Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts on Love and Service

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Greetings.

Namaste.

As-Salumu Alayhum.

Shalom.

Peace be with you.


* * * 

God is Love and Love is God. 
There is no higher calling than to love one another, love one another, love one another.

The day I helped my friend bury her son's father out of a church in the heart of Dorchester was the day I lost all fear of the Catholic Church and its expectations of me.   The building that day was dry as dust, and it felt spiritually dead, but I took communion anyway, because I know I am complete and have no need of confession.

I do not need to be sanctified or forgiven again by any priest in any vestments, and from the moment I was baptized as an unwitting baby, or the moment I took my first Holy Communion when I was seven, or maybe it was in the moments after my first confession -“ I lied, I stole, I swore” - I have been in the Body of Christ, even if I did not always know it.  I have said plenty of priest-assigned Hail Mary's since that first communion, usually after confession, and more than once have found myself falling to my knees alone in my room with the Act of Contrition on my lips, and more importantly, on my heart.  "Oh my God, oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee." This has not happened for a while, but I know what I meant each time I said it, and yet….writing it now, it seems a little embarrassing to admit that I ever said it at all (but that does not mean I will never say it again).  I continue to say the Lord's Prayer to this day and every word continues to have meaning and depth. I take communion almost every Sunday at The Well - 6:15 p.m. at Hancock Church:  "Dynamic, centering, candlelit" - a place where we literally break bread and dip it in the cup of grape juice, where everyone is welcome at the table, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, where we sing and worship to live music. I am the only one of a small handful who really moves when the music plays, but I am not the only one who cries when we sing “Carry the Light.”

You may not have noticed from my previous writings, or from your experience of me, and more importantly you may not care, but I am a spiritual wanderer.  I have been at a Baha'i feast (which was not a feast of any kind - please avoid this), I have drummed with Native Americans and the Mother Drum, I have celebrated the Feast of the Dead with the Wiccans, I have meditated with the Buddhists and chanted with the Hindus.  I have eaten the body of Christ with the Christians.  I hope to join in the Dance of Universal Peace with the Sufis, hear the horn at a Jewish temple and one day - if they will let me – I’d like to pray to Allah with the Muslims.  Why?  Because we are all one.  Because there is only one universe, one God, one soul we all share. We are all one, we are all one, we are all one.  And our highest calling from the heartbeat of the Universe, our only duty, is to love one another, love one another, love one another.  For me, the best way I can do that is to remember that in loving you, I am loving God. This means, if you stand in front of me with no clothing, no shelter, no food, I am called to cover you and house you and feed you. I have done this many times, and will continue to do so, even if only on a spiritual level – I may have covered you with my prayers, fed you with my smile and encouraging words, and gave you a home in my heart. I may have actually let you sleep in my house and eat my food (one boy walked out of my place, unbeknownst to me, with a pair of my mismatched socks).  I may have sent money so that others can help, and I have carried and lifted and wrote and answered and laughed.  I do these things because there is no real separation between us, only that which I create in my fear and suspicion and ego. 

Mother Theresa did not love the lepers and the outcasts and the poorest of the poor because they were so lovable and beautiful, per se - no, she loved them because they represented her God, as we all represent God, because we are all in God and of God, and God is in us, God is us. She welcomed them into her heart, she gave them herself, she gave them her God.

The things I believe about God are simple things, uncomplicated really, because I believe that the universe is so much simpler and more beautiful than we can ever truly know. The Great Mystery is just that – both Great and Mysterious.

I believe that, fundamentally, God is the energy that set and keeps everything in motion. It is the Life Force, the Light and the Darkness, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and everything in between.  I am made and you are made of stardust and nothing you do or say, nothing I do or say will change that. I believe that God splits itself into countless bits in every moment and lives in everything, especially in us, so that it may experience everything all at once, everywhere, with eyes and ears and heart and flesh and blood and bone and bark and feather and stone and vein and moo.  I believe that as I welcome and embody the Christ in me, the Light in me, as I become my highest self, exactly who I am meant to be, I become the stardust from which I am made…and I become you.

There is no separation. I am you, and you are me. We are all one, and we are called by every religion to love one another. And there is no higher truth than that. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bucket O' Fish or, Do You Have Yahoo IM?

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 My girlfriend finally convinced me to start the “online dating thing” through a site I like to call “Bucket o’ Fish.” (See below for ADDENDUM.) This name makes me laugh out loud, the kind of guffaw that is deeply embarrassing, especially when I’m sitting alone, or just walking down the street thinking about it.   I picture desperate men standing over a large tank of water with loaded rifles, ready to shoot anything that moves.  The guffaw is a clue that I am not in the right frame of mind and probably should not be doing this online dating thing, but she convinced me to do it. Well, technically, her date with a nice guy convinced me, that and the no-return-texts from…well, let’s just skip over that little tidbit of information, shall we? Besides, what’s the “right frame of mind” look like, anyway? 
 
Probably I would feel differently if my two-day old online dating experiment wasn’t quite so hysterically funny.  I mean, within seconds of posting my pics and profile, I got an IM from someone I’ll call CreepyDude7 who said, “You are GORGEOUS!  Do you have Yahoo IM?”  There was no picture and of course I didn’t respond, because really, what were we going to talk about while he, um, types with one hand? Exactly.  That’s what I thought, too. 

My friend tells me I shouldn’t be so cynical, that they are insecure and human, and just want to talk, and that yes, some of them are lazy…blah blah blah.  And she tells me “internet and speed dating, it’s the way it is now, that’s the way of this century.” Ugh.  Personally, I don’t like this century. I like the one where, for example, people ate real food and used cast iron pans to cook it in. The one in which they spoke to you in full sentences, and looked you in the eye. The one in which they punctuated sentences and spelled out whole words, and where men opened doors for ladies and tucked in their shirts.  The one in which things were good for you and lasted a while.  (Hey, maybe I should say THAT about the kind of man I want…ha ha ha ha ha).

The whole idea of online dating fills me with dread and a deep sense of ickyness (and now, loud, hysterical laughter).  Thing is, I tried it several years ago – the first time was shortly after my divorce six and a half years ago, and well, why beat around the bush?  E-Harmony rejected me. Their little computer program decided I wasn’t ready for a relationship, which, truthfully? Like, no shit.   I was a mess.  I was like six months out of a difficult and painfully sad marriage, I was needy and selfish and mad.  But I felt I was just doing my civic duty, trying to date.  Many moons later, I tried again with a different site, but took my profile down after two days because I felt too exposed.  But now I have a blog, which you are reading, and I’m on Facebook and only recently closed my page to the whole world (long story), and now that my business is pretty much out on the street, this online dating thing doesn’t feel so weird anymore, at least not in terms of being exposed.  I couldn’t care less what you think of me, in other words. I am immune to your opinion. 
  
But, I am still approaching this online dating thing with a sense of civic duty. So, OK, maybe that’s not the best way to approach this, but shouldn’t middle-aged single women who are not deeply hideous with super-full lives enter the online fray and “put themselves out there?”  I have my doubts.  Look how much time it’s already taken, just to write this!

“Your world is so small,” I’m told, “step out of your comfort zone. At least practice dating.”   Well, maybe I LIKE my comfort zone.  Maybe I’m supposed to be alone.  Maybe I WANT to be alone.  Maybe these online dudes are really kind of, well, kind of pathetic and creepy, and yes, I should have compassion for them, but mmmm, I don’t.    Man up, boys…say something other than “Hi!”  And “Wooowwwww, great smile!”  This last was “said” by an overly buff, fitness-trainer black guy with a woweee smile of his own and very large yet oddly-shaped pecs.  I did not respond.  
 Today, my girlfriend (aka The Convincer) and I go back and forth via email about protocol, and I’m complaining about these men who cannot spell.  I write to her:  

“OK, so wut kills me is whon they can't spel and everythen is all rong on the screne and they thing its ok any ways and jest hit sind. 

“I don't know how long I can do this,” I tell her.  “LOL and LMAO and not to mention ROTFLMAO.”

She says, “ROTF?”   I tell her what it means (you can Google it).   She tells me I need to lose my cynicism and I ask why.  I mean, did anyone IM HER within seconds of her signing up to tell her how GORGEOUS she is?  He didn’t even read the first sentence of my profile (do they ever, ever read any of it?).  I tell her I embedded my name in it, in case a polite man decided to actually read the profile and then say something like, “Hi Suzanne.  How are you? I noticed you like….blah blah blah.” Or grown-up, getting-to-know-you words to that effect.   I say to her, Is that too much to ask?  I don’t think so. A little effort wouldn’t hurt.   A little care and thoughtfulness in how you approach me would be nice.  No china-shop bulls, please.  Sidle up to me, approach me gently but firmly, don’t just flail around.  It’s ugly and embarrassing.   I live with teen boys (and a pile of their friends) and get enough of that at home.  I want to ask them, are you trying to get to know someone new, or are you just killing time?  I suspect it’s the latter and they are just…well…just shooting at anything that moves. 
Yeah, she’s right.  I'm cynical.  
 
I send her this: 

“OK...here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about.  Guy's got a pic of himself (nearly normal looking guy) with an ugly, stove-in couch in the background, crappy carpeting and nothing on the walls.  This is the message I get from him in my inbox:

Hi! You have a VERY SEXXY LOOK! wanna talk somtime?

I am laughing so hard I am nearly crying because, really? This is what you got?  LOL and OMG.”

And also, no, no, I don’t want to talk to you somtime (sic).  I want to go study and do my homework and have a real conversation about real things.…in the real world, where it all really happens.

ADDENDUM:   OK...big sigh of relief. Two days after I posted, I deleted my online profile thing, because it was like, ewww, ick and oh God get me out of here. Ugh.  I'd rather be alone than be....gawked at by CreepyDudes and propositioned by 25 year olds.  For real.  OK, so it was a little flattering, I admit, but...um...really, no thanks.  




 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Physics

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Like a planet and its moon
like magnets in a child's hand
like the ocean to the shore

we are pulled together
you and I
by a gravity
so strong
by a soul-pull
so deep
like a black hole
so wide

we will never

ever

escape.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Melancholy, baby.

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The earth, it seems, has begun to turn more slowly in the last few weeks.  Have you noticed? Maybe it’s just me.  The insects are singing their melancholy song, reminding me of the changing of seasons. The days are a little bit shorter now and the shadows are just a bit longer and the insects are most definitely louder, as if they are calling to the darkness of winter, inviting it in, or maybe, like me, they are mourning the bright light of summer.  Either way, I am certain I am not the only one to feel it, that drawing in, the drawing down, the deep and instinctive anticipation of darkness.  There is stillness in the air even when the wind blows – can you feel it?  I suspect what I feel is that instinctive knowing that we are nearly midway between the summer solstice and the winter.

I am an animal, and my animal body wants to begin storing up in preparation for the darkness, to squirrel away as much light and life as I can, to push away the oncoming withdrawal, a hibernation of sorts.   I bought ingredients for soup the other day, a soup it is too hot to make, but that act alone – the buying of soup things – is a sign.  The darkness of winter is near and although I dread it, I am mildly curious about what it will bring. 

I don’t like the winter.  Oh, not the snow, I can tolerate the snow – I will push it away as often as I need to, or go play in it.  It is not the snow I dread, it is the darkness, the sense of isolation on cold winter nights when I need to be indoors studying or checking homework, or doing laundry in an apartment I do not like despite all the minor improvements I have made to it.  I have this urge to tear up carpeting and remove anything extraneous no matter how small, to buy more lamps and light up every room with a thousand watts, to push away the oncoming smoky darkness in the corners; a darkness, I suspect, that exists only in my mind.

I want to turn my face away from what is to come, this drawing in.  I want to burrow under the covers for days, preferably with a lover who will generate heat for me on cold nights, his sleeping, breathing body warming the air around us.   But for now, I will sit and listen to the insects and remember that the darkness comes for just a little while and then it goes away again…and that some day, so will I.  

September 12, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In the Editing Room

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I want to take
the film of my life

unspool it from
the metal canister 
which holds it 
unravel the black and white images
and run them through my fingertips

and in just the right places
~snip snip snip~
with my sharpest and most deadliest
scissors 
edit out the "bad" parts:
the embarrassing moments,
the hours full of grief,
the rage that distorted my face,
to snip snip snip
and let the pieces fall
where they may
to be left forgotten
to curl up and fade
on the tear-darkened earth
of God's cutting room floor.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Temple

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If my body is a temple
then I think 
you should come inside
and worship.

But please, 
remove your shoes first,
leave them
in the outer courtyard
before you carefully
and with permission
cross into 'Temenos,'
the sacred space
of all temples,
beyond that invisible boundary
between you and me.

Leave your weapons
and defenses
outside the door.
You will not need them
here.

But bring, if you will,
all the courage you can possibly
muster
all the dragon-slaying power
you possess
all the spirit-warrior wisdom
you claim as your own
and especially bring 
all the stamina
you have ever needed to call upon
because you will
most definitely
need it. 



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Holy Terror

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I am utterly terrified of being suffocated
in the daily round of boxed-in drudgery, 
stretched on the rack of irrepressible obligation
and hung by my thumbs in an airless room
full of expectation. 


Instead I want to grow wings and take flight,
to leave the dense pull of earth's gravity,
to unhook from the weight of ordinariness
and pedestrian concerns
and soar to the moon-glow 
and bathe in it,
to float free among the star-sparkle
and feel its delicate drifting against my skin,
to lay under a tree and tickle my toes 
in cloud fog, to take 


what is ordinary
and hold it up to that certain angle of light
and reveal it for what it is --
bright and secret droplets of 
LoveBlood that bubble up from
that deep, deep well in the
Heart of the Divine. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Break Lines

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A sense of ambiguity and
deep, deep ambivalence were like
fresh, sharp splinters under my skin,
like little bees buzzing around my head,
irritating and irrational,
demanding, it seems,
undivided attention
but really, really
just needing to be 
let out the window.

Partly in old unnecessary shame
and partly in grief
I quivered like a trained dog on a leash
wanting to rush forward and slash
with my teeth and inside I was
shaking with the need to be still
and not do anything
to wait on God
to wait for an answer
that may never come
and so I kept my voice quiet
and my head down
lest I lash out and
shame us both.

I want answers
that are not
my own made-up ones. 
My ego demands reason,
insight,
explanation, 
things that make sense given
what I know
or what I thought I knew 
about the way things are;
things like...

Oh never mind, 
it doesn't really matter
what's in my head
or what I want.

So instead of doing anything
"crazy" or demanding 
or irrational 
I went about my business
and I lived my life
and I brushed my teeth 
and I looked in the mirror
and saw how beautiful I am
even with so many 
unanswered questions
and a smooshed up crying face
and a mouth full of toothpaste
and tears running down my cheeks
and it was at that moment
a new and delicate
break line 
carved itself into
my heart
which I knew I could add to my collection 
and pour it onto a canvas and
hang it on my wall
and impress my friends with.

And when all is said and done
what I want to say to you 
is just this one small thing: 

Who are you
if you are not the You
I thought you were? 





Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hidden and Unhidden

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On a Walk Through Great Meadows

This avenue we walk down
made of cattails and rushes
hides city-like energy
filled with chatter and splash
splitter and crash
wing flurry and urgency
and as if flung from a catapult
little black birds
bolt up from the grass
and dive down beneath it
on mysterious bird-y errands.

There’s a hurrying in the air
and in among the grass
to hold onto the light
before the darkness falls,
a sense of settling for the evening,
of placing oneself perfectly
among just the right loved ones and
eating one more juicy insect and
crunching it up quickly, or
weaving one more green-y tendril
into a softly swaying nest or maybe
- well –
maybe this is how it is
all day.

A heron stands alone
unruffled and unbothered
by all the hurry and fuss 
going on all around it and
standing quietly one-legged
(doing what herons do)
it moves super slowly
and without any turmoil,
deep in its serenity
waiting quietly for sustenance,
for the marsh gods
to bring it nourishment,
just quietly watching the world
do its thing.