Thursday, December 31, 2009

blue moons...........

Full moon over the Saint John River, Dec. 2009
taken from my driveway.

An ancient folklorist once said that a blue moon has a face on it that will speak to anyone whose light it shines on.  Tonight, under the second moon of the month, on the last night of the year we have an opportunity to converse with the moon.  Howl at it too if we want to.  Or maybe just lift our glass of cheer and toast its constant presence.  For no matter how sunny, cloudy, or thunderous the world around us becomes, we can rely that silly moon to be right up there in the sky.

So much of life is temporal..........a collection of fleeting moments strung together haphazardly.  How we respond to the events is basically the only thing we have any control over.  Personally, I abhor New Year's Eve and the celebration that happens at midnight.  I wish I had the capacity to program my brain to the light and fluffy dryer cycle in order to sail through the night in some sleepy bliss.  Wine helps.  But, you have to find that happy balance thing with wine.  Too little and it doesn't work.  Too much and you become a soppy mess of snot........ desperate to grab hold of the karoke microphone.  Ick.  Light and fluffy would be nice............ there are drugs for this state too I realize.  I just wish sometimes I could naturally fall into that blondish mindframe.

Unfortunately on nights like New Years, my brain is my enemy.  I get stuck in a groove of reflections and the fear of how quickly time is passing.  EVERY single YEAR!  Even though I will thankfully be surrounded by friends who know this about me.......... it is still so difficult to put this one stupid night into perspective.  I like it over.  Tomorrow will be afresh.

However, tonight............. I have a blue moon to converse with.  You do too. Let its light shine down on me.  Let its light shine down on you. I don't know about you, but I've got a helluvalot to say to it concerning this past decade. 

Happy New Year.  May we all take a good step forward into the mystery tonight. Change is in the air.!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the fear and loathing decade....

For some reason, I completely missed the fact that we are about to hit a New Years milestone.  It took being surrounded by year end lists, when i realized a whole decade had scampered by.  Could that be?  Has it really been 10 years since we all fretted over a massive Y2K meltdown that was supposed to trample over the wires and ways of computer technology?  I guess so.  Gee, I still had a little one in diapers back then, and now he's out of my arms, having travelled to Costa Rica to attend a month long international village for 11 and 12 year olds!  I also had a little girl who rarely left my side and clung to me like a baby Koala.  Now, she's juggling work and school and her network of friends. 

I've been driving backwards since I learned that we're about to stamp this decade as complete, allowing the events which will define it to filter up.  And the more I thought about it, the more I could see how easily this collection of 10 years could easily be labelled "the fear and loathing decade......"  Events beyond our control, were foisted upon us and thrown into our lexicon and lives so radically that we are still reeling and dealing with them, the most obvious being the events of September 11, 2001.   Though terrorism was not a new concept, it truly became a personalized one as the fear factor ratcheded up to hyperventilation mode.  All of a sudden, it felt like we plummeted into a global cat and mouse, hide and seek game with evil.   We watched our leaders puff out their chests and make pronouncements about catching Bin Laden and his boys...... to eradicate Islamic fundamentalism, to target underground cells of disenfranchised Muslims through brute force. 

Bin Laden still rules the game of hide and seek. 

We have grown in awareness and weariness as the decade tick tocked away.  Afghanistan, Iraq, bombings in Indonesia, Bali, Spain, London, weapons of mass destruction were never ever found.  War children, extreme poverty, natural disasters where thousands perished despite the ability to prevent it through early detection.  Our anger increased as we learned of serious hot spots around the globe where violence and brutality against other religions, children and women. Patriotism was used shamefully to guilt many who expressed their opinions against the violent retaliatons.  Politicians continued to stumble and sputter while we became more aware of the smoke and mirrors they held up.

Sadly, Islamic terrorism reared its head again on Christmas day sending the airline industry into a tailspin.  Airports are full of weary angry people desparately trying to get on a plane to seek escape.  Flying will never, ever be the same again.  Our sense of safety will never be the same again. 

SARS, Swine, Bird......FLU!!!!  We became paralyzingly fearful of the pandemics which reared their gut wrenching illnesses which spread as fast as a sneeze in flight. Warnings became the order of the day.  Toronto became a pariah.  It took years for that city to regain its reputation as a tourist town.  We take this fear and loathing issue as well into the next decade, though many of us are now innoculated.  For the time being. Don't you wish you owned stocks in hand sanitizer and face mask making companies?

Politics has also added to the brewing fear and loathing felt in the pits of our collective guts. Has any politician maintained their full integrity?  Leadership tanked globally.  Lets hope it was just a bad gene pool??

Walls went up........a barbed wire prison the size of a city was the "answer" to an eternal war of hatred.  Piracy off the coast of Somalia.  AIDS killed.  Warlords maimed. We became consumed by raging talking heads........on the left and on the right who believe in their own brilliance as they rant on and on and on throughout the mainstream media and in our newer forms of sharing news and editorials.  Most of the best known blogs are lightening rods for nasty loathing and skin crawling opinions.  Scandals, fraudulent business schemes and blatant conflicts of interest ran rampant during this decade.  If the 70's was the ME Decade, then the first decade of the 21rst century has to be called the ME ME ME decade.....

It's a sad, sad state of affairs we are pulling into the next decade.  Reading about the background of the latest terrorist, who came from a well respected, well off family........ who was schooled in International schools, I was struck by a gut wrenching fear that on most days I can keep some control over.  Why?  Because despite the fact Bin Laden and his boys have targetted disenfranchised humans in war torn African countries and in poverty stricken neighbourhoods filled with angry young men with no future, it was a privileged radical fundamentalist who had chosen that direction, who had consumed the hatred, who tried to blow up the plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. It made me realize just how doomed we really are, and how we are basically held hostage to their sneaky tactics to kill. No one is safe. 

Fear and loathing............sadly, it will continue long after we put this decade to bed.

Tomorrow, I will take on another angle......... Because as much as it has been an emotionally heaving 10 years, in a negative sense, it also was one that has beautiful blooms too.  It was bad, but not all bad.  

Monday, December 28, 2009


I havent had any real desire to blog. I have been immersed in big thoughts though as I prepared, served, provided, given, received, enjoyed, talked, cooked, sorted, entertained, and smiled. It has been a busy week, but lots of time to let the thoughts drift.

  I've been thinking a great deal about the Virgin Mary.  How frightening it must have been........ to give birth in such a filthy place.  Did anyone help her?  Did the woman have anyone around her who brought her warm water and soap to cleanse her body?  Was she afraid, or did she just go into a faith zone so deep and surrendering that she didn't need to feel like she had no control over the events happening inside and outside?  Was Mary quietly compliant or did she kick up a fuss?  Did she belt out a yelp or two when the contractions kicked in?  And when Jesus was born, was he really the perfect baby................."no crying he made.......?"  Or, was he fussy at first and needed constant comfort?  How long were they in that barn??  Why couldn't Joseph take them to his family's home?  Didn't they live in Bethlehem?  Why is Jesus called "Jesus of Nazareth" if he was born in Bethlehem? 

Mary's faith and stoicism just seems so amazing to me.  Humbling, as I recognize her vulnerability as I try to conjure up a more realistic picture in my head of how this story unfolded.  Or maybe I've got it wrong.  Maybe I should just leave be, and accept the story at face value? 

 I'm wrestling with my ability to believe it all.  I know the whole story didn't happen within a short time frame, and the more I delved into various sites to feed my thoughts, the more I didn't really want to learn the underpinning details scholars and religious zealots have spent their entire lives combing through.  I know this sounds really flaky, but it is the same feeling I had (mulitplied by 100) when I went on a "Sound of Music" tour in Saltzburg years ago and learned how they filmed the movie and where etc.  I learned that the church Maria was married in wasn't even in the same village as the crypt scene...... the convent was a different locale.  I learned TOO many details about the filming of the Sound of Music that all semblance of magic was lifted right out my grasp.  I think this could easily happen to me if I dissect the story of the birth of Christ.

Sometimes its much more difficult to retain a leap of faith when too many details re-adjust the lens you are looking through.  But it right to live inside an illusion?  Aren't illusions really vehicles for impure thoughts?  Don't illusions mess with any ability to reach a place of vulnerable humility.......a place where one welcomed by a place of rest? You let go of everything, Or maybe illusions help buffer the black and whiteness of facts so that you can take a leap? 

SEE!  I'm all over the map with my thoughts......... but I keep coming back to Mary, wondering how she managed.  What a brave, brave woman.  I tried to picture myself in the same situation....not that I've got some vision of grandeur happening in my head and think I'm that worthy, but as a woman living in that time.   What it would feel like to be in a place so unfamiliar, so unclean........ stripped of dignity in the throes of giving birth, surrounded by animals, and completely unaware of what to expect?

Then, I think of the light.  The protective encouraging light of candles, stars, and angels.......... the glowing light of faith Mary possessed, eternally burning bright and I realize..... one can do anything if one deeply feels loved.

You know, I would like to go to Bethlehem.  I would like to visit all of the Christian holy places....... I would like to walk from Jeruselem to Bethlehem........ I would like to see Nazareth.  I want to walk through the gardens of Gethsemane where she is buried, where Jesus prayed, and quietly listen to the ancient stories.  I don't know what I want to hear...... I don't know if there are any echos left for me to hear.  maybe. maybe not. I'll never know unless I go.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


It's like someone pulled the plug in the bathtub and all the warm water drained out without me knowing.  There I am, the water clinging to me growing colder sitting starkers looking for a soft clean towel to cover up and dry off with.   That's how I feel on this grey Sunday morning, "in a deep and dark December........" as Paul Simon sang..... Empty and full at the same time..........  There is not a profound thought or word left in my body.... not one fresh idea.  Gee, not even one seed has been set aside to germinate.  I've been stripped.  But, you know what?  It certainly is not a bad thing.  It's uncomfortable, but not a bad thing.  In fact, I think I needed to get to this point to re-learn how to STOP.

Then, I realized.......... when you stop?  I mean really and truly stop? You are sometimes left shivering in an empty bathtub looking at mottled  flesh in need of some summer sun realizing that humility is both ugly and beautiful at the same time.... Is there a word to describe the convergence of ugliness and beauty?


To dwell in humility is to dwell in an ego free dimension where it is what it is........ both ugly and beautiful....... and accepted.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

winter is here

It began to fall in the middle of last night and it continued all day long accumulating in a soft silence.  To look at it from an indoor perspective, the snow seems so innocent.  A fluffy white blanket of beauty transforms the landscape into a picture perfect wonderland. It hypnotizes flurried brains too full from the dizziness of trying to get organized for Christmas Day, and leaves us with time to ponder.  Winter is here.

Winter is here.  Pine bows laden with new snow bend with a sense of reverence.  Christmas lights wrapped around garlands of evergreen, peak out from their new white vantage, giving off a shimmering prism of colour like the ancient stained glass in far away cathedrals.  Lawns cloaked in layers of uniquely shaped flakes whisper a pristine elegance.  Forgotten calm returns in memories of days gone by....... Stillness is what we seek. 

Off in the distance, I can hear tires spinning...... people striving to get to their destinations, stressing over the slippery roads in need of sand and salt.  I was one of them earlier in the day.  I felt that electric anxiety as my wheels spun haphazardly while trying to navigate a hill.  It left me exhausted and frustrated, afraid I would get stuck with no place to turn around.  Somehow I managed but it seemed to take the last of my energy to outmaneouver the elements.  Perhaps that was what I needed to slow down...... to let go of trying to control the unfolding of the season, to return to those memories forgotten in the rush.  I'm home as I yawn towards hibernation.

Tonight, the wind is lifting from sound of hallowed aching, its gusts creep into the house..... chilly drafts through cracks in foundations.  It makes flannel and fleece the preferred comfort.  My thoughts are here with my family all present and accounted for......... all tucked in for the night.

Winter is here.  So is Christmas Eve.  So am I, reintroducing myself to peace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

dear santa..........

Dear Santa.

It's been a year since I touched base with you.  I hope you're doing well and are more organized than I am.  Though I know you've got a tinytown full of happy helpers, I'm still amazed that you're able to get all those toys in that sleigh of yours and whiz around the world in one night.  It seems a wee bit unbelievable, but then one does have to live making those giant leaps of faith or we'd all become pessimistic beings now wouldn't we?  However you manage such a feat, I applaud you.

So much has happened this year Santa, it's hard to know where to begin. But, then you've been paying attention havent you?  Besides, you have no time for lolly gagging reading at this point in the Christmas season.  And I don't have time either to lolly gag either.  So, perhaps I will put off any end of year reflections until after the big day.  I will use my emerald friend's 5 word exercise to try to sum up where I am right at this moment ......... flurried, blurried, worried, hurried, stillness-scurried.  Does that describe how busy and whizzy I feel?  'Tis the season ............. falalalalalalala.............

Hey Santa?? Did you know that Elvis is alive and rock in it out in my town?  It's true!!  He showed up at my house yesterday and entertained a bunch of ladies who were here for lunch.  He had a flashy gold jacket on, and shiny swingin' black shoes.... his eyes were as blue as the summer sky and his sideburns as black as coal.  You should've seen him gyrating Santa!  A couple of those pelvic thrusts verged on obsene! But, we took it in stride and howled with laughter!

It was so good to see my friend laugh and cry all at once when Elvis seranaded her.  That was the real reason he appeared.  He knew she needed to find herself revelling in a good time after suffering such grief and loss this fall.    Somehow Elvis knew what songs to sing....... it was a magical thing because he picked her favourites without anyone telling him.  Which makes me wonder if perhaps you had a say in this song selection??  I mean, you would know Santa.  You probably heard her singing the words long ago when she was a teenager in love with The King of Pop.

Hey, did you happen to see some fireworks last night Santa?  We celebrated Winter Solstice by gathering at our friend's home in Keswick Ridge for a potluck and a singsong inside.  Outside, the kids organized a pyrotechnic display of whizzing, banging, exploding lightworks that lit up our section of the sky.  It was so dark out which made the colours even more brilliant against that backdrop.  I watched it standing by a big blazing fire that cracked and popped and sizzled while it devoured large tree limbs cut up just for the occasion.

Personally, I prefer the campfire show over the fireworks.  It fills me up again with contemplative notions and a feeling of gratitude as it draws me into its alluring flicker.  I've always had a thing for this kind of atmosphere havent I Santa?  Do you remember when I used to set up a good blaze in the living room fireplace at home when I was young and fall asleep beside it?   Do you ever do that Santa......fall asleep in front of the fire?  I bet you do.

We have a whole bunch of people coming to our house tomorrow night and I can't wait for it all to begin.  It brings my home alive and fills it with Christmas cheer.  As you can see, I've been really busy. I know your list is long and you check it twice..........but I gotta say, my list is long too, all in preparation for the big day.  Tell me, what do YOU do on Boxing Day?  I'm going to be at the airport at 4 am with my family saying goodbye to the youngest as he embarks on his trip to Costa Rica for a whole month!  I must've lost my mind agreeing to that one.  Yeah, we're thinking we may just stay up all night and crash afterwards.  I don't know.

In the meantime Santa, let me get to my wishlist to add to yours.  I know its late, but i only have a few things I'd like under the tree on Christmas morning.  And you know I've been a very good girl..... sort of.  So, here it is.....

  • Something shiny, like bling.
  • Something sparkling, like a little enlightenment
  • Oprah's timeslot.  I have always wanted to be a daytime talk show host.
  • Dinner and music with Billy Joel.
  • a new pair of jammies.... mine were chewed by a puppy we had to say good bye to earlier in the year.
  • Slippers........same reason
  • A bright red sporty car.  You can pick out the make and model.  I'm not fussy.  Oh, forget that, I really want my own Volkswagen Beetle.  You can surprise me with the colour.
  • A plane ticket to the UK to attend the Greenbelt Festival again.
  • A chance to see U2 live......with my family.  Oh, and can you send Pip over too?  I want to see U2 with him as well and watch him stand there with joy smiling all over his face.  
  • And peace on earth.  We could use a little bit of that too.

Can't wait to see you again............ hope you have enough room to fit my stuff into your sleigh.  Take care........  I'll make sure I have a cold Moosehead ready for you.  I hear you're lactose intolerant now.

love you.......



ps. Can you fix the lights on my wreath hanging on the front of the house?  I've tried twice and I just don't seem to be able to get it right.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

peace and temptation.

Is peace ever the result of following through on a temptation?  Seduction of the senses so often awakens in us a longing to fill an emptiness we may not even be aware of until our attention is provoked by an alluring invitation.  Bathed in light, we become mesmerized by the flirtatious mirage off in the distance.  Thoughts hone in on the hunger pangs pulsating with desire which turn a "want" into an unrestrained illusionary need.  They hum cloaked lullabies to our longing spirits.  Our senses become rattled by the charming dare of temptation's shiny gleam, by the instant gratification of satisfying mouth watering urgency.   

Need it, want it.....just a little taste.... just a little spoonful of dare's sweetness.

Sometimes we succumb.  Challenged by its calling........its invitation to accept the dare, we step closer to the glowing light it bathes in and let it shower us with soothing rapture.  Sometimes we hold ourselves back by the very tips of our sensibilities, like we are clinging to a ledge. The temptation remains alive, breathing down on our shivering flesh, reminding us of its ever present bite.  Sometimes we can face the alluring energy with resolve, by controlling the blood red blush we initially feel during the first encounter. We choose to step away.   

Three very different endings....... and I wonder if peace can be held again in the palms of our hands no matter what door we choose to open at a given time in our lives. Life is never void of temptation.  

We are never perfect in the choices we make.  If we can forge on towards new awareness, new understanding of what we as individuals hunger for, we can reach a place where we re-introduce ourselves with humility.  Temptations are fraught with lessons.  Their daring bravado can enlighten new learning, and can offer opportunities to reach a place where we can shed our ways, where pleasurable fulfillment leads to consequential truths.  Humbling in all its nakedness isn't it? 

An apple anyone?

This week's tempting word prompt is Dare.  This time of year, our temptations challenge us with such cheekiness.  The little daredevils!  Check out other interpretations at Sunday Scribblings.  I double dare you.........

Friday, December 18, 2009

the way to be.........

"Each person has his secret and mystery, his particular journey, his vocation to grow. Certainly, many people never achieve full maturity, but each can make a little progress toward establishing his identity and becoming open to others. The important thing is not that we should acheive human perfection -- far from it -- but that we should set out on the road toward it through acts of openness and love, kindness and communion. Every person today, in whatever situation he finds himself, in his home or at work, can perform such acts. "

Jean Vanier, Essential Writings, One Heart at a Time.

We are all born with potential. My potential may look very different and feel very different than yours because we all have own our uniqueness. What we share and what we have some empowerment over, are the conscious choices we make as human beings. Who we become is based on the values we want to live by, the friends we choose to connect with, the vocation we choose to stretch ourselves in, where we establish our foundational roots and whether or not we choose to accept the responsibility of playing a role in the life of community. These are based in reality, not in a life cupped by illusionary dreams.

We strive. We strive to accept ourselves for who we are and for who we are becoming. Its tough to remain open and honest with secrets tucked underneath the blemished freckled skin that encases us. Its not an easy thing to love ourselves, warts and all. We want to eradicate the freckles, lose the wrinkles, hide the grey hair, get rid of the lumps and bumps. We spend precious time waxing and plucking and shaping our outer skin as a means of avoiding a good long look at our secrets. 

The problem with this approach to life is that if we choose not to wrestle with the serious frightening side of who we are, we forfeit the opportunity to learn about our gifts. If you've never allowed yourself a chance to create something with your own canvas, how will you ever know the kind of artist you are becoming?

What a waste of a lifetime to be constantly resculpting the outer shell......wearing masks to avoid taking a good look. Our capacity to grow deepens if we become more honest with ourselves because it is then when we can be open to accepting those around us.

In his always inspirational words, Jean Vanier writes......."the dangerous thing for human beings is to want to be other than who they are, to want to be someone else, or even to want to be God. We need to be ourselves with our gifts and abilities, our capacity for communion and co-operation. This is the way to be happy."

So often we shrink away from sharing who we really are for fear of being rejected or feeling insignificant. These are fears we bring forward in our own psyche......from past experiences of being unloved, neglected, abused, treated poorly. We may have been bullied. People may say mean things to us over and over to a point where we begin to believe the words, the descriptions of who we are. 
If this wound is left to fester inside hidden behind a mask which covers up our true selves, it impacts every single choice we make with respect to our relationships… impacts our actions and reactions. It tackles our ability to think and feel effectively.  There is nothing more affirming that to be accepted as the hairy, lumpy bumpy freckled beasts we are because it allows us to carry our secrets, our uniqueness with a sense of acceptance and belonging. It also feeds our curiosity to ask others to share with us.

If we are ever going to make the much needed shift in this world… work towards a semblance of solidarity instead of a competitive judgemental hierarchy where winning is always the goal; if we are ever going to recognize the fundamental sameness of all…..vulnerable human beings, needful of love and acceptance…..we must begin by peaking under our own skin, by exploring the realities and the  mysteries, not simply as regrets, but as gifts of learning. Golden gifts to mine….and to share.

Much of life is predetermined……how we share it and whom we share it with isn’t.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


"The soul is full of wanderlust. When we suppress the longing to wander in the inner landscapes, something dies within us. The soul and spirit are wanderers; their place of origin and destination remain unknown; they are dedicated to the discovery of what is unknown and strange."
John O'Donohue, Eternal Echoes

Frightening, the inner's easier to stay within the confines of the flock and not venture beyond the wire fence..... to wander through wonder.  It's risky and full of unexplored territory.  It can tip you off balance, and leave you without the ability to read the map.   A kindred friend wrote this about seeking out the mystery which only a journey into the wilderness can offer.....  As always, he made me think in a smiling sort of way..... (and miss the thoughts and feelings he used to share on his blog....)

"It was John Muir, that patron saint of the great outdoors, who stated that, ‘in wilderness lies the hope of the world.’ And if we understand that everything within God’s creation is connected to everything else, then this isn’t some romantic vision, but a prophetic word providing a legacy for a deep spirituality available to us all.

The truth is that the great religions of the World have always been nourished in the Wilderness."

We are innate seekers, introspectively and outwardly.  Deep in our bones is the drive to explore, to seek out new horizons in an attempt to find answers, to challenge our sensibilities, to stretch beyond our boundaries, to broaden our visibility.  We are home bodies need of reassurance every now and then that we belong to a flock, especially during those times in our lives when our knees weaken from wavering confidence.

It seems to me that this time of year, our wandering needs heighten as we contemplate a deeper understanding of the connections we have with the wilderness around us and in us.  It's much easier to do when you know you have a "home" to return to.  It might be easier, but is it  necessary?
I used to belong to one ..... one with walls and a steeple, with a pulpit and pews.... with a bell that would ring the call of worship.  For now, I wander.  I'm in the wild, with a picture in my mind of what a new home would feel  and look like.  It's a good place for me to be.   And you know what?  I keep bumping into people I know. That certainly makes it easier and much more fun.

Monday, December 14, 2009

story gifts

Humans tell stories..... it is how we learn best.  By giving and receiving them.  You share one with me, and I'll share one with you.  They will take on a life of their own as they box and blend together.... as WE see and hear and feel the similar nuances.  As we see and hear and feel the differences.  
Between you and I.  
Different perspectives
Different experiences
Different cultures, promises, hopes and dreams.
Same feelings.
Similar yearnings.
To belong.  To be loved.  To be wanted and needed.
Stories let us learn empathy.
Stories thrive on emotional literacy.

WE learn and grow from the new seeds sown into our fabric and we are forever altered.  The way I view my world  changes every time I listen to a story and absorb its meaning. I t can't be avoided, especially if I allow it to pluck the chord inside.  Do you know that chord?  It flutters in song when it's plucked.  When its pulled, a lightbulb comes on..... BLINK.  awareness.  

sometimes an aha!  is uttered.  Aha! 
sometimes a sigh
or an angry outcry
or a laugh
or a wide eyed wow
or a knowing nod.... uhuh.... i know..... yup, I get it. 
Common ground! Empathy.
Once a chord has been plucked, the lens we gaze through alters.

We tell stories which feed our thirst for learning.  I share one with you.  You share one with me.  Nothing enhances life more than trusting someone enough to spill a bit of ourselves.... A story gift is a glimpse of what is hidden under your's a vulnerable act..... to open up our flesh .... to offer a glimpse. 

  The other day after I had been facilitating for about an hour with of a group of people struggling to get along, I asked them........ "What could I do to help you trust me?"  A young woman in her late teens spoke first.  She said.  "I already trust you."

"Why?  What did I do to earn your trust already?"

"You told us a story about yourself that you didn't have to share with us.  You showed me that you are vulnerable too."
I was FLOORED!  I didn't expect this answer so quickly! It was the one I was looking for.  I thought I'd have to massage and to coach it out of the group. I responded........

"It's why I told you that story..........I wanted to give you a glimpse of who I am besides the Counsellor around here.  I wanted you to see me as someone just like you so that perhaps you'd feel more comfortable sharing with one another.  It's a vulnerable place to be... to dwell in.  But, if we are ever going to find the peace and serenity, the only way to go as far as I can see, is to be open and willing to be vulnerable. Our stories are our gifts to each other.  We learn from them.  We learn from one another.  They alter the lens we choose to see the world around us........... does anyone have a story you'd like to share?  I bet we can all relate!"

By lunch time, layers of selves were peeled away.  The setting had been set for new prism lenses to be installed. A shift had happened.  The energy had changed.  All because we took the risk of sharing stories.  What a gift.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The lists grow longer.  The energy begins to falter.  The head fills up with competing urgencies. Lost in the melee is the meaning and the magic. Peace is only a fleeting essence, an aromatic stream that wafts between the draughts of our consciousness when we grab onto a moment of stillness.  Can you remember what peace feels like?

Breathe.  Stretch those fleeting moments into focus by shedding the lists, the conflictual emotions of this time of year, which tangle mindfulness.  Let them linger long enough to lift you up above the mountain of tasks until you can touch upon the meaning of the season.  Better yet, let peace surround you in a cocoon of wonder while you prepare the way.  If its all around, you will absorb it into your pores like a much needed salve.

These are my thoughts this Sunday morning as I sit in my quiet livingroom.  It was dark when I first woke up and made myself a cup of tea.  Dark and peacefully silent. However, my initial thoughts upon waking were stirred and blurry.  I have much to do and feel swamped by my list of "to dos."

While I waited for the kettle to boil, my barefeet growing cold from the kitchen floor, I decided to take my tea into the livingroom, curl up on the couch under a blanket and simply sit in the peace.  I wanted to breathe evenly again.  It was then I remembered the meaning behind the word breath.  Spirit.  As I inhaled new air, I pictured it full of spirit.  Peace found me again.  So did my smile.

It feels like an impossible juggling act and I'm scrambling to stay on top of the heap unable to go into "autopilot" and just DO IT all!  I realized there is a boxing match happening inside me.  Its like the responsible parent and adult is duking it out with the child.  I want to chuck the lists and go off and have some fun.  But I can't.  I would become a big disappointment to myself and to others.  Responsibilities and commitments are part of life too. The problem is, they can swamp you to a point where they just feel like a heavy burden...... too massive to crawl out from under.

Not that its any different this year than previous years.  December is a busy time even if Christmas didn't fall in the middle of it. Add the preparations of "the big day" to the mix and BAM, it's mind boggling overload at a point when our bodies and souls are aching to hibernate.  I'm sure you can relate.  Balance is completely absent!  Its overwhelming. 

But, you know I think that's part of the bigger picture.  If we don't feel off kilter........if we don't feel uncomfortable and possibly stretched to our breaking point of what we can accomplish in our busy days, than I wonder if we really are pushing into changing our way of doing?  Instead of jumping into the conceived urgencies, perhaps a time away from it to breathe will fuel the energy and clear the head.  Its one way to recognize what really matters.

So I chose to breathe........ and drink tea.  In the dark.  In the quiet.  Away from my panicky lists.  I wanted to capture that peace essence wafting by and I found it in the spirit of my breathing. 

Prayer-fullness, mind-fullness....... peace. 

As we cultivate our awareness of what is on the horizon, may we find the courage to open up our sensitivities to see, hear, feel, taste and touch upon its tenderness. It is a brave and difficult thing to do.  But, if we want to experience the holiness of having our hearts and minds touched we need to breathe in the holiness of being alive.  Alive with the Spirit of  magic and wonder.

Being awake stirs deeply rooted doubts along with our foundational beliefs.  Advent allows us the opportunity to take it one step at a time.  Like the yawning stretch of a new day, when the skies grow lighter with gradual symmetry, so too does our awareness.  So too does our desire to find that child's smile, that child's sense of anticipation and excitement tucked deep inside the many layers of adult sensibilities.

The day is now upon me.  The river continues to flow........its shoreline growing thicker with ice.  The skies have a beautiful tinge of pink to them. The winds which whistled and wailed for two days have died down.  The trees are taking a rest...... their branches stoic and straight are barely moving.  A flock of black birds wingfloated upriver to a place where they spend their daylight.  The rooftops of the homes across the river from where I sit are dappled in new light.  The sun's rays are bathing the red barn which sits off to the side of the snow white field, making it glow.  It glows in new day light and reminds me of a place far far away where a miracle took place. A baby was born.  A pretty darn special One.

Preparing the way just took on a deeper meaning. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

what used to be.

 Boy for sale, Bath UK.

You can never go back to what use to be,
Returning is not part of your destiny.
Whatever happened, its all in the past,
No matter what present shadows it casts.
How much control do we have as we live out our lives?
Those choices we made unfurled with surprise.
History leaves us scratching in pain
Sometimes joyful memories to revisit again.
It was what it was, but when its all said and done.
Those moments are part of what's yet to come
You can never go back to what used to be.....
Becoming is part of your destiny.

 Excerpt from Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. 

"Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us. 

But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached - their faith in human progress - must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.  

For if we lose that faith - if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace - then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass. 

Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, "I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the 'isness' of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal 'oughtness' that forever confronts him."

So let us reach for the world that ought to be - that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls."

December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

love like you've never been hurt.

A young man, head down with his hands folded into the pockets of his jacket walks over to the edge of the forest and sits down with his back leaning against an old oak tree. Tired and spent, he's unable to grasp the depths of how he feels anymore. Too much tragedy has scored his soul and it all happened too quickly. He has suffered loss, incredible loss of the two people in his life he always thought would live forever. Numbness has enveloped his whole deeply that he couldn't even feel the knife he stabbed into his leg. He thought it would relieve the psychic pain searing through his veins.........a hot lava pouring into his gut.

Strange contradictory he is feeling such an unrelenting burning  in the pit of his stomach and yet he's numb too. It's like he has no more room to take it in. He's saturated by it..........and then the numbness? Its like he's been anethesized by a large dentist needle and it has frozen his whole body. So, he sits head down, his arms pulling his knees in as he desperately tries to close himself off from the rest of the invisible fetus holding on in the dark with no womb to protect him.

He can't think. No, he can think, but the thoughts blast into one another in rapid succession. Erratically scrambled, they make no sense. They pollute his mind leaving no room for anything but static noise. He can't think clearly. He can't hear beyond the static. He doesn't want to. In the middle of the night, the only sound that filters up from the confused noise is a the lonely sound of a cello. Its baritone moan fits his sorrow. Too much sorrow for one adolescent. Too much loss. He smokes a joint to try to take it all away.  It doesn't work.

His friends have somehow managed to carry on. From his vantage, they seem to be coping with their shared loss. Maybe they don't feel it as deeply.  They mingle together on the playing field, lost in a game where their laughter spills out into the air.  He sits on the sidelines, cocooned.
Through the mindfog, he hears someone calling his name over and over and over.  Slowly he looks up. His dark bloodshot eyes meet the compassionate eyes of his friend who sits down quietly beside him. Close to him. She says nothing. Just sits beside him for the longest time, until her warmth somehow permeates his arm.

He tries to stay within himself. He refuses to feel her presence. At first he can tune her out. He can stay numb, but then it becomes impossible because she begins to feel like an appendage of him....part of the surging flow inside. Her silence is like a calm warm wave that keeps passing through his noise. She tucks her arm into his while continuing to remain silent............silent in a way that shifts the pain, and coats it with cotton. After an eternity, when she feels him relax a bit, she moves her arm and puts it around his shoulders, pulling him into her embrace. No words, just gestures of compassion. And when he feels comfortable in her arms, the words begin.......

"I will sit with you as long as you need me," she whispers. "I will sit here until you know we love you and we won't let you fade away."

The tears he has kept at bay begin to fall. "It hurts so much I can't handle it. I can't deal with this. It's not fair. Why did this happen to me? Why did God let this happen? I never want to love again. It hurts too much."

She says......"I don't have those answers. I wish I knew. What I do know is that all we have is love and eachother in this fucked up world and as much as love can rip you in two, it is all we have Josh. So, I want you to remember, when you are alone, know that I will think of you. In the morning, when I get up, I will think of you."

She takes his hand and opens it up from his clutch and kisses his palm gently. "See where I kissed you? It will remain there. Even if you wash your hands 1000 times, it will still be there. And when we grow up and move away...........when we all learn to cope and to live with our loss or not, and when you grieve on those days when you miss your Dad and your best friend the most, you can look at your open hand and know that you carry a kiss. My kiss. It tells you that you're never alone because I promise you that every morning, I will think of you and pray for your well being. Your pain is mine. Your joy is mine. Let me in to care.........."

Sobbing now for the first time, he bows his head into her chest while she rocks him in silence. No words. No answers. Just tenderness. His weeping continues until he has nothing left, until he falls asleep safe in his friend's arms.

lifeguard love.

Writing this,  I was thinking about a young man I don't know very well who is going through big stuff and I don't know if he will find his way. He has many people around him who love him dearly and who would move mountains to take away his pain. I don't think he can hear them right now and I don't think he can see beyond the bubbled cocoon he has constructed around himself. I pray they keep trying because I fear they may be too afraid of the intensity of the pain. Plus they are going through their own. They too have suffered loss.

It also made me think about how many people are in the same emotional dessert, and it left me wondering.......... if we could all step into someone elses circle when they are in need, and simply tell them that we can be counted on for as long as their journey feels lonely......AND beyond that. 
We hold back thinking someone else is going to be the one to kiss the hand of a another human being. But what if we all think that? No one gets kissed! Too many people in our world have absolutely no one thinking of them at least once a day. Can you imagine? I can hardly imagine it because I am blessed with my family and friends both at home and work................gotta believe at least one of them is wondering what i'm up to! And of course, I am thinking of them as well. All the time. They never leave my thinking. I may get busy and involved in a variety of tasks and commitments, but the people who live under my big umbrella with me? They know as I do. We are connected in a compassion of caring for one another.

What would it be like not to have anyone to share the protection of the umbrella? What if no one knew you were alive? I may not ever want to feel the level of pain others feel, but damn if I'm going to try to find the courage to sit with someone in need of being recognized as a hurting human being even if it scares me to death. It's all I can do. It's all anyone is asked to do. There is always room under the umbrella isn't there? If we don't recognize a person who lives in their pain alone, who will? Hope and healing begin with the gift of recognition..........the gift of love.

Monday, December 07, 2009

a dream....wanna figure it out for me??

A couple of weeks ago, I had a strange, strange dream that was so vividly detailed that it felt like I created a story in my sleep.  The details have remained with me.  They haven't faded whatsoever like most dreams that meet me when I wake up.  I've shared it with a few people, but this is the first time trying to encapsulate it in words.  Here she blows.........................

It begins with me entering the dining room located in an old historic building (for the folks from around here it was the restaurant at Kings Landing).  Though I've never been to this particular place in real life, in my dream I knew exactly where I was.  The dining room was decorated with dark wood.  The tables were harvest style, but darkly stained.  A huge fieldstone fireplace made the place feel so inviting, so cozy.  Seated at the table were 12 or so people... all familiar to me.  Strangely, the collection of people, who are friends of mine, but they don't know one another in real life.  In the dream, however, they do.

There was a strong feeling of sadness coming from this group.  I felt it right away.  So, I approached them and asked what was wrong and was told that a mutual friend had died.  They had all just been to her funeral.  I was stunned and shocked by this news.  The name of the person who died in my dream was never stated.......though I have a picture in my head post dream of what she looked like..... and she resembles no one I know.  Still, I was so saddened because she was young and had just had a baby.  The baby was present with this group of people.  About 8 months old, he seemed oblivious about losing his mother.  He was the kind of infant who is smiley and not fussy at all and enjoyed being passed back and forth from adult to adult who all took comfort in interacting with him.

I asked if I could hold him and he was passed to me right away.  I stood there and held him for a while, unconsciously rocking him in my arms while I spoke to the group, asking for details of the death and the funeral etc.  Then, I walked away with the baby, out of the dining room and down a long carpetted hallway.  Feeling such grief, I decided I just needed to walk slowly on my own while cradling him.  After a few minutes, all of a sudden, a strange sense of peace came over me and the knowledge that the friend who had died was alright.  She was safe and peacefully surrounded by loved ones who had passed on too.

Then, I was struck with the intuition that I had been "informed" of this information somehow through the baby, who was comfortably settled in my arms staring and smiling at me.  Of course he was too young to talk.  Still, I asked him and through some kind of telekinesis, he communicated to me that he was a conduit to the otherworld.  He could communicate with the dead and pass on messages to loved ones still on earth.  With this knowledge, I tried it out and asked him to find out how certain people were in Heaven and within moments, replies came.  It was astonishing!  I went back to the dining room to tell the others.......... and to tell them that our mutual friend, the infant's Mother was peaceful and happy.

They all rejoiced after learning and began asking the baby to contact others they had longed to know about.  It was a flurry of activity........... this communication line from where we stood alive and in the flesh to a place on the other side.  Throughout it all, I held the baby in my arms.  He continued to appear to be content and unbothered by the barrage of requests.  However, I could feel something changing inside him.  I could feel him aging and knew right away that the energy it took for him to connect with the dead was prematurely aging him. 

I told the group this.......... that our requests were impacting his development.  I told them that we should stop because the baby was using up his life energy in order to comply to our wishes.  But they wouldn't stop.  They didn't care.  It was more important that they communicate with the dead....... to resolve their issues, to pass on the messages they regretfully never uttered while their loved ones were alive, to feel the "presence" of people they missed dearly.  So important to them that they lost any empathy for the sweet little innocent baby I was holding in my arms.  I tried to stop them over and over, but they wouldn't listen to me. 

I stood there frozen on the spot as this baby continued to age inside and grow weaker in energy.  And the more I stood there, the more angry I became at their selfish self absorbed behaviour. However, I had no power to stop it. 

Then, I woke up, told my husband and completely creeped him out. 

What does it mean?  Does it mean anything?  I'm sure there are some symbols in it.... something interpretative, but I don't have a clue.  Can I just add that no hallucinagenic drugs were used during this episode? 

Saturday, December 05, 2009

purple raves........

"I've got one nerve left and you're standing on it....."

There is a palpable feeling of stress stinkin' up the air quality. Forced fed by fetid behaviour, fanned by frequent confrontations with the volume turned up on a sound of static.  Its like walking through a mine field with a fatigued mind.  No focus.  Ego driven, like a child past his bedtime.  The whine from the perpetrator persistently hits the nerve.  The one nerve left.  Can you feel the shooting pains?  A pressure cooker steamin' mad irrational whistle can be heard on high..........disrespectfully polluting the air. 

stomp, stomp, stomp....................whine.
obnoxious fumes seep out of the heat register in puffs of toxicity.

They begin to point fingers at the culprit.... the one who knows how to step on the collective nerve centre.   She knows how to, but is she aware she is doing it?  Does she have any idea how her ugly behaviour repulses?  Fingernails on a chalkboard.  Penetrating hot pokes into the centre of their senses. Unlovely actions pushes buttons, boundaries, sensibilities.  She stands on the one nerve and becomes a jumping jack....... trampoline enthusasism irregardless of consequences. 

help,help,help,help, outward cries in unison..........
I'm afraid I will lose my cool and choke her.
i want to choke her.......

can't help myself any longer........... like I've been invaded by a bad child, they admit with a fervour only used when one reaches their wits end.  Flooded by feelings, the wits have turned into tiny squeaky bits of brain fluff.  They have no capacity to think things through choose creative responses.... to pick up and leave or to fight off the boiling point feelings.  Pressure cooker perspiration is about to spill over like gooey oozy lava. 

Feathers and fur fly.  Accusations spew forth with rapid pummelling towards the annoying culprit.  The one who sheds tears now of shock and disbelief.  Shattered by their reaction, unaware of her role in the stinkfest, she cowers.

Why do people act in such a manner that completely irritates with constant poking and prodding?  They arent getting their deep seated needs met?  Will they ever?  Doubt it.  The roots are too deeply embedded, entwined in a pattern too complicated to change.  Caught by inconsistent love hurts throughout their lives.  Assaulted by negativity, rejection, entitlement of others, they have no way of coping besides acting in the ugliest manner possible.  They want to be accepted.  They want healthy doses of empowerment.  They want to feel loved.  Yet, their behaviour screams the opposite.  Angrily, manipulatively, frustratingly.

Perhaps these are the people thrown into our lives, into the mix of our communities who make us stretch beyond our perspectives, our reflections.  Maybe, just maybe they are the folks who teach us the hardest lesson of all.   To love the unlovely.

When we are asked to be patient when we have none left.  When we are expected to share the same space that once used to be filled with springtime air and is now so thick with stressy stink.  When we are asked to carry on like there isn't a monster amongst us, how do we cope besides running away and never returning?   What do we do?

The only thing left to do is to look beyond the ugly behaviour and try to see the wounds on a fellow human being.  The only thing left to do is to love the unlovely.   Is there anything more difficult to do than that?

Group dynamics?  Forming, Storming, Reforming, Norming, Performing.   These are the stages of development. This was a week of being in the eye of the storm............ Hurricane season is upon us.  We can ride it out......

Friday, December 04, 2009


Charity is a way of being.
I've heard this, read this.
I try to live this way of being.......
Sometimes I mess up.
Sometimes you mess up.
We try.

It is all about living and giving. 
Living by giving. 
Loving and forgiving. 
Sharing what you can and a little bit more. 
Being kind, even when its not acknowledged. 
Even when it may not be accepted the way you expect it to be.
Giving without strings attached. 

My way of being is the same as your way of being if we both come from kindness.
What I can give may be different than what you can. 
Our gifts aren't the same.  It's what makes us unique.
What would happen if we all gave the same gifts???
We'd end up with an overabundance of one thing
And a big void of what is needed.

What if we mess up?
What if we give the wrong gift?  
The wrong act of kindness?
What if the gift we give is misinterpreted

tossed in the dumpster right before our eyes??
How do we stop ourselves from reacting by sticking our tongue out at the ugly response?
How do we refrain from turning into a defensive kindness hoarder 
when our way of being is charity, but the way its seen isn't?

No strings attached, remember?
It's hard to remember that.
Understanding without judgement
Understanding without trying to interpret motives.

 I'm OK, You're OK...... despite the type of gifts we can offer.

Despite our way of being.

Charity isn't a hand out void of human touch
It's a human HEART touch......

It's a hand UP.

It's not just a couple of coins tossed into a hat without even looking

It's not just a cheque written out of guilt for tax purposes
It's not a bag of second hand clothes left on the front door of Goodwill
Without even envisioning the human being in need. 
Is it?
We do what we do because of who we are....
How we choose to be....... 

If charity is our way of being, our way of applying the purity of God's love, than is this not the way to loving thy neighbour? 
Living by giving
Loving and forgiving
Sharing what you can and then some....
With the other person lovingingly respected,

no matter what the outcome.

I am what I am........ and so are you.........
Beautifully imperfect trying to live a life of charity
and messing up every once in a while.
So be it. 
I try again.......

I'll continue to follow the star for direction.....
It sure helped those Wisemen.

I wonder what Jesus did with that pile of myrrh??