Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Will Not Forget You

In mid April 2015 our daughter-in-law spoke words my heart had longed to hear for years.  “You’re going to be a grandmother.”

My delighted anticipation lasted only a few short weeks.  On May 6th my son called to say they were loosing the baby.  It was a heartbreaking and difficult wait, especially for Tess who had to cope with physical pain and another sudden hormonal shift in addition to the dashed dreams.  That baby’s birthday would have been in early December if the pregnancy had been carried to completion.

In the spring we all grieved in our own ways.  By late summer we had begun to adjust and to accept the loss. When December rolled around, I knew I had to so something to acknowledge this precious child we would never have the opportunity to hold in our arms.

December 6th was a balmy, windy day.   I headed into the park to a spot sacred to my soul. I carried a bag of rose petals I bought to float on the creek. I also carried songs of love, grief, gratitude, life and death along with heartfelt prayer for all the children who were conceived and never born in my lineage.

I hiked down the steep, muddy trail to where the creek bends. Looking toward the east the forest is lush with moss, ferns, Doug firs, and ancient cedars.  Looking toward the west there are limbless burnt trunks left from the pipeline explosion some dozen years earlier.  This is an intersection of bitter and sweet.  A place that can hold the beauty and anguish of love and loss.

My heart sank when I saw a beautiful, young woman sitting on a huge rock just above the one I planned to be on for my ritual. It was obvious this was a special place to her as well. I assumed she, like I, would want her space. I walked back up the creek just a little and sat on a rock by the creek to wait for the space to become available. After five minutes or so I looked up and saw the woman was gone. I started to gather my things to move to the rock when she appeared on the trail behind me.

She smiled and asked if I was having a good day. I told her I was and said I hoped I hadn’t disturbed her. “Not at all.” she replied. Then she asked, “Can I give you a hug?”  I gladly received her sweet hug, and thanked her warmly. We wished each other well and she was on her way.

Most of my rock was underwater, the creek now more a raging river than the lazy, shallow stream of the summer. Still I made it out on to the rock without getting wet and spent time in prayer with the unborn and the Mystery. The force of the water caused the petals to vanish in an instant, like the pregnancy. My tears met the waters of the creek and the wind carried my promise.  “I will never forget you.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Silence - God's Language

“Silence is the language of God, all else is a poor translation”  Rumi

Though I can’t claim to know silence well, I do love what I’ve experienced in silence.  Still I had mixed feelings about going to Iona 'just to be in silence.'  So I was surprised to notice I felt a bit gypped when I discovered the retreat that was billed as a 9 day silent retreat would actually contain only 7 full days of silence.

I have a complicated relationship with words.  I love them.  I have some skill using them in speech and writing and I overuse them. Thereby robbing myself and others of soul nurturing silence

One reason I have come to love silence is because after a period of silence I am more likely to have the experience of ‘being spoken.’  While some of what my ego knows is useful, what my soul knows is essential.  This soul knowledge is more accessible during and after a period of intentional silence.  Words might come to me, maybe even through me, while writing, speaking or simply knowing.  What distinguishes them from my ordinary words is these words come to me without me ever having thought them.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Communion of Saints

Communion of Saints

The point at which one begins story is arbitrary, a bracket put around an experience to help understand and/or savor it.  I am choosing to begin this story by recollecting my dream in January 2009 featuring both Jesus and Sheela-na-gig.  I could have begun it with my son’s birth or with his death.  I could have begun it with an imaginary encounter with monks of the Ceile Day order whose footsteps I follow.

It is before 6 a.m. on April 27, 2014.  This day marks the 45th anniversary of the birth of my first child, Arthur Donovan.  I stand on an ancient stone on the beach near the ferry dock on the Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland awaiting the appearance of the sun so I might sing the words that have been sung here for centuries.  As the point of light appears on the horizon and begins to intensify, I start to chant and to bath myself in the first 9 rays of the sun.

The timing of my pilgrimage was dictated by the date of the silent retreat I am attending on this Isle so important in the spread of a unique form of Christianity in the Celtic lands.  Until a few weeks before my arrival I was unaware there was a Sheela-na-gig on the island.   It is on the exterior wall of the medieval nunnery ruins I walked through on my way to my hotel after disembarking from the ferry yesterday afternoon.  It was they who called me here, Jesus and Sheela-na-gig.  The dream foretold it, and set me on the path of inquiry that brought me here on this day.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Senility - the Passage from Life to Death

During a recent Centering Prayer meeting, we were practicing Lectio Divina with recording of Fr. Thomas Keating.  An excerpt of the recorded message follows.

“What you mean by happiness is pretty important. Success, fame, fortune and wealth, these tend to get drained of their excitement as you get older, especially in the mid-life crisis, and not to mention senility, and in the passage from life to death which is really a very special time in peoples lives. Of its nature it is a transformative period because the process of dying takes away the capacity for every other kind of passing, or, this world, of satisfaction that we might have hoped for. Everything recedes and there is nothing left but you, whoever you are. And so the spiritual journey is really a deliberate anticipation of the passage of death in which one freely and deliberately makes friends with this process that frees one from the limitations of happiness in this world and opens ones whole being to the possibilities that are unknown to us at first but which we finally come to know in the dying process is not going to work here in this world.”

The phrase that shimmered for me, wasn’t actually spoken.  What I heard and what I took into contemplation was “Senility, the passage from life to death.”  What Fr. Keating actually said is highlight in red above.  Praying with the phrase changed my relationship with senility which I interpreted as dementia. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Celtic Knot

The path of my life is like a celtic knot.  The unbroken thread twists and turns in unpredictable and unexpected ways.  The pattern unknowable until the thread’s very end is tucked behind the final connection.   

The first time I became aware of birth and death days touching was on October 16, 1987, the day of my father’s death.  October 16th was the day my mother had chosen for my planned caesarean birth.  

I met Elle hours after my husband I returned from Ethiopia.  So strong was our commitment to Dare’, a community of healers, even extreme jet lag, brain fog, emotional exhaustion couldn’t keep us away.  I tried not to allow shock register in my expression when I saw the bulge on the right side of the jaw of this beautiful woman who had come to us for healing.  She was to become both a precious sister and wise teacher to me over the coming years, but in that moment I saw only a woman in need calling forth the healers in all of us. 

It was heartbreaking a few years later when Elle told us we weren’t the community she needed to hold her at end of her life.  I wished it were otherwise, but I knew she was correct.  She returned to a tiny community on the northern CA coast precious to her earlier in her life.   Her life contracted so she could pay careful attention to her healing and to the spiritual teaching of her cancer.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blog Birthday

Welcome Readers

Today, June 2, 2012 is the official birthday of ‘Everything’s Connected – No Exceptions.’  While I’ve been posting for over a month now and have invited some of my writing sisters to have a peek, today my writing becomes ‘public’ – available to larger audiences.

A ‘GreatGranddaughter’ led me to blogging.  This piece, posted on April 28, 2012 let me know she wanted an audience.  I argued with her.  I couldn’t imagine where she could be seen.  She is a bit of an inside story, too lean to make sense to many.  Still there was power in the words and in the way something so seemingly insignificant resonates with the deeply personal and the societal and universal.  I don’t know if I am the great granddaughter being informed or if I’m writing to my great granddaughter.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blood Lines

The experience I described in ‘When One of us is Wounded, We all Bleed’, when I dreamed my husband punched his brother and then woke with blood on my hand, got my attention.  Writing from the dream helped me to discover some of the ways I have blood on my hands.  Still I felt the dream was asking more of me.

Because my wounding occurred in a church sanctuary and because I was raised Roman Catholic, my experience of blood appearing on my hand without apparent cause made me think of the stigmata. Stigmata are bodily wounds, sores or sensation occurring in the location of the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. It felt presumptuous  of me to relate my experience to the stigmata suffered by devout and selfless holy ones, still the similarity was eerie and I felt compelled to follow that thread.