Friday, January 30, 2015

Not sure how it works - just sure it does.

I don't have a clue how the mind works,
not just mine - which (as Anne Lamott says about hers)
 "is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone" - 
but THE mind;
 the organ within our skulls.

How it takes random, seemingly disparate events, thoughts and emotions
 and, under the cover of darkness, 
jumps across God knows how many neurons 
to make connections 
and form some sort of cohesive 

Speaking of God, 
I believe his fingerprints are all over this - 
since he exists across all that we identify as boundaries 
of time and space. 
(With apologizes to those who need to see a female pronoun for their deity.
I'll go one on one with you for NOW membership cards and beliefs 
championing female empowerment, 
but I long ago moved on from needing my sexual assignment or orientation 
to be reflected in my speech about the Divine.)

Stay with me as I try to tell you about 
some of those seemingly random thoughts and connections 
that have coalesced into wholeness -
through a process I don't understand.

Maybe if I go chronologically as events unfolded...
Do you remember that this time last year,
on a visit with my niece,
to see Art Boy in KC
I had my aura photographed?

(If not, refresh your memory here)
There was an obelisk 
(or penis, depending on your frame of mind) 
on the left,
connected to my head with a stream of deep red.

At the time,
we speculated it might be 
a monument or some sort of statue 
I would find in Spain while walking the Camino.
Although I never saw anything coming close to resembling it
even though I looked!

Just keep that image in mind for a minute while I tell you about last week.
As you know,
I believed the post retirement phase of my life would include servant ministry
through my national church deployment office - 
most probably serving on a reservation 
in Canada or the Southwestern United States.

Yet, despite a promising flurry of activity, discernment and conversations in the fall,
nothing seemed to be happening on that front
in the months that followed.

What did come through,
in fully funded being,
 was the wild card -
a 2 year grant position back at the hospital
working with much the same team as before
although in a completely different capacity.

There have been weeks of negotiations about salary,
chain of command, office location, job description, etc;
but in all honesty,
the biggest stumbling block has been internal.

Was I really being called back to work in pediatrics
in St Louis -
or was I merely falling back into financial security,
the known
and the exact combination of factors
that had been SO soul destroying before -
and from which I was just now recovering?
Last Wednesday night,
I had a dream.
Who all the players were isn't important -
although I will say it was a delightful cast of characters.

We were talking about symbolism and auras
as we stood around on a balcony looking at the sunset
and - from behind me -
I heard a voice I recognize as the voice of God
"You haven't figured it out yet, 
so I'll give it to you -
it's a standing stone."
(No surprise that when I turned around to see Him, he wasn't there.
God is helpful but generally elusive, right?)

'standing stone';
I've heard the term
but had NO emotional or intellectual connection with the reality.

Checking Google when I woke up fully,
I realized that Stonehenge is a collection of standing stones
although there are literally thousands of them,
most frequently standing alone, 
doting the countryside in France, England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

 These ancient stones are steeped in history
and are generally believed to possess magical powers;
little is known about the true meaning they held for the ancient people who revered them
and even less is known
about how they came to be where they are placed -
the specific type of rock is NOT characteristic of geological formations
in the areas in which they are found.

These rocks have stood for centuries,
always there,
valiantly resisting decay,
in places where they don't belong.

(In fact there are even two standing stones 
that are measurably getting bigger over time - 
challenging the accepted scientific 'fact'
 that rocks don't grow!) 
 All very interesting
but germane to my life -
(I can be quite dense much of the time -
now wonder God has to get vocal with me!)
Later that day (Thursday)
I got a call from the physician heading the grant,
asking that I come to a meeting the next day
with State and Local officials about the new clinics roll out;
asking that despite not being 'officially' hired
or emotionally signed on
 as the Coordinator,
I start putting faces to the names of the people who would be playing a huge part
in the clinics future.
So, on Friday morning I headed Midtown,
on a route my car can drive on autopilot.
I, however, was NOT on autopilot.

I was paying very close attention to my body and how it was feeling
as I turned into the hospital parking lot
and entered the building.

I won't bore any of us with ALL the details of that day;
just know that I left the building
feeling far more energized
than when I had entered it.

I was also acutely aware of how often during the meeting
there were references,
from multiple people,
to 'standing by' some of the most vulnerable people in our society -
kids in foster care;

"standing by and providing them with a medical home
no matter what adults are coming and going in their lives";
"standing by,
letting them know they matter
no matter what circumstances they find themselves in-
circumstances that are generally beyond their control";
as one official with whom I've worked for decades
said to me
"using what's always been your strength of standing by
but just in a new way;
being a voice and advocate for those who are in danger of standing alone,
without the foundation of strength you have".
Here's the part where it gets wrapped up with a bow.

I left the meeting at the hospital, went home and 'pondered all these things in my heart' -
as I stripped wallpaper far into the night.
The next morning, I went directly to a meeting at church
to participate by teleconference in a seminar from Trinity/ Wall Street
on Economic Inequality and Creating the Common Good.

I sat down in my place -
and the first participant up on the screen -
to get us hooked and involved before our caffeine or breakfast had kicked in -
was a 'vocal activist'
(a descriptor I couldn't love more!);
a black female, cross dressing baritone.
God I love the Episcopal church!

She lead us responsively in a song she'd written -
a simple Taize like chant of two sentences -
gorgeously melodic and richly layered.

The words of the song?
"I will be your standing stone;
I will stand by you".

Hand to God!

I know you don't believe me -
so here is a link to it !
(This is a tape from a concert in the spring
and shows the essence of the song.
If you want the whole session from Saturday morning,
the link is here )

I don't know about you
but singing while I'm sobbing is hard.
Half the time,
I just let the words and sound
wash over me and sink into my soul;
as balm directly from God.

Could it be any clearer?

Any reservations I had
have been swept away.

(Yes, I just now heard it -
although no pun was intended).

I should start work within
the next two weeks -

and I can't wait!

Be happy for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I'm here - 
quiet doesn't mean inactive.

There's been stripping going on

eating well
 homemade tomato soup 
mushroom stuffed with sweet yellow pepper,
crab and lobster
taking care of myself
with yoga
(the view from my mat)
Oh - 
and also
driving my friends who have OCD 
My reminders that I need to stay centered -
whether I'm coming or going -
has created quite a stir.

It doesn't bother me 
that 'center' isn't, 
well, in the center -
but apparently that irony is totally lost 
on some people!
Who knew?

But that's all external -
there's ALOT going on inside too!
But that's always harder to write about 
when it still feels 'unformed' and uncertain.

I'm getting closer to being able to talk about it,
but still need some more 'processing time'.

Not being coy,
just haven't reigned in all the thoughts galloping around in my head;
still wild, wooly and out of control.

Be patient with me -
while I try to be patient with myself.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There are just certain things that say -

and this picture from the wedding says that for me...

my boys and all their cousins;
 what good times we've all had!

I have to say 
I also am loving the two 'Love' signs 
I made this weekend...

Yup, decorating for February is done;
with this addition on the mantle!

Now to sit back 
and enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2015

In the bleak mid-winter

I know its not just me...
Christmas has all been put away,
the evenings no longer sparkle with fairy lights
and, even with the expected January 'warmup' giving us a taste of spring,
the atmosphere -
 and reality -
 seems somehow stripped bare; 
reduced to the most basic 
and boring.

The retreat came at just the right time...
the perfect combination of
spirit (prayer),
vision (painting)
and hearing
(Tibetan singing bowls);
all serving as reminders 
that there is still beauty and color;

all encouraging me to get rid of 
the last truck full of temptation
 and refocus on what's important - 

 although, clearly, 
I won't please everyone! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's in my genes.

For someone who has always said I'd refuse to get genetic testing 
to see what my chances were of getting 
Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer etc...

I was surprised at how easily I embraced the idea - and reality - 
of spitting into a tube to find out if
I had Native American genetic markers 
and what percent
Russian etc
my blood is...

It's not sophisticated enough to discern the 'New Jersey' from the 'Wisconsin'
but I'll take whatever small nuggets of information it yields.
And, now that my DNA is on file somewhere,
if I ever go missing -
 and then some partially decomposed body turns up somewhere 
and they need to determine if its me -
be sure to tell the Detectives to contact for my profile! has promised to provide me with information 
about anyone else whose DNA matches mine;
 and since no one else in my immediate family has participated,
any matches would indeed be a BIG shock!

Fantasies about the results abound ...

to be dashed,
I'm sure, with mundane findings.
But you can't blame a girl for being curious!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Time marches on...

and it's a miracle!

I have a clock I love;
its hung over the fireplace in every home I've owned since 1971.

"It's a French Westminster 'Box Regulator',
noted for its beautiful tonal quality" -
per the clock repair man I recently consulted.

It probably dates to the early 20's.
My husband and I bought it in 1970
from a neighbor who collected clocks and "it was old" then.
The only time it has ever needed attention was back in the mid 90's,
when an overzealous winding 'sprung' some mechanism.

With routine winding,
I am rewarded with the steady heartbeat of a metronome
and melodic chiming every 15 minutes -
which may sound intrusive but which, in actuality,
becomes barely discernible even when you're napping reading in the same room.

So returning from Spain this past spring
to see the clock inexplicably stilled
was devastating
and one more grievance to add to a long list
of a things done poorly by the house-sitter in whom my trust had been misplaced.

Worse than being stilled, there was a terrible grinding noise
with any attempt to swing the pendulum.
No amount of looking (with my untrained eye)
could identify the source of friction or obstacle.

The last time my clock needed servicing it was gone for almost 8 months -
and cost several hundred dollars -
so I wasn't in any particular hurry this time
to find someone I could trust with the repair.

I asked around,
researched on several websites,
visited all sorts of antique stores featuring clockworks -
and, in desperation, had even entertained the idea of just turning it into an art shrine!

Last week though, I had spoken to yet one more person who seemed to have
both the knowledge and appreciation for my timepiece.

The only thing which prevented me from taking the clock down
and transporting it immediately to his shop
was my two day commitment,
under penalty of a subpoena,
to testify in a murder trial.

That's over and done
(the guy successfully convicted of first degree involuntary manslaughter
in the abusive death of his 3 mos old son) -
and this Thursday was designated as clock repair day.

Yesterday morning as I was cleaning in the sunroom,
I felt, rather than heard, an unexpected noise -
and could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the pendulum moving on the clock!

(This is a pendulum that needs a 'tap' to get it going again,
even with routine winding,
and nothing and no one had opened up the case or touched the clock for weeks!).

I didn't touch it at all yesterday either,
convinced it would stop operating at any moment.

But it didn't;
it hasn't;
it's keeping time as though nothing had ever been wrong.
The malady of 8 months has completely disappeared.
The appointment with the clock-master has been cancelled.

His theory is that it began working again in solidarity with the people of France
after the terrorist attacks which were meant to silence them.

Leave it to me to have a political timepiece!

Can't begin to tell you how happy I am to have it back -
no matter what it's political leanings are -
as long as its not Republican!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Big impact

little cost.

All I had to do for inspiration was look around.

I had an idea what I wanted to do...
but was frankly intimidated
with buying ALL the paint I thought I needed
and having to get things measured and proportioned
to look even closely the same.

Until I looked on Pinterest and found -
construction paper!

THAT I have -
as well as scissors and a glue stick!

What fun!
 I took down the painting and laid out the basic design -
and started cutting circles -
imperfect and irregular!
Just like me!

I painted the entire canvas black
Then glued,
applied a finish -
and hung!


Is it perfect?

But it cost about $6.00 in paper and glue -
and THAT'S a change I can live with!

I love it!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It was my mothers - and I broke it;

I did it deliberately.

I'm surprised I haven't broken something of hers 
before now.

My mom was a 'collector' -
Toby mugs,
bird statues,
 Sebastian figures,
and on
and on
     and on.....
you get the drift.

Yet, all of these supremely unattractive items
got packed up and safely moved out of her house,
into my attic
and - months later -
were sold at our church's rummage sale -
with not ONE item broken.

No, what I broke in 2014 was her trust
or, more specifically, her will.

Which, while it gave my brother and I our shares outright,
put my sisters portion into an account to which she'd never have access.

I understand why she did it;
if it had been years earlier that we inherited 'her' money
(which actually was all from my grandparents),
my sister might not have been in the position to make very good decisions.

Not making good decisions was my sisters specialty for decades.

But she's older now-
and I hope to God -
decades wiser.

My brother and I were both inclined
to allow her access to her share of the money -
with no strings attached.

To do otherwise felt punitive
and only served to perpetuate
my mothers anger with her -
for crimes imagined and actual.

So I did it.
Lawyers were consulted,
checks were written
and the past was put further behind us.

Until Christmas Day -
when Art Boy presented me 
with a painting he made in honor of my mom.
 Iconic images of my mom...
the quilts she made him,
the blue plastic bag she always carried things in,
(yes, she was the original 'bag lady')
toys from the zoo
(which she always miraculously had for him in her purse),
the Toby mugs
(that terrified him as a kid since they were displayed at his eye level),
 a spool and a piece of plywood.

My mom would prop the wood up on an edge of a sofa or chair,
then take empty spools and they'd have races
which seemed to go on hours!
Art Boy never tired of that activity.

I was touched that he remembered her so fondly
and that he memorialized her in one of his paintings.

I promise I'll find a spot for it somewhere,
but it can't stay in the sunroom.

It's too omnipresent;
too large a reminder of her -
and I've spent so much money
for so long
getting her out of my head -
that she can't be hanging on my wall!

I'm definitely ready to move on
from the rescued painting that's been there for ever -
but, sorry Mom,
it won't be you!

The only thing that would break then is ME -
and I'm doing the breaking now,
not you!