Uitwaaien

Uitwaaien (Dutch): to take a break, to clear one’s head; lit: “to walk in the wind”

Personally I think it is time. Time for the whole darn world to stop. Take a break and clear our collective mind. The world is in disarray.

Each one of us needs to make some time to take this walk in the wind. To allow our mind be cleared of all the crap, the fear, the hatred, the greed, the violence that’s gotten clogged up in there.

pelicansedited

(Oregon, pelicans in the wind, by me)

Even for those who have been able to filter this stuff out and to remember the interconnectedness, the wonder, the beauty, the compassionate qualities of life—you need to join the rest of us.

We all need to walk together. To BE with each other. To SEE and HEAR each other. We need to FEEL the stories of each other.

We need to have the winds of this fair earth blow upon us and take our breath away so we can take in a new gasp of fresh air.

Let’s do it!!! Let’s go outside and breathe in the air. Feel the wind and clear our minds. Then let’s get to work and heal this world. Heal the anger, fear, hatred and violence and instead plant seeds. Lets grow and nurture compassion, tolerance and inter-being.

Take a look at the thoughts you think. The words you say. The actions you choose. The choices you make. Let’s embrace the word “euonia”.  Euonia: beautiful thinking. Well mind.

Let’s clear our mind so that is it well, healthy. Let us engage our mind in beautiful thinking.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Albert Einstein

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside awakens.”
Carl Jung

Awaken. When you look inside to allow this awakening, what do you truly see? A world in turmoil? Separation and fear? Violence and pain? That’s not what I see.

I search and long for the beautiful thinking. The thinking that embraces tolerance, cooperation, sharing, honoring, nurturing, compassion, enough for all, respect. The beautiful thinking that will allow beautiful change. Change that cannot happen without changing our thinking. We have to look into our hearts and listen. We have to take a walk in the wind to clear our heads.

I’m ready.

   

 

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Flowers in the Garden

Here in central New York state, Memorial Day is when I can seriously get to work in the garden. In theory, it is a time that will be free from frost. But, I can never really be sure!! Hopeful, always.

I also have to come to terms, every spring, that I cannot have one of those House Beautiful gardens. My soil is poor. The wildlife seems to depend on my flowers and plants for general sustenance. Over the years I spend the early spring just watching my garden while reviewing notes from the previous year. What survived? What did the animals ignore? What seemed to be able to suck enough nutrients from the soil? Which plants tolerated whatever rainfall Nature provided? I go from there.

I have a beautiful swath of ferns. Graceful, lacy leaves are happily settled in front of a slightly unstable stone wall we built from the rocks we excavated from the foundation holes for our house. Many people who visit wonder why I have let them take hold in my garden. Because they grow….nothing eats them. They don’t get disease. The thrive on whatever Nature provides them.

The next patch is Comfrey. Large, floppy, invasive. I do have to keep it is check. The small purple flowers are tall and graceful, so the plant remains. Then comes Cranesbill, True Geranium. Low and delicate. Soft and romantic. They spread freely, but are easy to contain.

Intermittently there are patches of Tansy, Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), Yarrow, Day Lily, Four O’Clocks, Autumn Sedum, Coreopsis, Hosta, and….even Golden Rod. There’s a sad peony that offers one or two glorious blossoms, but no more. In the corner is a huge Wegelia that blooms in a riot of red that seems too risque for the rest of the garden. There’s a bit of Lavender and some soft Lamb’s Ears. In a smaller garden there is a patch of Bachelor Buttons, Solomon’s Seal, and Ajuga. Under a lilac tree there is a small patch of Hepatica that I never planted…I don’t know how it got there. That’s what grows in my garden.

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photo by me of my garden

I have learned through a stubbornly slow process that I can plant a few annuals, but not many. A few Geraniums and Petunias.

Yesterday was a picture book perfect day in May. Sunny, almost warm, cool enough to work pleasantly in the garden. A slight breeze tickled my skin. As I weeded, dug, divided, replanted, planted I began to think about people. People in my life are not unlike plants in my garden. Some people I am given, like my family. Some just show up and make themselves at home. Some people I choose. And some people come and go. They provide me with comfort, beauty, serenity. Also the occasional bout of frustration and confusion. I am there for both the people and the plants: when they need some weeding done, or some extra care during a drought or other extreme circumstances, or to marvel at their blossoming. But, sometimes I support and nurture both in waves rather than on a regular basis. Perhaps not the best way to be a gardener or friend….. Somehow, for some reason, they both mostly stick around. They do both bring gifts into my life that I am grateful for.

There are some flowers that just appeared out of no where in particular. Others have been around from the very beginning, hanging in there with me and always giving and never giving up. Some flowers I have to divide….I have to portion them out, move them. It is hard to admit, but I need them in doses here and there and not as an over zealous clump pushing others out of the way. Some I have to just remove altogether. Then there are the stalwart perennials…tenacious and dependable. Some are like my Solomon’s Seal…strong and vibrant one year, thinned and struggling other years. Others, like my Bachelor Buttons all but disappear one year, only to return the following year in vigorous glory. And, there are the tentative annuals, unsure and fleeting. It’s the same with my friends.

I sit and dig, and weed and plant. I think of friends and flowers. I think of flowers that offer up so much beauty and bring life to the senses. I dig some more and plant a new flower, wondering if it will grow. I can offer some encouragement and care, but I cannot control the weather or the animals. I think of friends. One far away that I don’t get to see often, but the love between us grows and grows. Those here, who I share laughter and hugs with. A few from long ago that I don’t tend to enough. Family that I always try to meet the needs of.

Here’s to spring. And, to the flowers, friends and family that brighten and bring joy to my life. Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

Healing The World

I am always mindful of snippets of thoughts and words, ideas, beliefs that ignites something in me that may grow to become a blog post. This week it was a term I heard on NPR in a segment I was barely paying attention to. The flow and poetry of the words “Tikkun olam” caught my ear. I had missed the meaning while lost in the attention required by maneuvering through traffic.

Of course, when I got home, I began the search for the meaning of the word. The phrase is first found in the Jewish  Mishnah, a body of classical rabbinic teachings compiled in the 3rd Century. The current  and generally understood idea of Tikkun olam is that of “repairing the world” through human actions. It implies that humanity has a powerful responsibility to change, improve, and fix its earthly surroundings. Tikkun olam teaches that each person has a hand in working towards the betterment of his or her own existence as well as the lives of future generations. Tikkun olam calls people to responsibility, to take ownership of their world. In some writings the interpretation includes the obligation to “finish” the ordering, the blueprint of the world….God did not finish everything. God left famine, disease, etc. with the mission being for man to “finish” the work. The work of bringing about the end of injustice, disease, poverty, starvation, human strife.

spring3(Spring sunrise, photo by me)

(While this is a Jewish term, a Jewish teaching, I am not concerned with which religion says what, teaches what, in order to compare the value of one religion to another. It is not my intention to compare religions to determine which one is better, or the right one. I am interested in what all religions say and teach as a means of understanding human beings on this planet. Different cultures have heard God’s words and calls in many different ways and through many different people. I am not a religious scholar by any means, but I am compelled to learn about all religions in order to learn and to understand. I find it thought provoking to read about different religions and then to stand back and observe where we are as a world society in relation to exemplifying what “we” are “called” to do through our religion, and the degree to which we are being successful or not.)

It is a call to heal the world on all levels. I find that a powerful thought. A daunting responsibility. First it presents the idea there is something not quite right, something that needs to be and can be fixed…bettered, improved, healed. And then it calls us to take action, responsibility to do so. It includes the relief of human suffering, striving towards peace and mutual respect among all peoples, and the protection of the planet from human disregard, neglect and destruction.

“When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.”
David Or

Ithaca NY, where I was raised and still live, was also the home of Carl Sagan for many years. Perhaps best known for his TV program, Cosmos, in 1980, he was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. Here is a visually beautiful, intensely provoking video based on his book The Pale Blue Dot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XH7ZRF6zNoc

We have to wake up. To take a stand to heal this world of ours, on all levels. There is so much healing to be done. We “have to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot. The only home we have ever known.”

“The visions we offer our children shape the future.
It matters what those visions are.
Often they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Dreams are maps.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

What visions are we offering our children? Listen to the news. That’s what we are offering. Are these the self fulfilling prophecies we really want to set in motion for our children?

Consider this, a piece of the concept of  Tikkun olam:

“Or consider a story in the Jewish Talmud left out of the Book of Genesis. (It is in doubtful accord with the account of the apple, the Tree of Knowledge, the Fall, and the expulsion from Eden.) In The Garden, God tells Eve and Adam that He has intentionally left the Universe unfinished. It is the responsibility of humans, over countless generations, to participate with God in a “glorious” experiment – the “completing of the Creation.”
The burden of such a responsibility is heavy, especially on so weak and imperfect a species as ours, one with so unhappy a history. Nothing remotely like “completion” can be attempted without vastly more knowledge than we have today. But, perhaps, if our very existence is at stake, we will find ourselves able to rise to this supreme challenge.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

 What do you think? Can we rise to the challenge? Can we repair, heal the earth in all aspects? Are we able to take a long hard look at ourselves both as individuals and as a species? Are we ready to stand up to heal the physical world we live in and say no to blatant destruction and disregard for the planet? We speak for Earth.  We are the only ones who speak for Earth. Are we ready to deal more kindly with one another? Who speaks for the human species? Who indeed. Are we ready to accept the challenge of “completing the Creation”? If we are not able to work towards completing it what will happen? If we continue on this path what will happen? We are an “organism at war with ourselves.” (Carl Sagan.)

“On our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical branch point in history.
What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants.
It is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well.
If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity we could plunge our world into a time of darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization 
and the Italian Renaissance.
But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet.”
Carl Sagan

Let’s make these words these words the self fulfilling prophecy for our children. Let’s begin the process of healing, repairing…completing the world with these words:

But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence,
our technology and our wealth to make an abundant
and meaningful life for every inhabitant
of this planet.”

Sources:
http://learningtogive.org/faithgroups/voices/mitzvah_tikkun_olam.asp
http://learningtogive.org/faithgroups/voices/mitzvah_tikkun_olam.asp
http://www.mishpacha.org/tzedakah.shtml
Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan, available on Amazon

 

Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day. Naturally I’ve been thinking about my mom. She passed away a long time ago when I was barely 30. I had just had my second child. My oldest was not yet three. My mom did not see her 70th birthday.

I think my mom was beautiful. She did good things in her life, but she was not perfect. Few of us are. She faltered here and there as a daughter, wife and mother. But, she gave me many gifts in childhood and adulthood. She sewed fairy wings and fairy shoes for me so I could dance through the woods. She read me fantastic books while cuddled in bed drinking not one, but TWO cups of hot chocolate. She held me when I cried. Cared for me when I was sick. Later on in life she helped me pick out my wedding dress and babysat my infant daughter when I had to go back to work.

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mom Bryn Mawr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Mother’s Day I also think about myself as a young mother, without my mother by my side. There were times when I needed her, wanted her. When I wished more than anything she could be by my side.

As I look back now I realize that my being what I hope was a “good” mother was the direct result of my “community”.  All the people in my life, including my mother, and father, who directly influenced who I was and who I would become as a mother. My husband also played a role in who I would be as a mother. His love, patience and support allowed me to grow, as well as to be fragile, knowing he was there to support my stumblings.

I had a biological mother, and biological grandmothers (only one was living when I was a child), but there were many other women who showed me what it was to be a mother.

For most women, it is a miracle of sorts, that some switch clicks on when we give birth. We become, in many ways a new, different person. Holding a small, fragile, totally dependent bundle of life in your arms is humbling. And terrifying. There is a huge sense of responsibility and protectiveness. And a lot of praying that we will do well by this small child, be able to nurture and love him/her so they will grow into healthy, happy adults.

Communities, of all kinds support mothers. There is the Family Community. The Religious/Spiritual Community. The Neighborhood Community. The Health Care Community (OBGYN, pre-natal, post natal, pediatric). The School Community. The Friends Community. One type of community after another that influences, supports, guides or breaks and demoralizes mothers.

Girls, women raised in stable, safe, educated,economically sound households often have the benefit of many of these healthy communities and grow up to be nurturing mothers. Girls, women raised in poverty, or suffering abuse, with little or no medical or emotional support and often no social support, often struggle to provide physical, emotional, financial support their children need and deserve. When they are able to succeed, the effort is unimaginably more difficult that most of us reading this can understand.

We know the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would suggest it also takes a village to raise a mother.

Let’s look around where we live, and in neighboring communities different from our own and see how we’re doing. Let’s begin to make Mother’s Day about more than cards and flowers and reach out to young, struggling, poor, abused mothers who are trying to break the cycle they were born into and trying so hard to be healthy mothers who can provide for their children on so many levels. Let’s address poverty, homelessness, addiction, abuse, lack of education, joblessness and be a mother to these mothers who need us. Let’s put the card in the mail for our mom, and a donation in the mail for a women’s shelter, a teen mother program, a teen pregnancy program.

I know how lucky I am to live the life I am living. I know how lucky I am to have two beautiful children who are healthy, happy, thoughtful, educated, employed, loving and generous. I know how much the people in my life including not only my mother, but many, many other people nurtured and guided me so I could be a good mother.

And I know what it looks like for a mother not to have those things. To be holding a crying, hungry, sick, homeless child. To have very little support or hope. As a mother I want to do better for these girls and women. For their children. We don’t have to have a biological connection to help someone, to love someone. We don’t have to only offer motherly love and support to those in our immediate family. We can make a difference. So, I challenge all of you, on this Mother’s Day, whether you are male or female, mother or not, to make a difference in the life of a mother who is struggling.

Walking the walk: it’s 12:50 p.m. and I just made my donation.

Find organizations that help mothers of all ages and backgrounds in your community to support, or look here:

http://www.unicef.org/earlychildhood/index_40754.html

http://npen.org/

http://nyspep.org/

http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies

http://cce.cornell.edu/Nutrition/Pages/FamilyWell-beingandPolicy.aspx

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

http://www.extendedfamily.org/index.html

http://www.singleparentadvocate.org/

 

 

The Shelter of Each Other

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

-Irish Proverb

golden trees

(photo by me….and, shhhh..it’s a sunset, not a sunrise!!)

I love this proverb. We live in the shelter of each other. It is difficult some days to be aware of this and believe it to be true.

My mind has a million lines of thought about this…how it is uplifting and hopeful. How it is false and impossible. How our shared world requires us to be bound to one another, connected, interdependent. How it sometimes feels as if we are none of those things.

I DO live in the shelter of others. I live in the shelter of others on many levels. I live in the security of a strong community, nurturing friends, neighbors, co-workers, loving family. I live in the shelter of a community that shares a common bond of respect, tolerance, patience, understanding, conversation, dialogue, valuing education and personal growth. I live in the shelter of the dreams of my ancestors. I live in the shelter of the possibility of change and growth, of opportunity.

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

I also live in the shelter of circumstance and privilege and as such I feel I bear a responsibility to provide shelter for others. They don’t have to be like me, the same as me, hold the same beliefs, eat the same food, wear the same clothes or pray, or not pray, to the same God.

When we are sheltered we are taken care of, protected. When we are sheltered, we feel safe, or at least safer. When fear is diminished hope and possibility come out of hiding. We can plan, take action, dream, explore. Fear can be a great catalyst too, but it comes at a price: anger, reaction, separation, isolation,  intolerance. Often it is a reaction to a threat or to violence. We are more vulnerable.

When we are sheltered, physically, spiritually or emotionally, we are supported and uplifted. Mistakes become learning tools not a punitive sentence. Faltering becomes a point of concern and we begin to listen to discover what happened. We listen to the stories of others and hear what it is that is spoken from the heart. The stories don’t have to be the same as mine, or familiar to be true. Stumbling and floundering become stepping stones to a smoother path. The journey is as valuable as the destination.

When we are sheltered we feel we belong and are able to care for one another without thought of gain. Compassion flourishes and our effort is one of easing suffering, pain, want.

“To be human is to belong.
Belonging is a circle that embraces everything;
if we reject it, we damage our nature.
The word ‘belonging’ holds together the two fundamental aspects of life:
Being and Longing, the longing of our Being
and the being of our Longing.”
John O’Donohue

So often our tribal instincts, once so important for survival, click in and we want to isolate, protect, be fearful and cautious. Yet so much in our world now tells us we are all bound together by our humaness and even the boundaries of our living earth, rather than the arbitrary boundaries of our countries. As a global community we also find shelter in the firm grounding of the earth and gravity as we are hurling through space. We find shelter in sustainable and limited resources that are present. We find shelter through understanding, sympathy, shared experiences, universal stories, tolerance and acceptance. We find shelter as nurturers and builders of communities and family.

“The earth community, the Life Community is not the property
of any one religion or group or part of the world,
it is the Commons that embraces us all, our planetary home.
And it needs us as never before.
It calls us to become, not heroes, but community builders, builders of home,
gatherers and embracers, bearers of hospitality,
keepers of the shared space that cultures us all.
It calls us not to go forth and come back laden with honors
but to honor where we are, who we are,
and from that place to reach out
and connect to and honor each other in the community of life.”

David Spangler

Spangler also wrote:

“To embody a new paradigm of civilization-
to learn to think like a planet in order to nurture a planet-
it is not a hero’s task…it is more the task of a gardener.
The planet does not offer us the challenges
to be overcome to prove the worth of our individuality,
it presents us with a community to understand,
a community with disparate needs and identities
that are nonetheless intertwined in mutual dependencies.”

We live in the shelter of each other on this planet. Our culturally distinct and sometimes contrary needs and beliefs, dreams and desires do not mean we are not bound to one another with universal similarities by way of love, compassion, fundamental needs, respect, spiritual longing, familial bonding and community fellowship and support.

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.”

If it is true that we do live in the shelter of each other, and we do not offer shelter to one another, where does that leave us?