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.

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