Friday, December 17, 2010
As I age I gain an understanding of that which I knew I knew as a kid. At 18 to late 20s I knew quite well what was right and wrong with the world. Or so I thought. And as I moved through that period and progressed toward the half-century mark, my rightness was assured by thought-- and not only that, but the feeling of youth and well-being did not seem to diminish, as I had observed happened to the generation of my parents when they were that age. Not that there were no trials or set-backs in accomplishment, career and relationships, but moving through the challenges seemed always assured and fulfillment was the proof of my right-mindedness.
That was then. And so much for that.
I now look back to my fifth decade and can judge that it was then that I started to realize perhaps that my mental progression may well have been flawed for most all my life. And now almost midway through my sixth, I not only am quite certain that it was, but that all my thought was, is and always will be of an imperfect nature. Furthermore, the thought, reasoning, rationale, deduction—whatever verbal moniker one would apply to the process—all self-directed, mental activity by everyone, everywhere and always does lack perfection. And that is such a relief.
I don't have to figure it out. I don't have to solve the problem. I do not have to have it all or be perfect now or ever. I am free. Free to do my best and accept the results of my efforts. And as well, to acknowledge and accept the same effort and giving to life by others. We are free.
I can now move on to progress by all processes of life. The material and mental tools have been my limits so far. Resources beyond these are now being discovered, explored and utilized. Life begins anew.
Now what? Why do I write this? What made me realize the flaws of the mind?
As I age, I gain understanding. But it is not by my own efforts. It is more by a letting go of efforts. I have worked myself into such a corner, such a box canyon, that there was no where else to go. I had to look at the absolute futility of the strife and competition to gain success and perfection in all areas of my life. Sitting in the corner of this room with no view, but the aged walls of staunchness, I can only stop and let go.
Expansion of consciousness is beyond the mind. I love this freedom.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
of ages lived and relived . . .
my lord, my mate
my master, my servant
my child, my mother
and worst foe
how do I know you?
do I know myself?
I've sought and I've found you
I've needed and nursed you
I've worshipped and cursed you
I've killed and been killed
by lance, by hand
and by heart
yet always an ember
still glowing still burning
restart the fire
of loving you always
you've loved me more
than I've loved myself
in this struggle, this search
and efforts so needy
the tenuous heart
wearing to polish
bright luster of soul
earth moon and sunset
starlit in gold
reflecting a love
lamp lit by the call
and caught by the sound
love song of soul searching
by love do I know you
and only by love
that I am.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
She said I was the first to be called. Five and a half months. I love my daughters, but O Boy!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Last month it was 40 years since I was welcomed into the Martini family.
The memories of holiday dinners, family get-togethers and shared vacations are the treasures of those years, and in my view, they all radiate from the loving heart and bright smile of Edna Martini. She constantly demonstrated the love that is the fabric of a strong family.
Over the years she gave us many tokens of that love. Some of them are: Her fried chicken, apple pie, and sandwiches for a trip. Her gifts of sewing and knitting, such as Marily's wedding gown, blankets for our newborn girls, and the hand-knit snow suits for Josi and Sarah when they were toddlers.
And she always sent a greeting card for every holiday and life event, well-embellished with her extra words of love in her hand of broad, curved letters that mimic her smile.
But the symbol of love I most welcomed has always been her person-to-person greeting with kiss and smile and genuine care.
Last Tuesday I talked by phone to Edna for the last time. Even then in her condition, the concern for me was apparent, as always. In her weak and minute voice she asked, “How is it going, dear?” This was the way she started most all her greetings.
She shared so much when she was with us. She knew that you can give love, but you can't give it away.
Nor can we take back what God has reclaimed in love and wisdom. So the richness of Edna's love is with us now and always as we remember it. Like a million dollar account, an interest of loving memories is ours always enriching our lives. Her smile, her kiss, the squeeze of my hand by hers. I cherish these always.
Thank you, Edna, for your gifts of love.
I was able to share this at her memorial service.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Slow down to know the gifts of life. Creative endeavor is like creation itself. Like the nature of a forest, the slow growth of a giant tree, shedding of leaf and limb through the seasons. Death and re-emergence of life. Deliberate changing of cover and color of foliage. The patience of flora, minute and massive, despite the skitter and fleet of fauna, the rush of storm and thought of mankind. There is always more time.
How long are the days of creation? Mountains rise and fall, as continents elbow for position. Earth turns. Sun gives its life as radiance, and Moon plies its pressure, exciting oceans and sky to tangle.
Go there. See it from the Starship. Know that we are not just our bodies. These are but the expression of earth and star and distant galaxy. Just as they too are ours. Slow to its pace, to the hour hand of the master clock. Stop. And tune to the tree, to the rock, to the mushroom. To the star. Know too, that all life, all substance and energy, is of the same Spirit. Because all is of one when you no longer look at life in parts. And when you look at life in parts, see the harmony in its working, in its movement, in its play. In rest. There is peace.
When Jane shared a mushroom with me, it was my first morel. The sharing of story and morsel inspired the poem below. Going to the place of verse's working helped me see the bigger picture.
Blessing by Morel
Sky white columns,
and canopy green.
Wooded floor in frond-soft tint.
Spring step on life-spent limb
and twig of feather, floral light.
I place cane chair in shade retreat.
Honor body, earth and soul.
Then call the roll: Just I and all
these other forms. They watch.
And leaving day of great detail
unwinding all, but be and feel.
Then sense love song surreal
in murmur and sweet scent.
Drawn to the place of soul's content.
Hear hour hand in season's pace.
A different race—
Far and wide, and traveling band
by caravan and star-lit ship.
No end in sight and sound so quick.
But then a pop or snap or click.
I'm kicked back through portal of
Slowly now, I reawake
to reacquaint myself to now.
And here. Somehow.
I breathe, and see anew.
Senses keen and sense of truth.
Color and light, in ambient hue.
Can trouble hide what isn't there?
Now circling my cane-back chair—
in silent toll, I count them—twelve!
Blest in soul and these morels.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
As a father, love for my daughters may approach that bond. I hope. Even loving them more than the conscious love for her. Guess I couldn't say it better than my best of past. What have I written in it's theme? Mother. Motherhood. Mothers Day.
I searched within this blog for the word Mother. One among them I'd like to share again.
Lonely Hours -- Two Recollections
The fist is mine written April 7, 1998:
I cannot remember it's start this time, but life is good for me. Times were good, and they were hard . . . I don't remember bad. There's a balance in its memory--playtime joy, fantasy adventure, even heartfelt hurt. I now treasure the hard times, for looking back, they're good.
I do recall at three, or four, or five years old, for sure. We walked the field, my sister and I, in sun, and flowers, and wind on wheat. We followed thistle and grasses wove in the fence--the rust-wire fence that led us post-by-post to the pasture furthest south and east from the house. In these two acres with the three oak trees, and bramble near the corner post outside the gate, the hours slipped by as we were blessed with bachelor button and dandelion--over the hill, down from the barn, by the creek.
We didn't hear Mom calling, or know her frantic search--or know why she shed tears upon our gift bouquets.
Nor did I understand my sobs, when later Mom would read the poem she wrote of this account: Lonely Hours. She read it many times to family and friends, and uncles and aunts. And never in that time, and to the age of reason, did I hear the poem without my heart being wrung and wrenched of tears. I'd often leave the room before its final lines. Or Mom would forewarn the reading, so I could retreat outside. But still within my heart, what was the pain I felt? Even in silence the oft repeated rhyme cried loudly for relief.
This morning I glanced at the portraits of my daughters on the wall. I paused and understood, as tears formed in my eyes. There is no shame in crying--for a mother's love. And no misunderstanding can hide a boy's heart from his mother, or his daughters' from their dad.
I wrote that piece after our daughters had left home already. At times someone would ask, Do you miss them? My answer is always: No. I love them. Same with my mother. I don't miss what lives in my heart.
Our girls are now about the age my mom was when she wrote of the above incident. Here is her poem:
My feet ache, still my heart is glad.
The small ones left; it made me sad.
I scolded them a while before
And all because they slammed the door.
It woke the baby and made him cry
And, oh, for peace so much longed I.
They asked me, then, what should they do?
I paid no heed. Before I knew
A silence rare fell all around --
Those little ones could not be found.
Perhaps they thought of what to do,
But where were they? If I just knew.
Oh, please, God, help and keep them safe
And I'll be good and never chafe
At little things they often do
And noise they make the whole day through.
I called and called -- no answer came.
I ran and ran 'til I was lame.
Down to the creek -- they were not there.
Where could they be, that tiny pair?
I called some more; the plane o'er head
Drowned out my voice. Oh, were they dead?
Up through the lane, top of the hill --
No children there, it was so still.
Hastening on farther away
Next through the field I made my way.
I called and called and called again --
Only the rustling of growing grain
Blown by the wind was all I heard.
Where was Mary? Where was Gerard?
I fear and hope I sped along,
Shies were clouding, the way was long.
Shading my eyes the better to see
Two objects small beneath a tree.
And there they were quite unconcerned,
Those two dear ones for whom I yearned,
Their tiny hands clenched with flowers
Gathered by them these lonely hours.
Thank God they're safe and I must weep.
Oh, happy heart, but aching feet! . . .
I have to say, I think mom's rendition is the better one. Another one of her poems can be read in my eulogy for her in August of 2006.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Song of Light
The earth this Spring.
Before the first buds open
And leaves emerge from sap-rich twig
There is the Light that anoints
This new awakening.
Though the solar scales are starting the tilt
To longer days
More the lilt of reverence in joy.
Of the blackbird claiming his swath of cattail marsh,
The first mourning dove reflecting in echoes of yesterday
And hoping again, for better days of sun.
More than the sun itself
And clouds reflecting
Lakes mirrored and rippled
This season’s light is of the heart—
The soul of living.
At first I saw it as a pink to golden glow
And a green more yellow than jade
But seeing directly now
My eyes deceived me.
Maybe from weakened mind—
No. Not even visual at all.
More the song of meadow lark.
A trickling spring in shadow.
The first touch
Of water-color brush
To cotton-fiber sheen
Complete the scene by artist eye.
The light, the life
And color this Spring.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
The shroud annointing now begins. Yesterday I put away my snow shovel for the warm season in Minnesota.
Earth glow illuminates
mist morning light on winter tree
still barren, stripped by storm.
In weeks new buds
and emerald shroud annoints
as spent members, broke,
accept the earth again as home.
Ligtht in seasons cycle
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Smiles on time step sprightly
Joy in words and girth
Later meek and lightly
Walks on soft-shoe lace
Then the campers follow
Face shades of red, sweat and tears
Comes the venue to me
Eat, love and pray.
the Book .
Driving west to Waconia, it is a vibrant day. A rare and dirty snowdrift
persists a few more days at most. Though it could snow again any day in
Minnesota. Sun catches a foilage-bare woodlot this early Spring day. Leaf-tan
and autumn tones pad their feet.
Shades of gray
rodent and reptile
and others still unseen
in trees vertically striped
and horizontal by the light
winter leaves a lot of life
yet to show
Friday, February 26, 2010
Dance, Flame! Shine!
Your fire is brighter this time.
Burnishing new images.
Protecting the peace of mind.
Past holidays have once more convened.
The hearth is the venue
Home-making the show.
The heat, comfort—
Sweet ambiance of kinship
Is the heart song uplifted.
Grandfather's cadence calls the clock
As the past reminds the present.
This is Love.
Reflection and glow.
As right satisfaction.
Rings true. Is love.
Is more than the writer's imagination.
More than the sleeper's dreaming.
All else doesn't matter.
Is Love. Shining.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Relax in the Call
Waves flatten to careen 'cross seashore sand
Sun, breeze and gulls insist
This day is blest
The call of Soul
It's getting close.
Yet there is still a foot and a half of snow in my yard and 5 degrees F as I write.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Like movies or TV drama and comedy, there are usually at least two stories. An A story and a B story. Real life is often more complicated. Sometimes it's more like A to Z.
A Love Story
. “Those who come in love, and love alone . . . “
It was a song, a funeral song. Just one line. I don't know the title, the tune, or any more of the words.
But it was the point of the story. A story of a fire, a dog, bravery and love. Regret and reconciliation of hearts.
. It was a cold and stormy night in Montana.
I heard the story in a previous encounter, but now another stranger was telling me more, giving me the details. Where do I start?
It's about healing hearts of those we love. And accepting the love of others.
We know but half the story – or even MUCH less. Our concerns are of today, tomorrow. Our regrets are of memories no longer relevant to us, yet the past is driving our lives. We are much more than our perception of ourselves. Unless we look and listen to the whole story.
I'll start here.
I was walking on our land in Montana with two friends, acquaintances really. We don't get out there too often. Maintaining friendship has waned over distance and time. The people, especially the ranchers, are good people, but close. Close to themselves. They stick to their own business, their families and close friends. Work is honest work, and all are expected to be of that same ethic. But they don't often open up fully to the casual acquaintance.
These two were doing work for me. As our time and schedules allowed, we worked together. Sometimes one, sometimes both. Projects these days linger on with all there is to juggle. Jobs, crops, livestock, family and other duties. Trips to town for parts or unexpected set-backs. There seems more of them lately and always at more expense to clock and pocket book.
But this day was a lazy day. We take it easy too. Sometimes we stop. We listen.
We were walking along the paddock fence toward the barn. The rancher's operation next to mine – a real ranch, not like my 20 acres – showed much more activity. His use of my barn during our absence was always curious to me. I trusted him, yet I didn't always agree with some of his commercial methods. But he was out to make a profit.
Looking into the calf pen at the west end of the barn, I saw a water spigot I had not seen before. With the Montana winters, this is something I would know about on my property, since the lines would have to be drained or protected three or four months of every year. I went over to see if they were operational. I went up a slight ramp to reach it. Water dribbled out when I turned the spigot. Good. I'm sure he knew better than I – the need for working equipment on the ranch. I trusted him and appreciated the steady, but small income he paid for the use of my barn and a few acres around it. A few hundred dollars a year was a sure thing. I was grateful for it.
At the top of the ramp near the door that lead to his farmyard was a wall ladder up to the loft. I couldn't help but to go up. I was surprised to see he wasn't using it for hay storage. Some old boards and windows, broken implement parts and lots of dust. These were left over from when he still owned my property. His new barn and the equipment shed was a ways off to the northeast, but its size still dwarfed my little run-down shed of a barn. Someday I hoped to fix it up. I could use some of the wood and windows in the loft.
Another glance around before going down showed a scooter, a kids toy – old metal and pretty rusted, but the red paint still predominated the finish. The tires of hard rubber were cracked and falling off the rims.
I was excited to see this antique, and from the top of the ladder reached across the floor to pull it closer.
But then as the dust started to rise between it and me, I stopped. My new friends wouldn't be interested. I could check it out later.
Back down the ladder, down the ramp, I joined Marc and Dale leaning on the wooden gate. We went through the barn. Dust on my sleeves and in my nose reminded me of the loft. Thoughts in my mind had me on another journey.
The old country store. I was in their back storage area once. Great old gear from the 20s and 30s, some even before the turn of the century. Some scales with their balance weights. An old hand truck and dolly. Big pulleys and gears and belts on an unused, parts-bare lift. Lots of dust.
We came in one day for some hardware and a sledge hammer when we first got back. Good to see some old faces and lots of new ones too, after being away for a couple years. The owners were different now, but still recognizable as old to the town. Lavina on the Musselshell River had generations of history with some of their names--Lefeldt and Harmon and Krause, to name a few. The country store carried every thing from food to fertilizer. You could come in for some ammo, go by the handcraft and gift racks on the way to the fridge case to pick out a cello sealed sandwich they'd microwave to eat on the way home.
This day when I went up to pay. There was a story. At first the two ladies talking in no particular emotion about Lander's long hours with his oil route—cool and not smiling. But as we came over with a smile and called Margaret by name, she lightened up. Not in a “Minnesota nice” way, but in one of recognition. Tourists and city folk from Billings or Helena would not illicit such response. But these people knew our girls when their boys were in high school and our two in first and third grade. Lavina School was a two-story brick building for first through twelfth grades. Ninety to a hundred students in any given year. Though the population of Lavina is about as high—kids and adults together—four buses brought kids in from the range land and crossroads still holding town names on the map.
Anyway, Margaret and Ella opened up a little and somehow told us about the fire. The family lost everything in the house. Norma and the young ones were living in town now—a trailer at the west edge.
Seems like every time we come back, there is a big tragedy or two. The store with “Clayton Mercantile” barely readable, last painted over red brick years ago, is the place for news. That, and the post office and cafe.
You can make a day of coming to Lavina, or you can drive through without stopping on the way to Billings. No light or stop sign. It's just four blocks long on Hwy 3—from the old Adams Hotel next to the railroad right-of-way, to the last house south, across from the shop at Roy's Conoco. Then it is just two green pastures to the river and milepost 45 to Billings and as many minutes. I use to drive it daily when I worked in town and lived in the Bull Mountains another 30 minutes from Lavina.
But back to our visit and the story. It's different now. The story has changed. The visits are different since my sister died in December of '07. Margaret's version was the first I heard. But I've heard several by now, and wonder if there is precision in anyone's tale.
Back in the barn am talking to the rancher's hired hand, Lenny, who came over when he saw me on the ramp. Marc and Dale are looking at the exposed wires on the light fixture and the switch box at the main door and writing up another parts list.
At first it was just greetings and talk of the herd, but then, unexpectedly he started in on some closer things. The fire was at his neighbors, just a couple houses down Spruce Rd from his. He knew the family well.
She was just scolding the dog like anyone would. It was a cold night, and barking in the house like that... She put him outside, ignoring his change of tactics from bark to growl, then submissive pandering.
But it was soon too late. He was back in the house when she first smelled the smoke. Bear ran straight up the stairs. There was screaming and barking and roaring and popping glass and crackle. She got all the kids out as a couple neighbors' pickups were flying into the yard. Danny didn't make it. And the dog. Old houses like that... there is always some fire trap.
She was beside herself now. Unforgiving of herself. The minister and her sister Carol could not console her. The funeral was the big town event. Suits and ties and ladies in hats. Red-scrubbed hands and polished boots—just a little mud up off the heels. Ranchers and townspeople. The organ music played. The closed casket. Not much to show in this story. The preacher told of the good deeds and life of Danny. He mentioned the dog—to another burst of sobs.
Then the music. The lyrics. “Those who come in love, and love alone...”
That was all. Both our faces were red with emotion. And the start of tears. We were interrupted and turned back to see Dale holding the electrical box at shoulder height, while Marc secured it with the chatter of an electrig drill.
The dream ended there and I was awake with the words. And the window to the hearts of many in my community of souls that I don't even know in my waking world.
But are they any less real? Is your “other” life real? Or just a fantasy playing out? Is your “real” life as rich? Are the writers of fiction tellers of truth?
Truth is on many levels, and there are stories on each. Our thoughts and dreams and our connections of heart the true value of community?
What IS real? Commerce and economy manipulated by global strategies for our own good--like it or not? People in wars pitted against each other by their leaders? The stories of media and agents of power?
True value is in our connections with each other. Our connections, our relations are not just commercial or financial or electronic, or even verbal. Connections of heart, of mind, of Soul--are the true measure of how we are doing. And it is better than is apparent. For it is by true connection that we realize a link to our true Source.
Those who come in love, and love alone are the real leaders in our communities. Keep what you value close to your heart. And radiate that well being to the universe. That radiance, that essence of spirit is true reality. It's not just what, or that we "knock on wood," but that these knuckles, this skin and bones, this flesh, is what I'm knocking around right now. Heart and Soul and recognition of that--is what drives human connection -- divine connection. True connection is on a level above our possessions and our physical being and all schemes of contrivance.
What's real is what's within. We can see it through the eyes--the windows to Soul. We can touch the hearts of others when we recognize the unique nature of our universal bond. It is Love.
Keep it close. And open to the possibilities of inner being. We live there all the time, and come over to our day-to-day world. Consider night-to-night as well. It's not always cold and dark.
There are many stories of my life.
When I first wrote the above story of love and recognition, it was in my journal -- 23 pages in two and a half hours. Story was coming from several directions.
1. The dream I had just awoken from with the line in the song: Those who come from love, and love alone;
2. Another dream remembered within that dream. Its setting was the same and the story of the fire was first told to me there;
3. The memory of our life and time on our land in Montana and the community of people there; 4. The thoughts and realizations of human and divine connection over the past few weeks as I pondered the spiritual reality; and
5. The characters and drama of creative muse being dictated in the moment.
Story bathes me in possibility. How many stories make up the book of our lives? How many lessons? And who is the Teacher?
Friday, January 01, 2010
Today is the first day in a new era of thought for me.
During this past year in my duties at work I started entering dates of 2010 as due dates for certain objectives. It wasn't till then that it dawned on me: The year 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar will soon be upon us. What then? Will the world end in the way science says it started? The drama and chaos of human reaction, environmental upheaval, warfare and the fireworks of a final big bang are the substance of popular movies. But how do we adjust our lives in light of future possibilities and the consequences of past action?
We can proceed in one of two ways:
--We can do something to better the possibilities; or
--We can let fate take its course and continue in our day-to-day regimen of survival.
If the Mayan calendar is our guide we have two years to prepare and make the most of our lives till it's over.
But then again, every day, every year we have that same opportunity. I know my life will end -- sooner or later. Why not live it wisely and richly to its conclusion? This is the time of resolution. Do we fix our resolve to the calendar or clock? And if we fall short of our goals, at what point do we regroup with new conviction?
We live in a world of cycles, a world of opposites. There are always ups and downs. Periods of plenty and scarcity. When we recognize our orientation in this world -- balance, or self-righting is possible. Understanding the process of change and the laws of cause and effect helps us maintain or regain a state of balance through the challenges of life. I choose to create my world with the resources and choices available. And the only limits are what I accept.
I have had some significant realizations for myself over the past few weeks of holiday interaction and welcoming of the new year. One thing I love about this season is getting together with friends and family, some of whom we don't see very often, sharing food and gifts and love and viewpoints so often not considered during our work-a-day routines. We are creatures of habit, and opening our hearts to the love and lives of others helps us adjust our own concepts and rules of living. Greetings shared by cards and letter, phone calls or on-line are equally cherished. Though, over time we gave up trying to send out cards every year, it is with love and appreciation that we read the ones received, grateful for the time and effort spent in remembering us. I commend all who write a personal note or call each year. Your contribution to my awareness helps me grow.
My realizations are not necessarily new, but their significance seems more applicable for me right now. Always:
- Love is what matters most. No matter what differences we have in beliefs or lifestyle or possessions, the connection of heart is above all else most precious.
- We love to share and share best what we love. There are many good people ready and willing to share their skills and time and resources.
- There are levels of reality beyond what the mind can define or identify. Conventions of science and society are both limiting, yet liberating when their limits are understood.
- We have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our thoughts and actions direct the quality and maintenance of these rights.
- Value is not in our resources, but in how we use them.
- Gratitude and generosity assure continued gifts of life.
With these, I know that this year and the future will bring much opportunity. When the artificial systems of man, like government and monetary structure fail us, our resourcefulness in small community will assure survival and even thriving after a period of adjustment.
I believe we exist because of a supreme design of love and rightness. And that we progress when we operate by that design. I choose to thrive by sharing in the collective efforts of all who recognize that what we give returns to us many times. I look forward to sharing good fortune with you as we have the opportunity. And we all have the same advantage with those close to us.
Love is what matters most. All else adds or subtracts from that.