Children of God

 She is 91.

She is small.

She is powerful.

She is filled with God’s Spirit.

She wears bootcut jeans

with a white shirt

and a leather belt.

She comes to Higher Ground

to pray

and play the piano

for the hymns we sing.

She brings lunch

for the folks who gather

and are hungry.

Finding her center and balance,

she puts one foot in front of the other.

We hold our breath

as she goes down the steps.

She follows her walker

to the curb.

It takes a while.

Her ride waits.

A red sports car slows to a stop.

The driver must idle

as cars pass on the other side.

His tires squeal his anger

as he accelerates

past the older black sedan.

Our writing group pauses.

We lift our heads up, shocked.

She buckles her seatbelt.

Her driver takes her home.

We take a long, deep breath.

We are all just children of God

doing the best that we can.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 9:40 am  Comments (6)  
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Meandering Mind

1.  You can’t see your own ears.  Unless you look in a mirror.

I heard someone say that 3 days ago and it’s still stuck in my mind, a random, useless, captivating piece of information.  If I were an artist I’d draw a head on a long neck twisting around like a spring.  The face would be laughing.

2.  It’s a wonder the parts of the body work at all.  There are a few flaws in the design.  Like knees.

And the uterus is above the bladder.  A pregnant woman I know couldn’t pee for 12 hours.  Her baby was the size of an avocado.  (See babycenter.com.)  Her growing uterus shifted just enough to block urine trying to come out of her bladder.  Kind of like when you step on a hose hard to block the water so you can release it and spray your sister in the face.  Maybe the pregnant woman will uncork the tube from her catheter and spray it like little boys do.

3.  I’m at the beach.  At 8:00 am I sit on the balcony with my hot green tea and listen to the ocean and watch the waves just keep coming.  My soul rests.

I love the beach.  I want to hear it and see it.  I don’t go on the beach these days.  I sunburn easily and my brother has had melanoma.  I’m afraid of twisting my un-artificial knee.  I don’t like being hot.  And I’m never sure I’ll be able to get up if I sit down on the sand.

I love the beach, especially anytime other than summer.  I want an oceanfront condo with a shaded balcony, an unobstructed view of the waves and a comfortable chair with a way to prop up my feet.  A squishy couch for naps, a good novel, a copy of The Sun Magazine and five days of solitude all pamper my Spirit.

4.  Most living creatures are fine.  My zookeeper daughter used to take care of snakes and reptiles.  The little squiggly things have personalities.  One skink (no, not skunk) cuddled against her neck when she picked it up.  The snakes were boring, but I didn’t mind being in the snake room.  Her dad and her husband did.

However.  Slugs are totally disgusting and give me the shivers.  Slugs came to our front step every time it rained at our old house.  Some were the size of a fat dill pickle from a barrel at Mast General Store in Boone.

You can kill a slug by pouring salt on it.  It probably suffocates.  I bought lots of round, blue salt boxes each spring for 7 years.  I got excited, almost giddy, when I poured salt on the slugs.  (I killed the slugs when my kids weren’t watching.)

I’m not really a kind, compassionate person.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 10:30 am  Comments (4)  
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The Paper (or Cloth) Bag Story

Take your problems, all of them, from the tiniest annoyances to the most horrific, difficult challenges and put all those problems into a brown paper bag or a politically-correct cloth eco-bag.

Then imagine if everyone else took all of their problems, put them into their own bags and brought them to the center of town.

Think of how many bags there would be, all piled up in one big mountain of brown paper and brightly-colored cloth bags.

If you were told you could pick any bag of problems and take it home with you, do you think you’d want someone else’s problems?

(Story borrowed from The Faith Club, by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner)

“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”  The Familiar can be quite comfortable.  It’s predictable, we think.  It’s known.  We’ve practiced dealing with it. We assume we know how things will turn out and we get ready.

My body and I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis for over 20 years.  Pain and discomfort vary.  My pain–physical, emotional, spiritual–is invisible if I choose to disguise it with humor or stoicism.  So is yours.

Remember PacMan?  That’s how I pictured my arthritis in the beginning.  The disease was an enemy force of scary little critters using my blood vessels as a superhighway to randomly chomp on my joints.  I hated them and the medications I was trying were losing a lot of battles against them.

Eventually, I gave up the anger and war images.  I had to make peace with those mean monsters inside me.  If I could be compassionate and forgiving, they might be gentler.  So I prayed for willingness.

Today we are next-door neighbors inside my body, the critters and my Spirit.  Sometimes they are noisy and intrusive, but I can shut my windows and ignore the doorbell.  They are familiar and they could be worse.  I accept them as they are and I deal with them one day at a time.

I know how to do “hard”.  I’ve had practice.  We all have.  I know I can probably handle most any problem that pops up next.

If I could pick one bag from the pile, would I pick my own again?  I’m not sure.

Prayer

Father, Mother, God
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most–

Peace.


–Maya Angelou

Copyright (c) 12/2005  Maya Angelou

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm  Comments (6)  
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Amma Says…

(Amma is my grandmother name.  Click here for why.)

1.  Practice good manners, even if you feel nagged.  It will matter one day.

2.  Accept and revel in the love we all have for you.  It is rare and will carry you long after we are gone.

3.  Take vitamins and calcium as you grow.  It’s one of those delayed gratification things.

4.  Be brave.  Your mom can teach you the difference between brave and reckless.  I tried to tell her, but she had to learn on her own.  You will, too, I’m sure.

5.  Try many things—foods, people, styles, words, animals, smells, places.  You will find beauty and wisdom in odd places, I believe.

6.  Enjoy your hair, when you have some.  (Look at your baby pictures.)  Be grateful for what you have, no matter what color it is.

7.  Be kind.  The energy you send out to the world will come back to you in mysterious ways.

8.  Don’t be afraid of questions.  That’s how you learn that not all questions have answers.

9.  Be still long enough to feel the Presence of something bigger than you.  I promise that Presence will always be with you.  Your responsibility is to notice.

10.  Let the inner child in you live forever.  Fun and laughter are essential.  I forgot how to play.  Please don’t do that.

Above all, know that I love you and that our Spirits will always be connected.

A Blessing for Equilibrium

 

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.

As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.

John O’Donohue

(Benedictus – A Book of Blessings)

 

 

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm  Comments (5)  
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Hangover

I was bad last night.  This morning I was hung over.  And it’s Paul Newman’s fault.

I didn’t drink any alcohol or do any drugs.  Thank God.  It was cookies.  Newman-0’s, like Oreos, but made with organic flour and organic sugar.  I really don’t know how many I ate (bad sign, huh?), but I do remember at one point thinking I had crossed the line between eating and bingeing.  I didn’t stop until they were all gone.  (Mike ate some.)

I didn’t feel good when I went to bed.  I was afraid the chocolate would keep me from falling asleep.  And I forgot (!?!) what sugar can do to me.

My body and I live with rheumatoid arthritis.  The disease causes inflammation in my joints.  Inflammation causes pain.  Sugar increases inflammation. And so increases pain in my body.  Which I remembered when I got out of bed this morning.

Sugar hangover.  Will I never learn?

I’ve read books and articles about the mind/body/spirit connection.  I’ve even read a book about chronic illness as a spiritual practice.  I know my attitude and behavior influence how my body feels.  I resisted the sugar/inflammation/pain idea for a long time, but it’s true.

Here’s what else I know is true, for me:

1.  My body is the container of my soul.  I am an embodied Spirit.

2.  My body deserves reverence, respect, and gratitude.

3.  Exercise can be a spiritual practice.

4.  Nourishing my body with healthy food feeds my soul.

5.  Living in my body is a spiritual practice that teaches me patience and acceptance.   I’ve learned how to feel anger, how to love imperfection, how to grieve.  I now understand joy and awe.

6.  I am a child of God.  I was made in God’s image.

7.  My body and soul deserve fresh, local peaches and Goat Lady Dairy cheese, not cookies.  Not even organic ones with Paul Newman’s picture (those eyes!) on the package.

Turtle or Gazelle?

Kim and Donna, as part of a Soul Collage workshop, led a guided meditation to help us envision our totem animals.  I was hoping for something graceful and elegant, able to leap in the air and run fast—a gazelle, perhaps.  My Spirit gave me a big, old, ponderous, turtle.

Turtle is not glamorous, but really not as uninspiring as I first thought.  Here is what I learned about turtle symbolism:

1.  Turtle’s whole life is one of steadfastness, effort, and patience. It lives a slow and steady life of “non-doing”.

2.  Turtle takes its wisdom one day at a time – not reacting, simply accepting and moving on in its natural rhythm.

3.  The medicine of Turtle is its deliberate and thorough approach to life.  

4. Turtle naturally withdraws and goes within when in turmoil. It does not need to learn the importance of this focusing inward, it naturally knows.

5.  Turtle is courageous because it makes progress only when it sticks its neck out and moves forward with patient, steady flow.

6.  Turtle is always at home within itself.

I have spent years learning about living one day at a time, being in the moment, and accepting life as it comes to me.  All those words in all those books and discussions are summed up in “Turtle”.  Once again I am humbled.  And delighted by how cleverly Spirit teaches me.