Merry Christmas everyone and wish for you a loving and happy New Year in 2022! I hope you have been well this year and, in spite of perhaps some ups and downs, life has been good to you. Here we are and to everything there is a season and this is the time to celebrate life and each other.
It has taken me all year to write, and I wanted to connect with you before the year ends. For me, it’s been a good year and I hope it has been the same for you given the challenges and obstacle courses we’ve had to maneuver. For me, it mostly has been a year of reorientation to regroup from 2020, the pandemic and the world in general.
I’ve found myself more in observation mode wondering where my place is in it all and I haven’t, until lately, found the words to write. There has been a feeling of ebbs and flows each day, as they unfold, not only in my personal life but in the lives of those around me and beyond. I have sensed a shift, though subtle, and notice the changes in me and my life as I practice love and being in the present moment.
How do I put into words what is going on in my life and throughout 2021? And how can that mean anything to you? I won’t attempt to catch you up in it all in this one post. But, in the past year-plus, we’ve had babies born in our family (our first great-grandson) and 2 great-nephews born to our niece and niece’s daughter – babies, such a fresh addition to life, joy of innocence and hope for the future.
We’ve also had loved ones and distant friends die while others are challenged with health issues. Life keeps nudging us along on this ride and we’re high one moment and then it gets messy the next. All the while, I feel we’re not alone.
But then, what better time than at Christmas is there to reflect and feel the spirit of love. The season gives us that opportunity to pause in our busy lives and take time to write a card or call a friend. It draws us closer in attempts to celebrate longtime traditions, though different, that still have meaning for connection when we haven’t had the time nor felt the need any other time of the year.
There is a strong stirring of spirit this time of year and a holiness, if you can quiet your mind long enough to hear it. I believe this time of year people want and try to be kinder in the midst of annoyances, cancellations and Covid restrictions. The expectations we put on each other are high but so is the spirit of this season to help us remember what is important. Just pull yourself away from the party or TV show and step outside one of these evenings and look up in the sky. Breathe in all the awesomeness and beauty that’s always there waiting for us to notice.
God bless you – everyone. I’m still here and wish you love and joy this beautiful Christmas season and a New Year full of new adventures and surprises.
I look around at what’s going on with this coronavirus and I wonder, “Will we come to it?” Is this the time when we will be brave enough to listen . . . to change course and accept a new normal and not go back to status quo?
We have such power to carve out mountain ranges, genetically modify our food and our bodies, rearrange rivers, go to the moon and outer space, blow up countries; and, yet, one small microscopic virus has silently and invisibly swept across our world causing countries to shut down, stock markets to plummet and people to die. Can we accept the challenge in what’s happening; that it can touch each of us and is no longer just happening to someone else?
I don’t think we’ve dealt with something like this before on a global scale; though, in the past, we’ve had plagues and pandemics far greater in number than this one. Have you ever thought about that? Why this one? Maybe, this is it.
Maybe this is the time when we come out of this on the other side and there will be countries, beliefs, families — people in general — coming together, settling differences and living in harmony. I felt it early on as a child in wanting peace in my home with my parents. Events happen, catastrophes occur and we always wait for the dust to settle so we can get back to our normal lives, instead of looking beyond and consider something different.
I suspect there’s been a lot of the same tug-and-pull down through the ages and, still wonder, if now we are able to come to it? Come to reconcile conflicts within ourselves, others, and face what’s there in our lives that have been trying to get our attention. Truly learn to be kind and live in peace with one another, particularly now, when we have the capability to seriously damage or destroy this world as we know it?
I believe this is a major crossroad in humanity where we have an opportunity to be quiet, listen and hear and, maybe, for the first time, get the message on what’s calling to show us how to do that: consider maybe we’re the problem and feel life and love we’ve been given. I think we’ll hear and answer the call this time. I’ve already seen so many stories with people reaching out to one another in innovative ways to connect on the internet and many others. It’s beginning.
Over the years, I’ve become more sensitive to life and death and can’t watch anything close to violent movies or shows or even play “bloody” video games with my grandsons. It stays with me. Even to the point where Hubby helps capture spiders and moths for me in the house and puts them outside. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe over the top, but I can’t help it. He has gotten used to my many quirks over the years and I feel if I smash a bug I can’t go back one minute before and put life in it and bring it back to the way it was crawling or flying. But, you know, we don’t have many bugs.
Or, I have a strong feeling when I smell fresh cut pine. It bothers me, even though we’ve chopped down our own Christmas trees for many years when the girls were young. I always sense a feeling they’re stuck planted right where they are with no ability to run. Can you imagine the feeling when the sound of a chain saw starts coming your way and you can’t move (aghh – one of those dreams waiting to happen). Then, there are the cattle trucks I pass on the highway and get emotional knowing their fate, even though I enjoy a good hamburger. It’s not perfect and I still have a lot in reconciling balance within my own life.
The world out there is much different than mine. Big entertainment is popular with killing and blowing things up. People seem to take pleasure in getting even and watching things die. We puff ourselves up and think we’re all so powerful in what we can destroy and conquer but can we put life in one flower or create the song of a bird. Maybe that’s what’s going on in this coronavirus is that it will show us what’s precious. After this, I don’t think we’ll be able to go back to the way it was. Too much will have changed and what was before will no longer serve us. Nature, sun and the moon, earth and many universes beyond will move on. Question is: Will we give up our power plays and petty differences to move on and be there with them?
I came across this poem the other day that spoke to the many things I’ve described above. It seemed to resonate in ways I’ve long felt but never until now seen words put to them so beautifully. It’s really powerful if you listen to Maya Angelou’s voice from the video while following along with her words in this poem. Maya Angelou reading her poem “A Brave and Startling Truth”.
A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH
By Maya Angelou
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we discover
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign lands
When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze
When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged may walk into evenings of peace
When the religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse
When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Not the Garden of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets
Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world
When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade, the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Can come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety and
without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when We come to it.
Like Maya Angelou presents in her poem, I believe we’ll come to it. We’ll find a way. It may not be my way or your way . . . maybe, a third way, like William Ury talks about, the perfect blend of both ways plus a little more.
It will happen, if we allow it and do our part and when it does maybe we will see something miraculous. Another true wonder of the world – the human realizing they’re true potential.
We dream, and dream some more, saying to ourselves, “One of these days.” Most of the time, we never get around to seeing it happen. Well, I’ve done a lot of dreaming, too, over the years; but, this time, my “one of these days” came true. I got back home on a long-awaited trip.
If you read my last post, “One of These Days”, I talk about taking a trip back home that I’ve longed for, like this, for many years. The moment came when family circumstances made me decide I had to go for it. It’s been 15 years plus since I’ve been home and I don’t know that I’ll have another 15-20 years like this to go back again. My family typically doesn’t come west to visit – very often – hardly ever.
My aunt, now 92, got sick and depressed this spring with the sudden death of her youngest daughter in January and her health appeared to be going downhill. Something in me said, “It’s time” and I felt that if I didn’t make this trip, I may never see her nor any of my family again. We all aren’t getting any younger and I always wanted to get back, not only to see family, but to pay tribute to loved ones no longer alive who gave me life and purpose – my way of saying goodbye as a type of closure, coming full circle, in paying respect.
So, I answered the call of this particularly strong inner pull to go back home in these pressing family times. This is the beginning of my adventures, reflections and how it all came together – miraculously!
Answering The Call
Hubby and I had always dreamed of taking a road trip from Colorado back to my home, on the east coast of Philadelphia, Maryland (where my aunt lives) and Virginia; taking our time, connecting with family and revisiting places where we first met, fell in love and got married. Over the years, we kept telling my aunt we both were going to make it back some day but it never seemed to happen. I’ve been back a number of times but she hadn’t seen hubby since we first left to go west in 1969 (50 years ago) but the money was never there for us to go.
The same was true this time in that the money wasn’t there but there was an urgency with my aunt’s health. Something in me knew I had to find a way to get back. I wanted to see her as I have for years. She is the only living relative connected to my parents and those of my childhood and I longed to spend one last time with her.
With that intention to find a way, I started looking for jobs online and applied to an opening at our rural post office. I was surprised to get a call for an interview, though in my ‘70’s, and was encouraged that maybe this was the answer to make money for my trip. I had no doubt I could do the job in this small mountain, one-man, non-techy U.S. Post Office operation. I could create and manage e-mails, Excel spreadsheets, service customers, calculate package weights, compute shipping charges on a computer and run a cash register. Hah, how hard could that be—all by myself!? It was a small post office, right?
I don’t think I was a particularly appealing candidate, as I had no long-term employment ambitions, and was also requesting 2 or 3 weeks’ vacation within 6-months. I wanted to be completely transparent with this Federal institution that my main goal was to first make enough money for an important trip with the intention to stay on the job afterwards. If hired, they said the most vacation time they could give me was 2 weeks. I was okay with that with the hope I could make enough for hubby and I to finally make this road trip together.
Little did I know that the universe was intervening and that there would be other ways for money to come. There was never any response on the job after my interview nor from any of my numerous follow-up calls; and, it wasn’t until after my trip that I got an email that the position had been cancelled. Presumably, they hired from within.
Even though I had no response on the job, I still held onto there had to be a way for this trip to happen and, then, the money began to come in – in bits and pieces, over the spring and summer. We got an electric company refund check amounting to more than we had ever received, my daughters and a friend gave me trip money on Mother’s Day and my birthday and I got a large order for the last of my pinecone fire-starters.
It ended up, getting back I would travel solo, again, with just enough money for my flight, rent a car and some extra for expenses. I booked my trip for a week and was waiting for the day when I would finally be launched on my long awaited trip back home, now last month, September, with my return on the 11th, the infamous 9-11.
It wasn’t exactly how I had hoped for over the years, with hubby, on our leisurely road trip back home; but, the universe was pulling and telling me now was the time. I answered the call and sensed there would be more to this trip than I had initially imagined. I was on a type of pilgrimage to the divinity within and, along with connecting with family and paying tribute, I was looking to meet some goals I set for myself. Namely, find my voice, face some fears, come full circle with love and gratitude and meet my transformed self.
I had changed over the years, since I last spent some significant time with my family; of course, there are the physical changes, but spiritually, mentally, philosophically and politically as well. I wasn’t quite sure how that would be received and perceived and was curious as to how much they had changed, too.
Isn’t it curious how friends, even only acquaintances, seem to know us more than our own blood relatives? I suppose it’s because they’re the ones that are there when we have those goofy, unpredictable moments.
I think we all grow in mind and spirit, as life edges us along, and I was looking forward to spending some quality time and learning, in depth, what had been going on in their lives. More than idle chitchat, drapery talk and the weather, I felt the need to be open to whatever events unfolded, late-night talks with heart-to-heart love and kindness, whenever – however.
They say you can never go back home – it will never be like you imagined
There’s a lot of truth to that. Things can never be like we remembered and I understood that from the beginning. Plus, pushing 20 years is a long time since I was back and my old homestead had been sold years before, bulldozed and rebuilt to someone else’s new beautiful home. Highways had been rerouted, old landmarks changed and new businesses replaced old ones; but, nevertheless, I wanted to see how memory would serve me and what still held energies of the past. I was alone on this adventure and open to whatever unfolded.
From Philly airport before heading onto my sister’s, I wanted to check in on an old classmate, Bill, remembering where he lived, just a short jaunt from my old neighborhood where I grew up as a child. His wife, Julie – also a classmate, had died a number of years ago and he lived alone in their home. We had kept in touch on Facebook and I tried to contact him about my trip to let him know I was coming back, along with calling an old number. But, I never heard back. I even tried one of his Facebook relatives but never heard back from them either. So, next best thing was to pop in and try to see him in person.
It’s pretty daunting in this stage of my life and, especially at the beginning of a memorable trip, to find out from neighbors that Bill had died a year ago. I lost a few childhood friends and classmates over the years, Viet Nam, accidents, health; but, it never gets any easier when you hear those words that someone you love had died and I’m standing in front of their old, empty house.
So many memories we had, as friends growing up, especially middle school and high school. Julie and Bill were always destined to be together. They were never apart. I remember one year, when I came back for a visit, they both took me to our old middle school that had been turned into an Administration Building.
We were allowed to go through the old halls and downstairs, in that creaky old building, with them trying to get me to remember this classroom, that teacher (when we staged a sit-down protest in the hall in front of the Biology lab because of the smell), the tunnel through the boiler room to the cafeteria and onto the girls and boys locker rooms recapturing those moments of long ago.
I could remember most things, especially when they said names and told old stories. We were laughing and joking, just like old times, and it felt good to remember old memories with them, right down to the mural on the wall, at the entrance, that Bill said our class painted and is hung there to this day. I never knew about that and he was pretty proud of it. It was a special time back then reliving those times with them.
I love them . . . and now I missed him and whispered a special prayer to him hoping he’s happy back with his beloved Julie. Somehow, while standing there I felt them together again and in love, as they always had been. I said my goodbyes, got in my car and left to take the short ride over to see if I remembered how to get to my old homestead. I was on to see what this trip holds for me next. If this is just the beginning, what else awaits. My heart is full.
There is much more to share with you in the days and months to come as the stories of my trip take shape and come to life. My sister and I did get to see my aunt and spend the night with her after getting lost a number of times. We couldn’t stay longer as Hurricane Dorian was moving up the coast. I visited with nieces, paid tribute at the gravesite of my surrogate grandfather, had a moving and gripping discussion with family and reunited with a cousin I hadn’t seen for more than 55 years, since I was a kid.
And finally, topping it off, with it ending on a return trip, not soon to be forgotten, where I’m sandwiched between two fellow passengers and engaged in talks with them on a 4-hour flight home to Denver on 9-11. Here is a 51-year old successful businessman, I’ve just met, choking up with tears giving me his personal account on 9-11 at ground level telling me, “He doesn’t know what is happening to him . . . he doesn’t do emotions”. You can’t make this stuff up.
One thing I’m reminded of, however, is that there is a greater intelligence in charge no matter how chaotic the world seems and that this greater intelligence has a sweet presence that resides in me and in you.
It’s eye is not only on the sparrow, it knows the number of hairs on our head, the laughter, the pain and our deepest feelings and desires. We carry it around within us and when we connect and align with it for one seemingly unimportant, simple trip (that was much desired by me), it hears and miracles happen and materialize. That’s the wonder and nature of living this beautiful life. It couldn’t have been said any better than by Patanjali, an author of Yoga Sutras from India, many centuries ago:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
All across our land, friends and family will be gathering to share love and . . . be thankful. It’s the day when we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S.
We travel far and wide to see family, go back home or visit old friends. It rekindles our spirit to reunite and break bread together remembering those no longer with us and celebrate what we’ve done. Continue reading →
‘If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.’ ~~ Lao Tzu(taken from Leo Babauta’s “Zen Habits”)