Pay Attention, Be Astounded, Tell About It

a small shower tree in the parking lot this afternoon

Good Evening, God

This title is Mary Oliver’s lessons for living. I resonate with these word! Each one of these acts brings me joy!

Just look at these colorful blossoms! There they were on this small young shower tree as I parked my car right in front of it. They were in my face and they wanted to be seen and shared. So I paused on my errand and focused on them. I wanted to send the photo to my friend, Lani, who is faithful to “pay attention” and respond. But, then, after only the briefest of pauses, I was off on errands . . . not realizing until just a few minutes ago how much these blossoms “wanted” to be seen and shared.

And in seeing them again, I realized that my focus was only on the lovely blossoms. Now, I can see that I also captured a red car! What a surprising juxtaposition! Another delight!

In the Poetry Foundation Maxine Kumin called Mary an “indefatigable guide to the natural world”. And said that she “stands quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal.” This also resonates with me. This is part of the joy in going to the beach! Standing in the lapping waves — standing on both land and sea — with the sky over it all. Feeling as if I was on the edge of all three. Loving the feeling of being “between”. Or maybe it is being where things “meet”?

Perhaps, more significantly, I love paying attention to people I am with. Listening with my heart and senses. Tone of voice . . . facial expressions . . . and body positions. I want to hear fully so that I can connect fully. I want to better understand . . . and to be with them in some unidentifiable way.

And that brings me to prayer. Being with . . . in some unidentifiable way. Opening to the presence and action of Your Indwelling Spirit within me. Consenting! Welcoming! With no idea what might be happening — or even IF anything it happening.

Just being with.

Posted in beauty, being heard into speaking, Between, Centering Prayer, connecting, gratitude, Hearing, seeing, Sharing, thankfulness, the joy of sharing, Welcoming, Welcoming Prayer

If I fly away with the wings of the dawn

This is a photo of me taken around Christmas in 2019

Good Day, God

A dear friend calls me V . . . as in short for the Velveteen Rabbit. And I finally read that book the other day. I should think that IS the way we become — if not “real” then perhaps more fully human. And, of course, being well loved — over time — does result in LOOKING well loved. And, if one is so fortunate as to be well loved . . . then one does not mind so very much LOOKING well loved.

So what is this about flying off on the Wings of the Dawn? Well, I am taking a week long trip to see our oldest daughter — while our youngest daughter comes to love-on my wonderful husband. He says to me, you are leaving your “elderly husband” alone! No NO! I say, your doting wife is giving your doting youngest daughter a chance to love you in person.

We well-loved “rabbits” need times of restoration. We need to LOVE OURSELVES as well as being loved by other. This having to LOVE and CARE FOR myself, came as a BIG SURPRISE.

How to love myself — without visible role models — is proving challenging. But, I am going to begin by envisioning myself as dispensable. I am. We all are. But, a failure to realize and act on that reality can have harmful effects.

So, I am off to take a break and do some creative thinking on HOW I can love and care for myself. Even more than that — as a very proud and self sufficient Rabbit — I need to create ways to ask for and receive help from others.

And I realized that my loving has been done as a Mother — or PROVIDER. Often as equal to equal . . . but never as needy. OH OH! That word “needy” is a clue to my situation. We are ALL IN NEED OF HELP! I have some hard reframing to do — starting now!

Posted in connecting

Blooming against all odds

I didn’t exactly toss this old orchid away . . . but I didn’t expect anything, either.

Good Morning, God!

I’ve been AWAY for a while. Away as in busy with my life — without really asking You in. Stress does that! Stress makes me feel it is all on my shoulders . . . and since my shoulders are not really up to that . . . I become exhausted.

Actually, it is worse than exhausted — it is DEPLETED. My inner batteries, drained. It is as if I left my laptop unplugged for way too long. Batteries down to 1% . . . YIKES!!!

So yesterday, I was watering my plants and realized this old –depleted — orchid had bloomed! I had put her outside in the care of a potted palm. I had felt I should just throw her away but I hate doing that. So, I did the equivalent of putting her on an ice flow. . . and letting go of all positive expectations for her.

I didn’t realize that I had let go of all positive expectations for me too.

So finding this blossom thrilled me! And another bud is pending! I took her up to show her to my Wednesday morning Women’s Prayer Group. Mostly, though, I am the one who needs to look upon her. Look and see how willing — eager even — You are God, to replenish us.

To bring us back, gently, into HOPE. . . and into Your LOVE!

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Posted in blooming, connecting, hope, Hope as a gift from God, LOVE, the essential nature of hope, the gift of persistent love, water and love

A Gift of Love

Patricia Louise Smith August 31, 1962 — June 20, 1981

Today — June 20, 2021 — is the fortieth anniversary of when our daughter Patty died.  
That was June 20, 1981. 
Forty years? Really? How is that possible? 

The gifts of love in all of this are countless. First, and I do not forget it! We were given Patty for 18 years. We had the joys and sorrows of giving birth and raising her. And we had the horrors and pains of her illness and death. 

And then — the TIME afterwards. Sigh. . . for the first three months I kept seeing Patty as she was in the hospital her last three or four days. Heart wrenching!!! Then one morning while I was blow drying my hair and picturing Patty at the end, I heard STOP!!! The Patty you see is NOT the TRUE Patty! The True Patty is Radiant, Vibrant, Alive and with ME/GOD!!!

That was a another gift of love. It stopped a very painful cycle instantly.

But, the thing is . . . after God “carried” me through her illness. . . God put me down. I had to do Grief Work. Grief work? I had never seen anyone even remotely do “grief work”!!! I had no idea what that even meant — or that it existed.

But, I did let myself do guilt. Lots and lots of guilt!!! After all, Mothers are the creation worksite. And there are countless ways for mothers to do things wrong and to fail to do things right. Infinite ways . . .

But the sorrow . . . the tears . . . the chaos of feelings? I stuck them in a deep unconscious freezer and left them there. 

Freezing, I found out later, is the third response to stress: Fight, Flight or Freeze. 

So the BIG GIFT of Love is that here I am 40 years later sharing. And how did this happen? A dear friend invited me to join a Mommy’s Mourning Group. I mostly didn’t even realize I needed it. But, month by month, meeting by meeting, I began to tiptoe back into the Freezer. Thawing began. And a part of me is beginning to awaken.

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Posted in connecting, daughters, Death, Grief, Life vs Death, loss, LOVE, Mothers, pain, Sorrows of the Deep

A Moving Image Part II

Saint Francis and a leper

Good Evening, God

I didn’t want to come and work on this. My overwhelming inability to describe a Different World View depressed me. I mean, it is hard enough to write about significant differences of opinion. But, an opposite Word View? Really! How did a lifelong liberal democrat come to diverge from her dearest friends? How did this happen to me, I ask?

I’m chuckling. The usual way. Slowly at first and then all of a sudden.

First, God, You seem to have given me a funny sort of mind. I collect odd facts. For example, back in grad school while taking a medical reference class I came across the fact that in the late 1800s Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard had a great clash of viewpoints. Pasteur had created a Germ Theory of health. And Claude Bernard held to the Terrain Theory of health. Pasteur believed specific germs caused specific illnesses. So those germs had to be killed. Bernard believed that the body’s  “terrain” or “internal environment” determined our state of health. When the body is functioning in homeostasis, and immunity and detoxification are operating well, he claimed there was a healthy terrain that could handle various pathogenic microorganisms that inevitably are thrown its way.

I remember thinking — Bernard is right!

The discovery decades later that our body is 90% other creatures — probably billions of diverse kinds — and only 10% human — caught my eye. Then there was the case of C. Dif (Clostridium difficile) a bacteria that actually killed the wife of one of Kit’s co-workers. The more antibiotics that were pitted against it the worse it got. So, when I read the news years later that a single infusion of poop from a healthy person actually cured 90% of the sufferers in two or three days I was delighted!

It seemed a clear case of how a healthy body — with bacteria and other creatures in balance — maintains health.

Cut to this pandemic. I saw the news that people with low levels of vitamin D were much more likely to die from COVID 19. I stepped up our vitamin D intake and we got more sunlight. And then the news that folks with more pigment (less able to absorb vitamin D from sunlight) seemed to have higher death rates. Hmm. Why wasn’t the government suggesting vitamin D supplements as something folks could do right away to increase their health and resilience?

Then there were the negative consequences of the methods the government did implement. The lockdowns cost many people on the bottom half to loose jobs and to loose the ability to feed their families. Those of us on the top half really failed to understand that the handouts did not make up the difference. And those who kept on working scorned those who put “money over lives”. But, if you are poor, money is the essence of staying alive. A classic class failure to understand divergent realities.

And the social distance rule? Really? As if we don’t live and move and have our being in a vast soup of OTHER. If a single teaspoon of healthy soil has one billion bacteria and other life forms, what do we think the dust of the earth is doing? And what about our bodies? I imagine we are all Pig Pen’s with clouds of viruses, bacteria, fungi and as yet unnamed creatures floating all around us. That interaction is what gives herd immunity. Not some experimental alteration of our DNA or is it RNA? Whatever!

Creating fear of our fellow human beings seems diabolical to me.

Sigh. . . enough said for tonight! Part III tomorrow.

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Posted in connecting, Eating for health, fears, health, web of life

A Moving Image

St. Francis kissing a leper

Good Morning, God

This image came with the comment that it was ironic that Pope Francis — named after this saint — was endorsing the “social distance” idea. That juxtaposition was a shock to me! Lepers? Covid 19 virus? Huh? But, it seems to have released a cascade of responses — a wild mix of other thoughts and images.

My first response was, Hey, THAT is for SAINTS! That was followed by a childhood memory of a song about the various saints of God:

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor,
And one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green:
They were all of them saints of God – and I mean,
God helping, to be one too
.

Ah, yes . . . I do want to be one, too.

But, still, I thought, I am not an aid worker . . . what are You nudging me about? Oh! FEAR! Saint Francis was NOT AFRAID OF THE LEPERS . . . and I am not to be afraid . . .? Oddly enough, I am not afraid of the virus. It scary was the first month or so. But after the first three horrific weeks the death rate seemed more in line with a normal flu season. And, in comparing it to other pandemics, it seemed only medium size. That stabilized me.Then, too, the news that vitamin D deficiencies were linked to a higher death rate, was a comfort. We do try to get out in the sun and we do take vitamin D3.

But, not fearing the virus, was just the tip of the iceberg. What was under that? Oh! I definitely fear not being part of the mainstream mindset! The desire to fit in is powerful! We are social beings — rather like herd animals in that being cast out is an extreme punishment. So, I hadn’t announced that Kit and I are not getting a vaccine. We are part of the unofficial “control group.” After all, experiments need a control group! And, since these vaccines have just recently been created and not tested over years . . . they are — like it or not — still experimental.

This is just PART ONE with more to follow, as I gather the thoughts that continue to flow from this image.

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Posted in A God given diversity, connecting, fears, finding hidden fears, LOVE, small hidden fears

The Health of the Land

He aliʻi ka āina, he kauwā wale ke kanaka When you see to the life of the land,
you are ensuring the life of the people.

Good Day, God

OH MY! PLEASE GOD, HELP US TO SEE TO THE LIFE OF THE LAND! It isn’t just people that we will be helping. It is all creatures, large and small. Creatures in the soil, on the soil, in the water and in the air. All of US.

Industrial agriculture has been telling us how miraculous the Green Revolution is. But, that is a lie. In truth, the artificial fertilizers and herbicides and insecticide are KILLING THE SOIL!!! Oh, but we need it to feed all the people, they say. Again, that is a lie!

Gabe Brown says that he has bigger yields than his industrial farming neighbors. Plus his soil has more than doubled its carbon content! Imagine! What if the farms that are pouring toxins into the waterways — creating an annual Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico — stopped poisoning the land and instead began gobbling up carbon out of the air? What a HUGE difference that would make!

Gabe didn’t change because it was a good idea. Nope. He had four years of hail ruining his crops and he could not afford the industrial pathway. He was forced to rely on nature and a few helpful innovators. It is a wonderful story.

I had learned the facts by reading Vandana Shiva — but reading the actual case study of how it happened to a real live person made it absorbable.

Could it happen quickly? YES! 1) if money was available to help independent farmers make the transition. 2) if the the huge corporations who are doing the industrial farming decided to shift to regenerative farming.

It takes about three years to fully switch over and get the yields up to “better than”. So, just phase it in. It’s so SIMPLE.

But, all those companies profiting from the poison additives would be really unhappy. Where would all that profit go? Easy money makes for easy morals. It is very hard to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends on his NOT understanding it. (Upton Sinclair)

Posted in a prayer for healing, Abundant Life, adjusting, an invitation to abundant life, connecting, Guardians and Protectors, Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, health, helping farmers, hope, Life vs Death, Regenerative Farming, the essential nature of hope

Life vs Death

six acres of pasture on an Iowa farm

Good Night, God!

Yesterday I read that one teaspoon of healthy soil contains one billion bacteria with 20,000 to 30,000 different species. This is in the book Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web. The soil in this pasture land is alive. Not only that but it is teaming with life! Pheasants and other birds! Assorted mammals, insects, and creatures. A rich biodiversity of life springs back up.

Back to LIFE? Alas, industrial agriculture has basically killed the soil. In fact, all the artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides that are part of the “green revolution” are not just killing the life in the soil, they are creating an annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Killing every creature that can not move quickly enough to escape it.

https://oceantoday.noaa.gov/happenowdeadzone/

Sigh, death seems to have the upper hand, God. I’d like to know what YOU are going to do about it? Oh? You have awakened me in the middle of the night to do my tiny part by writing this blog??? Somehow, I had something bigger in mind!

Nonsense! There are billions of you humans! Stand up and Speak up. I gave you a Voice and a Backbone.

Dang, I hate it when I actually hear from You, God. Of course, You are right. I need more backbone. But, I will keep on writing. And maybe share a little, too.

There is HOPE! Just look at all the people who are bringing their land back to life.

Thanks! I am short on HOPE, but there are lots of books on folks doing regenerative agriculture. I will look at those next!

Posted in A God given diversity, a matter of scale, an invitation to abundant life, connecting, gusts of hopelessness, hope, Hope as a gift from God, interactions, Life vs Death, regenerative agriculture, setting my life in context, the essential nature of hope, web of life

The Power of Touch and Hugs

Good Morning, God

I stumbled on this story yesterday and I just wanted to share it. Two twin girls born early were put into incubators. The twin on the right did well. But, her sister did not. Complication with breathing, oxygen level and general distress multiplied. Finally they feared the little one was dying.

At that point, the nurse asked permission from the parents to put the two girls together in the same incubator. Apparently, this was being done in Europe. The result was miraculous! The ill twin relaxed. Her breathing became steady and her oxygen count went up. They were TOGETHER AGAIN as they had been for many months.

Side by side seemed to be enough. But then the healthy twin put her arm around her sister. A hug. Side by side is good. A hug — is even better.

I am thinking about this, God, after a year of lockdowns and keeping to ourselves — or keeping six feet apart. All because of our fear of infecting one another. Fear is a very powerful thing. Perhaps that is why — over and over again — You say FEAR NOT!

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Posted in Being a Blessing, Being Together, Being With, connecting, fears, healing, health, LOVE

Another Shift in Perspective

In which I learn that the Easter Island (Rapa Nui) heads have torsos.

Good Evening, God

After decades of seeing photos of the famous heads of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) I discover that they had torsos! Adding a body definitely altered my perspective.

Then I saw an article about one of functions of the heads. Function? These were useful? They seem to be located next to fresh water sources — fresh water that flowed down volcanic lava tubes into the sea. That seemed like a lot of trouble to go to, God, to mark an essential location. But, I was delighted to discover even one practical use!

Next, I noticed the drawings on the back. Complex and powerful — they strike me as full of meaning. But, what? Still, I am totally delighted to have had my perspectives added to. First the hidden torso, next the complex imagining on their BACKS. So much for seeing only the Heads!

Hmm. I am overwhelmed by how true this is for me — in all categories — of what I somehow thought of as my “body of knowledge”! I am humbled . . . and eager to expand. But where to begin, God?

Posted in connecting

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Since 1958 articles by members & guests offer news about activities, history, Sacred Dance practices, profiles of Sacred Dancers, choreography, images & illustrations.

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Brené Brown

chatting and sometimes, listening

Rachel Naomi Remen

chatting and sometimes, listening

A Moment with God

chatting and sometimes, listening

Sacred Dance Guild Journal

Since 1958 articles by members & guests offer news about activities, history, Sacred Dance practices, profiles of Sacred Dancers, choreography, images & illustrations.

Victoria Paulsen

How to Step In -- Substitute Teaching