On the First Day of Summer

My sister Mary died on the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2018.  I’m not ready to write about it yet, but I came across a phrase in some Facebook post this morning that lead me directly here, with a need to start sharing the wealth and sorrows leading up to this summer that began in death.

Until I find my own words, I’d like to share some of Mary Oliver’s.  This is one of the poems read at her memorial service:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

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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 identity 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.

450px-White-Browed_Robin

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

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

Commitment

What a loaded word!

Do I need to commit? Or be committed? Or is it a singular thing,once accomplished and then done.

I am using this space today to announce my re-commitment to myself: my health, my energy, creativity, ability to move, and change and keep my being whole and happy.

I am recommitting to the image of myself at 19, full of joi de vivre, energetic and at ease.

Let’s see what happens next.

Gee, I feel like heading to Ft. Lauderdale… Oh wait, it’s only Spring Break!!!!!

I’m done. Finished. On time. Every single assignment. All week ahead, with nothing but time to knit, read books, knit, get some laundry done, knit, meet friends for a drink, knit.

……After this week, we come back for only another month (something a little screwy with that schedule, isn’t there?). Then it’s time to start the planning and deciding and juggling schedules, funding, priorities for another semester.

Actually, I love it all. Even the deadline pressures, the moments of “what the heck does that professor want!” or “that can’t be right!”

I’m going to recommend going back to college in your later years as a comical, self-deprecating Fountain of Youth. You’re buoyant with excitement, with the newness of the challenges, the changing semesters, and humbled by the energy of the young, the certitude, and the sweet, sweet callowness.

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

Rising Up

Understanding

This card is titled “Understanding” but it could be “The Scales Fall Away,” or “Freedom!”

The powerful illusions of limitation are fading here…. freedom, clarity, and soaring joy just ahead.

Fly!

 

From the Osho Zen site:

You are out of jail, out of the cage; you can open your wings and the whole sky is yours. All the stars and the moon and the sun belong to you. You can disappear into the blueness of the beyond….Just drop clinging to this cage, move out of the cage and the whole sky is yours. Open your wings and fly across the sun like an eagle.In the inner sky, in the inner world, freedom is the highest value – everything else is secondary, even blissfulness, ecstasy. There are thousands of flowers, uncountable, but they all become possible in the climate of freedom.  

Osho Christianity, the Deadliest Poison and Zen… Chapter 6
 
Commentary:
The bird pictured on this card is looking out from what seems to be a cage. There is no door, and actually the bars are disappearing. The bars were an illusion, and this small bird is being summoned by the grace and freedom and encouragement of the others. It is spreading its wings, ready to take flight for the very first time.The dawn of a new understanding – that the cage has always been open, and the sky has always been there for us to explore – can make us feel a little shaky at first. It’s fine, and natural to be shaky, but don’t let it overshadow the opportunity to experience the lightheartedness and adventure on offer, right there alongside the shakiness.Move with the sweetness and gentleness of this time. Feel the fluttering within. Spread your wings and be free.