Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year of Light, Love, and Laughter

I have spent my adult lifetime purposely erasing all earthly images of Divinity from my mind. I had been taught so many false images of what God looks and sounds like, that I felt I needed to start over without physical images in order to accept the pure Spirit that I know lived in me before I was "taught" about God.

I opened my heart and soul as wide as I could and the pain that came pouring in, literally, brought me to my knees. I was awash with the living memories of all the false promises of faith, family, and forgiveness. Sometimes one at a time and sometimes in groups, the demons of my lifetime came back to taunt me: People who used my penitence to enter my soul and suck it dry for their own aggrandizement or physical pleasure, people who attempted to hide behind me while continuing to pursue pleasure at the expense of others and  themselves, people who sought to take away my joy because they apparently felt it took something from them.

Many of these people, all the while, proclaimed their Christian caring for me with no attention to what their actions were doing to my Spirit. I simply had to come back to my roots and face the fears from which I had run. I had to return to the Spirit of my six-year-old self and, once more, become open to comforting of the Baby Jesus inside myself. Nobody needed me to be the mother or the big sister to them. I could revisit my most vulnerable self in the warm glow of protection of my sacred spouse and my safest friendships. I am home in a way that I hadn't been in fifty-five years.

I looked to those whose visions of The Spirit seem to me most true. None of these are ivory tower academics or recognized as holy people or prophets. All of them are people who simply live life as an adventure. All of them are flesh and blood workers who will admit to their many failings as professionals, spouses, parents, and progeny. What they all have in common is humility and humor that they are willing to share with me and others.

How many times and how many crosses do each of us have to carry in this life? How many times are we brought to our knees in humility because we are powerless to "fix" ourselves, our spouses, our friends, our children, or our world? The people that I want to emulate are the ones who don't get angry with those who won't be "fixed" or at the world in general for making them feel weak.

The people that I want to emulate are the people who continue to be true to their best selves while holding out a hand and open heart to help others find their own Holy Spirits. I want to also emulate the people who never stop working at being their best selves and solving problems, while always aware that their wills are not necessarily what will happen. I want people in my life who understand the The Spirit is infinite and everlasting and that our lifetimes are meant to nurture the Holy Spirit in ourselves and in others and leave the world a bit better than we found it. It is not to "fix" everything that we see as wrong while we are here.

For these reasons, I have returned to my faithful friends who have known my soul since I was a child. We still recognize the innocent Holy Spirit in each other and love to play together in the safety of each other's friendship. Along the way, I have found other "playmates" who can still see the Spirit of innocence, wonder, and hope in their own souls and those of others; these too have become parts of my newly innocent soul. What could be more healing than that?

Today is the last day of 2012, a particularly challenging year for my husband. We are stronger in our combined Spirit than we have ever been. Tomorrow we begin again in the light, love, and laughter of each other and our friends, as we attempt to do every day. Mazel Tov and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pursuit of Passionate Perfection

How foolish human beings have been in discouraging human passion;
Positive channeling, I hope, will become the new religious fashion.
There are no feelings given us that can't be used for good,
If we simply use our human sense, as we always should.

Passionate people have an extra spark that is Divine intensity;
Their passionate pursuits portend who they are meant to be.
Our job as parents is to help our children to define
The best use of the natural gifts to which they are inclined.

A child who can't for long sit still, may one day fight fires;
Another who tells great stories, may attract a product's buyers.
One who laughs much, may work with the ill, lightening the mood.
Even the rage of an abused child can be channeled for other's good.

Who will sing the songs of joy and pain that we all feel
If we silence the voices of those who can help us heal?
Who will chase the babies as they run from us in glee
If  we've killed the wind in the sails of the children who ran free?

Who will scare away bullies when the vulnerable are attacked
If we take away the honor in the righteous fighting back?
How many drugs are used putting our passions to sleep
Instead of channeling them into endeavors we need to keep?

I write because no one any longer wants to hear my voice;
But to keep my thoughts silent, I do not have that choice.
The dancer must express emotion with a twirl and a dip,
Or capsize under the weight like a too-fully laden ship.

The cook must cook, the quilter quilt, the singer continue to sing,
Not only for others' pleasure, but for the release it brings.
There are always people to be protected by those who fight;
Let us help to channel the rage that turns injustices into right.

There are those who think they're super-heroes in their fantasies;
These dreams can be turned toward treating and curing disease.
There is no passion that cannot be turned to the pursuit of perfection;
It is time that we squelch the fears that lead to The Spirit's rejection.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Passionate Perfection

When I was young there were rules for everything, from how to draw a tree to how to be me.
When I had children, the rules had been changed; a tree looked like what my child could see.
I learned to look at life through the lenses of my children and the children they brought home;
I felt that by allowing them such freedom of expression, they would not be tempted to roam.

As they grew and sprouted their own wings, I blessed the wind beneath them.
Our relationships evolved at this time, from parent and children to friends.
I was honored to be included in their circles of parenting communities;
The memories of these sacred times, will from my soul, never be freed.

There is nothing in life so sacred as to be trusted as a mother,
With whom is shared the care and nurturing of the child of another.
I am so very fortunate that the man with whom I now live
Had stored up so much fatherly love that he was happy to give.

There is a saying that the most precious gift a father can give a child
Is the love that protects mother's body and soul to feel safe from the wild.
I have had the privilege of helping mother many who aren't my own,
Through the grace of my loving husband sharing our peaceful home.

We are now a childless couple for the first time in our marriage;
This new way of living as a couple, we will not ever disparage.
Our children and grands are grown; our parents are all deceased
Our primary responsibilities to others have long-since ceased.

We have freedom to plan adventures without concern for others,
And enjoy each others' antics like carefree sisters and brothers.
While it is true that I still long for the sweetness of baby slobbers,
I wouldn't trade the memories we're making for any of the others.

This is the joy of having our lives led by our Holiest Spirits;
The Voice is free to whisper and shout until we are able to hear it.
Some hear the Voice in church, others walking in the woods;
We know that it is The Sacred when it leads us to share in good.

So paint me a purple tree, if this is what your soul sees;
Kick a speeding soccer ball as hard as you may please;
Twirl like a whirling dervish, if it helps you to express
Your passionate gratitude through which we are all blessed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Throne in Her Home

I have probably offended some who believe it is sacrilege to have scripture next to a toilet.
Knowing my friend, she'll share Christianity wherever she can get anyone to quietly sit.
She seems to find joy in all the parts of the circles in life, probably even in defecation;
The beginnings, the middles, the end products are all opportunities for celebration.

This is a woman who talks to her plants and feeds them homemade compost.
All who are loved by her are sure that they are certainly loved the most.
She's a teacher with a sense of personal joy whenever any student "gets" it.
Who'd have ever thought that her serenity and my seeking would be a good fit?

Her faith is like breadcrumbs left along her life's circuitous path;
She always seems quite sure that we'll finally "get" it, at last.
Who else would have thought to leave theology next to "the throne?"
This is one of the ever-joyful surprises in visiting her home.

Why Did "God" Make Me?

While at friend's house, I observed next to her guest room toilet, a compilation of quotes from the writings of C.S. Lewis. I have never been able to get into C.S. Lewis, as his writings always seemed to me so out of touch with the world of dirty diapers and other realities in which sexual, physical beings live. I didn't have a lot of time to peruse his words of monkish wisdom, but I absorbed an entry where he contended that we are made, not to love God, but for God to love us. This is in direct opposition to what I was taught as a pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic kid.

The Roman Catholic Baltimore Catechism that I had to memorize before I could receive "The Body of Christ" in Holy Communion, stated unequivocally, "God made me to show His goodness, for me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to make me happy with Him in the next." How can these two diametrically opposed viewpoints both be called Christian?

Can any two interpretations of our mission on earth be more different? We want to believe that all "others" are not our neighbors or our "brothers", and yet we don't take the time to really know each other.  Perhaps we should stop and ask people their meaning of their "God" before we assume we're in agreement (or disagreement). Or even better, watch them to see how they exemplify their special gift of being made in God's image and we'll see who they see as their God.

I became interested in the definition of the word theology after reading this and speaking with her husband who has taught classes in the subject. This led me to research the many names by which people of different times and faiths refer to "God." In Judeo-Christian theology alone, there are hundreds of sacred names for "God." The Koran has ninety-nine names for the same Abrahamic Divine Being as Judeo-Christians worship. It seems obvious to me that The Divine appears differently to different people at different times. What I look for in others is responsible compassion; then I feel like I am looking into the face of Divine Light.

My friend has said that it makes her sad that she and I don't share a same language for our beliefs. She and I share our commitment to responsible compassion in action. Isn't this enough to make us sisters in The Spirit?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

After Christmas Crash

All the emotion stirred up by the condensed good-will of "The Holidays" is enough to make me crazy. I feel like there's an electric current constantly running through my heart and head, and no grounding of grandchildren to absorb the extra energy. Where does one put the love when there are no little ones to hold?

I thought that I had done so well this Christmas, limiting our gift giving to only those with whom we have an active relationship, and carefully spacing our events with downtime in between them. I felt good about seeing other families with starry-eyed children taking photos in front of the casino Christmas display. I was at peace with leaving our son's family gift on his stepmother's doorstep to be given to him and his family when he arrived at their family Christmas celebration. I vicariously enjoyed our daughter's family Christmas through facebook and phone calls. Richard and I are still in love. What could make for a better season of gratitude for our blessings?

It all came tumbling together during the day after. The friend I've had for longer than any other lost her next-door-neighbor to suicide by drug overdose on the day before Christmas Eve. His fiance lost her husband last April and is being put out of her home by her former step-daughter. My friend is a yoga instructor, which gives her a source of great inner peace, but the studio is closed for the holidays. We spent the morning comforting each other over a buffet breakfast. It is so nice to have somebody who has known our hearts since before we went to grade school.

On the way home from breakfast, I heard from my son's stepmother. She regaled me with what a wonderful Christmas her family had at her beautiful waterfront home, in front of her fireplace, with the many generations all together in celebration. I was thrilled for all of them and was salivating over her description of the Beef Wellington her oldest son had made. As an aside, she mentioned that my son's family gift from us was mistakenly given to somebody else. My visions of their surprise and joy when they were opening it were dashed.

The bulkhead began to crack in the car on the way to shop for tomatoes for Richard's sandwiches I fix him for lunch at his beloved PT boat. When Richard got home from the boat, I calmly explained the phone call from my son's stepmother, and my wonderful knight in shining armor simply went over to her house to retrieve the unwrapped gift. Meanwhile, I heard from my sister-in-law calling from Austria and a very good friend that I haven't seen in a couple of years who is coming to town in a week. My emotional boat had become overloaded and taking on too much water. I was quickly sinking. I had to bail out some of that ballast. By the time Richard returned, I simply couldn't stop sobbing.

Bless his compassionate heart, he re-wrapped and re-delivered the gift without a word about how unreasonable I was being. Love doesn't have a reason, and I wish people didn't save up so much for such a short, intense season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Perception of Positive Power

A friend once told me, when I bemoaned being an eternal child of god because I want to be an adult of god, that this is not something for which one wishes. I do wish that all of us would strive for that, as I'm tired of all eternal children of anyone. Children simply follow or subvert their leaders; adults struggle with leaders to become part of the leadership team. In a broken world, we often look for heroes to rescue us; in my vision of "the earth as it is in heaven", we seek to become parts of a heroic team.

I am often amazed that so many act as if their god is too delicate to handle a good sparring session with a fully formed adult. When I thought my daughter was going to die, leaving behind two girls of god that my daughter had been so carefully grooming to be women of god, I was furious with her god. What the Hell was "he" thinking?! Maybe I should have been born male and Jewish because it seems to me that the rabbis of the Jewish scriptures freely wrestle with their god. My daughter only seemed sad.

I have been very angry with The Higher Power more times than I can count. I figure the The Higher Power has bigger "shoulders" than any person I've ever known, and can take my doubt and disapproval better than can any of my earthly loved ones. The Almighty will never go away and take the suppressed anger out on others more vulnerable. At least, this is the image I have of my Almighty Energy.

Some find fault with my inability to limit my manifestation of "god" to that of a male. I also don't see The Almighty as female. I see The Almighty as encompassing all things, male, female, and inert matter. I see The Almighty as The Eternal Energy that we have the ability to affect the course of, but not the final outcome, of  eternity. I choose to believe that the more adult my acceptance of responsibility for direction of the other energies I encounter, the more positive effect I have on the course of Eternity.

I choose to believe that the final outcome will be positive power, and that each of us has the ability to affect how long the path to get there takes.

Christmas Love and Laughter

What a wonderful Christmas we had with a dearest and oldest friend.
His wife was out-of town, though her spirit she did send.
He had said he'd have Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
I decided to be Ghost of Christmas Past, and our friend to haunt.

We spent Christmas Eve in his lovely B&B by the beach;
A restful night seems to be had by all and each.
Coffee in the morning discussing this and that,
While we were entertained by antics of their cats.

Then off to the casino buffet, where cocktails were free;
If I had known this, I would not have ordered tea.
Our friend ended up eating Chinese from the buffet;
This led to discussing our favorite movie for Christmas Day.

Though I'd requested that we spend the evening with his train,
We decided to watch "A Christmas Story" once again.
It was so much better watching with Richard and our friend
The laughter in their shared memories, I wished would never end.

Shared laughter is the greatest blessing shared among us;
It seems to take a very deep level of mutual trust.
We share memories that open our hearts to our childhoods.
How could this not put all friends in a sacred mood?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry F---ing Christmas

Dear Yvette,
If you think it appropriate, please send to Gail and the others, with or without my attached note from last year.  This moved me deeply when it came around on your blog last Christmas.
Love and best wishes

Dear Gayle,
Blessings on Bruce and all your family, from another military family who deeply appreciates his service, and all the others as well.
Mary Galbraith

Merry F---ing Christmas

From Bruce Nolan (the son of our group's Gayle) who was proudly serving our country while away from his own family on Christmas 2011 (He's safely home with his family now):

all across the world
in the mountains, deserts, plains, cities, and waters
of the Middle East,
in the Horn of Africa,
Northern Africa,
across Europe,
in remote outposts in the Pacific,
in the Caribbean,
across South America
even in the U.S. ...

Tonight, as Soldiers stand duty behind a machine gun,
Tonight, as Sailors stand watch on a bridge,
Tonight, as Airmen fly patrol in aircraft,
Tonight, as Marines ride in convoys,
Tonight, as Servicemembers, wherever we are,
one will turn to the other,
and say with all bitterness
Merry F---ing Christmas

Deep down,
we are thinking of our loved ones,
our friends,
our families,
those we don't even know,
that are home,
with friends,
in their house,
surrounded by comforts,
enjoying Holiday parties,
some will miss us dearly,
some only know who we are.
We miss them...
we also know that they can enjoy the comfort of home
because we are here.
Deployed, fighting, maintaining presence,
so that you can be home safe.
We are here, so you can be there.

And that makes us proud.
Proud to know that behind each of us,
is a country of grateful people,
who honor what we do.
Proud to know that behind each of us,
there is someone at home wishing we were there
but knowing we serve a higher purpose.
There may be those against us,
but there are so many more behind us.
They they can enjoy where they are
because we are here.

So tonight,
I say to you all,
from the bottom of my heart,
Merry f---ing Christmas.
And I mean it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Hangover

I don't know how many people do it, party heartily for days on end;
I seem to have a happiness hangover after only two days with good friends.
My godchild crooned at House of Blues, while family and friends celebrated;
Then on we went to a party whose cheer can't be on the joy scale rated.

There were people we hadn't seen since the last the world was set to end;
This was when we all got together to party into the new millennium.
Our hostess admitted when the world ends, whatever our chances,
She plans to go out as she and her lover/husband share dances.

The next day I spent with my oldest of friends and her aged father;
It is such fun to assist her as she is the perfect caretaker/daughter.
We sit at her mother's table and share childhood memories;
Her father, like a favorite uncle, I never miss a chance to tease.

Richard joined us and made a fine salad to accompany our cooking;
This certainly beats the buffet that, for Christmas, we are booking.
A great part of the holidays spirit for me is sharing the preparation
Leading up to the family and friends coming together for celebration.

Sharing in a loved one's tasks is the way that I make friends;
I am honored when those I admire feel that I have skills to lend.
Sacred Sunday I spend with my husband remembering how we're blessed;
His quiet demeanor is what I need because I'm overly blessed, I confess.

Tomorrow we get up and go again, to lunch with a favorite family;
Then on to a Mississippi Gulf Coast casino, Holiday on Ice to see.
We'll wake up Christmas morning, waddle through a casino buffet.
Playing in our friend's train room will wrap up our Christmas Day.

I love merry making for the Christmas season, but I will be happy
When the pace of life doesn't include constant shared hilarity.
While it is nice to create memories, I like time to process;
I can only save the memories with time between to rest.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holy Days

The holiest time I can remember is when I knew about Baby Jesus, but knew nothing of his persecution and death. I was much more concerned about making poor Baby Jesus cry by my being bad than I have ever been about going to hell because my sins contribute to Jesus' need to die. Love for a vulnerable infant motivates many of us to do things that we never dreamed possible. Just ask any sleep-deprived parent.

I prefer the way religion is taught today to the shame that was the basis for all the old interpretations of the Bible. Who wouldn't want to be invited to a picnic with Jesus and his joyous bunch of Jews? Imagine how happy they must have all been to be told that they have a second chance, and a third, and a fourth to become permanent parts of the branches of this vibrant vine?

Jesus seemed to have a different slant on the ways of his creator. What happened to all the brilliant light of joy, love and breaking bread together that he left behind?

 I'd much prefer to daily have a birthday party for the innocent baby than to spend my life mourning over what he chose to do for us at the end of his short time on earth. I can't see Jesus smiling, except in the faces of those who feel loved by others. These should be the Christmas lights that we attempt to ignite with every communication we have with every human we encounter.

Happy Holy Days every day of the year, beginning with the birth of a baby born in poverty and shame, who still found it in his heart to love and laugh with all he met.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An American Creed is What We Need

America's greatness is it's a melting pot,
Not only figuratively, but literally.
Our colors, our creeds, and our cuisines
Mirror what humanity is meant to be.

In the true America, we're encouraged
To share our ideas and recipes.
Neighbor to neighbor, we become one,
Exchanging successes and sympathies.

We cannot listen to the many fear-mongers
Who pretend that separation is what we need.
These great big voices are paid for
By corporations with their immense greed.

Corporations and crowds have no consciences;
People become swept up in fearful passion.
We'll not succeed in creating heaven on earth
Until community compassion comes into fashion.

Perhaps we should all take lessons from the Girl Scouts of America

The Girl Scout Promise (Paraphrased)
On my honor, I will try:To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the American Law.
The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to behonest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and torespect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a neighbor to every American.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Holy in Humanity

Remember those bracelets with "What Would Jesus Do?"
Is the absolute answer known by even a few?
Should we ask ourselves, instead, how I would respond
If I saw Jesus' Spirit in people of whom I'm not fond?

What if Jesus was the beggar standing on the street?
Would I take him to a restaurant for a bite to eat?
Or would I combine my resources with the homeless inn,
Where he may find a shower, meal, and perhaps a friend?

Jesus carried the same burdens as we, being human;
He, too, drew comfort from being with his friends.
His example is of community seeking common good,
Looking past outward appearances, as we all could.

One thing that set Jesus apart in his life on earth
Was his bravery in standing for the soul's rebirth.
He insisted in seeing past the sin into the sinner's heart,
And inviting all he met to make a new start.

He left his Sacred Spirit to a group of three thousand,
Asking that they share his mission with all humans.
If we have the Holy Spirit in us, we will see
The same Spirit is in all of this earth's humanity.

It is unfortunate that so many hide behind drugs
Because they have no faith in the healing of hugs.
We may find The Holy Spirit in the eyes of pain,
If we continue looking for it again and again.

When a soul opens up, if only for a minute,
We may connect with The Spirit that's within it.
It is important that we relate to others face-to-face
To share The Holy Spirit with the whole human race.

Saints don't work alone, but with communities of others,
Combining their gifts with those of sisters and brothers.
They help hold each other onto the committed path,
Rotating their leaders from first position to last.

Even the strongest and swiftest need time to rest,
And the slowest need to strive to be their very best.
Our communities must include the weak and the strong;
On the path of Holiness, all of our gifts belong.

We are all called to be shepherds, not merely sheep;
Our connections to The Spirit run long and deep.
Celebration, not suffering, is the way to draw others in;
Success in sharing The Spirit makes the best of friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Poor Pagans" and Happy Holy Days

Whether we are Christians, Jews, or Atheists, we are all in awe of the power of light. This is the season for celebrating the miracle of light coming to us out of the darkness. In this holy season, Christians celebrate, not only the light of the sun, but the lightening of the burdens on our Spirits from our ancestral inheritance. We are told that we are no longer slaves to the mistakes of our fathers and mothers and all who came before them. We have been given a new beacon of The Spirit to guide us in creating our own chosen paths in The Eternal Light. Eternal, freely given, Divine Light is the reason for the season.

In taking all the focus of our holy days off of their original "pagan" (actual meaning is country dweller) meanings, we have lost sight of our Divine connection to our earth. The country dwellers I know and love, while most proudly proclaim their Christian religion, are very aware and in awe of the cycles of nature. It is a tragedy of immense proportions that so many modern humans have never anxiously awaited the sunlight after a long period of darkness. So many have never sought relief from the heat while sitting on the cool grass in the shade of a tree. So many have never dipped cool, sweet water pouring directly out of the earth from a mountain spring.

We have lost our connection to the earth. If we were to nurse a calf from gestation to adulthood, looking into his or her trusting eyes, would we not comfort him as we poured out the bull's life blood to give our families food? Would we not honor every drop of milk provided by the swollen udders of the crying cow? Would we not be in awe of the cycle that turns light, dirt, water and seed into grass, and finally into meat and milk? We've lost this with industrial agriculture. At least Kosher killing is purported to be humane.

I miss my my "pagan" friends when we're away from them. They have brought me back to the true meaning of life and Divinity. They have introduced me to the rich smell of a barn filled with garden-enriching manure, and the joy of a hand-hewn wood fire embracing me with warmth and light, as we break the depression of darkness of winter in each other's homes. They have allowed me to participate in the gathering of eggs from under their house-pet hens, and the fun of fertilizing a garden with what we scraped out of the hen's house.

We've watched them fell trees, mill their own lumber, and build houses with their own hands. We've walked the two hundred steps to the spring to bring back to the house a day's drinking water. Our "pagan" friends have shared secrets of waiting and preservation of today's good for tough times that are bound to come. They have regenerated my belief that life's greatest blessing is shared work in an environment that honors the natural cycles of nature, including each other. They have shared the immense faith it takes to keep working and patiently waiting.

I miss the sweet, cold water that comes out of our mountain ground and the eyes of the alpacas grazing at the bend in the road. I miss the dappled, weak winter light filtering through the immense hardwood trees. I miss the daily miracle of wood fires burning in our homes.Mostly, I miss the love and laughter than lightens all of our loads as we take life as it comes, good and bad, and make the most of it.

"Pagan" life isn't for sissies, and it is certainly not for those without The Holy Spirit to help them turn pain and pressure into production and light into life. Divinity is on this sweet, sad, sunny, stormy earth, in every morsel of creation. We simply need to learn to look for The Spirit and honor The Holy in all Their manifestations.

What is worship other than honor and awe in the Great Goodness that many call "God?" Perhaps the people we were taught to call "the poor pagans" weren't really worshiping many gods in all of nature; perhaps they were simply worshiping the Divine in each of the various manifestations in nature. Perhaps they aren't so "poor" as long as they can live off the land and The Light. What is wealth other than the ability to take a productive part in the miracles of life? City Christians have a lot to learn from the "poor pagans."

Jesus seems to have lived and died in honor of this life-style; this is why I consider him the Christ that I continue to attempt to emulate, usually with spotty success. I do celebrate his birth and life because I believe my soul would be dead without the love of others who walk in his example. Mostly, I celebrate the light of love than his Holy Spirit and those who follow his lead leave on earth to light the loads of others.

Happy Holy Days, whatever you may call your particular days of awe in the miracles of life-giving light that surround us on this earth.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Claims to Christianity

We are told that there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world, making Christianity the world's largest religion. But how many of these "Christians" were brought to The Annointed's way by The Spirit and how many of them by fear of the sword?

Gayle wrote in her blog today about the 3,000 devout Jews who were gifted with assurance of the fire of The Holy Spirit on the Jewish holy day of Pentecost. They went forth and spread the joy that they had received with this graced group. 3,000 people on fire with joy and compassion for others would be a powerful force, but given the size of the world, it would take a long time for the new Fruits of Their Spirits to spread to all corners.

As seems to be the case with all groups since the dawn of humanity, competition set in. There became a contest to claim the conversion of the most souls. This competition was made greater by the conquering  of the Muslim world, at the point of a sword, for "Christ." I don't believe these were true conversions because they were not conversions by The Holy Spirit that moves from one to another, bringing joy. They were false conversions by fear.

We have continued to "claim" souls for "Christ," using methods that Jesus himself condemned during the hours before his own death. We must stop the race to bring others around to our ways in our own small lifetimes. We must strengthen our own resolve and faith to be able to continue to walk in The Spirit and hold ourselves and children fast to our beliefs, even if the world around us rejects us as "odd."

Only by reclaiming "Christianity" as a people of peaceful passion and compassion will we continue to "Be fruitful and multiply" the fire of The Holy Spirit for our generation and all that follow us. All who live in the light of The Holy Spirit are parts of the true Annointed One (The Christ), which I believe is actually all the people of The Spirit. "I am the vine, you are the branches" applies to all of these people from the beginning of time, no matter what "religion" they claim, or that has claimed them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Civilized Society

The greatest tragedy in safety being breached in schools and churches is the destruction of the temples that we hold up as standards for protection of our society's innocent and vulnerable. Many children have nobody else to love them and make them feel that they are individually special.

When we look into the eyes of those who truly love us, we see a reflection of our own souls. Each one of us is "special" in the eyes of those who love us. This is not necessarily the look in the eyes of those who find us fascinating or fun, but in the eyes of those who really know us with all our weaknesses and wonders and fully love us from the inside out.

It was in third grade that I first felt special, not simply one of a pesky brood of nine. My teacher, Mrs. Bourgeois hand wrote on my report card that I was "sweet". I had never been called "sweet" before; I began to try very hard to live up to her belief in me. The teachers in my life were my emotional and spiritual salvation. All children are vulnerable, and so are their teachers and caregivers, by the act of putting the children in their care before themselves.

There are many in our society who have such injured or deadened souls that they are incapable of compassion. Some were born drug addicted or otherwise unloved before birth; some have had their souls destroyed by violence or neglect; some have deadened themselves with drugs. We cannot "cure" these people, as their capacity for loving and being loved is dead. We can only seek to contain them. We must protect the innocent from their wrath.

The mark of a civilized society, in my opinion, is how the strong band together to protect the vulnerable. It seems to me that we need less grandpas on the golf courses and more men in our school yards to keep our children and teachers from becoming prey.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This Little Light

Always remember that the light of a person's life, no matter how short that life, burns forever in the souls of all that were touched by that person. We should never seek "closure" on memories of our beloveds; our memories are their eternal light that we will pass on to others. Even children that die before birth, when joyfully anticipated, create an eternal spark in the parents that will never be extinguished.

I believe that the tragedy in our civilization is the rush to put aside pain because it makes those seeing it feel helpless in its face. How often do we tell people to simply "go on" with their grief instead of holding them in our arms while they weep?

When my mother-in-law was dying, nobody would admit we were losing her physical self. All the platitudes in the world about her being in a better place when she died did nothing to fill the empty spots where her large loving arms had enfolded me, where her great laughter had filled my ears, where my eyes had connected with her huge heart. I even missed the smell of her when she woke up to go to work.

How much greater the pain must be when we lose a person who was once actually a part of our own bodies.These are the physical wounds that nobody seems to see or feel. Our arms, eyes, noses, and ears are hurting. Only our memories can salve the pain.

When I'm walking in my garden of memories, I can feel, taste, touch, hear, and see my loved ones. The greatest thing a friend can do when I'm in grief is to walk through my memories with me, no matter how many times I revisit the same site. How lonely it is to forever walk in one's memories alone.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fully Functional Families

A friend in Coker Creek has Alzheimer's disease and mixes her present with her past. She's cared for by a combination of family members and visiting home health professionals, and obviously feels and is greatly loved. When I visit with her at her mother's home, she asks about her long-deceased daddy, insisting that she's seen him that very morning and has even played jokes on him.

She doesn't know that her sister with whom she lives is a relative, and believes that her mother is her granny. She seems happy in her child's world. How much more peaceful this must be than attempting to understand the changes that have transpired in her seventy-six years on earth. We are told that we should all have faith like that of a child. Maybe it comes from having loving family and friends with great faith and fun to share.

Another friend has a middle-aged son with schizophrenia, a genetic condition that must be carefully medicated for him to be functional. His mother is diligent in arranging for his medical care. She lost her husband a few years ago, and her son has become the man of her home. Between he and his nephew, whom his mother also raised, the two men manage to carry on the good neighbor traditions and values that were handed down from their patriarch. My friend provides home, hearth, and humor. They all seem to be greatly blessed.

A friend, who has since moved away from Coker Creek, has a grown son with Down's Syndrome.  Her husband's work has transferred the family many times to many places. When she and her family moved into Coker Creek, she told me that they had never been made more welcome by any community. Even though the only family they had in the area was their church family, they were never without respite care for themselves and their son.

It's a joy to be among people who have their lives paced in such a way as to be able to care for their friends and family members who are, in some manner, infirm. Where are we all racing in our efforts to "get ahead?" What values are being preserved in the anonymous masses of isolated citizens in most of our cities? Were humans really meant to be warehoused and watched over by police instead of being brought up in closely committed communities?

We disrespect those who care for, feed, and teach our young and infirm by paying them wages that we would not accept. Is there any compensation great enough for the absorption of another's Sacred Spirit? This is what those who care for others with love are sharing. Even saints need food, clothing, and shelter for themselves and their families. They should not have to beg for fair compensation because we don't want to admit our great need for them. We seek to make them vulnerable by underpaying them, when it would be to our benefit to do all we can to empower them.

Adam and Eve refused to admit that they needed the Elder of Their Community's guidance, and Cain refused to admit her could share in full community with his brother. We continue to deny that we need the faith and family of those who came before and know our needs, as well as committed community, in order to develop fully functional families and souls. When will we ever learn?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Faith-Filled Friends

A friend and I were once talking about how people handle death and dying issues. I mentioned that people of faith seem to handle death better than those without strong beliefs. His answer was, "People of faith believe that whatever happens, they will be okay."  I guess that really sums up the way people of faith approach all of life. How wonderful it is to watch people who walk in the glow of their God. How much better it is for me when they invite me to walk along with them.

I believe that building faith is like building a fire. An ember can glow for years without burning out, and is always available to help generate fire when called upon with breath and substance to create light. I am blessed by having many people in my life who live lives aglow with the Divine Light given to humanity as a special gift. While their own lights may often be silently burning embers, the energy generated when any two get together blazes with a glorious faith-fire.

While south Louisiana seems to always be burning with wild, passionate faith and fantasy, the faith in Coker Creek seems to be more of a patiently waiting warmth. It is pure joy for me to touch these quietly passionate people and have all of our joy join together in celebration and sharing of our gifts. Sometimes I feel like we're all Tinker Bells touching others with our magic wands, and bringing all we touch to light up with laughter and other signs of love.

While it is wonderful to have faithful friends, the rewards are so much greater when they are also faith-filled friends. The bonds that are formed when we share our faith-based feelings live on in others even after the deaths of our earthly bodies. On our last trip to Coker Creek, I reassured Mountain Mama that she'd never be dead as long as I live because I am making a point of absorbing as much of her Sacred Spirit as I can while she's alive. She has touched so many lives in her ninety-three years that I suspect, like the mother of Jesus, all generations will call her blessed.

I just hope that I don't cause her to feel that I'm sucking out her soul. I like to think that Richard brings her some comfort and I bring her some joy. I hope our friendship creates a positive energy that will outlive all of us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Appalachian Artists

Where does one begin with describing a bit of heaven on earth? Our recent visit to Coker Creek was filled with more Divine moments than I can count, and not only because most of the people there are so religious.

I firmly believe that all the arts come from a depth in our spirits that we cannot express any way but through our artistic endeavors. I also believe that all of us have some art in our souls, and that anything that brings others to a peaceful or painful plane in our consciousness is art. For this reason, I have spent most of my adult life pursuing artists of one medium or another. I have sought to bask in the depths of their spirits.

It is a great honor to me when artistic friends ask for my participation in their art, even if it is simply planning a party for a showing of their works. I have been privileged to name, publish, promote, and purchase some of the artistic expressions of many talented people. My life-long dream has been to host an artists' salon for the energy that I feel creating a scared space with their combined sensibilities. The recent visit to Our Tennessee Mountain Home came close to realization of that dream, if only for a couple of days.

My second book of Our Tennessee Mountain Home blog entries is in print, and a new friend has moved her old gallery to a new location in Coker Creek. As is my usual speed, I took the opportunity to sign Richard up for some work for a friend.

My new friend Stephanie is creating a working co-op gallery for Appalachian artists, including weavers. I signed Richard on with Ralph, the builder of many of the weaving looms in Coker Creek, to help this happen in her gallery space. I then enlisted Jack to do a dual book signing with me. This led to Ralph's songbird wife Wanda, and her cousin Shirley, singing at an open house where Wanda could also promote her new CD. Mary brought in Don's wood burning work, and The Monroe County Buzz covered it all. We had a wonderful time.

I later spent an entire afternoon with a great group of artists working together as Mountain Pine Needlers, the Coker Creek chapter of Quilts for Kids. The co-chairs Bonnie Soucy, Donna Powers, and Delight House (called collectively by me Bonnie PowerHouse) lead this talented bunch of beauties in creating quilts for kids in crisis. Many of these women are multi-talented artists who have also declared interest in participating in Stephanie's "salon."

Visions of Josie's wearable objects de art, Mary making stained glass, Mountain Mama and her friends Esther and Edna weaving away the winter doldrums, Judy, Judi, and Judy painting perfect pictures, Don wood burning, and Robert and Mark making bows are dancing through my head. Maybe Donna, and Anita will give quilting classes. Perhaps Bonnie will teach us to replicate her purses and Tina will weave baskets. MarySue is making me some custom ornaments.We even have our own policeman Adam to keep us all feeling safe, as long as we can convince Eda to keep us in cookies to feed him.

Even without snow, Coker Creek was my version of a winter wonderland.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Competition Kills Community

I am saddened by how many believe gratitude is a sign of weakness
Even though I believe that gratitude is the way, we love, confess.
Why do members of the same communities continue to compete,
And the mistakes of Cain and Able, over generations, repeat?

We'll never know who translated or interpreted the book of Genesis
In proclaiming that either Cain or Able's sacrifice was considered best.
I prefer to look at it, and all the Old Testament, as cautionary tales,
Portraying the evil of human competition that, even today, prevails.

We are each given a path to enrich humanity with our gifts of Divinity,
But we continue to lust after gifts that were not meant, to ours, be.
If each of we were meant to be wholly Divine on our own,
There would never have been a second human, Divine light, shown.

And if two were ever enough to take care of all earthly creation,
There would never have been many generations and many nations.
We have come from a world and communities, perfect in every way,
To relying on only what each of our animal instincts' have to say.

Can we all simply admit that it is time to start community over,
That the patriarchs of past generations are not our problem solvers?
Do we want to continue in wars, generation after generation,
Or do we want to seek all creation's peaceful salvation?

I can only succeed in a group who will freely continue to share
In the gifts that support the values about which we all care.
Until we are all ready to admit strengths, weakness, and gratitude,
It seems that competition will continue to kill community good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Abuse and Absolution

I had lunch with a friend, educated in the same religion and school as was I,
We met through our husbands, but to form a friendship, we didn't try.
Our conversation turned to patriarchy and the need to pursue true justice;
So many of my most passionate beliefs were given a new thrust.

None of us can undo what we've done to others, nor what others did to us,
But it's harmful, from those who have been abused, to expect human trust.
I'm sick of forgiveness rhetoric that comes without any obligation
To admit the harm done and make attempts at community repatriation.

We run from victims of abuse, afraid that we may see some of ourselves;
People don't want to admit to the evil that in all of humanity dwells.
It is not that we don't all have challenges to holding a compassionate course,
But we must be willing to face hard facts to begin a truly just discourse.

It is not healing to me if my abuser is prosecuted or even executed,
If his or her damage to me continues to be ignored or refuted.
I can only take the acceptance of the abusers' denial of guilt
As a sign that I'm not honored in the community that we built.

Why are we, as Judeo-Christians, afraid to hold each other to rules?
By forgiving those who admit no wrongdoing, we are made fools.
It is not, and has never been, enough to make peace with our own souls,
When we've destroyed part of a another, leaving him or her less than whole.

There is no way to rebuild innocence, once it is taken away,
But until the abusers are confronted by community, they continue to prey.
Communities are only strong when rules are evenly enforced
Otherwise, animal instinct and behaviors continue to run their course.

We cannot continue to have a civil society ruled by man-made fear;
The fear mongers are destroying what civilized society holds most dear.
We must re-frame our attitudes about what makes an animal human.
It's not thought, but the compassion we show for our fellow woman and man.

Knowing that I thought about abusing another shouldn't give me shame;
Only for the evil actions we don't resist, should we accept blame.
When we admit that all of us are faced with similar temptations,
We will support and hold each other to living up to humanity's obligations.

It is not the power of our thoughts, but our words and deeds
That allow, in our world and communities, evil to succeed.
When we feel with each other while standing strong in our values
We will not, the true road to responsible compassion, lose.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Richard's Ride

Richard's first lady love needs a heart transplant. The engine on his beloved 1989 Bronco II finally beat her last piston pump. He bought the  new vehicle just before we met, so I have always considered it the valiant steed of my knight in shining armor. She was with us through Richard's heart transplant, waiting for him as he recuperated. She is the vehicle into which we packed all the plans for the Higgins boats to save them from Hurricane Katrina for the National World War II Museum.

Richard lost his head over me, his heart to a congenital defect, our home, and his workshop with all of his tools to Hurricane Katrina. My fears for his health even forced him to leave his heavenly holler in the mountains of Tennessee. I simply couldn't bear to see him lose the last thing he has from our early days together.

Unbeknownst to me, he secretly planned to replace the engine when the Bronco  II reached her classic status. He did confess, however, that he actually thought he'd be dead before that decision had to be made. He will be seventy-one by then and always believed that statistics would kill him by the time he's seventy-two. I insist that the new heart gave him many more years than statistics do.

Hear we are facing a great decision, to deal with car salesmen or to fix our faithful steed. Replacing her heart wins hands down for me. We had a friend who paid over $100,000 to restore a classic car. Richard's Bronco II is only two years from classic car designation. We will only have to spend around $8,000 to get her back to being beautiful and functional.

I do have the provision that since we are spending that kind of money, we will also spring for a paint job and that he has to scrub twenty-three years of meals eaten and coffee spilled in his vehicle off the upholstery and carpet. As Fernando Lamas said, "It's not how good you feel; it's how good you look."

Richard's now trying to figure a way  to explain all this rationally. He just can't admit that he can do things simply based on emotion. I keep reminding him that he'd have never married at the age of forty-nine if he had stayed rational. And I like to encourage him to take care of his ladies even as they grow old and don't work so well. I wish we could spend $8,000 on me and have me almost good as new.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Worship and Wonder

Sacred Sunday, on this beautiful fall day, began as they all do;
Richard and I rose from our bed and had coffee, just us two.
Our discussions usually touch on the ways we practiced our faith
In everyday actions, in which we have the privilege to participate.

We love sharing stories of the victories of others in which we share,
And joy in the holiday in which we saw so many for whom we care.
Sundays are days for afterglow, reliving our new and old memories;
I think we both feel that gratitude is that for which we're conceived.

We then went out for a leisurely breakfast in a favorite local place,
And to a local grocery store at an equally leisurely pace.
Then it was on to begin the season of winter's wonder,
With celestial sounds of peace instead of religious thunder.

We thought the Christmas music was to be that of cheer;
Musica da Camera doesn't share our Christmas music idea.
We both enjoyed the nostalgia of being in a grand church;
Marveling at the acoustics was enough to give me mirth.

It occurred to me that the old churches had it figured out,
That acoustics is the secret for what heavenly music is about.
Even this small group of musicians playing and vocalists singing
Sounded, as if through this sacred space, the Seraphim were winging.

We agreed to try, in this year of our adult Christmas spirit
We would seek sacred joy wherever we can hear it.
We have long ago gotten over the need to open presents;
Sharing worship and wonder is that for which we're meant.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Conception and Committed Community

When you wrap a blanket around yourself, the warmth is coming from you;
When you feel power of The Holy Spirit, that's coming from inside you too.
Each of us is endowed at our conception with this remarkable energy;
Parents should prepare before conceiving to protect and nurture our Divinity.

I believe our unborn children grow or diminish their souls' lives;
Based on the environment in the womb, their Spirits die or thrive.
When children come into the light of earth, their first sense should be joy
From committed community ready to, their own Holy Spirits, employ.

I am eternally thankful to my daughter's deceased godmother
Who shared with me the magnitude of joy I could share with no other.
We celebrated together from the moment I knew that I'd conceived;
As my mother-in-law lay dying, this gift, some of my grief, relieved.

My neighbor who lived next door said my daughter had an old soul;
I believe her godmother's love is what helped her Holy Spirit to mold.
When I conceived my son, our community was in a state of sadness;
My daughter's godmother was afraid that I would succumb to madness.

She sought out a source of people who would share their joy with me;
The failing was that these people were not committed community.
My son was born with a restless Spirit and a brilliant Holy light;
Few had the sacred strength to guide his Spirit toward right.

Where are the great warriors who will fight for our children's souls,
Men who nurture the mother and child while the baby's Spirit molds?
When children are seen as a burden or a trick to secure maternal support,
Escaping responsibility will continue to be a competitive sport.

There can be joy in changing a diaper and earning the daily bread;
If we begin with communal support, these are not tasks to dread.
Unless we properly prepare ourselves before a child's conception
The belief that we will bring up Sacred Souls seems a huge deception.

Preparation includes the presence of a community that blesses your union,
People committed to the children's bodies and souls before their lives are begun.
Perhaps churches and neighborhoods could form rocking granny groups,
Allowing sleep deprived parents to go home, shower, sleep, and recoup.

Perhaps our schools could become committed community centers,
Where rules of responsibility and compassion must be followed by all who enter.
A place where all with skills could come and share them with our young,
The perimeter patrolled and protected by the compassionately strong.

Could we mandate that all children who tire of regular school
Be assigned to learn to work in centers with the communities' tools?
Perhaps less teens would be so anxious to become parents
If they worked in these centers with the community "uncles" and "aunts."

The teens could be assigned to work out their excess energy,
Playing with children who need protection while running free.
This would all be under the watchful eyes of the community elders,
Under whose wings all the community children would be sheltered.

There is much physical labor in maintaining the building and grounds;
This could be done by those the elders don't want children around.
What could be wrong with each person educated in our country
Giving two years of their lives to helping build strong community?

Perhaps in this era of charter schools, we could begin again
Re-thinking the purpose of the school buildings that remain.
Go back to the way it worked in the early days of our country
Where schools and their guardians mirrored values of the community.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanks and Thrills

Thanksgiving Day was wonderful; our college girl surprised us
Over her and her mom's pumpkin muffins, we were allowed to fuss.
She was a delightful child, and now that she is grown,
She is able to come visit with us all on her own.

My childhood girlfriend and I then dressed to the nines;
We were escorted by Prince Charming to Luke in New Orleans to dine.
Others had labored long and hard away from their families
To create a Cajun Thanksgiving buffet, which was a sight to see.

The waiter was a young man, and he was so very solicitous;
Over my blonde bombshell friend, he made an extra fuss.
We had turducken, eggplant, mirliton, and oyster dressing, too.
We did Thanksgiving dinner the way the Cajuns do.

Or how very civilized and we didn't have to cook a thing!
As we finished each course, the dirty dishes took wing.
My prince, our friend, and I cooked for family for many years;
We felt entitled to feel as a jury of the cooks' peers.

Everything was delightful; we couldn't have asked for more;
And after a short nap, my prince and I had more in store.
A movie with our daughter's family was a great way to relax;
So many wonderful memories, now in our souls, are packed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiness in Happy Holidays

I remember many times deciding whether to shut down emotionally or go forward with a gaping hole in my solar plexus. I wanted so badly to be able to seal over the hole that let in so much hurt, along with other emotions. I would make some progress in this effort while my children were visiting with their dad, but would have to open it up again when they returned to me. It seems that I didn't know how to love my children without being weak-kneed vulnerable to their every emotion.

I have heard "love" defined as a suspension of judgement. Maybe this is the most accurate definition for such a complex word. I never felt that it was my place as a parent to judge the right or wrong of my children's actions, but to anticipate the consequences to them and others, and warn them away from harming either. In my religious training we were taught to look for the evils in almost every move a human could make, especially in our own actions.  I worked very hard not to impose on them the fears that had been imprinted on me. I walked through my children's lives with rose-colored glasses, attempting to use only affirming words.

This seems to be the way I walked through the lives of all that I love. I was always surprised when others disapproved of anything about someone that I love unconditionally. I'm usually overly repentant when someone who loves me finds fault with me, hiding in shame until I can "cure" the offending fault.

We may all be forgiven by God for our weaknesses and transgressions, but this doesn't mean that my simple "I'm sorry" heals the human wounds I've inflicted. And how many times does it take being wounded by the same person in the same place in our souls before the scars seal the area forever?

If love is suspension of judgement, where does that leave us as human beings with wants, needs, and different familial values? How does one temper one's vulnerability without shutting down the depths of one's soul? Is there such a thing as emotional by-pass surgery where we can let only measured amounts of the energy of others into our hearts and souls?

This holiday season, I am committing to keeping my rose-colored glasses firmly in place by only associating with those who like to join me in a fantasy fog. This means we will not be exposing ourselves to big family gatherings where irresponsibility and ridicule are parts of "funny" family values. I just don't "get it" and I really don't want to. I want to keep the sense of holiness (wholeness) in our Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sad Is Not the Same as Mad

I've written about how I began to re-embrace the possibility of faith in The Holy Spirit after a young woman told me that she thought that God hadn't thrown Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, but that they had decided to turn away from God. God, like a loving parent, stands at the gate in sadness and hope waiting for his children to return home. When we begin with this interpretation, the rest of the Bible must be read with completely different interpretations than those which I have been taught.

When our children are very young, they are, in fact, dependent upon our acceptance of them for their very existence. In healthy bonding, compassion comes from mutual vulnerability, actually feeling the emotions of one another. As the parent's and babies' heartbeats and breaths synchronize with one another,the fussy baby absorbs the parent's inner calm. Quite often the parent gives him or herself over to a new-found innocence and joy.

The old paradigm for parenting was all about control. Babies were supposed to be taught to eat and sleep on strict schedules, bending to the parents' whims and wills. Children were expected to serve their parents, and make them proud of their progeny. In my religious training, we were taught, at the age of five, "God made me to show his goodness, to know him, love him, and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him in the next." God was our master. He might love us later, after we were purified by death, but not now.

When my children were small, a neighbor continued to talk about her children's childhoods as "the magic years." This was very interesting to me, as her children seemed to always be sick, but they were also allowed to dance and sing on the coffee table. She seemed torn between her duties as a wife and mother and her desire to allow her children to continue being their most magical selves. She was always stressed, but she kept trying to nurture the magic of her family. She is also the woman who taught the young woman in the beginning of this tale that praying is sitting under a tree listening to God.

When we are bonded to our children in mutual vulnerability, our sadness doesn't have to be transformed into anger to affect them. Just as we are saddened by their sadness, they are saddened by ours. It may take longer to affect desired change, but when we ask for change for their own growth and goodness, we are willing to wait and watch, hoping they will return to us. Anger simply asserts control, and often leads to secret rebellion. Compassion leads to patient prayer while we wait and watch at the gate.

When I was six and still had some magic in my soul, I cried because my sins hurt "little Baby Jesus." I was then taught that I was to be sorry for my sins because they made God mad and would lead to my being banished forever. I am so happy that fathers are now learning to bond with their babies; maybe we'll begin to understand patiently waiting for the return to the magic made by mutual vulnerability, what I call "love."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sacred Sunday Conversations

Our Sacred Sunday conversations are often about how the scriptures of many cultures impact our lives and those of all the earth. It has taken over twenty years to have him speak about what he believes, but it has been worth the wait.

He began our romantic relationship with an announcement that he was not going to tell me he loves me; he was going to show me his feelings instead. He said that he wasn't sure what people meant when they said they love someone.

He also said that he wasn't sure what the role of men was since the advent of Women's Lib seemed to have thrown out all the old rules of Chivalry. We've been busy making it up as we've gone along, but we still come out as as the traditional couple. His greatest joy in me was in supporting me as a wife and mother; my greatest joy in him was in showing him gratitude for his efforts.

We are now at the point where I no longer have anyone to mother. My new passion is in seeking a common language for defining The Divine in all of creation. I am also seeking to understand where the common boundaries are in both Judeo-Christian and non-Judeo-Christian families and functioning communities. Never did I expect the fireworks that my questions about boundaries would create.

We seem to live in a world that is greatly post-religion. Where does this leave us as members of the animal kingdom, while continuing to be aware that we have a spark of something special that non-human animals don't possess? It seems that even without what we define as religion, humans have always been aware that nurturing this special spark brings out our best, in ourselves and in our bonds to each other.

I seems that the rebellions of the sixties and seventies broke the traditional boundaries and fears between races and religions. We still seem to be looking for a way to define new boundaries for human behavior. Many seem to want to run back to their familiar areas and wrap themselves in their flags or their sacred scriptures without ever looking farther for areas of common community agreement. In a world of global communication, we simply can't ever go back.

Many have stopped looking for masters who have a special power to speak to The Divine, and are aware that each of us has the capacity to "hear" The Divine in ourselves and in others, if we simply take the time to "hear" it. I call this the Post-Pentecostal era, an era when we should each look for and share the laws of responsible, compassionate community written on the hearts of ourselves and others.

Early on, he said that he believed that what made humans more special than other animals was the capacity to say, "no" to their instincts. Over the twenty-something years I've known him, I've watched him enjoy telling himself "no." It's not exactly "no," but "all in its own time, as is life enhancing for himself and others." He enjoys the anticipation of careful planning, the process of the performance of each task, and the afterglow of sharing of stories about each others' accomplishments and enjoyments.

It seems that the problem for many of us is allowing ourselves too many choices. We go for quantity of experiences, rather than for the quality. He may not have as much as he could or do as much as many, but he certainly enjoys the process of performing any action. It seems that, for him, it's not so much about saying "no," but in deciding to honor all those things to which he says "yes."

We are now in the years where all of life can be anticipation and afterglow, not only about our own accomplishments, but in celebrating those of others. It seems a shame that our society doesn't slow down long enough to decide what they will do, how they will do it, and what they will do after. They seem to simply bounce from one excitement to another without any boundaries or direction.

What ever happened to the wisdom of the ages helping to mold the paths of the new lives, not as gurus, but as trusted elders of working communities? When my people are ready to listen, we will be happy to speak. Meanwhile, we live lives of savoring each moment and sharing in each others' wisdom gleaned from the many people and projects we've encountered in our lives.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Leadership of the Loud

A light bulb went off in my head this morning.

For many years I've suspected that some people may behave irrationally, but they don't know it's irrational because it's the way all the people in their immediate families behaved. What our own families do is what we generally accept as the norm for all families. Our families are generally drawn to others of their own beliefs, so this reinforces our belief that all people do whatever our family (and our immediate community) does.

I had written a tragic play that I thought I may have better named Folie a Deux (definition: the same mistaken belief shared by two people) for a contest. As a point of silly pleasure, I thought of how many people in groups get carried away with the group's beliefs; I jokingly labeled this Folie en Masse. Lo and behold, there is an online entry from a psychiatrist defining the term that I thought I had just coined as a joke. He was describing what led the followers of Jim Jones to drink the Kool-Aid.

Several years ago, Time Magazine published an article about what traits lead us to follow people. Disturbingly, this article revealed that we tend to follow those with the biggest voices. Unfortunately, I believe it is true that our animal brains process the biggest "bark" as leadership ability. We instinctively become frozen when we are verbally assaulted. Some flee, some follow, and the aggressive fight. What's to become of those who pull back and think over the situation?

I was reared in a dog-eat-dog family. We learned to speak loud and long. Nobody had ever really heard of bullying, except as a way to weed out the wimps who didn't deserve to live in the animal kingdom of survival of the fittest (meaning the biggest and baddest in our families). One never knew when the posturing and snarling was going to lead to deadly engagement.

My mate speaks in a voice so low one has to have an ear up against his mouth to hear him. (It is helpful in conversations to be able to read lips.) He actually has a lot of value stuff to say, if you only take the time to hear him. Early in our relationship, he said to me, "Just because you speak louder than I do doesn't make you right." Since then, I have tended to give extra attention and credence to those who always speak in measured tones and cadences.

For several years, we worked to balance our passions, mine very vocal, and his more circumspect. Perhaps you could say that I am the booming bass and he is more the sweet soprano. When he almost died, I decided to take all stress of decision-making from him. I seem to have gone from a Folie en Masse of my family to Folie a Deux with him. Things got scary in our lives without his balancing wisdom.

My booming base, not balanced by his sweet soprano has taken more than one along on my perceived path to peace. My passion usually burns bright, but doesn't last long enough to get us there. I have to take frequent breaks to get my breath again.We have all been so blessed that he continues to pick up where I leave off.

Perhaps it is again time for each of us to take full responsibility for our own actions and decisions; never, however, losing sight of the need to consider the impact of our actions on the other. I may become quieter, and he may actually learn to speak loud and long. It could also happen that our fellow community members in our country will begin to listen to those who speak softly and carry big ideas.

Neither is likely, but they could happen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Arrogance or Art?

At last I have my best friend, from when I was fourteen, back;
Our paths have taken different turns on different life tracks.
While she studied, I was birthing; while she birthed, I was away;
Now she's semi-retired and has lots of time to play.

We've begun taking a pottery class with several other women;
This is another way that I feel like I'm close to heaven.
I always wanted the opportunity to express myself in clay,
Ever since my little sister and I were in our mud pie days.

There are many similarities in clay work and in baking,
But the products won't be eaten, all my work foresaken.
I'd like to do Raku sculptures of united  families;
The Shona art of Zimbabwe has similarities.

It seems that clay work may be perfect for one like me
What comes out of the kiln, you can never foresee.
Since I wing everything, and often face failures,
Knowing there's no guaranteed results has an allure.

Maybe instead of medication, we need art all along;
This seems to be another way to sing a joyful song.
So much of one's soul goes into one's art;
Isn't clay where, we're told, humankind got it's start?

We are told that God breathed onto humble clay
And imparted His soul into who we are today.
I've grown and cooked food that nourished families;
I now want to create from clay what my soul sees.

Some sing, some dance, some cook, some speak;
Some simply smile and make our knees weak.
Some write with such soulful, heartfelt words
That The Sacred cannot help but be heard.

Is it arrogant to feel art brings us closer to The Divine?
Or is art another way for our Divine Spirits to shine?
I like to believe that in sharing our artistic talents
We're sharing the Divinity that in many has been spent.

I grieve for those so are afraid of their own emotions
That they run from all beauty sung, danced, or spoken.
Emotion is the only path we have to another's soul;
Without that bonding, we can never feel whole.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spiritual Sunshine

Even gratitude can become painful if not often expressed,
But so many don't want to seem vulnerable to another's best.
It takes nothing out of me to say how wonderful you are;
Sincere acts of gratitude can carry peace on earth far.

We should thank every citizen who pays their fair taxes;
This is the center support of a compassionate axis.
We should thank every daughter and son helping an infirm parent;
This saves on the Medicare dollars that are often spent.

We should thank every parent supporting their own child,
And every caring teacher that goes the extra mile.
The nurses and aides who serve because they care;
We should all thank them for The Spirit that they share.

When anyone smiles at us, how awesome would it be
If we said, "Thank you for sharing your Divine Spirit with me"?
Perhaps, in this way, The Spirit that we have known
Will permeate our lives, our workplaces, and homes.

There are many who see compliments as currying favor,
And others who come to believe that they are Our Saviors.
It is sad when others refuse to be open to gratitude,
And those who thank only The Unseen for all that's good.

Nothing seems a greater gift than shared childlike wonder
In every gift of creation, the birdsong and the thunder.
Many enjoy exploiting the vulnerability of others,
But sharing vulnerability is what makes us all lovers.

It takes courage to continue to open your heart;
Simply smiling into another's eyes we, peace, impart.
When we tell someone they have a beautiful Spirit,
Not only their ears, but their souls, will also hear it.

It is true that many wounded will run away in terror;
They will think that what you're seeing is an error.
Instead of promoting in our children pride or humility
Let's simply teach them to share all gifts in community.

The joyful energy we share will eventually spread,
Encircling even many that we were taught to dread.
Little by little these rays of Spiritual Sunshine
Will spread in all humanity the Spirit of The Divine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Heroes to the Voiceless and Vulnerable

There can be no justice without bravery. Any passion that one is, as a sober adult, willing to die for represents the greatest power in the world. I salute those who believe in our American values enough to put their lives on the line for me and mine. This is part of the beauty of an all volunteer armed forces. These brave people feel a calling to serve in the capacity of warriors and peace keepers for our country to remain safe and spread the good of compassionate democracy. When they die for us, their great spirits are left to sustain us.

As important as dying for a cause, is living for that cause. Many give their lives over to serving our freedom. They begin being heroes the day they put on the uniforms representing us and our values. They don't do it for the money or the prestige; they do it because they love us and our country.

The same can be said for our teachers, our police officers, our firefighters, and most of our medical professionals. Isn't it time that we stop worshiping those who do everything for money, prestige and power, and stop exempting them from the laws that govern the rest of us? They should be more highly accountable, as they have no excuse for their illegal, immoral, unethical behaviors. They want attention, and we allow them  to break all of our laws while they entertain us with their antics.

There are enough actual children in the world to entertain us with endless childish antics. Let's pay closer attention to them and less to the adult children of the world. Where are the people volunteering to do respite care for the children of single parents and parents with a partner who must travel to support the family? Who is teaching them how to set up childcare cooperatives? How many of us are willing to purchase a year of conception control for someone not in a position to care for a child? Perhaps we can help stop the perceived need to abort unplanned and unwanted children.

So many live in a child's dream world rather than facing the realities of proper parenting. People with children are vulnerable. If alone, they can run from a threat, but they need protection if also holding on to a couple of children. We are all vulnerable at more than one point in life. We all need heroes sometimes. Too many children are used as the parent's shields and access to resources instead of the other way around.

Our competitive society takes advantage of the most vulnerable, congratulating ourselves on our victories. Those who compete at all costs to others are seen as the normal ones. It takes courage to stand up for and with those who don't quite fit the generally accepted definitions of "normal." If the people who we hold up as role models for our society are the "normal" ones, I certainly am glad that my children have never seemed "normal."

Daily compassionate, responsible action is what makes a person a hero. If they are also willing to stand firm in the face of death; that makes them martyrs dying for a cause. There is a difference.

We may come close to worshiping the martyrs, knowing that we will never be asked to do what they have done. Thankfully, most of us are not asked to emulate their actions. Everyday heroes, however, serve as examples to all of us in this life. Each of us is called on to be heroic in some way, but very few of us are called to be martyrs. We have role models and mentors for human heroism. Each of us can find someone to help us in achieving our heroic missions.

Sometimes dying seems easier than getting up every day and being the best hero you can be to a voiceless or vulnerable person. Write a letter to an old person or disabled veteran; smile at a person who looks lonesome; listen to the tales of a senior citizen who simply wants to feel his/her life counted for something; tutor someone in reading or other life skills; teach parents how to set up babysitting cooperatives; support conception control efforts for the reduction of the most vulnerable, the unwanted babies of the world; advocate to make the rape of women and children as acts of war an international war crime.

Each of us, every day, has some way we can "Just do it!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

That for Which I Pray on Veterans Day

My prayer this Veterans Day is that we will one day create no veterans of war.
Becoming one holy and apostolic church is what Christianity is created for.
When we see that generation after generation creates scenarios for vengeance,
We will stop looking for ways to destroy all those whose views offend us.

Moses was told not to turn and fight, but to lead his people away
To an area where they could live in peace, not matter what others had to say.
Perhaps we are too married to the concept of our permanent earthly place.
If it hadn't been for travel and resettlement, there would be no human race.

Until we, like the Native Americans, accept that all creation is lent, not given,
We will never have the promised peace on this earth as it is in heaven.
Until the day returns where whole communities will travel together,
We will continue to our weapons and words of war be tethered.

I accept that peace on earth will not occur in my given lifetime.
Peace in my own family is a mountain I've not been able to climb.
Until the time comes when the vulnerable aren't molested,
I'll  reach out to our warriors as Operation Homefront has suggested.

I will attempt to share sparks of The Spirit of Peace within my own soul;
Perhaps in sharing my spiritual journey I can help another to feel whole.
Every eye-to-eye encounter we have with another human being
Is an opportunity to share with another what our own Holy Spirit is seeing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Looks of Love

When we watch silently as children are being bullied,
We are watching the bullies as they suck out another's soul.
Some proud parents continue to see their different children as perfection,
And others join the ranks of those who replace innocence with shame.

How can a child grow in goodness when reflected in the eyes of disgust?
It is through the loving eyes of others that we first learn to love ourselves.
I was taught to look away from those with obvious physical differences
Rather than to approach them and look them in their eyes.

Many feel uncomfortable, so they resort to bullying
Rather than attempting to find some common human ground.
Do the disrespected learn they're inhuman or invisible,
And do they finally stop hoping for a human's loving looks?

When we learn to celebrate differences, rather than to fear them,
We may find the paths to lasting places and people of peace.
Every encounter we have with another human
Gives us one more chance to nurture another's soul.

Somewhere deep inside even the most wretched adult
Still lives the innocent child hungering for a smile.
A look of sincere acknowledgement of the beauty in another,
And a moment spent listening, may rejuvenate their hope.

But dare we open the doors to their child-like tenderness
If we can't remain to help nourish their new-found spirits?
Do we really look away because we don't want to see,
Or are we afraid that their need is too much for us to fill?

Where to begin in a world so filled with fear and anger?
And how to protect ourselves from our energies being sucked dry?
It seems that only by bonding with people of like passion
Do we maintain the flame that burns deep within our human souls.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sing Out My Soul

Do we really want to find ways to get along,
Or are there some whom only anger makes feel alive?
Will we ever be satisfied with gratitude
Instead of substituting jealousy and greed?

Holiness is in the heavens and permeates the earth,
Though many don't care to see it.
Some say that holiness is only available
To certain places, certain times and certain souls.

Perhaps they're not looking closely enough
Into the eyes and hearts of others.
Perhaps they only hear the words
That are spoken with the loudest voices.

Do they not feel grateful when a baby smiles?
And how are they not overjoyed
When The Spirit of the sun warms their flesh?
Does the seed unfolding not bring them to their knees?

We were never meant to see all of Divinity;
There is no correct face of The Spirit.
Would one define all trees as the apple tree,
Or all faces based on their own countenance?

The majesty of creation is too amazing
For any human to embrace it all at once.
Awe can be a wonder or fear-filled emotion,
More bearable when shared with kindred souls.

I must share the love and awe in my soul,
Or The Energy overwhelms my Spirit.
I know that my passion is painful to others,
But I must continue to sing out my soul.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our Compassionate Country

The national election is over,and the American flag is still proudly waving over the water in our home harbor. Long may it wave over a land of the free and the home of the just.

When the constitution was written, neither women nor black people were considered fully human. It was thought that all privilege and power came directly from God, and if you had neither it was because God didn't deem you worthy. It mattered not how the powerful obtained their power, nor how they held onto it. Our "representative democracy" (republic)was not meant to represent every voice in America, only the voices of the powerful.

These powerful people owned the media, enacted laws to which they were not held accountable, and created corporations to protect themselves from the consequences of their illegal, irresponsible, and immoral actions. The first amendment to the constitution granted protection to the voices of every one of us, from the least educated and poorest to the Ivy league graduates. The internet gave power to the individual voice in a profound way.

We are finally able to be a government of all the people, by all the people; let's keep believing that every voice counts so that we can create a country that is truly for all the American people. Compassion is not Communism, as many fear-mongers have asserted. Let Our America serve as a model and lead the way to a compassionate, responsible, and just world that is of, by, and for all the people.

May the Holy Spirit guide all of us in our thoughts words and deeds as we compassionately care, listen to,  and responsibly speak out for the vulnerable and the voiceless.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seeking The Spirit

The issue that I see with defining Divine energy as male, is that we accept as sacred scripture the old gods of war and blood lust, re-framed in a  "new" religious way, as a pattern for "loving" fatherly behavior. We are taught that the Almighty "loving" Father created hordes of people who would never amount to anything and that "He" went so far as to create a child simply to torture him and put him to death as an example to any who are tempted to step out of line.
This branding of god creates religions that are really nothing more than Stockholm Syndrome. (Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.WikipediaWe are led to believe that personal power is a punishable offense, and that punishments for all mistakes will be visited on us and our future generations unless we admit that we are powerless.
We are told that this "loving" father is a jealous patriarch, who will not rest until "He" extracts the essence of life from all who err.Is it any wonder that we continue to war with one another and so many live in daily, all-consuming terror? Death seems a safer place to many than continued fear. As long as we attribute angry outbursts, directed at individuals who displease the "Master" to Divine energy, there will be no peace in religious people.
Even the essence of Christianity, "Love "God" with your whole heart and soul and your neighbor as you love yourself", has been perverted by those who seek to control others through fear. The core question is, "How do you define "God?" It is important that we find a common language for the source of all life and the transformation of death. Perhaps the closest we get to a neutral definition is the Yin-Yang concept in Daoist metaphysics.
During the sixties, in the United States, there was a strong move toward a spiritual movement based on personal experience of The Holy Spirit. This spirit is generally accepted as neither male nor female, although the patriarchal religions continue to attempt to codify this experience and define The Holy Spirit as a person of the triune male god.
It seems that all religions since the advent of the frontal lobe in humans accept that humans have a special "spark" that other creatures don't have. I like to think of this spark as The Spirit of Wholeness (Holy Spirit) that makes humans capable of acting on individual conscience, even at their own expense.
I believe that most religions have something similar to the concept of the Holy Spirit imbuing all humans. Perhaps the answer is to rescue the definition of The Holy Spirit from the patriarchal powers, and redefine it for ourselves as we see this spirit in action in our fellow humans. I am hoping the listening campaign leading up to the Parliament of World Religions will help define a common vision of The Spirit in action.