Monday, July 28, 2014

Closing Doors

My mother used to say, "When one door closes, God opens a window." I know she wasn't the first to utter those words. But in my mind, it's always her voice saying it. It's an incredible message of hope ~ and it often keeps me going when I feel immersed in darkness.

Paulo Coelho's quote brings a new clarity to this phrase as well as to the concept of closing doors. Sometimes the closing of a door has a positive purpose. Sometimes the doors we are accustomed to traversing no longer serve us. Sometimes those doors keep us fixed in places where we are comfortable, but no longer growing.

All my life I've been pretty much of a loner. Because of that, I've learned a great deal about closing doors, closed doors and swinging doors. In high school I often felt like a hex nut in a hammer and nail world. I took choir because we had to take a performance art class, yet I did not like performing. Closed that door after that year. Whew! Then in college, I was approached by a graduating senior and asked to try out for the gospel choir. Huh? Me? But on a whim, because she asked, I did it. At the very open, very packed tryouts, I won a place not only in the 200+ voice performing choir, but also in the 50 voice traveling choir. That door I thought closed? It turned out to be open again. Sometimes that can happen as well. Though I still consider myself a non-performer, that year with the gospel choir led me into a new world for a time. When the performance door closed at the end of that year, I knew it was time to let it go and move on.

Closing doors are not always locked. Sometimes doors need our help to close, to let go, to move on. We can take what we've learned and apply the lessons elsewhere. Though not easy, it can be refreshing simply to acknowledge that the door is closed.

When have you had a door close? When have you been the one to close the door? Can you see that where it led no longer served you? Are you still trying to pry it open? What open window or door might you be missing?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teaching and Discovery

As a teacher, by trade and by calling, I find this quote not only accurate, but also comforting. In an age where 'accountability' is being doled out like candy to every classroom teacher, there appears to be a strong tendency to forget that, although impressionable and somewhat malleable, children and youth have their own intelligence, will and self-determination. They have to be interested in the discovery.

As a teacher, I am also a perpetual learner ~ what is referred to as a 'lifelong learner.' My natural curiosity and desire to discover and do new things keeps me alive to the further discovery of myself. I have an understanding of the learning process as Galileo describes it. The discovery within myself is the passion and interest I have for a subject ~ some are more deeply embedded than others. Although I have a fair knowledge of and capacity for mathematics, that's not my passion nor my first choice interest. My passion lies more in writing, philosophy and other similar areas.

What strikes your passion? How do you learn best? What was the essential quality of your favorite teacher? How is that quality reflected in your life?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mary of Magdala

from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene:
The Savior replied, "Every nature, every modeled form, every creature, exists in and with each other. They will dissolve again into their own proper root. For the nature of matter is dissolved into what belongs to its nature. Anyone with two ears able to hear should listen!"

In the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, July 22nd is the Feast of Mary Magdalene. The two traditions differ in their views of who Mary Magdalene was. Even though John Paul II apologized and sought to correct the error, for many centuries ~ since Pope Gregory's sermon on the topic ~ she was seen as a prostitute. There was an assumption that she was the woman caught in adultery. Or that one of the seven devils cast out of her was prostitution. Many Christian traditions continue to see her that way ~ or insist upon that as her image.

The Orthodox never saw her as a prostitute. To them she was always the Apostle to the Apostles. She is the one who first encountered the risen Christ, the one who told the remainder of the men waiting in the Upper Room, walking the streets, that Jesus had risen.

No matter. She is a controversial subject. Some would like to see her married to Jesus, bearing his children. Others would have her living the remainder of her days in a cave, penitent to the very end.

I believe the controversy is what makes her strong. She herself is simply a woman. In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Peter essentially calls her a liar and her response is to weep. It's a different level and form of response than we think should happen. Why? Why is it that we want, need, determine that in order to be strong, she must 'fight back'? Her strength lies in her knowledge of Jesus, in her capacity for compassion, in her following the commands of her Lord.

Mary of Magdala has always been special to me. Even when I thought she was a reformed prostitute living as a hermit in a cave, she called to me. I considered her blessed by the fact that she was there, with Him, learning. What matter how she got there? Who cares about her past? What difference does it make? For me, it made none. I am glad that she has become well-known, even controversial. It makes one more woman of wisdom in the Light.

What do you know of Mary of Magdala? What difference has she made in your life? What 'saint' or 'holy person' has influenced you more? Why?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Meeting a Seattle Tree

"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, the preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life."
~ Hermann Hesse

As a friend and I chatted while strolling down a street in the Queen Anne neighborhood, we chanced upon this incredible tree. I have no idea what type of tree it is, but it stood full and strong with its character visible on its trunk. It was old enough that my arms could not go around it. It was beyond gnarled. I stood facing it, awestruck.

Hesse is absolutely right: trees are sanctuaries, consecrated places. Something about their very presence reminds us of the holy. Even though my friend and I had been chatting a moment previously, seeing the power of that tree stopped us in our tracks. We could feel the conversation, the flow of truth, between ourselves and the tree. We listened to Creator speaking through creation, through the presence of the trees.

Earlier in the day, as I drove to Seattle, I marveled at the greenery on display along the highway. I found myself repeating prayers of gratitude ~ to Spirit, to Mother Earth, to the trees themselves. Thankful for their beauty, the miraculous oxygen they exhale, for the shade they provide as I passed. So much more than I could ever imagine. I remain grateful to this very moment.

How do you feel about trees? What creates a sanctuary to/for you? What are you grateful for?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heading Out

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Like so many of my friends and co-workers, I love to travel. Being on the move lends an element of adventure to my life. It also keeps me connected with the people I have had the great fortune of meeting over the years. I see new sights and learn previously unknown facts each and every time, no matter how many times I've visited a place.

Tomorrow morning, I once again leave home for the wilds of Seattle. I've been there many times, visiting with the same friends annually, occasionally seeing other friends who live in the area as well. Each trip is a new and renewed adventure. Sometimes we go to the same places: Pike Street Market, St. Mark's Cathedral, UW campus, downtown, the Seattle Art Museum. Even trips to Goodwill and Costco are adventures because these are not my home territory. We walk the streets, hills and parks. I see the sunset over a different landscape. All of these things, small and large, renew and refresh my spirit. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to go as well as the friends to visit.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite destination? How do you feel prior to heading out?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Building Your Story

"It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. we build ourselves out of that story."
~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

When I wake each day, I retell the story of who I am. I rebuild my place in the world. If I rise telling myself that I don't want to get up, that I'd rather stay in bed, chances are fairly good that I will spend the day grumpier and less enthusiastic. If I rise with gratitude for the new day, with any semblance of joy and spring in my step, I will be in a brighter mood throughout the day. It's my choice.

As the day progresses, at every encounter, every juncture, I have choice as to how I react, how I proceed with the rest of my day. Sometimes, I don't feel very joyful or lively. I can choose to let those emotions rule the moment or I can choose to move forward as though I am in better spirits. At the end of the day, the story of who I am, of how my day has been, of what influenced my mood, is all up to me.

I build the story of my life day by day. I am a teacher ~ whether in the public school system or not. I am a writer. I am a healer. I am a mother, a partner, a sister, a friend. I have a good sense of humor, a quick and ready wit, a willingness to help. I am compassionate, kind and caring. These are some of the stories I build about myself day by day. At any given moment, one or another of them may be easier or more elusive to tell. I go forward telling them anyway.

What is the story you tell of your life? Does it change day by day? Are there some chapters of the story that are easier or harder to tell? How do you stay on track with your story?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's in the Mist?

The Mist by Carl Sandburg

"I am the mist, the impalpable mist, 
Back of the thing you seek. ....

I was at the first of things, 
I will be at the last. 
I am the primal mist ..."

I woke gently and groggily from the dream.... all around was The Mist. The ground was flat stone, like paving stone or large flat rocks that make up the landscape. I'd been encountering a variety of presences in the Mist. No one was clearly seen except in the brief passing from one position to another. To some, it would have seemed we were fighting or struggling against each other because much of the contact was surprised, often aggressive-looking. Instead, it felt more like a dance ~ a huge, unrehearsed, unexpected dance. Upon waking, I felt anxious, unsure ~ as though I'd left in the middle of a performance and others were going to be expected to make up for my disappearance.

Dreams bring so much into our lives. They bring adventure, definition, excitement, information, fear, pleasure, and a whole host of other things. There is no one interpretation for the dream ~~ unless it is the one determined by the dreamer. 

One interpretation of my dream signifies an adventure upon which I am embarking. There are roles and players of those roles. I will encounter them and have a variety of exchanges with them. We will be 'dancers upon the stage.' I know more depth and breadth will come as I sit with the dream.

I chose the snippets from Sandburg's poem for several different reasons. He was born in Illinois, as was I. Also, I love the personification of The Mist. It's a being ~ which is how it felt in my dream. The Mist was dancing with us. It certainly felt both impalpable and primal. I will also sit with the words of Sandburg's poem to see if it helps clarify any more of my dream.

How do you interpret your dreams? Do you see or read significance in them? Do you find or search out the words of others that may speak to you? Do you match those words to your dreams?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grief and Gathering Strength

"Sunset" by Louie Rochon (used by permission)

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular
and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
~ Mary Oliver, When Death Comes

Yesterday a dear sister left this world. She lived her life with gusto, aplomb and originality, much as Mary Oliver's poem suggests. Many people, many women, continue to post their memories and good-byes on Facebook. Sassy Songbird certainly left a mark in her world.

Those messages are an acknowledgement of the grief being felt, the sense of loss. That's as it should be. We live in a culture that too often tells us to 'buck up' ~ in whatever terminology used ~ and not let death get to us. We focus in terms of 'seeing the person again'  and 's/he's in a better place' and 'God must have wanted another angel.' Although each of those belief systems holds validity, we have a right, and a responsibility to ourselves and those we love, to allow the tears, to feel the sadness, to experience whatever emotions arise ~ anger, fear, melancholy, bafflement, peace, joy, any emotion ~ and to express those emotions. Not to take them out on others, but to allow our hearts and souls to feel them.

Each emotion we feel carries us on the waves of healing. Our feelings help us to gather strength from within as well as from those around us. We become more of a community when we acknowledge our feelings to each other. It bonds us together even if those feelings are different. Sharing creates the bonds of strength. It also creates our internal strength. We allow room for others. We recognize our vulnerability. We grow.

Louie Rochon's image shows that sort of strength in the beauty of nature. One petal alone would not stand. Together, even though not tightly bound, the petals are strong and beautiful. As we are, when we allow the connections, the touching.

How does grief affect you? How do you express those feelings? and with whom? How do you gather strength from your connections with others?

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Time to Mourn

From Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a,4b:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; ... a time to mourn, and a time to dance"

For several years I was privileged to attend the Women's Summer Solstice gathering and camp out. I met an incredible group of women of deep soul and spirit. Though I have not attended in recent years, my bond with these women is silk and steel. They have held me, taught me, laughed with me, cried in my arms. We have shared songs, danced in ceremony, prayed in lodge. I am immensely grateful for them.

One of my bright sisters left this world today. She was a singer, songwriter, dancer, fire tender, prayer leader, and so much more. I feel the sorrow and the tug of her passing. In this moment, it's a time to mourn.

Yet, as I think of that phrase, the opposing one echoes in my mind: a time to dance. My heart fills with the joy of her laughter and her songs. She lived life full out and was a force for gratitude and joy.

As I take time to breathe through the grief and the joy, I recognize that each woman and each man I've encountered over the years of my life has been precious, each has added something to my life that no other can. Each moment of presence with them is a gift. It is so easy to forget that there is a time for everything, including gratitude, grace and remembering. In this moment of grief, I am grateful for the grace to pause ~ and to remember.

Who has passed from your life recently? What gift did his or her passing bring you? Did you allow yourself time to mourn? and time to dance?

Choosing an Illusion

Often in our lives, something attracts our attention. We call it 'reality' or 'illusion' or 'dream' or 'possibility' ~ whatever suits our immediate temperament.

What it is, is of less importance than what we name it. Our word for the attraction is powerful. It becomes our focus and we make it into the moment's truth.

This particular image and statement captured my attention for that reason. I had never thought of the light at the end of the tunnel as an illusion. I thought of it as a goal, as something to reach toward. My thoughts about the tunnel never turned toward it being reality or illusion either. I simply thought of it as a place where I happened to be traversing. I must explain that I've always liked tunnels, caves, ladders up to unknown places. For me, a tunnel is not a negative place to be. My definition of the 'tunnel' and the 'light' are uniquely my own.

Most of us have a general understanding of the power of words, the power of how we think and talk about the people, places and events in our lives. I can go to a concert with a friend. When we leave, I say, "Wow! That was fantastic!" My friend responds, "Yeah. It was pretty good, I guess." Even though our descriptive words are nearly the same, the "I guess" implies an unsure attitude. We've experienced the same event, but we describe it differently. That colors our individual emotional sense ~ and even physical sense ~ as we part ways and go home. I'm upbeat, tapping my steering wheel to the music running through my mind. My friend is tired, quieter. It's in our minds that the reality or illusion is born.

How do you approach the events in your life? Do you recognize the strength of your words? Is the Light or the Tunnel an illusion to you? Why?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Wish
I recently saw the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Into the Woods. In the overview of the play it reads, "Be careful what you wish for. How far would you go to make your wish come true?...Wishes come true here, but at a price. Even storybook characters must face the music."

As in all fairytale settings (many are combined here), damsels need rescuing, wishing changes in life circumstances. And of course there's a dark woods.

This telling has a moral to it's story and it's wrapped up in the words from the overview: "Be careful what you wish for. ...Even storybook characters must face the music." We tell our children fairy tales because we want them to believe in the magic of wishing. There's a book titled Wishcraft. Many faith communities teach about turning wishes into reality. What creators Sondheim and Lapine put forth in this wonderful show is that wishes may come true, but not without a price. Fairy tales don't always tell that side... even if a price is exacted, the grantor of the wish is often thwarted in the end so everyone can live happily ever after ~ generally with their prince.

Life, of course, is so much more complicated, so much messier. Happily ever after is a matter of choice and a continuing process. The 'dark woods' hold terrors that have to be faced in order to reach the light on the other side. Occasionally, main characters in life suffer and even die. It's not always easy to make the choice for happy.

What do you do when you enter a 'dark woods'? Who helps you to traverse it? How have you handled the prices you've had to pay along the way?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Capricorn Full Moon

©2014 by ML  Monroe
Change or be changed.
That's the most basic message of the Capricorn Full Moon. Sun in Cancer, the Mother archetype; Moon in Capricorn, the Father archetype. There is also much about sacred balance of energy.

This is the opportune time to face fears, to understand what brings up dread, to shine a light on those shadowy corners of life. Dig down deep. Face whatever gunk surfaces. Persevere through every crisis that continues growth. The focus of that will be life's work or calling ~ not necessarily job unless that's aligned with the deeper calling of life. It's also the time to step into authenticity, allowing the real Self to be fully present.

The dance is between Cancer with its focus on feelings, flow and nurturing and Capricorn with its focus on diligence, outcomes and achieving. At this time, it's not an either-or; it's a both-and. So the dance to maintain balance goes on.

This Moon is about going deep and surfacing.

I've been feeling it's pull for days now. My feelings have fluctuated from being down to being thrilled to numbness to simple joy in everyday moments. Wow! Good to know it's not just me.

How are you feeling? What kinds of muck is rising to the surface of your life? Are you being challenged to look deeper at your life's calling? Is there change in the ethers for you?

Friday, July 11, 2014


"Acceptance" by Louie Rochon (used with permission)

When I saw this image posted on Facebook, I was awe-struck. The title of the piece is "Acceptance" and in an instant I felt overcome by an extraordinary sense of it. The snags remind me of the dark 'creatures' that occasionally ~ and often suddenly ~ rise up in the midst of a beautiful, peaceful moment to catch me unawares. From the shadow, I see the reflected beauty and peace and wonder at where it has gone and why it's been disrupted. These snags, these creatures, call me to remember them. Remember what they once were, their strength and beauty, their majestic stance at one point in my life. Now they are a darkness because even though I have gone away from them, I hold them in that dark sharp place. It is time to accept what they have given me, to thank them for their presence, to thank Spirit for their gift, and to release them to be part of the beauty that is my life.

What do you see in this image? What does the word acceptance mean to you? What dark 'creatures' snag you, attempting to hold you fast? How do you handle them?

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Today I found myself having stretches of time where I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I'm not sure where the feelings came from ~~ suddenly, they were there. All I did was notice and acknowledge them.

The strangest aspect of them was that they surfaced even at times when I was with other people. I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned, then I dropped off some paperwork at another office, then I went for a massage. None of these activities left me without the company of other people. I drove to the different places on busy streets and highways. There were three very clear, precise moments when I felt this sweep of loneliness: one was walking to the parking garage on a busy downtown street after getting my teeth cleaned, the next was when I got into my car in the garage, the third was when I arrived home and was standing in the bathroom. Each time was like a wave rising up and crashing over me. The strength of them left me at the mercy of the emotion, and wondering why.

I never did figure out why I felt those strong movements of emotion. I learned that feelings can take charge of our lives even when we think all is under control or 'normal.' Loneliness isn't an easy emotion. It's one that I've felt a few times in my life ~ never quite like today. I wonder where the feeling began and why. So like a wave, I wonder where it will even out its ripples and when it might rise up again.

When have you felt loneliness? What have you done? How have you responded? How did it arrive? What do your feel about the sense of loneliness? Do you embrace it? or run from it?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dream by Day

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
~ Edgar Allan Poe

Dreaming by day gives an advantage to the dreamer. Light creates a different visibility and with that comes a different awareness. When I dream by day, by choice, I engage more directly in the process. There remains choice.

Dreaming by day is not daydreaming. It's giving space to the creative voice within, allowing for growth and new vision. It's opening to another level of awareness and letting it flow through, to be seen, known, embraced.

One reason things escape those dreaming by night is choosing unawareness, letting the newly awakened thoughts take over so the dream escapes consciousness. It takes practice to silence the mind's chatter enough to recall the dream. When that happens, both day and night dreaming become equal in imagination and thought. That's a good place to be.

Do you recall your night dreams? Do you allow time for your daytime dreaming? How does dreaming differ? Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The Enchanted Map by Colette Baron-Reid
"A true commitment is a responsibility of the heart, mind, body, and soul. This is a good time to make one."

My question, prior to drawing this card, was: What strength to I bring to my day? What can I share with others?

Commitment as a strength. In every relationship. Commitment is also about constancy ~ being there for someone else. Staying the course with that person. Awareness of what commitment means ~ saying 'yes' when I mean 'yes' and 'no' when I mean 'no'. Staying the course with myself. Being true to who I am. Being clear about the promises I make and fulfilling them to the best of my ability.

Commitment is also about Spirit. For me, that means diving deep into the Substance of Life. Walking with one ear attuned to the Guiding Voice, one eye watching the Directing Star. I need time alone to readjust to the rhythm of the Ineffable One. I can use a thousand thousand terms for God because no one of them is enough to call forth the entirety of my commitment. It is always a good time to make that commitment.

What are you committed to/ How do you describe your commitments? What's most significant about them for you?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Spider Weavings

SpiderWoman by Susan Seddon Boulet
Yesterday, I posted my reflections on the Spider bites I've recently acquired ~ and with no Spidey senses! Today, I focus on the Druidic-Celtic-Shamanic interpretations of Spider.

In the Druidic lineage, Spider represents the Bard through producing art, the Seer through finding the best hideout for the hunt and the Druid through being a teacher.

Because She is Guardian to ancient languages and alphabets, writers are considered to have Spider as a guide. The eight legs and spokes of Spider's web show the eightfold wheel of sacred festivals. She is associated with creativity and the energy of the spiral linking past, present and future and pulsating with movement of its own.

Much of the Shamanic view of Spider coincides with Indigenous Peoples views as that's where Shamanism draws its teachings. As with the Druids, She is a symbol of creation, weaving realities, infinity and balance. She awakens creativity, particularly writing creatively.  She teaches us that we are constantly weaving the fabric of our lives and we have choice in how we do it. She reminds us of our interconnectedness to all life.

For me, the salient points are creativity and writing ~ both of which are vital to the fabric of my life at this moment. I am actively pursuing the energy of the Weaver, the One who brings clarity to the purpose and design of the Web of Life. I am learning a more creative view of webs as networks of roads to travel rather than places to get entangled. Since the silk that creates the web of my life comes from within, I desire to awaken more of the intuitive side ~ the precious pieces within me that understand the intention of and for my life.

Are you aware of what you are weaving into reality? Are you feeling creative? or stuck? What are you ready to write or put into a creative form?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Spider Tale

On Tuesday, I was bitten by what I assume was a spider ~ several times ~ as it walked across my shoulder. I'm not sure where it happened because I didn't notice the bites for awhile. How do I know, you may ask? Because my system has a way of reacting to the bites. The bitten area swells and gets warm. If I start on diphenhydramine (generic name for Benadryl), the symptoms go away. I didn't take it right away so it took a couple of days for things to settle down completely. Today, another one bit me on the palm of my hand... probably upset because I was unknowingly washing it down the drain as I washed my hands.

I believe it's safe to assume that Grandmother Spider is wanting me to listen to Her. So I decided to check into what Spider means to different cultures. My calling Her Grandmother Spider comes from one Native American tradition where She is a wise teacher. In India, She is associated with Maya, or Illusion, reminding us that things are not always as they seem. In Egypt, She is the goddess Neith in Her aspect as the weaver of destiny, and the recreation of the dawn and dusk of each day. She is associated with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and the Greek goddess Athena. Probably the most famous spider story is the story of Arachne, whose pride drove her to challenge Athena and eventually to becoming the first spider. In some African traditions, the spider is Anansi ~ anglicized as Aunt Nancy or Sister Nancy ~ often a trickster whose tales are morals lessons. Spiders are clan totems in Australia and are depicted in rock and bark paintings. In the cosmology of the native people of the Gilbert Islands, Nareau, Lord Spider, created the universe; as does Areop-Enap, Old Spider, in the tales of the Nauru islanders of Micronesia. In an Islamic oral tradition, Mohammed hides in a cave and is protected from those chasing him by a spider sent by Allah to weave a web over the opening; Jewish tradition has a similar tale protecting David. In the Druidic tradition, Spider is the guardian of the ancient language and the alphabet. [An especially significant connection for me!!] Those are examples of the diverse cultures who honor the Spider.

Since my reaction to spiders has shifted recently (due to my body's reactions!), I found myself looking into the 'shadow side' of the meaning of Spider in my life. Particularly, the need to bring hidden things into the Light. For me, that even can refer to my creativity ~ which I often let rest somewhere other than in the Light. It's not quite that I 'hide' it as much as I allow it to go dormant. During those times, it sits in a darkened corner, ignored and fading. Perhaps it's time to keep it in the Light. My next step is to travel into the Dreamtime with Her and talk with Her.

How do you react to a Spider? What does Spider mean to you? Is there a creative challenge She brings to your life? or is there another story in it for you?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

Fourth of July, 2014.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A might woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

As I review the past week's news, I notice the huge discrepancy between the news stories and what Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 as an auction item for the opening of the Statue of Liberty in 1886. In 1901, the plaque carrying this message was placed at the base of Lady Liberty. Barely over a century and a quarter later, we seem to have forgotten its welcoming message. What is Liberty if it is not shared? Our country has entered many a war (or conflict, as the case may be) with a cry of 'liberty and justice for all!' Only don't come knocking on the door of our immigration isle, as it were.

My personal liberty is jeopardized every time someone brings a gun into the schools to kill innocents; every time a refugee from a war-torn region of the world is refused asylum; every time we either choose or refuse to intervene in the conflicts of other nations.

In the Spring of 1992, I was teaching at an international school in Cairo, Egypt, when we heard about the collapse of Yugoslavia. 10% of our student population held Yugoslav passports, including the children of the ambassador. Immediately, a majority of those families were given asylum and an Egyptian passport. That year's valedictorian was from the now-disappeared country and spoke about never being able to return 'home'. I wept with my students and their families. I could not imagine that wrenching feeling or the finality of the words never and gone. I pray I never forget those moments, those young adults and children who had to begin anew in a place they thought was only temporary. My view of Egypt, the Egypt of Hosni Mubarak, grew warm in that moment. I wanted to believe my own country would be as generous.

How do you experience your personal liberty? Have you experienced it being taken from you? What would you do if it were? How is your liberty impacted by others? How does your liberty impact others?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finding Enchantment

"Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all."
― Vincent van Gogh

When I saw this particular image, it reminded me of the swirling stars on many paintings by Vincent van Gogh. The swirls seem vibrating and alive. What he saw in the night sky appears similar to the images returned to Earth from the Hubble telescope in its orbit. What a visionary he was!

The quote from van Gogh exhibits how awe inspired he was as he lived and painted. What amazing genius. I'd love to live from that place, from that view of the magic of life all around. I certainly have moments when I'm aware of the beauty and wonder around me. My life is too busy. Too much movement and craziness prevails around me. I can do things more quickly than in van Gogh's day, and for longer periods of time during the day. Yet I'm unclear whether that has actually improved the quality of my life.

I love technology. Yet ~ being connected has its own drawbacks. It means that I have less privacy; that I rarely write long letters, or any letters, to my friends; that I need to be near an electrical outlet!

My goal, at least for this next week leading up to the Full Moon, is to stop more often, breathe more deeply, and write to at least three friends ~ even if it is a long email rather than a letter (though I will write at least one letter!!). I will look for the wonder and enchantment around me.

What would you want or need to change to connect with the enchantment in life? How does your 'connected' life disconnect you from the natural world? What one goal could you set for the next week in order to reconnect?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Destiny Orientation, Part 2

Orienting ourselves in the direction of our destiny begins with openness. Having an open mind. Having an open, willing heart. Living with and in the open-ended.

In the Northern hemisphere, the basic orientation is toward the North Star, true north. In the Southern hemisphere, the orientation is toward the Southern Cross. Either way, there's a star, a constellation, something in the night sky, that directs our path. Something that shines through the darkness as a guide for us to follow.

Then there's the gyroscope. Wikipedia defines it as "a device for measuring or maintaining orientation" even when the orientation is not fixed.  I believe we each have an inner gyroscope that also guides us, especially when our orientation seems off kilter, out of focus, wobbly. That inner gyroscope orients us toward our future, our destiny. It balances us.

What we need to do is trust ~ which is often the toughest thing to do. It appears that some spinning thing with a heavy mid-section certainly can't balance us on the head of a pin, as a place we so often feel we're perched. Or on a tightrope strung across Victoria Falls or the Grand Canyon. If we trust, if we lean into its spinning and allow that inner gyroscope do its job, we find ourselves back on track, balanced once again.

When have you felt your inner gyroscope? How do you find the courage to trust its spinning? When was the last time you had to find the bright constellation in the night sky? How did you feel when you found it? Did you trust its direction?