Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Offering peace through being peace

Two men, both revered by family, make their way through a sanctuary of green along the Shenandoah River some years ago.  Willing talkers, yes, though much more inclined toward thoughtful listening.

I wonder if the tragic events that rocked Seattle today might have been averted if the suspected gunman could have found words for the darkness that lay within him, and some kind soul took the time to listen.

There is much I do not know.  But tonight I feel the blessing of being in community, of knowing I can get help if I am struggling or in distress.  And I do not take lightly the profound responsibility we all share to be attentive to the well-being of those around us, including those who live with mental illness.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where would Mr. Roy G. Biv be without his "Y"?


There is the heaven
we enter through institutional grace
and there are the yellow finches
bathing and singing
in the lowly puddle.

Mary Oliver

Monday, May 28, 2012


Gracious God,

We thank you for bringing us safely to the beginning of this day. We thank you for our good life, for those who are dear to us, and for all who have helped and influenced us. We thank you for the measure of freedom we have. Most of all we thank you for the faith that is in us, for our awareness of you and our hope in you. Keep us, we pray, thankful, hopeful and faithful until our lives shall end.  We pray this in the name of Jesus our brother. Amen.

prayer written and spoken by Pastor Nancy L Winder

Friday, May 25, 2012


"Mi hija podría haber encontrado un mejor hombre para amar!"
"Моя дочь могла бы найти лучшегочеловека любить!"
"당신은 저녁 오늘밤 우리와 함께 해주시겠습니까?"
"Rowan, Rowan!  You're talking too much!"
"Điều làm tôi ngạc nhiên là"
"Snnrhrhunrhnn.." (an old Pug, in respiratory distress)
Red-winged blackbird.
A small sampling of auditory snippets gleaned at Green Lake today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A love that knows no end

Sometimes when I travel away from my home turf, I like to pretend that I don't know where I am.  By releasing the known I see the place differently.  Small towns in Pennsylvania look much like rural communities in Oregon.  Back alleys in Antigua resemble housing districts in Costa Rica.  Tanzanian villages with bare earth huts remind me of some parts of Port-of-Spain in Trinidad.  

But what if I really didn't know where I was?  What if my surroundings were always unfamiliar, including the faces of the people interacting with me?
A man I know whose mother has Alzheimer's told me a story about his face through her eyes.  "She told me I looked like her son, David.  She said she'd like me to meet him sometime.  In fact, she said, 'You'd like him.  He's such a fine young man.'"
David had enough wits to say he'd like to meet David someday.  And he told his mother, "I bet David loves you."

I'm going for the distance here.  I'm striving for that sacred place where it's enough to simply give and receive: to offer love and accept the outcome.  I aspire to arriving at the place where who I am in relation to the other is of no consequence.  I think my mother will know me in that wondrous place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eyes closed, heart open

When it’s over, it’s over, and we don’t know
any of us, what happens then.
So I try not to miss anything.
I think, in my whole life, I have never missed
the full moon
or the slipper of its coming back.
Or, a kiss.
Well, yes, especially a kiss.

Mary Oliver

Monday, May 21, 2012

Words to live by

"May you be safe and free from fear.
May you be happy.
May you listen to and befriend your body.
May you live with ease in your heart."

Linda Heuertz, adapted from a Buddhist blessing 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A blue sky day

We had only been walking a few minutes, perhaps 10, when we heard the warning sound from the tracks running parallel to the road.  Then, with barely a sound, the northbound train sped by.  I glanced toward the tracks as the first train cars passed from our view, and spotted a dog running free, heading straight into the speeding passenger train.  No sound, just the sight.

As the last train car passed, a man approached from the opposite side, a leash dangling from his hand, his profile framed by the sweeping view of Puget Sound on a blue-sky morning.  Stepping with care and taking his time, he reached the still body and leaned over it, his hands touching, working at some careful task I could not see.  I was overcome by a need to help in some small way: does he need a phone, is the dog alive, does he need to know I witnessed the accident and share in his loss?

What I want to say is this: my emotions propelled me to put myself in danger, and though I was taking great care not to roll my ankle on the rocky shoulder of the tracks, I was on auto-pilot, moving fast to close the gap and connect with this man.  It never occured to me that what I was doing was dangerous, despite the fact that just moments earlier a train sped by with very little auditory warning.  "Ma'am, you need to get off the tracks!" a voice called, and when I replied to the railroad worker seated in his truck nearby, he admonished me further: "You saw what happened to the dog, didn't you?"  

That cinched it for me- the clear and present danger- and so I stepped away and waited for the man to approach, his hands occupied with the orange collar and matching leash.  He accepted my condolences and offer of a hug, but barely.  "He got out of his tether; we had him for a year- got him from the pound.  We gave him a chance."  Mementos in hand, he walked away.

I am certain this event shall stay with me for a very long time; perhaps the rest of my life.  And I trust that the lesson learned- to stay alert to my own safety and well-being despite the circumstances, will be the silver lining in this painful witness on a perfectly stunning spring day.


Friday, May 18, 2012

All in the family

My dear aunt Sue has a long history of many things worth celebrating, including, but not limited to, witty writing.  How could she not, given her wacky birth family and English professor career?  This week she penned this:
"I thank God I am part of the estrogen stream that makes up our family sisterhood. Tenderness, patience, organization, and the inherent knowledge of feelings and life matters (some call it wisdom) all constantly flowing. No matter where you drop your current troubled hook, you catch help and answers. Let the worm squirm.  In no time there will be an answer fish on your line."

Truth be told, my family has the lion's share of female role models.  All four women pictured here hold advanced degrees: three are highly regarded professors; one a chiropractor in our nation's capital. In addition to my biological family, the families I have membership in give me plenty to be proud about.  The latest inspiration comes from my church family, where this 9-person clan, headed by Anne and Amanda, have found permanent homes for seven children at long last.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Nature's Kaleidoscope

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

~ Mary Oliver 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The water under the bridge

Sometimes I awaken with an image or a clearly crafted sentence in my head.  Recently, it was the tattoo I would get around my left wrist if I were to get one, that is.  But this post is not about the tattoo. Today the message was a four-word phrase: "Water under the bridge."

I met a couple yesterday, one of whom is a breast cancer survivor; the other, newly diagnosed with testicular cancer.  It was she, not he, who, in casual conversation mentioned his diagnosis.  My ears perked.  A backstory was shared with both contributing, and part of what I heard was this: "I know the chemo room and the chemo chair and the whole routine 'cause I went through it with her.  Now it's my turn.  I wish I didn't know all that, but I do.  And I always thought if one of us has to go through cancer treatment, it's better that it be C, because she's the strong one."  Plenty to bear witness to, and frankly, it got me wondering about a plethora of things.

I had not previously considered how one person's experience with cancer might impact, for better or worse, the cancer experience of their partner when they too received that diagnosis.   I certainly have considered some of the ways our own experiences impact those around us, but I had not put much thought into how a couple, both with a cancer diagnosis (either concurrently or at different times), might help or hinder their respective journeys.

Addressing their different coping styles, R elaborated: "She's strong, stoic.  I'm known for my deadpan humor.  It drove her nuts when I'd say dumb stuff during her treatment and reconstruction phase, but it helped me cope.  It's how I am.  But the thing is, now she's the one resorting to sick jokes and poking fun.  She knows it's gonna help me."

There you have it: for better or worse, in sickness and in health; the willingness to enter into the moving water under the bridge, to splash around with our loved one in a common pool, and make our way downstream.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A good fit is a marvelous thing

We arrived at the lakeside restaurant from different starting points in our respective cars, both of us finding an ease in the presence of the other.  Seated around a table of 12, we passed food, lifted our glasses, and engaged in conversation for a few hours with people we knew and some we did not.  And then we drove home.

J: "I came away from that dinner with such gratitude that I am in a relationship with you, dear."
M: "And I was thinking the same thing."

Oh the wonder of it all!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Now we're talkin'!

Current: Clear
Wind: SW at 5 mph
Humidity: 82%
Mostly Sunny
59° | 37°
63° | 41°
73° | 46°
Mostly Sunny
77° | 48°

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Manual labor

Just as a merry heart doeth good like a medicine, so it is with a bit of writing, done daily, to ease what ails us.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A man and his calling

An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation.  Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that begging bowl to which the gift is drawn. 

Lewis Hyde from The Gift: Imagination and the Entire Life of Property  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May musings from Miss Delilah Lopez, AKA The Beast

Dear family,
Thank you for my window sill perch and for my fleece nest.  Thanks for letting me sleep on the bed with you too.  Really, a girl couldn't ask for much more, but let me say a few more things while I'm at the keyboard here.  Umm, purrrrrr.  Also, I love the sunny spots on the desk and the back porch and the attentiveness to my dietary fetishes.  You really are a thoughtful litter- I mean family.

Could you back off a little on the brushing and combing thing?  I don't mind the mats.  Otherwise, let me just close with life is good!  Purrrr.

Love, Del
P.S. (I never really saw the point in meowing.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Words and their doppelganger

My sister and I were talking today about different ways of knowing and understanding.  Our conversation touched on acknowledging our strengths and using those gifts to the best of our ability.  Mel knows I love words and tend to use writing as a means of clarifying and of making sense of things.  For her, using movement and engaging her body in a task serve a similar purpose.  She explained, "Sometimes I can't find the words to express what I mean.  For me, it's more important to know and live the thing than it is to find words to describe it."

I told her about this street I love to visit because there is a windchime that I can walk past that has a particularly evocative sound.  I mentioned that I go there on blustery days just to hear its sweet music, for it calls to me on a visceral level.  When I stood on the sidewalk today with eyes closed as the wind whipped my hair, the song stirred up feelings and brought my dear father to mind.  Tears fell and I stood still.