Mmmmmm, what new challenges will be placed before me?
What new friends will I encounter?
Where will this month lead my creative soul?
How will I respond to the “still, small Voice within”?
What learning will there be if I
… face the challenges
… listen to that Voice within
… consider possibilities
What learning will there be if I
… don’t respond
… don’t face the challenges
… don’t listen to that Voice
… don’t consider possibilities
and see only problems?
There will always be problems
of some sort or another.
Fall has arrived! Autumn is here!
It’s a beautiful time of the year.
After taking this photo, I couldn’t help myself.
I ran down the path
playing with the fallen leaves
if only for a few moments,
returning to life-as-a-child
when life was uncomplicated, simple, safe, and secure.
May we all take a break.
Take a gentle deep breath from our belly.
Let our mind drift far, far away
from the political yuck, pandemic, global issues,
from the nasty social media, personal stresses and crises,
from the anger and fear and bewilderment
and for a few moments,
let our imagination take us to a place
where we scamper down a lane covered with leaves,
joyfully toss the leaves up in the air,
inhale the smells of this now-upon-us Season,
listen to the sounds under our feet and over our head
as we play
as birds fly south
as we laugh and breathe and take a break.
Signs abound in Nature and within us
as we move into and through the Autumn Season of our Lives.
There are times when we feel alive and vibrant
in body, mind and spirit.
There are times when we realize that the withering of skin,
the creaking of bones, the aching of muscles,
the forgetfulness that can come with the aging process are simply part of the Autumn Season of life.
Is it wisdom to ignore these signs?
Is it wisdom to focus solely on these signs?
How to maintain balance and acknowledge the the cycle of life? Perhaps trees and leaves can be our teacher.
When leaves change colour … the tree is still there.
When our face, legs, arms, neck, hands begin to wither
… we are still there.
When leaves fall
… not all fall at the same time.
When we rise from a chair or sofa
… stiffness doesn’t always remain with us.
Fall/Autumn is here.
Winter is coming.
In the meantime, if leaves and trees could talk,
perhaps they would remind us
to spread our branches
to acknowledge our natural beauty in each season
and to welcome life.
In Jewish tradition, a Tzaddik is someone who dies on Rosh Hashanah and is “a person of great righteousness” (the quality of being morally right or justifiable).
At the beginning of the Jewish celebration known as Rosh Hashanah, shofars are blown outdoors in many communities, signalling the start of the Jewish celebration. And that night in 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, of the Supreme Court of the United States, faithful adherent of Judaism, died.
Tzaddick. I think this fits RBG well. How she is missed – particularly recently with the way the Supreme Court dealt (or did not deal with) the issue of abortion in the state of Texas.
Rosh Hashanah begins this year, today. May those who are marking Rosh Hashanah at this time, discover a new sense of ‘possibility’, a new belief in ‘hope’ that RBG’s legacy will not end, and a renewed ‘commitment’ to their beliefs and dreams. And may she, of blessed memory, be lovingly remembered and respected by people of all nationalities, religions, political beliefs – including the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider the issue of abortion that has raised its head in Texas and is beginning to raise its head elsewhere.
May this be a blessed Rosh Hashanah for all those who mark this Jewish festival.
A public, unasked-for explanation, fwiw, as to what helped make my decision to be vaccinated.
At this time in our history, I believe it is important for me to remember that as I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can, others do, as well. To that end, I am a member of a family, a community, a country, a planet and all of that is at great risk if the virus and its various strains are not eliminated or at the very least, severely reduced.
As someone who considers herself to be a spiritual person, I seek to “listen” to that “still, small Voice within” that guides my life which I believe is not a life to be lived in isolation, but to be lived in relationship with others.
It is concern for others that motivated me to set primary concern for myself aside, (possible side effects of the vaccination because of my compromised immune system) and be vaccinated, so that others may have a better opportunity to live.
That “still, small Voice within” reminds me of the importance of remembering that as I am in relationship with the Holy Other, the Creator, by whatever name one references the Source of All Being, I am in relationship with humanity and cannot live my life in isolation or selfishness.
This decision did not come lightly. But it is a decision that was made in peace and continues to bring me peace.
This past week … our local hospital had more COVID cases in our Emerg than it had at the height of the virus and every single one of those people was unvaccinated. This past week … a nine month old baby was diagnosed with COVID in this community. This past week … a children’s day camp admitted that children (ages 5-10) and multiple staff became ill and were diagnosed with COVID. Children under the age of 12 cannot (yet) be vaccinated.
The reality for me is – I am in relationship with each of those people, by virtue of our common humanity. I believe that to lean on my compromised immune system as ‘excuse’ (aka a reason for not getting vaccinated) is not kind or loving or respectful. I enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and want to live as long and healthy a life as I can. And I want others to enjoy and celebrate the gift of life and live as long and healthy a life as they can, so my decision to be vaccinated was not a difficult one.
I do not want to be a carrier of the virus to anyone. So I made the decision. And, I hope and pray, others will make a decision to be vaccinated so that the chances that they will be a carrier of the virus to anyone – me included – are greatly reduced.
We can’t change the minds of all who are opposed to getting vaccinated or think the pandemic is a hoax, but maybe the following will give encouragement and be a reminder that love shared with one another can impact the hearts of family and friends … one at a time.
This is a true story shared by a friend. Though the actual conversation wasn’t recorded, it’s close to what transpired and the outcome actually happened.
He said “I want to come and visit. I miss my family! How about I come next weekend?”
She replied “We’d love to see you. But, you know that we are vaccinated, have an eight year old who cannot be vaccinated. Mom is 79 and we’ve decided no one comes into our home who isn’t fully vaccinated. Let us know when you’re fully vaccinated and we’ll find a date that works. We’re looking forward to seeing you again, too.”
He said “I don’t believe in that pandemic stuff. It’s just like the flu. I don’t need to get vaccinated.”
She replied “It’s your decision. We’d love to see you, but won’t until you are fully vaccinated.”
He said … after a long silence “Are you serious?”
She replied … “Yes.”
He said “I’m family. You don’t want to see me? What about Thanksgiving and Christmas and Mom’s 80th birthday?”
She replied “It’s your decision.”
He’d had a similar conversation with her husband, many times and continued to refuse to get vaccinated. This time was somehow different.
Several days later, he phoned and said “Okay. I’ve made the appointment. I’m getting my first vaccination on Monday. Let’s talk about a visit at Thanksgiving.”
And that is how it can be done. One way to change hearts and minds … one at a time.
The wind blows. Floods and rising waters continue their devastating invasion. Smoke from nearby fires is frighteningly strong. Lungs ache. Eyes burn. Breathing is compromised. Evacuations continue. Families fear losing their homes, livestock, pets, livelihoods, lives. Those who survived the fires now face homelessness, poverty, an uncertain future. Painful tears.
The wind howls. People frantically trying to get into an airport and on a plane to safety. People huddle together, stranded on the tarmac in the hopes that they will be able to get on a plane that will rescue them from death, rape, torture. Painful tears.
The wind resurfaces. New strains of the pandemic virus erupt, overloading hospitals, exhausting front line workers, terrifying parents of children under the age of twelve unable to be vaccinated, causing polarization in families where some decide to be vaccinated and others decide the pandemic is a hoax. Painful tears.
The wind changes direction. Young men and women brought to their new country as babies or children face deportation. Infants, toddlers, children, youth, separated from their parents continue to be incarcerated, uncared for, unprotected, terrified. Painful tears.
The wind that has blown for decades continues to blow in new ways as unmarked graves of children in residential schools are found – as memories of childhood experiences of abuse in residential schools bubble to the surface with the discovery of the graves – as the reality of murdered and missing indigenous women continues to sink in. Painful tears.
The wind still blows. People are standing up, speaking out, making their opposition known, not only in peaceful ways, but in not-so-peaceful ways. Nuclear threats beg the ‘is war on the horizon?’ question. Ordinary citizens ask why the law seems to serve and protect the most powerful, but not the vulnerable, not the land, not the environment. Painful tears.
The wind of ill-health continues to disrupt lives. Addiction, chronic illness, mental illness, overdoses, accidents, loneliness, aging, grief, and increase rents that are impossible to meet forcing businesses to close, people out of their homes and on to the streets. Lives, finances, health and relationships are compromised. Painful tears.
Painful tears continue to fall from eyes, covering faces and continue to fall from hearts, covering souls as the sacrifice of those who died, so there might be life and freedom to vote and express opinions, often seems lost in rhetoric and anger. Painful tears.
Tears. Far too many painful tears at this time of fires and floods, rape and torture, hurricanes and starvation, earthquakes and tornadoes, political lies and abuse of power.
May painful tears be diminished by naming the fears (not letting them fester, or stifle conversation) about global warming/climate change, the pandemic, bullying, abuse, political decisions … and by taking action.
Let painful tears flow and motivate to let in Light.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote “Earth’s crammed with heaven each common bush aflame with God Yet only he (sic) who sees, take off his (sic) shoes.”
If Divine Presence is everywhere (“every common bush”) can it be surmised that there is *nowhere* that Divine Presence, God, the Creator isn’t?
I love reading the letters “n o w h e r e“
They can say “no where” AKA “it cannot be found.” They can say “now here.” AKA “it is evident.”
Many want to believe in miracles yet few believe they exist. To them, miracles are … “no where.”
Maybe they are looking for the magnificent, the stupendous, the WOW.
And in doing so, miss the miracle-in-the-ordinary … the “now here.”
When we take our ‘shoes off’ and become like a child about to wade into a cool brook, we see the minnows in the water the eagle flying overhead the smile on the faces of those around us
We hear the laughter of others and breathe fresh air into our lungs
We experience the Divine-in-the-ordinary, in the commonplace, in the mundane, in “every common bush.”
Miracles. I want a miracle for my friends, diagnosed with final stages of cancer. I want a miracle for my neighbouring country in the death-throes of political upheaval. I want a miracle for the world in the midst of a pandemic. I want a miracle for the people of Afghanistan and Haiti. I want more than glimmers of hope. I want miracles. I want to experience “each common bush aflame with God.”
I guess it’s up to me and each of us to find the glimmers of hope in ‘possibility’ and not inevitability.
I guess it’s up to each of us to decide whether it’s “shoes on – or shoes off.”
This is going on my front door in the morning because if I were a parent or grandparent with young children … or had a loved one living with me who had a compromised immune system this is what I would want to put at my front door
And besides … I am my own ‘loved one with a compromised immune system.’
I welcome visitors on the deck, at the front door, out for a walk, but not in my home at this time unless they are fully vaccinated and even then, I’m putting a hold on that for the time being.
I don’t live in fear I live in reality. And the reality is that even being fully vaccinated, not everyone is fully protected and could be a carrier of the virus.
This virus is not only spreading, but mutating.
Trying to keep my mind off the terrible news about Afghanistan, Haiti, people dying from the heat, floods, tornadoes, fires (too close to home this night), and the overloaded hospitals due to unvaccinated people become ill with the virus, I decided to “create something.
This. And it will go on my front door in the morning after I laminate it.
And if you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for our world and in particular the people in harm’s way. If you don’t believe in the power of prayer, please send gentle, kind, loving, positive thoughts their way.
fleetingly the years fly by marked by flames atop woven pillars so many so fast so soon while I ponder the aches and stiffness and forgetfulness and at the same time rejoice for I am here to see the candles flames atop woven pillars
Respect. Songs have been written about it. Parents teach their children about it. People expect it.
But what is it – what does it involve – exactly?
How about “regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others”?
Bishop Greg Rickel (8th bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, WA), listed his “Ten Rules for Respect.”
From what I understand, he really does follow these rules. Wouldn’t our world be a much kinder and safer place if everyone followed them
If all leaders (be they Bishops, CEO’s, politicians, office managers, store owners, parents, etc.), showed respect using Bishop Rickel’s rules, people would feel supported, encouraged, trusted.
The cycle of respect in the businesses, constituencies, congregations they serve, and families, would keep flowing.
Here are Bishop Rickel’s Ten Rules for Respect which are a model of behavior for us all in our interactions with others. All that’s needed is to put our own name in place of “Greg”.
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me (I’ll do the same for you.)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say “Let’s go to Greg together. I am sure he will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you).
5. Be careful how you interpret me. I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless a) the person is going to harm himself/herself b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you.” I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (she does it better anyway).
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things, so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led), speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone or breaking a confidence, I will.
It was near the beginning of the pandemic … most people were social distancing and mask-wearing.
Standing in line outside the health food store, the woman ahead of me were social distancing and wearing masks when a fellow appeared … no social distancing … no mask and kept getting closer and closer to me. I asked him to please step back to the place marked on the ground so we could be social distancing. And that’s when it began. “Oh, you want me to step back because of COVID19? That’s all ridiculous stuff.” He was adamant that there was nothing to be concerned about. “Even if COVID19 is real – there’s Hydroxychloroquine.” He was belligerent. He began shouting that the tv station he watched and the medical doctor in the US who had been interviewed on one of their recent shows, had since been silenced because they were telling the truth
He shouted “Who to believe?” That was the Million Dollar Question then – and now.
“I’m not afraid” he said. “I don’t believe this COVID19 is real.”
When it was my turn to enter the store, I noticed that he entered shortly after and overheard him say “What do you have that will increase my immune system? I don’t want to get sick.”
So much for thinking COVID19 is “ridiculous stuff” and disbelieving COVID19 is real. He doesn’t want to get sick. He doesn’t want to die.
But, he’s not going to wear a mask. He doesn’t observe social distancing. But he was in a health store looking for “something” that will keep him healthy and increase his immune system. Harumpf! How about wearing a mask and observing social distancing, sir? That will keep you healthy.
It was a simple, informal, unexpected conversation with the check-out gal at the local grocery store.
She was wearing an “Every Child Matters” bright orange shirt. I commented on it and said that I was sorry I wasn’t able to get to the rally on the weekend. She said she couldn’t get there either. And then she said “I’ll never forget the children and am grateful for my mom.”
I asked what, in particular, brought her that feeling of gratitude and she said … “She made us go outdoors every day and shout as loud as we could.”
Neighbours would ask the children why they were shouting and their reply was always the same “Mom told us to.”
The grocery story clerk never understood ‘why’. She just did it. And then she continued … “Mom also made us run as fast as we could to the corner store and back and said she was timing us. Each time, we had to at least do it as fast as we did it the day before and try to beat our own record.”
Again, she never understood ‘why’. She just did it.
When the store clerks’s mother died, she never had the opportunity to ask her mother ‘why’ and didn’t think about either of those incidents again … until the first group of unmarked graves of Residential School children was discovered.
And then she realized … her mother was teaching her and her siblings what to do if the government came to take them to the Residential School. Shout. Run. Shout. Run.
Stories that are emerging from the students of the Residential Schools speak of children who disappeared and were never heard of again. Many of those children were quiet and didn’t run away.
Most residential children who shouted and tried to run away were punished. But they didn’t disappear.
The grocery store clerk wishes she could speak with her mother and thank her for the lessons of shouting and running. But she can’t. Her mother died.
So instead, she often wears something with the colour orange on it.
Today, it was the orange “Every Child Matters” t shirt featuring four sets of hands encircling the words ‘Every Child Matters’ against an orange back drop, created by Andy Everson of the K’ómoks First Nation in British Columbia, Canada and that tshirt sparked a conversation about “Lessons Mothers Teach Their Children” that I will never forget.
The little engine was at the bottom of a mountain, looked ahead and was about to turn around because the mountain seemed to be too difficult to climb.
But then came the thought “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can” and the little train slowly began its climb up the mountain to the summit.
Like the engine in “The Little Engine That Could” story (authored by Watty Piper, a pen name of Arnold Munk) my former cat, Serenity and Olympic athlete Simone Biles can serve as gentle reminders of the power and importance of the “I think I can” philosophy.
It’s not easy to take one step, then another, and then another and begin to climb the mountains in our life … overcome the obstacles (of fear, lack of self-confidence, negativity) along the way … think possibilities (“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”) … and get to the top where peace, solace, healing, joy can be found.
It’s not easy to take one step, then another and then another and begin to climb the mountains in our global lives … overcome the obstacles of (lies, greed, political corruption) along the way … think possibilities (“I think we can. I think we can. I think we can.”) … and get to the top where justice, equality, hope, peace can be found.
Serenity wanted to climb her Scratching Tree but because of recent surgery, wasn’t quite certain how to do that. Slowly but surely, she made her way up her mountain. She began the climb … overcame her obstacles and got to the top where a view of the garden, personal satisfaction and peace were found.
World-renowned gymnast Simone Biles wanted to achieve ‘Olympic gold’ at the Olympics in Japan. She had trained. She was physically ready. She approached the mat but when she miscalculated – again she knew she wasn’t emotionally ready. She left the arena and returned with a decision and slowly but surely, she began the climb up her mountain of emotional obstacles … and will get to the top where peace will be found.
May the images of The Little Engine That Could, Serenity the cat and the courage of gymnast Simone Biles envelope us in “I think I can” thinking … for ourselves … for our countries … for one another.
May we not be daunted by the mountains ahead of us, personally or politically.
May we not allow obstacles to block us.
May we get to the top of our seemingly impossible-to-climb mountains look back in reflection and acknowledge “we did it!”
Long ago, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was born. Considered to be one of the most important Stoic philosophers, Aurelius penned these words: “When you arise in the morning, think of what a privilege it is to be alive: to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
The world seems to be going crazy on so many levels. It would be easy to give way to the fear, the anger, the hopelessness, etc.
It would be easy …. but I refuse to give power to evil.
Today, I awoke. … I am grateful.
Today, I awoke. I could breathe. … I am grateful.
Today, I awoke. I could think. … I am grateful.
Today, I awoke, I enjoyed something. Many things. … I am grateful.
Today, I awoke. I loved. … I am grateful.
Each day, may we waken and find something each day … no matter how small for which we are grateful.
Today, I picked these flowers in my garden. I am grateful for them and I am grateful that today, I awoke.
Fear seems to be on the rise. There’s climate change, mass murders, fires, the Delta variant of the COVID19 virus. What to do? We could get guns, or attachments to make guns even more potent. We could become a more militarized society. We could let the fear grow and grow until emotional and spiritual paralysis sets in.
Or, we could transform our understanding of fear – and our approach to it.
We could turn fear into hope and F ace E verything that is A gainst R eason
with H ealing O penness and P ossibilities of peaceful action and response, by and for E veryone
Will changing our approach to a single word bring about change within our Spirit?
Will changing our Spirit bring about change in our actions, our attitudes, our abilities to cope with the pandemic?
How will we know … if we don’t try?
When fear attacks, may we Face Everythingthat is Against Reason with Healing, Openness and Possibilities of peaceful action and response by and for Everyone.
Letters of the alphabet … They can be fascinating. They can be a focus for artwork. They can remind us of our childhood as we recite the letters. They can lead us to better awareness of our world and ourselves as an Alphabet of Life.
Here’s one suggestion Why not make up your own Alphabet of Life.
Accepting of self
Be-ing (not just do-ing)
Creating something each day
Drawing on our inner resources
Elevating our thoughts to new heights
Feeding our soul
Graciously accepting compliments
Initiating contact with a friend
Joyfully receiving the gift of life
Keeping our head while the world seems out-of-whack
Loving ourself as we do our neighbour
Mirroring the goodness we admire in others
Nourishing our spirit
Opening our heart to receiving love in new ways
Paddling through each day in spite of the blocks
Questioning the imponderables
Realizing our potential
Smiling when we meet a stranger
Treasuring the transient moments of each day
Understanding that we don’t have all the answers to life
Valuing our education and those who have been/ are our mentors
Weaving experiences of life through a loom of learning
Xtracting information from the Universe so we grow in wisdom
Yielding to the holy, however we understand that term
I remember the day before the pandemic. She was in her mid-80’s, was wearing beige slacks, beige top and black jacket with a black purse and black shoes and looking at summer tops and slacks.
The clothing she was looking at? Black sweater, beige slacks, black top. I could “see” her in lovely pastels, but all she was looking at was … more of the same black and beige.
I quietly asked “What do you think of this colour?” Her reply – “So lovely for you, dear. But not for me.” She had given me an opening – and so I gently asked – “Why not?” Her reply – “I’m old.”
I picked up two pastel tops – a lilac and a peach and asked her to come with me to the mirror. I think she thought I was going to try them on and wanted her opinion. She was half right. I wanted her opinion. Not for me – but for her.
I tucked the tops under her chin and she smiled. Then she looked at me and said “I’m too old.” And then she looked again. And smiled.
We chatted a bit. She confided that she hated wearing black and beige, but those were what old people wore and she didn’t want to have people think she was trying to be young again. And then, after she held up the coloured shirts a few more times and could see they brought colour to her face (maybe it was my imagination, but she stood straighter when they were under her chin), before I knew it, she had purchased them both.
As she went out the store with a lovely, big smile on her face wearing the peach-coloured shirt, she said “A difference – you have made a difference.”
Nawww, it wasn’t me – it was her. In the moment she decided to wear colour, she decided to enjoy her life.
Those colours really suited her. And yes, I’m *sure* she was walking straighter as she walked out of the store.
Limits. What limitations do we put on ourselves that stop us from living life to the fullest? Are we self-critical … of our self? … our art? … our … ? Do we compare ourselves to another? Have we said or thought “I can’t do this because …”? I know I have.
And each time I catch myself placing limits on myself, I think of this wonderful octogenarian and imagine her, living her life in full colour. Literally. 🙂
Limitations. Those others put on us. Those we put on others. Those we put on ourselves.