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Everything Leans

A couple of weeks ago, on short notice and somewhat of a whim, I hastily packed, got in my car and met my brother, Brian, in Harrisburg, PA, where we then traveled together for a wonderful trip to Asheville, NC. He is a beekeeper (among other vocations) and needed to pick up six “nukes” of bees to refresh his own colonies. The adventure was ON!
We were both due for some R&R … I was ill with a kidney infection, and he simply needed to rejuvenate and restore. We chose the “long way” by driving all the way to Asheville down the Blue Ridge Parkway … a glorious trip every mile. We stayed in some funky motels, ate in country restaurants, and feasted all of our senses on the full glory of Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was an easy, casual, unhurried trip … and we got to spend some truly special time together. Brian got his bees, I got to visit with a dear, long-time friend for several days, and we both got the healing and rest we needed. The return trip was “abuzz” with the bees in the back of the van, and us enjoying the sweet smell of honey and beeswax the whole trip back. Back in Harrisburg, where I had left my car, we each chose our separate routes for the final legs of our trip, sad to be parting, but satisfied we had spent such a rich and joyous time together.

Our first “destination” was Montecello, VA, Jefferson’s home and retreat both before, during, and after his time in service to the budding Nation.
We got on The Blue Ridge Parkway at it’s uppermost entry point, in Waynesboro, VA, not far from Montecello.

Hidden falls along the way.
We discovered so many “secrets” and hidden treasures along the way, just by walking down a few trails and listening for what was next.

Flaming azaleas.
So many flowering plants this time of year … and hardly a car in view. Sometimes we drove for hours without seeing another vehicle … and after Memorial Day it will be a mob along the BRP. We couldn’t have done this at a better time of year.

Rhodies, near the end of their season in the Blue Ridge.

The Blue Ridge Mountains.
We stopped or slowed down at so many of the “viewpoints”, it’s no wonder it took us nearly 2 1/2 days to drive from Monticello to Asheville (only an 8-9 hour drive on the SuperSlab roads)

A restored mill along the Blue Ridge. At one time is was a gristmill, sawmill, and supplied power for other machinery. There was also a blacksmith shop and wheel works shop. And all of this was run by a husband and wife, with little assistance from anyone else.
Brian and I could both see him as a master carpenter working in a mill like this. Who knows, perhaps he did in some other lifetime?

The best small-town restaurant the whole trip! Fresh eggs, organic veggies, homemade sausage.
The folks that owned this wonderful restaurant, Cristina’s, owned a small family farm and have the restaurant to supplement the farm’s income. Family Farms are making a comeback in some of the rural areas, but it’s a long road and incredibly hard work to make it financially feasible. If you can support local farms in your area, make it your mission to buy from them during the growing season.Just

Simply stunning.

Yes, that’s really a van full of bees! Sweet girls with their queens, ready to go to work when they reach RI. Mmmmm … the scent is wonderful. Honey and beeswax. Made my mouth water all the way.
And now, just this week (Wednesday), Brian suffered a significant heart attack and will be needing a triple bypass to restore his health. We both could not be more grateful for the journey we were given. Of course, we expect a full recovery, and Brian looks forward to a full and rich life in the years to come. And we both know “things happen” … that we don’t plan on, that we don’t “expect”. What we do know, and acknowledge, is that every moment is a gift, and if you are waiting for “later” for some moment in your life to connect with the people you love … well, “later” is NOW, and THIS is the moment to do it … because that moment, that “later” moment, may never come.

Brian, looking at new vistas, where ever they may be found.
[If any of you know my brother, Brian, we have started a Caring Bridge website for updates and status. If you would like to receive updates, please go to and search on Brian’s name, Brian Fiske, or click this link for Beetle’s Beehive Buzz.

Everything leans.

From the Past continuing forward …

compassionI wrote this poem following the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in December of 2012. Although it is very specific to that event, it can be extrapolated to apply to the difficult times that arise day to day in our own time-frame … in our own lives. I may re-work the wording to update the thoughts … or leave it as is …

Finding equilibrium : On Sandy Hook

On Sandy Hook

( written 12/16/12)

Oh, beloveds,

where is the container for my grief?

I have no beautiful earthenware jar

in which to delicately place the fragile achings of my heart.

I have no shelf at the ready for storing such tragedy.

No door to close secreting away my tears and wailings.

Oh, beloveds,

        I am left to tend these woundings with my soul’s dear care.

Peaceful equilibrium begins to wrap gentle arms around me

         Saying, “All is complete, love knows no boundaries.

        Hatred will bind you; anger will destroy your will.

        Compassion for all, not just for some, is your freedom now.”

Oh, beloveds,

        would you think me a mad-woman

        knowing my first thoughts are to love the madman,

                to feel deep compassion for the depth of his pain,

his anguish, his terror?

Who exists in the cold hell of his own creations;

Absent of love, or joy, or contentment.    

Would you think me lost in my own delusions

                Knowing my heart aches most deeply for his family

                Who will be shunned, and rejected, and accused.

                Who will be as hated as he; subjected to the trial

                        of public opinion.

There will be no respite for his beloveds.

        No loving outreach.

My grief is deep for such as this.

Oh, beloveds,

        Would you think me unkind?

Knowing I turn my heart to the children and their beloveds

                only after I have given my prayers for the madman and his family?

        The children, their families, are held in the gentle care

of a world distraught by those losses.

A loving world that holds in their hearts a sacred space for healing,

a community of souls that eases the path of transition

         from “before” to the “eternal now”. 

Oh, beloveds,

        My compassion is not “more” or “less”, only fully encompassing.

        For within the act of the madman

                Am I not torn apart to release my compassionate depth?

                Am I not drawn to love, for no reason, those I do not know?

                Am I not humbled to my knees in deep gratitude

 for the fragile gift of this one precious life I am given?     

Is this not the time, the only time I have among thousands,

to fully open my heart to the abundant All of humanity?

        I seek a quiet peace in the midst of the chaos and horror

                 by residing in the absolute emptiness of pure Love.

It is only in opening to compassion for both the madman and the children

                that I may find my own peace in living,

to not be crushed by the weight of it all.

Oh, my beloveds,

        such is the container for my grief.


Kathryn Fiske


If Not Now, When?

don't wait, do it now

To address today’s current “TOPIC OF THE DAY” on Facebook: SUPREME COURT DECISION allowing Hobby Lobby and three other plaintiffs to deny certain birth control coverage to their employees. To be clear, it is not ALL birth control that is being denied, but abortifacients and abortion related services. The “birth control pill” is not included.

I don’t agree with Hobby Lobby’s point of view, AND “they” are not the problem. Like it or not, they have the “right”, as do you and I and any other entity, to bring our grievances into the legal system. Just because the outcome doesn’t “go our way” doesn’t mean the system has failed us.

It worked exactly as WE HAVE DESIGNED IT TO BE**[see below]. It was our Supreme Court that made the decision. What we must continue to do is to express our willingness to include all beings in our sphere of acceptance, even those with whom we do not agree, and then take action to generate a different, more meaningful, and compassionate outcome. Otherwise, we are simply on the other side of the same proverbial coin. Just another voice talking into the wind.

This does not mean that we don’t express our outrage at what seems inappropriate, unjust, and inhumane. What we seek is effective communication about what is and is not working, and employ actions that might actually create an altered outcome to the benefit of all involved. Blowing off steam, using the language of hate, posting angry expletives only increases the distance within our culture. It’s an “us vs. them” mentality, and that has NEVER created lasting change that works for the good of all.

Boycotting Hobby Lobby won’t change the political leanings of the Supreme Court – and could bring undue harm to their employees. We should not choose to be part of that possible chain of events, if we are who we say we are. The women, and wives of the men, that work for Hobby Lobby have just been denied full access to health care–as will the employees of any other similarly structured corporation (I just want to note that this is NOT the fault of the ACA, aka “Obamacare”, as ALL insurance companies within the available health exchanges MUST cover birth control). Effective boycotting, truly effective boycotting, would cost the company money that could lead to a loss of jobs, denial of pay raises, and other benefits now provided to the employees. Are we willing, in our self-righteousness, to be a lynchpin for those possible ramifications? Would that be compassionate action for all concerned?

And, as important, it wouldn’t change a thing. It’s not up to Hobby Lobby to make the change, nor would it be in their interests. That lies solely within the purview of the Court, and that is where, if you really want to make a difference, you may have some power. Take action! Real action! Support causes that want to bring the decision up for appeal. It may take years to get the decision reviewed, but major decisions like this get reviewed all the time. Find the places on the Internet where this is happening, and get busy and spread the word! That is where Facebook (and other social media sites) can be a real tool for change The ruling leaves open the option for the Federal Government to pay for birth control if a woman’s health insurance will not. When that comes up for a vote, and it will, get involved. Be the change you wish to see (Gandhi). If you truly are invested in a different outcome, it will take a different course of action. Simply posting “I don’t like it” posting on Facebook is not likely to do any more than make you feel like they “did something” when actually nothing got handled. What’s your stake in this game, and what are you willing to do to make it different? Does it REALLY matter to you? Or, are you just pissed at the thought of the Court’s decision, you’ve voiced your annoyance on Facebook or Twitter, and now life goes on as usual?

Your call.

**One could argue this point in that the way the higher court is currently structured is far off center from the intentions of our Constitution’s designers. Originally the Supreme Court was to be free from political/partisan interpretations, and be a neutral “middle of the road” place where decisions were made according to the Constitution’s included clauses, amendments, and dictates. It was not intended to be “open to interpretation” by political influence. However, we are a nation of sentient human beings, and as such we are not exempt from our leanings and beliefs about how it “should be”, and the members of the Supreme Court have been selected accordingly. When someone is chosen to serve that reflects our particular political proclivities, we cheer. When s/he is from an opposing perspective, we jeer. Hence, the heavily divisive and partisan Court we now have. The question remains, “Is it working for us?”

Preparing for Retreat


I’m going on a retreat soon, lead a wonderful and very animated Buddhist teacher, Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel (her book is The Power of an Open Question). This is not a silent retreat (many that I attend are in full silence), and it is not residential. I will go home every evening, and return in the morning. It’s an interesting process to go in and out, in and out. And it affords the opportunity to observe how I shift in awareness throughout the process; awakening to a larger possibility of focused intention regardless of where I am.

I have read David Whyte’s poetry for many years now. His words never cease to inspire me, to encourage me dig more deeply into my soul and discover what is “real” for me as opposed to what I’ve simply “invented” about my life. This particular quote was featured in a blog I came across, and, one more time, it catches my breath and quiets the busy-ness inside. It is the perfect reflection upon which to enter retreat.

The text of his full poem, Sweet Darkness is below:

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

 — David Whyte
from The House of Belonging 
©1996 Many Rivers Press