Posted on March 16, 2014
I have no poems of light.
I have only poems of surrendering to darkness.
This world tells us “fight the darkness.”
But I have a different message.
Surrender to suffering
and allow your journey to REALLY begin.
Drop “affirmation” and “attraction” into the trash can.
Trust the Path, live the life you’ve got.
No matter the suffering…we all suffer…
when you are willing to walk through your own personal fire?
Rise up into your true strength
bestowed by flowing like water
down cool mountains
into a salty sea.
your own heartbeat
Posted on March 15, 2014
Flash Fiction, based on this photo by Vivian Maier…
I was told they were in an arts and crafts store one wintery day when it finally happened.
Both of them were relieved to be out of the freezing apartment, and although they did not have the money to buy anything, they were out shopping nonetheless.
Charley had on her warmest coat. Though indoors, she kept the hood on. Her father had cut her hair that morning. She looked boyish and was embarrassed by it, but could at least hide the worst mistakes with the hood.
She wore no undershirt, and the coat’s fuzzy material against her skin reminded her of what it felt like to hug a large teddy bear. Like the one three years before, at her Aunty Ella’s place, where she hugged her older cousin Andrea’s teddy while she waited for her father to fetch her.
* * * * * *
Twelve year old Andrea had been picnicking with friends for the day. After lunch, Aunty Ella tossed a book onto the kitchen table. She knew Charley could not read.
“I’m off to rest,” she said. “I need peace and quiet, so don’t dare leave this kitchen.”
A while later Charley tiptoed down the corridor. She needed to pee. Her thin legs momentarily collapsed as she inched past Aunty Ella’s bedroom. Through the doorway she saw the old lady sprawled on her back, gray hair splayed magnificently across white pillow covers, snoring loudly enough to raise the dead. Emboldened, Charley walked towards the loo, but found herself drawn to Andrea’s room instead. She caressed the brass doorknob on the closed door. It was cold and exciting to touch. Dangerous.
Charley held her breath. Aunty Ella snored. Charley turned the doorknob. A loud click echoed through the passageway. Aunty Ella snorted. In a sudden panic, Charley slid into the bedroom and pushed the door closed. She was afraid Aunty Ella would find her there, so she hid in the closet. Having fumbled her way past jackets, shirts and skirts to the deepest recesses, she sank to the ground, drained of all strength.
In the early hours of the following morning, the closet opened and her father’s quivering hands found his sleeping daughter clinging tightly to a teddy bear.
He woke her.
“Aunty Ella died in her sleep this afternoon,” he said.
The quiet sobs of Andrea mourning came from a shadow on the bed nearby.
* * * * * *
She peered up at her father who was dressed as a clown. He wore an enormous, wide-brimmed flat hat on his head and his usual make-up on his face. The sad clown with black tears running down his pale cheeks.
He pretended to read the instructions printed on a packet of face paint.
Again she was embarrassed.
“Yes, Daddy?” she asked.
He placed the face paint back on the shelf. Then immediately picked it up again before turning it in his hand.
“I can’t do this anymore. I’m leaving.”
He turned and loped toward the door. She ran after him.
He didn’t even turn his head. The bell on the handle of the glass door jangled as he pushed it open, bolted down the sidewalk, and pushed aside a woman with a fur hat. As Charley raced out the door, the fur-hatted woman turned to look after the tear-faced clown and the ragged little girl chasing him.
A half-block away, he suddenly stopped and leaned against a brick wall. She reached him, panting. He was crying. Taxis honked; the man selling hot dogs and pretzels on the corner watched as Charley threw her arms around him, wailing.
Her thin body pressed against his, her arms wrapped his waist. Desperation rang through the streets. The near-hideous clown slumped, his weight falling onto Charley. She released her arms and he collapsed in a pile on the hard sidewalk. His odd clown-hat fell off his sweating head and lay at a grotesque angle beside him.
People gathered around them, stood in mute silence, staring. Panic rose in Charley’s chest. When her father performed his strange, dark-clown, street dramas, she played her part silently, passing the hat, eyes downcast, invisible. She had to get him home, out of sight. It didn’t matter that it was freezing in that 5th floor walk-up, the refrigerator shelves were bare and they had to huddle around the gas stove to keep at least their hands and noses warm. They would be alone and together.
“What’s going on here? Make way, make WAY, I said. Police, make way.”
She hissed into her father’s ear.
“The police are here!”
To Charley, the illiterate daughter of an illegal street performer, the police meant one thing. Run.
Her father mouthed some words. She leaned in to catch them.
“I love you. I’m sorry.”
She started to scream and tried to twist away as the cop put his hand on her shoulder.
The woman in the fur hat stepped forward from the crowd.
“Please, sir, unhand my daughter.”
Charley stopped mid-scream.
The cop released his grip. “Ma’am, what is going on here?”
Charley didn’t move.
“Sir, I do apologize. This man has been taking care of my daughter. I will see to them both. I would appreciate it if you could move this crowd along. Thank you.”
The woman squatted down to Charley’s eye level.
“Hello, dear. What is your name?” She said very quietly.
“Charley.” Charley whispered.
“Well, hello Charley. I am Anna. What is your father’s first name?”
Anna stood and spoke to a man standing beside her who Charley had not noticed. A car pulled up to the curb. Her father’s eyes opened as the man leaned down to help him to his feet.
And that is how Charley and Willhelm came to live with us—Mama found them on the street.
Posted on March 11, 2014
To start with, I want to be clear. Very clear. About what spiritual is and is not to me, and what I do and do not mean or imply when I use this word.
What you are about to read is a personal definition. I am not imposing it on you. But if you want to read what I have to say (and I really, REALLY hope you do), it’s helpful if you know what I mean by certain words.
[This is an important and too-often overlooked aspect of communication. Get your definitions straight. Talk it out. Be clear.]
So, in the interest in clarity and open communication, here’s where I’m at with the concept of “spirituality” at the present moment:
- Spiritual is not religious.
- All life is the spiritual journey.
- There’s no morality associated with spirituality. Spirituality is not about how you are supposed to behave, or a set of rules you are supposed to follow.
- You can’t be more or less spiritual. You can’t be off the path.
- We are innately spiritual.
- We are here to be human and that is what our spiritual path is about – our specific human life is exactly FOR us. For our “soul’s evolution.”
- I use words like “God” and “soul.” I don’t meant them in the way they are described in any religion. Especially not the Judeo-Christian-Muslim families of religion. (Unless you are talking about the mystical esoteric sects of those religions. Then, probably, there’s more common ground. Like, for instance, the heart-based Sufi path. The ways of Rumi and Hafiz.)
- God is all that is, God is the source of all that is, also the sustainer and destroyer of all that is. It’s mystical, it’s esoteric, it’s not something your mind can comprehend. (And it’s not a he or a she – both maybe. And more.)
- The spiritual path is the life you are living and the way of awakening is through the heart. The mind/ego/self will take its right place as we soften into the life that we have. As we come to trust the path unfolding before us. As we drop the idea of something that must be achieved or earned.
I could go on…and on…and I probably will. But for now, this is a good start.
How’s that hit you? What’s your personal spirituality and path look like?
Comment away. Let’s discuss.
Posted on March 11, 2014
I’m going to follow Bruce Springsteen on tour around the South this spring. No tickets in hand, no set places to stay, not even 100% sure which cities I’m going to. It’s a journey of my heart’s longing and a return to the core of my soul. The connection to Bruce has been so strong for me for so long. I’ve seen him here and there, but neither of us are getting any younger and I want to see him a lot. Dammit. Who said you can only follow the Grateful Dead? I’m going to follow Bruce.
Stay tuned. More soon.
Posted on March 10, 2014
I’m sitting in a coffee shop, creating this blog. I feel fearless and freaked out, challenged and more spacious and free than I’ve EVER felt before. The world is before me and I’m going to make the most and best I possibly can of whatever is left of this life. Whether it’s 1 year or 40. I’m on my way.
May all obstacles dissolve as they are seen to be offerings, exactly prescribed for my soul’s journey.