Archive | Essays

You Laid Your Heart On Me. . . .

 

There are more than a hundred of us who share in what I call the ‘jenny genes.’  I am neither boasting nor complaining because we all share faults as well as some victories,  though the latter have come with a price paid dearly.  And the faults have had a dear price also.

One of the maxims we were reared with was that if you see something that needs doing, (meaning work)  do it because you will not pass this way again.  Some ignored this, but most of my siblings lived with this.  It stopped my  heart  twice with cardiac arrest,  and nearing ninety, it prods me on not to just try like Yoda says, but do.

It is a hard way to live because it gives an excuse for others not to work because ‘you like to do that’ whatever the menial task is.  You are told they don’t want to spoil your fun by insisting on helping, not understanding you’re working toward a different horizon. Others are quick to take advantage.

My artist brother and I  in our later years bonded tightly in phone conversations nightly as sleep evaded each of us.  He took the Nazarene as his God and  I took him as Friend.  We agreed on principles, especially the one, ‘hearing you will hear and not understand and seeing you will not see.’  Our conversations often were shorthand script like, you know when you look at the gulley??  answered with oh yeah, you see it too, I know. . . . I know. . . .the birdsong?

He worked his art into the night after the farm  chores were done and I, my studies and writing long after my world slept.  He sculpted  with iron and metals of sorts and used a blow torch.  We worked to show a world where all was sacred because All was connected.  And love was the solder welding The All.  It had to begin with us and the children we hoped were the best of who we were.

If We Sing To the Children

I wear these memories
as a cloak to ward off the chill.
Emotions forgotten, but like new now
ripping along my arms,
settling bumps in straight rows to my heart.

Kindred hearts,  matching my own heartbeat,
with eyes like mine and reflecting our souls.
Music in voices saying,
‘and when I look at weeds beside the road. . . .
but you know,  you know. . . .’

And I do, I do and we look with eyes
that see and ears that hear the song
of the bird before his sounds have escaped his throat. . . .
and the music rumbles in our blood,
coursing through our hearts and gives life only
to those who are ready to listen.

Not many to be sure, not many,
but if we sing to the children perhaps,  just perhaps,
the earth’s cacophony will one day be in harmony.

It is our heritage; from where it is we come.
From the farm country I was given
a substance that does not spoil, that does not turn sour
even in the residue of life. It is not dregs that I drink.
It is the cream rising to the top of the milk.
I needed to see a skyline with no obstruction

and with no words you laid your heart on me.

 

Artwork by Claudia Hallissey

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good and faithful servant, Thou Art. . . .

The Roses Are For You. . .

It was a new friend Jan who remarked that she knew I didn’t know we were different.   And I remember feeling hurt that again I was on the outside looking in and now my children were also outside the circle.  But as she continued to be my friend and my trust strengthened she pointed out things that were different.

One thing continually amazed her was that we talked; the boys and I talked.  She pointed out that most  young people did not talk to their parents.  But she said you actually sat at the table and talked to each other.  But since the husband and father was out in public doing what he did, I was the parent on premises.  And our conversations were enlightening to me.  They were good teachers.

I remember when a grandmother visited and I was on the phone to our eldest living away, when I hung up she asked what I found to talk about  since she and her son did not converse except tersely.  I was astonished at the question for there was never enough time to finish a conversation.  When I mentioned this to the eldest, he said  we have been practicing for over 30 years!  In a nutshell,  all the time, practice.

Individually the separation from peers began in kindergarten, with invisible friends we think  was what everybody had.  New insight, new knowledge, new subjects to pursue.  Trying this, trying that,  giving everything a try.  Making do with what was on hand was a prerequisite when money is scarce but ideas profuse.  Questions such as how did you know to do that?  Or how could you?. . .whatever you did.  Who showed you and where did you learn to? . . .whatever.

Some results were met with derision.  Some were met unbelievingly.  He was four when he looked up at the sky and saw contrails splitting and said with awe.. . like a zipper opening the sky!!!. . .the one with a pen.

He was only three when I saw him on the floor with the newspaper open to the stock page and asked him what on earth he was doing at six a.m.   He said I am checking my stock to see how I do. . .meaning he had been going to the mailbox on the road also in the dark to get the paper which frightened me more.

And the younger was hardly past a year with his father’s belt wrapped around him with tools from the kitchen as he climbed a tree.  A spatula, a serrated bread knife for a saw and some kitchen shears pointed down as tools should be in the belt of course and tongs for heaven knows what.    He was wedged securely in a Y branch.  I know-ed he said, I know-ed.

I had wished for a mother who understood what I did when I was an eight year old on the grass and willed the clouds to form mind patterns.  She could not understand this daughter who wasted time doing nothing she said.  When the boys were born I knew the kind of mother I wanted to be.  Enchanted years the writer son said.  Enchanted.

Embrace the differences I later wrote.  Embrace the differences and give evolution a run for the roses. This is what will clean up the detritus and keep the classroom alive.   And the responses have me on knees that bow to the Divine in us all that has continued to serve in spite, despite the inhumanity that threatened these differences;  good and faithful servant Thou Art.

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Embrace The Differences. . .

Sometimes there is a need to repeat what one has already written because of new interest or new readers.  Because for some there is no access to already printed essays, I ask you to bear with me this time to accommodate new readers.  It will also help to refresh our memories of what we filed to be remembered.

 

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

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Who First Told Us?. . . .

 

It was my favorite holiday of gratitude.  Family friends were visiting so on the day we were seated at the linen covered table with an extension to accommodate everyone.  The children this year wanted to be at the same table.

Close elbow to elbow for this gala occasion.  Excitement was high as the turkey was carved.  To my left was our youngest seated on a stool to accommodate his seven years.  He loved what he called the dressed up table with white linen and best silver.

In the midst of the jubilation a hand swung out in excitement and over went the goblet with the cranberry juice spilling its brilliancy against the white linen.  Panic and horror swept the young face and tears spilled as well as the juice.  I can’t do anything right! he cried.

I immediately hugged him and said it was an accident love, just an accident.  We mopped up the excess with paper towels and see?  We will cover the stain with another linen napkin.  And we did and refilled the goblet and dried the tears.

We learned that the word accident was made especially for these kinds of incidents.  We learned also that when things happen with no malice aforethought they can be called accidents.  And we deal with them.

Talk immediately resumed with enthusiasm and the incident was not remembered by him.  No keloid tissue formed for there was no scar of a moment that might have destroyed his growing abilities in his hands’ craftsmanship.

The words of recrimination had no business being in the mind of this beloved child and they made me angry.  Who would have cursed a child to burden a sensitive aware psyche?

My anger took the form of a lifelong journey into the heart of me having aroused hidden anguish propelling me from childhood with the same agonies of why I could never please the people I loved most.  There were the admonitions always, called constructive criticisms now, to improve who I was.  Even when I was doing my best and working as hard as I could.

It drove me to the world of books and study that never dimmed for me.  I learned and keep learning  why we cry as my youngest did,  why can’t I do anything right!  What propels us in this best of all classrooms to keep trying and doing as Yoda said.  Don’t just try, do!

Worlds await to accommodate what we learn.  We become what we feed our minds.

(excerpt from
Phillip Framed the Mystery. . .)

Our tears filled the rivers with fatigue
which filled the oceans with frustration
as the fruits of our fields were dispersed.
All the while we continued to labor
for redemption.

Aaahhhhh. . . the mystery?

Who first told us we were not good?

(primitive art by Veronica)

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As It Was. . . .

Paraphrasing the Teacher in a journal entry of a December past. . . .

‘She quietly opens the door and slips to the crib, not knowing the child’s father has already retired for the night in the room.  She watches the child in sickness and the son watches his mother with her magic chants as they drew from his son the illness causing such heartbreak. 

You can do it, he was thinking.  You can do it.  And he was in awe as he watched this woman profoundly calling on a benign force that would move the sickness from the body of his son.  He watched you move those hands in air that was vibrant with the power pouring through you.  And he said that this is my mother and this woman I don’t even know.

And he knew that in all that had transpired , in all that he watched, he would take to his writing and pour out what was observed, and if not observed, he would have known anyway.  Let the power move through me and make me an instrument of thy peace, he said.  

Touched were those hearts needing to be touched.  There will be a respite and a growing and a power to make whole.’

In the morning a wiped out toddler recovered enough to stand and shout his demands to rattle the crib.

In the following years I learned that the undergirding of our Universes is an ethical premise that supports life and demands of each of us the highest and best we can be.  It may be benign but it is a spiritual power and it does not matter what we call this power, God or Allah or Jehovah or Christ.  It is ethical and demands us to aspire to our best.  We know intuitively and welcome obstacles that require we test our courage before meeting the greatest of our challenges however different for each of us.

I Pray. . .

Let this pass, if it is thy will.

I Hear. . .

Look beyond the Light
into the face of the morning sun

to see that the Light beckons and extends.

It would grant you peace
should you let it.
It will grant you life
should you welcome it.

Amen and amen.

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Under The Wings. . . cont’d. . . .

(for my new readers and for those who needed to be reminded , I share again this vignette.  I wish you a joyous holy day. . .)

Do I have more minutes to finish? There was no time for answers because the little one with a dash was out of sight. In a few minutes he was back and announced, I finish. Having learned to wait while private things were finished, I waited again while he proceeded to his room.

I followed him shortly to find him in pajamas and ready to crawl into the high bed. Well, should it be a story to tell or a story to read I asked. I am ready for you to choose.

Tell me what it is we should do to get you ready for sleep? And I waited. Minutes ticked away while the choice was being made. Patiently, again, what will it be?

His face took on a faraway look as if searching for a memory. I recognized the look and wondered where he would go for that memory to take shape. I knew it well. It was a look that had been on my face many times with voices telling me to stop dreaming.  I needed to pay attention to what was at hand and not waste so much time dreaming.

So because of those reprimanding voices, I knew to wait.  He asked if I would sing the one I singed when I singed with other voices. He knowed that song!

What song is that? I wondered. There was no time for me to sing with other voices that he would have heard. Like this, he said and in his high soprano he sang his  Gllloooo oooooorrrrrrriiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaa and I knew.

Unbelievably I knew. The music hung on his tongue and in his throat as if he were tasting a delicate sweet.

When did you ever hear me sing that? I asked. Before I came to you, he said.  Before I came.  I heard you singed and my heart singed with you.

I knowed I could tell you some time if I just ‘membered it. I promised I would ‘member so I could hear it again and again. I knowed that you would ‘member if I singed it. And you do! he said, you do!

And I believed him because I gave up choir when he was due to be born. I took this child into my arms and sang the song he so wondrously remembered.

And when I came to the part he remembered his voice faithfully shadowed mine. And another posit was added to the Memory Bank but who would believe it? Who??????

Except the many someones who entered their place of belief every time they bent their knees.

Those are the who. . . .

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Under The Wings. . . .

 

In exasperation a beloved said it takes you a whole page to say you went to the corner!  And I realize that was the answer to why my perspective is different and so is yours.  We see and hear things differently because we endow life with who we are.  My readers know that I bring a change in view.

Yet we agree on certain things to allow us to live, hopefully, in peace.  We respect the right of each to worship what is holy and allows one to live life’s dailiness as best one can.  We endow life with our faith or belief or knowledge with whatever was in our carpetbag to carry onto this life on Earth when we are born.

And I will continue to embrace your right to belief with only the stipulation that you do no physical harm to another.  I will include it as my framework broadens and I also prepare mine to broaden for another world.  Life everlasting means exactly that.  We grow and become other as we live.  And I wish we do it with Grace.

I wish all my readers a holy day of their persuasion or a holiday of choice.  Since we bring to our lives who we are, my life includes symbols of my beloved Earth, an angel heralding the occasion with joy and my knowledge that like a giant Dove of Peace under whose wings we fly, the undergirding of these Universes is Intelligence and Common Sense by whatever name we choose for it.  It is with joy, sacredness and reverence we greet the Season.

When Love Was Hatched. . .

If it seems all is lost think back,
when love was hatched and gave birth. . .
to dreams of wonder and of light
to make bright the darkest corner.

And gave us fine sons and daughters
we loved into being.  We sought for dreams
to outlet talents hidden between
fields of mind.  We sought to bring

to each other the reflections
of what we held as our highest and best
in fists tightly clenched.  Now we reach
that time in mind, holding close

those dreams like a magnet,
unable still to separate our lives.
And we will wonder who works
the wonders as we fly

under the Wings of the Great God.

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Many Truths. . .Many Worlds. . . .

 

A question arose when reading and I was ready to put down the book.   Coming to mind were thoughts I  had to make peace with.  I had been told . . .

‘there are many truths.  There is not just one truth and all else is false.  All things are true in some place at some time; many truths like many gods.  We must leave that place where there is just one of this and one of that.  There are many things that are good, just as there are many things that are not.  Yet for some reason, far from being the truth of us is that there is a preponderance of things people cling to simply because it is easier than trying to find room for all truth.

Why not put them aside when coming upon them and say,  this for now is a truth and tomorrow another  truth will be in its place?  You cannot, as you like, tie things up in parcels and put pretty bows on them.  Not to be done.  Everything cannot be in its precise place forever.  A truth can be right for this place and here, now.

Tomorrow there will be a place for another truth.  What will you do when you find yourself in a world where other truths will find their place and you will have to slide around to find your footing, slippery, yes?  Something always gives and it will be another world and altogether different approaches.  Not necessarily obliterating old truths, simply finding space for them in a different world where larger and broader frames of thinking will be necessary.

We must give space to larger frames where old truth will be integrated to broaden the still broader picture.  What will you do Veronica, when we will have to gain footing on even more uneven terrain? ‘

Many Worlds. . .

I wander about in many worlds
trying all on for size.
Walking timorously, fearful always
of a misstep.

Generously coping
with a plethora of ideas,
alien in context,
coming from sources I can only wonder.

Now a word,
a complete thought
fitting incongruously
into my world of now.

I surrender to a multi faceted existence.

photo by John Holmes

(the writing is from a journal entry in August, 2013 and the poem written in April, 1975.  All time is simultaneous. . Quantum physics)

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The Lady Of The Blue Cloths. . . .

 

There are posts  I have written that speak well to the present times.  I think for those who follow me there might be some understanding from these earlier writings.  There might be a moment when the thought comes, oh I see where she comes from.  I hope so.  For me it is a visit to a friend I have not seen in a long time.  And it is always a pleasure to read these vignettes.  I hope you enjoy them with some insight also to where my writing has led me.

The Lady Of The Blue Cloths . . .

Can we go today, he asked?  Perplexed, I looked at him and wondered now where since most of the errands were done that we considered a must.  Soon the holidays would be upon us.

To the lady with the blue cloths, he said.  To the lady who knows things.  And of course, I said.  You haven’t asked for a long time.  Because he said,  I knowed when I ask-ed the question!  And how, I wondered, but first we needed to get ready.

Soon we were on the way.  He was quiet and wondering his wonders.  I asked him again how he knew the answer when he just had asked the question!  He stuttered for a bit and  looked straight ahead.  You know, he said, when I ask-ed myself a question.  I wait and knowed I knowed the answer when I aske-ed the question.  Somehow,  pieces come into  places, he stammered,  like puzzles and I knowed that I knowed but I  had to  ask out loud.

I listened to this and still wondered.  But why then do we need to see the lady of the blue cloths?  Because he said, because.   Because it is almost time for the  Glooorrrriaaaaaaaaa time he said and I needs to find out from her some things she knows.   Her answers he said, not mine answers.

We were met by his friend at the door of the shop and she led us to her table.  She held his hand a minute and their hearts melded.  Why, she asked, are you wondering how to say it?  I am thinking he said, how you knowed what you knowed without asking questions out loud?

She touched his cheek.  Like you she said.  When I feel a light breath on my cheek or a warm hand on my shoulder even if no one is there,  I know my angel is.  And knows my question.  So by the time I put the question into words, the answer is in my heart.

I thinked that way so with me, he said.  I knowed you would know he said because I know too.  I think real hard and in my head  pieces like puzzle come together.  Angels are good friends,  real friends.  He got up to go.  Never afraid he said,  never afraid.  Angels carry blue cloths.  They say blue cloths good to wipe tears.  You have lots of angels here.  I come back just to see them?

Any time, she said.  With the holy days we have lots of them.  They follow me sometime he said, follow.  Never alone, I never alone.  She smiled at me in leaving and gave me her hand.  The warmth of it raced to my heart and I drew breath.  You are good for this one, she said.  You are good.

Charged,  himself and I floated home

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Apriori. . . Before We Are Born. . .

The Twig Already Is Bent. . . Before We Are Born. . .

Before.  Apriori.  I love that word but I don’t see it often.  It encapsulates meanings long held on whatever subject.   I use it to mean lives lived before now; some of us with long histories and others freshly minted.   Those who think we are a clean slate are right, for some are born closed off to their pasts.

Others, and the list is growing, come with open heads with glimpses and bleed throughs from lives lived elsewhere. Some children learn early to close down memories making living easier but others slug on through unhappily and others spend a lifetime accommodating and alibiing either themselves or others.

In my lifetime I have come across a few writers who bear me out.  One whose life was a line to sanity was Jane Roberts and her artist husband Robert Butts whose support was inestimable.  Others like Catherine Cookson was a novelist whose needs were keen when she rented a room with a card table for her typewriter and shouted to the heavens she was ready so send her a book!

Another was Joyce Carol Oates who was teaching in Windsor when she was interviewed by a Detroit newspaper and said  she never outlined, just sat at her typewriter table with a ream of paper and started mentally taking dictation.

The prolific Norah Roberts in one book had a writer tell his mother who commented on the progress he made on his novel that it is all up there, you just have to reach for it.

If it is marketable there are trips to the bank.  I missed the marketing by a long shot but the satisfaction of needing to know  made life comprehensible, has kept me from the bridge and has been worth the work and struggle.  My work does not meet laboratory tests nor credence but it has carried me through crises that would cow the most able soul.

Most of my work is a Given with the footwork immense.  Memories of past lives in glimpses taught me many things that this life did not include.

On her deathbed in a conversation with me my mother said she did not know how to love because she had no one to teach her.  Orphaned, her life was work centered and that she learned. She taught us all diligently to persevere and I call those the ‘jenny genes.’   To know how to show love has to be taught.  Think on that.

Being open headed like some writers are, also presents certain abilities offensive to others.  One is being able to walk into a room and pick up thoughts.   It seems an invasion of privacy but to the one receiving thoughts in a large group oftentimes feels like a shower of pellets from BB guns at an unclad body.

Unless told that it was what someone was thinking at the time, the person is innocent of invading thought.  It just is part of their thinking mechanism as a stray thought usually is, like where did that come from?

Muses are still at work.  Writers are writers and do not give up their craft.  I crashed the cosmic gates and headed for Olympus because my life depended on what the sages continue to argue.  I’m no fun, am I?  I was not in other lifetimes either it seems.  Sorry about that.  But no regrets also, from either side.

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