Tag Archives: Light

TO MY VALENTINE

A LETTER TO MY SIX-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON

February 7, 2017

Dear Morgan,

I suppose your class is beginning to talk about Valentine’s Day. You’re probably seeing lots of heart decorations and valentine cards and candies in the stores. Some people think the whole idea of having a special day to celebrate love with flowers and cards and candy is ridiculous. Some people think its pretty cool. I always liked Valentine’s Day because my birthday is the day before so my birthday parties were always full of valentines.

But what the heck is this day really about?

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, Emperor Claudius II ruled Rome. He was nicknamed Claudius the Cruel because of the cruel ways he abused his people and for the many wars that he started. Because of him, Rome was fighting so many wars that Emperor Claudius couldn’t find enough soldiers to fight for him. He blamed this on the idea that men were refusing to join his army because they did not want to leave their partners or families. So Claudius decided to make it illegal to get married and have a family. The people were afraid of Claudius, so no one stood up to him.

Except for a Christian priest named Valentine. Valentine was a kind man. He felt great compassion for people who were suffering because of the cruel Emperor. He helped them in any way that he could. One of the things that he did was to secretly perform weddings for people who wanted to be married. Eventually the Emperor found out and had Valentine arrested.

There are many legends about the things that happened while Valentine was in prison. One story says that he healed the blind daughter of the Prison Guard. Emperor Claudius had Valentine killed on February the 14th in the year 273. Because of the stories of how Valentine demonstrated love and compassion despite the cruelty of Claudius, the tradition of “Valentine’s Day” got started. It has evolved through the hundreds of years since he died to what we know today.

I like the story of Valentine. I like that this day is about Hearts. Morgan, did you know that every single person in the world has 2 hearts? There is the one we can see which is the heart that pumps the blood through our body. If that heart stops, our body dies.

But deep inside that heart is another heart–one that doctors cannoheart-of-lightt see with X-rays or surgery. It is made of pure Light–and inside this Heart is our True Self–some people call it our Soul, or our Spirit. It is the part of us that lives forever, even when our body can’t live anymore.

The love we feel and the love and kindness we share with others comes from our second heart, our Heart of Light that lives quietly inside the big one that is pumping our blood. When we talk about “opening our heart” to care about someone, or to forgive someone, or to be kind to someone–it is this Heart of Light inside us that we are opening.

This Heart of Light cannot die, but its light can grow dim. Think about when your Daddy builds a fire in the backyard. If he puts a lot of wood on the fire, the fire gets big and bright, right? If he stops putting wood on the fire, gradually the fire gets smaller and smaller until there are just some glowing coals of burnt wood left.  This is what can happen to our loving Heart of Light. When someone is kind to us, it is like putting a log on the fire. We feel loved and we feel warm inside. The light in our special heart burns brighter.

But, when someone isn’t loved very well the light in their heart can get very small. If someone is bullied and hurt, they might close off this special heart. They are trying to protect themselves from feeling the hurt. If they do this, their special heart can grow hard, like a lump of charcoal. They might become mean and angry, or very depressed and lonely. The love in their Heart of Light will become just a faint glow among the coals.

So what does this have to do with Valentine’s Day? I like to think about all the little valentines we give our friends and family and the special people we love as a way to say, “Hey, I know that you are special! I see the Heart of Light inside you. You are important and valuable. You are loved.” And our message is like a little stick placed in the fire to make it burn a little bigger. Our message makes their Heart of Light shine a little brighter.

This day is a reminder to us to keep our Heart of Light open so that kindness and love can come into us. When our Heart of Light is full of love, we can be kind and loving to others. This special day reminds us to keep filling up each other’s hearts with love. Just like putting wood on the fire. Valentine’s Day reminds us of a man who was willing to be compassionate and kind and to help people, even when a cruel Emperor tried to make it illegal to love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweet boy.

Love,

Nonna

Advertisements

SPRING SONG

SPRING SONG

5165c90547ceb.preview-620

March 20, 2016

I saw two robins in the slush during our Winter’s final tantrum the other day. They were fighting over what looked to be a worm. It had been raining hard in our part of the city, while snow buried everyone up over the bluffs. Our basement was leaking, proof that the ground was saturated and the earth soft–we knew this because it was easy to pound the metal stakes into the ground to put the deer fence back up around our garden. The tulips were pushing up above the earth–a beloved delicacy for the pregnant does who wander out of the snowy woods into the neighborhood where the snow has retreated, looking for the special treats they crave. So, it might truly have been a winter fattened worm escaping a flooded den. Do worms hibernate in dens? Where do they go when the ground freezes up? The scrawny robin won.

When my children were young, we went for our first ice-cream cone after we saw our first robins in Spring. It was a tradition. But I’ve become lactose intolerant. I bought some fresh strawberries instead that afternoon while it rained, and the school children were at home having a “snow day”.

IMG_3660

This morning the sun came up blazing rose-gold, announcing the first day of Spring. It is streaming in through winter streaked windows, inviting us to fetch our overshoes and go for a muddy trek in the hills. I am making fresh ground-buckwheat pancakes. David is frying bacon. There is a pitcher full of Green Smoothie on the counter filled with pears and pineapple, grapefruit and greens, ginger and celery and cucumber and avocado–we’re getting IMG_3258fortified for our Sunday migration into the bluffs. There are a flock of Redpolls taking turns having breakfast at the feeder outside the kitchen window; getting fattened up for their migration to their summer home in the Arctic–true northerners after my own heart!

I’m going to buy some daffodils from the Market today. It’s a tradition. A vase of Sunshine on my table. Last week we found some pussy-willows just beginning to consider opening up. This week they will be ready. Maybe we’ll find some today as we slog through the mud and navigate the swollen streams in the hills that climb up to the bluffs. From up there we can see our neighborhood laid out like a toy town. Beyond lies the harbor, the bridges, the Lake. We can see all the way to Wisconsin.  We’ll gather some pussy-willows, and fill up our house with Spring. Tonight we’ll go grill steaks at my daughter’s.

Tomorrow we’ll clean out the closets and put away the parkas and the skis.

DaffadillaBlueVase

 

 

 

THE THUMPER RULE

December 2, 2015

MY GUIDING BUNNY

Some people have Spiritual Guides in human form–counselors, priests, pastors, teachers. Some people have Spiritual Guides in the form of Spirit Beings, like Angels or other Beings of Light.

I have Animals. Sometimes real ones. A dragonfly brought me a message one spring day when I was trying to resolve a problem. She flew right up to me and hovered about a foot from my face…she just stayed there until finally the “aha!” broke through to my consciousness; then she flew off.  Another day  when I was particularly edgy and cantankerous I went for a walk and inadvertently walked into the middle of an entire herd of deer. Deer Medicine is all about Gentleness and Grace. I stood stock-still, with silent tears rolling down my face. Two young ones actually walked towards me, stopping about eight or ten yards away. After about 15 minutes, they all slowly wandered off and I went home, gentled, graced and peace-filled.

But my Animal Guides aren’t always real.  I have a Tiger and a Bear and a Wolf in my Mind’s menagerie. The Tiger’s name is Jack and he’s the one teaching me that there aren’t any parts of my Self that I need to kill off…it’s more about integrating. He’s taught me that Ego’s aren’t monsters that we need to keep caged somewhere deep in the dungeons of our psyche. They just need to learn when to move over and let the more Enlightened One of Us drive the bus.

But this isn’t about Wolves and Tigers and Bears. No. This is about a Bunny. Yesterday, Thumper got loose from the Bambi set and came wandering into my bathroom. I had just scrubbed the floor an hour previously, but there I was wiping up a pile of whiskers. Evidently my husband had dumped the whisker bin from his electric razor mostly on the floor, with some on the toilet seat and in the sink, just to keep it interesting. I think he meant to put it in the wastebasket, but he was probably looking at something else, his brain three steps ahead of his body. Sometimes his brain is actually out the door and three blocks down the street before his body leaves the house. You can imagine what he doesn’t notice then! Frowning, I could feel my body tense as my mind furiously wrote up the negative incident report that I would surely deliver as soon as he came upstairs.

Suddenly, there was Thumper, shyly peeking out from behind the wastebasket.

I eyed him suspiciously.

“Hello,” said Thumper.

Wow, I thought. I haven’t seen Bambi in maybe, oh, 25 years?

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Well, ummm, I just came to remind you what my father taught me. It’s pretty good advice, ” said Thumper.

He ducked his head shyly. His foot started nervously thumping. And I remembered.

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all,” said Thumper and I. Together.

“You know this one?” asked Thumper.

“Yeah. I guess I do,” I said.

“Cool!” said Thumper. He loped out of the bathroom. Then he quick stuck his head back around the door-frame. “Don’t forget, now!” he said.

And he was gone.

I finished cleaning up the bathroom and joined my husband in the kitchen where he was making smoothies. I opened my mouth…

“Remember!” whispered an invisible Thumper.

I shut my mouth.

I never mentioned the whisker mess.

Not once.

I have been thinking a lot about my new Thumper Rule. My life will be so much more amazing because my focus will be on all the good stuff. I’ll bet I’ll smile more. I might even discover humor in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Thumper never said ‘If you can’t say something nice to someone…’. He simply said, ‘If you can’t say something nice…’ Period. About anything or anyone or to yourself.

Does that include the weather do you think? And stupid drivers? And insurance regulations? OMG–does it include politicians?!

I just finished writing a letter to someone because they had written one to me and it required a response. It took me 4 days. I had to keep applying my new Thumper Rule so I had to keep deleting shit–stuff– and re-framing, ah–stuff, and…Whew! What an exercise! It was like running a fucking–um–an exhausting–marathon. But different.

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON’T SAY NOTHING AT ALL…

 

LIKE A MATCH STRUCK

November 20, 2015

MORNING SONG

The Earth spins, and we turn from the stars and the deep dark of space into the grey light of dawn. I watch it come, slowly, melting the dark. There is pink now, streaks of watercolor across the dove grey sky. The songbirds are waking up. And then the sun scrapes the edge of the world and ignites the whole sky–a raging flame of orange and rose, shot through with bits of blue and violet. A flock of geese wing their way above the city, dark silhouettes against the flames. Like a match struck in a darkened room, the light flares, and then settles to its task. The flames fade as the Sun leaps over the horizon. The dove grey of dawn slowly becomes a thin, watery blue, darkening and deepening as the Sun climbs into the trees, and then sails over the rooftops of the neighborhood.

It is the fifth day of rain. Piles of storm clouds have sealed off my corner of the world. I sit at my window with my cup of tea, watching the world turn into another twilit day. But I remember; I remember when the sun scraped the edge of the world and the sky burst into flame.

 

********************************

THE LIGHTHOUSE

ON BEING A LIGHTHOUSE, A STREET LAMP, A CANDLE IN THE NIGHT

June 28, 2015

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”  – Anne Lamott –

I read this quote this morning, and the following commentary: “So, you want to save the world but don’t know what to do or whom to serve or where to start? Breathe deeply. Feel your own vitality. Connect with the essence of who you are, what you love, what has broken your heart open, and what gives you strength. Be fully who you are–no resistance, no shame, no blame–and shine.”

Doing Restorative Circles with juvenile offenders is heart-breaking and joyous work. Once a young girl who found our Circle to be the first safe haven she’d known in a long time, began to crack open the hard veneer she hid inside and share her stories, her fears, her dreams. One night after an especially intense Circle, I went on a long walk along the Lakewalk. My heart was heavy with the weight of a burden I had no way to resolve. I knew that this girl, as well as most of the young people who came to our Circles, had to return to homes and classrooms that would be unchanged, even while they struggled to change themselves in the midst of these environments that had tangled up their lives in the first place.

The Lakewalk cut through a park, and as I passed beneath a streetlamp, the light went out. Strange. As I moved across the dark path toward the next pool of light, the streetlamp behind me blinked back on. As I approached the next streetlamp, it happened again. Very strange indeed; was there a lesson here? Heading toward the next streetlamp, it remained on and I came into the pool of light, passed through it, back into the darkness, heading toward the next pool of light up ahead. And so I moved through the park, light by light.

I looked back at the streetlamps winding along the pathway through the park. I realized that I, and others like me, were like these lights in the darkness of the lives of the young people we worked with. Each one of us providing a pool of light, of safety, of comfort for as long as that young person was in our care, or our classroom, or our program, or our home. And then, they had to make their own way again. But I saw that there would be other lights along their path. It wasn’t up to me to provide light all the way down their road to the end. It was only my job to make sure my light was shining in my own little space.

The world gets changed one person at a time. The Darkness is vanquished one light at a time. No, lighhouses don’t run around looking for boats to save. They simply stand there–shining. It is enough.

OPEN THE DOOR AND COME ON IN…

OPEN THE DOORS, AND THE WINDOWS, TOO

Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…
– Judy Collins – “Song for Judith”

It was the summer of 1972 and I was staying with my aunt and uncle. I was struggling with severe depression at that time in my life. Home alone one day, I put a record on the stereo that had been sitting out; a singer named Judy Collins–I’d never heard of her. I sat sipping lemonade listening, watching a boy and his dog playing in the parkway across the street.

Judy sang Amazing Grace and I began to cry. Where indeed was this God, this Being that I’d grown up hearing loved me so much? Was there any grace in my life I could call amazing? I was indeed lost…yet to be found. I was certainly blind to whatever goodness there might be in my small world.

I remember shooting an arrow heavenward–one of those “Is anybody there?” requests.

And then Judy began singing another song. She was putting words to exactly how I felt:    Sometimes I remember the old days
When the world was filled with sorrow
You might have thought I was livin’
But I was all alone
In my heart the rain was fallin’
The wind blew and
The night was callin’
Come back, come back, I’m all you’ve ever known…

Suddenly “reality” shifted, and although my physical human eyes could not see them, I sensed the Presence of what I will call Beings of Light…maybe Angels…and I felt waves of love wash over me as surely as if I’d been standing in the ocean with waves of water rolling over me. I felt joy bubbling up from somewhere deep inside me–

And Judy’s voice filled the room and my heart:
Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…
And when I see you happy,
Well, it sets my heart free
I’d like to be as good a friend to you
As you are to me.

I played that song over and over again. I remember tears streaming down my face. I remember standing up and opening my arms wide. I remember twirling around, lifting my face upwards. I have known all these years, that something started that day. Something shifted inside me. Something opened up to that Force that I have never known what “name” to call It–God? Goddess? The Creator? The Source (of Life and Light in the Universe)? Spirit? Father? Mother? That song, that moment, was like the kiss that awakened Sleeping Beauty; my deeper consciousness–my soul–my spirit…was awakened that day.

Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years, the journey that began that day would take me a little over 40 years. One morning this year I woke up and knew in every cell of my body that something had shifted. Some part of me had opened up that had not been so before, like a dam that had only allowed trickles of life and love, light and grace, understanding and strength, suddenly gone. Nothing remained to obstruct the flow other than my own choices at any given moment. I could argue that this was always true, it is always about our choice. But there is a difference between fumbling for the door in the dark, and standing in front of  that same door in the full light of day knowing you only have to reach out and throw the latch and turn the knob.

Each cell in our body is surrounded by a membrane to protect it and to help give it form. I recently learned that even within our cells, there are membranes surrounding each part of the cell. What I understand is that these membranes, in addition to providing some protection and form, are the connective tissue that allow communication throughout our body. Think of it! These connective tissue membranes within the cells, surrounding the cells, layered then around our bones, our nerve, energy, and blood pathways, around our organs, around the outer most layer of muscle, beneath our skin…every cell, from the microscopic level to the fact that our skin is itself a connective tissue membrane on the outside of our body! Micro to macro.

But these layers of connective tissue membranes have to do something in order to pass along communication, nutrients, hydration, and all the myriad of functions our cells are responsible for: the membranes have to choose to “open”. They have to allow the information, the nutrients, the hydration, or the literal “electric” energy to come inside. They have to let down their defenses and become permeable to the process. Surprisingly, I am also hearing more frequently these days that our own consciousness–our own will–our own thoughts have much to do with whether these membranes will open or remain closed.

Yesterday I listened to someone share from both a spiritual and scientific perspective that there is also a membrane of consciousness that surrounds us energetically. He said that only through our “faith”, our “belief”, our “intention”/”will” can that membrane open to receive energy that is sent to us, or that we have called to ourselves through prayer or intention. When we ask someone to pray for us, or we ask for grace or healing, or we set intention to receive guidance or wisdom or perhaps, provision of needed resources–do we expect to receive? Do we have faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” standing in the gap between the time of the prayer or the setting of intention and it’s manifestation? Do we believe we are loved, that the Creative Source of the Universe is benevolent ?

Belief, faith, trust–I am discovering that it is these that open the door. These make the membrane of consciousness permeable. This allows the flow of the Energy–the Light–of the Universe to flow into and through my life. This allows the flow of Love to well up from the Eternal spark of Life (or “God Inside”) me and to flow through me and out from me.

I have a planter whose soil has become compacted and hard. I water the plant, and the water runs right through–the dirt remains dry, compact, hard as cement. It cannot absorb any of the water. The energy of Love comes to us, often, but if our heart is hard and closed, that Energy disperses and flows off somewhere else.

Someone prays for us–the Energy of Grace, or needed guidance, or maybe healing comes to us in response. But if the doors are locked, the windows shuttered, the Energy disperses…and flows off somewhere else. I once asked a group of young students with whom I was working what they thought being “open-minded” meant. A ten year old girl raised her hand and said, “Well, it’s like having a door in your brain. If the door is closed and locked, nothing can get inside. But if it is open, then lots of new ideas and stuff can come inside.”

Open to receive help from someone instead of thinking we have to do it all by ourselves. Open to receive a gift, or a compliment instead of deflecting it. Open to receive someone’s love, however rough around the edges, instead of shielding ourselves from it because we are afraid we will be hurt or disappointed.

I have come full circle. Like the day in my aunt’s living room singing with Judy Collins with my arms flung wide, I often now will lift my arms and say–“I open, I open, I open…like the flowers to the sunlight, I open to the Light that is pure Energy that creates and sustains Life. I open, I open, I open…like the Earth to the rain I open to Love flowing from God Inside me, through me, out into the world around me–with grace and kindness and compassion. I open to Joy. I open to wellness and strength. I open to all the blessings that can possibly fill up my life today!”

Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

April 19, 2015

BUCKETFULS OF LIGHT

Once again I am struck by the simplicity of being Light in the world. I get distracted by the people who are doing great work–whose lives and careers have contributed so much to the “common good”. By comparison, my life begins to feel very small and insignificant.

I have a drippy faucet in the bathroom. Accidentally, the lever to plug the sink was pulled and left. At the end of the day, the sink was half full of water, just from the small, insignificant drips that kept on dripping, all day long.

As I sit in the quiet dawn of a spring morning, watching the early birds stretching their wings and looking for breakfast, I imagine a bucket catching the drops of Light that spill over from my Life. Each choice I make to Love rather than to judge or criticize or hate; each choice I make to move into my life with courage; each choice I make to offer gratitude; each smile I gift to someone; each is a drop of Light, dripping into my bucket.

My mother taught me that to Love means to show up. To be present. When I choose to make connection, it is another drop of Light in the bucket.

When I release my disappointment, my anger, my defenses and instead ask what is really going on…what needs to be learned…I allow more Light to drip into my bucket. When I act on the answers, even more Light spills into my bucket.

Suddenly, the bucket is full, overflowing, spilling Light into the world.

Imagine everyone with their bucket, waiting to catch the drops of Light leaking from their life. Full buckets spilling Light all over the city, the country, the world.

Even the shadows of darkness disappear when the Light is strong. We can’t shout down the darkness; perhaps we cannot even vote it out of existence. But we can keep filling our buckets with Light until we flood the whole world and the Darkness has nowhere to go.

It is the small, seemingly insignificant choices to be kind, to choose compassion, to refuse to perpetuate habits and practices that cause harm to ourselves or others, to choose what allows life to thrive within us and around us…this is what it means to be Light in the World; this is how we become the change we want to see in the world.

This is how we fill up our buckets with Light every day.