Speechlessness

US-POLICE-RACE-JUSTICE-RIGHTS
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

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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.

josh waiting 1

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.

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

“…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

It’s the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which ranks in my mind as one of the “big three” of American documents the underpin not just the laws, but the heart and soul of America. With some loose talk around of secession, and agonizing wars overseas, it’s time to rededicate ourselves to this sentiment.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

–Abraham Lincoln

Amen.

Things Big and Little

Holidays often provoke a thoughtful and slightly sad reaction in me. So many milestones passed, for good or ill. So much done already in life, and still daunting mountains to climb.

I look around at friends’ lives, and I see that we’re all facing challenges — things big and little. An old friend facing a cancer diagnosis; one whose marriage may be stressed beyond redemption; another facing persistent financial lack; overwhelm at work; insecurities about work; boredom, sorrow, fear and loneliness.

Through all these saddening lenses, I also see glimmers of hope: things big and little that give grace and laughter. A bird’s song outside my window; a friend’s supportive and loving wife; petting my cat’s silky fur; listening to music while I knit; a leave fluttering down in the soft summer twilight; my pink petunias waiting to be transplanted; a leader’s decision to speak out and bring hope to thousands; a child waiting impatiently for Mr. Softee (yes, he still exists!).

Things big and little make up our lives. We pray for big joys and small sorrows, but often encounter the reverse. But joy and sorrow need not have binding qualifications. Joy can know no bounds, whether from a bird’s song or a newborn’s wail. Sorrow can be lessened through joy, no matter their relatives sizes.

This Memorial Day, I thank my son and your sons and daughters for their service. I pause, grateful and moved, at the sacrifices of so many. I remember my husband, my parents, and too many friends who have already left us, leaving holes big and small in our lives.

I wipe away a tear that blinds me with refracted sunlight, hear a bird singing in the yard, and listen for the wisdom, big and little, that relaxes my tightness, deepens my breath, and finally transmutes the fears, the sorrows, the pains into peace.

And so it is.

Tarot Tuesday: Possibilities

I actually think I drew this card once before… it’s possible (sorry — couldn’t resist).

It’s also incredibly appropriate for my life right now. Though I feel a bit more like the eagle’s potential prey: frozen in place.

What a view. What a multitude of fields and peaks, hidden valleys and coves. Sunrise or Sunset? So many choices. So much potential.

I’ve thought a lot about the experience of excitement, and it’s close connection with the experience of fear. It’s mostly how we choose to interpret our bodies’ signals. My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my breath comes faster and rougher. Am I scared or excited? One feels so bad, one so good….

Here is a choice point in all the possibilities. I can choose which feelings I put more energy into. I can feed one possibility above others, and increase the chances of that one coming to fruition. Do I want to feed the fear?   No! 

So I slow my breathing, center and ground myself, and open to the other feelings available to me. Ah, there it is, a squiggle of excitement, a snippet of joy, a sigh of bliss…. all available, all different possible futures.  What will I pick?

From the Osho Zen Tarot:
Mind can accept any boundary anywhere. But the reality is that, by its very nature, existence cannot have any boundary, because what will be beyond the boundary? – again another sky.

That’s why I am saying skies upon skies are available for your flight. Don’t be content easily. Those who remain content easily remain small: small are their joys, small are their ecstasies, small are their silences, small is their being. But there is no need! This smallness is your own imposition upon your freedom, upon your unlimited possibilities, upon your unlimited potential.

Osho Live Zen Chapter 2
 
Commentary:
The eagle has an overview of all the possibilities contained in the landscape below, as he flies freely, naturally and effortlessly through the sky. He is really in his domain, very grand and self-contained.

This card indicates that you are at a point where a world of possibilities is open to you. Because you have grown more loving towards yourself, more self-contained, you can work easily with others. Because you are relaxed and at ease, you can recognize possibilities as they present themselves, sometimes even before others can see them. Because you are in tune with your own nature, you understand that existence is providing you with exactly what you need.

Enjoy the flight! And celebrate all the varied wonders of the landscape spread before you.

Meeting a Commitment

Nearly six months ago I made a commitment to myself and my coach to walk with her to the riverside at our final coaching retreat. This past week I met that commitment. By many standards it wasn’t a long or difficult walk, but for me — at this time in my life — it was substantial. So, on a hot early summer morning, my coach and I, hand in hand, heading down the path to the river. 

Not all experiences that have the potential to be landmark ones live up to their hype. This one did. In quiet beauty the woods and fields welcomed us as we walked. We stopped for a vivid, iridescent blue dragonfly. We gazed at an old barn through a field punctuated by two small trees dense with deep claret leaves. We listened to the hiss and burble of a creek tumbling down the same hill just out of our sight. We shared the space with shaded ferns, tiny mushrooms, wild jasmine and blue and yellow butterflies.

It was hot, I dripped sweat, body parts alternately ached and throbbed. I felt safe and beloved with my coach. The river beckoned and delivered on its promise of cool shade and clear, mountain water dancing over  rocks and through patches of sunshine. An old wooden bench gave me welcomed rest and time to savor the accomplishment.

We practiced a tai chi exercise called the four flowers — and I learned the first pattern which was chrysanthemum.  We felt the breeze, heard the far off deep rumble of a tractor and the high floating song of a bird.  We returned up the steep and rocky path to the lodge. I felt satisfied, and both exalted and exhausted — a heady combination.

Thank you Wendy, for being a skilled, compassionate coach, and a loving friend.

 
Take Me to The River
 
Take me to the river.
Take me by the hand and lead me from under
the comfortable arbor of my fears.
 
Take me to the river.
Walk with me, stumbling, on a new path,
still fettered by the stony present.
 
Take me to the river.
Talk with me about the shape and texture of the future,
blooming, blooming,
like a chrysanthemum in the sun.
 

Got the Blues…

Christmas 2007

One lingering effect from my husband’s death a little over two years ago, is the loss of my love of the Christmas holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, my appreciation for the Christ (Truth) wherever and whenever I find it has not diminished. But the celebration of the Winter Holidays — the traditions: carols, the greens,  the tree, the baking, special holiday movies (I haven’t watched them again yet), making gifts, the sheer delight and burgeoning excitement — all gone.

This year, I’ve felt tiny tickles of it. Like a delicate poke at my side, a whispered, “joy to the world — remember?” from deep inside. I did a little Christmas shopping yesterday, and felt mild pleasure at getting things for people. I feel, what, convalescent?

Perhaps that is all it is. Christmas was a special time for our relationship — as it is for so many, of course. I miss the old Dennis, who entered into it all with enthusiasm. I miss the partner-in-crime at spending too much on Josh. The anticipation of surprise. The shared moments of understanding, of heartbreaking delight. I just miss…

I also trust. Joy always returns, Love is everpresent. Happiness is a choice – or rather, a continuing selection of choices that move us into the shining stream of it. So I’m choosing. Today we’ll get a tree (just a small one to start). Drag out the lights and ornaments.  Ooh and aah over them, select the right one for each spot. Put on the holiday music in the background. Eat the first batch of cookies while we work. I’ll lean into the tingles of joy, the moments of delight. I’ll accept the pain and aching empty of missing. I’ll choose to celebrate, not to mourn. And it will get better and better and better.

Happy Holidays to you … may you have joy and peace in whatever ways you celebrate at this ending of the year

Namaste,

L

Scattered like the Leaves…

I’ve been seriously scattered in my energy and attention recently. So many changes. Like the weather and seasons, the paces of my life keep shifting on me.

My attention wants to turn inward right now, but the demands of daily life prevent that focus from happening as I need. So I stay scattered. My attention lighting on one activity and desire after another.

I wondered if the Tarot had any wisdom to offer, so I went to my favorite Osho Zen Tarot site.  And it didn’t let me down.  I guess.

“Trust” is a challenging concept for this situation. I want to deal with such an array of issues, that I can’t settle.

So to what am I to trust? Trust life? I’m not sure what that means for me right now.

Am I ready to take such a plunge — into change, into what’s next? I suppose I’ll see….

Trust
Don’t waste your life for that which is going to be taken away. Trust life. If you trust, only then can you drop your knowledge, only then can you put your mind aside. And with trust, something immense opens up. Then this life is no longer ordinary life, it becomes full of God, overflowing.

When the heart is innocent and the walls have disappeared, you are bridged with infinity. And you are not deceived; there is nothing that can be taken away from you. That which can be taken away from you is not worth keeping, and that which cannot be taken away from you… why should one be afraid of its being taken away? It cannot be taken away, there is no possibility. You cannot lose your real treasure.

(from Osho The Sun Rises in the Evening Chapter 9)
a
Commentary: 
Now is the moment to be a bungee jumper without the cord! And it is this quality of absolute trust, with no reservations or secret safety nets, that the Knight of Water demands from us.

There is a tremendous sense of exhilaration if we can take the jump and move into the unknown, even if the idea scares us to death. And when we take trust to the level of the quantum leap, we don’t make any elaborate plans or preparations. We don’t say, “Okay, I trust that I know what to do now, and I’ll settle my things and pack my suitcase and take it with me.” No, we just jump, with hardly a thought for what happens next. The leap is the thing, and the thrill of it as we free-fall through the empty sky.

The card gives a hint here, though, about what waits for us at the other end – a soft, welcoming, yummy pink, rose petals, juicy…c’mon!

Something to Aspire To

I’ve always loved this passage, it’s the legendary Lazarus Long speaking:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. (Robert A. Heinlein)

Happy Monday, everyone!