Archive | June, 2016

The Need To Lean. . . .


The words hang in mid air never to be forgotten as the voice that smugly said,  what’s so great about babies?  Anyone can have a baby!  And try telling that to the couple who have already spent thousands upon thousands of dollars just trying to do that.  Have a baby.

Would it come as a shock to our thinking processes, to our lifestyles, (for that is what our lives have become, lifestyles and not necessarily lives of meaning) to give space to the idea that parenting and family are a sacred duo?  That it was with primary intention that the birthing process would be an extension of the mother’s heart and mind?  That through the mother would flow the process that would unite man to the each, starting with siblings and give them a feeling of brotherhood? That through the father would come the support necessary for this family to take shape?

It was not intended to be a divisive process without feeling.  The caring, the uniting, the intention of belonging to the greater humanity was what being human was all about. Times change and roles are reversed in many circumstances.  But within the human exchange, human values must still be honored.

Independence seems to have become our main objective.  To do everything we can by ourselves to stand and not lean.  We shunt out the front door to play groups the infant and toddler barely able to separate from their mothers.   And all ages in between are out the door with hardly a bye I’m going and no word about returning.  It is the rare family with space in heart  to accommodate the aging parent who wishes not to join the sing a long group at the waiting farm.

There is little space for the unable or the dependent to lean.  There is no time, no interest, and no thing to bridge the gap separating breaths that wish to mingle.  Before we take another step forward,  is it not time to glance (at least) back to see what we wish not to repeat?

It is only when we do not learn from our mistakes that we fail.

It Is Said

It is said
that the heavens
care not what goes on
the world stage.

It is too late
to change the outlines
of a world gone mad.
But here. . .

within four walls
are children, eager to eat
of the bread of the gods
to feed hungry minds.

Those the heavens note,
for within these walls
is the outline for peace
on the next stage.

And here, the nurturer, the feeder,
will be given what is necessary
to begin the new world,
the brotherhood of man;

that could not be dreamed
with the old man’s dreams.

photo by John Holmes


Night Train From Chicago. . . .


DSC_2922A Matter Of Heart. . .

The terminal was unbearably hot.  The crowd was gathered ready to embark the train for points East.  The luggage crowded the children who were crowding the legs of the adults.  Handbags swayed menacingly as little children strayed too close.  It was a hot and sweaty atmosphere and not at all pleasant.  The air conditioning would be overworked long into the night, even as the number of people decreased.

The wait was interrupted by the loudspeaker intoning that begging our pardons of course, there would be a slight delay in embarking because the train had not arrived.  But as soon as it was in the depot and unloaded, we would be granted status as passengers.

The groans were echoed throughout the caverns of the terminal tracks and it was one groan.

In front of me a relatively young man, perhaps nearing forty and dressed in shorts, polo shirt and typical running shoes, stood by the ruby velvet rope, the only sign of elegance in a scene showing none.  Until that moment.

A young boy child, estimated to be six or so, came to the young man and leaned against him.  This was a husky one, but possibly was younger that what I thought.  He looked though to be in training for some contact sport.

The young man bent down and in one gesture, obviously long practiced, gathered the child up.  I watched in amazement, fully expecting to hear, ‘stand on your own two feet, you’re big enough!’

But what I saw was an act of love, obviously also not universal, because it was not what I expected.

I saw the child put his arms around the young man’s neck with such sureness that I knew it too was long practiced.  And the young man buried his face in the neck of the child and pressed his lips close to the child’s ear.  The look on the older face I could see for he was not 2 full feet away.  And the look was one of unadulterated love, the purest measure of devotion.

As the larger arms held the child effortlessly, I heard the Teacher’s voice saying again, ‘only a father can make a son but other men make brothers just like themselves.’

And I saw what for these two was evident.  At some point in time in the older man’s history, however far back each man’s history goes, this father had known a father’s love and had been a son.

And whether or not this young boy-child would choose to father, he could, because he was truly a son.

And this particular element, so often divisive in the lives of men, was forever in these two, reconciled.  It was lovingly demonstrated.  And no word passed between them.

artwork by Claudia Hallissey


Some Thoughts To Consider. . . .


Observations. . .

One day when I stood at the kitchen window and looked at the neighbor’s new garage, I thought how wonderful that he took the blue prints and constructed the garage by himself.  I am sure he felt trepidation at the onset and yet he did it.  I heard in my inner self, ‘he tackled the illusion and humbled it.’  They were not my words, yet they spoke directly to the situation.  How many times is that still, small voice silenced by us?  We have yet to learn we are never abandoned.


1. When speaking, speak always from the heart.  From the heart is where love abounds to have
other  hearts listening and responding.

2.  It is not easy to surmount a loneliness which isolates.  It is only with compassion can we help
regenerate such a soul.  Even our own.

3.  The power to earn is not limited to the few who chance upon the coinage of the culture.  There
are  other realms in which to work and be recognized.

4.  Philosophies are ripped from the gut and start with the individual.  One cannot be honest with
oneself and adopt from an Other what has been born of her or his fabric.  It must be born of
him/her Self.


To Break The Fast. . . .



It is a protection given us I think,  that however our minds work, we assume we are like everyone else,  or they like us.  I am not sure when I began to realize that differences abound,  but still I have difficulty when I am approached or when in frustration someone shouts,  I don’t know where you are coming from or on what planet are you living!  What are you saying I am asked and of course my words speak what I think are clear thoughts.

When asked as a young mother of three under just barely four years of age,  how was it I accomplished what I did,  I remember flippantly saying that when I awoke in the morning,  I was given mentally what I called my marching orders.  Did not everyone awake this way?  I assumed so of course and began my day with a mental list of ‘do firsts.’  My life has consisted of marching orders and when my Independent Study Program started for me  a half century ago my life has been an ongoing conversation with my God Within.  Even when alone, it has not been a lonely life.  It has been a companionable one and the company I keep is choice.

To Break The Fast is a poem Given as much of my writing has been.  It stands on its own,  but I wanted to share my thoughts with those of you who ask me to.  It is only of late that I realize the unique differences of each of us and how special these differences are.  They are not meant to isolate us but to unite us as a whole, different though we may be. Think on it and give yourself a hug.  We have never been abandoned.

To Break The Fast

When dawn arrives
pressing on my senses
and no longer can
I stay abed, I rise.

Needing to speak
and needing to listen
to the insistent thought
echoing through
the still, silent ethers.

I am! he shouts, I am!
And I am the golden thread
that ties the humble man
to the Essence of God
of whom he tethers.

It is almost more
than a mind can bear;
this knowledge pleads
to be known and pounded
into substance as food of this day.

Take ye and eat, he said
and we are fed
at the banquet tables,
at the breakfast tables. . .

It is the last supper
and break the fast of the day.
It is the ending as well
as the beginning.

It is our very Essence. . . .


To Think Is A Hard Work . . with power to change a world. . . .

2012-09-23 18.53.28

A reader wrote and asked how to make a difference.  Teaching was his profession and of course his talents would be appreciated.  As Americans, our first reaction has always been what can I do.  Do being the operative word.  How can we break this down to sizeable chunks to be effective.  My first response is Be.  Not do, or do by Being.

One is no doubt a spouse, or a sibling, or a son or daughter, or parent.  Not necessarily in order,  but one of these.  Or simply single human.  This is where we begin. In a world which shrinks not only because of space as we grow in numbers but because as our children marry and discard familial cultures or combine belief systems,  we need to absorb unfamiliar and prejudicial behaviors that we think threaten our security. What I see as necessary is a substantive broadening of what needs to be embraced.  (What came through as dictation is in italics.  Since all time is simultaneous, it is valid yet.)‘ Growth is with oneself.  Growth is with the knowledge that humanities’ progress must begin with oneself.  And to be able to see the infirmities of humankind in the wider scope of behavioral and genetic structures allows a compassion to be directed at the individual.  We learn much at the parents’ knees.  And much is not good and here it is we can change.’  When I wrote the post,  Who Will Teach The Children?  we assume of course the young child.   But children come in all sizes.  As I wrote many times,  ‘some too large to sit on your lap, but not too large to sit on your heart.’  And sadly,  I say sadly from this vantage point of my eighth decade,  that I have seen too many of my generation go to the end of their lives as prime cases of arrested development.  Growing up is not easy to do.  Many things restrict our development.  We are not the prime interest in everyone’s life when we are born and survival of oneself is everyone’s goal.  The world is not out to get us so to speak,  we may just be in the way of someone else’s life.

‘All things are not said and done with malice aforethought.  Some things are said simply because they have been heard all of one’s life and one has not thought them through sufficiently to change one’s thinking.  And there’s the rub.  To think through sufficiently.  The dastardly job of thinking through is given away, like some vile disease.  Yet the process of thinking, the gift of thought, the joy of thinking, the remarkable process of thinking, is what man is all about.  It is a birthright of greatest value and is scorned as odious work.  It is man’s liberation from a life of drudgery and here we talk of the tediousness of the day’s duties with no respite.  Thought does this.  Thought will take one from the humdrum of every day and lift one to the heavens where imagination originates and dreams are spun.  It will be the wings upon which man will fly.  It will be the culmination of a life’s work and there is nothing else.

We will ask of him how did you spend your days?  And man will say, I work at such and such and have accomplished great things.  But we will say, what did you think?  And what will man answer?  For the heavens know, do they not, what transpires in the mind of man.  The heavens know.  To resolve issues which plague the heart is the work of man.  We pester the mind with that which has not been resolved and bring forward the issues until man feels possessed.  Try, we say, try.  Resolve them and bring some peace to your life.  But thought, that marvelous process which separates man from the unthinking and no vision creature,  when we see that man disparages this active tool which is his gift,  then heaven laments.’

When we teach a person to read, we open them to worlds of thought, both ancient and contemporary.   When we create a safe place to speak our thoughts,  and someone listens, we grow.  Many of us are unable because of physical issues to do much but we can listen.  We can Be.  We can be the listener for the child, no matter the age. We can guide the stumbling thoughts to wider vision.   If we cling to what our parents believed,  our question should be ‘why?’  If we cling to our preferred prejudices,  our question is ‘why?’  If we are quick to rush to judgement,  our questions should be many.   What we require are those whose thoughts do not necessarily agree with ours, but who show us a direction where we can adjust our thinking and grow.  This is a necessity. Our world,  our planet, our Earth and its survival,  demands it.  Our churches and synagogues should be that place where arms would hammock the growing knowledge, but they are not.  They have a vested interest in positions of power and are impervious to change.  We must find that place for thoughts no longer appropriate to change in safety.  To be shown how by those whose knowledge of differing cultures can be a good beginning.  Just a thought.   But perhaps then those of us who close shop this night will ensure an enthusiastic incoming class in the morning.

photo by Joe Hallissey Sr.


Who Will Teach The Children?. . . .


With the hostile assault on the gay community and the families and people who love them this past week, with the events on our national scene which should bring us all to shame,  and our consciences to alert,  I think we are past all time when excuses and alibis ask for forgiveness.  It is time we look into ourselves and start the hard journey into our hearts to find where it is we are living our lives.  And what we are using for reference work.   It is time we look within ourselves for consciences long asleep to arouse direction to the roads that must be taken for righteous resolve to conflicts of too long standing.

Perhaps we must turn off our devices and retreat to our quiet places to give thought to what men of ancient times faced and tried to resolve.  When was the last time your mind raced with the excitement of sharing an idea that you remembered came with the open book?  I was reading Machiavelli’s letter to Vettori,  who was his benefactor and ambassador to the Pontiff in Rome,  and I paraphrase,  ‘ when evening comes I  take off my work clothes and reclothe myself in evening dress.  I go into those places of ancient times in books and am lovingly fed food that is supremely mine.   I do not hesitate to ask them for reasons for their actions or their thoughts and they answer me.  I am not tired,  nor troubled , and neither poverty nor death despairs me.  I give myself to these great men and they possess me.’

I have said so often to those who ask,  that when evening comes,  I get my second wind.  Having not had the money to hire help nor time for private interests,  I waited till the world slept and it was my time for the books.   And within the solitude of myself,  I even now have the conversations and learn of  things  that these great souls share with me.  These advocates take me into their charmed circle and from them come the arguments and chants of lifetimes of learning.  These are served on dishes of great repute to feed this starving mind.  It is in this solitude that an alternate state of consciousness takes place and I am a cherished participant.

There will be those who ask what is it she smokes?  Time was for the legal stuff only but my writing has always been sober.  The philosophers have always been faithful friends  and at the closing hours of a lifetime of many good things and gratitude for what was learned from the painful ones, I wish to share again a poem called The Teacher,  a given when I was immersed in problems with painful endings.  I pause and ask the poem to speak. .

The Teacher  (the Socratic Departure)

I will drink this cup of gall,
swallowing the bitterness
setting fire to earth’s waste.

But first I caress this chalice.
Its depth mirrors my heart,
shaking the foundations
of my very own selves.
Now splendid trepidations
challenge the ultimatums
by which the earth rocks.

Challenge me, o gods, not to see
the outside that has no bounds,
nor the inside that does not
set feel to the outside, nor the depth
which encapsules other worlds.

Winds that know me by my name,
sunlight that weeps with my tears
and the night sky which covers
my brittle bones with the white moon
will continue to call me. . .and remember.

I will drink of this cup and set loose
the forces that muddle the minds of  men.
In chaos they will  seek order. . and there is none.
In the written word they will seek understanding
and there is none.  In the marriage bed they will
seek delight. . . and there is none.

Cross the stars.  Challenge the arch angels.
Banish the gods.  And quickly I will
drink of this cup.  But tell me. . . .

who will teach the children?

art by Claudia Hallissey


A Touch Of Grace . . .




June 14, 2016
Tuesday 5 a.m.

What is Grace?

Grace is a benevolent gesture bestowed to relieve a yearning,  a burden shadowing a heart that is struggling for relief.   It is a knowledge,  an insight given to be applied to oneself to help understand and give this relief to someone yearning for answers,  begging to be moved from under a gravity of weight threatening to take life.  When given and applied to the situation,  to oneself,  first, the relief felt is often one of lightheadedness.  It is no small matter.  It is the intensity of desire, of yearning,  of motive that whatever is the belief system of the individual, of the supplicant,  that is of the highest caliber will be answered by the graciousness of Life,  whose undergirding, overwhelming support of the Universes is of ultimate good.

(the following from a journal entry dated January 5, 2014, 7:44 a.m.)

Somehow, this Earth, when we sent it rolling in this marvelous sea of great tranquility, called the Universes, had as its basis,  safety of its inhabitants and also logical consequences.  That the underlying basis, somehow has Intelligence and that Intelligence evolves as our intelligence does but in greater leaps.  Much greater leaps, unimaginable.  And if we call this Intelligence God or Father or Life, or whatever, this Intelligence is the primary factor of all Universes.  I don’t know if the big bang theory was its beginning or if some other factor sent rolling in this vast sea had even a beginning.  I cannot with this brain, fathom that.  What I am certain of is that the underlying factor of this Universe is Intelligence, which somehow makes my heart beat steadily, and that we, because we are its children, or its product of lust or love or whatever, also are buds of intelligence set on a path of growth, however long it takes.  That the very primary, the very smallest of life’s instinct, has life and intelligence as its point of existence.  There is nothing, not a thing, no thing in this world that should be taken as a granted, as a nothing or non life because we have as its center, life, the smallest particle which one day is growing into its full capacity of intelligence.  And from that point, to whatever ends that particle succeeds will then be another meeting of parts which in its composition will again grow toward other forms of intelligence, of other forms of life.

This probably doesn’t sound like much.  But this to my mind, reminds me more of what was the beginning of life than the unpalatable which had me wondering why when I was trying so hard to make sense out of my life, there was only nonsense.  My body was throwing up all the years of my existence, of  my life and I was dying.  Physically I could not handle it and I was dying.      My head  even hurts this morning to think along these lines because there is no one to speak to and no one to throw the ideas back onto me.

(the Teachers Rebuttal January 5, 2014 following my entry)

It is a good piece of work.  Primary but in its substance of value some good thinking.  You see where it is you come from.  You see where it is that your thought springs and you cannot ever from this point on say that you don’t know where it is you come from.  Nor what is your purpose.  You have at your fingertips the knowledge of what years of schools and instruction has  stymied many a scientific mind.  And you, uncredentialed, have scaled the summit.   It is a major piece of work and though there would be some who would scoff at the simplicity of this page, you know how many years went into its creation.  You have built a world waiting for your presence now.  You have an audience of believers who no longer scoff at what it is the circumstances of life prevent or present.  You always had an inside road so to speak and though there would be those who say dream on,  you know what it is that has led you.  It has not been easy and physically it has taken its toll.

You have on these pages a major work.  You say that beneath the life or the words there is a substance or an Intelligence.  There is nothing that would stop the ever growing list of wonders to say that how did this Intelligence come into being.  You would without doubt be able to handle them with a volume of material. 

You say that here we have Intelligence and whether it is the big bang theory sending molecules into form we know that Intelligence and common sense are its virtues.  We know that we are not incidental to life’s picture.  There are other forms and other life cycles and we participate in all of them.  How we know of this Intelligence is by observing the work of those whose business it is to improve life.  To lift the burden of existence to a tolerable level and to wave the spirit of triumph to what has been endowed to the minds that would not stop learning.  This is what it is to be alive.  This is what life is about.  We are placed in this environment to learn.  We are given the heads with its propensities to accomplish what the heart desires.  It is up to the parents of these minds to grasp their importance and for themselves to learn the consequences of their actions.  You were right when you issued the warning for people to pick up their mistakes.  Their names are attached.  You have given enough material for all the sages to start running.  There will no longer be excuses for them to lie back on and say I did what I could and did I not have fun?  You would take to the classroom and set the students on a roll to learn.  This is what we do.  This is our work.  This is a good work for a beginning scientific adventure.  It must be a perverse God they said who would put sacred teachings into the head of a farm girl!  You got them off their butts and we only begin.  Amen and amen. 


Not Only One Way, but Many Ways. . . .


I am not certain when I started to think in an organized way that something would be demanded of me by these sons of ours and I could not be found inadequate.  So even though I had been a serious reader of books,  a change in habits arose and I began my Independent Study Program.  I was the parent on premises and there was no family about to rush to aid an overwhelmed mother nor sitter monies for personal pursuits such as further classes.    The Public Library though was free and we four rushed to fill our box twice every week.  Over the years gleaned were the dollars that paid for books to fill shelves built of bricks and boards.  And not to my surprise,  much was demanded over the years but much also was Given.

Looking back now,  with memory honed sharply over time,  staying with me were those books that I found not only fed my needs but also pointed me in directions I never thought possible.  In going back over journals I find coming to mind poetry that showed where I was in my thinking and in my journey.  To get to this time in my life has been a knock down fight with the heavens with the Teachers as tired as the Student.  There are as many ways to get to the finalizing of a life as there are people.  There never was just one way,  but Life being gracious from beginning to end,  offers many subjective avenues to appeal to any soul in search of its own eternal why.  Always parallel to the factual lab Sciences.  There is this place we come to in this search that says an ‘of course’ to what you never thought you could believe.  But only for this time and this classroom.  For another world there will be further study demanded because the present conclusions will be insufficient.  It is called life everlasting.

Not Quite What We Are Led To Believe

Let them argue
their own arguments
amongst themselves,
the gods and the muses.
Let the kings
parry the knights
in kingly fashion
and let the All
carve out directives
on tablets of clouds.

It is enough to contend with
disasters in natural form.
It is enough to persuade
the hurricane to seek
another spot other than
where I am.
It is enough
to fight the daily fight
and to chisel out
the monster
plaguing my viscera.
It is enough.

But I, pouring forth
with a tentative courage
and confirmed cowardice,
grant to each equal time
and give to Heaven itself,

a measure of my peace.

poem in early 1983
photo by John Hallissey


Staff of Life (for a reason). . .


Best bread  I ever baked. . . and pass the butter. . .

I don’t know where I have been since this recipe for no knead bread has been out, but I just want to tell you that never have I had so much fun baking bread as I have with this recipe.  I have always looked for artisan breads in the stores because these are what I had grown up with.  A crusty loaf carrying butter to a hungry palate with a chunk of cheese is my idea of heaven.  But it only happened if I was in the right store on the right day.

A little over a month ago I decided to try this recipe.  I had been reading for a long time how a 4 year old can make this with only 4 ingredients.  Nature does the kneading by you letting it grow and rest on the counter.  We have not bought a loaf of bread since I made the first loaf about 5 weeks ago.  My family insists that with me  anything that conveys a certain amount of butter is the best ever no matter what it is.   You would not wish to use anything but butter with this.  I would tell anyone who has never done this way of baking before to go online and look for no knead bread with cold start oven.  I hesitated handling and putting dough into a sizzling hot pan without having an accident of some sort so I kept on reading and lo ! to find that indeed,  you can start with a cold pan and cold oven and start your temp control then at 450 degrees and it is magic.

After 30 minutes you take the cover off the pan and go ahead with the final 30 minutes to brown and crisp up.  You will not wish to eat spongy bread again ever.  Not with 5 minutes of mixing and no work other than gently folding and transferring into your pan.  I do not have the expensive pans that the recipe calls for.  But after much research into what can be used,  I did find that I had a pot with cover that is stainless steel and heavy that I hoped would take the 450 degree oven.  It does and heavy oven mitts are necessary to take off the cover at the end of the  first 30 minutes and  handle the finished loaf  at the last 30.  But I feel like I have discovered a new country.  Or in my case, another planet.  I have made rye with caraway seeds,  spelt bread and whole wheat as well as white bread.  I never knew that whole wheat can be a sweet bread without a speck of sugar.  It is unbelievable.  I think I may have gone through 25 pounds of flour during the past 5 weeks.

I am sure (and I have no research to prove it)  that in the beginning when someone learned that pounding grain made a finer food to eat, something happened to divert attention from the pounding and mixing with water before throwing on the fire.  Coming back to the task no doubt they found that somehow heat from the fire or sun made the mixture bubble and turn sour and oh my,  what do we have but sourdough starter.  So someone who couldn’t sleep nights figured out that by mixing flour and water and setting it near the fire,  was the first step in a finer crusted staff of life.  Bread.  I have often wondered how it all came to be and with this recipe being the magic that came from a thinking head that wanted to help a someone like me who has tried since I was 12 and put in charge of the kitchen on our Farm to feed hungry souls coming in from the fields.  I turned green in the sun’s heat and was sent into the house while my mother took my place in the field.  I am pretty good in the kitchen,  but never in 70 +years able to bake a loaf of bread like I do now.  I can only wonder how happy my mother would have been to know that you don’t need a ten thousand dollar oven but just a heavy pot with a cover and a very hot oven to make a loaf of bread that make old men cry.  It makes me dippy with joy to think that I can bake this marvelous bread.  I will die happy.  And pass the real butter.


You Also, Have Been Wondering. . . .

1. Pity has no place in a life so rich.  Pity is no friend; he is the enemy who takes life.

2.  Our so called ‘love of people’ serves to hide our very limited love of persons.  When we cannot love
persons,  what good to say we love people?

3.  Or is it that people are wonderful but persons are an annoyance?

4.  It costs nothing to love the world.  It costs much to love the ones sharing your space,  your wallet
and your genetic history.

5.  When stress becomes unbearable, we are then pressed to broaden our understanding and learn.  Or
else we fall apart in front of the children.  And who then, will they look up to?

6.  What man truly wants to learn, he will.  Spirit discerns the well intentioned and the readiness of the

7.  When an ideal is realized, it becomes tiresome and tiring to keep moving the carrot on the stick.

8.  The camouflage systems we construct are so intricate that an architect would indeed be proud and
no  doubt win kudos for.

9.  It is a wonder how we as humans can endure the anguish of loss when we hold no knowledge of
other worlds.

10.  Physical activity oftentimes is an innocent escape from the odorous obligation of thought.  As long
as the body does, the mind does not have to.

11.  The physical world is designed to dissipate the mental energy that would have the body fragment.

12.  Hope still remains the world’s most powerful antibiotic.


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