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Friday, November 28, 2014

First Love

The first sweetheart that I can remember having an impact on me came into my life when I was 13. We lived near the Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in Virginia. I accompanied my parents to the home of one of Dad's Navy pals and his family who had a son named Skip. To this day I don't know if that was a nickname and can't recall his last name, but that evening over a nice meal cooked by his Mother, and amid happy family banter, we became instant friends. To my eyes he was the most handsome boy I'd ever seen, with black hair, deep blue eyes and a brilliant smile!

After the meal was finished, Skip and I migrated away from the adults and with a surprising lack of awkwardness began our inquiries into our likes and interests. Never before had a boy paid much attention to this skinny, fuzzy haired girl and I couldn't help wondering if his interest was just the politeness one shows to a guest in their home. For hours after we returned to our home and I was snug in my own room, I rehashed the events and the giddy feelings of the night, harboring the desire of my heart that we would meet again.

We had no telephone in our home at that time and the only means for Skip and I to stay in touch was through the mail, so we had exchanged addresses. Our schools were in different districts and even though I begged Dad to have a telephone installed he kept putting it off. Perhaps he thought keeping a phone out of the equation would be the cause of our relationship fading away. He didn't know nor did he believe in the extent of our devotion to stay in touch, and only a few days later I got my first letter from Skip. Reading his sweet words of friendship in the fortress that was my room, made my spirits soar to heights never experienced before and immediately a plan was born. Remembering that just a block down the street from our apartment was a telephone booth, I quickly put on my coat,slipped out of the house and walked breathlessly down the sidewalk where I jotted down the telephone number of that pay phone! Then, returning to the warmth of my room, composed an answer to his letter and asked him to call me at a certain time in the evening at that phone booth where I promised to be be waiting for his call. Those next few days in anticipation found me, every evening at the time specified, shivering in the cold, standing in that telephone booth. Calculating that it would take my letter at least three days to reach my new friend, but not being certain, there was no way that I was going to miss that call, and on every trip down that sidewalk, there was always a nagging dread that there would be someone else in the booth. Magically it seemed, and much to my relief there was never anyone else there.

On the third day as I stood in that cold and stinking telephone booth, holding my breath, the phone jangled and it's sound was so loud that it made me jump out of my skin! Letting it ring a number of times so I could pretend not to care that my much awaited call was at last coming through, I grabbed the receiver and almost dropped it from shaking hands. “Hello?” “Hello back!” was his happy reply.

Every evening after that first call, come chilling, harsh winds, freezing temperatures or the embarrassment of huddling and shivering in that booth, Skip and I created our own reality with our words through the receivers as our paint brushes, and the rest of the world outside vanished for the long hours we spent there.

Then came the day that he told me he was going to make arrangements to take the bus the next Saturday to come visit with me. He had saved for the bus fare. I was in heaven. After what seemed like ages since that first and only meeting, Skip was taking the bus to my house. I was worried that my Parents would say he couldn't come but much to my relief they consented.

Skip arrived early on a brilliantly sunny Autumn Saturday. Not wishing to sit all day in the house under the gaze of my parents we decided to take a long walk in the woods down from our apartment building.

Today, as I sat at my window watching the wind toss dead leaves around the lawn, the memory of that walk in the woods with Skip came flooding into focus. The sounds of the deep leaves in those woods as they scrunched beneath our feet is a memory that is so close it seems like it happened just yesterday. Shuffling with our feet through those ankle deep, dried leaves, holding hands, quiet with our thoughts and feelings, we occasionally stopped to just look up through bare branches at a cloudless, blue November sky. And then, with our fingers still laced together, he leaned down to kiss me! It was a soft, shy kiss, filled with promise and stirred my heart to fluttering. It was my very first kiss and everything that I had previously in my daydreams thought a kiss should be, it was! I don't recall how long we stayed in those woods, but I do remember that later that evening he had to take his bus ride back home. There were many more days of our secret meetings in my phone booth and even another Saturday afternoon when we had a movie date, driven and picked back up again by his Mother.
That time spent in sweet bliss with Skip talking with me on the phone is a memory that has never been too distant to recall from time to time when the late November winds whip up the fallen leaves sending them them twisting and dancing through the brisk air.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Leaving The Room

The room is stark and empty, with only one wooden, straight backed chair where you sit in silence, waiting. But the room hasn't always been empty. When you first came here, it was aglow with the soft light of love. The room was once filled with beautiful artwork, paintings of wild storm tossed seas brilliant sunsets, dappled forests and steams and of some sun drenched deserted beach marked with the trail made in the smooth sand of a boat being dragged across it, only to disappear into the curling, foaming waves. There were sculptors of dancing lovers, and of birds in flight. Shelves lined the walls filled with books telling of a love story. The stories recorded every tender word spoken from loving lips. They told of every soft embrace, every heart felt declaration, every musical note created with the delight of two lovers. Yes this room once rang with laughter and joy. Now that laughter is absorbed into the walls and as you continue to speak your words of love, they merely echo back to you, piercing your heart with every syllable.

The fountains of joy, have evaporated though time, the gardens of whispered delights have withered. And the sweepers and dusters have come while you've been focused on the hope of your future together, and have cleaned the remnants of your hopes away, and you have only now noticed. You have only now noticed that you are all alone, left with nothing but memories. Your voice, your love your yearning, reaches no farther than the empty walls around you.

How long have you been sitting here with your hands quietly folded on your lap, barely breathing and squinting with your eyes trying to see his form appear in the doorway? When did the love he gave so freely and poured so lavishly on you, turn to just the occasional crumb to keep you in this room. That kept you from walking out that door you see on the opposite wall. The door that has always been there but that you didn't see until the room was emptied?

It is a door isn't it. It's color the same stark white as the wall that frames it. The only thing that sets it apart from the room are the rusty hinges and doorknob. You stare at it for a long time, frozen with wonder as to what lies beyond it. Could there be life and freedom outside this room? You certainly were happy here. You had dreams and expectations for a time in this room. Those dreams and expectations left with each painting, each sculptor each volume each musical note that have vanished from the room almost without your notice. Now it's only you sitting in your lone chair, staring at that door.

There is no reason to stay. No longer a reason to wait. You rise slowly from your chair and move with hesitant feet toward the door. Before you realize you've even gained an inch, you stand with outstretched hand and take hold of the rusting knob. It doesn't turn with ease but is that because of the condition of the doorknob or your own reluctance? You hear a soft click, and a thin beam of brilliant light pierces through the cracked open edge. As you open the door wider, your eyes behold the most beautiful garden you've ever seen. Trees and flowering bushes line a pebbled path, wet with dew and sparkling like diamonds as the sun paints each drop with the colors of the rainbow. Birds sing a symphony in tune with a fountain in the small courtyard carpeted with wildflowers. Leaves suddenly start a dance with the breeze.

You take a deep breath and turning to look back into your empty room, you remember when it was full of the life the two of you had given it. You know that it's time to close the door to that life because one of you left it long ago. One of you gave up on the dream. One of you might drop in one day and find you gone and you wonder if he will question why. Then slowly turning to quietly close the door for the last time, you listen for that final click of the latch and begin the walk in your own garden.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To Cover Or Not To Cover

During a chat I had online with a Muslim man, the subject came up about why Muslim women wear the Hijab and the Niqab. Of course I know it's part of their religious belief and I do believe that most Muslim women who wear these traditional coverings, wear them willingly. Some I have heard, say that they feel liberated when they cover themselves. That is all well and good if they believe that.

In my mind though, I believe it is born of the same mind set as we see here in the Western world that has created a culture where women are subject to men. After all, in the Christian tradition women are taught to be subject to their husbands. Here are some examples from scripture where we are told how women and men are to think of themselves.

Genesis 316
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

And in Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

And again in 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

There are many more examples in the Christian bible that I can show here to point out the fact that both men and women have been taught by the hierarchy of the church that in order to make certain that they remain in God's good graces, that men are in charge. Under God of course. Women are just not on the same level as their male counterparts.

The Muslim man I was chatting with explained his view from his religious standpoint of why he thinks it's a beautiful thing for Muslim women to be chaste and pure out in public and to cover their bodies from view by men other than their own husbands because if they flaunt their uncovered hair or their uncovered bodies they are inviting rape. Yes he actually said that to me.

I was amused. And so I mentioned to him that in this kind of belief system they are putting the responsibility for a woman's rape entirely on her shoulders. That this is a belief system that tells men they cannot control their own desires. I also asked him to consider the number of women in his culture who are covered from head to toe and still suffer rape. This he passed off with the comment that perhaps the Niqab was much to “clingy” to her body, thus showing the body's form, thus tempting the man to lust and therefore rape.

If this mindset were not so very similar to the mindset in the Western world where I live hadn't sounded so hilarious I would have become angry. But I didn't get angry with him for his stubborn tunnel vision on this subject. Because no matter how many times during our conversation I pointed to the fact that it's not a woman's responsibility to control a man's reactions or impulses toward her, he just wasn't getting the point. In his mind this tradition is a beautiful thing.

In my tradition it's not a beautiful thing because I do not and will not accept the responsibility to police every man I meet as I walk down the street. Wondering to myself constantly if I am too provocative, am I dressed in something that is going to invite lust in the mind of every man I see. If he does, then it's his issue to deal with accordingly, not mine!

So this thought occurred to me after that conversation. What if I turn the tables on the men I meet? I mean I do see great looking men sometimes that cause me to start to fantasize about having hot sex with him. According to religious teachings it's a sin for me to even have those thoughts. Both in the Christian tradition and the Muslim. Probably Jewish tradition as well.

So to keep me safe from sin, I think I will insist that all men cover themselves. After all women can lust just as much as men do.

And if I marry again, I will insist that every time my husband goes in public that he wear a paper bag over his head and a long trench coat. After all he's mine and he's hot and other women he meets have to be protected from the sin of lust and the temptation to approach him with a proposition to be unfaithful to me. Wouldn't that save some marriages from divorce! So these crazy, weak, lustful women who are ogling my man won't even look at a man walking round with a paper bad over his head and wearing a trench coat!

Yes I know it's the silliest idea ever dreamed up. But so are all the ideas that the religious dogmas purport. Let's just end religion once and for all and start thinking for ourselves. Let's stop being such sheep and drop all the pretense at piety. And be the creative, free people we were always meant to be.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Daddy's Pink Shoes

(A fictitious story about a fictitious Dad and a pair of fictitious pink slippers)

When I was a little girl, My Daddy was my hero. He would wake me every morning with a song and a soft kiss on the top of my head. As I opened heavy lidded eyes, his smile was the first ray of sunshine I'd see. He made my days begin with perfection and at night, his bedtime stories and gentle tucks to my bed covers, sent me off to dreamland feeling secure and greatly loved. My Daddy never once made me feel he didn't have time for me. He would always stop what he was doing whenever I would come into the room to ask him to tie a shoelace or find a hiding kitten, or help me ride my bicycle.

I recall once when it was just days away from my sixth birthday, My Daddy asked me for a date. My Daddy wanted to take me out to a fancy dinner and a movie of my choice. With great anticipatory joy at this request, I asked my Mother to take me shopping to buy a special dress to wear on my date with my Daddy. As we shopped from store to store, wanting to pick out the perfect outfit, I saw a display of shoes. “Mommy,” I quipped. “I want to buy Daddy a pair of new shoes that he can wear on our date.” Mamma thought that was a great idea and took my hand in hers to walk us to the men's shoe rack. “No, wait!” I pleaded. “I already see what shoes Daddy needs, right here.” My eyes had fallen to a pair of ladies pink slippers. They were smooth satin and were a soft pink color.
“But my dear, those might not come in your Daddy's size.” My Mother was and still is a very wise and diplomatic woman. “Please ask if they can, because I want my Daddy to have the prettiest shoes here.”

And so Mother asked the clerk to please see if she could find this shoe in a size 11 and a 1/2. Much to my delight she came back from the storeroom with a box of size 11 and a 1/2 pink slippers.

The next few days seemed to drag on as I looked forward to a date with my Daddy. When that day arrived we both performed our own separate rituals getting dressed. Of course I was late putting on my final touches of just the right ribbon for my hair and finally adding the strand of pearls my Mother was letting me borrow. I went to present myself for approval to my Daddy but he was not in the house. My bewilderment was short lived though, because our front doorbell rang and when I answered it was my Daddy, dressed in his best suit, his big wide smile and his pink shoes!

If any one noticed in the restaurant or the movie theater that my Daddy was wearing pink slippers with a business suit, I didn't notice. The only thing in my focus that evening was that my Daddy as always was putting my wishes, and my fantasies first on his agenda.

Through the years, my Daddy's pink slippers are always someplace around the house. Sometimes at the foot of his bed, other times by the back kitchen door. Other times when my husband and children would visit my parents, my Daddy would make sure he had on his pick slippers. Even though they became worn and scuffed with stains embedded from his working out in his garden, those shoes remained a big part of my Daddy's life and of his routine.

My Daddy passed away last week and when my Mother and I were going through his clothes to see what might be appropriate to dress him in for his last goodbye to his loving family, my Mother said to me, “You know, I think your Dad would love to wear his pink slippers.” And so we sent my Daddy on his last journey in his famous pink slippers. I'm certain the angels were envious when they saw him.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


My Mother has been getting progressively more fragile ever since last October. When I returned from my three month stay in Spain, I found her so changed from the Mother that I had left in September that I've had a great deal of difficulty adjusting my thoughts and my feelings over our changing rolls. She is no longer the Mother who taught me about life, who talked me through every difficulty of my childhood, my Motherhood, my marriage. She is no longer the Mother who laughed with me, who took care of my hurt feelings, who's feet I would sit at for hours listening to her share with me her wisdom, her joys, her own childhood stories.

I am now finding myself tending to the simplest of tasks for her that she used to so independantly take care of on her own.
When I returned from yet another trip away from home, for just one week, my spirit wrestled with my anger over the new position I was finding myself in. Anger that I didn't understand. Anger that left me feeling guilty because I couldn't understand it.
And so I went to my Crone alter. I lit candles. I saged the alter, I saged my staff, all the while remembering my ceremony, the symbolic saying goodbye to the Maiden and the Mother and welcoming my new rite of passage as The Crone, the Wise Woman. I needed that wisdom now to help me understand where my anger was coming from. Why was I angry with my Mother for simply growing old and feeble? I called upon the wisdom of all my Sisters, present and past to give me an answer.

As I sat watching the smoke curl upward from the sage, and while I watched the dancing of the candles, and as I held my staff, these words came whispering to my heart.

"Anger is but a signal that tells you, a need is not being met. That need is coming from the child in you that doesn't want to be abandoned, that is afraid of losing her Mother. You are no longer that child who needs a Mother's nurturing, a Mother's strong arms protecting you from life's dangers. You are the Wise Woman now and the things your Mother is experiencing is HER experience. It 's her time to choose how she will live out her last days. You and your Mother may have agreed in a previous realm to live this experience together now. She experiencing the pain, experiencing the moments of confusion, experiencing her decline, you standing by as her compainion to help her over the rough spots, to love her unconditionally and remind her that everything will be ok, that everything is as it should be. You must remember that these are her experiences and hers alone. It is not your reponsibility to try and fix what you cannot fix for her. It is only up to you to love her and to be gentle with her and to let her experience this time as she has determined she will experience it."

That is what the whispers from the Women of Wisdom said to me.

So my Mother and I will be companions in this experience and I can let the anger go because it was only a signal. Now that I have identified why it came to me, there is no longer the need to fear that my inner child is in any danger of being abandoned.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Love Like Ours

A love like ours has no words that can define.

A love like ours has spanned a thousand lifetimes.

A love like ours, when we have picked our way though countless other relationships and have found each other again, deserves a few brief moments for sad reflection.

Each time we have touched, the heights to which our emotional attachment has reached, bridges the chasm that has kept us apart, making that void vanish and there is only you and I, looking into each others eyes with a knowing that tears asunder that temporary veil of forgetfulness. We have always instantly known that we are one and the same. That we have always been we two.

A love like ours deserves to be honored with these moments of sadness for our many separations.
Separations that we have always arranged as a reminder to us both, that there is no love like ours.

A love like ours is more powerful than distance, than time, or other binding circumstances.

A love like ours never dies, never diminishes, but remains strong and is of epic proportions.

A love like ours has a give and take that is balanced for the good and growth of us both.

When I am in need, you are there to give it. Freely.
When you are in need, I am there to give it. Freely.

These two hearts know when the need is shifting and we are always up for the task.
There is an instinct within us that is always on course in this regard.
We may not see each other but we always feel each other.

A love like ours makes it possible for our attention to expand to include others, to include the world. Because,
A love like ours knows no limits.

A love like ours is great because it exists,
Our two hearts have created this love like ours.

We desired it, we molded it, we thought it, we felt it.
We've written about it, we've discussed it, we've shared it.

Although apart for the moment, it takes but a thought to bring us instantly back "home" to each other.

So when I am sad for a brief moment in time such as this, I am honoring with these broken pieces of my heart, in great humility and thankfulness,

A love like ours.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Paradise Found

Took a walk around in the fragrant, fresh cut grass here in my little corner of the world.
My place seems to me to be far removed from everything. As I walk, look and smell my reality here in the now, it's easy to forget that there is anything else, only this.
At one end of the property, the north/eastern corner, the predominate sound that can be heard is the rustling that the wind creates as it pushes through the leaf laden trees lining the hilltop across my narrow two lane country road. Then there is the intermittent call of a bird, and then another answers from some other location.
The sun burns hot on the top of my head and upon my bare arms as my eyes span around the expansive landscape and out to the horizon where fat, bumbling carpenter bees float and zip and bump into one another with no apparent destination or agenda.
The grass is cool and crisp beneath my bare feet and the sky above is the color of blue that only a clear, Spring day can paint. Faint swaths of gossamer clouds decorate that blue sky and when I look away for a moment and then back again they are gone. Evaporated as if blown away by the breath of some great invisible giant.
Continuing on along the back of the house to the north western corner, I find an oasis of shade beneath the gargantuan Arborvitae trees, and there again is another swarm of awkward carpenter bees. One comes down right in front of me and hovers for a good 5 to 8 seconds before darting up and away and into the deep green foliage of the Arborvitae . At this end of the house is where the birds gather in larger numbers. My guess is it might have something to do with the feeders. I marvel that they don't seem at all bothered with the cats who also love to play and lounge here. Sometimes the cats crouch and stare at a bird for long, tense moments and as soon the hunter begins the slow creep toward it, the bird is off, flying toward the safety of a perch high in a tree or a power line, then to sing what might be a victory taunt and a dare to try again some other time.
My sense of smell catches the sweet fragrance of the honeysuckle that now engulfs the back of my little shed. Sometimes I think that maybe it needs to be cut back and cleared away but that scent would be one that I'd miss.
The tall grasses in the field below me wave to and fro with the breeze, the bees buzz, the birds sing, the cats prowl about or lay stretched out in the sun, the wind chimes charm my senses, the gravel crunches beneath the tires of occasional passing cars, a lone dog barks, the sun travels toward the West, and I am at one with it all.