Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Female Composers, Food Fantasies, and Felines

I spent a number of hours researching female composers of sacred music. I found three nuns (not "The Singing Nun") who were sacred music composers in their time, though most of their music was apparently only for use in their convents. I also found several organizations dedicated to publishing and promoting the work of female composers. Susan sent me the names of several contemporary female sacred Jewish music composers. I didn't find a huge number, so I'm still asking for suggestions.

I happen to be house and pet sitting for friends who are off in Strasbourg doing the final edit on a sacred book; I must say that their home lends itself to searching of the soul. In every room there are books on sacred traditions of the Judeo-Christian and other world religions. The yard is lovingly landscaped as a charming cottage garden. The location, less than two blocks from a beautifully restored white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Long Beach, Mississippi, is heaven on earth for those who see The Almighty in all of creation.
The "mistress of the manor" not only creates lovely little spots in and outside for contemplation and conversation, she's also taken up nature and wildlife painting, so her home is full of artistic efforts that are quite soothing. She doesn't do much celebratory food preparation, though, so I didn't know what to expect when I took my first peek in her refrigerator.

I spied a foil-covered dish that seemed about the right size for a two-person hors d'oeuvre tray. When I picked it up and felt that it was actually a photo frame covered in foil and refrigerated, I was intrigued and impressed. I thought that my friend had begun to apply her artistic talents to arrangement of food. With great anticipation of unveiling a food fantasy of mouth-sized morsels on a painter's palette, I gingerly lifted the edge of the foil only to find PAINT! It was a painter's palette, alright, with not an edible morsel in sight. Well, at least we had brought leftovers back from our lunch before delivering my friends to the airport.

Before I came here to babysit the house and three cats, Richard asked me what I was going to do all day by myself. I looked at him and laughed, “The same thing as I do all day by myself when you’re working on the PT boat at the museum.” The difference here is that I don’t have anybody to cook for or clean after…don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to.

My friends gave me a list of all the things their cats like, like being fed at 4:00a.m. Right! I told them that, after raising children next door to me, they should know that children and pets have to learn my schedule, not the other way around.By tomorrow I may get so lonesome for taking care of others that I might start pampering the cats, but I doubt it.

Richard does get more respect than that. When I’m home, I make him breakfast and lunch before he goes to the boat and supper when he returns. Of course, that’s to keep him from running off with another woman, but you probably already knew that.

The weather here is beautiful and balmy.This is truly a writer's paradise and quite a sacred spot.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Echos of Ecclesiastical Ecstacy

If anyone is aware of any sacred songs or sacred texts that are written by women, please let me know. I became intrigued with this topic when a couple of my close circle of commentators on this blog answered my question about what The Holy Spirit looks like to them. A professional singer, who not only performs, but teaches classical voice said this:

"My experience differs, and I hope none will take offence at my divergent viewpoint.  I feel deeply and viscerally and spiritually the joys, communion, contentment, wonder and peace of which you speak, and can add to that the transcendent joy I feel at singing great music with great musiciians, music specifically written for the glory of God and/or the Holy Spirit and/or whatever else.  I feel ecstasy and amazement at the capability of the human soul to transcend itself, but I feel no attachment to "another" in it, except to any "other" who experiences the same joy in her soul." She recommended Carl Maria Widor's "Organ Toccata" for perhaps a very different experience of joy -- or the finale of Benjamin Britten's Sea Symphony.

Another beautiful soul who was my first friend ever who could actually play music on a piano responded, " your joy is clearly expressed and it does not seem to differ so much from mine.  Different words, same joy, I think.  “How Great Thou Art” always brings me to tears."  Another soul sister who is a professional interviewer for a television station and focuses on sharing positive input into society by people over the age of 50, responded, "The Widor is a magnificent work, which always inspires deep joy.  I was so pleased to be invited by my daughter to plan the music used in her wedding so that I could suggest the Toccata as her recessional.  It was glorious, thanks to a marvelous organist!"

One thing these pieces of ecstatic expression have in common is that they were all written by males, so I wondered if there was any of what is called "sacred music" written by sisters in salvation. I was absolutely amazed when I couldn't find any references to any of these woks, given how females are so often criticized for our overly-emotional natures.

But the thing that brought me to tears of frustration was a website of the Catholic Encyclopedia, which stated this, " the presence of women in choirs is excusable under certain circumstances, although choirs composed of men and boys are for many reasons preferable. It is true that an inquiry about this point received an apparently negative answer on 18 Dec., 1908, but this was in regard to the conditions described in the inquiry (prout exponitur), and it is added that the Decree is to be understood in the sense that the women must be kept entirely separate from the men, and every precaution taken to render impossible all conduct unbecoming to the sacred edifice. From these clauses it appears that, in principle, choirs composed of men and women are not inadmissible; however, the desirability of banishing every possible occasion of indecorousness from the church renders it preferable to employ boys, rather than women in choirs. The employment of women as soloists is all the more questionable, since solos in church are admissible only within certain limits (Motu proprio). A choir composed of women only is not forbidden (Decree of 17 Jan., 1908). To employ non-Catholics in church as singers and organists is only tolerated in case of urgent necessity, because they neither believe nor feel the words which they sing."

I know that we are not all Catholic, but all the Abrahamic religions are based on the sacred scriptures that are in the bible.

Can it be true that the only the sacred song "written"  by a female is "The Magnificat?" Even this was set to music by a male. Are women only allowed to express their ecclesiastical ecstasy in echoing that which men contend a male God has spoken to them alone? Or are we to confine our sacred selves to the co-production of the children brought forth from our bellies by man's seed?

Sisters who have sacred songs in their souls, please heed the words of a Sesame Street ditty: "Sing; Sing a song. Sing out loud; Sing out strong." Surely there is at least one who has a sacred symphony in her soul, waiting to be celebrated.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Does The Holy Spirit Look Like to You?

Most modern, educated people accept that all history is an interpretation of events by itse tellers, writers and translators. How is it that we can't admit this about the bible accounts without quaking in our boots? (St.) Augustine believed that the story of Genesis was allegorical; how could he believe otherwise when Genesis 1 and 2 give two different descriptions of the creation of Eve?

If we all understood the exact same thing from reading any historical account, we'd still believe that it's acceptable to own other human beings.If we all understood the exact same thing from reading any historical account, we wouldn't need bible studies and preachers, or professors in different disciplines to help us interpret long-ago events in order to apply them to our modern world.

The old model of education was based on rote repetition of an accepted body of "facts." In a global nuclear-powered world, we realize that we must be open to new information coming in at an incredible rate in order to stay alive, physically and mentally. The new information is based on the old, but seen through many complex facets. If we don't honor the old, we continue to walk in the same circles back to past failures, but we cannot continue to be afraid of the new input.
Living history is history that is looked at from many angles, by many people, in different world circumstances. As we become more enlightened, we can see different facets of the same sentences. Our language is a living, evolving thing. There are always new words based on new discoveries and insights.

We now know that not all plants or animals are limited only to being "he" or "she." There are many variations in the amounts of gender-producing hormones in individual creatures. While we were taught "rules" about what makes an animal a mammal, we were also taught that there are exceptions in those rules. One of my granddaughters (then eleven years old) and I once had a spirited discussion on where plants and animals cross the lines of absolute classification into one or the other.

My manifestations of The Almighty allow for many exceptions to the "rule" of God always appearing only as a male. What does The Holy Spirit (The Spirit of Holiness, The Spirit of Wholeness) look like to you?

Friday, January 27, 2012

People of Positive Power

A man I have never met, other than through his comments on my blogs and the blog of another one-time Pentecostal preacher, answered my blog about seeking peace with this:

"One of my learned secrets to having JOY and peaceful sleep.
J - Jesus first.
O - Others second.
Y - Yourself last.
It works for me."

This man is a retired Pentecostal minister and preacher since his early twenties, even rearing his family in Africa to allow the Muslims there to "taste" of his family's living faith (and many fine meals prepared by his wife). He and I have many spirited dialogs about the bases and practices of our faith journeys, along with another his friend and former Pentecostal preacher, who retired from the US Navy that I only actually  met once. Both  of these men are "in-love" long marrieds, with grown children, and seem to radiate their "Joy in Jesus."

How lovely it is that their religious backgrounds were rooted in a sense of gratitude, and that unlike many people who think it dangerous to show joy, gratitude, and humility, they fairly vibrate with their Holy Spirit energy.

I am so fortunate to have so many Holy Spirits accepting my invitation to share how this Spirit manifests in their lives. For this I am almost overcome with gratitude. Unfortunately, if I open my window and shout to the laborers below, "I got that joy, joy, joy joy down in my heart...," I'll be in the loony bin for my bedtime prayers tonight.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aging and Engaging

I've read that the brain's limbic system makes us aware of the emotions of others.
Is this the beginning of compassionate relationships with our sisters and brothers?
Unfortunately, our society has taught us to turn off the signals of others' pain;
We have been programmed to only seek our own earthly, greedy gains.

I admit that I am too sensitive to the atmosphere that surrounds me;
The degree to which I need emotional input of others often astounds me.
Call it PTSD, enmeshment, or extreme compassionate caring;
I pick up on signals people don't even know they're sharing.

All I know for sure is that I absorb many energies of those
Who don't even know that, in my radar, they are exposed.
I don't mean to intrude on their most private spaces;
It's simply that my intuition, their boundaries, replaces.

I love to have people that are hard-working near;
My animal intuition, for their dedication, cheers.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of many laboring men
Outside my window, into which my soul can blend.

The hardest thing to handle as I age and become less able
Is the feeling that I've been excused from life's bountiful table.
At least I can vicariously feel a part of what is still alive,
When  I'm allowed to observe the tasks on which others thrive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Soul Mates and Soaring Spirits

 I have so missed the soul mates from my youth;
As I grew in years, I didn't grow in truth.
The Spirit that spoke to me when I was a child,
Was, sadly, hidden from me for too long a while.
I am walking back into the faith of my childhood,
Though the religion of my mother is  lost to me for good.

The insistence on dogma instead of Divinity
Simply didn't seem right, just, and true to me.
Those who have loved me since I began my journey Home,
Honoring The Spirit in me that they have known,
Have never faltered in their prayers that I would find
An eternal peace in my body, soul, and mind.

I know it's painful to many that I walk a different path,
And for this reason, some relationships didn't last.
Even as I walked a path of terrible immorality,
My soul mates shared their Spirit lights to be a guide to me.
Like Tinker Bell in Peter Pan whose life spark almost died,
The love of my soul mates has kept my Holy Spirit alive.

Some have been women, and my and their husbands;
Some of them have been my children who are also friends.
The love of my children did most to heal me;
The souls of our children are never from ours fully free.
I sing a song of gratitude and and lift my voice in awe;
I'm finally feeling the redemption their Holy Spirits foresaw.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Praying For My Peace

I was taught to examine, at the end every day,
The hurtful and sinful things I think, do, and say.
Is it simply selfish to insist on making amends,
As I've been told by several of my friends?

Every day is exciting, if we simply set our minds to delight,
But we can feel and think so much  that we can't sleep at night.
This is how I feel after talking with my daughter or son,
And before and after spending time with people who are fun.

Part of the problem is I'm afraid that I may do something wrong
Even though I try to share only the singing of joyful songs.
Sometimes grief and anger simply pop out of my mouth,
Even knowing this is not what my people want to talk about.

It seems to me that wrongs that aren't addressed
Go on to create, in other relationships, a mess.
Why is it so scary to say, "I was wrong,"
Even where love has been very strong?

Some say Jesus took away all blame;
That all we need do is believe in his name.
I believe he gave us a prescription and examples
Of seeking peace that are are ample.

How have the religious ones gotten to this place
Where the joy of human forgiveness has lost its place?
There seems to be such a fear of punishment
That we are unable to truly repent.

What am I to do with all of the guilt
On which my religious life was built,
If I can't share my true remorse
And take the hurts back to their source?

I'd like to lay my head down every night in gratitude
That the evil I've wrought has been turned back to good.
I believe I'm commanded to approach those angry with me
And plead to be, from my guilt, set free.

I don't think that I can be right with my God
Unless I'm right with those on whose feelings I've trod.
"Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray that I'll find the peace I seek."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ecstatic Expression and Ecclesiastical Executions

Why are we so afraid of ecstatic expression, even that coming from our own children? Is it because we are consumed with jealousy and fear that there's not enough to go around? And how many of us are actually willing to immerse ourselves in the deepest pain of those we love as they walk through or writhe in their anguish?

The hardest thing I have ever done is holding the hands of those who thought or knew that they were dying. The difficulty in some cases was that the dying person was not the one in anguish; it was my soul that was consumed with grief for which I had no outlet. Giving our lives for others means walking with them in feelings. Death seems easy to me, in comparison to this.

"(The Indian -- not the same as The Shakers) Shakers believe that the experience of the Gospel does not require a book, but rather is encoded in the mind and soul in accordance with the will of God."

"Practices reflecting Catholic influence include the use of hand-held candles, the ringing of individual hand bells (to a very loud volume), and the sign of the cross (usually repeated three times). Protestant influence is shown in public testifying and confession of shortcomings. Native elements include brushing or stroking to remove evil influence, counter-clockwise movement of service participants around the room (often with loud stomping), and spontaneous reception of songs from the spirit. Church members are expected to refrain from using alcohol and tobacco. Carefulness, kindness, and supplication to God for help are emphasized." - excerpts from Wikipedia on the Indian Shaker Church

Some of this should sound familiar to today's Christians in Pentecostal communities, and yet this religion too was persecuted: "The new religion encountered much opposition and hostility from Euro-Americans. As had happened with the Ghost Dance, there was much misunderstanding and Anglos feared an Indian uprising. For a time, all Indian religious practices were banned by law and the Indian Shakers were included. Many members were imprisoned and chained for their practices. Powell et al. (1976) show two notices posted by the US Indian Service at Quileute Reservation:

'Notice to the Shakers: You are hereby permitted to hold meetings... under the following conditions: on Sundays not longer than three (3) hours at one time and on Wednesdays not longer than two (2) hours at one time. The following REGULATIONS to be observed: 1st, Keep windows or a door open during all meetings. 2nd, Use only one bell to give signals. Not continuous ringing. 3rd, Do not admit school children at night meetings.

It has been reported... that there are some women who are violating the Rules... and that they shake at all hours of the day and night. You will therefore tell the women quietly to stop shaking at any other times than the times specified in the rules... If they do not stop,... you will lock them up until they agree to stop. Shaking of the sick must not be allowed... We do not want any trouble in this matter if it is possible to avoid it; but that 'continual and private shaking' must be stopped.' " - excerpts from Wikipedia on the Indian Shaker Church

One definition for religion is "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe." Rules and strictly enforced interpretations of others' revelations are not the basis for my religion; shared joy, peace, and harmony are. The only supernatural power that I will seek is the power of positive energy radiating in those who have The Ways and Words of The Almighty encoded in their minds and souls.

Look into the eyes of a person who is also looking into your eyes, and you will see what is written on each others' souls. Fear, anger, drugs, alcohol, and greed all overshadow and can actually deaden the positive power. This deadening we can also see in each others' eyes, if we take the time to look.

When we impose our moral standards with fear instead of with bonding and walking with others in their peaks of delight and their valleys of darkness, we create collective rituals, but that's not the same as compassionate communion. Please don't pray for me as I suffer; hold my hand and walk with me a while. And when I'm about to shake apart in joy, wrap me in your arms and absorb some of the ecstasy from my soul.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sing Out Our Spirits, Oh My Sisters!

How desperately my friends reach out to me,
Wanting to save my soul, which is already free.
It is such a source of sadness to them and to me
That we, on our faith, cannot agree.

My friends are bound by the words of men,
As if women's voices aren't part of salvation.
They defer only to the words that men intended
When the editors of the bible, women's words amended.

We seem to have the collective souls of slaves,
Who have been taught that their spirits are depraved.
And as the slaves hid behind their master's names,
We are afraid to our own enlightenment claim.

We have birthed new creation, fought the good fight
With love and compassion, and with earthly might.
We have been given long lives; after our work is done
We have the time to share our Spirits of Wisdom.

My God is mother, father, brother, sister, and friend;
My God is creation's beginning, middle, and end.
My God is the power to seek the best in all
And to begin again with new life whenever I fall.

So I'll sing my soul to all who will hear,
Those far away and those who are near.
I've thrown off the shackles of my mothers' shame;
Abraham, Moses, and Jesus are my brothers' names.

I believe they all have gone back to oneness with God;
They were true to their mission, as on earth they trod.
Just as we all will become one with the source,
If we are true to our Spirits and stay our course.

We have born the blame of the fall of man,
But we are equals in The Spirit's plan.
It is time that we sing out our Spirits
So that all creation can clearly hear it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Faith and Fear

I have come back from a singular mountain retreat;
Observing partners in parenting was a welcome treat.
It is a joy when I am able to observe the modern family,
Who, from gender roles, seem to be blessedly free.

I'm tired of our world being controlled by fear
Of what others, in their faith, hold most dear.
No one person or group has a God-given monopoly
On defining where each of us, Divine Grace, will see.

Can we simply agree that over the course of history
The face of The Almighty has been seen differently?
And when men are made in God's image
They are not given the right to others' faith judge.

When The Word is made flesh in the form of a man,
His flesh is taken from the body of woman.
It should be obvious by this time in history
That The Divine is not limited to man or woman only.

We have Divinity in us, but that doesn't mean
That when we look at man, it's Gods we are seeing.
We choose to believe that God appeared as flames,
But won't give anything feminine a Divine name.

Every one of us has male and female traits,
And all of us should seek balance in our mates.
This can't happen until we agree that The Divine
Is a part of every member of humankind.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Purposeful Puttering

There are so many pleasures to puttering without deadlines.
It is quite amazing the projects a relaxed mind can find.
Richard and Monte spreading gravel, to even out the road,
And shoring up our creek's bridge, with Kenneth on a backhoe.
I stayed inside to clean and make a pot of broccoli soup,
Also, to go through old photos and other long-stashed loot.
Somebody must make decisions what to take and what to bring
I'd rather make decisions than to brave winter's cold sting.

We're expecting Josie and Adam to eat leftovers with us.
I want Josie's artist's opinion, so over decor I made a fuss.
It has been nice feeling like a country couple again,
With the activity and camaraderie of neighborhood women and men.
Coker Creek is a place with a strong sense of community;
It's nice the folks continue to welcome Richard and me.
But today we load out and finish our preparations
For Richard to return to his Higgins Boat building station.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do We Despise Devoted Lives?

I was brought up as a poor child, from a big family, in a big city,
Where we were taught that the way to prosper was to depend on others' pity.
My many bayou relatives were much like these rural mountain folks;
I didn't share in their hard work, but I entertained them with my jokes.
How many of us could live like Jack, in perfect humility,
Going about doing what he believes in, for all the community to see?
And what about Mountain Mama who resists much outside pressure
To place, in another's care, her daughter, the child she's always treasured?

Neither of these folks is expecting any of society's accolades
For the beds that they've made for themselves, and on which their lives are laid.
They do what they do because this is what they believe is right and just;
Jack is still somewhat embarrassed when others, over him, make a fuss.
Mountain Mama offers employment to those who come to her for help in their need;
She doesn't believe in supporting laziness or in living a life of greed.
Both of them mind their own business rather than seeking out others to assist,
But if they weren't here with their stalwart examples, they would sorely be missed.

Mountain Mama has accumulated much in her many years on this earth;
She still celebrates that her children are caring people, not afraid of work.
Jack shows us by his way of life how very little we need to survive;
In his small cabin with no electricity, he not only survives, he thrives.
I saw him on a cold, rainy day when his wood stove was warming his home;
His kettle on the top is his humidifier, and he made a double boiler in the dome.
How many of us think about the many ways we can put a tool to use?
We load our lives with every advertised gadget; there's no comfort we refuse.

I don't mean to paint a picture that I think either of these friends is perfect,
But I am humbled in their presence by how hard they both are willing to work.
Many people don't understand their choices, and instead of appreciating them,
Look upon their unwillingness to conform as a form of prideful sin.
Isn't this the way of most of us in this world of followers and loud-mouth leaders?
We don't really want to see as good the ways of the quietly confident believers?
We begin to poke fun at them and spread about them vicious lies,
As we watch them then look inside ourselves and find things we despise.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bill and His Boys

Bill came over with his chain saw to harvest fallen trees;
His twin boys helped him haul it in the cold December breeze.
I watched out of my window as this father taught his sons;
I could see in him parts of the men that they will become.

As they stood a safe distance from the flying pine debris,
Their playful boyish interaction was a joy to see.
They tussled and tumbled in the grass near the tree
I caught glimpses of who this pair will come to be.

Like two young lion cubs learning proper teamwork,
They assured me they were taking a break, not ones to shirk.
Their daddy kept them close, under his watchful, loving gaze,
Taking time to with his children to teach them their family's ways.

It's pure pleasure to see parents teaching children good work;
This, in a small rural community, can be such a perk.
Family businesses thrive when everyone pitches in;
The labor laws don't hold them back;handshakes insure friends.

It is such a pity that so many parents of teenagers
Give up when stakes are highest in the parenting wagers.
The children need us most when they are coming into their own,
Separating the wheat from the chaff in the seeds we have sown.

They don't need for us to defend the mistakes we have made;
They need us to begin evening the odds in the groundwork we've laid.
The benefit is that they may approach the world with justice;
We can enjoy the fruits of our labors while our souls are at rest.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Magical Manifestations

Written by Gayle in her blog, One Bird Watching:

"In his autobiography Surprised by Joy, C.S.Lewis writes about those moments of joy that began for him at the age of six, as he gazed out the window of his nursery and saw something that he could not define but that later he was to call "the secret signature of each soul," the longing "not merely to see beauty...but to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it" (Transposition and Other Addresses, 1949."

I, too, remember that six-year-old wonder and complete openness to unbridled awe and joy. This was the age when I was taken by train across the country to Colorado. I can still feel the majesty of the purple mountains seen for the first time and the immensity of the amber waves of grain.

Some of my most precious moments have been in sharing the wonder of cherished children. I had the privileged of holding a friends thre-year-old daughter on my lap the first time she experienced three-dimensional bubbles "floating" over her head. The absolute innocent abandon of that child as she reached for the bubbles with absolute faith in their reality was a wonder to behold.

I was also gifted with watching my two-year-old grandson as he first experienced sunset over Lake Pontchartrain. He ran to the window, held out his hand, and with absolute awe said, "Granny, see the big orange ball! Can I touch it?" I didn't see the need to immediately dis-abusive them of their innocent belief that these were things that they could hold in their hands. I simply enjoyed sharing their magic with them.

I also know how this feeling has been systematically attacked in me and other innocents by those who wish to control our passions and pretend to know the unknowable. Six-years-old is when I was taught the intrinsic evil of humanity and all the shame that this belief entails. We were taught to examine our consciences every night for the evil that we visited on the world rather than remembering and being grateful for every moment of magic that was produced for our pleasure.

I don't really care about what makes the sky appear blue, or the mountain tops in Colorado seem purple. I prefer to believe that tiny infants' smiles are signs of dancing with the angels rather than gas pains. I do believe that my manifestations of The Almighty are just as valid as those manifestations written about by the scribes in what is accepted as Judeo-Christian sacred scripture. I don't believe this makes me an atheist or an agnostic; I believe this makes me, once again, able to embrace my own innocence.

There is much in creation that we are not meant to define, only to enjoy. I have come to accept that there are different visions of The Almighty, just as we have differing visions of each of our loved ones. I believe that if we could explain and define The Almighty once and for all, this would limit The Creative Energy that powers all of creation.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Place of Prayer

Simply being here is a form of living prayer,
With the beauty and wonders of Creation everywhere:
In the breeze that blows through the tall trees,
To fish jumping is our pond whenever they please.

To the hammock that beckons people with their books,
And the gurgle of clear, cold water running in our brooks.
To the wild blueberries on our own property's hills,
And the horse stalls that may one day be less still.

Sharing our bounty seems to be that for which we were born,
And even though our methods often bring us scorn,
We continue to be open to the voices of others
Who seem to want us as their sister and brother.

I believe that the voice of Divinity that defines our place
Comes from the throats and lips of the human race.
We have been blessed with much time here on earth
In which we have been asked to put others first.

Though I've lived in fear that our resources would run out,
I know that sharing is what community is about.
We have many people who I know will share with us, too,
But asking for help can be the hardest thing that we do.

We feel called to continue in this small community,
But from our roots in New Orleans we cannot break free.
We are one more step toward what seems our new mission;
Living two lives in two states is a big decision.

Our property managers, Marshajene and Bill, were coming;
Our place must present well against other rentals in the running.
We know that Bill is a simple meat and potatoes man,
So it wasn't too difficult to come up with supper plans.

We went down to Sav-a-Lot and bought some nice steaks,
Mushrooms and onions, potatoes to be mashed, not baked.
Some Mayfield vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup,
Combined with peanut butter cookies made a fine dessert.

After all day of cleaning to prepare our house for inspection
We were glad for the easily prepared menu selection.
It will be nice to envision our home, when we are away,
Being enjoyed by those who seek a quiet place to pray.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Found Food

Once again we're cooking up a storm in Coker Creek;
How could we resist, when the weather was so bleak?
We are attempting to spend down food in our freezer,
And provide meals to Mountain Mama that are sure to please her.
We've already delivered Italian sausage and vegetable compote;
This was made for a Ruritan supper when we arrived from places remote.

We found frozen squash that we had grown in Mountain Mama's garden,
Used her daughter-in-law's recipe and to create casseroles for friends.
Today, I baked peanut butter cookies from Helen's recipe,
While Richard requested help on projects from me.
I served my man, for lunch, some hot chicken soup,
While he took a break from work in order to regroup.

The chicken soup was from foods found in the freezer;
Fresh vegetables were added, but frozen bounty made it easier.
The sun has come out after dustings of new white snow,
So Richard can deliver, to our friends, meals to go.
The Monroe County Buzz offered me a columnist's spot
To write about events that in Coker Creek that are hot.

Nancy has a greed to be a local correspondent
But I'll be happy to write about whatever news I'm sent.
Jack's new book is something the locals will celebrate;
After reading his first book they didn't want to wait.
We are happy to be where we can do some community good,
Even if our service is limited to words and food.

Friday, January 13, 2012

To Disagree Without Disrespect

I had a spirited exchange with W regarding dogma and divinity;
It seems she has different biblical interpretations than me.
She said that many people find her a bit abrasive
I told her I like to talk with people who aren't evasive.
We spoke of the way things are said in the mountains
And laughed at how differently city folk pronounce things.
We agreed that different bibles have different translations,
But she rejected the idea that this opened it to interpretation.
She almost blew a gasket when I made the suggestion
That holy scripture is suffering from the bible editors' rejections.

We agreed that The Holy Spirit has forever been,
But she believes until Jesus died wasn't available to men.
While I believe that divine revelation is still being scribed,
She believes only the bible is forever alive.
We did agree that it is more important to witness by ministry
Than to speak beautiful words, but from responsibility be free.
What was so sweet and really touched my heart and soul
Was she asked me to forgive her if she hurt me with beliefs she holds.
What's to forgive? Neither of our beliefs were disrespected,
I felt a great deal of camaraderie, certainly not rejected.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heartache and the Aged

I have a very dear ninety-two-year-old friend for whom my heart aches;
She has always defined herself by her work and by what she makes.
She married as a fourteen-year-old, to one of her daddy's farmhands;
She knew he'd be a good partner after watching him work the land.
She's widowed and has buried the son who was her best friend and neighbor.
Her oldest daughter has Alzheimer's; from the nursing home her mama saved her.
But now my old and dear mountain mama has no respite from her memories.
She can't travel or make a garden, and her daughter she can't often please.
Her health is good, as is her mind; she's not sure that's a blessing
She's grateful for her life, but feels she should be eternally resting.
How is it that our families live in such loneliness and isolation,
When we are told that we have too many people living in creation?
Is it because we're afraid to honestly face each other's pain,
Knowing there is nothing we can do to make their lives whole again?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Responsibilities and Resources

Once one harvests one's own garden, what is there left in life?
The end of even a life well-lived seems to be full of strife.
Is there anything that is to be one's highest priority
Once, from the tending of one's responsibilities, one is set free.
What's a parent to do once the resources one had have all been sown,
And not only one's children, but also one's grandchildren, are grown?
If many seeds we have spread on the earth have withered and died,
Should we hang our heads in shame or be satisfied that we tried?

And are we to speak about the beauty of the seeds that have bloomed;
Is it prideful to celebrate the success of that for which we were groomed?
How do we know for certain what we are called to continue to do?
For not only prophets, but servants and parents, the honors at home are few.
Are we to silently sit and wait until we receive a new command,
Or are we to begin to create and follow our own new life's plan?
Even for volunteering, there's a resource price to be paid,
And the thought of outliving our resources can cause us to feel afraid.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Setting Souls Free

What hubris it is to insist that someone stay around
In case there is still time for us to share some common ground.
We must stop insisting that others stay available on earth
In case we have the time and inclination to share their turf.
Those with whom our souls didn't share much common space
May finally live with us in community in an eternal place.
Let them go if you love them; let them seek their places of peace;
With our insistence that they stay on earth, their anxieties increase.
If they feel that they have fulfilled their missions and balanced their energies,
We must allow their minds, their bodies, and their souls to be eternally set free.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Disappearance as Death

The worst thing in life is feeling that you've disappeared;
This is how children feel when they are seldom cheered.
This is also how parents feel when left alone at home,
And there are no other adults available, not even by phone.
This is how breadwinners feel when, after a day spent at work,
There is nobody with whom to clear away the outside world's dirt.
This afflicts the old and infirm when we never ask them to assist us,
Or to join us in celebrating the events over which we make a fuss.
Some simply give up defining what they want and what they need;
Others will join packs to fill the voids that make their hearts bleed.
If only we were wise enough to set the proper priorities,
Perhaps we could save the world by cherishing those in our own families.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Protecting Our Progeny

I've heard it said, "God can't be everywhere; that's why we need mothers."
I say, "Mothers can't be everywhere; that's why we need the godliness of others."
It has forever been that which makes us feel safe is knowing to whom we belong.
Its easy to say that we're all children of God and to think otherwise is wrong;
Humans weren't made to live alone without the comforting sounds and touch of others.
This is why we're born so helpless and for so long need our fathers and mothers.
Parents who don't create strong boundaries and hold their children close in their bond
Create a vacuum of safety and values that their family's children can depend upon.
There is a reason that it is said that harming a child should lead to one's death;
When an adult destroys a child's innocence, the child's soul is forever at unrest.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Productive Progeny

Why would religions encourage parents in continuing to produce
Offspring for whom parents won't care and they will let run loose?
They are feral animals, not children, who are often brought to wrath
By the fear and anger of parents who haven't secured their own paths.
Those who rail against contraception surely can't be aware
Of the fate of the children for whom their parents can't care.

Their pure souls are tainted from before they are even born;
They feel their parents' rejection, and are born with self-scorn.
And the feelings of shame that are imparted to the innocent,
As if they were responsible for where and to whom they were sent,
Are never a good way to encourage peace and empathy for others;
It only encourages jealousy among the world's sisters and brothers.

We must stop acting as if children are manna from heaven,
Instead of responsibilities that no amount of preaching can leaven.
Each of us and each couple can only to our children impart
The gifts that we have realized in our lives and our hearts.
Those that have no spirit of wholeness will not succeed
In imparting the wholeness to their children which they so need.

While it may have once been true in lower animals
That offspring only need bellies that are kept full,
Children of humans need to be shown and be often told
That their individual bodies exist to help achieve a greater goal;
Otherwise, they become creatures of immediate gratification
That impede not only their own, but their offspring's and the world's, salvation.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Religion as Reflection of Divine Dignity

If nobody hears and responds to you today, will you cease to exist?

All social animals seem to need to experience themselves reflected in the responses and reactions of others. The lucky ones are born into an accepting tribe with a mother capable of nurture, but what about those that are born "different" or to a mother who has no nurturing capability? In the lower animals, the offspring are either killed, or nursed by others, or neglected until they die. The strongest and most aggressive of the group may survive, but as extremely aggressive and territorial members of their societies.

There is evidence of "failure to thrive" in children and the elderly. While the symptoms may vary, there seems to be a general "giving up" in those that are ignored because of their inability to produce what society deems useful.

Many people attempt to indicate that we are to find strength within ourselves, or in a spiritual realm, but we are made to be social beings. To deny our need to be acknowledged and appreciated is to deny our very human natures, which, in my opinion, is the animal nature endowed with, not only a spark of divinity, but also with the freedom to choose with whom we will associate.

The course of all human religion seems to point toward the very human need to define a group that will acknowledge and accept us and our spark of divinity, and put protective boundaries around us and our tribe. What are we to become without a socially accepting and protecting tribe of those who honestly lives within its boundaries?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rules for a Reason

How many of us know the beliefs of our own religions?
Do any of us have time to study all our leadership's decisions?
We tend to band together in groups that feel comfortable,
Or follow leaders who promise hearts and bellies that are full.
All Christian religions have there genesis in Judaism,
But we don't like to look at redemption through a rule-bound prism.
The rules weren't made to stop our personal harmony,
But to enable our societies, from the strife of war, to be free.
When we all agree that the same god lives in me and in you,
We can honor and nurture each other and our angers will be few.

When we use god as a threat, rather than as a source of strength,
This is not the way almighty power was meant to be spent.
Our many ancestors, mother and father and the rest,
May not deserve our love, but we can each emulate their best.
Adultery of your body's sacred temple and the temple's of other's bonds
Destroys the health and trust that families and societies are built upon.
There are many ways to steal, through deceit, and through unfair pay;
This destroys the fairness, and leaves our society in disarray.
When we lust after each other's goods, husbands, and wives,
We destroy the harmony in which families and societies thrive.

Murder begets resentment and retribution for generations;
This destroys the serenity and safety of all of creation.
And when we accuse others of things they did not do or say
It is difficult to mend the broken bonds we create along the way.
When we don't take time to give thanks and to rest with our clan,
We lose the ability to see divinity in all creation and other humans.
The commandments may be worded and numbered differently in different faiths,
But they have survived as a set of boundaries for the human race.
Until we accept some common ground on which to bring families up in peace,
It is unlikely that the killing of each other will ever cease.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Harmony on Earth and in Heaven

I do not believe we can be right with G_d without being right with all that is part of creation. As we enter this New Year, my hope is that we all begin to honor the spark of divinity in every bit of the universe and stop arguing and killing over semantics and rituals.

If your G_d manifests as a man and mine manifests as a tree, as long as it is a positive, life affirming manifestation, why would we want to take that gift from each other? To destroy hope seems to me the greatest sin of all. In my belief system, we are admonished to seek harmony on earth as it is in heaven.

I wish us all new hope for peace in 2012.