The Seed Within

A seed has been planted inside your heart and love is the water that feeds. With love eternally it will grow; the Divine Mother, She makes it so. Be in the now, you will find, and be in the heart, you will see. Allow the love that grows so deep inside, for within there lies a seed.  Traditional South American hymn

The beginning of a new calendar year, 2018. The celebrations of life and love have calmed, the children are heading soon back to school, thoughts of the new year arise with plans, resolutions, and determination while we sit in a deep freeze that stretches far and wide. Our focus turns inward to the heart of the home and to our own inner life, deepening awareness and calming all senses as we go about our work and our life connections.

When I went to the grocery store yesterday, all signs of the holidays had been stripped and Valentine candy, cards, and ornamentation were the replacement on the shelves. A reminder that we struggle with staying in the present moment and jump to the next pleasure in the future that gives us the joy of anticipation but strips us of the here and now. The joy in the now is the now, this moment, this breath, this person before me, this task at hand, this prayer in the mind, this blessing, this creation.

Leo and I have a tradition that we started about ten years ago. Sometime during this first week of the new year we take a day together to look back over the past year and reflect on the movement during that year. We then look to this new year as we understand it in this moment of this day. We look at our values and goals in our physical life, health, spiritual life, finances, trips, house projects, our giving, work life, family and friend connections, education, art and woodworking, play time, and anticipated large purchases. We both look forward to this day as a grounding for the year ahead.

Of course life has it’s own plan and I can look back over the records of these days of visioning and see the year offered its own surprises, more pressing needs, and unexpected opportunities. That awareness makes the exercise all the more rich as we name what is of value to us and then see what happens. Some years one or two items will keep getting added and keep moving year after year to the new list and then the day will arrive when that item is checked off the list.

We keep watering, trusting in the day when flowering happens, the heart opens, the mind expands.

Blessings on this new year, in all life, in all places. May we all find peace and calm, joy and good health, and the beauty of the seed within.

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Peace

In whatever way we define ourselves spiritually or religiously, whether we follow the Ten Commandments or the Eight Fold Path, the core principles and supportive disciplines are similar. We are asked to strive to live simply, do no harm, reduce self will, be selfless in our service to others, read scripture, pray, meditate, live peace, and live out to our best ability our unique role in the world.
Larry, a dear friend, a Vietnam Vet, singer, song writer, and teacher, wrote a lullaby in 1991 as his response to the Gulf War. Larry is a unique, gentle, caring, spirit filled man who lives out his role through music. I share it today in the midst of our busy world filled with the noise of anger and cynicism as it is Larry’s birthday week. I sat last evening with my eyes closed, breathing gently and calmly, shoulders relaxed, listening to Larry and Bret sing and strum, and I felt gratitude for all that we each offer the world in our own unique ways.
Here are a few of the lines from the chorus:
On a Thursday, in the evening
I am sitting in my kitchen
Guitar singing, me I’m wishing
Sending love out to my children.
 
In their beds tucked in and dreaming
Curled up tight gently breathing
In the midnight children sleeping
And their angels’ watch are keeping.
 
In the midnight children sleeping
And their angels’ watch are keeping.
 
In the midnight children sleeping
And their angels’ watch are keeping…….
I wish each of us peace in our hearts and in our days, and in our nights as our brains and bodies recharge and refresh and offer to you and yours from A Loving Kindness Meditation:
May all beings be peaceful and at ease
May all beings be well and happy
May all beings be free from suffering, and
May all beings know the beauty of their own true nature
Click or Copy and paste to find Larry’s song and enjoy..
Blessings and love to all in this season of love and light. May we carry our joy, love, and compassion forward as we walk into a new year of life on this planet we call home.
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All That We Host

We are entertaining more than usual this season, three family events, about 20 people each time, three weeks in a row. I have been thinking of guests and hospitality.

When I first met Leo and spent time at his family home with his family of 11, I was most taken by the amount of people who would simply stop by with no notice and, most frequently over a meal time. Somehow more food would be found, a jar of peaches from the root cellar, another loaf of bread, smaller pieces of cake, anything to make the meal go further. Sometimes, I felt that I was watching the story of the Loaves and Fishes. With smiles on their faces, laughter, story telling, and card playing, the guests were welcomed with open arms and hearts and made to feel at home. Living as my family did, further from family and relatives, we did not share that experience unless we were visiting in the Upper Peninsula as the guests.

In many cultures the guest is seen as God having just walked through your door. The guest is offered the best even if there is very little. The guest would not necessarily be someone known to you but a stranger, a traveler, or a group of travelers seeking food, shelter, and hospitality for the weary. We know the role of the host but what of the guest? The guest, who might be experienced as God in human form, is to receive what the host has to offer, humbly accepting their gracious service. We live in a more cynical time. It is hard to imagine us opening our homes and welcoming in a stranger who shows up at the door.

We like to feel prepared for any guest, sending out invitations, preparing the home and the food for the event, and being in control of the situation. Like a wedding or even a funeral, we plan and usually our plans do not behave and we are met with a surprise. An estranged uncle shows up, a few we planned on and paid for decide not to arrive as promised. We feel hurt, angry, and complain for weeks after. We hold on to the experience because it is not what we planned. At times we might even feel that it ruined our time, our event. The unwanted change, we feel, took something from us.

We find out that even God can change her plans. Rather than expecting the unexpected, we expect that our life will be honored the way we design it and when things don’t turn out the way we expect, we move into anxiety, irritation, hurt, complaining, and anger.  These emotional and mental states are really the unwanted guests and once these unwanted guests arrive, we have a hard time being the host we really want to be. Our body, mind and emotions become the hosting ground for a whole group that wants to camp out and take over, not allowing the peace we desire, and we become distracted. We  really desire to be the hosts to truth, love, beauty, and all that is of highest virtue in our own lives and being the host requires adjusting as we go.

When we bring this attitude into our own hearts, accepting ourselves and others as we are along with the surprise elements that show up, we grow into patience, recognizing the opportunity for taking a breath, allowing the surprise to ride through us, and when the body is calm again, opening a heart to that which is unexpected. Not good or bad, simply unexpected. We adjust. We throw out the plan and let a new script be written.

I enjoy being the host and I enjoy being the guest and I look forward over the next two weeks to the humble task of serving, with, hopefully, surprises and all.

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A Video Presentation

Since my return from El Camino, I have been gathering photos and creating a video of our journey to share with all of you. It is complete and my son assisted in making it available on Vimeo. Copy and paste the link to view. It is a delight for me to see it each time and breathe in the gentle air and feel it again on my skin. I remember the dear people we met, the food, the feel of the paths walked, the laughter shared, and the countless ways of being supported.

http://vimeopro.com/cineomatic/el-camino-2017

Enjoy!

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Taking the Empty Chair

Oh God! make me busy with Thee, that they may not make me busy with them. Rabia

Ha! This showed up as this mornings reflection from Blue Mountain Meditation Center. I burst out laughing. It is so true in so many ways.

Whether it is in meditation or sitting for prayer, the mind is going through its endless lists and planning, running commentary regarding work, situations that have brought conflict, dreaming about something in the future, regretting something in the past. It gets so busy in the mind, we find ourselves arguing with ourselves because there certainly isn’t anyone else in there. Meditation is most likely the situation Rabia was speaking of in his declaration but we can all identify in countless ways. Enough already. There are only so many ways we can spread ourselves out with invitations to be more involved in civic organizations, political, Facebook, holiday events. Who are the “them” that are calling us to show up?

What Rabia calls for is focus. Let me be so focused that nothing else intrudes, nothing distracts. In today’s language, the call is for recharging, rebooting. Somewhat crass language for sitting in mindful awareness but it is language familiar to us. If we do not recharge our computer or phone or iPad we have an instrument without any power. We are the same. We need focused time for recharging or we are running around without any juice.

When we are depleted we get short tempered, make mistakes, make errors in judgment, at times succumb to illness or injury, and we loose our connection to the Self within. We hurt those we love including ourselves. It hardly seems worth it but we get so sucked in to tasks we don’t know when to step back.

It is as simple and as hard as setting time for ourselves, committing to it, and showing up to ourselves. Getting recharged can feel compelling when we get used to sitting in quiet with ourselves. We want more. We find ourselves looking forward to siting in the empty chair or cushion and simply and profoundly being engaged in the act of  being. Not busy doing. Simply being. Feeling the connection to all life in all forms. Breathing in beauty, joy, and relaxation.

The chair for the weary traveler. El Camino 2017   Take it, it’s yours!

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A Healing Balm

The Christmas and seasonal decorations are on display in our home and it feels peaceful and festive. I am aware, as I place items, that it is like dressing. Choosing the outfit, the jewelry, telling a story with the choices made and the colors displayed, all symbols of how we are feeling in the day or the season. The outer display of the inner journey.

This phenomenon is alive in many forms in the month of December which honors many special days in the Christian and Jewish traditions as well as including spiritually significant days for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans and Zoroastrians as well as African-American Kwanzaa. Each rich and alive with tradition in its many forms.

Leo’s family has a tradition of stopping at people’s homes to see their tree. That was a tradition foreign to me but with his large family and extended family all in the same area, off they would go to see a decorated tree. Each tree in each home designed by a family or family member reflecting beliefs, personality, style, taste, likes and dislikes. We each year tell a story with our ornamentation or lack there of, whether we are Christian, or secular and choosing to celebrate Christmas or any other faith or tradition honoring a tradition of celebration.

In the spring season of the Christian Easter, I have attended Jewish Passover in different locations and found this true in the way the stories are told, the seder plate, the personal tastes imbued in the foods. I have celebrated the winter solstice for many years with different friends which was a new creation each year with some elements honored and held. Some with a party, others with burning a traditional oak log, gathering water for the new year, drumming, meditation, and connecting to the earth.

Each celebration in any season brings in light, love, and that which is larger than our singular life on earth, holding all that we hand down, to be used or not, with variations of the next generations additions and subtractions.

I turn to the altar I redesigned on returning from the Camino. I enjoy altars. I have made them many times over the years. A place to honor the Divine in whatever form, adding items from nature, candles, maybe a photo of one who has left this world, or one who needs prayers at this time. As with decorating a house at a holiday, it draws our attention, gives a place to focus and center, being aware of the story told with an outward reflection of the inward journey. It offers a place to ground and is as simple as one candle and as elaborate as one can imagine.

A personal altar offers a quiet reflective place to be in a busy season. Even places of worship are busy drawing one out of the inward reflective space. We live in an extroverted, busy, talkative society. Creating a space where one can take a seat in conscious awareness is a personal gift to the self, now and any time of the year. It tells a story, reflects our inward journey, might include objects and beliefs handed down or might be inclusive of an entirely different spiritual direction. Each year we have many opportunities for ritual, many ways of tradition, as well as space for expressing the beauty and the story of this moment.

Marilyn is 80. Her husband died shortly after last year’s Christmas. This year she is emotionally revisiting those days and states that while she is a person who will decorate every room at Christmas she desires nothing this year as she sits in deep sadness, loneliness, and loss. As we sat and entered the story, she expressed that while the decorating was her delight, she and her husband found their Christmas connection in the manger scene. They always set it up together and it was a connecting piece for them in this season. As Marilyn talked of how the kids would come and bring down all the decorations from the attic, I asked if maybe this year they could just bring down the manger scene, the connecting piece for her and her beloved. I saw Marilyn’s heart open with a smile and a feeling of relief pour over her body. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, that is just enough.” The manger scene is enough to tell her story, this year. An altar for her gaze and reflection. A connecting piece to something larger than self. This year a healing balm.

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Saving a Life

I am at a loss in the moment about what to write but write I must. I am thinking about the man I talked to today whose wife died and he is exhausted being both mom and dad to his 9 year old. Leo tore his calf muscle and has been hobbling with a cane. I flipped my phone to the news headlines and saw a mom threw her baby against the wall. I strained my deltoid muscle, or so I think, I need to get it checked out, but I am unable to freely use my right arm without pain. I am on Mucinex for my lungs and hope to get that cleared up. My lungs seem more vulnerable since the Camino. We bought a new artificial Christmas tree and will put it up tomorrow. I made a nice turkey stew in the crockpot for tonights dinner and some banana nut bread from the overly ripe bananas on the counter. I took extra time today for meditation which makes all the difference; I feel refreshed. A day in a life while spinning on a planet in space.

We each stand in a different perspective of the world. You see and experience a range somewhat different from me. Each is personal as we are the one witnessing the objects in our life. And, each object we perceive and each experience we encounter we imbue with meaning while trying to find our place in the all of life, bearing witness to the only life we know. Each day is a hodgepodge of encounters, community and world events, and tasks that call for our attention.

We face daily that which we cannot repair. That which we cannot change. We cannot mend a little boys broken heart. We cannot bring a baby back to life. We look to the world we inhabit and offer with our kindness and intention what we are able to give to those in our family, friends, community and our connection to all life. I suggested to this tired dad who could not get away and did not know how he could keep going that maybe trying to keep life exactly the way it was when his wife was alive was demanding too much of him. A perfection that he was trying to achieve that was capable of eating him alive, keeping him from the son he loves, wearing out his body and his heart. Maybe he could give his son and himself one night a week with no cooking, no cleaning, no organizing. Just being in the presence of each other. Playing games, being guys just hanging out. Not worried about getting good nutrition but getting the best of each other in the moments together. He liked the sound of that and the thought of it seemed to touch a part of his heart that held enthusiasm, something I had not heard from him in the past months. I heard for a brief moment a sigh, a bit of a smile, “I can do that!”

I guess this is what I needed to write about. When change comes it can demand more change as we adapt to life now. In clinging to the way we have lived in the memory of the beloved we can take another life, our own. By finding a way to give himself oxygen in his new life, he can then also look to the life of his son.

Mary Oliver says it best in her poem,

Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

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Opening a Heart

In these days of celebrating Thanksgiving, we have been attuned to our gratitudes, all that has manifested in our life, continues to bless us with its presence, and for those who have left the world we honor them with our thankfulness. Thanksgiving has a lovely placement after the Fall cleansing of body, clearing out of home, and readying us for the dark days of winter.

It is mostly easy to name all that we hold dear. We hear each other around the table at Thanksgiving and think, Oh, yes, I am grateful for that too. We look at the children laughing at everything, hearts open, finding humor and inspiration for play in everything that presents itself. Naming what we are grateful for brings peace to our heart. We feel connected to each other in our heart opening.

And yet, in that day and in every other day we realize how fickle our heart is in its opening and closing. Throughout a day we see a beautiful sunrise and our heart opens in joy, our partner says something at breakfast that nicks our ego and our heart closes in resentment, our boss compliments us when we get to work and our heart opens with pride, a colleague mentions something we should have taken care of and we feel criticized and our heart closes, we hear a song on the radio and our heart opens,with joy and enthusiasm, or during our Thanksgiving dinner Uncle Otto starts to complain about the other political party or Grandpa starts in on sexual orientation and confusion and the discussion gets heated and our heart constricts, and on and on it goes, day after day.

The ancient texts teach us that our heart is meant to remain open. The heart center is an energy center that is meant to flow bountiful unlimited energy through us at all times. As we move through life, through our childhoods when between the laughter and play we are feeling wounds that get lodged in the heart, and into adulthood where the tucking away of hurt and pain that has not been addressed and released gets stored, our heart center gets encrusted with these wounds. And, our critical judging mind picks away at things helping us in the closing of the heart. It is not good or bad, it is what we all live with in this body we call home. When our heart is open we allow for the flow of boundless energy, when it is closed, our heart center constricts the flow and our heart closes in fear and discomfort.

The task is to release that which closes us and allow the heart to accept abundant energy and let it flow through us. It all sounds so simple until we notice throughout the day the complicated journey within which we live. Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul has written well of this as have others. He states that even clinging to that which brings us joy shuts off our hearts as we cling so tightly with the fear that we will loose this wonderful feeling, the new energy flow cannot enter. By freeing ourselves from the attachment to these beliefs, both our pain and our joys, and allowing them to flow through us, we can find freedom.

There are teachings in all traditions which speak to this phenomena.There are many paths offered to live in the world and maintain a peaceful heart. I find this journey with a rich variety of paths heartwarming and comforting. From the Hebrew texts and Christian Bible we read:

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

We are not meant to guard ourselves to feel protected but to guard being taken over by our mind and emotions and that which causes our heart to close.

From the Buddhist tradition (Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Author of Open Heart, Open Mind) we learn that we all have three qualities: boundless wisdom,  infinite capability, and immeasurable loving-kindness and compassion. All we have to do is open our heart and remember our intrinsic nature and rid ourselves of fear and self doubt.

The Bhagavad Gita through Lord Krishna assures the sincere aspirants “To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” (10.10-11)

Again from the Gita we find: “The one I love who is incapable of ill will, who is friendly and compassionate, living beyond the reach of I and mine and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith, with all their heart and all their mind given to me – with such as these I am in love. Not agitating the world or by it agitated, they stand above the sway of elation, competition and fear; the one is my beloved.” (trans Eknath Easwaran)

From our Muslim brothers and sisters we read, “So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.” [Quran 22:46]

“Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts.”[Muslim]

‘Tis the season for us to look to our heart and to be mindful daily as to what opens and what closes our heart center, to finding a daily practice like mediation or prayer that helps us keep our heart open and to finding the days and the ways that, like the children, we might know an open heart that celebrates life with laughter and song, curiosity, and openness to learning and loving. In this way, rather than judging each others ways we bring an inquisitive mind and heart that delights in the variety of ways of searching for that which we journey toward: Nirvana, Heaven, Self, however we name that state of pure awareness that arrives either in life or after death. That which touches a heart and calls the pilgrim forward, inward, and outward with service. Guiding them to abiding peace.

Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.  Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul

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Good/Bad/Who Knows?

Leo and I met up with our daughter and family for dinner one evening. Somewhere between the bread and salad courses, my 10, soon to be 11, year old grandson asks, “Oma, if you could go back in your life and change something, what would it be?” While I am quickly gathering my thoughts, he then asks, “And, if you could go back and visit a time, what would it be?” Time to catch a breath. Both questions begin to get jumbled so my son – in – law carefully parses out the two questions giving me more time to reflect and sort through my life. The wait person catches my eye as she walks back to the kitchen with a big, mouthed, “OH, WOW!”

Now, the easy way out would have been to say, I would have painted my house blue instead of green. The boy would have been happy. They love to play the game, would you rather…  But, never one to loose a moment of intimacy or teaching,… My first response is philosophical. “It is challenging to think of changing something when everything I have lived through has brought me to now,” I say, buying me more time. Finally, I tell Oscar, “I promise. I will get back to you. I just need more time to think.”

This morning I wrote Oscar. First, If I could go back and change something, I would learn how to be a better dog owner. We bought Yoshi, our West Highland Terrier, sometime after the death of our infant daughter, when our then 7 year old daughter was begging for a dog, The dog was meant to be a grief dog which she lived up to by being a lot of grief and, I have to say, fun and comfort for the kids for a while.  Both Leo and I are pretty ignorant of dogs not having grown up with trained house dogs. Yoshi was weaned too young the vet stated and would be a handful as she had not had her mother’s training and the other pups long enough to learn. The name she came with, Sugar Bear Tough Stuff, should have tipped us off. We renamed her Yoshi and did our best. She won out and ruled the house.

I am going to claim two with this question. The house we chose to buy on Princeton and live in was not meant for me. I did not know I was allergic to cats until we moved into our new home which had housed many furry critters. Along with the cats, we add dust, mold and mildew, the death of an infant daughter, a life of 13 homes in 27 years, years of military, Vietnam, living apart, many moves, law school, and the birth of three children. It all took its toll on our marriage and my health and change was required. All of these major events led me down a long path of ill health, in that house.

Oscar’s second question was easier, I would love to go back to a time and visit my parents. It warms my heart and makes me smile to think so. I would enjoy that visit.

And yet, that will not happen in this world. These are questions of a young searching mind. The question of “What would I change.” leads us to our stories of our internal/external conflicts. We all know them in greater or lesser degree. We live with our own inner battles of a conflicted mind, bodies with illness, disease, relationships with people or work that create the inner dialogue of dissatisfaction.

I consider the decade of the 80’s my “de-construction years”. The stripping away years. Down to the bones years. The 90’s were re-construction years and the new millennium brought relief. The 80’s and 90’s were the two decades in the Princeton home. The home that was a catalyst for so much change and turmoil was also the home that was stable enough to allow it all to happen. This home was our nest. The beautiful years of raising our children, meeting new friends, life adventures that helped to form all of us in amazing ways. And, it all happened simultaneously.

It is a good exercise to make a time line of your life. Where are the points of a traumatic event, a loss, a major change. Mark those and then what were the in-between years like. The years of change, adjustment, being stripped away. Then start to fill in the points where you met a key person in your life. Had a life changing moment that caused you to think, “That is why I am here.” “This is my purpose.” My life would never be the same if I never met…” Where do these transformational moments fall within your time line? How do they intersect with the years where life seemed to be falling apart? All of these moments mark the journey of a life.

When the snake sheds her skin or the butterfly is working to be released from a cocoon, they are not without the beauty of a new skin developing or the translucent wings that will carry them away. It is simply that when we are in the midst of it all we do not recognize the new, know it for what it is, trust that it will be the ground for this new life. Our own struggle with growth and development can make the journey much harder than it was intended to be. But the struggle also teaches us. As we learn, we might find that the next time, we allow ourselves to let go into the process rather than struggle against it. We might then trust and allow for simple flow.

When we left our home on Princeton it was with a peaceful heart. All the work that needed to be done in that home happened. A new home was needed to move forward into life and that home was found and continues to support. I am grateful for a home that could give my children stability while my inner world was shifting and I struggled to shed the skin that no longer served me or them. Would I change any of it? It is a fun exercise and I am grateful for my grandson’s questions, but, no. I am grateful for the privilege of being alive, for all that comes my way requiring my discernment, the growth of trusting intuition, learning from the choices made, all lacking perfection as it is a work of art, not a copy. I hold the whole of it, smile, and offer thanks.

When we are in the experience we want to judge the experience and give it a label of good or bad. Years later, after we have named something bad, we find it hard to look back at it as it reminds us of pain that we would sooner avoid. And, as we have named it good or bad we might miss the opportunity to see the flow of life, the connection of our story. Maybe by suspending judgement we will be able to give life the space to unfold.

There is a Chinese parable that many of you have heard but deserves repeating as it is a lesson we are faced with daily. It is about a farmer and a horse.

One day his horse runs away. And his neighbor comes over and says, to commiserate, “I’m so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer says “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?” The neighbor is confused because this is clearly terrible. The horse is the most valuable thing he owns.

But the horse comes back the next day and he brings with him 12 feral horses. The neighbor comes back over to celebrate, “Congratulations on your great fortune!” And the farmer replies again: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”

And the next day the farmer’s son is taming one of the wild horses and he’s thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbor comes back over, “I’m so sorry about your son.” The farmer repeats: “Who Knows What’s Good or Bad?”

Sure enough, the next day the army comes through their village and is conscripting able-bodied young men to go and fight in war, but the son is spared because of his broken leg.

And this story can go on and on like that. Good. Bad. Who knows?

 

 

Living into Death

If we have been the caregiver of a loved one, watched another in that role or found ourselves in the throws of grief, we know all too well that life does not pause to allow us the time to do the abundant tasks of caring and grieving. Life marches on and at times that might be a benefit as we are pulled out of our deep inner pain to join in with the children or animals who need attention. At other times, it might give us comic relief needed to bear the weight of the day. This poem was inspired by the end quote, the first words spoken by one of our Hospice nurses as she began to report in team on one of her patients.

The Last Words

A window view from the bed

where Joe lies

waiting for his last breath.

The angel promising,

arriving to guide him home.

 

Sap green, cerulean blue,

a burst of red on the tree

bearing fruit to be canned

and made into pies.

 

Dorothy attending

the daily tasks of the spouse,

the work of the living:

Food, water, leaky faucet,

broken garage door.

 

All intruding

on this precious time left

for the next breath.

 

The soft hollows of cheeks,

the diming of eyes,

the whispering breath

as Joe’s lips part

speaking his goodbye

to the life he has known

on this, his farm.

 

They lean in

waiting for the words,

forming —a sigh—

“The pigs are digging

up the yard, again.”

c) Janis Dehler

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