences have been, and are, as rich as these rides are, the most visceral and powerful are those where I hear the pure laughter of a young girl with frizzy blonde hair riding the wind. She believes. She laughs, oh how she laughs. She summons the energy of all that is pure, the wind of love. And when one rides the Wind Horse, one never rides alone.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


     I stand and inhale the night sky. Today was a day of exhaling. Sometimes, sometimes, the only thing a person, a writer needs to write is “I love you.” To know you are not alone, to know you can hear the heart beats, to know the joy (and pain) of laughing … to know … it’s just that simple. And so with that I lay my pen down and smile.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


     Wisdom be thou my Lover. Understanding my Partner. You have called my eyes to see. In fear, they were shut and later closed. I open them now for you. Disrobe whatever fear remains so that I may stand before you naked, as I am. As I was. Wisdom be thou my Lover. Understanding my Partner.
     I shall not be arrayed in white. Long ago innocence and I parted ways. But be not deceived by what you do not see. Fear not, my Lover, that I have given away that which was yours. Uncovered and undressed, my eyes, though shut and closed have never lost sight of thee.
     Come morning, may my eyes be opened by Wisdom’s kiss. May my body be lifted by Understanding’s outstretched hands. Awakened and alive I greet the day and bathe in the ocean of Love.
     Wisdom be thou my Lover. Understanding my Partner. And Love the breath of both.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Dance

     If I should glance over my shoulder as I leave, I am not asking that you should come with me. It is a glance in case it is the last and a wish for god speed. If I should stare into your eyes after you have spoken, I do not doubt what you say. Sometimes my heart likes to speak before my words. If I should ask if you are ‘ok’ I doubt neither your strength nor honesty nor do I speak out of need. I would rather you give me a knowing smile that tells my worry to cease than to think I did not care or notice.
     It is such a delicate dance and one never wishes to step on the other’s toes. In a dance one partner may lead. It is in the tension of the giving through the matching of strength to strength that creates the beauty of the movements, the dance.