Sunday, December 17, 2006

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy...while most of us think of this phrase in terms of the environment only, it is a phrase I've been dogging around in my skull for some time now. I think that WE as human beings, and by extension, WE as minute particles in the global scheme of things need to address on an emotional, spiritual and ethical level.

If you're looking to get started, take a look at Al Gore's diatribe in "Inconvenient Truth" to see just HOW we as human beings, on a personal, a community, an urban, a national, an international and on a global level are affecting one another with our choices.

THIS is a man who's living his Divine Potential; this is a man affecting human Beings ONE Being at a time...sending the message that WE are responsible, in each consumer choice we make in our lives (whether we consider them significant or not) and that where we are making decisions moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year about how we live and more importantly how WE utilize our capacity to DO something about how we affect our world is exactly's a decision and it should be an informed, conscious one.

Worse than this is, by virtue of our NON-decision and NON-action, we are still making a choice...the choice to leave things as they are.

Apparently this is not ok.

Mr. Gore addresses specifically our contributions to Global Warming, our Environment and our World. It's a seriously good few hours of your time and worth your thoughts and personal energy. And it may make you want to think about what you drive, how you drive, what you heat your home with, whether or not you vote, what party you'll want to vote for, what you eat, how you cook it, how you grow it, how you consume...yes, how you consume. How WE consume.

We are, by nature, consumers.

Look at WalMart...they know we are and rely on us. Walking through THOSE front doors, under the big blue and white sign is also a choice. Apparently there's a really good flick out about THAT too, and will change your mind about shopping mindlessly there. I haven't seen it, but I've already made that decision for myself...I was recently persuaded by a highly intelligent, sensitive and sentient 17 year old young lady.

Even if you ARE from Parry Sound, there IS a choice.

And so it is with all aspects of our lives...there are choices. Those choices don't just affect us personally, they affect - WE affect - each other, each person, each community & each nation microscosmically and macrocosmically; small scale - big scale. EACH of us is connected to one another, and also to each sentient, energy producing/consuming entity in the world. Seriously,...and it's not that difficult to fathom...each of us are made of cells, cells conduct energy and are central communicators in all facets of our physical, emotional and even spiritual it's not THAT huge a leap to understand that our energy consumption and creation affects ALL of us, as individuals and as a global sort of consciousness, on some level. We use energy, but we also create it.

Not all human Beings are aware of this. This reckoning comes with great responsibility...HOW to best share this kind of energy?

I offer that we do so...lovingly, openly & willingly. Consciously. However, consciously implies there is thought, there is intent and there will be actions and reactions.

Consider Newton's Third Law:

"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

[I borrowed the following explanation from an online science site:]

The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. Forces always come in pairs - equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.

A variety of action-reaction force pairs are evident in nature. Consider the propulsion of a fish through the water. A fish uses its fins to push water backwards. But a push on the water will only serve to accelerate the water. In turn, the water reacts by pushing the fish forwards, propelling the fish through the water. The size of the force on the water equals the size of the force on the fish; the direction of the force on the water (backwards) is opposite the direction of the force on the fish (forwards). For every action, there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction force. Action-reaction force pairs make it possible for fish to swim.

Action-reaction force pairs make it possible for us to love & forgive one another also. Make it possible for us to DO just about anything actually, make it possible for us to choose not to destroy our planet with CO2 emissions (be like my dad...create a bio-diesel car, or...ride your bike, walk, carpool, buy better electrical equipment, spend $40,000 on wind or solar power instead of a new car or ATV/Snowmobile)...for every choice we make, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Today, if I choose to be angry because my needs are being neglected...the equal reaction may be my partner equally pissed off at me for being snappy about it, and the opposite reaction may be me experiencing some kind of (guilty) pleasure at having shared my discontent (and thus creating the equal reaction of...pissing him off.) He then gets on with his day and is snappy with kids, who then go to school all disgruntled and unpleasant as well and they snap at their friends at school, who are then in turn kind of crusty when they get home and go on to annoy their parent, who then gets testy with the other parent and before you know we are all connected to one another, and we all react to one another...we're all crusty and testy. Maybe even angry.

I'm not saying we can't be angry or testy from time to time...but I do think we need to be aware of how our actions affect one another past a snappy comment & on a more global level.

Imagine how great the world would be if we were busy spreading the love this way? I won't break into a John Lennon song here, but him and Yoko had some seriously great ideas in this regard. And, I am once again back to my old friend Leo Buscaglia..."Love is,...gently leading you back to yourself"...imagine the world if we were all consciously participating in this endeavour?

How catching is a smile. Someone offers you one, immediately we are drawn in and smile back...we smile at someone else...and so, we share. It's deeper than that actually. That smile triggers a whole slew of parasympathetic responses in the body that then go on to create 'feel good' signals in the brain and body, and we find we are affected on a cellular level. A smile is not just a smile. Warmth is not just warmth. Love is not just love. We have the potential to affect every single person on this earth.

Al Gore asks you to consider how your small daily actions & consumption affect our world, our personal and global environments and one another.

I ask you to consider how your small daily actions; how your emotional, ethical & spiritual energy ouput affects our world, our personal and global environments and one another.

The choice is ours.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Road To Forgiveness

When we've been hurt, or have created hurt, there are two possible end results:

1. To allow hurt to remain


2. To let hurt go

Notice I didn't say "to remain hurt." To continue to remain hurt is a choice.

To let hurt go is also a choice but by virtue of NOT choosing to let hurt go, One chooses to allow hurt to remain. Ergo, if you no longer allow hurt to remain, you let it go.

So, how is it that people that have been hurt ALLOW themselves to remain in this state? This is the state of 'poor me'; of Victim; of negation to endless suggestions of how to get better; of wallowing; of self-pity; of self-loathing; of self-deprication and loss of self-worth; of blame; of anger; of sadness and of dis-ease.

It takes piles more energy for a person to feel like crap. It takes a lot less to feel good.

Post-hurt, the road to forgiveness, and ultimate letting go, can be a tumultous one...mostly because there is a certain amount of comfort in feeling like crap. No-one REALLY likes to feel terrible, but at certain times in our lives and for certain people this state of living (which isn't really LIVING) is comfortable even if loathesome. For some people, it's a state of living that has always been present. I've had people say to me, "that's how it's always been." or "I can't remember a time of happiness." Perhaps this IS how we've been homes of neglect, or psychological, emotional, physical or sexual abuse and perhaps THIS is all we know...however, there is another choice.

There's a saying that goes:

If you always DO what you always DID,
You'll always GET what you always GOT.

The first step is in CHOOSING not to choose what IS, or what we've always known.

Often a good place to start self-healing, rather than knowing what we want, is to know what we don't want:

  • I don't want to be spoken to like that.
  • I don't want to be hit.
  • I don't want to be thought of like that.
  • I don't want to be ignored.
  • I don't want to be made to do something I don't like.
  • I don't want to be yelled at.
  • I don't want to be criticized.
  • I don't want to be put down.
  • I don't want to be touched like that.
  • I don't want to be looked at like that.
  • I don't want to be left alone.
  • I don't want to be...[place whatever makes sense to you here.]

And then, we can move on with what we don't want to FEEL:

  • I don't want to feel unloved.
  • I don't want to feel unappreciated.
  • I don't want to feel small.
  • I don't want to feel fat.
  • I don't want to feel stupid.
  • I don't want to feel insignificant.
  • I don't want to feel unwanted.
  • I don't want to feel like a whore.
  • I don't want to feel like a punching bag.
  • I don't want to feel unimportant.
  • I don't want to feel disrepected.
  • I don't want to feel used.
  • I don't want to feel sad.
  • I don't want to feel angry.
  • I don't want to feel unsupported.
  • I don't want to feel like crap all the time.

Take a moment to listen to the small still voice inside will tell you clearly what you don't want. It is a far stronger voice than the voice that will tell you what you want.

The voice inside us that tells us what we WANT, has often been stiffled, neglected and abused by those that claim to love us or worse, by ourSelves. How easy for you is it to stand up and say:

I want....[whatever it is.]

The road to self-loving, when we come from a world where we have been insignificant in our own lives is wrought with fear, doubt and more doubt...often self-deprication rears its ugly head in the form of our inner critic (or worse, in the actual voices of those that claim to love us) with a million reasons WHY we can't do things; can't move forward; can't, can't, can't...


If you always DO what you always DID,
You'll always GET what you always GOT.

The ugliness that destroys our Beauty remains in what is comfortable. There is nothing further to lose in staying where you've been or who you are. But, there is everything to gain by deciding what you don't want, how you don't want to feel and then beginning to articulate what it IS that you DO want.

When we begin examining what we have, what we don't want and how we don't want to feel, inevitably we are faced with the pain created by our perpetrators...whether it's someone else, or some point there will be a moment of honesty in which we acknowledge what ills and hurts have befallen us, have affected us and have detroyed parts or the whole of us. At THIS point...we have a choice to confront our perpetrators or silently acknowledge within ourSelves what was and what is. It is HERE...that we can make the choice to let go or allow the hurt to remain.

Letting go may come to us in a variety of formats. We can:

  • write a letter (send it or never send it) outlining what happened & how it made us feel
  • speak face to face to whomever we need to confront or share what happened and how it made us feel
  • find creative outlets to share what happened and how it made us feel (music, drama, art, writing, dance...the list goes on)
  • tell someone (anyone...a parent, a friend, a therapist, a teacher, a co-worker, a stranger on the bus....the list goes on) what happened and how it made us feel
  • write in a journal; start an online blog to share what has happened and how it made us feel
  • pray to whatever Entity makes sense to us, share what happened and how it made us feel
Out of this process [and there is no right or wrong way to do it, and it's usually pretty's ok...get sloppy, make a mess....] we will usually come to terms with WHAT WE WANT:

I want to feel good about myself
I want to feel beautiful
I want to walk down the street and not be afraid
I want to express myself clearly
I want to create
I want to love
I want to be loved
I want to walk without the weight of this past on my shoulders
I want to wake up every morning and feel good about who I am
I want to breathe
I want to be well
I want to find beauty in my day and in others
I want to share myself freely
I want to be open
I want to be a good parent
I want to be a healthy person
I want to feel supported
I want to feel good about my ideas
I want...[place whatever you want right here]

When we arrive somewhere around the "I want..." part of our journey, we may find ourselves in a moment of clarity whereby we are able to UNDERSTAND WHY what happened to us happened, what it is we needed from the experience and how that helps us attain what we want, and thus, need. We find understanding.

Forgiveness, of ourSelves, comes out of a full understanding of how we arrived at the place we have in creating what ills we have created in ourSelf and in hoping that we are able to find some sense of inner peace with ourSelf and with how we have affected our own life.

Forgiveness of other people comes out of a full understanding of how that person arrived at the place they have in creating what ills they have created in someone else and, perhaps in hoping that they are able to find some sense of inner peace with themselves and with how they have affected someone else.

My personal experience is this: it has taken far more energy for me to be angry and pissed off about life and living than it has for me to live with forgiveness towards those that I have allowed to cause me harm.

So, I have chosen to let go.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Servitude and Obeyance

When I got married, that whole, "love, honour and obey" part was intentionally left in our wedding vows, especially the "obey" part. My vows. It turns out that my husband didn't think he needed to say his part, but that, unfortunately is a choice he made in the moment.

MY choice was to leave it in.

Not because I think women should live in total subservience to men. Oh no, thank you very much for my post-feminist-movement education at a fine Canadian University, I know better than to think a woman is owned or that she should live in total subjugation to any man.

I left that one word, "obey" in my vows of marriage (I'm sure to the shock and horror of some of my school friends & relatives) because I believed I was entering into an agreement to live a life with someone whereby I would love, and be loved, enough to feel secure enough to want to make them happy...thereby doing as they ask, whatever they ask. Secure enough in the thought that they would never ask me to do something that made me feel uncomfortable, dishonoured or disembodied.

With the willingness to offer servitude to any person with whom you are bound, or feel bound, comes a great price...the responsibility of the other person NOT to abuse or neglect your offering.

I believe that when someone crosses the line, dishonours you or your intentions, the vow/promise/agreement is already broken, and there is no further need for you to choose to make good on what it is that you my case obeyance.

However, I also believe it IS possible to find someone with whom you are able to experience that level of trust. Not everyone on this earthly plane is going to find someone they can or are able to find this level of intimacy and trust with...but when you's magical.

I had a discussion recently with my closest of closest friends, and I told him that IF I lived in a country where it would honour my husband to walk ten feet behind him, and IF he treated me well at home, in front of my children, in our culture and in his heart, I would find no difficulty in walking ten feet behind him...not because I am less of a person for being a woman and having to walk that far behind him, but because it would please me to please him and not harm his honour within our culture to do so. I could do this with ease of heart for being fully appreciated in his eyes, and through his actions.

Lack of appreciation within a relationship is the ONE thing that can bring about that relationship's demise. As well lack of appreciation may bring about the demise of the choice to continue to serve your spouse/partner/soul-mate lovingly and live in obeyance. To serve someone is a choice. To be served by someone who loves you is a privilege. Not a Right. It is a gift.

There is a level of self-servience that needs to be preserved when a fundamental lack of appreciation, love or support is given freely from your life-partner.

However, when the vitality of loving appreciation and support exists in a life, that life, when shared, is vibrant, full, intoxicating and a place where the realms of true-sharing, obeyance and servitude can be explored.

Where my service is of no pleasing, and my gifts not appreciated or supported...I still offer my thanks for the experience, and walk away.

In this lifetime, I enjoy the gifts that my service, or servitude, brings to those I love.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Nourishment & Mashed Potatoes, how many times did one of your parental units tell you that you HAD to finish EVERYthing on your plate? Only then to have them continue on with some diatribe about how children are starving to death in Africa and would be appreciative of meal like this?

Force feeding your kids in a civilization that lives in surplus is like overfilling your tires with air...the tire will eventually break, it only requires so much air...and we only require so much food. We should eat EVERYTHING that's put in front of us because...our mother's think we're undernourished and have to overfill our plates?

I'm guilty of this. I am a mother.

I have had to unlearn this behaviour.

When I go to feed my 5 year old, who is actually the size of most 3 or 4 year olds, and eats like a bird, what on earth makes me think that I need to feed her what I would feed one of my friends in the military? In fact, what makes me think that my other, older daughter should have the same sized servings as me? She's 28 years younger than me, a third of my body weight (hmm, and then some) and her little body has different nutritional needs than my middle-aged body. Our spiritual and emotional needs may well be similar though.

I know why.

I know what it feels like to be hungry.

Despite the fact that I haven't felt the pangs of hunger since my youth (well, except for a couple of times in University...) I have sworn that my children will never feel those pangs, those unhealthy pangs, and so the natural, human, tendency is to go to the extreme...and do too much.

Nourishment comes in a variety of forms.

Do I love my children less by being moderate in how I serve their nourishment to them? Surely I am a better mother for figuring out that what works for one person won't work for the next? And that, dolloping a small mountain of mashed potatoes (the WORST kind of carbohydrate, and should never even be served in the evening for dinner...the chances that you'll burn it off are sooooooooooo remote) the size of a small bowling ball doesn't mean that I am a good mum. I should not equate good parenting with how big the pile is.

Look at the size of your children's hands...a fist-sized portion of veggies (preferably with loads of colour, and not overcooked), a palm-sized helping of protein (doesn't have to be meat) and in the evening, it's ok to forgo the carbs...they turn to flub at that time of day anyway. Obviously if our bodies work this way, mashed potatoes are meant to be eaten with breakfast. What better way to start your day than with something that fills you up? Anything that is this gratifying will fuel you for the rest of the day.

Then look at yourself.

HOW is it that you approach eating? Is it similar to the way you approach life? Do you shove your food around your plate, playing with it but not really eating it and never actually consuming very much of it? Or do you ravenously tuck into it, hungry for more, never savouring a mouthful, a morsel or a munch? Or, do you approach it serenely, admire the colours on your plate, the presentation, the smell, do you chew your food properly, swallow calmly and digest your food well? Chances are, if you're doing the latter, you have no problem with your weight, your days feel full and you are capable of sharing much with others.

We live in a world that is no longer governed by our Selves. Often we are governed by advertising and live in a world where survival depends solely on our consumption of everything. The more we buy, the more we eat, the sicker we get, the better our economy is. Ironic really that the financial strength of our cultures and our societies has the unfortunate by-product of creating human beings with weight problems, attention problems, relationship problems, spending problems, gambling problems, neglect, abuse and substance problems...the list goes on.

It's not hard to understand why the extremes of life create extremes in our day to day functioning....too much or too little...where's the middle ground?

I sense the middle ground lies in each and every one of us and our ability to make choices for ourSelves.

Moderation and balance are attainable when we, in each and every small moment of choice, choose not to take a mountain of mashed potatoes, or choose not to starve ourselves completely of a little mashed potatoes...perhaps, just perhaps, we could have it for breakfast instead of feasting last thing at night, trying to shove as much into our bodies as we can before bed? It's hard for the body to do the work it needs to do on a cellular level (all of its night audits, cell repairs, etc.) when it's trying to deal with a gutful of slop.

So, the next time you're dishing your kids up some dinner, maybe it would be better to ask them to serve themselves, better to lead by example, better to teach them that our nourishment & needs are not that huge...but that helpings that are moderate, fill specific requirements in ourSelves and taste good are what balanced living is all about. And who says that mashed potatoes aren't for breakfast?

And maybe, just maybe, while we're teaching them this...we can learn this too.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Bra Shopping

Every woman should have a bra that fits well. And preferably with matching knickers.

Most women have absolutely NO IDEA what size they really wear. It is utterly worth taking yourself down to a good lingerie store or a bra-specific shop to get yourself properly fitted.

Take my friend N. - the other week we went out shopping for new undies. What she wanted was her boobies to look like mine (which, quite frankly, I hadn't given much thought to...) She told me they always look full, perky and that I always have amazing cleavage. For the past year and half I've been responding to that with, "it's all in the bra..."

When we left her house and headed south to Urban-central she believed fully that she was a 38 C. No way. She is tiny around the middle and has voluptuous haulage...the kind of haulage that little A/B cups like me dream of. (btw...she didn't believe that's what I am until she saw me measured too...)

We walked into a nice lingerie store and ascertained that she could in fact be measured at this facility. We went to the change room...some measuring tape, a fantastic assistant, a few different bra's later and she emerged from the shop a 36DD...and my goodness...she looked beautiful in her sporty sweat top. She had lift, shape and contour. But MORE importantly, she FELT amazing.

And THAT is what a good bra can do for a woman.

Ok....matching panties...there is nothing nicer than knowing underneath whatever you're wearing, your top and bottom go together, you are complete and if your clothes happen to come are prepared. So N., already feeling amazing, also purchased matching knickers.

I'm really proud of her...she explored new heights for herself that day...a self-confessed Tom-boy, who has at the tender age of 30-something, realized that it's ok to spend a bit of money on your under-side so that you glow on the outer-side.

She looked gorgeous in her new little black dress this past weekend at our fire-fighter's Xmas party, obviously in her new form-enhancing under-secrets. It wasn't the undergarments, per se, but the way that she felt in them...she glowed.

And THAT is how every woman should feel, every second of the day.

Widows & Widow Loss

Recently, I have found myself befriending four women who have all been widowed at a young age. Some younger than's irrelevant what age they are, but I do not consider it without purpose that perhaps I have been drawn to them, or they to me.

From each of them I have learned a number of things about becoming a widow.

I have learned that at the moment you find out that your spouse has left this earthly plane, that you find yourself aching immeasurably, whether you have children or not, to be with them.

One of my widow friends told me, even as the mother of two young boys, when she went overseas to recover his remains, it was all she could do not to throw herself off of the hotel balcony. And her spouse had been killed in a plane crash with his Asian girlfriend beside him. Despite the infidelity, she wanted to die too.

It's interesting to me that we are capable of loving another human being, no matter how imperfect they be or may have been, so much so that we wish to die too.

I have learned that the whole world comes out of the woodwork for the funeral, for the wake, for the memorial service or celebration of the deceased's life but then bam!, within two weeks of their passing and the services held, you (as the widow) find yourself utterly and completely alone. No-one visits. No-one is bringing you by meals anymore. No-one calls. No-one ever says to you in the supermarket, "How are you doing?" No-one holds you. No-one asks you out for a fun evening. No-one emails. There is virtually no contact.

Amoung those widowed, I've learned from my amazing office-mate, S., that this is known as...the 'Leper' Phenomenon.

It's like the WHOLE world is afraid of you. And your pain.

Now, I'm not yet a widow. I'm not looking to be a widow. But I am brutally aware that my spouse walks the line between life and death far too carefree. He could drop dead tomorrow. He could live another ten years, and the appropriate thing to wish for is for him to live another ten or twenty years in good health.

We'd been married all of a month when the Life Insurance company called back to say that he'd have to go see his doctor (following their routine bloodwork to insure him) and that they would base our premiums on what the results of that visit would be. He wouldn't make an appointment, so I did. I drove him. Our family doctor sent him for bloodwork. No news is good news, right? Except that they called him in.

Our family doctor explained the nature of good and bad cholesterol, the severity of his, and discussed my new husband's family history of heart disease. I could see my husband blandly listening, not really taking any of this in, or taking it too seriously...but so did our doctor, who then told him he'd be lucky with his current levels to see two years of marraige through. He then asked him how he'd feel about "making this beautiful woman a young widow?" My husband shrugged.

Our doctor ran through the options with him, including western medication. We brought home six month's supply of samples (I think the doctor knew he would never go fill a prescription...) and he took about a week's worth and then just stopped taking it.

I improved the foods he fed himself (or that we ate at home...he still sneaks junk) and encouraged him to exercise. He still doesn't exercise (except for a brief stint at paintball two summers ago) BUT we've been married for almost seven years and he's still alive. At the tender age of 37, he's tired most of the time. He's grumpy most of the time. He's moody most of the time. He's too tired for...well, everything, most of the time, and rarely goes outside for fresh air. To the naked eye, he appears to be alive.

Becoming a young widow because your spouse has succumbed to a fatal accident is harsh, is painful and is ugly (and most accidents are, by virtue of being accidents, ugly...I'm on the Fire Department, I know...we see some hideous scrapes that people get themselves into.) There is always the question, "WHY?!?!" and the sense that this person was 'taken' far too early. I personally believe there is no 'too early' rather there is a finite amount of time each of us has here on this earth in order to fulfill our divine potential (whether we choose to or not, is up to us) but just because I believe this, doesn't mean that others do, or that in the moment of becoming a widow, I will.

Far bigger for me, is WHY, when you know that death beckons from around the corner and there are things that you can do to keep yourself healthy, vibrant and so that you may be able to fulfill your divine earthly potential, WHY wouldn't you do everything in your personal power to take care of yourself?

I have learned to let go of wanting him to be healthy. And I have accepted that I may well be needing the support of these seasoned women.

One of my other widow friends (actually, she is more of an aquaintance), sat on the hill one day last summer, next to me (she had driven by, waved and I'd waved to her to stop, so she did. She got out of her car and gingerly approached me working in my garden)...the sun was gleaming down on the side of the hill & on us - the kind of heat that makes you feel like you could fry an egg on your skin and I invited her to sit down. We had sat for barely a moment when she said,

"Do you know,...this is the first time anyone has invited me to sit with them since J. died?"

"Really?" I said, "What do you think people are afraid of?"

She smiled, and teared up, jaw clenched and replied, "You know, I think they're afraid to ask me how I am."

A small fountain of tears rolled over her cheeks. There was a small still moment of silence.

"How are you?" I asked.

She let out one of those laughs you can make between tears, bit her bottom lip and said, "I'm fucking awful."

I scooched over next to her, and said, "Is it ok if I sit this close to you?" She nodded.

And then, I rubbed her back in a big circular motion and said, "Is it ok if I offer you this little bit of warmth?" And she nodded.

"Wanna talk about it?" I asked. She smiled weakly and nodded.

And in the blazing heat of the afternoon, I rubbed her back, and she talked.

I listened.

Sometimes I think that people try too hard to help people try to understand their pain, instead of just letting them talk it out. I couldn't take her ache or grief away, but it was not beyond my capacity for listening and for me to ask a few well-placed questions so that she could speak.

She talked for about an hour. She had so many amazing stories and ditties to share about him...and since he had died in the two months before, she had found herself utterly alone and with no-one to share them with.

She kept saying "Sorry" throughout her tales.

"No need to be sorry," I would say, "tell me more about J., tell me how you loved him."

And she did.

There is nothing to fear in these gentle souls trying to find their way back to life, trying to redefine themselves after their loss, trying to figure out how to go on living and what that means without the person that has helped you define who you are (good or bad), who you've become and what you've done to date.

And I think it's important to remember, that each day is, how about not assuming that someone we know, who's lost their spouse, needs time to themselves and probably doesn't want a visit or a phone call? How about letting THEM make that choice?

How about inviting them to sit with you anyway? How about letting them talk about what they need to talk about without injecting, "it'll be ok, you'll get over it soon" about letting them grieve, and hurt, and grow and bloom into the person that they will become out of having had the experience of marriage or love or life with another person in this kind of totality?

And how about letting that take as much as time as they need? Or as little.

How about we gently remind them that they are still needed here, on this earthly plane, as they are, without their partner (for whatever reason) because the world is a better place for the gift of them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Jesus and Grownups

Children are very impressionable, very sensitive and very intuitive. One of the ways in which our cultures and society have failed them is in 'socializing' them to the point of no longer sensing their own worlds in ways that are true to themSelves...even if that truth seems real or is at the hands of imagination, or is simply the way they perceive their own presence in this world.

I had an experience when I was young, in England, in Infant school (the equivalent of Kindergarten in North America) with Jesus. Seems a bit silly to an adult to have had an experience of this sort with Jesus...but it was an experience that was real to me. Real enough to stay with me, and real enough to form my understanding of adults:

In Infant school we used to have carpet storytelling time. Mrs. Kidby would sit with us and read from something…IF we were well behaved, it was the ULTIMATE acknowledgement and reward to be able to leave the carpet and go to the library and GET YOUR OWN book. On this day, she had chosen a children’s story version of Jesus riding through the streets on Palm Sunday. There I was listening attentively, when WHOOSH, I was whisked away and no longer on the carpet.

It was hot, not boiling, just hot and there I was, all of a sudden, perched in a tree. People were everywhere on a sandy road, and there was this man, on a…I thought at the time a horse, but realized it was much rougher looking and didn’t look quite like a horse (I later learned about donkeys and mules)….anyway, this crowd of people were making so much noise and putting the long leaves of the palm trees down on the sandy road before him as he rode. He didn’t look anything like the picture in the story book or the ones I’d seen in Sunday School…he was a man, a real man, with rough but gentle hands that were waving…but not waving like the Queen or a movie star waves, it was the waving of ‘please no…not this…” but people were waving back with these toothless and adoring smiles. He was speaking to them and they weren’t hearing him. He said (and not in English, but I understood…) “Please everyone, do NOT make idolatry of me. Not this. Please, this is not what God wants. This is not how we serve Him. Please no….” and I got the sense this was a man on his way somewhere.

There was SUCH love emanating from him. And forgiveness and understanding for what these people were mistakenly doing.

I watched him with the same adoration that everyone else did.

As he passed by my tree, he looked up, directly at me and smiled to me and said TO me: “Remember I am a man, who loves. ”

And he passed by, caught up in the crowd.

Boom, I was back on the carpet. Mrs. Kidby saying to me, “Raven (not my real name), Raven…I asked you a question.”

“Um, yes Miss.”

“Raven, Jesus was WHO?”

“He, he was a man. A man who loved.” I replied.

“No Raven,” she said, “He was the Son of God.”

“No Miss,” I said, “He told me that he is a man. He is a man that loves.”

“Raven,” she scolded, “Jesus does not TALK to any of us.”

“But Miss,” I offered, “Then why do we read about him? And we shouldn’t put leaves down on the road for him when he’s walking. He walks like you and me, and doesn’t like it because it’s not how we serve God.”

“You can go to library.” she said flatly. I didn’t move. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to talk with her more about this.

“I said you can go to the library.” she said again.

“Miss, I don’t want to. I want to hear your story.”

“I don’t want to hear yours,” she said, “Now go to the library. NOW.”

That was the most defiant I ever was with a teacher, well, except for the day Mrs. Kidby wouldn't let me go to the bathroom and I stood on my chair in the afternoon (having not pee'd all day and bursting) and pee'd all over the chair, through my knickers, splattering on the table and soaking myself, the chair and the floor.

And, it was the loneliest visit I’ve ever had at a library but I was grateful for how cold it was, because I was still hot. I couldn’t think. I wondered around the oh-so-desired aisles of books and had an emptiness in my stomach and a fullness in my heart.

The way people talked about was like he was a movie star or something...but he had TOLD me...he was a man...a man, who loved.

Surely, it was THIS love with which we are to serve God? Isn't that what he meant? I wondered how grown-ups could be so thick?

I eventually picked up a Mr. Men book - the librarian took pity on me wandering the aisles aimlessly and gave it to me...Mr. Bump, the man who was always bumping into things without any sense of purpose. It didn't make any sense to have no purpose.

I went home and asked my mum what “Idolatry” meant. She said I was too young to understand. I thought, “Why was I given such stupid parents? She doesn’t know.” ....Perhaps she thought I had said, " adultery?"

And at the tender age of 5, I decided that people, maybe just Grown Ups, didn’t understand what it meant to be the Son of God. Or how ot serve God. Or how to listen...they obviously didn't have any idea what Jesus really looked like or what he meant.


One of my favourite quotes, of all time, I learned when I was 15 in my Sociology class with Mr. Klazca who had recently suffered a heart-attack, had fortunately lived, had faced death and was going to spend the rest of his life as Hemophilliac...he was also my home-room teacher for the entirety of my high school career at that school. Our class on Sociology, once he returned to school after a significant hiatus, became a class on Death and Dying. He took us to the morgue. We got to see where and how they embalm bodies. He talked about the process of death, and more importantly taught us tender Grade 11 students (I skipped a year or two) about the dignity of dying.

Part of learning about dying is to learn about living.

Part of learning about living is to learn about loving.

Leo Buscaglia is a man who has spent his life teaching the world about love, and hugs and more love. Mr. Klacza told us one day, from the words of Leo B., that "Love is gently leading you back to yourself."

These words have saved me.

They have pulled me out of the deepest recesses of mySelf, helped me to see worthiness in those I've met in my life that are able to receive my love, and me theirs.

These words define the work I wish to accomplish in this lifetime.

When you are loved enough to be gently led back to the Self that you are; the Self that deserves to be happy; the Self that deserves to be treated equitably; the Self that can share life with someone without bitterness and resentment; the Self that can sit quietly, contentedly in the small still silence of any moment; the Self that looks in the mirror and says, "Hey Wonderstuff, how are YOU this fine morning?"; the Self that lives without an inner critic; the Self that doesn't eat too much; the Self that has no need to throw up what life has fed it; the Self that enjoys, really enjoys, that tiny moment between waking and sleeping just before night's slumber where you are completely alone with no-one but you; the Self that drinks from the fountain of opportunity without gluttony; the Self that shares freely; the Self that listens to the cares of others without being sucked into the world of vampyres (those who aren't ready for healing); the Self that can hear clearly the music of life; the Self that touches others with tenderness, vibrance and honesty, you become the Self that loves without fear.

And THAT, is a journey worth taking.