Archive | Essays

How And Why

A grandson asked me to explain how my writing comes about.  
How I give birth to things and the meaning of some articles and poems. 
Some authors and musicians have said that the words and music are
heard with an inner ear.  Often writers will say they are writing with the flow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said we must keep the pipes free and clear so that
we will hear the muses speak.  And with me the words will be there and it
is all I can do to put them down as fast as I can or like Emerson I am
in dialogue with the muses.  Other times when I am out of sync,  I
struggle for words.  To be able to say this means that time has been
given to learning what life means to me and how I respond to it.  I had to
find a balance with what I was taught and what I was experiencing. 
It is not easy to make inroads. It is not easy being different.  In another
time I would be called a mystic.  This is someone who has an inner
life with a connection to things invisible and intangible, but altogether valid.
To me life is a continuum.  We come from a somewhere and
we go to a somewhere we have earned the right to be.

I grew up in a family that took life seriously.  I wish we had laughed
more, just as I wish I had not spent 18 months in a hospital when I
was ten with a bone problem. (Penicillin came to market two months
after I was discharged from the hospital.)These were conditions that
shaped me.  The worst being separated from my siblings.  There were
eight of us and even though the country was still recovering
from the Depression, I felt rich.  There were six brothers and
two sisters so how could we be poor?   We had each other.

The previous post on the loss of our son’s baseball tournament I
realized  was also for me.  I needed to see the words written to realize
that the rules applied to me as well.   The same rules applied to
everything I have done in my 80 plus years.  First and foremost were
family and home and all that implied with its care.   All the other things,
the writing and independent study which I did when the rest of the world
slept were to make inroads for me.  What have I learned by digging
beneath the rock of who I am?  That there is a substance, a weight,
a something metaphysical hidden in all of us within our skeletons.

There is a fountain of lore within us.  When we apply what it is we
have learned in this life we come up with things that tell us where
we have traveled spiritually. I make connections.  Some people have
difficulty with this.  I connect life’s events and draw my invisible lines
and see no division in any of it.  It unites in my thinking and I wonder
how it has escaped those in power in high places who have the clout
to do something.  I have a son who told me that I make vacuuming a
spiritual experience.  Perhaps I do for am I not a steward of this
place I inhabit?  This continuous thread has been mine since childhood.
I link everything to All That Is.  Some would call it God and others
Jehovah and still others what they think Highest and Best.  I see
this link in games of children to those of adults as they dress
their lives with needed illusions.   The rules are for real and the
stakes are us.  We either are the victory and our gods the victors or not.

A friend tried to convince me that this is an impersonal world
and not to be taken personally.  I say this is my world and I will do
what is mine to do to the best of my ability because I do take it
personally.  We must or else it will perish.  Every action has
consequences, good or ill.   The roads connecting us to All That Is
are peculiarly ours because of our thinking.  What we learn are codes
or Beliefs to live by.  If the rules work in one place, they should without
bias work again.  If our  rules do not have favorable results,   we must
dig deeper and work some more.  We are talking about life and it may
take the rest of our lives to find the why of it.  Worth it?   Utterly.

The principles apply.   Universal principles apply and will work in
other places and times.  These are known as true values.  True
values do not change.   Because the substance of them has a
weight our hearts will recognize instantly.

Quantum,  sumus, scimus.    We are what we know.
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The Leader Coach

I was thinking of our son's disappointment in the baseball tournament.  He coached
the team and they lost.  He poured himself into them and it just did not come
together.  Another place, another time, I told him.  It will happen I should have said.
His disappointment was keen and I could not take it seriously I said.  They had 
always told me that I did not see how crucial games were.  What I realized is
that one cannot orchestrate the outcome of anything.   One can pour oneself into
something, instil one's best and highest motives and desires but one cannot
orchestrate the outcome.  And perhaps the outcome truly is not that important.
But the process is.

What we teach to whomever we are in charge of we can determine by examining
our motives and intentions.  We w ill teach along the way those things which fit
into the process of maturation of an Other.  We will teach those things we are
proud of and those things we will heatedly say we never intended.  So it is
imperative that our lessons not give crossed signals.   We need to know why we
needed to win and why to lose was so undesirable.  We need to know what we
intended to prove.  Perhaps what we also need to know is what we taught along
the way and how it helped for good,  constructively, to enhance a life.

Did someone learn that discipline was crucial to keeping a job, a marriage
intact, a family?   Did someone learn that motive, desire was crucial to spark
the continuation of a life or many lives?  Did someone learn that practice can
be a method of discipline, that practice ensures that one can be at home
with anything not attempted before and that learning never stops?  Did we
teach that joy could be found in doing with one's body, mind and soul a
task that once seemed undesirable by changing one's attitude and saying,
`this I can do because it needs doing and because I see it as mine to do?'
Do I see my participation in this part of life as privilege and not as duty?

Did someone learn that to do one's best is what is required of life and in
doing so no regrets will burden them?  And was there a camaraderie,
a dedication to a joint effort and a love borne by all for each because
of the sharing of motive and intentions?  Did they all come through
happy to have participated and adding a dimension of success because
the individual's success depends on the cooperation of the all?

If the ball tournament brought these things home to some, then there
was no loss and the coach stands as leader.  A win does not necessarily
mean a successful team.  What one learns is what determines a winner
in the process.   The process is never finished.

For if it were finished, we also would be and the final page would be writ.
Who among us would say we've learned it all and played the last game while
breath is still ours?

(This was from a journal I had kept many years ago with a copy to our
son.  It is valid today and he agrees.)
1

The Beginning

There is a mountain top sitting on the edge of nowhere eager for attention.   Eager for those with a need to know to start the journey.   Eager also to dispense knowledge where there will be help.

We ask with great hope for the kind of help given by those who have been driven by a knowledge only given by a life devoted to learning about Self.

We hold these truths solidly for a lifetime because they have been researched with the knowledge driven by a higher desire.

Never asked for because it was not even known to exist.   Never asked for because there was nothing ever in the history of the Pilgrim to know such knowledge existed.   Science has always said that only bodily  senses were the only valid senses.  But the Pilgrim now knew that to be wholly aware was valid.  Senses held by the whole person was the only way to learn that to know means to access the unknowable and a way to know truth.

Eager always for the way to be clear means to research, to unearth one's self.  For the only way to the center of the truth would be straight on through one's self, through the psyche holding information for the price of life everlasting.

It is never evident at the start that there will be lessons to tear the heart apart.   But the only way is the step first taken inward.   Where it will lead is the surprise and the way.   The journey is a long one.   But for the journeyman it is the only way to go.  Home is the destination.

It is a long way home.
0

Her Advocate

The doctor was thoughtful as he asked, `is she in pain?'  And I said
that she takes the stairs quite slowly and has difficulty in the morning. 
I felt as if I was describing myself.    He touched her head lightly
and said, `take her home and love her.'

The walk home was longer than the other times.   We talked.  I told
her how I knew that she hurt sometimes but together we would
make it.  Her head was pointed in the only direction she knew,
home.

We climbed the porch and with great relief she sprawled.  It was
the only place in memory to put its square arms about her and say,
`welcome back.'

I watched her forget at times when a squirrel spirited her vision
and she gave chase.   A monumental effort for the enormous body
collapsed and found its rest with four legs at right angles.   She even
thought at times she was a pup and she remembered from some
distant time how she jumped straight up.   Now she found her
legs unsteady.

She does not whimper but takes time in stride.  I prepare her
supper with the crisp fatty bacon and no gourmet meal matches.
I look upon my cereal bowl and wonder.

One voice says, `put her out of her misery.'   Another voice demands,
`would you do as much for me?'  Another counters, `what will you do
with me?'

My bones become brittle now and I find rest at the top of the stairs.
My eyes grow dim and I tire.   Occasionally I do my spirited dance,
remembered.   And then my limbs remind me again that to dislodge
hidden memories brings pain.    And I wonder again.

Who will be my advocate?
3

A Lesson In Strawberries

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 that 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 what we would consider 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 as most adolescents are prone to be, 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 bushel of apples,  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 up to add a room, 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 some ones 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.   I do not forget.
4

For Love’s Sake

What we create are memories.   Not only for ourselves but for others.  What we think we are doing and creating,  to another within their frame of reference, is an altogether different thing.   For ourselves we may be enriching our experience.   For the Other, we are oftentimes teaching something of great value.  Or simply giving them something to warm them when life's experiences are not sufficient.  It is important to keep in mind that what we think we are doing together is often quite different for the Other.

In my lifetime there have been many memory makers.   The memories are sweet at times and often poignant and other times sad.   Maybe not the intent of the memory makers but this was because of my frame of reference .   If we approach each other with the intent of making our meetings something of substance, there will be many memories of those times.   But the most effective I think are the ones where the relationship is mutually satisfying, the good moments become the sole substance in retrospect.  There will not be a defining moment,  simply a sigh of something that has come into our lives uninvited but leaving or creating a deeper fulfillment.  Those are the ones that expand our spirits and give depth to who we are.

Oftentimes we are surprised, especially with children who visit when something is done which is outside their experience.  Coming to mind is a special visit of small children to our home when I set the table for dinner with cloth napkins.  The surprise on the little one's face will stay with me forever.  'I can wipe my face and hands on this?' the question was asked.   Of course, of course.   Another time with older children I quietly put logs in the fireplace and started a fire to take the fall chill out of the room while they slept on couches.  I saw sleepy eyes open and close as they snuggled on down.   The smiles on their lips are my memories.   I am certain that in their adult lives they too will recreate similar moments for those they love.   It is love that desires to make memories.

Small incidents surely.   But in the lives of those we welcome into our hearts they become the stuffs that are the substance of character.  Someone took or takes the time for these small things that begin to form the shape of who we are.   Someone loved us enough to do this.

For love's sake,  are we not honor bound to do the same?
6

Peace In The Center

Refresh yourself at the trough of knowledge.  The water is cool and fresh and deserves a thirst that can appreciate it.

When the eyes see, there is peace in the center.  Providing of course the footwork has been done.

Not until one sees where one has been can one change direction.

Illusions are the finery with which we dress all the dailyness, all the scullery to make life not only bearable but to elevate it also.   It is a noble endeavor.   It is a god-work.

Evolution can only be taken a step at a time.  No lesson is skipped else it will not stick and carry forth.

It bodes no good to keep ploughing when the field is ready for seed.

One cannot expect to govern a body of men when one cannot govern one's own body.

One cannot be a better anything that what one is as a person.

Words are water and actions are stone it is said.  Your actions will shout who you are and your words will whisper to the ears of them who do not wish to hear and hear what you do as louder than what you say.

Do and you will be shown how.

The Spirit requires an indulgence now and again.

Man is a country quilt.  A patchwork of many colors and shapes.   Altogether beautiful.
4

A Perspective

To forgive and forget has become a shopworn edict.  It can work just so long but when you realize that the god of the other person weighs your interest against his best interest, you might come in second.   You can forgive until your face turns whatever color it is not, it still is heavy on the heart.

Forgiveness can only work when we give up hope that the past can be rewritten.  Generally the insult or injury is not viewed as such by the other if they are still in our lives.  Even when pointed out, there is no ‘I am sorry’ because the other does not see a reason to be sorry.  It does not mean that the injuries are not valid.   It means that the other has a different frame of reference and heads are different.   It means that what is, Is.  It does not mean that all things are forgotten, but that from this point on there will be notable changes.    How different will depend on what we value.   And that is where the hard work of sifting and sorting and building a philosophy begins to accommodate life’s challenges.

Education of people varies so one wonders about credibility.  Women stand by erring husbands and often feel guilty. People stand by their governments no matter how rancid, employees stand by employer’s outrageous malfeasance, and children work to cover their parents’ stupidities.    Now everyone is to be held accountable.    This is how it should be.   But it is a challenge.

The question then is how to forgive the daily irritant in our lives, related or not.  In this day of  DNA , we are more than a little surprised just who our relatives are. The commandment still is to love one another.   When we look upon Others as separate from us, we deal with me, my and mine instead of we, us and ours.  Open warfare is the agenda and we become Separatists, whether we speak of a person, families or countries. 

Forgiveness may be difficult when we cannot accept the effort of Others who behave in a manner that is within their frame of reference or their culture.  That path may not be what we can share but we must remember within them also is the earnestness to find a way toward their truth.  When we acknowledge our different perspectives and that the past is accepted as past, we can begin to write the script for the future by our actions today, the present.

Let us gift ourselves and make today our present to us.

3

The Dance

There is a dance that our feet learn to do when first we stand up.  That dance
is learned well, for even when our feet no longer dance, our phantom feet 
remember the dance.   They itch to dance.   And under penalty of death we
think, we stay with it.   If we decide to learn new steps, the old steps often need
to be altered.  And if they are, we think we are not needed for our dance or we
feel our steps are not noticed anymore and are taken for granted.   Either way
we may feel sorry for ourselves or worse, give up.   Very few give in and learn
new steps, perhaps slower ones.   The new dance feels alien to our self image 
and we are certain we will be laughed at.   Fortunately others do not remember
our old steps as we who danced them.   In the fashion of our admired dance
stars, we skimmed the floor and swept others along with us.

And that is the kicker.   When one is aware that a new step is needed, one is
aware also that the dance is soon ending.  How to do it gracefully,  with a
sweeping dip that barely touches the floor, takes a nimble body and mind.
Most of us do it with the tentative steps we learned when first we learned
to dance.   For the vision might still be sweeping, but the body falters.   And
before we know it, the audience's attention is riveted on younger feet still
learning new and beguiling steps.  We shuffle off the floor.   Our dance is over.

And we are never the wiser that the young feet doing the new dance could
not dance at all had we not learned the old dance first. 
3

A Resolution

Let us resolve to fall in love with our Earth.  Since many resolutions have
already died let us fall in love with our Earth and keep her alive.  Yet
how does one fall in love with Earth?   It is easy.   It is a different kind of
feeling, a oneness, a union that nothing dissolves nor divides.  It is the
steadiness,  the compliance of all things in Nature that yield to a bidding
when it is done with love.   She is not secretive.  She is an open book.

 

This love is a desire to return to a place where the heart knows its
completeness, in its wholeness with the laws of Nature.  We become one
and the same.   We are what the seeker chooses to establish when all else fails
to come to fruition.  When there is nothing that satisfies, there is always
the hope and response in the garden, in the fields and in the forests.  In its
beaches and in its waters.  It is a communion with the holiness in us and a
love which puts all else to shame unless it measures up.

 

It is a comfortable place to be.  It is what we choose in place of
relationships that wither with disillusion.   Nature does not.   She gives
from an unending Source, reaching into her carpetbag to bring forth bits
of revelation to entice, to give one reason to keep trying.   Yet when she
falters, for every grievance she dispenses, there is redress.  In time there
is an adjustment, a correction for every injury.   She is easy to love.   And
no matter the number of other worlds,  this one is worth taking care of.   No
illusions are necessary because she is sufficient unto herself.

 

In retrospect, this planet has suffered with our lack of stewardship.  So
let us fall in love with her.  Let us resolve to make her an object of our affection
and take care of her.   It is time now to assume guardianship of this place
we call home.

 

For this time it is all we have.
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