Saturday, February 17, 2018

In uncertain times

* hold tight to those you love!
(Luckily, its time for another sleepover at Nanny's)
* and travel!
 
I just made plans to go to Santa Fe next month,
see my oldest son 
and try to get a sense of his new life.
I must say he's giving me plenty of chances 
to see different parts of the country! 
(The extra grey hair is all a bonus, right?)

I've gotten a succulent garden started to acknowledge this new chapter for him.
Frankly, I give it 4 months before I kill it with over watering -
but hope springs eternal.
 In uncertain times -
 *Always keep hoping!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

There's so much I don't know

  For instance:
 how a provision for a “well-regulated militia”
 in a 200+ yr old document 
gets so distorted by current legislators 
that any crazed, delusional disenfranchised male 
with money and a chip on his shoulder 
gets to buy a weapon 
created for one purpose only – 
killing the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time – 
and how, without any apparent qualms, 
he feels free to use it. 

How someone can be so devoid of a connection to his own humanity 
that he’s able to divorce himself from the humanity of others.

How a person can be so untethered from society at large 
that he’s willing to kill in order to have someone pay attention to him. 

 The headlines this morning proclaim that authorities are looking for the motives 
behind the massacre at the high school in FLA.

My response is WHY? 
 Will his reasoning make the deaths of 17 children less painful for their families? 

Will his use or over use of video games, 
preoccupation with guns, 
undiagnosed/delayed grief from the deaths of his adoptive parents - 
and the deeper loss of being relinquished for adoption by his birth family - 
allow any one of the people now in a morgue
to take a lungful of air again? 

There is not one scintilla of knowledge we can gain from this incident 
which will prevent us from experiencing an all too similar event 
in the days or weeks to come.

The irony that this killing spree happened on 
Valentines Day AND Ash Wednesday 
is almost too much to bear.

As if any of us needed more of a reminder that
love is a fleeting concept 
and
"we are dust and to dust shall we return"

We've always lived in a broken world
and maybe its just me,
but it feels as though we're on some inexorable slide 
toward darkness and destruction
on an almost Biblical scale.
 I don’t know much 

but I DO know 
we were not created to live like this.

We all have to die, 
but we don’t have to die like this. 

I don't know what else to say.

There's so much I don't know.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

In the deep midwinter

Sylvia Plath once wrote of feeling like the dull, still 'eye' of the tornado, 
surrounded on all sides by turmoil and chaos.

I can relate.
(well, substitute political shitshow for tornado
 and the metaphor is apt.)
It's winter and, if not built for outright hibernation,
my body and soul are at least built for stillness,
for quiet reflection,
for time hunkered down by a fire,
thinking deep thoughts.

Trying to carve out space for that
while the 24/7/365 national nightmare 
plays itself out on our very airwaves
is challenging, to say the least.

But I'm here.
 Still being provided with opportunities to learn more about how to parent adult children;
still wondering when it will get easier;
still being reminded that there's work to be done for those without a voice
and acknowledging that MY time to be that voice is limited.

My energies are scattered,
dabbling in housework, cleaning, laundry, 
reading, playing with my camera
and painting.


everything -
and nothing of significance.

Oddly, it all feels like a form of healing -
and I can certainly use more of that.

A friends image of the blood moon on the reservation moved me to tears this week -
it feels like looking at the worlds veins.
It reminded me of a prayer by Jan Richardson

For all things rising
out of the hiddenness of shadows
out of the weight of despair
out of the constrictions of compliance
out of the rigidity of stereotypes
out of the prison of prejudice;

for all things rising
into life, into hope
into healing, into power
into freedom, into justice;
we pray, O God,
for all things rising.

It's winter
and not time for the rising yet.

But there's hope it will come.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It continues ...

I started the new year the same way I’d finished the old –
 thinking about energy; 
the positive, the negative; 
all that ebbs and flows around us;
all that we create and add to the ‘current’ running through society; 
how that energy impacts and shapes our health, 
emotional as well as physical,
on a societal and individual basis.

Thoughts obviously informed by all the chaos in our political life as a country 
but also impacted by the sharp increase in my inflammatory ‘markers’, 
an increase in pain and subsequent reduction of my stamina.

All leading to questions 
of how I want to ‘spend’ what feels like a finite amount of personal energy 
and what amount of control I can exert over forces and situations 
that feel draining and toxic.

At the end of the year, I went to Wisconsin to visit family.

 I’ve been ‘up north’ often enough in winter to know that the crisp weather 
(also known as ‘frigid’ according to my usual winter benchmarks) 
would shake me out of my innate sloth like tendencies 
and that the topography 
would help restore some badly needed perspective.
Wisconsin vistas tend to simplify things for me; 
it must be all that ‘white space’; 
the reduction of visual and auditory ‘noise’ reduces complexities 
and helps me see more clearly. 
To break the trip from Chicago to Door County, 
we stopped in Sheboygan at my favorite museum, 
the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. 

I am NEVER disappointed with the breadth and accessibility of the work exhibited there. 
 This time was no exception.
The pieces by self-taught artists who, in the midst of ‘ordinary lives’,
create personal narratives and environments that are anything but ‘ordinary’ 
never fails to inspire me.
Narratives that include the re-imagining of a life to include royal lineage, 
colorful pulsating visions 
and reconfigured dry chicken bones turned into thrones!


The main attraction for me though is always The Healing Machine.

 I was SO thrilled to see that portions of Emery Blagdon’s wonderful work were still on display. 
It made the whole trip worthwhile. 
 His pieces so perfectly capture and reflect all the thoughts flying around in my head. 

In a nutshell, Emery was unconventional. 

 Born in 1907, the oldest of 6 children in a farming family, 
formal schooling was never his thing. 
He finished 8th grade but spent much of his teenage years and adult life as a vagabond;
traveling the country by freight train, 
returning home to his family’s farm home in the Nebraska Sandhills at age 48. 
 He returned home to care for his parents 
when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. 

Within a short time frame, he watched both his parents die of cancer, 
an experience that seemed to turn his own thoughts 
toward the magnetic fields that surround us, 
the healing properties of ‘elements’ 
and how to channel these forces 
and reflect them back into our lives for healing.
In a plain unpainted shed at the back of his family’s property, 
Emery gathered discarded bits and pieces, 
utilized scraps of wire, foil and bottles to create something 
which can only be described as magical. 


After his death, a local pharmacist, from whom Emery bought ‘elements’ over the years, 
purchased the entire contents of the shed at auction. 

Several years later, the work became the acquisition of the Kohler Foundation 
which extensively catalogued and preserved this treasure.
Simply put, I’m in love. 
 I have NO idea what Emery felt as he created his masterpiece; 
no idea what forces he felt 
as he worked inside his shed 
or what type of ‘healing’ he envisioned for himself 
or those he loved and for whom he cared. 

I can only speak to what I feel when I stand in front of his work; 
how it moves and calms me.
The task, 
the decades long obsession, of taking all the detritus and broken pieces of our lives; 
combining and weaving them together with whatever material is at hand; 
balancing them in such a way 
that they reflect back to us the goodness and healing 
of unseen forces in our world 
is a task I totally understand. 

For me, Emery’s work is a physical manifestation of the work of redemption. 
Standing in its presence, viewing it 
and opening yourself up to its message 
 is nothing short of a spiritual experience.

I’m tempted to suggest to the museum that they let people pay for the privilege 

of sleeping in the reconstructed shed. 
I know I’d be the first one to sign up! 

Ps. I’m including a
link in case any of you are interested in having more information. 
(You don't have to buy or subscribe to anything; just click on watch now) 

The fact that years after his experience with the Healing Machine, 
the pharmacist can still be moved to tears talking about it speaks to its power.

Friday, December 15, 2017

It's Christmas time

and we were not made for this world.

The lights are twinkly and the cheese balls delish,
but those things can't complete us, perfect us,
or transform us into people with lives that never bend at odd angles.

We're homesick.
We know a shoddy replacement when we see one.

Maybe fudge balls and mistletoe are not high on your priority list
and you feel a little lost in the glare.
Well, Christmas belongs to you too.

Are you lonely today?
Missing someone you love?
Did you wake up to the throbbing reminder that life is just as messy today
as it was yesterday?
Emmanuel came. 
He came to walk in your sorrow and in mine.
He came to see it for Himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful.
He came to be with us, 
and he came to stick around for the long haul.

Shannon Martin


These words are not mine (although I wish they were).
They are, however the words I needed to hear.
No one loves the trappings of this season more than I do
but underneath the tinsel and light bokeh
grief and loss throb  
refusing to be ignored.

So I don't.

Crying is as integral a part of this season for me 
as hot chocolate and mistletoe.

But the whole purpose of this time of year is to remind us 
that God comes in vulnerability
and smallness;
to remind us that there is light in the darkness.
That is good news indeed -
and reason to rejoice