Mountains on My Mind

I dream of a woodland retreat.

A mountainous oasis.

Walking in the forest

Bathing in nature

as the green canopy of hardwood trees

sways and sings.

My boots help me find my way.

I pause and listen to a rushing stream.

As I  leap onto slippery and misshapen rocks,

I pray for balance.

I lean toward the outstretched hand of my son,

who seems to have danced on the water.

His fording is eased by the length of his body.

I long to be more limber and less awkward.

  My backpack hugs my body

I feel oddly at ease with its great weight.

 As I take deep, deep breaths,

I feel the tension slough off my body.

Can mountain air comfort you like a warm blanket?

The long granite beds replace the scrambled boulders.

Another summit

Another Celebration

We rest upon them and gaze into Infinity

At one with the Divine

 

Day 6: In 12 days I head north.  My spirit yearns for cooler altitudes and time with my tribe. The photo is from a hike to Camel’s Hump in Vermont that Emily and I completed. I have yet to write about that day!  One of the most mentally challenging in my life…

Sacred

                                                          Nancy’s sea glass

Holy pieces housed in an unadorned vessel

Faith’s fragments washed ashore on a Mayan peninsula

Divinely inspired

Gathered piece by piece

Every unearthing calling forth a living  prayer

 Ordained with a blessing

Offered in love

Binding all living things to one another in hope and healing

Day 29. For Nancy.

At Home on Mother Earth

 

            The Atlantic Ocean on the shores of Plum Island, MA in December

We stood at the shoreline on a cold early winter day

drinking in the brilliant blues of water and sky

Love was born here on a windy November afternoon

our hearts just beginning to open once again

Looking north, we reimagined the sandy altar

where our vows were taken

It was June

a day much the same in its splendor

The early summer air kissing us with its warmth

The feel of the earth under our bare feet fed our souls

Still, there is nothing like the weight and protection of boots that help carry us over boulders and root-ridden paths

Welch-Dickey looking west

We stop and put our hands in a snow melted stream

amazed at its crystal clear color

Its extravagant cold causes us to sigh in gratefulness

Love grows here on the bare bluffs and falling waters

Arethusa Falls

When we climb in April, we arrive in time for Spring’s rebirth

as we once again mark our own

Seasons change but our zeal for hiking never wanes

Summer flora at the bottom of Artist’s Bluff, Franconia Notch, NH

The mountains await us

Mount Lafayette, Franconia Notch, NH

 

 

Day 22. A poem to honor Earth Day and pay homage to the March for Science. We went to a nearby Arbor Festival and came away with 2 more plants for the butterfly garden and a bougainvillea tree.

Thoughts in the Air


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Image courtesy of: Pintrest

Is it possible that reminders of an old life can appear unreal?

Can relocation reveal dislocation

not from a physical locale

but from an impression of  love and life?

  There:

Two lives in the same space and time

 One With and One Without

With was a notion

More of a staged play

Another in the leading role

Yet not present for every scene

Without was The Life

An Improvisation

with an ensemble cast

and special guest stars from season to season

A  Strong Woman opera of struggle and strife

whose finale was triumph not tragedy

Living  in a new dimension

Neither With nor Without

Not seeking to reclaim the latter

 It is not a discernible thing that can be held onto any longer

Yet:

There is movement and motion in both spheres

A compelling momentum forward

that doesn’t hold to a limited longitude or latitude

Here:

A garden grows

and love, too

Quiet and enduring

Room for an inner life

Gilded with grace that merges one with the other

Day 17: Bits of dribbled musings on the plane ride from there to here.

Hometown Run

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Photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor (Ward Hill Reservation)

The brisk  mid morning air rushed at my bare arms and legs

The nip a welcome amazement

A bit of bliss

I smile as if kissed

My heart in full surge

Feeling the urge

An unquenched desire to move through the breeze

The hills, rises, and turns feeling familiar once again

The tower bell tolled ten

Its chime a reminder of a lost moment

and the comforting rhythm to our days

 I cross at the light

forgetting the long span of street that lay ahead

Houses and yards void of winter’s white

Daffodils and crocuses rounding out the renewing green of lawns and red  brick pathways

The downhill speeds my pace-

I am used to its more arduous climb, not its effortless decent

I turn on the road where the cemetery lies in the grove

My legs just starting to slightly suffer

I approach a rare flat surface

Relief briefly in store

A left turn into town

Churches white-steepled, granite stoned and russet brick

One last incline then the finish

The high road to where the boys now call home

Day 14: Already Running, Hanging and Cooking with family and friends.

Between Two Worlds

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                                            Image courtesy of: AllPosters.com

 

She inquires

Are you coming back or just visiting?

I ask myself

Have I ever left?

My spirit resides in cold, granite rocks and crisp, gripping air

I stood outside at the airport

Basking in the north wind

Rejoicing in the sky that bore more clouds than sun

The southern nights have been restless in anticipation

Sleep elusive

I toss and turn in the stifling and stuffy night air

Rains of  sweat beneath my forehead and between my breasts

My body longing for the chill of a drafty house

and the warm pile of a fluffy comforter

The tip of my nose cool to the touch

Nostalgia keeps me coming back, I know

But the tug and pull of my  new life

reminds me of a joy that I am just beginning to sow

Day 13.  I am back in New England for a few days to visit the boys and my friends. My legs need some hills and a mountain to climb. I have been greeted with “Welcome Home!” already. Although in truth, I now have two places that bear the same name.

 

Ode to an Old Friend

 

I heard from an old friend today

She read news of me

Tales of the latest chapter in my new life

Her gracious wishes were felt over the thousand miles between us

  I think of how long I have known her

High school years

Different circles

My memory of her dim

We met years later in a different small town

Young mothers of young ones

Her vivacity and attractiveness sweetly worn

  She grew into her womanhood with a savvy sexuality

 Men  drawn to her like moths to a flame

 She left them speechless and hungry and heartbroken

Single again together

Sharing tales of woe and grief and much laughter too

Summer days lounging in her pool

Listening to songs from the 197o’s and trying to guess the band

She held me up 

Unaware of how her kindness soothed me

 She fed me when I was hungry

Cared for my boys when mom died

 Always expressing admiration for my strength

My ability to keep moving over obstacles and holding my head high

Old friends are a warm blanket, chicken soup and a fine glass of wine

Time passes but the love in our hearts remains

 

 

Day 12.  This literally happened a few hours ago. Namaste.

A Quest for Compassion

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When the powerful gather and circle their wagons to reshape the narrative in pursuit of their own desires,

How do you respond?

Are you rendered powerless?

Do you become passive and accepting?

Do you fall into deep despair?

Or do you rise up in anger?

Are you fueled by fury?

Flushed with frustration?

Or do you seek a third way?

Where is your compelling counter-narrative?

The heavy dose of compassion?

  The goal of sustained transformation? 

The answers are elusive

But not impossible

They lie not in the hatred

or disdain

or deliberate hurt

 of the other

But in our ability to meet at the crossroads

And arrive at an understanding

A cognizant contemplation of the far-reaching consequences

Born of our self-righteous and selfish actions

 

Day 7. This poem would not be possible if not for the inspiration of a morning walk. I listened to two podcasts by Rob Bell. He surely gave me some of the words today, most especially “the coherent counter-narrative”.  I am grateful always for his calming, wise and humorous perspective! Thank you also to Emily with whom I spoke at length yesterday in a small moment of despair. Among other things, she mentioned Sally Kohn and her TedTalk on emotional correctness. I watched it and am sharing it with you as well.

 

Breathing Room

I ran this morning until it hurt. Perhaps I was inspired by my work colleague, M. whom I met on the trail somewhere after the 1 mile mark. She was heading North to Dunedin on a 30 mile run. We spoke at length about life as it is and the need for running. How we write lesson plans, letters, solve problems, and create new ideas as our feet guide us to known and often unknown destinations. Her goal inspired me to run further after a week of not running at all.  It was completely unplanned; I surely had plenty of time-more time than usual last week to get in lots of running. Yet, I found myself letting things unfold. Yoga and chakra meditation really called my name. The weather was cool-very cool and windy- and I welcomed the chance for a hoodie and windbreaker to walk in on Spring Break.

Spending time with myself and loved ones down here was the goal. My stepdaughter and I enjoyed lunch and long walks and big talks together; we grew closer than ever. Emily was down for a family obligation and managed to drive the extra 115 miles to see where I live, accompanied by lovely Lillian, her daughter. Her mid-week visit filled my soul and ironically, made me feel more grounded here. Showing her and Lillian the sights of St. Petersburg was truly a thrill.

Mountain Women on the city streets!

On Friday, I spent the morning walking the beach at Indian Shores, listening and looking. Seashore treasures abounded:

 

Peace was at hand at hand-at least for a little while.                                                                                                                                                     

Saturday dawned and we headed for a run on St. Pete Beach, where my father lives. He thought only my husband would be out and said I was a “good  surprise” so early in the morning. I decided to walk and talk with him. Simply wonderful! Later in the day, we joined him and others at a waterfront joint, enjoying the turquoise water,  slow-moving boats and surfacing dolphins. We celebrated a traditional New England St. Patrick’s Day dinner that night at our house.

Still, the specter of insecurity persists, seeping into conversations in the midst of sunshine and laughter. I continue to resist, shining my own light, becoming the change I wish to see.

 

 

Troubled Waters

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 Image Courtesy of: abbottphotoart.deviantart.com

Sunrise Thursday. The pull of the day threw the covers off my sticky body. The desire to escape the weight of worries, the seemingly endless sound of sirens, and the unforgiving concrete drew me to the water.

Finally! A cool morning was at hand. The sand was cold beneath my aching feet, providing immediate relief from a few punishing days of running. The tide was out and the wind was up, giving the waves a bit more vigor than usual. I walked along past my ankles, enjoying the ease. The beach was nearly deserted and still, except for the sound of the surf.

My mind is restless. I  am living with a sense of foreboding that I find difficult to escape. Mother Earth has always been a release valve, a respite for me, a place to gather thoughts and make sense of things. Since the mountains are far, I must find peace at the beach for now.

Sunrise Friday. Repeat. When I go to work, I tell Laura that I walked in the water. She misheard me and thought I said that I walked on the water, a phenomenon some attribute to Jesus and a well-known passage in the Bible. Others use it as a parable or a metaphor for rising above the negative material realm into a more fully realized spiritual self.

Sunrise Saturday. One more time. Before the day got away from me, I wanted a few moments of getting my feet wet. I appreciated the lack of noise from my fellow amblers. Perhaps we were all on edge. Waiting for the great national implosion.

Sunday. Another trip. But this time I run to the water and down to the pier. On the way home, I run through the quiet streets which are a few blocks removed from the noise of the boulevard. Ideas dance in my head.

The Sunday paper was chock full of the topics I thought of writing about, but  the writers, reporters, essayists, and editorials said it better than I ever will. However, I’d like to share one that was particularly compelling. Derek Black, a former white nationalist, wrote an essay entitled “David Duke is My Godfather.”  You can read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/why-i-left-white-nationalism.html?_r=0. One line that stood out to me was the last sentence of his essay:  “It is the choice of embracing or rejecting our own people.”

This is the thing that has bugged me the most. People-supposedly godly people- simply rejecting and judging everyone that doesn’t subscribe to their view of our nation and their view of religion (for some they go hand in hand). For example, on my way to a writer’s workshop Saturday, I saw a church sign that said: “Make America God’s Again.” I asked myself, “Whose God? Does it mean the Fundamentalist Christian God of hell-fire and judgement, the one that thinks we are all sinners? Would I be among the many who could be persecuted because I don’t believe exactly as they do? Would they create laws in this country that will blur the lines between state and church so they can make America God’s again?”

I texted my oldest son the quote and his response was “Cool.” I was surprised. Then he said: “Depends on what you mean by God’s I suppose. Love your neighbor, turn your cheek. Nice God.” I told him that I had a more negative reaction called “Fear of Religious Right.” His response: “Ah, lunatic God. No wine and cheese parties.”

I like his way of thinking.  I told him that if every house of worship had that sign ( Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etc), then I think it would have the feel of less ‘lunacy’ and more love.

Sometimes I feel surrounded by others with a singular state of mind when it comes to their faith. Because they feel “right” in their beliefs, they assume I am just like them. I respect their beliefs but I don’t necessarily share all of them. And I am not sure they hear the harshness of their comments about times when they encounter situations where they may feel out of place, especially when it’s not Christian. They tell me they feel as if they are in “another world”. Then I share that I attended a predominately Jewish university as an undergraduate and that my experience as a non-Jew opened my eyes to newer perspectives and understandings. I hope their silence means that I gave them something to think about.

In essence, it comes down to active listening to others who may not agree with you or at least have a different perspective and experience. Derek Black says as much when people have asked him for a way to change the minds of Trump supporters. He states: “That kind of persuasion happens in person-to-person interactions and it requires a lot of honest listening on both sides.”

I cannot imagine living in a world or nation that is not diverse. There’s a richness to the various layers of our humanity and increased opportunities for deeper personal connections. We need to find a way to rise above the insidiousness that has made its way into our nation.

I’m leaving soon for another walk in the water, this time with a friend. I’ll close with a quote from Kenneth L. Samuel, Pastor of Victory for the World Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia:

Every child wants to belong to a parent. Every individual wants to belong to a country. Every loving person wants to belong to a partner and a family. Every believer wants to belong to a faith that affirms and values who he/she is in God.