Posts Categorized: Confusion to Clarity

Grandmother Snag

It’s Memorial Day, and instead of visiting the graves of my human ancestors, I’m sitting in the Oregon old growth forest at my favorite altar in the world, above a noisily  burbling stream.  From this spot, if I peek through the hemlocks and cedars just in front of me, there’s a snag, the part of the tree left over after the rest of it has broken off and thundered to the ground.  This particular snag, about fifty feet tall at a third its original height,  was created about twenty years ago, from the falling of a two-hundred year old giant.  They say that when it split in two, an eighty-year old woman in the cabin crushed by the fall was saved because she was looking into her refrigerator, which held up the roof above. This image has given me such peace when I stand mutely gazing at my own leftover larder, but this is only a teeny little part of the inspiration of this stately scene.

The truth is, I’ve passed hundreds of snags while hiking without being transported to this deep peace I feel today.  It always takes a while for my mind and my eyes to relax enough to truly let in the subtle majesty of such an old, broken relic.  After about a day here in the forest, my vision shifts. I’m reminded of my personal relationship with each tree here at the cabin.  I begin to call them my friends.  It’s then that I truly see her,  the old Grandmother of the hillside, the sacred snag. Read More>>

Right on Time Living

Isaiah Jones, a black gospel musician and preacher  who was  raised in East St. Louis,  somehow showed up here in our Northwest college town in the mid-1990’s.  He started a gospel choir which was 99% white. And therefore remedial.  It took us about two years to figure out how to sway together to the rhythm, which still resided way more in our heads than our bones. Isaiah was our director, accompanist, and a frequent soloist.  When the Spirit moved him, which was wildly unpredictable to us, he would jump up and prance into the audience to give Love Hugs. Even though he was an ordained Presbyterian minister, this particular habit was a bit suspect at first.  But the good liberal church people would never want to offend the town’s one black minister, so at first they played along. Later, they began love-huggin’ each other on their own.

He was that kind of infectious.

A friend tells a story about Isaiah. He had come to dinner at her place, everyone had pushed their chairs back after the meal, and a peaceful lull suffused the room.  She went to the kitchen and came back with an apple pie.

“That pie is right on time,” Isaiah drawled.

With Isaiah, the pie would have been right on time, no matter when it arrived.  He lived in a Right on Time World.  He even answered his phone, “God is SO good.  ALL the time.”  It meant things were just as they should be.  No rush.  Miracles like apple pie could show up any time, and so would spring, babies, and other natural wonders.  But if the world was always  right on time, if the way of things was always good, I began to notice, other life events would need to be re-considered.

I started to apply the mental state of Right On Time to disasters in my life: a friend’s accidental drowning, a house fire that nearly killed my son.  In the increased focus that can occur during such events, no doubt with ample amounts of adrenaline and Grace, it’s a challenge to find the goodness.  I began to keep a list of how these tragedies could possibly be right on time, if not good.  Then I looked for evidence of possible goodness in all the fear and pain. Gradually the list grew.  How did I know who was being helped or inspired by the community of love and support that sprung up around us?  Who learned about the dangers of fly fishing without a belt?  Who checked for a smoke alarm in their apartment?  The possibilities just kept unfolding.

I also noticed that when one’s world has been turned upside down, all one can do is operate Right on Time.  One decision.  This one. Then the next.  Otherwise it would be too much. I began to notice that taking each step right on time built a substrata on which I could walk.  It created a foundation for coping. Read More>>

Happy New Now!

This cry resonated in the ballroom on  New Year’s Eve,  where I was attending the Mental Cleanse, a five-day event with Byron Katie. The event is an annual Love Fest where participants spend the last days of the old year challenging the beliefs that imprison them and taking off the chains, one thought at a time.  As always, Katie was unconditionally loving with every person and thought she invited into her “parlor.”  And we’re always invited, each moment, to finish the past and begin again, in a new now.

Over the week I noticed all the beliefs I had been acting out in my life that were no longer relevant and had caused harm to myself and to others.  Decisions about what to do in 2009 just kept making me as I watched others undo their own painful beliefs and questioned my own.   A very different way to make New Year’s resolutions, from a place of what is truer and kinder for my world.  I’ll be continuing to explore what this looks like in future blogs, I’m sure. I just find I want to share as much as I can about my own work with anyone who’s interested.

On New Year’s eve there’s a No-Talent show where participants challenge themselves to do things that would bring up fears and beliefs.  This year was my first year to take the stage, and I shared a couple of poems I’d written about what happens when you question thoughts.  Now you should know that I’m a closeted poetry writer who has never (and I mean never) shared my work. This It was scarey.  I watched my mind compare myself to the person before, convinced I could never be as funny or perfect for the occasion.  And when I read what I’d written  in front of 300 people about half of what I was on stage was me. The other was a totally freaked out lizard, victim of the reptilian Flight or Fight brain. Afterward the applause (and one person even cheered!), I was still pretty scared. It was after that biochemical cocktail of limbic wore off that I felt freer, more open to whatever is next.  To whatever that scares me. A new year. A new Now.

My Economic Meltup

“Economic melt down.” The words have been reverberating for more than a month now.  When it all began, I went right back to the amusement park in my mind, but I ended up taking the Roller Coaster from Hell. Come to find out, I wasn’t alone there.

“The mind is a place unto itself. It can make a hell of a heaven or a heaven of a hell,”  John Milton said. The news of the last week, as well as the month before, has placed a whole lot of folks in the latter, direct from the thrill ride of the election ups and downs, regardless of which candidate they favored.

As in any crisis, my first response was to think of myself. Shameless ego. First question: So what does this mean to my life?  I noticed the  second thing I did was to envision my family and loved ones with nothing. Very uplifting.  Whole lives in the gutter. Pain and helplessness. This image soon dissolved, fading into photos of soup lines in the Depression. Grapes of Wrath. Superimposed with the faces of everyone I know and love and millions I don’t know but might love. In a new technicolor release. Twenty-first century hell. Read More>>

A Celtic Beginning

November 1st. The Halloween ghosts and goblins have gone home to divvy up their treats and  harvest festivals are upon us. Today (which actually began last night at dusk) is  Sawhain, the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The word “bonfire” comes from the fires that were lit everywhere for safety from wandering spirits. The bones that were left after the New Year’s feasting were cast on the fire to burn.

I love all the pieces of ancient folklore I picked up in the twenty years I taught mythology. Every year at this time I celebrate coming indoors. In the shelter and protection from the rain and cold, I am grateful.

The first month of the new year was called Samonios, meaning “seed fall,” a reminder that from the seeds of darkness, new life will spring. Today I wonder what seeds are being nurtured within me.  It’s too soon to tell but I notice the mystery lives in that not knowing.

It’s in that spirit that I’m writing my first official Oasis blog. So instead of a post-sugar hangover this year, or in spite of it, I light a morning candle wondering and waiting, committing to the patience and curious to see what will come of this new beginning.