The Road to Consecration

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                                      Image courtesy of: Jenny Grant

She turned to face him:

Which mask to wear today?

It was hard to gauge his mood with the thickness of sleep still bearing its weight on her body

Her mind is murky

  She lets out a sigh

Feeling safe only if she lay on her left side curled up and in her own embrace

Much better to fall off  than brush against the beast

How long could this charade last?

Lately she had matched his deceit with her own

Not out of some need to enact revenge

She wasn’t even sure how far he had gone

But he wore his lies like an ill-fitting suit

The pants dragged beneath his heels

The jacket was two sizes too small

And the buttons were askew behind his lengthy tie

When she would point out the mismatch between one tall tale and another,

he would insist that he was misheard or misunderstood

Keeping track of  his dirty deeds became a game of survival and self-protection

His self-involvement and vanity distracted him from noticing her wily ways

Still, she was weary of feeling undone

Every encounter exhausting

Every conversation calibrated

Today would be the day

Holding her breath

 She slipped out into the early light

Suitcases already packed in the trunk of her car

The papers and house keys lay on the kitchen table

  Woman!

We have lift off!

She exhaled and let out a silent cheer

She had no compass

Just her authentic self 

The only true guide to the road within

Day 27. The word is authentic drawn, from a conversation yesterday with Emily- although the subject matter was different. I hadn’t expected this as the outcome but certainly the theme of freedom is on my mind these days.

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.

Talismans

 

Following bliss

Preserved and protected against evil forces

Sitting with the sacred

Bowing to the wisdom

Answering intuition

Warding off the wicked with prayerful words

 offered in hushed intensities

Intended and intentional

Persistence exists

 Is exalted and asserted

Seldom softly

 Sometimes silently

Enduring not in the nether

Sustaining simply in the supernal

Day 19. I received the blue evil eye bracelet from a student this morning. She told me that when she saw it, she thought of me. Later-at home- I remembered that my youngest son had given me the second one pictured here. He said that it also reminded him of me and my yoga practice. I am learning that inspiration can come from unexpected places and that activism can take many forms.

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.

Withering Vines

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                                            Image courtesy of: Pintrest

A Reflection

A Pleasing Woman

A Magnificent Mind

A Soft Spirit

Working hard at denial

and unconscious obfuscation

Practicing the art of avoidance

Folding within herself

 A verdant vessel for a vacuous seed

  Hoping for a change through sweet offerings

While gritting your teeth and conjuring a smile

You’re building a gilded cage

 Your tongue bleeding with the words you wish to say

Your feet tiptoeing

When they  want to stomp in frustration and irritation

Is it easier to acquiesce?

What is it that you fear?

  In time your ebullience may ebb

Your smile may turn into a sneer

And the hard work of keeping it together may exhaust you

And then your unraveling will begin

 

Day 11. The daily prompt was Unraveling. I am far removed from my former life on so many levels. But today’s prompt had me thinking of women who sacrifice so much of themselves, buying into the fairy tale, afraid of being alone and staying too long because of fear of looking like a failure or fear of poverty or something much worse. The chance to regain yourself and build a better life is out there and worth the fight.

Healing Garden

There exists a corner

A space left untouched

Nearly forgotten

Long awaiting a wakening

The soil-

weed ridden

and parched

from endless summers’ sun soaked days

We’ve tilled the dirt

Adding sustenance

Giving it strength and spirit

We’ve planted and mulched

Praying for the flora to find robust roots

Watering becomes a religious rite and ritual

A daily baptism and blessing

for these new lives to become one

with Mother Earth

Day 8. For my birthday at the end of March, I decided that I wanted to plant something in our backyard. My husband had spent years before we were married tearing out neglected plants and most recently an empty shed. The yard emerged as a tabula rasa. Certainly a challenge! For his birthday in February we planted a tree in order to create shade.  My “something” is metamorphosing into a butterfly garden, created in memory of my late mother who loved them. Each time I have seen one over the years, I feel as if she is paying me a visit.

The act of planting is also an act of persistence for me.  In spite of  the current climate (no pun intended) and my continuous activism, I believe it is vital to go on joyously living into the new life I am creating here.

Incidentally, the daily word prompt for the challenge, was “HEAL”. Thank you to the folks at WordPress for the help!

 

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.

 

Take Action, Keep Sane, Make a Difference

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I am dedicating this post to my late mother, Pat, who would have turned 79 today. She remains with us still.

12 days feels like 12 years. Is this what it’s like to be in a boxing ring getting pummeled by your opponent?  The daily news is like getting a dose of bad tasting medicine- except the symptoms of my illness are getting no relief. I was telling my husband on Monday that the feelings that I am currently experiencing are similar to the ones from a decade ago. The agony of my divorce and its aftermath played out in all kinds of excruciating ways over the course of four years. Sound familiar?

Then I remember that I survived and thrived because of my relentless vigilance in the face of overwhelming odds. I didn’t let the bastard break me and I am not about to let this one either! I spent Sunday calling Senators voicing my concern and opposition to the Previcater-in-Chief’s Cabinet nominees and his outrageous Executive Orders.  I signed up for an event sponsored by our local League of Women Voters. Tuesday came. I talked with Emily who was hosting an action group with others up north. On Thursday she gave me ideas of how I can be effective efficiently. It was a God send.

It is difficult for me not to feel a sense of urgency. In my conversation with Jenn Wednesday, we shared our frustrations about our nation’s situation as well as our irritation with others who aren’t taking action.  The truth is,  we can’t expect everyone to jump in immediately- it doesn’t meant they are apathetic. In fact, they may be doing things to hold us up. Laura spends time meditating and praying for guidance from the Divine Mother. My husband gives me a soft place to land, a listening ear and delicious meals. He reminds me that I need to continue to live my life, to take time and be still, and that joy still exists along with the laundry!  I continue to remain grateful for my work as an educator. I make a difference every minute of every day in the lives of young people. They are the starfish stuck in the sand. And we adult citizens are too. The beach is filled with miles of us. Still, we must continue this long journey together. We will despair and be tempted to surrender. We must be patient and prudent. If we take care of one starfish at a time, we can prevail.

 You may ask what can I do that will have an impact? The simplest means is making a phone call to your local representative and/or Senator. This has been made so much easier by the blessed organizers out there. Here are some sites that will help you decide what you can do (with thanks to Emily!): 

Remember: the forces of evil will attempt to overwhelm us at every turn. We cannot let them win. We cannot be silent any longer.

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.

 

 

Speaking Up and Speaking Out

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Image courtesy of: WritersCafe.org

Thanksgiving. A favorite holiday and this year a welcome respite from the cruel vagaries of the world. I had many conversations yesterday, of course. Two stand out because they are the inspiration for this latest post. In an exchange with my oldest son, he asked me if I had been writing lately. When I told him that I have been too overwhelmed by current events, he encouraged me to express myself. Later, after dinner, I was talking with one of our guests and sharing my fears. Wisely, she reminded me that those worries would be released into the universe. Instead, I would need to remain hopeful.  I hope this latest musing is a positive beginning!

When I woke up this morning, I made my usual cup of coffee and then took it back to bed with me. Instead of reading the news like I have done every morning for years, I read a few chapters of a Louise Penney mystery (http://www.louisepenny.com/). Lately, I have straddled the line between the need to stay informed and the increasing anxiety, the nerve racking fear and the crushing depression of national shifts that I cannot stomach. I have been wanting to write posts for weeks now, but I have been afraid that I may slip into overwrought opinions about the presidential campaign, the resulting election, and now its early aftermath. These days, taking any public stand is risky business and an invitation for uncivil discourse and cruel judgement. But this is something I cannot avoid; I feel as if I might burst from lack of self-expression! Admittedly, I want my opinions to be thoughtful. Perhaps this is why I have kept quiet in my posts lately. I feared being less than meditative. Plus, I refuse to be categorized, stereotyped, or labeled as a particular ” kind of woman” when I openly state my feelings or express ideas that may be considered “non-traditional”. But I also refuse to bow to the obscene practice of the monolithic grouping of people. This idea has been publicly played out in order to stoke fear and to provide a false sense of renewed power to those who have felt marginalized and silenced for decades. I believe the cause of this splintering is based in the unrelenting greed of those whose silver spoons are still in their mouths. The ancient practice of Divide and Rule has cultivated a sense of distrust and hostility between and among our citizens in order to lay blame on -take your pick- feminists, black and brown people, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ, etc.

Hate, condemnation, suspicion, and negativity are easy paths to follow. They hold the deceitful promises of a return to the “good old days” (to which my stepdaughter once queried: “What do they mean, segregation?”). It is hard for me to fathom a return to a time when laws suppressing the rights of others in any and all forms will become the new normal. I have seen it being chipped away in seemingly harmless ways (i.e. new voting rights laws, women’s health care), and it is up to us to remain vigilant in the face of further future repression.

I believe that our purpose here on earth is to make it a better place to live. To not only raise up and help others, but to also take care of our precious resources in order for future generations to enjoy its unique beauty. We cannot dismiss other people as less worthy because of where they’re from, how they  choose to worship, or whom they choose to love, or because they don’t look like us. It is simply wrong.

They are many people that I have met and know in my life who do not share the same viewpoints as I do. We agree to disagree and can also thoughtfully engage in discussions that help further an understanding of each others’ perspectives.  We may hope to change another’s mind but no one is interested in changing laws that would suppress another citizen’s constitutional rights. Everyone has a story or two to tell that has helped bring them to their own set of beliefs.  These personal tales of tragedy and triumph are essential to listen to and understand if we are to grow together and make the world better and more free for everyone.

I’ll close this piece with the grace I shared at the Thanksgiving table. Many thanks to Mary Luti, UCC Pastor and seminary educator (http://www.ucc.org/devotionals_by_mary_luti) for this gift to my email ‘s inbox yesterday:

for it’s an immeasurable gift to say grace with one eye on your neighbor, to give thanks with joy complicated by concern, to count your blessings while repenting your sins, to know yourself in a muddle, trying to be good. It means you’re awake and not sleeping, alive and not dead. It means God is poking away at you, and you’ve let God in.