Wednesday, January 20, 2016

On Such a Winter's Day...

30 some years ago 2 young women were running down a New York street singing California Dreaming, holding hands and laughing. They were headed to the Russian Tea room for a celebration where they would eat borscht and pumpernickel bread spread thickly with butter. One was a Native New Yorker, descended from Russian Jews and the other, Kentucky born and bred.

An unlikely friendship that could only happen in that city at that time. They had met working backstage in theater. One ran the lights and the other ran the sound for a show that Malcolm McDowell was in. Young enough not to know how flattered they should be when he would stop in the booth and thank them for their work but wise enough to know he was a class act, through and through.

So two 20 somethings, unencumbered by any responsibility other than to enjoy the night, made memories. Memories which were resurrected by a song...

On such a Winter's day

I was the Kentuckian. I was 23 and totally free to experience life. I had met Jill and she took me under her wing. My first NYC friend and tour guide.

She introduced me to foods I had never tasted, music I never heard, and a city that glimmers like a jewel in my memory.

That image, the two of us loudly singing, on a Winter's day, out for adventure, warms my heart.

I didn't realize that one day I would be remembering that girl, admiring her bravery. My bravery. I was so free and open to all that Life had to offer. I knew nothing of what sorrow may lay ahead. I knew nothing of the trials and hardships I would overcome. I think if I had, I wouldn't have been in  NY in the 1980's.

NY pre Trump Tower, gentrification, crazy high rent, pre AIDS: still a dangerous, dirty and exciting place to land post college.

Memories of riding the graffitied subway late at night, watching, wary, danger always a possibility.
Music from my WalkMan serenading me:  Adam Ant, Tom Petty, Madonna, Cyndy Lauper. Those were my  wild colorful songs for the soundtrack of the city in the 80's

Now, I am a 55 year old divorcee, back in KY, considering a change in my life that requires an openness, a courage, a bravado that I didn't think I had anymore. Until the song played. Reminding me of that young woman, brave and fearless, taking on the world, not fearing failure.

I remember her. I am still her in my heart. And I carry that image into this next phase. Hoping for the "something big" that is a real possibility, that is just one conversation away,  trusting that it will work out. That the new adventure beckoning me will prove to be something that young woman would approve of and embrace whole heartedly...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Inn keeping...

While cleaning and tossing papers, I came upon this meditation, which I think I must have written for  Advent  several years ago. Ok it is past due for Advent & Christmas, but really, can't we all be better inn keepers through out the year?

Often when I read the Christmas Story, I try to imagine what it was like to be one of the people involved. This year I started thinking about the innkeeper who turned Joseph and Mary away. Here was this business owner, tired from a long day of work, his inn bursting at the seams and he unwittingly turned away the Messiah. 

I wonder how many times I have done the same thing? 

On days when I have been tired, would it have cost me much to have made that extra effort to pick up the phone and check on a friend having a hard time? Could I have let one more person into my life? Prayed an extra prayer? Spoken a kind word just because someone needed to hear that they were OK just as they were? 

How many times have I been the innkeeper of my heart? Who have I turned away not realize they are the Christ? Was he the homeless man wanting a quarter? The African American kid selling candy bars for his school? The gay couple sitting next to me in church that I didn't introduce myself to? The wealthy person I just assumed is a conservative jerk because of the shoes he was wearing? 

What happens when I look at the exterior appearances and not seek to see the souls of those I meet?
I turn away the Christ as surely as the innkeeper turned away the Holy Family.  

This season my prayer is that i make more room, giving up my own comfort and complacency so that I can take in the stranger or friend that might reveal the Christ within themselves to me.

Psalm 19:14King James Version (KJV)

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A poem I love...

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).  Poems.  1918.
31. Spring and Fall
to a young child
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older        5
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:        10
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Liminal: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition

In that gray-space
betwixt wake and sleep
I could be anywhere, 
any one,
 of the several selves
I have been/am/will be...

Memory encrusted
my mind skitters
thither and yon
here and there
between the past 
the future and nowhere.

I am in the fog
of dreams
existing on all planes
during all time;

I am infinite 
in possibility
and divine
yet human.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Logolepsy: an obsession with words

How is it that line & shape & weight make a letter and letters make words and words become sentences expressing ideas that pierce our souls and expand our minds???

Ah words!

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me"

But words do hurt and wound and scar.
But words can also heal...

I learned to read early on in my childhood and I fell in love with words. I consumed dictionaries, encyclopedias, books, magazines... anything in print form.

To this day I love discovering new words.
Recently a friend who is a priest used a word I had not heard before.


adjective  sal·vif·ic  \sal-ˈvi-fik\
Definition of salvific Popularity: Bottom 30% of words
  1.  : having the intent or power to save or redeem salvific
 life and death of Christ — E. A. Walsh>

I went around the rest of the day repeating it aloud, to feel how it felt in my mouth, how my tongue and teeth moved to form the syllables.

The odd thing is that I had had an earlier conversation with another friend who is a chaplain about fun words as he had used "indubitably" and thus began a conversation about words with us listing a few favorites such as "facetious" and "flapdoodle".

It's not just the sound of words or the "mouthfeel" but also the image they form on the page: poetry with its meandering paths; prose in beautiful fonts; ideas & dreams creating word pictures in my mind.

I will often re-read books just to experience the language. There are authors who bring me to tears with their words. Pat Conroy for one, he writes with a savage brutal beauty that makes me weep for characters that become so real to me through the written word.

And the sound of poetry, Alliteration: consonance & assonance creating at times a dissonance of ideas. See? Isn't this fun?

But poetry! I fell in love with Emily Dickinson in 7th grade when we could read for extra credit. My teacher, Mr. Hunley, loved to have us read poetry and used current song lyrics to draw us in.
He taught us to read both silently and aloud, to hear the words and to seek the meaning in them.
Now I love to read Mary Oliver's poems; also Robert Penn Warren, William E. Stafford, Robert Frost. As a child I memorized poetry for fun. I, however, have forgotten so many words...

I still read aloud, not just poetry but my clinical notes because for me, hearing the words is just as crucial as seeing them.

There is an episode of "The Twilight Zone" in which a man (Burgess Merideth is the actor) escapes an apocalypse because he has hidden away in a bank vault to read on his lunch hour. He emerges to a world as the single survivor and realizes he can spend the rest of his life reading, at which point he accidentally drops and shatters his glasses...
I wept the first time I saw this episode as a child. I was DEVASTATED for him.  I learned from that short TV show about horror, irony, compassion. For days I ruminated on it, thinking perhaps he could find another pair of glasses in a store, wanting to know more of the story, wanting a happy ending. To this day I am haunted by that episode!

I cannot bring myself to toss books or magazines into the trashcan. For years I kept books that I didn't even like that much just because I couldn't bear the thought of them being destroyed. Finally I culled the herd and donated them to the library in hopes they would bring pleasure to someone else.

I love when there is a bad weather day and I have to stay home. No TV for me, I gather a stack of books and curl up and read for the entire time. For me that is the most decadent and luxurious way to spend a snowy day.

I am grateful for all the poets and writers, scribes and printers, all those lover of words who have touched my life. And for Johnnie who started this post by using the word "salvific".

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Anam Cara: soul mate(s)

The Meaning of Anam Cara:

Anam Cara means “Soul Friend.” Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and Cara is the word for friend. In Celtic tradition, an Anam Cara is a teacher, companion or spiritual guide. With the Anam Cara you can share your innermost self to reveal the hidden intimacies of your life, your mind and your heart. This friendship cuts across all convention to create an act of recognition and belonging that joins souls in an ancient and eternal way.
In everyone’s life, there is a great need for an Anam Cara, a soul friend. In this relationship, you are understood as you are, without mask or pretension. When you are understood, you are at home.
Love is the threshold where the divine and human ebb and flow, one into the other. Love is the most real and creative form of human presence. An expression of human consciousness, this love includes a depth of awareness and reverence for presence.
Where consciousness is dulled, distant or blind, the presence grows faint and vanishes. Therefore awareness which brings integration and healing, is one of the greatest gifts of this friendship. As a result, you look, and see, and understand differently. You refine your sensibility and transform your way of being in the world.
The Anam Cara is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you. 


So I grew up with the fairy tale of a  once in a lifetime, Knight in Shining Armor true love who would be my soulmate....

Well that didn't work out as planned! 

But I have been thinking about the idea of a "soulmate". Why do we equate it with only romance or marriage? And why only one? 

When I think about my most intimate & authentic relationships I realize I have several Anam Caras. There are few people who I trust implicitly. But there are those who have never broken my trust and always held our friendship in high esteem. We may have different belief systems and practices but there is an acceptance of one another on a deep soul level that eclipses reason. 

When I think of these friends, several who have been in my life over 40 years, who have been on parallel journeys with divergent paths, I am just blown away by love. These are the few people who have stood by with no judgement but total acceptance in all my permutations. Some have seen me grow from an uncertain teen to the woman I am today, taking in at least 3 career changes, a marriage and divorce, moving to and from Kentucky, myriad animal rescues as well as births and deaths of beloved family and friends. 

Those are the ones with whom I can pick up where we left off, even if it's been a day, week or decade between conversations. 

There is an undeniable link between our souls. A link that often defies conventional thinking. It is a link that exists on a spiritual level not the physical. And I think there is often confusion on that. One can be lovers but not soul mates and vice versa. I have been blessed with some very intimate relationships with both men and women that did not include sex. I used to labor under the illusion that one can only have 1 true soulmate. But that, for me,  is a fallacy. 

I have been musing on the topics of intimacy and authenticity. What it means to me to have both those things in a relationship. And what I have come up with thus far, is presence. 

To be totally and wholly in the moment with another. To focus only on the present moment while acknowledging the past between us... or maybe revering the past? 

And about the past... the past history in this lifetime? Or is there more? What about the concept of re-incarnation? Do we recognize one another from a previous existence? Is there a connection in our hearts because we recognize each other from a spiritual plane? Or is it a matter of namaste?

And is there more???

I sense this is a time in my life where I am embarking on yet another spiritual journey. I will be reading more, reflecting more and embracing more in the coming year. I will be intentional in my relationships. I will be seeking out my anam caras and bathing in that love. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 AD

So I am entering year 2 post divorce... and I am shattering the myths in my mind.

I have thought several times in the past few years that I would never "love again" but that is a lie perpetrated by society and my once sad inner self. And I ponder whether the question is will I be loved or will I choose to love?

Here is what I realized. I will love again. Actually, I do love again, each and every day. And I am loved, in the here and now, by many souls, which humbles and fills my heart.

Why do we think romantic love is the only love of value?

Because love in any form or fashion is magic. I have the love of my family. I have been blessed to dwell in the heart of a family who says "I love you" freely and often, as well as shows it, lives it, gives it. It is not just words, it is action. Whether it is helping with home improvement projects, loaning money in a desperate time, getting a wet washcloth when I am crying, hugging one another, cooking, baking, just sitting in silence holding a hand, all these things and more are love.

Then what about those joyous, goofy, furry greetings of love when I wake up, come home or just walk into a room? Yes, I am one of those people who have furbabies. But the bond between an animal and human is such a strong and mysterious bond. They have no words to use, they have no ulterior motives, no plans to get even or manipulate (well except for snacks). They don't mourn the past or dread the future, they are wholly present and dwell in the moment. And they live in love. I have often thought I need to be more like my dogs and cats.

AND not just dogs and cats, let's not forget horses! (The newest creatures to enter my life.)
I volunteer with therapy horses and I have had to learn to speak their love language. I now know, that leaning into me and sighing indicates trust. Licking me is bonding. Hovering their huge heads near me and blowing warm hay scented breath in my face and then sniffing me ever so gently fixes me in their memory.

Then there are, of course, friends. Again I am blessed to have a few long time, intimate friends who have known me most of my life, in all my various permutations and careers. No matter how long we go without communicating, when we do talk, it's as if no time has passed. We pick up right where we left off, updating each other on what has happened in the past week, month, year, decade...
There exists a safety and a freedom with these friends. There is no second guessing about where one stands with them. There is no subject off limits. We do truly love one another, now and forever.

There are moments when I feel my heart fill with inexplicable joy because of love I witness in the world. Whether it is the interaction between parents and children at a restaurant of a stranger helping another pick up spilled groceries, I see it as love in action. "Kindness is love with boots on" is a new favorite quote.

And can we speak about self love? That is not a vain, puffed up, arrogance covering insecurity, but instead a self respect and caring for ourselves. Learning to say "no" to every invitation or request without feeling guilty. Learning to set healthy boundaries. Self love is about not sacrificing ourselves to the point of harm. But instead honoring the divine within ourselves. Recognizing we are part of a larger whole. Learning that saying "yes" to ourselves is not only allowable but a way to be better and stronger.

So although I may not be in a romantic relationship, I am not without love. That realization has been a paradigm shift for me, for the hopeless romantic raised on Disney fairytales and in a culture where being a wife was the ideal. And often the only role many females wanted.

I have been musing on intimacy and authenticity. How sex and love are often misconstrued and confused. And abused. That, though, is a blog for another day!

As for me, I will cherish and honor the love present now in my life. Because for romantic love to enter, it's going to have to jump through some pretty high hoops.