Our dear Susan is resting quietly in the ICU at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. Yesterday she underwent open-heart surgery for Mitral Valve Repair, and although the repair went very well, she has had some complications that were entirely unexpected. The short version, without getting all medical on all of you is that her right ventricle is not working properly and the surgeons placed an assistive device in her heart until her RV can “wake up” and work smoothly with the rest of her heart. The left side of her heart is functioning well and her vital signs are good. Last night she had a bleed due to a mechanical failure of the assistive device, so it was surgically taken care of in the ICU. The rest of her night was restful and uneventful, exactly what she needs for her heart to heal. She is being kept sedated in the ICU to allow her heart to rest and recover.As time goes by, and when Susan is expecting to return home, we will be posting requests for assistance from you, her loving community. There will be a way in which you can be in service and that fulfills your path. For the moment, the “what you can do” is to be mindful and prayerful for Susan’s wellness and healing, and for the benefit of all beings.Blessings to you, and to the entire community of love and light surrounding our dear sister, Susan.
I 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)
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.
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.”
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.
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”.
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.
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?
**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?”
So, it AIN’T diet and exercise, folks. Not in the way we’ve BEEN TRAINED to think about it. A calorie is NOT a calorie is NOT a calorie. Please read the above article for your health’s sake … we ALL need to be aware of this. Not that all of us are overweight (but most of us are, sadly) yet it’s a good bit of information to have for a lifetime of good health.
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:
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
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
I used to write poetry. Or so I thought. Mostly I wrote whatever poured out of my brain onto paper when I was miserable, distraught, depressed. I suppose you could say I wrote “blue poetry”. (I made that up, by the way.) I didn’t show it to many people. Too depressing, I said. Too brutal, I thought. Really it was just too vulnerable to share with anyone. Most of it I haven’t even reread for myself.
I would work, and work, and work a poem. Drive it into my paper, into my notebooks … and out of my head. I think it was cathartic for me. I helped me to heal. It gave me an outlet for thought-trains that otherwise scared me to death. Getting those narrow-tumble-down-wildly spiraling thoughts onto paper was a way to finally, finally stop the spiraling. To quiet my mind. And, ultimately, to embrace the moment of “what is” rather than wallowing in the many moments of “what isn’t”.
I’m not depressed anymore. Not anxious. The PTSD has quieted and no longer raises its fearsome head in the middle of my sleep with night terrors. It was a journey out of darkness. I had help. Sometimes I had no help. Wonderful help, terrible help, knock-in-the-head with a 2×4 help, gentle, caring, compassionate help. I looked everywhere for the way out; mostly hitting brick walls. Until I made a decision. To not be depressed anymore. That’s all. I’ll write about that one day.
So, what to write about? The melodrama of my life has become mostly “mellow-drama” (thanks to Ram Dass for the phrase). There is a lot of “no big deal” going on with me. I’ve “retired” (more on that, too), which is really to say I’m redefining. Redefining what’s important, what needs to be “on top” for me. It matters that how I live my life is a benefit to others in some way. It occurs to me that has always mattered for me but I don’t think I knew it viscerally the way I know it now.
So, we’ll just see. There will be reflection; presencing the moment; commentary; poetry; themed and themeless writings. Mostly I just write about what I think. After all, what else is there to do?
Oh, the title “False Cypress”? That’s the name given to a shrub that looks like a cypress but for whatever botanical reasons is NOT a cypress plant. It’s a beautiful shrub. Sometimes we give a name to something in our lives as though it were real. That gives it beauty, value, and worth. But isn’t everything actually a “false cypress”?