Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I need to open something...

"It's the best time of the year, Grandma. We love everything."
                                                                                                Mr Will, age six

We need Christmas. I need Christmas. Do we not each need that magic something?

My Grands began talking about Christmas in July.  I don't know how the subject came up but there was an illustrious amount of enthusiasm considering they were standing on sand in bathing suits. Their little bodies wiggled and giggled like a bowl full of jelly just talking about it.  I journaled, "They can't wait and it's July!" Is it the presents, those great conveyor of magic? Partly, I am sure. Yet, that is not what I hear. They have no idea what they may be getting in December. They probably don't remember who gave them what, amidst the colored paper rumbled on the floor, last December. However, they do remember something.

My daughter called several days ago. Her voice laughs with excitement. "I can't wait, I have your Christmas present." The red sweater will be warm and much appreciated. Yet, it is her excitement that is delightful -- this magical something that holds her gift.

After all,  magic is the reason for the season. A wise friend tells me. "I have to find it somewhere because I want the awe, the quietness, that something Christmas that is enchanted. It is the season to be jolly, to be sensitive, to wonder and be in wonder. It takes us out of the ordinary. The season may be exploited, complained about but it transcends our daily stuff.  We've modernized it, done everything to change it. Yet, at bottom it is still magic."

My grands are proof of that. We each are. I know the feeling, that enchantment -- those lights on the mantle, this love in my heart. That something is all about beloveding. And in that, it also speaks to our sadness. One cannot love without sadness. The two walk hand in hand. Regrets, losses are in it, too. All these hungry children part of ourselves. Like a ball, light on one side, dark on the other, yet, all the same ball, not different than. Twins because love is love whatever it's form.

My friend continued. "We need magic, we need candlelight, we need the angels and we need to be taken out of the ordinary. We need to wake up, to come into the parts of ourselves that are in the Christmas lights. Presents are magic, we need to open something. Even the stores can't wait and I am sure it is more than material gain." It's in the lights, the Christmas music -- from a Red Nose reindeer being asked "Won't you lead my sleigh tonight?"  to that breath-taking holiness of a "Silent Night, Holy Night." And in it all, there is something that rings little bells for me; that says, "It is so."

Photo source: Maksim Pasko,

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Too much humbug in this house..." stated the Christmas tree

"Too much humbug in this house..." stated the Christmas tree

Tis the season to be busy, oops, I mean tired, oops, maybe the word is jolly.  And in this season of upcoming hectic-ness could it possible mean, Tis the season to feel a silent-night holy?

Next week we start decorating this year's tree, all eight feet of it. I can feel the "get 'er done" list growing. Yet I also remember the lessons of that fallen Christmas tree called Timberrr of two years ago. The one that crashed and shatter and scattered shards of light across our living-room floor. After much laughter by anyone who viewed the spectacle, I sound myself rather impartial to my list of "yet to do's". Somehow as important as it all seemed before that "right honorable mess", I understood better as Las-tzu observed, why sages see "the ten thousand things as straw dogs".

My grands, who contain a guru-like element, do not have any humbug-busyness in them. They are free to experience the glow, excitement, magic and dancing joy of the season. Yet, their grandma is not. How can I hold this sacred, Christmas space in the seemingly upcoming, umpteen-things to do?

I need to remember the lesson of a crashing tree and what that "disarray" felt like after it tickled everyone's "funny-bone" and finally, tickled mine. Looking at the shambles before me, I thought, Oh me of little insight, maybe the tree feels "this human needs to light up. Too much humbug-busyness in this house. She has forgotten the spirit of Christmas. Let's call 'Timberrrr' and down goes her hectic-self."

And indeed, down it went.  "Getting 'er done" did lie peacefully on the living floor replaced by much merriment.  The different positionings of scattered pieces of colorful ornaments caught the lights from the manger scene and were almost beautiful. Reminding me that, the mere birth of a babe in a barn with some cows still summons us from this hectic world to a different positioning -- inviting each of us to that sacred, light-filled, breath-holding place in our own mangers.

Of course, the question remains, did this human learn the lesson of the Christmas tree? Will she stop and sing a deeper song? Will I remember again that the sacredness of the season will be "found in acts of breath-taking simplicity: a simple prayer, a sip of wine,"* a kind word and an exchange of blessing.

*Wayne Muller

Friday, November 13, 2015

"never send to know for whom the bell tolls..."

Every (person) is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less... Any [person’s] death diminishes me because I am involved in (humankind); and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
                                                                                         From Meditation 17 by John Donne 1624

I love the "Meditation" by John Donne three centuries ago and was reminded of it, again last week when a friend lost her mother, unexpectedly. I did not know her.  On hearing the news I felt loss. It also reminded me of a journal writing in August of '04. "A 'part of the main' broke off last week and I am less for it. Sergio Viviera de Mello, who many people identify as "the conscience of the world" and who has worked “miracles” to help reconstruct shattered societies in Lebanon, Kosovo, and East Timor, died yesterday in Baghdad when terrorists blew up the UN headquarters there."

And now, 15 years later, when I check the news, I still hear about  bombings in Syria and Baghdad before I have walked one block. And then there are the faces in rubber dingus trying to escape war that also leave me sad. Why should I feel loss? I didn’t know Viviera de Mello nor did I know the others. Yet my feelings tell me “a part of (my) main” has broken off.

These same feelings also shout, "Augusta, from the sages and enlightened hearts through the ages, you know you are not an isolated enclave of separateness." The scientists also confirm our connectedness. Jeff Kimble, a Caltech quantum physicist, finds that on separating two entangled particles, when one is tickled it is like the other particle laughs at the exact instant, no matter if one is on another planet. I suspect a similar event happens when we focus the higher qualities of human feeling: love, wisdom, understanding and a felt compassion toward a situation on the other side of the world.

We are all particles. Imagine, how one and connected we are! However, I do live in a fractured world. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall every hour and for the most part I still feel hopeless to put it together again. Yet, I do (as we each do) have the power of the universe in my particles and heart-tip. I am a part of this earthy-main. The invitation is out; I need not be a bystander. I know too much to live in hopelessness and impotency. I can Be in my sacred self; flesh and heart the higher human qualities of wisdom, compassion and justice. I can Be those particles that tickle other particles in this fracture world. And maybe, I can shift, change and influence what happens. 

So the Sergio Viviera de Mellos' and the Putins' still have me asking, what energy am I releasing into the world? What kind of emotion, passion?  How am I affecting those around me and those on the migration from Syria and Iraq?  Maybe my energy can help tip the balance of Humpty’s precarious position on the wall. I am a global citizen. Maybe I can help to create a new world. I need not “send to know for whom the bell tolls”; it does toll for me.

Friday, October 23, 2015

a most honored state...

"Doing the human (emotional/spiritual) work is the most honored state."
                                                                                                            an ancient friend

My grands are back in school. At five and seven a new world of learning and challenges begin for them. They move from one grade to the next until they supposedly "finish" their education. Yet, having lived a life or three, I discover, there is no "finish". Human experience can be dense and hard and yet wildly liberating. This earthy-school room is packed with soul-lessons which offer me constant invitations to become more than I was yesterday.

However, in order to move from one grade to the next I do need larger containers of understanding and compassion to rescue me from myself.  Where are my blind spots, my insecure places and my judgments? What battered world or sacred wound is their source? What inner-parts are hidden which must be identified and healed if I am to live authentically? New ways of seeing, feeling and doing allow the emotional clutches that feel prison-like today, open to be freedom's path tomorrow.

And, here, is my school room -- where living into and answering such questions are my "home work." As my ancient friend informed me when I was overwhelmed by my own density, " Human work is the most honored state."  Yet, isn't it rather ironic, these are the places one never wants to expose to the light. In fact, this denial, this hiding from ourselves keeps the gates to our healing, freedom and expansion locked shut.

Generally I "hang on" when the kids go back to school.  Lessons are in the air. And, one would think a person who is aging like rather "passable-wine" would have said good-bye to home-work. However, not so and September didn't let me down. I got my (confidence) "feathers ruffled", again. Several days ago, I went to a near-by community to play piano. I had great fun. After, I was informed I had played too loudly and missed some downbeats. And that is probably true. The person may have wanted to help but it had the potential of feeling like an old "put down".

Yet, surprisingly, I had no emotional reaction, no gut-punch and no hurt feelings. I was still in my music glow.  Feeling around for some reaction, I could fine none! Quite frankly, I felt around all the way home and still no reaction. I was elated. Past "homework" (struggling with the questions above) had paid off.  I was detached from the old, confidence-taking messages. Congratulations were due. I probably had done as well or as worst as any of the other "wanna-be" musicians.

An hour later, while taking a solitary walk and mulling over the event, an old voice from a damaged past crept in. "I am not good enough. I don't know enough. Maybe, I'd better not go back and play, again." A confidence wipe-out, hurt feelings and a dose of self-pity attacked. By the time I came back from the walk I, me alone, had wrecked my still, very tender-shoot of a budding, music "career".

During the night, a dream told me, a self-criticizing part of myself was deceiving me. On waking, I instantly knew, in allowing those old, eroding messages a space to re-run, I had actually, betrayed myself!

This morning, reclaiming the soul-work I had accomplished in dismantling those old voices, I am alive and free again. My head has dropped down into my heart's understanding. Tonight, I am off again to dance those eighty-eight keys with joyful purpose and a hard earned confidence.

We have a rendezvous -- our soul's lessons. Where are the "blind spots" and what betrays the inner voice? The hard work is asking the hard questions -- "our reply to the soul's urgent query: 'Do you value what I am showing to you? Shall I show you more.'"*

And indeed, my answer is, let the angels come in their disguise...

photo source:
*Susan Shaughnessy from the book, Walking on Alligators

Friday, October 2, 2015

the will-full wind...

a playful wind

"We stayed around the house all day on account of the 'wind'. Don Juan explained that we had disturbed the wind deliberately and that it was better not to fool around with it. A sudden gust of wind made don Juan get up in one incredible agile jump.
“Damn it,” he said. “The wind is looking for you.”
I can’t buy that, don Juan,” I said, laughing. “I really can’t.”
I was not being stubborn, I just found it impossible to endorse the idea that the wind had its own volition and was looking for me, or that it had actually spotted us and rushed to us on top of the hill. I said that the idea of a “willful wind” was a view of the world that was rather simplistic.
“What is the wind then?” he asked in a challenging tone.
I patiently explained to him that ... different pressures ... made the masses of air move vertically and horizontally. It took me a long while to explain all the details of basic meteorology.
“You mean that all there is to the wind is hot and cold air?” He asked in a tone of bafflement.
“I’m afraid so.” I said and silently enjoyed my triumph.
Don Juan seemed to be dumbfounded. But then he looked at me and began to laugh uproariously."
                                                                                           Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda

A number of us stand huddled together in the still, cold, fall air, surrounding the casket. Our friend, a master schooner builder and winner of many  international schooner races, died suddenly a few days ago. He was a remarkable man and had won many honors in his eighty-plus years. In spite of his many accomplishments, he still lived in his old farm house by the sea and was always up at four milking his cows. His daughter now tells me no matter who has milked them in the past few days, from the barn comes a continuous, mournful dirge.

My husband,* who worked some week-ends on the schooners with him, has spent the last few days, since we heard of his passing, creating a three and half foot, sail-high schooner model. Other boat models line the grave site as well. A scripture is read, several people offer remembrances. The ocean can be heard in the distance. I look up at the tall cathedral pines amidst several white birches. The air is so still not a needle or a leaf flickers.

To my left a woman moves to the grave side. She reads about the intimate knowledge and  partnership this schooner captain has had with the wind. I am amazed at how she has captured the detail of this wonderful man. Her paper flutters. She continues pointing out how his relationship with the wind has helped him win many international racing cups for Nova Scotia.  A loud whooshing sound makes me jump.  Looking up, the trees tops are suddenly churning in all directions. The reader raises her voice. 

The ship models cannot resist. down goes one, then another.  In seconds, the only schooner model left upright is my husband’s -- probably because the sails are made of  chicken wire filled with flowers.  The gusts reach a crescendo. Now even the chicken wire gives way. All the models lay flat. My daughter, husband and I look at each other. Others are glancing around with disbelief on their faces, as well.  I catch my breath. The wind subsides.

At the reception and like Carlos, I know that “all there is to the wind is hot and cold air.”  However, people cautiously bring up what happened. His daughter brings it up again on the phone several days later. The wind's entrance was perfectly synchronized with the words being read. Not one boat model was left standing, even the one with lead in its keel. And, then the wind left as quickly as it came.

Dare I wonder, was this another honor bestowed on our friend or was this merely coincidence and a remarkable example of synchronicity? Or could it be, don Juan is still laughing?

* now, my lovely ex of some years...

Note: don Juan was a Yaqui shaman whom Carlos Castaneda (allegedly) apprenticed with in the art of shamanism in the 1960's 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

the unnoticed prayer...

"If you put your soul against this oar with me," he begins, "the power that made the universe will enter your sinew from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm that lives in us."
the Sufi poet, Rumi

What if prayer is not necessarily bowing one's head, kneeling or positioning one's hands in front of the chest? What if much of prayer goes unnoticed?

My friend has injured her foot so I have been doing some "work" with it.  Before beginning, I rub my hands on the sides of my shirt to waken them, to make them more sensitive to the patterns of energy coming from her foot. Then pausing, I briefly focus and feel into a larger space than the coffee I just brewed. I don't want to see the foot as damage but as whole or maybe, even as a new foot all together. Since I know nothing about bone, ligament or muscle, I truly am blind and at the mercy of the gods and those invisible helpers that some call guides, angels or entities.

Suddenly, I have an impression of myself from about ten feet away. My head is bent; my hands are folded against my chest in the middle of the kitchen. My friend is sitting there looking out to the lake, waiting for me to align my feeling and thought. Anyone coming into the kitchen would think I was praying. I share my impression with her, exclaiming, "And I wasn't even praying!" We look at each other. Pause. We start to laugh. Yet, wasn't I?

am attempting to change my vibrations, shift my feelings to a higher level. I definitely have to lean my "oar" against something greater if any healing is to happen. I have to trust the "other side", the side I cannot see; as life experience tells me, this is a place where healing lives, breaths and has Being. This is the place I need to access: I need to ask. Not beg -- merely ask. And even then, I still know the invisible is a trust walk accompanied by a good dose of blind-faith.

Surely, the feeling is the prayer and must take many natural stances, as well, as religious. A lovely visit with a friend, listening to the loon in this early morning light or taking a few minutes to sit and color, at a request, from my Grands -- am I not hearing and sharing in a larger spirit with them and they with me. This must be praying, too.  Their energies invite me into a deeper-me and a more caring space.

The ancient Christian scripture also encourages us to "pray without ceasing." Now, how do I do that with my hands in the dish pan, digging in the garden or raising ten kids?

My grandmother who was born in the 1800's often told me her greatest accomplishment was that she raised ten children and not one of them had died. Yet, how many miles did she walk, how many nights comforting children, too hot from fevers, willing them to live.

She also did another round of "unnoticed prayer" with me. My mother and I lived with my grandparents during the war.  When I was four years old I contracted German measles and chicken pox at the same time. They kept my bedroom darkened as it was felt the pox in or around my eyes would leave me blind.  I remember them rocking and walking me for hours. I remember being lost in fever. Yet, there was something in their voices, the way they held me which kept wanting me, willing me to get better.

We each have that "oar" Rumi refers to, that power, that "holy realm that lives within".  We can lean body and heart into this "within" and transform our cell structure, our circumstance and even possibly,  heal a foot. The Tibetan abbot was right when he stated, "You have never seen our prayers because a prayer cannot be seen."* The unnoticed prayer resides in the heart.

photo source: scabrn,

Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden

Friday, August 21, 2015

essence is always essence...

Recently,  on a lovely summer day I dropped in on an old friend I had not seen for years. We had been estranged somewhat when we parted; not because we did not care but life-stuff had gotten in the way. However, her essence many times had brought her to mind with a warm heart.

This particular afternoon, I am passing through a town I had heard she lived in a few years ago. Not being sure if she still did, I ask a woman walking down the street if she knows her. Following her directions, I find her house. Two care-givers meet me at the door. As soon as I enter her room, I know. We look at each other and understanding cascades between us. Then we hug, the old hug. Yet this time I hold bone. Neither of us is letting go. Breaking from the hug, she looks at me with a strength, a stillness, saying, "I am dying."

"I know, I can see and feel it." Then she asks how I found out and who told me. As I hadn't visited her for the last decade, she is sure someone has. I reply, "No one." A little smile touches her lips. She understands.

"Then, your coming is an answer to my prayer." And, I understand.

"I am glad." I reply softly.

We catch up on our lives and families. She does not want to leave her grand children. For periods of time, we just sit and look at each other. She is too weak to talk. Yet, her eyes at moments are alive with the twinkle I remember.  I ask if she recalls how dense I was when developing my "inner-seeing" those many years ago while walking along the railroad tracks, in front of her home. Knowing she was always better at it than me, she giggles a little giggle that is so uniquely hers. After another story from our past, she looks at me gently and states, "It is still here, our caring."

I nod, "Yes, isn't essence always essence."

Looking at my watch, it is well-past time to go. She insists on seeing me to the door which costs considerable effort to her helpers as she is beyond the wheel-chair stage. Walking in front of her, I wonder what I will say and in that moment, know she is waiting for me to say, something.  As the screen door is closing behind me, I turn. There she sits. Some moments in life hold no words.  Then, I bend toward her in a slight bow, "My friend, I will see you again in a better world." Later, I wished I had said, "Thank You..."

photo source: Lisa Teryl

Thursday, July 30, 2015

a very simple secret...

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When I was eight a thought kept coming to me. "What am I missing? What am I not seeing? What is around the corner?" A childish, nonsensical question? Maybe, but somehow I did trust there were magic gardens and another side to the moon.

As I grew I kept discovering there were various sides to life and that most were invisible to the human eye but not to the human heart. The latter seemed to have had its own intuitive powers of seeing. I also learned, if I wanted to claim life's freedoms, its sacred heart, I could not put my trust, merely in the side I could see.

In early adulthood, wanting to learn how to draw, I found a classically-trained art teacher who lived near our home. With pencil, paper and enthusiasm I arrived at his door. Ready to draw that first line, his first instruction stopped me as he said, "I am not going to teach you to draw. I am going to teach you to see. Puzzled I thought, "but I can."  As I drew and painted, I learned I had to account for the whole head, the whole tree and not just the visible part. That line under the cheek bone, for example, had to take the eye around the unseen part of the head and come out relating to the other cheek bone for it to complete its natural wholeness.

I proceeded to learn when seeing "rightly", everything natural completes a circle from visible to invisible. There is the other side of the moon, the earth and the rainbow. Winter is invisible to summer but summer will come. The sun cannot be seen nor its warmth felt through the clouds but it never falls from its orbit in the sky.

I continued learning. Another side of anger is sadness and of fear is love. Then, there is the other side of me. What does encompass my wholeness? What is beyond this one-sided self that is always in danger of poster-like living? As a writer I depend on the the next word, the next thought that comes from seemingly "nowhere". What is the other side of speaking; where do the words come from? Is there a language of the invisible? Maybe, it is our intuition, instinct, imagination and a knowing deeper than logic and reason. Maybe, the wind speaks at the exact moment of a deeper thought telling me to wake up, pay attention.

However, most times, this living is a trust walk or I might never take pen in hand. My ancient friend who was more on the invisible side than this one, used to say to my doubt-ings, "You don't need to see oxygen to know it is there." I only recognize wind exists when it moves the trees or cools my cheek. The white caps on the lake are dancing to something. When feeling moves me I know it exist and no longer have to wonder, "What comes next?" In fact, it all existed before I sat at the computer this morning. I merely have to "join the dots" from one side to the other.

Yet, I still ask "my eight year old" questions?  What am I missing? What can't I see? Where is my wholeness when drinking my morning coffee or suffering from inner and/or outer wounded-ness? Trusting only one side too often leaves me flying on less then one wing or maybe on one little feather.  Yet if I peek in, through and beyond the visible, there it is with it's palpable joy and a love force which cannot be measured but can transform one, instantly.* This magical garden where the heart beats and the rainbow points echoes through the canyons of my life.

Yes, there is a secret, a very simple secret... We are always larger than our stories. What is essential is, it's the sun's birthday,** the birthday of life, love and the invisible-visible...

photo source:
* paraphrase: Barbara de Angelis
** paraphrase: e.e. cummings

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Gift...

"This little flute of a reed (me) thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed though it melodies eternally new.
At  the immortal touch of thy hand ... my heart loses it limits in
joy and gives birth to utterances ineffable."  Rabindranath Tagore

“My breath” I have always claimed as mine. I am healthy so I take it for granted. It moves in and out of my lungs unnoticed like a trusty old pump. Yet following my breath in meditation often leads me to a love of Presence.

Breath is a gift given to me at birth, taken from me at death. Even though, it is a life force of its own, independent of me, I think of it as merely air - lifeless and inanimate. Every living thing breathes.

A new thought startles me. What if my breath is not mine? What if breath is animate, a life force that the mystics call the Beloved. Many of the world religions connect spirit to breath. Tagore was a Hindu witnessing, “thou has breathed through {me}  melodies ever new....”  The writer of the old Christian hymn implored, “Breathe on me breath of God, Fill me with life anew....”  Both are a lover’s witness and a lover’s request.

So it is not me breathing, it is me receiving. Imagine, ordinary breathing is the breath of Presence which lives with me, acknowledges me, accompanies me and loves me unconditionally. Can it be, when I breathe in, the Spirit makes love, when I breathe out I make love?

As my fingers dance on these keys, I accept this Gift.  I draw this Breath in slowly, release it gently. I hear the bird songs which a minute ago, like my breathing, were ignored. And, I feel love.

Photo source: Lisa Teryl

Friday, June 26, 2015

spring green...

"Our task is to stamp this provisional, perishing earth into ourselves so deeply, so passionately, that its being (arises), invisibly, in us."  Rainer Maria Rilke

What a miracle spring-green is. When younger, I was always on my way to "somewhere"  that was more important than spring-green. This year my destination seems to be more Now -- walking now, feeling now, observing now. Everywhere, my eyes are taken with all the emerging every-things.

Looking out these windows the color green, except for the lake, fills the landscape.  As common as it is, how can I be enchanted? Yet, I rather am. Recently, I headed north from Arizona as did my friends the migratory birds. There is no green in my front or back yard in Tucson. The desert, having it's own unique beauty, is speckled with grey, purple-brown sand dotted with sun-worn cactus, sage and tumbleweed which is not the iridescent green we know here. When looking up at the night sky there are no young sprouts of grass on the moonscape, no early morning sun inching, feeling its way, caressing the newest leaf as it unfurls its sails. Nor does green exist on any other planet we humans know.

A decade ago, I also had a little help wakening my spring-green eyes. After an accident, I was stopped for many months. Everything moved slowly in me and by me. I wrote in my journal, "My new passenger status and cane offer me countless early-green encounters.  Looking out the car window a lacy pattern of new maples and poplar leaves dance their iridescences in a backdrop of blue. Grasses and new shoots pass me in slow motion. Looking to the top of the hill, in the distance,  cows are munching their fill of this rich spectacle. Lazily I wonder, "Will it give them a stomach ache?"

My journal continues, "Imagine, I have to wait another whole year before I see these exquisite sights, again. A thought stings me, death now rides a little closer on my left shoulder. There are no guarantees. I nearly missed this spring. And no matter how much belief I have in life continuing in some form, I also believe the texture, the solidity of my feet in this new spring-ness and the tender slide of the young poplar leaf velvet-ing my fingers may not be the same on the 'other side'."

Although this morning, a decade later, I try to describe what I see out my window here, I still can't. I go to the poets, they can't. So I won't. I can only take a deep breath, look and passionately desire another spring with it's iridescent green.  Like Rilke, maybe my task is stamping this earth into my being, so it's beauty and mystery can arise within. 

photo source:  Sunny Flowers,

Friday, June 12, 2015


Spring is here in Nova Scotia and the first duck families are swimming by our lake-front.  A mother is often followed by a half dozen or so puff-balls. Initially, you can hardly tell they are ducks. Yet, every week they shape more into little ducklings. Sometimes, their daily path swimming by our lake-shore seems to be a "road-way" shared, morning and evening, by muskrats, geese and beaver.

In summer, we often have supper on the lake-side deck. My two grands like to sit on the "high" chairs so they can lean over the second-story railing. Tonight, my granddaughter, who is four, spots a duck swimming near the shore. She starts sporadically calling to it, "Duckie, Duckie, Duckie." Pausing, she eats a little more supper then starts calling again. Momentarily, the duck disappears behind the bushes on the shore line. With delight she repeats the call. A half hour passes. Her persistence is striking. 
After a few more bites of food and more calling, the duck lifts off and seems to head our way, but I know it will angle off over the trees. It doesn't. My granddaughter leans forward with anticipation as I grab her shirt-tail. I am suddenly looking at feathers on the inside of its wing-span.  

Now eye-level and seconds from the potential collision, I see fear in the duck's eyes. I instantly feel it myself. The bird's wings grab air frantically. I am looking at a "back-peddling" duck! A strange sight. I have never seen a duck try to fly backwards and for seconds, I think it does. My guess is that "Duckie" and I are having an identical experience, one of fear and confusion. After achieving a slight space, the bird makes an unnaturally sharp ninety-degree turn and heads over the trees. 

Regaining my wit and looking at my granddaughter, I see her experience is quite different. Her face is lit with delight and laughter. Of course, the duck comes when she calls. Magic happens. She, unlike the adults present, had every confidence this wild creature would fly a hundred feet in a straight diagonal to meet with her on the deck! She knows she can talk duck-language. She believed it would respond as strongly as I believed it would not.

My questions are obvious. How much of this world, how much magic do I miss? Most of it, I suspect. How important it is to feel out beyond my own "dead-end" expectations. And what doesn't happen because I don't?  Do I expect the wind to be more than the wind, that the prayer really will be answered in whatever mysterious ways prayers are answered? That old Christian scripture might have a point, "Unless, you become like little children..."  Will I ever enter the Queendom of the Duckie?

Drawing by Shawn Scott

Friday, May 29, 2015

visited by half a leaf...

Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitations. Look with your understanding (your heart-eyes). Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly. Richard Bach

Several days ago I was talking on the phone with a friend while looking over my deck onto the trees below. A half leaf in sunlight caught my attention. The other leaves seemed shadowed. My eyes wandered beyond the translucent green to the lake and then, wandered back. There it was, one little patch of green dancing in the sunny-breeze. As my friend talked, I watched its play of movement. Surprisingly, a small "hum" began in my chest, a feeling of warmth. And against my logic, a thought -- is this lighted-leaf loving me?

I want to soak it in. I must remember this location, this feeling that has just visited me. Witnessing imprints. Before hanging up, I share my leaf experience. She graciously realizes our conversation did not have my full attention.

An hour later, going to the store, I check the odd time to see if the leaf-feeling is surviving. It is. Coming out of the store, a sun spot (bright and sparkly as they are) catches my eye on the next car to mine. And, yes, it is caring for me! As I walk the car's length the sparkle seems to keep pace, shoulder to shoulder. I giggle.  Playing, somewhat like a child with her shadow, I back up a bit and there it is again, emitting that leaf-feeling.

The wise ones of this earth tell us we are one with everything. We are not separate, not a label any more than a leaf is. "Don't believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitations." We merely have named it a "leaf" but is it really? Maybe, it is pulsating, caring life that is "written off" by calling it something. Science and new technology is showing us that nature responds to us, to our feelings, words and music. I am reminded again of my daughter's dream of seeing the sparkles on the water that said, as if amused, "You think I am only sparkles" and of course, I did. Even my ancient friend, when I would refer to the "breeze coming up" would look kindly and muse, "And you think it is only wind?" and, of course, I did.

Labels make things solid. And I need them solid for security, comfort and orientation. It's like a tool I can use. However, solid is merely energy that at a certain frequency solidifies the same as water solidifies into ice at a certain temperature. Then calling myself by name or the leaf, a "leaf" I forget who we each really are, a caring, humming, pulsating "I am-ness." Maybe earlier on the deck, unwittingly, I had slipped into another frequency, a less solid, more loving one, that did not say, "Oh, just one more leaf".

The experience is beginning to fade. Now when I look down off the deck into those countless leaves I can, at least, remember and feel that one of those leaves has loved me actively -- not in theory, but for real. Might that mean they all are loving me back? Is the leaf saying (in leaf-language), "I have been waiting for you to wake up from your illusion of separateness." Now maybe, I will be able to leap frog this human logic and again, feel loved by half a leaf. And are we not, one pulsing-heart -- vaster and as unending as the sky?

photo source: L. Teryl

Friday, May 15, 2015

a post script to "crying strong"...

"Every time one has a thought, there is a biological reaction in the brain -- you make a chemical."
                                                                                                                                         Joe Despenza

Since I consider myself relatively stress-free, the "pill and pharmacist" situation (in my last writing) twigged my curiosity. What function do tears play in stressful situations? There were periods in my past, in my childhood that contained long-term stress. Most children have some and adulthood can offer it's own variety.

Recent readings have not only offered me wisdom but have confirmed the way I work with life-woundings (mine and others) which come in all sorts of packages. The study of neuroscience is now telling us that every time we have a negative thought-stress-experience, there is a biological reaction in the brain that releases a chemical cocktail of toxins called neuropeptides.* These are responsible for our feelings.* If I think negative, I feel negative, if I think fear, I feel fear. Said another way, thoughts are things that leave us feeling bad or neutral when not identified.

Yet, stress can be creative. If chased by a tiger we need to get the adrenalin up, fast. However, for this post script, in repetitive, hurtful situations the stress button can get stuck on* robbing us of life-energy; then instead of relief, one is wounded further.  The situation with the pills, instantly, without me consciously knowing it, had me re-living in flesh and tears a repetitive stressful situation in my earlier years that had nothing to do with the present. A friend calls it a memory-magnet where the old experience overshadows and superimposes itself on the present in vivid, emotionally unwanted- technicolor.

Yet the "biochemist William Fry points out that stress-induced tears actually remove toxins from our body that build up courtesy of stress. They are like a natural therapy."** Also neuroscience has proven we can change our brains -- old neuron connections can be pruned and new networks of neurons can be forged.*  In other words, with intention and practice, we can change our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and live a larger story, be a larger person and give off a chemical cocktail that leaves us living in light and a joyous freedom. Thus, as "book-friend" Joe Despenze observes, "You have to think larger than the circumstance of your life (and) to change is to be greater than your environment." He added, "Ghandi never allowed the conditions in his environment to control his way of being."*

So I hang on the clothes-line (in my mind) only one thought I want to change. Now, there it is soaking up the sunshine, swaying-breathing in the fresh-salted tang blowing off the Atlantic. And hopefully, it is in the process of transforming my psychic leaving the "pill-pharmacist" experience stress-free next time.

*Resource: Dr. Joe Despenze's book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.  He was also a researcher interviewed in the film, "What the Bleep Do We Know." He works in the fields of neuroscience and brain chemistry.

**Resource: Therese J. Borchard

Friday, April 24, 2015

crying strong...


"More than happiness love wants growth, a widening and deepening of awareness...whatever prevents (that may cause) pain... love does not shrink from pain."  Jack Kornfield

Yesterday, counting out important pills the doctor had instructed me was necessary for my health, I discovered a two week shortage. I called the pharmacist in N.S. feeling they could be mailed or sent by FedEx. Yet I was not sure. So in my happy, seemingly no problem life (in the moment, at least) I started to tell her my dilemma. Emotion blocked my voice. She asked, "Are you crying?" When I could speak I told her yes but I had no idea why, other than I felt helpless. Then feeling embarrassed, I apologized. What I did know was the tears had nothing to do with pills or the pharmacist. I had experienced unreasonable stress.

Growing up in my generation I learned tears were shameful and revealed one as weak and a mess. One thing, it was hard on the self-value to be a mess and they seemed only to get me in more trouble. Besides, anyone that cried very long, past a few minutes, would be "cracking up". So for the next numerous decades hardly a tear pass my eyelid.

Then I attended Elizabeth's Kubler-Ross's** workshop on "Death and Dying". The first few minutes she told us to look at the back wall -- Kleenex boxes were from floor to ceiling. She informed us those boxes will be gone when the week is over. My response was, "What is she talking about? And what have I got myself into?" One young woman who had four small children recently learned she only had a few months to live. I had four small children! However, the majority of the seventy participants were not dying but they had their pain -- childhood and adult wounds. These long buried hurts surfaced. Men and women cried. I thought, "Humpty Dumpty is falling off the wall and how is she going to put these people back together."

A surprising thing happened. Tears helped them identify their sources of pain, stress, fear and other emotions. By the end of the week, the Kleenex boxes were gone. The healing that happened was truly "other worldly." And no one was more shocked than myself. I had learned tears and healing are partners. They are flags, sign-post to places in us that are not free and need some loving tenderness.  Rather than "fall apart" I now knew the paradox. Tears heal. We aren't a mess (just feel like it). I won't "crack up" and if I want to cry for a week I will. One of my daughters when younger was crying for some, now forgotten reason. Her brothers had teased her. I watched. Instead of backing down, she advanced stating, "I'll cry if I want because I am crying strong."

An age old belief had been shattered. Tears are our friends. They point the way to inner growth-work, healing and freedom. Growing and learning do not stop but just begin when we leave grade school. Life offers everyone the opportunity and choice to expand our often cramped, wonderful selves, inviting one to clean out darken corners which hunger for light and healing.

Back to the present  -- the pills. What to do? I know from experience to follow the emotion. What did I feel? Nothing much at first except helplessness. I continued the pursuit. Hmm, definitely self-pity -- a much maligned virtue and healing treasure. Does not this hurting need our own compassion and understanding in order to heal? I called someone who was following her own trail of crumbs through a dark wood. We talked. She asked some questions. Describing the situation and hitting some sore spots, the old wound got identified and cleaned. I hung up with more understanding but did I have a greater freedom?

How many Tucson pharmacists will I have to ask the "pill-question" to before I can do it without stress? I ventured forth and wobbled on the first try. By the third, I had the freedom I sought. An ancient friend of mine once told me, "The opportunity to do our personal pain-work leads to the most honored human state, consciousness of Presence."

* Image source: Vyozovskaya -
** referred to in a former writing

Friday, April 10, 2015

I want "that feeling..."

"The feeling is the prayer."  A Tibetan Monk *

I love the feeling of well-being, of that great expansiveness when I dive into the velvet ocean of my natural self, my authentic self.  The feeling of love, of glow, of the magenta sunset on my evening walk or when I stepped out into the eerie light of the rainbow over the mesquite tree several weeks ago. I want "that feeling."

Yet, I wake into an ordinary day. My mind flits through it's activities: breakfast, meditation, walk, library and possibly a visit with a neighbor. There seems to be two of me. One "me" feels ordinary, not down, not up, just ordinary.  The other "me" breathes a different air of beauty, joyful purpose, and such a fun aliveness. I want "that feeling." I wait. I don't have it.

Yet, I do not have to meditate in a isolated mountain hut as I know presence/love has many faces waiting for me in any moment. I also know I too often run interference. In order to stay resonating, I have to listen with my ear to the ground for those hoof beats coming down the track. Feelings have frequency. Love, beauty and presence have a vibration as does carelessness. Too much snacking, "too much" whatever can knock me out of "that feeling." "Goofing off" my daily well-being disciplines, leaking consciousness is like playing a beautiful song off key and it's rarely any fun.

Yet in spite of my misses the great beating heart is never deterred. The soul-sun always outshines the cloud no matter what we do or do not do. So (at the end of the day or in the middle) I might ask, "Where did I have "that feeling"? How do I need to position myself to catch this vibration? What helps me love easier?" Every religion points to it as does every tree, every beloved, every Jesus, every Buddha, every Lao-tzu; as does the flower pot on the window sill and the golden finch looking in on me right now from the mesquite tree. That's the feeling and it is the prayer.

photo source: taken off my deck
* Book by Gregg Braden, Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer: The Hidden Power of Beauty, Blessings, Wisdom and Hurt 

Friday, March 27, 2015

It takes a village...

 "It takes a village to raise a child." This ancient African proverb teaches an eternal truth. It does take a village, family, friends, neighbors, and children to nurture each of us. Islands, we are not.

These words "It takes a village..." have been coming to me this past week. My cousin and her partner left yesterday and this morning I took my youngest daughter to the airport. They each went the extra, caring mile.

Wintering in Tucson, I have lived in this mobile home for ten years. Each year I plan for unexpected repairs. I discovered a good "Mr. Fix It" by the name of Lance. Being independent by nature and having divorced "free help", I resolved never to ask for the latter.  Then, if I can't do it myself after trying five times, I "call Lance."

This year, arriving here at four in the morning, I noticed, when opening my door that it caught on the deck.  I pictured myself arriving next year not able to get in. With no car, no food and neighbors in dreamland, I would be sleeping under the stars. Then the next day, I also noticed little piles of dust in front of my deck steps. Thus, I comfort myself -- after my visitors leave, I will "call Lance."

When my daughter arrives, she notices the deck needs painting -- then notes the "spongy" bottom step. In two minutes she has the hammer, yanking it up. "No, you are not doing that on your vacation.”  A half hour later, at her insistence, the clerk at Home Depot, looks at the step and states, "Ms. you have termites." This is the desert.  How is that possible? We return home with the paint.

A day later my cousin and her partner arrive from Canada. He sees the missing bottom step. An hour later he is on his knees taking up two other steps -- definitely termites.
Then I ask him if I have a door problem.  Now, he is under my mobile home, jacking it up to give it enough room to let the door swing freely.

Meanwhile, my cousin is on the computer showing me how to put my documents, writings, and pictures into the cloud. And my neighbor, seeing, the new steps, brings me over a geranium for decoration.  Later, I was told another neighbor had brought over an electric saw to help get the job done.

My village also cared through the internet this past week. A friend "lends an ear" on Skype and several readers emailed their response to the latest writing, proving I am not posting into a vacuum. My six-year-old grandson comes alive on the iPhone and so do I as he excitedly exclaims, "Grandma, the snow is over your car and I am standing on the top step." Then he proceeds with a most enthusiastic and delightful description of a six-year-old's experience of snow. Quite unlike the adult descriptions, I have heard recently.

What strikes me in it all is -- I did not ask for help. In fact, there was no stopping my village even though, my answer was always, "No, I'll call Lance and do it later." Now I am sitting out here surveying my "estate" from my newly painted deck. Those termites are sprayed to death, my steps are solid; there'll be no sleeping under the stars next winter and my writings are saved in the cloud.

I feel gratitude’s warm glow. I know what this week's writing is going to be -- an eternal truth. Does it not take a village of people caring to nurture us, grow us and ignite our aliveness? This interaction reaches out far more than one might guess. Another light goes on in the universe and God winks again.

People caring -- it does take a village.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

finger of the mind...

“You are asked to believe in the invisible, in something beyond all known experience. We ask you to keep the finger of the mind on this awareness of presence. Every time you press that finger on a given inner spot the wishes of your heart will be filled...” paraphrase from the book, Letters of the Scattered Brotherhood

I used to press my physical finger on the back of my grandmother's hand tracing an intricate map of blue lines and wrinkles, which my being four, she called her "stand up roads." I still can feel the love and fascination I felt at the end of my fingers as she sat next to me, a patient and caring presence making my world right and good.

The quote above from an anonymous author says the Divine asks us to "believe in the invisible" which seems a juxtaposition to our visible, material reality. Yet in-turn, I ask the Divine to be as real and tangible as the feeling of rightness, lightness, love and the fresh breeze of presence when pressing my physical finger on my grandmother's well-worn hand. But alas how does that happen.Where is this "given spot", this interior finger I can stretch out in my inner landscape? What inner place allows me, when touched, to experience a "heaven" in small things like the aliveness of early morning light playing on my bed covers as it creeps toward my chin.

Several decades ago, when I came home from Arizona in the spring, I wanted to feel a Love and Intelligence which was independent of what people gave me. I wanted to touch an inner spot that would allow me, even in the traffic of the day to stay alive, to experience this velvet, personal/impersonal love that surrounded me. I did not want to merely exist, going from one thing to another, mindlessly. Busyness, habits, patterns and ordinariness attached to me like iron filings to a magnet.

To find a spot to touch, I needed to create a meeting place inside and outside my skin and return to the same place every day. Living in a three story house, the stairs figured dominantly in my day. In the stairway hung a painting and a plant. I made a deal with myself. "When I start up or down these stairs, passing these two objects, whether I feel like it or not, I will try to press the "the finger of my mind" to a remembered fun or love experience and hope like rubbing two sticks together a flame will ignite."

However, I unhappily discovered, this path was not instant, it had to be worn, built, focused on and attended to. And in spite of my resolve, those stairs remained relatively spirit-less for too long. Some mornings, heading for the coffee pot, I whipped past plant and painting, mindlessly. Other times, these objects did prod me to fling out my thought-finger and eventually I began to be feel a glow somewhere behind my rib-cage.

Finally, I wrote in my journal: "Two or three steps down the stairs I started laughing. With one foot in the air (descending), a love washed over me as rich as velvet and tangible as the physical encounter with my grandmother's hand. A flood of gratitude sat me down on the step. To the seemingly invisible, I could only say, "thank you, thank you."

Now, several decades later, having learned I am more than my emotions, my thoughts, my personality, my identity, I sense the Divine waiting like a lover for me to wake into my minutes and my hours. This love and intelligence has accepted my "deal" to be as real and as tangible as a physical touch which, indeed, fulfills the wishes of our hearts.

image resource:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lightly child, lightly...

"Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly...even though you're feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days... (and) there are quicksands all about...That's why you must walk so lightly." Aldous Huxley

I have loved these words of Huxley's. Yet, it was just not "presto" learning to "lightly let things happen and lightly cope...," especially in the situations that thwarted or wounded me. I had to grow considerably before discovering a level of living where grace rides gently, leaving me the freedom to follow such wisdom.

Initially, I thought "darkly" only resulted from what happened outside me. Then I learned that was not true. As the cartoon character Pogo observed, "Ah, I have found the enemy. It's me." And it was. Only to discover later, I have the power and choice to do something about me. Starting to hunt those shadow parts, I found their gems of understanding and compassion made a fun friend for myself. My moments were beginning to flow, ebb and dance on a river of taking things lightly.

However, like Huxley, I was, at times, "so preposterously serious in those days." Even little mistakes, too often, were weighted as if they were "crimes against humanity." They certainly did not encourage a "light and merry" anything. Yet, stepping back, I began to notice that some mistakes resulted from naivety, inexperience and lack of development. Some mistakes were simply
"bad calls" which I delightfully learned did not make me a bad person. Identifying these gremlins proved to be solid-gold learners. The universe loves giving out second and third chances. And I love taking them.

However, one cannot force their growth. I'd love to be wonderful and fully enlightened. Yet, trying to arrive before I have arrived is like wanting my emotional or spiritual plant to produce a flower before it's time. Maybe my developmental-stage is first to create a beautiful "leaf".  Accepting where I am
 is comforting and confirming. Then, a wonderful, sacred and growing self comes out to play and I am on my way, again.

Lastly, Tagore like Huxley knew to "feel lightly even though (they were) feeling deeply." The great Indian poet lost his beloved wife, child and dearest friend in a shockingly short period of time. His life changed. Going to the mountains by himself, he wrote poetry from a larger horizon, a more exquisite energy source which each of us is and can access. Thus, spreading my emotional and spiritual "wings on the sails of light and shattering into gold my every clouded thought," no matter how darkly the world seems, I continue to say, " Lighten up, Augusta, lighten up."

photo source: nancy10 -

Saturday, February 7, 2015

there are more things in heaven and earth...

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Shakespeare

In the last few weeks several readers have asked, "How do I get in touch with my spiritual guide?* A challenging question for those of us who see material objects with human eyes.

However, there is another way of seeing, feeling with the body, with the mind. An inner seeing, an inner sensibility that swings us out beyond our five or six senses. After all, a dog can hear more frequencies than we humans, a bird of prey can spot a meal three kilometers away. Here at the University of Arizona in Tucson mediums, Tibetan monks and yogis come from all over the world to participate in researching our abilities "to think outside the box" --  to see "outside the box" of conventional wisdom.

Early on, I began to identify that a deeper knowing than my own was operative in my life. In difficult situations, some solutions were smarter than I could "think up." I recognized intuition and instincts served me well but what were they?  I had no idea about guides, yet, began to recognize "larger hands at play." Surely, this caring-compassion that got me through specific difficulties, couldn't be mere coincidence. Thus, I began to say "thank you" to whatever particular part of "God" seemed to be working on my behalf.

Starting to identify the "information" as somewhat separate, experiencing its dependability and caring,  I began to relate to it personally. This energy gradually grew more into a felt form -- very like in a dream when a stranger appears, yet you recognize the energy to be someone you know. Asking questions out of need or curiosity, a thought might emerge that felt a little different, had more weight than another and was indeed smarter than my local self.

Thus, it was natural to begin thinking of this help as a guide. So I asked for a name. A word came to me; I have no idea why, as I had never heard it before and wasn't even sure it was a word. Nevertheless, a name furthered my awareness.  In hindsight, the value of identifying this experience as personal allowed it to work more powerfully in my days. This added presence was life-enhancing and healing.

Years ago, no book could be found on the subject of spiritual guides. Now, go to any book store and there are whole sections devoted to the subject. However, I never lose sight of what we well know, divine guidance is infinite and needs no name, no image in order to permeate our lives.  As "very best friends" do not come highly numbered, neither in my experience do spiritual guides. Yet, in our walk each emits love, healing and Presence.

For the readers who asked the above question, the following suggestions help me focus.
- Intention: I generally have a need, a curiosity, a question or want more information about a situation.
- I pick a place, a spot that has resonance and meaning for me, be it the kitchen table, outdoors, looking at the stars or on my bed.
- Then settling myself by breathing softly, I ask my question and wait to see if anything comes -- an image, word-thought or feeling. If nothing happens, I might take a guess what the guide could look like in order to stimulate my inner-seeing.
- Then, like a friendship, allow it time to grow.

Photo source: painted between 1850-1899 by Jose Ferraz de Almeida Junior
*If the word "guide" does not line up with your meaning system, change it. Maybe "helper" or "angel" or some other term will feel more personal.

Friday, January 23, 2015

beautiful and wild forces...

"There are beautiful and wild forces within us." * 

I was brought up as a luke-warm, "had to go to church" Christian. Prayer for me was not much more then words and "Jesus" was a question mark. Saying prayers too often happened without feeling or meaning. After all where did they go -- these words thrown into a fog. Their destination was too invisible, too not there and too not here. Then adulthood came along and turned one inside-out and upside-down in all the human stuff: growing, marrying, parenting, divorcing, and aging. In other words, enjoying and suffering this experiential loop called living.

What I didn't know as a child or as a young adult is that something deeper inside me was being nourished, cultivated, in spite of my inattention -- a heart beat, a hum was emerging which I eventually recognize as Presence, mine and Other. I discovered the feeling of beloveding is the feeling of these "beautiful and wild forces" of which St Frances spoke. This deeper sense of awareness was like gradually falling in love with an aliveness that was intimate, personal, impersonal, faceless and powerful.  And it really does live in my cells and in my chest.

What is this divine force, heart-energy and intelligence I can access, turn too and feel a part of ? I sit here at the desk and wonder why I, the desk and the water in the lake just don't fall off into space. There is certainly nothing seemingly holding us here. This force, in  labeling it "gravity" makes us forget the invisible power that resides in such a little word. Thus, I lose the wonder, the awesomeness that I am actually hanging upside down in space with no nails in my shoes. Why doesn't the whole thing give way? What invisible, caring, compassion keeps it all from falling into space?

What divine intelligence is at work? Everyone I know has ten fingers, a nose and a chin. Imagine. How did that happen? And the exact number! This is the beautiful and wild force within -- a power and relationship available in each of us. It's language, we call prayer.

Praying comes in as many forms as minutes do in a day. Sometimes it's words, sometimes it's the space between the words. In the last writing prayer came in the form of a table grace. This morning, being busy, I will try to bring my non-feeling "in from the cold". This will necessitate getting up from the computer, moving over to the rocker and saying, I am here** on the in-breath and wait on the out-breath for my mind to touch my heart.  Surprisingly, after breathing a few times, my busyness begins to thaw. I start feeling connected. Later, I may be lured out on the deck as those infinite number of frosty, ice-crystals also wait on the rail to ignite my amazement which is a swift road to gratitude, the root and route of prayer.

These beautiful and wild forces speak the language of the heart that unites us all.  I need this understanding, compassion and healing. I take my vitamins daily to keep my body healthy. Maybe praying is like taking my spiritual vitamins daily to keep my Being healthy.

Image source:
* Saint Frances
** Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, January 9, 2015

On the gurney, peace is always beautiful...

The table is set, beautifully. The scallops, veggies and red wine wait. In it's candlelight, I bow my head for grace. With all of my "wealth", I am moved to pray for, at least, someone in Syria but hopelessness is all I feel. How can my little prayer have any affect, there? Will it really do any good? I feel small and defeated.

This morning on BBC, I heard that millions of Syrians have been displaced and are without homes or passports. Before the conflict they too were at their tables, nicely set, with lights of the season twinkling, their special foods before them, their middle class jobs waiting Monday morning, their middle class doctors accessible around the corner and their grands were off to school, safely, to start a New Year. However, now, the lights have gone out, there is no table, the schools are barrel-bombed, the doctors dead or escaped, the houses, condos, apartments are rubble. Yes, they were me a couple of years ago sitting in their "wealth". In comparison, I can't even feel the extent of this grace I live in. Would any prayer I say ever make a difference?

Then I remember, an emergency room in Tucson. The gurney was surrounded by white coats, I knew they were trying to keep me alive. I had been run over by a truck. (My femur artery was severed, etc.) I remained conscious except for the impact and the time under the truck. A card this Christmas quoted Walt Whitman saying, "Peace is Always Beautiful." Lying there on the gurney, a helicopter ride minutes ago and with what seemed like "madness" going on around me, I felt that peace accompanied by the warm-water feeling of love in my chest -- a feeling I have in prayer yet I was not praying. Too much pain, too much going on with my body. However, my thought and comfort were, people will start praying for me in Nova Scotia when they hear. Then water was dripping on my face. I tried to brush it aside and bent my neck to see the leak in the ceiling. There was the face of my friend Ben leaning over me, crying. I tried to lift my arm to comfort him but a fractured arm does not work, either. So I said, "Ben, it is alright."

Feeling the prayers, I wasn't praying made me "alright". Growing up I had heard a butterfly wing touched in the back yard can be felt on the other side of the earth. It always sounded far-fetched but somehow, deep down, I knew it was true. Now, after countless scientific-experiments, physicists are discovering a particle, like one of the countless number that make up you and me, when separated can be tickled and its entangled counterpart will dance, instantaneously, no matter how far away the second particle is. *

Medical technology saved my physical-life that day but prayer - my velvet feeling of well-being - was saving my inner-life. I would have died without either one being activated. I could not pray laying on the road or on the gurney so maybe my Syrian-grandma counterpart cannot either. Surely then, this small table grace tonight, like a butterfly, will waltz above a stream and step straight through the firmament.**

photo source:, an oil painting -- Angelus by Jean-Francois Millet, 1859
*paraphrase: Bruce Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos
** paraphrase: Emily Dickinson