Speechlessness

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We say something leaves us speechless when we are moved, or shocked, or stunned to silence.

As a metaphor, it’s pretty powerful, though, as I’m sure some critics will say, somewhat trite.

It’s different though, then something has left one literally speechless.

I have no voice — that’s a terrifying statement to me. It call us visions of powerlessness. Trying to explain, trying to fix, trying to express — all in vain.

Tower-Photo010
Fortunately, my lack of voice is the passing effects of a chest cough. Laryngitis, nothing more. It has prodded me to raise my voice again through this blog. There are things going on that deserve comment and discussion. My friend Byron calls it Tower Time. I wake in fear, voiceless, trying to cry out against the apocalypse. My son worries about the fall of civilization, of the barbarians overrunning the gates. We talk, only half serious, about stocking up. We count our assets (water in the creek, a cool crawl space for food storage, half an acre of farmable land, room for fruit and nut trees. In the meantime we could live from my always bursting pantry, and black walnuts, wild berries and dandelions.

Is this merely delusional paranoia or are hard times upon us. We’ve just come through hard times — more than a decade of war, six years of “worst recession ever” (aka, a depression). Layoffs, health problems, strife and loneliness, afflict nearly everyone I know.

But I repeat, There are things going on that deserve comment and discussion. We need to talk to each other, raise our voices in passion and with insight, not insult. Tower Time means it is upon us now: if not the apocalypse, then the responsibility to turn our steps to a new direction, where we can avoid that pit, those broken and bitter foundations, and build a better way.

It’s a new year and a time for new hopes and new resolutions. Let us resolve to make those hopes rooted and grounded in love, to bring about stronger foundations that will not tumble from the carelessness of greed or fear. That’s a resolution worth keeping.

And so it is.woman singing

My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

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Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

Searching for Gratitude

transf029GratefulnessSometimes it’s hard to find that grateful place. The inner “ping” that eases the constriction, lets a sigh slip out and opens the heart again.

I deal with a lot of chronic pain, and once in a while it gets to me more thoroughly than I’d like. Today was one of those. I spent much of the morning with my knee and lower leg hurting like a rotten tooth, barely able to take a step.

A visit to the doctor’s and a sonogram eased some of the fear I was feeling — no blood clot or blockage — but simply bursitis on top of the usual arthritis and tendonitis in my knee and — and don’t all those “itis” endings tell tales of dreary misery! But without the tightening of fear, there began to be a little room for easy breath. A new anti-inflammatory gave me a bit of pain relief this evening, and I am now fairly comfortably sitting at the computer, watching a Netflix show and finishing a deep purple hat..

And there it is. That whisper of gratitude. First: it’s my knee — not my hands, so knitting remains a joy;. It’s not my mind, so thinking these things is still easy and fluid; It’s not a loved one’s loss, so tomorrow holds its usual promise.   Once again, gratitude has done it’s work, and I’m smiling as I write, even laughing at myself a little, because I fell for the “con” that I am my pain.  It’s a kind of mesmerism that creeps up a bit at a time, and the weariness that daily pain brings with it leaves little vulnerable cracks in my identify as a multi-dimensional being. I am not my pain, or my fear, or even my joy.

And with the reminder of the truth, that knowing opens the flood of gratitude for the whole shebang of human embodiment. Pain or no pain — living still beats the hell out of the alternatives.

 

Blessings to all.

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Revisiting an Old Favorite

Sometimes the important things you read as a teenager or young adult make you wince when you come across them again years later.

I was (big surprise) browsing in an antique store this past weekend and came across an old favorite that didn’t disappoint me forty-five years after I first read it. In fact, I bought the inexpensive framed poster and just need to figure where to hang it. Anyway, I thought I’d share this and see how it strikes others, whether it’s an old friend or a new:

Desideratagreen road

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
woman singingBe yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

brigitTherefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

As always,

Blessings to All

The Books that Form Us

kindle pictureSome of my old favorites have recently become available on Kindle!

This has given me the opportunity to revisit them, at least their descriptions on Amazon, and begin rebuilding my library of youthful favorites electronically.

The warm memories I have of my junior high school library’s fiction shelves… The 10′ length of tall shelves was crammed with fiction — even some paperbacks, which was rather avant garde for a junior high school library in 1965. scent of water

There was a surprising range of titles, too. Some of the authors became lifelong favorites: Pilgrims’ Inn and The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge; False Colours (the first of dozens I read) by Georgette Heyer; The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter; Farnham’s Freehold by Robert Heinlein (which led me later to Stranger in the Strange Land from the local book store), and the sturdy Miss Marple mysteries of Agatha Christie.

farnham's freehold

The importance of early books on our world view can’t be underestimated. Who I am is in part a reflection of the early readings. The rebel who seeks beauty in nature and spiritually from daily life; the woman who believes in trying to live up to her own standards; the curious lover of miscellaneous knowledge. The glimpse into difference and sometimes alien ways of life, and the workings of mind and heart transcending those differences are still as fascinating to me at 60 as they were at 12. Libraries — both public and public school — are critical avenues for exploration and growth.

The two most important things I learned in all of my public schooling were how to do simple research and write a coherent sentence. Google may have replaced the card catalog as the tool of choice for finding things, but nothing will ever replace the ability to share thoughts and feelings through the written word. false coloursKindle, paper or audio — books teach us and entertain us, deepen and enlighten us.

The reading we do in our youth leaves deep imprints that can last a lifetime. In the frightening and rapidly changing world of politics and public services (who ever thought the mail would be jeopardy?) let’s not allow libraries to fall to the budget axe.

We can’t afford a generation without the intellectual and ethical mooring provided by good books. Some savings just cost us too much, and leave us the poorer. I can’t imagine who I would be, or what my life would have been, without the influence of my teenage reading. My parents gave me my love of books, but libraries opened the door to the amazing and fascinating variety of fiction, poetry, history, and science.

Long Live the Libraries. May they always prosper.

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

I have always loved this proclamation. It is uplifting, apolitical, deeply spiritual and patriotic in the best sense. This seems to be my time for posting my favorite historical documents about our first centuries. This is surely one we should know and cherish, yet it barely remember. I only remember it so clearly because of a near-tussle at church during the Reagan years.  I was supposed to read the president’s proclamation as part of our Thanksgiving service and balked at reading what I perceived to be a pretty hollow and hypocritical piece of smarminess. I believe I actually said something to that effect…. I don’t remember who saved the day by pointing out that it was also traditional to pick the first thanksgiving proclamation instead and I wouldn’t be the first Reader to so choose, thus my fondness for George Washington. So…

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. 

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
GO. WASHINGTON.

May all the myriad blessings of the day lay lightly upon us all…. that we may share with loved ones, succor needy ones, befriend lonely ones, and be compassionate ones. And So It Is.

Sally Ride: Gone Too Soon

Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut, died at merely 61 today.  She was an inspiration to me, and to millions of other women, as she broke a boundary few ever even near.

 

 

 

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr