Archive | Essays

Embrace The Differences. . . .


Journal entry March 12, 1990. . . . .

I can remember thinking and finally saying out loud though I happened to be in the basement, I could tell who came in from outdoors by what swept over me.  It could have been their vibes or their energy blanket or it could have been something else that I filed into my brain since time began.

But I would know before they took a step in just who it was; even as a child I knew when my brothers or sister or parents came in.  It was only when our children were born that I realized that not all people were this way.  When I met someone, sometimes for the first time, sweeping over me would be the feeling of them.  I learned I was reacting to their emotional climate.

It is traumatic for the young child, the sensitive one, who complains of a stomach ache at the thought of school, to be away from the safe environs of home,  afraid of being laughed at or throwing up, or the washroom being too far.  How to explain this to parents?  They cannot and unless there is a divergent path taken, they will simply say  they have stomach problems and spend time in the bathroom.   Never realizing they have become the emotional pit stop for the world’s ills.

Sometimes the sensitive one must simply vacate the room to protect himself from the slings of emotional flagrancy. They have to leave when emotions rampage or they will throw up. There is seldom a someone who understands to protect the child or the child in the adult body. There is no protection for others’ emotions crashing onto them.  Even contained violent emotions can be deadly to the vulnerable.

The triggers for these occasions can be anything.  When I was a child in grade school the sound of a siren going by would find me running home from school certain that calamity had befallen my family.  Certain I was my mother would be dead or the house burned to the ground.

We were not spawned in a ditch.  We are a holy beginning.  We were before we are and we have a history.  We are a history.

To the one who said I draw conclusions all over the place  (it was not meant as a compliment)  and make connections no one else does,  I say to see all life connected is what Ancients did.  And I do this here and now because of those who cavort on Olympus.  But they worked their days on Earth as I now work mine.

(I was almost Sixty when the above was written.  I am now almost Ninety.  After years of therapy to accept the fact that my head was different but not mentally ill,  the doctors and I formed relationships that supported me.  I learned that there are those like me who are out of place in a world that has difficulty with ideals that work elsewhere.  And the Elsewhere has many worlds.  We embrace to different degrees values that can work here but at a very high cost.  If we are fortunate our families gather to protect what soon becomes the isolated child.  What is not realized is that  mavericks contribute in ways necessary for human progress but not noted until they are absent.  Embrace the obstinate child.  They chose you as parents for special reasons.)


Photo by John Stanley Hallissey


Welcome Home, Emma E. . .

Welcome Home,  Emma E. . .

I am by nature not a mover, but a thinker.  I think a lot and have been muchly criticized for it. By people saying I read too much into life.  Mostly by people who never had a clue.  If my friend Emerson is to be taken as an authority, then to think is to act.  The body may slow as is the case of aging, but Spirit thinks itself a perpetual 35, which is a necessary preparation for ongoing life, here and elsewhere.

Awards may not hang on the walls, but many hang on the heart.  One came this day to tell me that my repetitive lectures bear fruit because of the evidence in this poignant photo.  Emma E. this newly minted daughter came home to arms that already know the shape of her heart.  They will hammock and support her and catch her for as long as there will be need.

Her father knew his father’s arms when he came new to this world, so the new father with tenderness remembered.  The emanating love in this photograph far surpasses anything this world could award.  It is priceless.

The snow covers the grasses on this very cold day and is marred by the traffic in the streets.  Soon its pristine purity will carry the dark residue of its activity.  Once I kept shutters closed to the streets and opened them to the back yard where there was life I could understand and cope with.

There were birds at the feeder, arguing still, evergreens growing in trust that life is ever new each day, demanding our very best with the promise that life is ever good.

Welcome home Emma E.  It is enough to know at this time that life is ever good.  You chose well.  There is love in abundance.  You have rekindled in these harshest of times, my zest for ongoing life.  You are a fresh dawn for eternity.  Welcome home.  I will always love you.



A Lesson In Strawberries. . . .

A Lesson In Strawberries. . .

( I awakened one recent morning in conference with someone who said it was again time for the article on the lesson in strawberries.  Several years ago it was printed in The Detroit Free Press and has since been reprinted several times.  A man appeared at my door the first time with a quart of strawberries from his garden and several stories to tell about his mother and her philosophy.  It is with wonder that some ideas will strike a warm bed of memory and spill its essence.  I cannot bring to mind to whom I was talking when awakened but no doubt a classroom again.  I think I am nighttime’s perennial student.) 

I was a young girl, about 12.   It was our first summer on The Farm and it was a hard one.   But it also was filled with good food straight from the warm earth.  My mother had a talent for growing things in the city despite its polluted air; even 70 years ago people knew to be unhealthy.   But in the clear air of the country, in the soil of her loam filled garden, her talents blossomed as did her crops.

We were getting produce ready for the stand down near the road.   As we were preparing the fruits and vegetables, selling them as fast as we put them out, friends from the city were arriving.  They were diverse characters.  Some were people in her circumstances with many children and little money.  A few were wealthy but the outstanding characteristic of all these relationships was mutual respect.

Toward the late afternoon, I was tired and whiny.   The source of my irritation was the fact that my mother was giving to her friends, without charge, the best and finest of what we were putting out.   A bushel of potatoes here, quarts of strawberries there, a basket of fresh vegetables here.

But the strawberries were my argument.  I loved them and the ones she grew were the reddest, juiciest and largest I had ever seen.   They were sweet clear through and the dream stuff of that first June on The Farm.  With the heavy cream separated from the rich milk the excellent cows gave, these were mine she was giving away.  The strawberries summed up my resentment.

“You can’t keep giving away our profits,” I said.  “you have given away half of all the produce!”

She turned to me in a voice I have not forgotten and a lesson that has stayed with me.

“These are mine,” she said.  “I will do with them what I please.  These are for me to give away if I want to.  No one can tell me who to give to.  My friends may never do anything for me, but if one of them does something for my children or my grandchildren, then that will be payment for me.”

I have thought often of that lesson in gift giving.  In giving what is yours.   In the course of my days, when someone did something for me I did not expect, there was the lesson in strawberries.  When so much has been done for our children by their friends and ours, the lesson in strawberries comes up.

When time, whole weekends of time, have been given to sit with a sick child, to listen to an impoverished spirit, to make dinner when the task seems insurmountable and appetite non-existent, to do any of these when time has become our most precious commodity, it is a gift of Spirit.  When a check arrived unexpectedly from someone whose only reason was “I remember how I would have felt to have received this” or the someones who oftentimes helped our children through school because “it was done for me.”

I thought of the lesson in strawberries.

As I review a life where so much has been done for me and mine, from sources unexpected, I am grateful for the lesson in strawberries.   My mother gave what was hers to give, what she worked for and gave freely.  She was paying it forward long before the idea became novel.  I do not forget.


An Evergreen For Your Heart. . .

(I falter dreadfully.  There was more violence in a school this week.  I say that I will make another ocean with tears that do not stop.  I cannot write nor put up a heart with a rip up the middle again. Cannot sew it up again. Then I read that someone pulled up a bygone post and needed the words and I hear my Teacher say would you deny another day to one who needs the words that have been given to you?  When I needed just one more day I was given the words.  Can I do less?  They were remembered and are needed again.  My readers oftentimes write my essays by their need. Today I wish to plant an Evergreen in your heart.) 

(Posted Oct 2, 2015)  We are told that hearing you will hear and not understand and seeing you will see and not perceive.  Simple words meaning simple things?  But of course you see and of course you hear unless physical impairments prevent us.  But it is even more than that.  In the process there are the cries in crisis and there are the tears that are not seen.

The father asked his son at breakfast,  ‘are you not speaking?’  And  the son answered ‘I  spoke yesterday.’  They were across the table from each other but worlds apart.  The father was asking why are you silent.  And the son was already mentally in school and  gave his oral report yesterday.

The daughter was hurting and gathered courage to tell her emotionally distant mother why she ached inside only to find later her brother coming  into the house mimicking her talk with her mother, laughing.  The daughter shared her heart and her mother not knowing the place her daughter was speaking from, dismissed it as a nothing.

Neither parent heard nor saw what the child’s body language, words or eyes were conveying.  The Master said, ‘hearing you shall hear and not understand and seeing you shall see and not perceive.’  How much are we missing?  We should at least be wondering.  What is more to hear than what we hear or see what we see?   When the process begins, the pain will be poignant but welcome it.  It will mean that you and your god are in conference.

Times Such As These. . .

I lock up the room
and pocket the last remnants
of words laying about unattended.

Fearful that pieces of my heart
may be found
scattered among them.
And why not?

Times such as these
leave us with little salve
to heal the open wounds
which once were hearts.

For whom do we weep?
The children whose siblings
will no longer come to the table
to convey with no doubt
the events which took their innocence?

Or the parents
whose hearts were transplanted
when word came
that these unspent stars
were already breathing the rarified air
as heaven’s most blessed?

Look at us here.
Pleading that our children
will be safe as they try to understand
what we in our dotage
have not learned.
To resort to arms

means death in any country.                                                    


To Learn. . .the purpose of life. . .

I spent two days of non stop rereading Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel recently. When the book first came out it did not have the effect on me that rereading did.  I came away from it this time as I did with Doris Lessing’s Shikasta series, that everything in life has to be taught; every emotion, every concept, every step in thinking.

I had to dismiss the erroneous thought I didn’t know I carried which was a stumbling block to further understanding,  that everyone is the same.

The only reason being to think differently was a matter of will; either we didn’t care to think or were too lazy and wanted to have fun.  Never giving space to  culture, or genetic historical anguish or even environment and climate with its impoverished elements, all effecting growth.

A democracy states that all have a fair chance to succeed.  But even children know when  playmates have more toys or books than they have.  So starting out equal is not so.

One realizes then that thought processes are different.  We come from homes and worlds that are different, not necessarily better, just diverse.  The Clan book points this out clearly.

Creb, the Mogur, or shaman comes to understand that Ayla, the young girl rescued because of climate calamity, was able to conceptualize and learn his tribe’s language and behavior because her brain was open in ways his was not, to learn hers.

I felt his difficulty concluding this.  New knowledge must rearrange all preconceived thought and demands work. One’s entire belief system, philosophy, must be reconsidered in new light.

His people had hammered through hundreds of generations ways to survive in mostly bleak conditions while Ayla’s had come from more conducive conditions to allow growth and less isolation.  Her abilities were evident and she aroused jealousy.

Our biographies begin as tribal groups and wandered the world looking for fertile ground.  Tribes merged often when settling with those of similar habits.  Evolution opened areas in lives when members mated joining differences in cultures.

Often the migration of aggressive tribes caused conflict while many merged in peaceful affiliations.  When isolated there were incestuous unions and less growth and change.  Much energy was devoted simply to survival.

As time passed their concern was to keep what was known.  Discouraged was acceptance of those who were different to continue for centuries we know as discrimination.

From early man to the present, from wandering tribes to modern civilization, evolution stagnates when isolation is adopted.  It prevents man’s progress to healing ancestor’s anguish that continually festers.

It is senseless to celebrate lives of peacemakers of countless worlds then prevents the merging of those worlds that could elevate human behavior.  Think on it, then vote.


Conscience. . .the heart’s authority. . .

By My Heart’s Authority . .

It was after our David left this Earth that I went back to classes at the University.  I was taking a class in English Lit when the professor and I were in a discussion  about religion and he said that no doubt religion was a great help to me during this time.

I told him I was not a member of any and he was aghast.  But how,  he asked,  with no religion, do you know what is right and what is wrong?

This time I was thunderstruck.  I, an adult, had had three children and was the parent on premises and in charge of many commitments at that time.  I was the authority on right and wrong and ethical premises since the age of reason.

I knew, without being told by anyone,  by my thoughts and reasoning and a heart whose veracity I did not question what I should and should not do.  (Some simply call it conscience.)

I did not need  those in high places whose power was mantled onto them by those whose authority has always been questioned and compromised.  Recent events have confirmed this.

I knew he was taken back.  Horrified would be the term.  And I too, wondered how one gets to tenure in such an institution of learning without conviction and assurance in one’s ability to meet life with maturity and lead the young to knowledge and confidence in judgment.

I trusted that to learn must also include the freedom to ask questions and search out what one doubted and did not understand.  What better surroundings than the classroom to catch the struggling neophyte safely?

I was told by my Mentor not to delve deeper than one can muster out.  My response after a lifetime of falling deep into the pits was to dig down as far as my mind questions.  How deep only I know when my head butts bottom.

And then I dig out,  with fingers and teeth if I must, to get a toe hold to climb out.  And then to climb higher and higher until one crashes the gates of heaven,  if one must.

If not, then it is all hope and conjecture and one continues to pay for a keeper.  Religions call it tithing.  Under the cloud of not knowing anything for sure.  And Dante’s Inferno is for real NOW.


Photo by Jon Katz
(Shekhina–Hebrew female counterpart of God)


The Who Of A Mystic. . .

The Who Of a Mystic . . .

Daddy, daddy don’t hit him! He is my brother!  I screamed and my father  was confused because he was protecting my life and my brother was out to kill me.  I was the younger sister who craved the balsam to squash with my teeth and his was the dream of building the perfect plane model.

I was the cause of the trouble and their emotions landed in my stomach as the anger of my father whose peace was disturbed and the frustration of my brother whose dreams were shattered.

My own emotions collided with theirs.  I was possibly 9 years old but already handicapped by a stomach that was a pit stop for the emotions of our whole family of ten.  24/7. . .

Born into this world with a foot still in the world I left is not easy.  It leaves one vulnerable from birth unto the grave.  Can one be a mystic in a secular world?  A mystic is someone who takes the essential elements from religions and the highest principles they claim from other worlds and tries to make them work where they are.

Children automatically do this. When thrust into a family who are simply versed in the secular and orthodox religions, is at best a trial.  At its most difficult,  puts one in a place where one is different but for unknown reasons.  Just different.  Not special, not spared, just forced to participate to be like everyone else.

And never knowing why one feels outside the circle, sees and hears what others do not, learning early to be careful with speech, never sharing one’s thoughts for fear of ridicule.  I ran home from kindergarten as fast as I could because hearing sirens I thought my house was burning and my mother dead; somehow feeling responsible.

Being born with memory puts one on the defensive early.  In religion class I told the priest what I knew.  And it was not what he was teaching.  My head spoke in languages with those I held to be mentors from an ancient past.

Into adulthood I was appalled by the actions and words of those held in great repute.  Yet needing to be sure of being an anchor to those I was committed to.  It is possible as I chalk off another year in my dotage,  I say it is possible to be a mystic in a secular world, but not without peril.

That I crashed in my third decade in the midst of life too busy for composure, was simplified by the psychiatrist saying ‘I don’t know how you have managed so well for so long.’

Life holds sounds more than the average person hears.  Life holds sights more than the average person sees.  There are more levels of everything evident than what daily occurs to people.  One cannot imagine what these words imply.  What more?

I try to explain but words fail.  Just as I do not understand why what is evident to me is not so to everyone.  I know this only because I have lived it and have had years of mental therapy.  The medical conclusions, ‘you’re different.’

I was happily raking leaves off a neighbor’s lawn because they were busy with family when another neighbor approached asking, ‘you doing this for fun or money?’  ‘For love’ I said.  Puzzled, she said ‘you are so different than others, you know.’  Lacking the courage to hear her reasons,  I did not ask why.

Life would have been simpler if I had parents educated in the deeper aspects of life.  Immigrants worried about bread on the table.  What we do is what we can do.  I took my commitments seriously and books were best friends.

I am, I guess, an example of someone living to old age with knowledge, not faith,  of life ongoing and other worlds.  The psychiatrists called me mystic when I did not know the meaning of the word.

Not easy, but unacceptable would be anything else.


We Are Common Knowledge. . . to grow up. . .

When one desires to lead as an example one’s peers,  one assumes a countenance of leadership.  One has studied and served in various capacities throughout one’s life to ably serve fellowman so that they will be free to progress in whatever area they require.

One does not play games with futures of people  and have them guessing on whether they as a country or as a world will survive.  Dealing with Nature as we know is enough of a challenge.  One does not take their time from the tasks of growth and progress which they require to aspire to their human potential.

Leaders free people of the task of worrying what government does that is detrimental to their well being.

This is the point of a democracy.  We elect officials to do what is best within laws which we voted  for and had instituted for the well being of all.

To prevent accidents at corners we instituted laws and lights to prevent chaos.  We have stop and go lights telling us when to proceed and when not.  We do not make a left turn after three p.m.  because this is what we know and this we learned when we became adults to drive.

And when we break the law we are hailed to stop and the local gendarme is a once classmate of your sons and is as embarrassed to arrest as you are to be arrested.

We hire lawyers to litigate,  congress to legislate and have the courage to make decisions not based on their reelection but based on their legal knowledge of the constitution which we had instituted as a protection of the people living in this democracy.  We hope that the people we put in offices and pay our taxes for their livelihood will consider the importance and responsibility connected with the work and position.

We do not want them to bully or be bullied, nor take advantage or think they are above the law.  In other words,  we want them to be as good as we try to be and better on the whole than what we think we are.  That said,  we don’t want to point the finger at their flaws and say they buffalo us.

We don’t want their dark sides evident in daily dealings with our futures.  We don’t want to point out that they are lacking courage,  lacking truth and decency, lacking the backbone to say this is wrong and hurtful when we  are telling them that we cannot believe them.

We don’t want speaking with forked tongues nor speaking out of both sides of their mouths.  We don’t want opinions changing because of a tweet or some slight by some talking head on the master screen that screeches day and night someone’s wind that smells to high heaven.

What we want are grown ups that have given careful thought, careful and studious thought to matters at hand by a bevy of cultures that are diverse in this world and have a validity of presence due all people.  We expect a courtesy of behavior giving also studious comportment to all people because  they are deserving of it simply because they are human.

This is too much to ask?  I ask you is it too much we would ask of a parent of a young child they had given birth to?  We would be dealing out in measure that which is courteous and loving because we are a caring people.  We would be teaching our children these manners because they in turn will mete out what they have been taught as they go out the front door.

This is progress and what we as people are concerned about.  We expect it of our leaders so that all humankind will progress and we as an example to all worlds will not be ashamed.  That seems to be a lost emotion in these times and embarrassment as a word for behavior seems also to be lost.

The only excuse offered by those committing these behaviors is the old cliché of being only human.  Well the divine also resides in us and we give a bad name to our divinity.

Of course the problem with pointing the finger at flaws of those we elect to govern is that the thumb points at us revealing our flaws in duplicate.  We can identify them because we can relate.  So the question is when are we going to grow up?

All of us have work cut out for us.  To educate ourselves and make ourselves well versed in what we expect others to do, to behave, to treat with courtesy, honor and trust that we would like.  We are all wounded with the arrows from our own bows.

We would like to hide our own faults and think only we know of them.  I heard with unbelief an elder say that people only know what we let them know.  If I know something and have seen it, then someone around the corner has taken a picture of it and the bird in the tree has carried the words and has sung them down the street and it is now common knowledge.

My god has spoken to your god and the gods’ network is as volatile and furious as the old boys’ network.  So consider that we are participants in both visible and invisible worlds.  Take a quantum leap because

we are common knowledge from the beginning.                                                                         


A Time In The Heart. . .









It never occurred to me before.  As often as I said that this is a classroom of a first order, and we must keep it not only for ourselves but for those to come,  it just never occurred to me that it was the purpose of the classroom to stay the classroom.  That things were not going to change because this is its purpose and any change must come from the individual.  We can be the example but change anyone, not.

The bottom of my world fell out when I realized that no matter how hard I worked, the only change wrought was what I did to myself.  I mattered.  The good I did was a spill off from my cup runneth over.  Good that came from abundance was lasting good, but when it came from duty resentment clouded the issue.  I think that is the kicker.

We feed our belief system to build ourselves into what we need to be.  The good coming from actions benefit us first or it is not lasting good.

Because people are born into different cultures, my small hope I harbor is that all countries are emerging as united states in that there is mingling and borning of different peoples everywhere.  Where children are born into a variety of mixtures and children are color blind.  And grandparents have to acknowledge eventually that whatever color our grandchildren they have our habits!  Saints praise us!

I may make peace with myself but it does no good for my neighbors.  They must make peace within themselves.  And thus within the cradle of the heart will be the birth of peace.  And Christmas is a time in the heart.  I wish each of you the best of these holy days or holidays.  Thank you for being in my life.


To Sweep Clean My Father’s House. . .

I Am Not Finished. . .

When I was a girl I learned only because I hung onto my anger (as fuel for my work) that I could find the energy to continue with what was demanded and not give up. This is what keeping on with keeping on means to me.  Anger ( used also by siblings), was a way to get the work done because otherwise we would be open for more criticism.

Many people work this way and it wearies them into confusion.  Not identifying why there is hesitancy about finalizing work, they unconsciously think finishing will finish them also.  They think they will not then have anything in reserve to continue their lives and it will end for them as the project they work on.  It doesn’t of course because when we are finished, whatever the results,  we are given another bout of energy to force us into action. Another memory will arise reminding us of unfinished business and because we are conscientious, we are off and running.

I have been inclined to use my anger throughout life in this way, to build on meaning and not to dismantle life.  I have worked until exhausted but gratified to have finished the muscle work, or the creative work, or the mind work that puzzled and tired me no end.  Did I learn something?  Of course, of course.

Heaven uses us in diverse ways.  Heaven does not waste incipient lessons.  There are some bright lights (not all of course) on the other side that can see the consequences of our behaviors.  Very little goes to waste in the skein of things.  Things heaven cannot do something about are as heartbreaking for them as for us.  But as we see the summation being of use in positive ways, the heavens also are spurred into activity that is consequential.

It is an effort that is unifying at best.  When we are open to the thinking, to the thought, we can see that we are an experiment in a new world of communal living.  We are of diverse pigmentation, of different cultures, of frames of reference that involve evolution on scales unknown to isolated peoples whose rituals of living are similar.  Our country is envied by worlds as the example of universal lives in progress.  Others are stagnant in their thinking, breathing the stultifying air of diminished lives but laughing at us struggling with self imposed obstacles, to be sure.

In the obstacles, the minor as well as major ones, are the lesson plans for growth and progress.  We make them ourselves for in the larger picture, the broader reference, we race with the greater god and the divine in us toward universal concepts still to be born.   It is only one truth toward life everlasting.  Count me in on the race.  I am not finished.

(Excerpt from poem)

New World . . .

What is dealt on a scale
are heart’s yearnings
toward new understanding.

Of a universe or more,
equipped to handle
a multifaceted life
with undreamed answers
to questions giving life
to new dreams,
giving breath to new forms,

and heart to life everlasting.


artwork by Claudia Hallissey


Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes