Thursday, August 30, 2012

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

I woke up sure that it must be after six. I know this because the birds are starting to  twitter and take up the song the frogs have been singing all night. I find myself laying in bed with the lyric "the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs" caressing my mind.

Walter has come in and laid on top of me purring and trying to nudge me to get up and let her out.

But the clock says it is 3:33. I walk out onto the back porch and it seems like late afternoon - with long shadows coming from the rocking chairs and hanging plants. The moon! The moon has fooled us all - it is brilliant, pretending to be the sun while no one is looking.

In Alberta where the elements of nature are in sharper relief this kind of moon was common. Often the night would be transformed into pseudo-day like a seduction by a master con artist, drawing the sleeper out onto the porch or lawn just to stand there. I would find myself out on the grass at two in the morning, waving a hello at a neighbor three houses down who just happened to be standing on their front lawn, both of us gazing around in amazement.

Life is full of wonder if we take the time to look. I am getting older, and it is easy to think there is nothing new to discover. What a mistake that is!

I've opened all the windows because the humidity is low. I have an email in my head I need to send to my kid in Canada. The water pot is boiling. I am going to be tired when six o'clock rolls around.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Women Learners

I am in Florida at the Asbury campus surrounded by great people who have decided to study.  I had a lovely conversation with a woman named Michelle. She is from Barbados, and recently cared for her mom during her walk toward the end of her life. Michelle is daring to start seminary and is dreaming about Episcopal priesthood. Another woman, single mom, is starting her program part time but hoping to be full time next year.

I love to support women Learners. I also love to see how many men are here supporting their wives and daughters as they take this daring leap. We have to do the big work of life together. My husband is my strongest support. Some of us have a dad who is awesome, or a brother or friend.

I am going to strongly support women who choose to study, especially those in their second career season. Some of the old ways of thinking have to go. But we can do that work together.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coming out of the closet

It was a long time ago, granted, but this story merits telling. One day I was in the closet of a church office quietly working. This church had only male pastors, and four of the five of them were in the outer room. They did not know I was in the closet.

The men started joking about women in the church. Actually, everything they said was basically true, but it was un-nuanced and unloving. They began to joke about problem women and then women in general - I sat still like a rabbit with my heart beating. The conversation wasn't really long but got quite sad.

I just crouched there among the litter and pencils. I didn't make myself known. I was not able to speak back then. I regret that. These were "my" pastors. There are a lot of comments I can make about this... But let me just say, "I am out of the closet!"

For women to learn to speak up, to trust their voice and believe their thoughts have merit is sometimes a huge step. If we have been 'shushed' and mocked and made to listen to predominantly male voices our own voice becomes quite small and timid. Learning to speak up with gentleness and firmness is the task.

One of my life tasks is to listen to women and the marginalized and draw out the hidden unspoken wisdom and even ordinary thinking. The closet is for shoes, not for people. Just saying.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am fragile

I walked into the library today and saw that a new door has been constructed swinging on a hinge behind the desk. The builders have cut and embedded a window into it (all our doors have windows) and it is not yet painted. A little pink sticky note sits crooked about eye level.

"This door is fragile." It says. "Handle gently."

I look at it and experience a strong impulse to take the sticky note and put it on my shirt. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could put a sign on ourselves that said, "This woman is fragile. Handle gently."

Some days we are more fragile than others. Today I am fragile. I am flimsy. I had a fight yesterday, an unexpected fight. I am not a fighter, but an issue rose that triggered a whole bunch of unfinished brokenness in me. And then some assumptions and comments were made that ricocheted (sp?) through my brain like a pin ball machine on steroids and many offensive, dark and demeaning comments made by men about women - and about me - flared up. I can only image what my brain image would have been if I had been hooked up to a scanner. It would have flashed like a fireworks display.

How do we handle our anger. I am not talking about 'be angry and do not sin.' I am talking about 'you do  not have permission to be angry.' Then what do we do after years and tears and stories and lament that is crammed into our overfull souls. What happens when we can not stay quiet anymore. What happens when woman's anger finally erupts.

My new friend Jo who worked for CNN did a story on Honor Killings in an African country. Fathers and brothers murdered their daughters and sisters when they had, for instance, been raped by the army. When Jo asked one of the men why he murdered his little sister who had been raped he said, "When you have a basket of apples and one of them is rotten, you must get rid of it or the others will become rotten too." Jo told me that story on Sunday night. I can't get the thought of those cold words out of my head. If you are alert to life, this is just one tiny bit of woman's story of pain and terror even.

And so then we come upon issues in our days that are not as raw as that, but can we get angry? Can we be very very angry and still be like Jesus. Can our words be raw and ripped from our guts and still be holy? I don't know. After I get angry I have a lot of shame. I feel the burning shame of accusing eyes like shards of glass in my soul. I feel like now, finally, I will be utterly rejected. I have not been a good girl. And of all women I know what it is like to not be a good girl.

All these bits of life and thought rumble around in my spirit today like pieces of broken china. Cutting my soul and then tinkling against each other. It is so often like that in my woman spirit. Beauty and pain. All a tumbling mess.

I will be fine. I have the grace of a good husband who treats me gently all the time, and especially if I need it. I might wear a sign tonight when he comes home. :) But I am sad about a couple things. I am sad that my anger has caused rifts with a friend. And I am sad that I can't feel safe to be angry - that I am conditioned to feel shame when I have let my anger show.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

in defense of woman flesh

Here is my plan. I have been thinking, as I drive and shop and clean and work, that we need a plan. We need to build a defense around our woman flesh. What do you think of this?

I know - it is silly!
We need to get to know our bodies again. We hide from ourselves, most of us. I know I HATE to see pictures of myself, hate to sit in a restaurant if there is a mirror reflecting my presence, hate to be naked.

So - will you join me?

Get to know her again. Your body.

1. Look in the mirror every morning and really look at everything. You don't have to like her. Just look at her. Look at the back and the front.

2. Choose one part of your body and pay attention to it. Say, your hands - if you are artistic, set down and draw your hand. Study it and look at every spot and wrinkle and nail and muscle and bone. Write a poem about your hand. (When my mom was lying in a bed in her last moments and I was holding her hand I realized we have exactly the same hands - same size, same lines, same everything. What could that realization do to help me know and love my hands?) Choose another part, your feet. If you get brave, do a breast, or, GOD FORBID, your asspidastra. (When I was a girl if you wanted to swear you could make it a longer word and no one could really give you trouble. :)

3. Take some pictures - just for yourself, don't post them!!!! of parts of your body. Do it one afternoon when you are alone and take your big toe, your knee, your shoulder, dozens of them. Then look at them and study yourself. Be gentle. Don't look with hate. Look with love, like seeing a baby. NO one looks at a babies chubby legs or wrinkled face with hate.

4. Do something naked. I tried this this week - I spent a whole hour making my bed, cleaning the kitchen, picking up, all naked. Try to choose something to do privately if you don't want to get into trouble. I did it because I always hide. I dress in the closet and never walk around naked. But men, in my experience, have no trouble walking around naked for a bit. I put on beautiful music and just did my work and then got ready for my day. It was liberating. Interesting. I chuckled at myself.

5. There are the usual things - luxurious baths, rubbing cream on yourself, having a pedicure. But I am trying to think of new things. So one more - Take your body on a date. Instead of it taking you and you ignoring it, you take it! Take it out for ice cream and tell it to enjoy - and feel the ice cream on your tongue and in your belly and on your lips. Walk in grass and feel the grass on your feet. Tell your feet to enjoy the grass. Lie on your back and look at the sky and feel the weight of your body being pulled toward the earth and remember that you are embodied, as well as spiritual. Feel your body's presence, give it joy, be with it in peace.

So...those are my ideas for reacquainting with our bodies. I know you are reading this - do you have any other ideas? You can be anonymous. :)  Am I all alone out here?

I don't think we can recover alone.

I am writing about this because I don't think we can recover alone. I think we need an uprising. We need to see each other, and see ourselves in each other.

I was pastoring a church in Canada in l996 and after one beautiful service a woman came to the front with uncontrollable sobs. She was probably in her seventies. Single now, I seem to remember.

She cried. I held her. Then finally I was able to ask her what she was thinking. Her reply shocked me. "I am so ugly."

I am so ugly. 

I was 41. I thought women in their 70's were over that. But over what? Over being a human? Over knowing themselves and living in the bodily experience of self as reflected by others?

She was not a 70 year old woman. She was a woman. She had lived 70 years. She carried a mountain of abuses and insults and diminishments, some pointed at her and some floating through the air and caught by her like a dust mote on her sweater.

We talked and God showed her a different self. I looked at her and God showed me a different self too.

Later I heard she had joined the the youth ministry, had been taking mission trips with several teams, and was one of the most beloved, outrageous, fun youth leaders in the church. She lost her self consciousness. She became free. She lived with eyes looking outward instead of standing with shame and looking in.

"My body became the sacrifice."

Marilyn - After reading your blog, I thought the net would be flooded with response.  I suspect your comments have probably touched other women, as they did me.  What a hot button you hit, one that rushes to our most tender and intense depths.  Yet, it’s in a venue where we are hesitant to participate.

Those “body thoughts” immediately brought me shame.  I started an internal exercise of trying to hide my body, in fact, become invisible.  I didn’t want anyone to see me as I was, and as I am.  For some, there are tons of guilt layers.  Guilt that took root when our bodies sustained the first misuse and damage.  That body was all I knew of my existence.  Through learned behavior, my body kept guard over my spirit.  My body eventually became the sacrifice ….. and my spirit was laid bare.

I didn’t know this at the time.  I instinctively aimed toward survival.  My body bore the burden, and I lived.  Now I wonder if I’ll live long enough to reclaim, recognize and retrieve the flesh, bones, muscles, nerves residing under this tough skin.  I wonder if I will able to tend my inner spirit, to give that person a chance at experiencing peace and at-home-ness before my life ends.

Thank you for addressing the body issue.  Sounds and feels very God directed.  Maybe altogether, we as women can share wisdom, counsel and compassion for the soothing of our  bodies and inner spirits, that have served us well.   I doubt this healing can be accomplished in isolation.  It will require a deep trust level, and God direction.  What an awesome process,  needing the watchful care of Almighty God and the understanding companionship of our sisters.

(Written by a dear beloved beautiful woman friend of mine.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh body mine.

I thought I was perfect until I was eleven or twelve. Well, maybe not perfect. I knew my bangs always flipped up on one side no matter how straight my mom cut them, and one day my gramma told me they were awful. And I knew sometimes I couldn't run as fast as I wanted to. But from my vantage point, looking out from my eyes at the world full of wonder, and living in my imagination I knew I was probably a princess. I know - the princess thing is over done right now with pink and sparkles. I didn't have even the tiniest princess like possession. I just thought maybe I would fly someday, or find magic. My body and I moved through time and space completely free-of-self-consciousness.

When I was eleven, or twelve, my girlfriend brought me a message from "the boys" who we had started hanging out with. "You can't be part of the group, Marilyn. The boys don't want you. They said you are too flat." Too flat. Hmmm. Because of my body I lost my girlfriend group and the new group with boys. Suddenly I started thinking of myself from the outside in. I stood watching my body instead of being inside my body enjoying the life it engaged in. That was the first rip in the fabric of my peace with myself.

I learned other things later. I don't have thin ankles. I have big feet. I have a bit butt. My hands are big. Notice how 'big' is the dominant adjective. Big is not pretty. Big is ugly.

And beyond that - my hair brown, like mouse brown. Cow brown. Poo brown. And it is poker straight.  Except for where it curls, on the left side above my ear and in the three - count them! - three 'cow lick swirls'.

And even though I prayed, I stayed pretty much flat. Raisins on a breadboard kind of flat. Sigh. I really prayed in faith. I prayed claiming and believing. Many mornings I woke to grave disappointment, cracks in my faith at a tender age.

When I was 24 and had given birth four times, during a pap test I asked the doctor if I was normal. "Normal?" she said, surprised. "Yes, could you just tell me if I am normal?" She laughed. I felt embarassed but it had taken all my courage to ask her. "You are normal." I was glad, sort of.

And at 52 I was reading in National Geographic and started to cry. National Geographic! Can you imagine? I was looking at five black skinned women sitting in a circle around a fire. Five women with no clothes on, mostly. And there I was, or rather, a woman who was built just like me! I started crying and my husband said, "What on earth are you crying for?" I answered, "I see myself. There is a woman like me. She looks normal."

This morning when I was getting dressed I actually stood in front of a full length mirror. BEFORE 'everything' was on. I turned one way and another. I said, "Okay. This is a good body. I am grateful for this body. It is healthy and does tons of work for me and enables me to love. Thank-you for this body." And then I got dressed.

I have decided to make friends with my body. I have never, ever, felt satisfied. I have thin friends who insist on saying how fat they are. I have friends who cannot take a compliment even if it absolutely true. I have friends who literally hate their bodies. Women of faith, women of age. Let's take it back. Let's move back into our bodies and stop looking from the outside. Women arise! This has got to stop. We are cursing ourselves and damning the best gift of our lives.

Trying to be Honest - my own ponderings about my body

For Making Me a Woman
(by Marty Conner in Woman's Uncommon Prayers.)

For making me a woman
in what still so often
seems a man's world,
I thank you.
Because you taught me by example
that power is your gift
and not my possession.

For giving me a body
thought it sometimes fails me
and is not all I wish it was
or rather, a good deal more
than I wish it was,
I thank you.
Because you taught me
that I am much more 
than my body
and yet my body is 
your holy temple.

For calling me to be
more than I believe I can be,
and less
than I sometimes pretend I am,
I thank you.
Because you taught me 
that being is more than doing,
that who I am
and whose I am
are more important than
what I do 
or what I have.

For all that you are 
Great "I Am,"
I bless you
as you have so greatly blessed me.

This poem touches me and speaks almost perfectly to the heart of how I see my life, and how I have experienced God. I will write more - I am going to take two or three blogs to talk about my own love/hate affair with my body. I would love to publish your thoughts too, my friends. Send them to me if you like.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Love Letter to my body - from another woman I love


Dear old friend,

It goes without saying; there has not been a moment in my life when you have not been there. Of course, in my youth I did not notice you. I ran across the playground with reckless abandonment, sometimes falling and injuring you. In those moments, you would softly let me know that you were there, for a moment. But you were quick to heal and fade back into the background of my life.

Then I entered my teens, and I finally began to notice you. But when I looked at you, I did not see you through the eyes of my youth and innocence, instead I began to view you through the eyes of the world. This lens seemed to distort you. Portions of you looked too big while others seemed too small, nothing seemed to match the ideal body of the women of the world. I was dissatisfied with you. I went through periods of reckless abandonment, not valuing you. I lived fast.  But you remained faithful and sat silently in the background.

I then entered my twenties, and you still didn’t match the ideal woman, so I began to abuse you, to try to squeeze you into the body of this “perfect” woman.  I went for long runs, I worked too long, I didn’t give you any rest, I refused to feed you and the little food that I did provide, I refused to let you digest, and instead I took pills to force it out of you. But you remained faithful and sat silently in the background.

As I neared my thirties, I decided it was time to ask you to step up and do something quite miraculous. I asked you to incubate another little body. And even though I had abused you, you did it quite beautifully, several times. Those years I neglected you, not giving you rest, not eating right, chasing after these three little children, and you remained faithful and sat silently in the background.

When my forties came around, I stopped chasing children but continued to feed you as though you were chasing them. I watched you grow larger and larger, and you began to softly tell me that this was too much. But I ignored you and continued to neglect you.

As I near my fifties, I realize that even though you have remained faithful, you can no longer sit silently in the background. It is impossible for you to hide the abuse anymore. You are still faithful, and you always rise to the occasion, but afterward, I hear your moans.

I am sorry my dear friend. I cannot undo the abuse, but I do want to stop the abuse and neglect. I thank you for all the years of service to me. Let us walk gently into the future.


a Love Letter to my Body

I challenged some of my people/friends to write a love letter to their body. Here is what my daughter wrote.

My (dear?) Body,

I am writing to you under protest...but you already know this, and I would rather not try to start healing our relationship by telling you lies.

I don't love you. Yet. But for the first time, maybe I'm willing to try. 

I hide you, disguise you, despise you for not being flawless. But you have never betrayed me. I have been carried by your strength and health without bothering to notice or to offer thanks. You have embodied more Love and Grace than I ever imagined a body could. But I have been blind to your beauty, willfully, turning my head away from mirrors and rejecting gentle hands reaching out to run along my skin. Somewhere along the line, I bought the lie that I should not love you, and that I wasn’t worthy to be loved, because you are not smooth or taut… that you & I are somehow less.

How can I learn to love you, to make us friends and lovers instead of enemies? How do I stop fighting you at every reflection, every meal, every touch?

Maybe you are not less. Maybe you are more.

That scar, maybe it means that Love lives in you. Those lines, maybe they mean we have laughed hard and smiled at strangers. That cellulite, maybe it marks feasts and celebrations with family & friends, babies carried and born, wine and joy and chocolate licked off beaters and not ignorance or shame. What if the curve of our hip and rounded waist are the wondrous mark of a life gifted with plenty and not lack?

I am ready to learn how to love you. I am tired of fighting against you…I want to know what it’s like to have peace between us. I want to live into your strength and beauty, however faltering my first steps may be.

Sincerely, with affection,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Women over 40

Andy Rooney of 60 minutes said this on air a few years ago - I found my treasured copy in an old file I am cleaning out. It is worth sharing. I quote...

As I age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over 40 will never wake you up in the middle of the night and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you are think. 

If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting. 

Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. 

Older women are generous in praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. 

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. 

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off that you are a jerk if you a re acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her. 

Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy, relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize." 

I enjoy this because it is from a distinctly male perspective. It is about how a man experiences women.

I wondered what I would write from a woman's perspective? Any over 40's out there have any ideas? I will post them if you send them. Here is mine:

Women over 40 have issues with their bodies but these do not seem to dominate their lives. They can put their own insecurities aside and get on with a great day.

A woman over 40 is willing to risk to do life in a way that is better for her, healthier and safer. She will speak up, walk away, take a chance or make a hard choice. Maybe this is because she knows life is not going to last forever.

Friendships between older women are not competitive - they enjoy the success of each other. When they get together the conversation is rich and hilarious. Women over 40 find men intensely amusing. 

Women over 40 can laugh when things go wrong. They have enough 'in the bank' that they don't feel like a failure when something they do goes south. A woman knows she is much more than what she is doing in any given moment.

(this is just off the top of my head... I will think more. What comes to you?)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Favorite moments - not in any particular order

- All my men standing together, clean and suited up for JV - the grand kids together beside me on the pew - Blaise (7) dancing up a storm all night - Big Steve entering into the party just like his dad did for us - ride home in the car w Bill and Annie getting totally lost and laughing our heads off - the makeup lady who was helpful and friendly to me just when I needed her - mustache straws - the 'chef hat' dance - walking down the isle w Ben - seeing all the grand-daughters loving and playing - watching Rae own her individual dance style - our friends rescuing us w lodging - seeing V happy


We are staying in an incredible home. I don't use the word 'incredible' casually here. We are on a ski mountain in a home built and furnished out of wood and stone and the most lavish fabrics and pieces. The bedrooms have walk out decks and the main stone deck must surely cost more than our home. I sit on the deck in the shade since AC is off, and remember in my body that nature heals me.

I don't covet the house or anything in it. The deck and view are the treasures to me. I was thinking , surrounded by all these things, that we have lost the intimacy of things because we have so much. A treasured mirror, a pen, a small leather bound book that fits into the palm of the hand - who even notices these things anymore let alone ponders all they present or remember how they came to us?

We have lost our companionship w small treasures and our minds hunger in a way that cannot be satisfied. I think having a lot, living in a world with so much, is the reason this has happened. I never stop to be stunned at all the stuff a family can haul out into a driveway for a garage sale. Or how much is in a house we clean out after gramma dies. We have stuff. Stuff. Such a good word - it is a noun AND a verb. Our treasures are lost in our stuff.

Egg Benedict

Driving up toward our very recently secured vacation rental we stopped in an "historic" town to eat. Happily we came upon a nice little local cafe. The matron w flour on her shirt boosum and belly told us they had re- opened w a generator the previous afternoon at 4:00.

I ordered perogys and cabbage rolls and Steve ordered Eggs Benedict. "We only have one egg, she told us. But I will make it good." My plate of two perogys and one cabbage roll was yummy but sparse. I should have guessed she was precious about her food. In my enthusiasm I asked if she would sell us 12 perogy and 12 cabbage rolls to take. "Yes, of course."

The bill came as we stood at the counter- breakfast and two dozen hand made treats - $121.00! Apparently the perogy were $3.50 a piece and the cabbage rolls more. We gulped, apologized, rescinded the order and fled, laughing. In Alberta, Uktainian country, a dozen perogy is $4.00 or so.

Anyway, Steve's Egg Benedict was lovely.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Friends don't let friends sleep on the curb

Our best laid plans can sink like a stone. I planned this time like an old woman laying out a quilt pattern. Getting five families , six kids, fifteen people into the same place happily relaxing and well fed for 10 days is a challenge. The very first night a tornado wiped it all out. Our wedding accommodations were w/o air, water, light and our holiday rental was completely wiped out. We could only find two rooms in Charleston and we only got them because Curtis stood in front of the front desk and, uncharacteristically, demanded they give us their last two rooms. But we have friends!! Friends who Love unselfishly. In a lighthearted generous negotiation two great couples abandoned their rooms, left the wedding early and everyone in the family had a bed. What can I say? The generosity, love, joyful participation from our friends who love us and love God is one of the most beautiful gifts of this wedding.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Wine into Water

The First Presbyterian church of Charleston is magnificent. Stained glass, curved, hard wax polished pews, magnificent organ. The wedding coordinator for the church stood before us in a lumpy cotton skirt - but it was 102 degrees out and we all arrived dripping wet. Declaring the church rules she said, "... And NO alcohol AT ALL in the church! I AM NOT jOKING!!! If anyone is caught with any alcohol at all the wedding will be immediately cancelled and every asked to leave the premises. I heard a small stirring and looked over at my young teen granddaughters. They were staring straight ahead, a bit too solomnly. I know that look though. There was mischief afoot! Their dad was doing the same, all the while inching away from a cardboard box sitting on the first pew beside him as if it contained a bomb. The woman leaned forward to make her point, her skirt skimming the box containing 16 bottles of wine that had been delivered and brought in to protect it from the scorching hot car!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Something Worthwhile

My work took me and a student friend to Dallas this week, as part of the requirement of a student award we were granted to help a local school. The event turned out to be valuable, but before I knew that I was just a bit unhappy about taking most of my week to do this task. Steve said to me, after praying for me, "Maybe something worthwhile will happen." My daughter Rachel said the exact same words over the phone.

So, did something worthwhile happen? There was conversation and networking and eating and presenting our school and our work. There was an interesting connection with a mutual friend and some laughing and learning.
As I was leaving the hotel I stopped at the Buss-man's desk to retrieve my luggage and two young guys were there to assist. I had passed them earlier as sentries by the front door and had asked a question and passed a word then. So at the desk I commented on their change of venue and we smiled.

Having received my luggage, the one young man, a tall lovely African American wearing a black with gold trim cowboy outfit said, "May I ask you something?" He was looking at the computer screen and I thought it was a survey of customers.

"Do you consider yourself excellent?" he asked?

Taken aback I paused, and then said, "Yes, I guess I do."

"So," he said, "you don't consider yourself to have flaws."

I laughed! "Oh that isn't what I mean. I have so many flaws. Excellence is about what is inside."

He said, "What's inside? You are excellent but you have flaws. That is how you see it."

 "Yes, of course. I am excellent in that I know who I am and I live out of that, but there are flaws in everything in my life."

Long-ish pause. "So do you have any advice for me?" he asked.

Hmm. I smiled. And thought. And so much wanted to have a brilliant sentence come out of my head. But of course that didn't happen. So I said, (and this won't be exact, but the closest I can remember) "I guess I would tell you that you need to get to know God, and His love for you, and get to know yourself. If you know God and know yourself you will find your way. And you will be excellent."

His turn to pause. "So you believe in grace."

 I laughed. "I definitely do. I need a lot of grace."

"And you believe in forgiveness."

I felt joy to be able to say, "Yes. I need a lot of forgiveness in my life. Always. And for some big things too. But yes, I believe in grace."

 "Keep asking questions," I said. "You are going to find your way." He smiled for the first time.

That was it. I think that was worthwhile.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Signs of God

My son in law told me a story that comes out of the Red Light Project he and his church are developing in Raleigh NC. I asked him to write it out for me. What do you think?

"Two Saturdays ago, I went out to the Durham Art Walk in, well, Durham, to drop off some promotional materials for 5 or 6 artists who are going to be a part of our Project Red Light art exhibit. And the third artist I saw was this wonderful older Italian man named Eduardo Lapetina.

I gave him the promotional pieces and we talked a bit about his display walls that we may be borrowing for the event. And he has this wonderful grandfatherly quality about him. Every word he says smiles.

And then he asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I work as a Pastor at a church. He put his hand to his brow and shook his head and said “Oh. Why? You are far too young to believe in a god.”

And God gave me buoyant joy in that moment - and put words in my mouth that I’m so glad I spoke. Trying to mirror his smile toward me, I said to him, “Eduardo, do you want to know why I believe in a god?” And I pointed to one of his paintings and said “Because of this! Because of beauty and creativity! I see these painting and can’t help but see God. And do you want to know why else I believe in God? Because a bunch of artists like you are giving of your time and talents to help bring justice and hope to people who need it. I can’t help but see all of this as signposts of the divine.”

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mingo Park

I started running again on Saturday.

I haven't been doing any real taxing activity and I had to move. TO MOVE! The Mingo Park in Nicholasville is a great place: a skateboard area, basketball courts, an extreme frisby course (or whatever they call it), a fishing pond loaded with ducks and geese, and a one mile track. Rows of subsidized housing line the park, giving prime play space to all kinds of kids and families who don't have their own back yard. The park is never empty - it buzzes with colorful life.

 On Saturday I ran three miles(ish). On the first cycle around I passed two Mormon fellows trying to get a conversation going with a small group of young teens who were trying to escape.

The second time around the same five or seven kids were captured by a local 'holy man' - an East Indian fellow who wears exotic clothing and wanders around the town carrying various bags of garbage, talking to himself or yelling bits of wisdom. He was standing in front of the kids who were all sitting on a picnic table, watching, mezmerized. His voice rose and fell dramatically and he railed against evils and called the kids to some kind of higher life. I always wonder if a person like him is really crazy or is he a John the Baptist kind of fellow. I don't know.

This same 'holy man' followed my granddaughters around the library last time they were here. He kept saying, "Peace." Kyra, the most cooperative, would say back, "Peace." They told me about it in the car, laughing til they cried. "Peace!" Megan would make fun of the way her sister had said it. "Peace!"

 After my third time around I sat and watched the same boys ride the ramps and edges of the skateboard area. With elegance they flew through a routine of marvelous acrobatics. Then they would stand with their weight on one foot and act really casual like, "Sheesh. That was nothing. You should see me on a good day!"

I had the thought that God was preaching through them. Not the missionaries or the crazy holy man, but the lives of boys who can fly on a board attached to wheels. Someone's boy. Someone's lover one day, if not now. Life fresh from the womb.

I prayed that they would soar through all of life like they rode their skate boards. God help us all.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Middle Tint

My friend George Ezell posted this is from From “Still” by Lauren Winner

 At the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts, looking at Fitz Lane’s The Western Shore
with Norman’s Woe, an 1862 oil painting of a cove, water, a few clouds, a boat. 

It is distinguished by its palette, by what critics in the nineteenth century would have called middle tint—that is, the grays, the browns and blues and dull brick reds, not bright; the colors that do not sing out for your attention; the colors you might not notice if you are not looking for them. They are the gray curve of Lane’s rocks, the enormous expanse of ochre sky. They are the putty of buildings that dominate a canvas but do not draw the eye. Middle tint makes the shadows in your painting; without it, your canvas would look flat. Standing here in this museum before Lane’s great landscape, you might not linger on the middle tint, but without it, you would not be able to see the bright sharp clouds, the curve of stark black earth that holds your eye. John Ruskin, the nineteenth-century art critic, said that the truly skilled painter devoted most of his canvas to middle tint. In a great landscape, there is “excessively small quantity, both of extreme light and extreme shade, all the mass of the picture being graduated and delicate middle tint. . . . The middle tint is laid before the dark colors, and before the lights.” The painter should follow nature, said Ruskin; nature’s landscapes are mostly all “middle tint, in which she will have as many gradations as you please” and only there in those miles of humble, sleeping green and brown does nature “touch her extreme lights, and extreme darks, isolated and sharp, so that the eye goes to them directly, and feels them to be key-notes of the whole composition.” 

Perhaps middle tint is the palette of faithfulness. Middle tint is going to church each week, opening the prayer book each day. This is rote, unshowy behavior, and you would not notice it if you weren’t looking for it, but it is necessary; it is most of the canvas; it is the palette that makes possible the gashes of white, the outlines of black; it is indeed that by which the painting will succeed or fail. 

“Upon the strength of the middle tint depends, in a great measure, the general look of the picture,” says one nineteenth-century handbook for aspiring artists. “The management of light and shade, as relates to a whole, ought to be always present in the student’s mind, as it is from inattention to this alone that a work is often destroyed in its progress.” 

Maybe now in the middle, after the conversion, after ten years, on into twenty years, faithfulness is about recognizing that most of my hours will be devoted to painting the middle tint, the sky, the hillside on which no one will comment, the hillside that no one, really, will see.

 Maybe this is prayer most of the time, for most of my life; I will barely notice it; you will barely notice it; against this landscape of subtle grays, occasionally I will speak in tongues, occasionally I will hear an annunciation."  

George said the ideas in the article reminded him of me. I find that a compliment. 

I have learned that life IS mostly about the middle tint. I am not very impressed by grandeur, heroism, extreme measures anymore. 

I know these have their moment,but when we expect all of life to be grandiose we end up a slave who wonders why life is so meaningless. 

Yes, you barely notice what is most important about my life now. It is not my great job, which I love, or adventures or great moments of service.

 What is important about my life is the color of light that fills my rooms on a spring morning, the fight for life going on in the wreath on my front door, and a smile from Steve. That is enough.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Saturday

We talk a lot about Good Friday and Easter Sunday - but what is today? What is the meaning of the Saturday between the death and the resurrection? In truth, this is where most of us live much of our lives. We live in the waiting time - the time between a death, be it a trauma, a loss, a heartbreak, a disappointment, and what might come of it.

As Christians we believe that God is at work in everything, bringing life. Even the worst situations, put into the hands of God, bring life. God is the great integrator, the maker of what might become new. But the reality is that we must live into the Saturday - the period of time when death hangs over us and life has not yet been resurrected.

In her book called Spirit and Trauma, Shelly Rambo deals extensively with the idea of Saturday - the time between. (I highly recommend it if you are inclined to this kind of question.) One of Shelly's ideas is that after a trauma, life is forever changed, because elements of death remain. This 'remaining' is what we struggle with. Yes life goes on, even blossoms. No, we never get 'over it.'

So, the disciples and friends of Jesus walk around their homes and streets on this (symbolic) day, in a state of shock and pain that makes their hearts literally ache.The waiting. The thinking. Images forced into their brains. No sleep. Tears. Dry mouth. Pounding tension headache.

And then the resurrection, but the Jesus they knew is not the Jesus they can hold onto now. It is a whole new thing. You might argue, a better thing, but it is another death. Hear this little poem imagined from the lips of Mary:

I never suspected
to be so painful
to leave me weeping
With joy
to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty
With regret
not because I've lost you
but because I've lost you in how I had you -
in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable
not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
cling to your body
cling to your, and my, clingable humanity
cling to what we had, our past.

But I know that ... if I cling
you cannot ascend and
I will be left clinging to your former self
... unable to receive your present spirit.

by Ronald Rolheiser

Friday, March 30, 2012

Life in the fair city of Lexington

Here is a little insight into my city, Lexington. An large article in the newspaper today is about how to paint your face for the big basketball game on Saturday. If you are curious, let me help you out. We can all learn.
1. Make sure the paint or makeup you use is safe on skin - non-toxic doesn't equal safe for skin - clown makeup is suggested.
2. Wash your face (or other body parts you plan to paint) to remove oils that will prevent makeup from adhering.
3. Moisturize. Apply a light layer of moisturizer, especially if you have sensitive skin. This will prevent cracking.
4. To get a professional look use a makeup sponge to apply the color. Brushes are your friend.
5. The simplest look is to go all blue. If you want to incorporate white makeup or paint, apply the white first.
6. You may be tempted, but don't put the color on your ears. Otherwise you'll be getting blue stuff out of your ears for weeks.
7. Set your makeup with powder. This keeps it from rubbing off. Make sure you use a neutral color of powder.
8. If all else fails, simply use makeup to draw a blue streak across and between your eyebrows to look like Anthony Davis, famous for the uni-brow.

That is it folks. The news from Lexington, KY. Hope nothing important is happening anywhere else in the world. And now I have to go and buy a blue UK tie for Steve to wear while he preaches tomorrow.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Coming into work this morning I laughed with Medine, my colleague, about loving Fridays. "But," I said, "you do know what this love of Friday really is, don't you?" She listened.

"It is a God-given longing for Sabbath." And I know I am right.

Theologically speaking, the Creator did not create a mighty army of slaves like those pictured serving in underground Mordor in Lord of the Rings. No. The vision for life was for abundance, joy, laughter, creativity, people together marveling at each other's beauty, tasks that are utterly fulfilling all in a setting of beauty and being.The poetry of the creation story places the creation gift of 'rest' on the seventh day.

Rest. The rest of God is placed over all creation. You will notice if you read this passage that there is no eighth day. There is no resumption of work without rest. Rest was not a day, any more than abundant green things growing is a day. Rest is an establishment of a kind of life.That, of course, has all been smashed, we know personally of the destruction of rest. On Thursday this week I asked Steve if he thought I could call into work dead and take the day off. :) Our work and worry exhausts us.

So we long for Friday. TGIF. What we are longing for is God's rest on our lives. Even if we don't know it. Rest that makes work meaningful and fulfilling, rest that makes relationships work because there is time to be gentle with each other, rest that makes room for laughter, discovery and ridiculous possibility.If you get a whiff of that this weekend, stop and revel in it. And don't feel any shame over longing for Friday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

busy nights and long days

I have been awake all night listening to big Steve snore. His snoring did not keep me awake, it was just the music that was playing while I watched the hours tick by - 12:15, 2:05, 3:30, 4:19, and finally up at 5:00. I have been working and it is now 6:18 and my alarm goes off at 6:40 so I am in a dilemma. Do I sink back into the pillows now, finally able to sink into sleep, or do I soldier on. I think it is pillow time. :)

During the night I have been processing life and work and writing a strategic plan and solving problems and crafting ideas. At one point about 4:30 I decided I need an acronym to remember all the thoughts. I came up with WWBOA.

This past hour I sat at my computer and poured out all my thoughts in an email to myself but I can't remember what one of the W's is for. Maybe it was a crazy idea - half asleep in dream land - maybe it stands for wizard or wisteria. I have no idea. If it is important, hopefully it will float past my brain again.

I think my sleep is off because of daylight savings time changing. One hour can throw a person completely into bio-confusion. We are like babies - we need our schedule and our rhythm.

The rhythm I have embraced this lent is to end my day with the prayer of examen. I quiet myself and walk back through my day looking for the fingerprints of God, for blessings born by people, for moments of gift. And then I pay attention to any flash of dissonance or emotional mis-fire and look to see what they were about. I ask God to come to those places and bring peace and healing. Then I invite God into my upcoming day - invite a holy presence to invade what awaits me.

Tonight was not a bad night, but it will make my day a challenge. Truth is, it is only a day, and I won't confuse weather with climate. I can get through the day. Life is beautiful. I am alive.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

news from Indonesia

Just got this little story from my son in Indonesia:

We just wanted to share a crazy story with you from life in Indonesia. Our helper, Dina, got sick this week. How sick? Well, after consulting our trusty Indonesian-English dictionary, apparently she has scurvy. I tell you I didn't learn the Indonesian word for that at language school.

For us it was impossible to imagine. You only need to eat, like, four oranges a year to keep scurvy at bay. So Kari asked if she had been eating any fruits and vegetables. She said no. Kari said, "How long has it been since you ate fruits and vegetables?" Dina said, "Basically never." "Never?" "No, never. Fruits and vegetables are gross, so I never eat them."

They have the cash for it, and we send them home with fruit and veg reasonably often: she just gives it to her kids because she thinks it's gross.

Fruit is so plentiful here it is basically free. Bananas and papayas and oranges and melons and pineapples grow like weeds to the point that they are annoying and you have to dig them out like unwanted poplars.

[I am sad to hear about uneducated women, whose lives could be so much better if they had the chance to learn.]

(PS -- She is taking amoxicillin for her scurvy . . . and we are making smoothies: we have her a two pound papaya yesterday and told her to eat it all)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday meditation

Meditation on Psalm 78:38,39 by Bishop Edmond Lee Browning

We do meet those impossible people sometimes: so self-destructive, and yet so appealing. Perhaps you have loved one of them - if you have, you know something of the roller coaster ride they travel between hope and despair. Appallingly deluded and yet capable, sometimes, of terrible honesty. Ridiculously self-absorbed and then unexpectedly generous. Awash in self-hatred and then, suddenly, the purveyors of what can only be called grace. Whatever else they may be, they are not dull.

I wonder if we are all similarly endearing and infuriating to God. Do our mercurial ups and downs, our times of selfishness and our moments of compassion, tug at the divine heart the way we tug at one another's? Scripture suggest that it is so - the psalmist here, for instance, imagines God's patience with human waywardness.

Just a breath. That's about all we are. The older you get, the more true this seems. Human life is short - there's not much time for it to acquire meaning. That is why love matters so much to us. It makes us feel eternal. And so we are - not in the way we think when we are young and strong and someone adores us, but in another Heart, eternally alive in a love can never lose.
I wish I had written that! Just wanted to share it with you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

when all else fails

I know - two postings in one day. But this has to be said. Passing wisdom on to the generations coming up.

On Friday I was exhausted. Pooped. Out of gas. Unable to think. At one point in the afternoon I was pacing in my office, not knowing what to do. Then the thought hit me - PERSONAL HYGIENE! When all else fails, go for personal hygiene.

I opened my drawer of kid's candy, boxes of raisins and tension Tylenol, and pulled out my toothbrush and paste. I marched to the ladies room and had a good brushing.

That accomplished, I was back in my office, not at all more rested or able to work, but certainly with a cleaner smile. And in an afternoon when all else is failing, to have one good thing intact was a victory.

fatal mistakes

I have done something very bad. I am chagrinned at myself. Today I went to Sassy Fox an upscale consignment store and bought a dress I might wear to the wedding in June. It fits me. But I am a little lumpy in it. But I bought it anyway, with plans to lose those lumps. I KNOW BETTER!

Now this dress is going to sit in my closet condemning me. It is going to gather dust, all the while saying, "What were you thinking eating that curry yesterday?!" The weeks will march past and I will move it further back into the closet and then one day I will give it away.

OR maybe ... just maybe .... this will be a Christmas miracle and I will suddenly drop 20 or so pounds and the dress will be magnificent. I will be so trim I might even get a sprayed on tan and buy big droopy earings and people won't recognize me at the wedding.

Or not.

In either case, I have purchased a dress, quite a fabulous dress, from a consignment store, and maybe all it needs is good - no, fabulous - shoes. And spanx. Knee to neck spanx.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

all in how you look at it

I spent a few hours outside a retreat center located on the Kentucky River on Tuesday. The warm afternoon sun seduced me outside and I rambled down a path through last years weeds and refuse. Above me a vulture, no two! coasted on a breeze blowing far above my still air.

Finding a mossy clearing I dropped to the ground and spread out my arms my face basking in the sun and eyes feasting on the blue sky. What could be more magnificent than sun warm on my skin in early March? I remembered winter days in Calgary that were so cold and dismal I would lay on the carpet by a window to let the weak rays of sunshine fall on my face.

So I gazed into the sky in peace, but then began to be aware of eyes gazing back at me. One buzzard, no two~!, no three... started to circle down toward me. Before a full minute passed the sky was full of buzzards circling lower and lower. I laid still, and counted 41, probably missing some. They came as low as 20 feet above me, circling and watching, giving me a once-over.

I wondered what I would do if they started to land, desiring to pluck out my eyeball, or rip skin off my fleshy parts. The dance in the sky was too beautiful to disturb, so I just let the moment unfold.

And then they started to fly off - like a crowd of school kids finding out the ice cream truck is only broken down on the side of the road and not vending ice cream - one by one they shrugged and soared south.

We are all something to someone. To the buzzards in Garrard County I am a hunk of meat, a potential feast of rotten flesh, a tasty morsel on a boring spring day. Someone's curse another one's blessing.

Somehow that makes me smile. It puts life into perspective.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

an immigrant soul

Calgary winters can be bitter. For months at a time the temperature can stay far below zero, and the air as sharp as a knife. It doesn't really matter if it is sunny, because the sun itself is harsh. Without bringing any warmth the sun flashes through ice crystals and off of snow piles cutting into your eyes and brain like a laser. People freeze to death in this kind of cold. If your car goes off the road you are imperiled, and it is no joke. Like other Albertans I had my survival box filled and stashed in the car. Candles, health bars, matches fill the box and the trunk is stuffed with quilts and extra hats and mitts. If you go off the road in an isolated spot you are in serious trouble. Life risking trouble. The worst thing is to try to walk for help.

In those long winters I had a deep sense of being imperiled. I knew that life is cheap to that kind of weather, and the rawness of the unspoiled environment is not tamed no matter how sophisticated our cars or houses might be. I would sometimes look around my home and think about what we could burn in our fireplace if the gas went out. Although the bitter weather fueled my worst fears I feel a low level of anxiety about safety all the time.

In all my years I never realized where this came from. I now understand it came from my mother, through her family. My mother was the daughter of German immigrants. The Stang family came from Prussia, German Moravians, to settle in the harsh free land of western Canada. The lives of immigrants in those years was perilous, even as it is now. Building a home from nothing, living through long fierce winters and watching crops with too little or too much water, too little or too much sun.

My mom and I found the old homestead one hot summer day. I saw the house they lived in - a remarkably unremarkable small hand built house, not fifty feet off a still gravel road, with no remaining outbuildings. There are no trees planted around the homestead - it is very austere, like my grandparents. Nothing extra. No frills. Looking to the west the mountains are a one inch high border on the horizon. Looking to the east the prairie goes on forever. Raw unforgiving land.

A fire broke out in the barn one afternoon. The older boys had been playing with fuel. The youngest son was burned to death. They buried him in the farmyard that day. My grandmother had nightmares after that, and anxiety that they possibly buried him alive. It tormented her, that they buried him too soon. She couldn't resolve his death. I don't know why I know that story when I know so few others.

I have only recently realized that my mother must have never felt safe. She had the immigrant soul - a soul that knew how closely peril walked. She passed that immigrant soul onto me. I always told my daughter, 'we are peasant women.' She has forbade me to use that term, but now I know the truth - I am a peasant soul.

We live in a world of immigrants. Those of us in more secure places forget what it is like to walk every step of your day on uneven ground. Getting in touch with my own immigrant soul is still nothing close to the reality of so many of my brothers and sisters from Mexico, Afghanistan, Iran, and Romania (to name a few.) I want to be more aware of them, and not simply wave and pass them by. Maybe we can make their way a bit more secure, one by one. Because in reality, we are all immigrants of one sort or another, passing through this world.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I heard today

A friend of mine told me this staying by a Rabbi: It is important to put the Word of God ON your heart every day, so when your heart breaks the Word will fall in."

Having our heart broken seems almost inevitable. We never know when our life will fall into one of "those" categories we throw around: food stamps, cancer, unemployment, bereaved, depressed or just plain sad.

But some days our hearts don't get quite broken, just slightly cracked. I think the Word can fall into them in that condition as well.

Put this on your heart: Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance, with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

changing my mojo

A lot of changes have just crashed down the pipe into my life. More than I could have imagined. So in honor of that I am changing my blog shape - and starting a new one that will be on SeedBed. Let me know if you like this new format.

I heard a bit of a quote this week attributed to Thomas Merton. Something like this; life was not meant to be pleasure, it was meant to be joy.

I quite agree. Pleasure is not a bad thing, but it is fleeting and unstable. Pleasure is tied to our vital selves, our bodies. When our bodies are satisfied we experience pleasure. I've had more than my share of pleasure in life. I live in a house that has hot water whenever I want it. I eat a wide variety of food, much of it just plain scrumptious. I have had massages. (The first one I had I felt so torn - guilty because it was so decadent and overwhelmed with the experience. I just gave up and wept.)

But joy is for us all. Joy is the highest experience of life. Joy is fueled by love,by utter soul sweetness. Joy is not dependent on our bodies, the make of our car or the state of our wallets. Joy is what happens when we touch the truth of who we are, know that we are the beloved, and feel the gift of life surging through our being.

I hope you have joy today. Try some changes. Or when the changes try you, trust, and go with it. And joy will find you again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

'all the single women - oh, oh oh oh OHHH!'

I have learned a few things about being a single woman this past two weeks. First, the second sink in the bathroom is a PERFECT container for one's dainties. You don't have to fumble through the dresser drawers half asleep in the morning.

Also, you can gauge the necessity for picking up the house by how many pairs of shoes litter the floors of various rooms. I think when there are between 12 and 15 pairs the time may have come to do a run through the house.

My garbage output it low. I decided not to put the big can out today because there isn't much in it. I think that is because I am not cooking.

When the toilet seat is up on the guest bathroom, and it is ONLY Big Steve who does that, I have to wonder, who left it up? WALTER!!!!???

I have also learned that a bowl of my favorite lamb curry with heavy cream sauce is 18 points on Weight Watchers. SIGH. There will be no more of that.

There is a lot of junk mail to open and file, a job I have left to the man in the house because it seemed, well, manly. I have taken to building a fire out in the fire pit every Friday to burn the box of junk mail. Just for fun. And to remove the possibility of identity theft from all those papers with my info on it.

I have learned that after you sleep on one side of the bed you can simply move to the other for a week and it saves energy changing the bed. And I have learned that when you make a pie you better have someone to share it with or you are just going to get fat!

Now it is time for Big Steve to come home. :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

beautiful humans

I have a friend who just wrote on his facebook page, "Every time I drive down the highway at night I keep my eyes open for Bigfoot." My friend is a 30ish man with a great wife, a little lap dog and a couple degrees under his belt. But he also has room for the miraculous, the mysterious, the unexpected.

When we become too sure of life, too confined in rationality, too sure of what we know, then we have lost one of the most beautiful aspects of human life - our ability to be in awe.

Awe is a way of seeing life, of being amazed, of wondering. Awe is already a disposition deep inside us, not far from us. But when we become serious and closed we lose access to it.

I miss my friend. He is one of the graduates who comes into my life, makes my life beautiful, and then marches off into his next world. I have no doubt he is making that world beautiful. I miss you Chad!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

alone at last

Big Steve my beloved is gone for a bit and I am alone, somehow feeling like I NEED to be alone. I am alone seeking some kind of inner solitude and peace. Not sure at all how the search is going, but I know a couple things:

1. We need some spaces to let our souls catch up with our bodies.
2. The fruit of walking gently comes to you later, like a sweet ambush.
3. I love listening to good funky eclectic music on the radio. Don't know why. I just do. Right now it is awesome.

So today was a day of trying to live well and gently and watching for epiphanies. (Friday was Epiphany, feast day, so this is the season to be surprised by something new!) I built a fire in our fire pit around noon to burn all the junk mail we got this week. Laid myself back on the wooden swing and let the sunshine on my face while the smoke swirled around me. Walter came by and curled up on top of me, so it was a good moment. I stayed there quite a while.

Life, I think, is made up of a collection of good moments, and for me, some of them have to be out in nature.

I picked up some curry from my favorite indian restaurant. They are magicians in there. Curry is the food of the gods, I swear.

While I was waiting for my curry order another woman, Mary, came in, ordered her curry and I invited her to sit with me while we waited. The server brought us some chai tea. We talked a bit and she started telling me about her husband who is dying of cancer. Then told me other things, including the fact that they have been married five years and it has been worth every moment. He is pretty much unwell now, and she is the caregiver. I told her I would pray for her when I thought of her... like now. She asked me my name. We smiled and were silent. I liked her. Odds are I will never see her again but somehow we were women friends sharing tea for that moment. When I left with my bag of food I saw him in the van, leaning a weary head back on the head rest.

Everything in life seems pretty temporary to me at my age. I know the futility of hanging on. But there is still so much LIFE to engage in. Tastes, smells, moments in the sun, and people. These are good things. Very good.