July 4th On The 7th

I know I’m a few days off – we had friends with us over the weekend, and I have yet to figure out how to secret myself away to write, while trying to maximize time with our guests. Sure, I could get up earlier still – but that’s when I catch up on reading your posts!

A weekend of weather so perfect that remaining inside would have been an insult to Mother Nature. The wind whispered its secrets through the trees, the sun stood front and center, daring a cloud to engage in a game of hide-and-seek. The clouds knew better than to try.

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We decided to watch the fireworks from a mountain overlook. Not exactly a novel idea – chairs were set up and ‘reserved’ before 9:00AM. Nonetheless, we had great seats. I brought my new (and first) camera – it’s point and shoot (because that’s pretty much the breadth of my talent). The pictures I took of the fireworks themselves are truly terrible, but I promised someone I would post at least one. Somehow the time between ‘point’ and ‘shoot’ is where I failed miserably.

I know...

I know…

My words won’t do them justice either. Our elevation was such that we were almost eye-to-eye with the fireworks. The whistle, the booms and cracks echoed in the air as thousands of stars exploded, raining down with sizzle and shine. Multi-colored or bright white mattered little; we were sitting in the sky watching magic happen all around us.

And it’s that ‘all around us’ that’s circling my thoughts this morning. To our right a group of young people were drinking a lot and talking too loud about tawdry topics that had Suz and I giggling – a lot. Behind us, people who were definitely AARP members (of greater seniority than yours truly) wore red, white and blue wigs and hats, neon necklaces and delight that a child couldn’t parallel. Children – yes, all over the place. Jumping, yelling, falling over each other and everyone else. Dads and moms, golf scores, shout-outs to kids; lovers young and old. Somehow it felt like we all huddled closer, as the temperature dropped and the winds made their presence felt. People in shorts, wrapped in blankets, waiting for wonder.

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And there was the greater wonder for me. People who didn’t know each other, acting as if they did. Friendship exchanged without names or judgment or pretense. Nothing mattered except being there for a shared purpose and an air of collective anticipation. That’s the 4th of July. The stars on the ground – recognizing that at the end of the day, we can share moments of tremendous delight and pride, decency despite differences that ultimately are not elevated to a level of such importance that they dwarf the heights of people enjoying being a part of something bigger than dissent. Lucky for you, I didn’t even try to take a picture of that.

Living In The Bubble

courtesy of flickr.com

courtesy of flickr.com

I’ve decided to live in my awesome bubble today, so if you feel like fomenting trouble, please move along.  I’m occupied with silliness.

It’s been a long time since I woke up feeling the need to be silly.  It started when I took the pups out and saw that the only thing the moon was revealing was a smile.  Which made me smile too.  Bogey began to chuff at … nothing.  His bravery is impressive when there’s nothing to challenge it.  My hero.  It wasn’t one of those banner sleep nights, so you can toss this up to that slightly frantic goofiness caused by too much caffeine over too short a period of time.  No matter – I’m in the bubble.  At least until I crawl back into bed.

“Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life” — Omar Khayyam

Smart guy, that Omar.  He got me thinking.  For reasons one could ascribe to astrology, biorhythms, synchronized moments in time, etc – some of my friends are struggling at the moment.  Feeling overwhelmed, too lonely, disappointed, histories that they want to get over yet keep repeating, selective memory retrieval that prohibits touching grace.

Join me in here for a minute.  Seriously.  I am thinking that it’s never too late to create the relationships you always wanted; the ones that hint at why you’re dissatisfied with the ones that you currently have.  What is the unrealized fantasy that pulls on your shirt sleeve as you struggle to move forward?  What does it look like?  Create it.  Live it.  Remember the kid that lives inside us all is waiting for you to rectify history.  Fix it.  Be the parent that you didn’t have.  Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to your most loved friend.  Get silly, get loving, get over these hurdles that others may have put there, but you have allowed to remain.  Risk being happy.  No one will hold you accountable for that state of mind every moment of every day.  The onus isn’t as great as the weight of being an indifferent bystander in your own life.

My intent is not to make any of this sound easy or trite.  My intent is to dilute the ‘buts’ and ‘can’t work’ to a manageable trickle instead of a waterfall.  To engage the muscles that stretch most when moving in joy.  To help you find your ‘tickle’ spot and wake it up.  And if all of this is just too much for a Sunday morning – I hope at least that you smile, that you savor one moment in your morning.  Catch yourself grinning.

Beautiful Blessings Remain

Last week, my wondrous friend Lori (donnanddiablo.com) sent me one of John O’Donahue‘s exquisite blessings.  I used to consider myself well-read – until I met Lori;  moderately well-rounded – until I started following David Kanigan (davidkanigan.com), a tad lyrical – until I found Bill (drbillwooten.com).  I also considered myself to have a modicum of some other qualities that have been brought into some question now that I am an avid fan of many of your blogs (and I could go on, but you know from my comments how highly I think of you very, very talented people who enrich my life so often).  Creative, courageous, innovative, funny, unbridled – some of the adjectives that come to mind..

Anyhow, Lori and I are connected in ways too cosmic for me to fully understand.  Our emails cross each other in the cyberspace almost daily, each of us thinking of the other simultaneously.  She can intuit when something’s wrong, and I will feel a shadow across the sun if Lori is troubled.  That I can sense something is ‘off’ with Jo for example, seems to come with breathing – we’ve known each other longer than we have known ourselves.  But Lori and I began in tune without ever having met.  I find it incredible and awesome.  I feel this way about all those I love – each is a blessing.  Corny?  Mea culpa.  Is there a way to say this without sounding corny?  Probably, but this is a reflection of my limitation with the language nothing more.

I hadn’t heard of John O’Donahue.  How I could have missed such beauty?  So I share this with you – though it is Lori who should be thanked for this introduction.  After emailing with a friend of mine earlier this morning, thinking about how we test ourselves and occasionally torture our thoughts and hearts, it seemed only right that I pass this along to you.  I hope you receive it in the spirit with which it is given – with hope in the sunlight.

A Blessing For The New Year

On a day when

The weight deadens

On your shoulders

And you stumble,

May the clay dance

To balance you.

And when your eyes

Freeze behind

The gray window

And the ghost of loss

Gets into you,

May a flock of colors

Indigo, red, green

And azure blue,

Come to awaken in you

A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays

In the curragh of thought

And a stain of ocean

Blackens beneath you,

May there come across the waters

A path of yellow moonlight

To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,

May the clarity of light be yours,

May the fluency of the ocean be yours,

May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow

Wind work these words

Of love around you,

An invisible cloak

To mind your life.

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For Simon

Did you ever hear the one about the parish priest and the Jew?  Gotcha – there’s no punchline..

Simon (simonmarsh.org) is a parish priest in NW England.  I’m – well you know me by now.  We’ve never met, and yet I can assure you he is as much a part of my heart as any beloved friend.  I don’t remember what prompted us to start emailing each other, but shortly after we did, Simon became ill.  His voice was failing him,  a diagnosis proved elusive and his fatigue was almost taunting him.  I fretted – asking all these questions that you would expect – was he able to eat?  Had he tried chicken soup?  Was he getting enough rest?  How was the quality of the medical care?  He would respond when he was able – without complaint.  His tiredness was teaching him patience, he wrote, his hoarseness provided him time to listen to silence.  He was most frustrated that his responsibilities to his parish were being compromised.  And he worried about his wife Jilly.  Simon apologized for not writing more,  reassuring me through this ordeal.  Thanking me for being a worried Jewish mom across the pond (forget that we are close in age, I’ve always had a strong maternal streak).

Simon has improved, his posts are more frequent and I can’t begin to suggest that I understand all that he writes.  What I feel though is palpable – the love of his religion, the celebration of family, the delight in a flower’s budding.  I suppose one can argue that at core, this is what spirituality is predicated upon in its purest sense, and when I read his words from that perspective, I rejoice.

Simon sent an email over the weekend to some of his friends.  It is no exaggeration when I write that I get a visceral reaction whenever I see his name in my inbox.  My friend – he is well, he is in my orbit and I am grateful.  We hope to meet one day – sitting in some coffee shop somewhere.  Perhaps Andy and I will return to England one day; maybe Simon and Jilly will visit the States.  Who knows what fate has in store.  But there was a reason that Simon came into my life – he has taught me that the heart can hold an unimagineable amount of love, that there are people in the world who see us as far, far better than we really are and that perception impels us to try and fit that image.   Simon makes me a better Mimi.  Because he is convinced that I already am.  What do I offer in return?  I have no idea – for whatever it is, it pales in comparison.

Simon and Jilly are off on holiday.  He will likely not even read this anytime soon, but that’s ok.  I wrote this more for me than for him, a meager attempt at acknowledging the power of a friendship that came from the universe and travels with continued enthusiasm across the pond.

Recently Simon posted Mary Oliver‘s “Wild Geese” and though it came from a different place in his thoughts, it is offered here for him.  For Simon, my friend.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers  itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

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A Woman

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“A woman should have…

enough money within her control to move out

and rent a place of her own even if she never wants

to or needs to…

A woman should have…

something perfect to wear if the employer or her date of her

dreams wants to see her in an hour…

A woman should have…

a youth she is content to leave behind…

A woman should have…

a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to

retelling it in her old age…

A woman should have…

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black

lace bra…

A woman should have…

one friend who makes her laugh and one who

lets her cry…

A woman should have…

a good piece of furniture not perviously owned by anyone

else in her family…

A woman should have…

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a

recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored…

A woman should have…

a feeling of control over her destiny

 

Every woman should know…

how to fall in love without losing herself…

Every woman should know…

how to quit a job,

break up with a lover,

and confront a friend without ruining the friendship…

Every woman should know…

when to try harder and when to walk away…

Every woman should know…

that she can’t change the length of her calves,

the width of her hips or the nature of her parents..

Every woman should know…

that her childhood may not have been perfect – but it’s over…

Every woman should know…

what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

Every woman should know…

how to live alone – even if she doesn’t like it…

Every woman should know…

whom she can trust,

whom she can’t,

and why she shouldn’t

take it personally…

Every woman should know…

where to go -

be it her best friend‘s kitchen table,

or a charming inn in the woods,

when her soul needs soothing…

Every woman should know..

what she can and can’t accomplish in a day,

a month, and a year.

–Pamela Redmond Satran