Wednesday, April 13, 2011

LOVE (Contemplation again...)

Is there time for love?
Not the kind of romantic love where there is dating, fast-paced excitement, and sharing smiles. I do not speak of something figurative or otherworldly.
The love I name is broad and foundational and interwoven into the fabric of souls, time, and space--the essence that inspires confidence and learning and sparks desire for beauty, and lifts one to wonder when we experience birth, or human kindness, or nature. I refer also to the hard under-layment of love that supports our mountains and seas and the living that takes place on the planet. That is the love I'm looking for, watching for around me. It is not random or ethereal. It is not superfluous or vague. It is so all important that there is no resting place without it. We would be literally suspended in space, no hope for an ark of safe landing, no peace to shelter us. I ask because it is something I carry inside, but when I try to speak to it, no amount of explaining brings a connection to many on the outside. Then there are those who nod and smile and can look directly into my eyes and say," Yes." They get it, they wanted it, knew they needed it and searched until they found it. We are kindred in this way. But I find these gems of people fewer and fewer. Why? Some young folks know what I mean because they say, "Yeh. My parents have that." or "My grandpa has that." But they seem to think along with malls and cell phones that that is something that is just there, or not. If someone doesn't give it to you, then there's lots to do meanwhile 'til they get around to it. Surely this is a thing learned. How is it taught? It was a given 100 years ago. How is it unlearned?
When I breathe, I am aware of breathing this in. Whether I drink water or survey the sea, it is there. When I walk, when I look up, accomplish daily routines, when I survey a crowd, examine the minuteness of a snow flake or garden mosses; when I stand in the stillness of night or watch the stars; when I reach to touch others-- it is with this essence that is not mine, but that speaks through me. When I pray it is the earth beneath me, the alter of my prayer, the stairway that lets me know I have been heard.
I am baffled by the randomness that is found amusing. The purposelessness that is considered witty. The music that has no message. The connections that can't be made, and the lost children crying because they can't make them. In such a world suicide is optional, drugs are recreational, abortion is meaningless, worship is deluded. It is a state of being, but the becoming something, becoming more than we are is met with,"huh?' Stares that mean, "Oh, you're a religious fanatic." and the need to wander away. No one walks purposefully away, TO somewhere. Nowhere is everywhere. Somewhere does not happen. These are masses waiting to be fed, to be directed, to be given to, sway in similar patterns if something focuses them, (anger, fear, revenge, sadness, compassion) but own of themselves, none of these passions-- have little thought individually other than a restlessness, insatiable unhappiness, that has stopped being hungry. It has the same feeling and face of someone on the brink of starvation, who has gone past the point of living, but still lives, the concentration camp victim who has lost hope. What mist of darkness is this? I shudder in horror. I ask Why-- How? But I do not see the answers clearly. When I try to name it these same masses fight back and do not want it to be named. They speak of me as being reactionary, extreme, over emotional, conspiracy oriented, or apocalyptic. It is not any of these things to name the loss of love.
But is is a grief that is far too big for me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Holding My Breath

February 9, 2011

The blue brightness of mid-winter days has the effect on me-- perhaps like being suspended in time and space. I feel held securely, yet spin freely, as though from a giant rope... There is a holding of breath-- waiting for something to happen, something to change. Wrapped together in all this loveliness is the invariable uncertainty, (which somehow is different from unexpected) of wondering what weather the next weeks will bring? -- Will it be spring? Will it be blizzards, freezing temperatures? Winter might hand out endless days of fog, inversions, or simply the days of gray sky, no snow, not warm enough to green, not cold enough to set the mud? One year it was violets in February, weeks of balmy air and blue heaven, followed by 2 foot drifts, ice, and a spring that couldn't get the right foot out front till April's end. In Fine, SUSPENSE. The whole while, a funny little inner voice retorts on any change in the weather, "I guessed as much." or "Just what I expected, of course!"

I love the crispness of air that in not nearly warm, but not cold. The freshening of willow boughs, and the deep breaths of outdoors that feel clean, new,-- unopened really. Today is like a package, holding unexamined delights. I will not be able to fit into it all that I know I'm longing to do. The river walk entreats, with its' sweet tang of cottonwood leaves and bark, watching the clear brown ripples. I imagine listening for birds, that never left, but have been silent until now. Today might hold a game of growling tiger with a six year old daughter; a visit to family; hosting a young folks movie night with buttered popped corn. The days' mid point melts out a time for singing out loud, arms open. Little Spring walks home with tiny skips and giggles for no other reason than it is today.

And yet, I go quietly. I zip coats, take children to school, and kiss foreheads. I say hello to people. I go to work. I hurry through tasks, though I admit to adding a twist of doing routines backwards. And after all, song or not, walk or not--it is okay, because the day has gotten inside me and will work its way out spontaneously, regardless of what I do.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm not sure why now I have decided to make a post.
The day is the typical grey haze of mid January winter. I'm cold. The girls are cold. The things that I believe are very important in my life are unraveled or unraveling faster than I can fix. The children have been sick. I wrote New Year's resolutions, sort of, and then am trying to solve the amazing brain puzzle of seeing not only if it is going to happen, but is it survive-able? They are good things and should be priorities then..but bad habits are hard to break and good one hard to make and... But that isn't why I am writing a post.

I'm writing because all though there are some serious potholes in the road, I am happy.
I read my daughter's post about looking forward to spring and I am not yet impatient. I feel that the beautiful is flowing like angel wings around me, through the gnawing of unease, the seasonal colds, the obstacles in the future. I'm not sure why I am happy really except that the unseen world wishes me to be so, and I am.

I've noticed, that though the world is full of tangible things, it is equally brimming with the things we know, but we cannot touch. Another welcoming thought is that today's society acknowledges that virtues, kindnesses, learning, power, hunger, fear, courage, hopelessness, planning and anxiety, love and pain, even altruism, and a myriad of other intangibles are real and valid. Which makes me hopeful because it seems a small step away from trusting in the miraculous: those things that are equally real, often serendipitous, and the other side of the coin, dangerous as a bad idea, or a foolish choice.
It is also clear that collectively this is a topic we steer away from. We dislike discussions of the underworld enough today to practically ignore its existence, in fact to argue through media and reasoning that evil does not exist, except in those who are misunderstood, even in the face of real crime, real villains, and real terror over much of our globe. So much do we fear to own such a thing, that mental illness, or superstition or lack of scientific thinking are the first life boats we lunge for, even for those who own the existence of a Supreme Being. Which makes the acknowledgement of heavenly beings difficult...can we own the one without having to accept the other? Likely not, and that is all the trouble. Yet real as energy and light, wind and sound, are they!
Now, I'm really not sure that this is an acceptable post, since I feel very aware of welcome allies that I do not see, yet feel apathetic that I will convince any to change a thought process. One woman said it well: to those who believe, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not, none is possible.
Yet I am quite certain that the presence of unseen companions is why I am writing today and why I feel happy. No other cause is as readily apparent. I guess I just needed to acknowledge the existence of these nurturing presences. I want to welcome and accept this gift.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The River Behind the Garden: self examination

There is a place inside too fragile to walk in often. It is the place where dreams go when they have not lived, or will never live or that fell from the sky before nightfall. It is the place where new dreams are planted and nurtured secretly--too fragile to be held in the open where opinions, good will or light hearted banter will break the fragile stems. Always it is a garden. Things are weeded, pruned, uprooted, fertilized, planted. Strangely during all the time of carefully avoiding the walled garden it is obvious that a gardener has been at work. The garden is never abandoned. There are times perhaps when watering has been neglected or when weeds have overgrown, yet work continues. How does the mind do this miraculous work?
Yet there is a river I have not crossed. I enter through this garden and I stand on the banks, though rarely. What is it that I am afraid to do? There is a business that I keep up to avoid something. What is it that I avoid? I evaluate myself:
My heart and mind go through seasons just like the outer world. I have soul cycles of day and night, rain and sun. I have time periods when I ignore the crush of present to run aimlessly into a novel, or a fun day without planning; refusing to be caught in the vise of certainty and ruled out by responsibility. I am reckless and a little frightened at myself and the possibilities of the choices. But escape I must, to be the bridge between the older now of me and the me of yesterday, the stepping stone for teens and small ones that look in on me to gage their estimate of their own growing. There are the early spring times when I settle down calmly and deliberately to the work of sorting and planning: domestic and social. I have summer parent times when when I study, read, research, get serious, find out what I haven't taught, try something new. So I plant and reach out to make a bigger circle. There is a fall season when I have an abundance of gladness and good things and make time for a harvest I can share, interact, broaden the good in the world and touch far places, do the moral work. Then there is the reclusive season, garnering stores, assessing needs, conjuring up the array of wintering over stuffs. Focus on the mortal, the family, the physical abilities, being objective, charting basic needs, arranging and preparing for difficulty. The season for calling out to the Great Creator in thanksgiving. Winter has come, but there is a celebration of newness in the first white, holidays to come where I can trifle away some days in fun. I let myself relax into the schedule of school and homework and co-ordinating the clockwork of family. Yet inner work waits and I become more and more restless and know it will not be put off forever and willing myself to make time for it. When was the last time I searched His word? Fasted for others. Prayed for the long list of needs I know crowd my heart and that of loved ones? Yet finally will come the endless cold and waiting. Asking the big questions, searching for the answers and weighing if there is enough. Calling out for Heavenly rescue to make the final needy weeks of when I have pulled out all I can, stretched myself and rationed thought, energy, will, and there is no more... knowing I am not enough.
So today I wander to the far edge of the garden. I guess I am brave enough to get my feet wet. I dabble my toes in the great river and contemplate. I will allow myself a tiny look at the dreams that lie discarded.
I catch myself looking at the sky to see the airplane out of habit before I determinedly look away, knowing that the chances of ever flying again are next to nothing. Aging, money and focus are against it. It is a flash fire dream, that requires support from others to live and still maintain the life I have chosen. It is only mine, and I can only make it live if I sacrifice something more valuable. I grieve, but it is too deep a grief to spend any time on, to cry over, or to ask for. Losing it twice would kill something else I do not know how to loose: Hope. Flying is not the only dream. Its is the safest one to write about. It has already been in the open and returned.
Yet I frequently ask myself, "How does one gather the courage to live an examined life?" I am afraid to do it. It is this river that I have come to. Can the other side of it be reached? The water of such a river seems too fast and powerful to enter. I dabble my toes, but dare not enter. It is this journey I fear that keeps me busy, calmly focussed on the present. I can try to be patient for forever, and examine books about gardening, bridges and rivers, even help start other gardens, sort over plans and seeds with novices, share ideas with experienced gardeners as I interact with children, family, friends... but I know the river is there. It is the thing that asks me to dare, to see what stuff I am made of.

Parenting has shown me a lot about myself. In fact I have learned more about myself in this field than anywhere else. Things I could never have discovered in books or discussions or art or museums. It is this learning that lets me believe I will one day be brave enough to cross this river. It will take me more than a day. It will take all of my focus. I do not know what part of me will emerge. I do know that whatever comes back out of the water on the other side I must not only accept, but learn to live with. It must be the purest and best part of me. When I enter this river I will do the work of washing from me all that I can no longer use, all that has no meaning or purpose. No bitterness or regret must muddy my feet as I step to the cleanness of the mosses on the far bank. And I know once entered I will not come back to the me that lived in the small walled garden on the other side. So I realize much of my delay is that I wanted those dreams and part of me is afraid to say good by too.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I just finished reading the next posts from the Best of Six Year Med (the other doc whom I think should write a book; another someone who works to, and every day makes a difference.) I began to think about making a difference, and as always ask myself the day on day, month to month, year to year all pervasive question, "Have you made a difference?" Asking the obsessive questions,"Can I try harder? Am I doing enough to be what I should? Is anything meaningful to me, getting through to the hearts of the ones who call me mom? Do they know what is important?"

Most days all I know is that I have been a mommy. But in a rare sharing, my son chose to hand me an essay he wrote for high school and with it, handed me an unspeakable treasure. I hope it gave perspective to the teacher who read it.
Out of the wonder around me has fallen a piece of heaven and a brighter hope. I am allowed to look into a shining window that let me know, some how a difference has occurred. Maybe not through me alone, it doesn't matter; maybe not in a thousand days, but slowly, nudged one way or another, and not unlike a seed fallen unnoticed, it has grown and it bears fruit; and today, my heart is glad.

Its amazing that I get to walk beside giants so often. Giants who don't know they are giants, but who manage to carry us on their shoulders, nonetheless.
The essay was titled -This I Believe.
I knew I was about to see something incredible, and I was not disappointed.
Mostly, without false humility, my son wrote his confession of giving in to peer pressure, and being undisciplined in sleeping in, or always selfishly wanting just whatever would make him comfortable or happy. He talked about walking home, late at night, because friends had mislead him and were going to take in a movie, instead of get a burger and go home. He knew they would call him names behind his back; but he did it, and he never told anyone. He just knew it was the right thing to do.
Then he spoke of his personal realization about life: that life was not about him, or about pleasing himself, about not always asking himself if he's happy, but if it pleases God? He says he believes if he finds this out he will find out who his friends are, but mostly, he will find himself.

Perhaps I cannot make the difference I seek in the short room of my life. What a tiny puddle I live in. But ripples go out from the pebble thrown in the water and touch other ripples...We've all heard the story, imagined the picture. I got to see the real thing.
Thank you God. Thank you for making a difference! Thank you for the window to see it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Summer's End-Looking Forward

I will decide if I publish this post later,but it is time to write. When it is time to write in means I am giving myself a sermon, or an alter call or a stern talking to in the corner kitchen chair. Sometimes it means I have something poking me, like a sand burr in my sock and I must stop. Hurrying is not the best option. Such a time has come. 
Fall always leaves me pensive, nearly melancholy  as I reflect. It is a time to notice the passing of time as though in stark contrast to simply absorbing sun and warmth of summer. The dancing through sunlight stops. The sudden change in temperature, in the leaves and grasses, and the knowing that tremendous cold is coming, calls to me like the bugler. That there is a coming of storm and ice and a very long cold, not to be escaped, hibernated through, but to be endured. 
I know that there will be good things in all that time. The end of summer the hazy smoky autumn speaks to me in pictures. 
This call to change, this sudden notice in of the weather. The winter is on my heals, herding me toward the barn. It is almost as though I am crowed into the required chamber with others to deal with the inward work we must do, much as we are crowed into the warm interior of a home  because of a breaking storm. After the brave adventures and coveted stealing away onto warm meadows or still quiet places by trout pools, the loss of which is resented.  Bigger and more powerful and over arching, the weather is a limiting factor of how we live our lives. 
I know going inside is needed even wanted but I dread it too. I have to examine why. 
I know I have not examined my thoughts or my heart or my habits. I bustle through days snarfing  the uneaten cookie, staying away from the disorder in the garage, neglecting the mending and the needed exercise. I have been able to avoid it by the grand scope of being busy, much like having the great outdoors unfurled before me on a summer day. It comes replete with longer, warmer hours-- from an early twinkling dawn to the last sultry heat wave as velvety as the late night stars pulsing above. The endlessness of such a day is tangible. There seem to be no limits on the abundance of summer. I do not imagine myself alone in this idea. I see whole bundles of my fellow beings here: We can eat the whole loaf of bread and crunch through whole watermellons dripping with sticky sweet. We swim until we are too tired to and then sun bather until we are ready for iced lemonade. We turn from summersaulting down the green to whiling away the late afternoon in a book or a nap or a friendly face. Now really these moments are rare. We are usually racing from the grocery to the library to the next meal, the next chart, the next bill or meeting or project. The dirty socks and dishes and stacks of mail testify that our time is not spent at the golf course or at the beach. But the sense of it will not be erased nevertheless; the sense that we have no limits. There is the niggle that all this will end. We know it and ignore it because every moment must be opened and eaten and nothing wasted. We know we will want to walk away from the rind full and contented. When our summer feast is done there will only be drying orange peals and crumpled wax paper. 
For some, yes too, there is the cold slap of reminders that this is not endless, that this is temporary, comes when someone leaves us suddenly; when a life is gone too soon; when it is us crying through the endless gray of grief. But still summer weaves the expectation of bounty, an expanse of doing and dreaming by turns. 
So autumn leaves me wistful; fearing the empty cold, dreading the indoors. I know inside the coming months there is firelight and buttered popcorn and puzzles and laughter and snug contentment. I know there is the hush and wonder of blanketing snow and the magical brilliance of each flake and diamond dazzle of the new landscape. There is the forgiving white cover over ugly soggy dirty brown places and unpainted fences. The red and green twinkle of Christmas and the carols and rosy cheeks of children sledding or skating and sports tumble through the winter too... There is the struggle of lifting the torso onto the first snowman and the patchwork quilt and mug of steaming chocolate. Tucked in like a prize will be red and pink candy valentines and sugar cookies and spiced cider. There will be thin pink clouds of dawn and the projects of snow caves or contests for the longest ice-cycle, and the deer picking their way from gray copses of willow. There will be story telling and homework and winter will whirl away in the bustle of living like old leaves twisting off the side walk in the stiff wind. Spring will nibble away at the cold edges and brown patches will get bigger and the redeeming green will march out again. But will I still avoid the inside?
Will I see spring contented? Will I have managed to open myself to its newness renewed or still walking even racing blindly away from the inside of me? I do not fear the oncoming snow, but the dread is like heaps of after-feast dishes. Each one must be scraped and washed and polished and put on its' shelf. The end result is desired but the task is unavoidable to get there. And most of all, will I stop long enough to take the time? Will I stop long enough open the attic, lift the lid of the old treasure chest? Will I sort out old clothes, give away the relic, transfer the puzzle to the donations,  and wipe the dust and clear the cobwebs of lost hopes? Dare I re-read the yellowing letters of  diffferend days and right the up-ended dreams? Dare I face the task to really live? Ah, there! Now I have named the dread of weather change and winter. 
(Oh, I will publish it. No one HAS to read it. But I will, and I will read it again later and remind myself.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adjusting Identities

Well, I'm back...for a while anyway.
I think I've been mixed up with someone else lately. Two or three people in fact. I got a text message thanking me for inviting a buddy golfing. I don't golf. I got a call for Kim (not my name), I received a collection message for a family whose old name was not on the mail box. My daughter says, do this, or else! She's the parent, I'm four. Suddenly it all makes sense! I can't keep up with everything that I should be doing but cannot possibly do. Three people could not do it. I realize I have inadvertently stolen five people's identities and I have to live all of their lives at once!!! If I could just inherit a fairy godmother's identity, I think I could actually pull this off!
Things seem busier than ever before. Lots of things will sift through the summer undone. it can't be helped.
The walls are starting to come into focus. the flash-flood of laundry is sand bagged and running in the right direction. The employer has been more than patient and the boxes of paperwork are caught up (with help) and labeled and waiting to be delivered on time. The stale, 'mom's gone' smell is slowly drifting out of the windows.
I am feeling overwhelmed and grateful. We got the car unstuck in under an hour when we were going to go on a picnic. We picked a new spot. We ate our dinner in the nicest place: green grass, flowers, birds, cool. And best, we only had to walk across the lawn to get home! The teens nod and smile when I say, "Please" (This is nice, but I'm not sure if it's normal.) They do chores, help willingly, wash their own clothes, play with little kids and agree to go on walks with me. I even caught one listening to soft music this week. (Is this the fairy god mother kicking in?) I realise that I am glad to be alive. I hope I never outgrow the sense of wonder and awe I have of wearing skin and standing on this planet. I realize I must drive people crazy with my silly joking and teasing, my adolescent ear rings and music, dancing or cartwheels or my constant, "Look!" I enjoy the company of young people, but feel shy , wondering if they think I'm weird for being there? I remembered the retired teacher I met on the train coming home from Iowa. "are you always this animated? I mean, glad to be alive?" He asked. "Well, I guess so, most of the time." I had to apologize later for making him insane with my "Oh, David, look at that! And, "Look over there! Isn't it beautiful? Did you see that?" He kindly excused me saying he felt more anticipation and eagerness with us there.
If the hard things seem harder, the good things breathe more of heaven. So I will celebrate the good things. Summer thumbnail moons and the wide orange smear of tonight's sunset accenting the orange twinkle of evening city lights and the purple-blue lake complimenting the mountains in silhouette. People have said encouraging things to me this week. The summer is more pleasant, greener and cooler that any I remember. ( I think I smuggled some weather back from Iowa)I look longingly at the green mountains and wonder if this year I will hike. It could happen. My eight year old has learned to swim. Another teen might have a job. The three littlest are bathed and big brother, home for the weekend from his job, read to them and tucked them, three in a row in his bed for now. He'll move them when they're a sleep, so as not to spoil the adventure. So I will sit here and listen to Josh Groban and blog.
My first bright grandson is seven years old today! Seven! When it first happened, I remember it took a long time to get used to the new identity, the title, I mean, not the feeling. The feeling was as natural as a heartbeat. It was new. What ever I had been before I was more. Holding the fuzzy, sleepy little head--waiting for a glimpse of blue eyes; laughing at hungry slurping, and watching him curl up like a sweet pea in its' shell. Rocking, the three of us, my little Grace and Roman and me. It was better than warm cookies and a summer meadow and Vivaldi. If he's seven, that makes me a seven year old grandmother. It's definitely time to celebrate!!