Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why do I love rocks

The first time I lost my luggage was  when I was 15 years old in 1972 coming home from Knoxville, Tennessee. Lost luggage guy asked me what was in my bags. I said, "rocks." Because even as a skinny teenager I had discovered them. They were my preferred souvenir when I went on trips; or they found themselves in my coat pockets on chilly winter nights. Gritty groups of them began to be placed in oddly organized piles around my house as mementos of great days outside in strange places.

 Growing up in the Hill Country of Texas, limestone and flint were the main finds, so when I started traveling I was fascinated to discovered granite, tumbled smooth and uniform like exquisite creations....never had seen anyone like these beauties. Completely sculpted by icy-cold rivers coming out of the Smokey mountains. Easter egg colors and shapes. 

A river will not tolerate angles on a rock. Round is what she wants.

I got older. I went further. I began the odd habit of packing lighter to make room for my rocks. Dirty socks and fuzzy pajama pants were the nest of my treasures. Unfortunate baggage handlers probably wondered why the weight of my bags slid from side to side. Seattle, Alaska, Florida, Wyoming, and Montana. 

Sometimes the heart-stopping beauty of some new place would prompt me to look down at the ground and pick up a reminder of what I was so lucky to see. Like a love note, like a little kiss from God. I don't remember so much of life from day to day, but when I look at these rocks, I remember exactly where they came from. I remember the temperature, the time of day, and the feeling I had in my own heart.

Life is so noisy and cluttered. I get busy and forget to pay attention to the thumping heart of God that is everywhere to be heard.

I forget. I wish I didn't, but I do.

Still, when I am on a trip, and I am being more attentive, I am back in church and the rocks that I gather are my hymnal, my cross, my little Holy icon. They always cause me to remember exactly how crazy and wonderful this Earth is; how timeless and impossibly intricate is each creation. Calcite veins running through granite orbs; bits of gneiss floating in volcanic ash; flint pearls within limestone....all of them more beautiful than I can ever describe and all completely unique.

So this is my thought. The world is an  ancient old girl, breathing slowly and imperceptibly for ages untold; her back arching into mountains and stretching into planes; worn smooth by water and ice and time, then pulling apart as the center of her rumbles and shakes. Maybe the rocks that litter beaches, rivers, trails and valleys are the little offerings from Her. 

Offerings, for the giving of humble ole me.

Thanks, Mother Earth, for my rocks.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Poetry of Gold

How does gold get into the mountains?

It is a mysterious stuff, gold. So beautiful and pure, different from other elements; almost other-worldy. McPhee in Basin and Range talks of gold as if it were sentient, willful, conscious of herself:

"Gold loves itself: it resists combining with other wants to be free. When cool, it almost always is free....joining together, independent of all. At high temperatures it will agree to marry others to form compounds, such as chlorine in the Earth's interior." 

He reminds me of Lewis Thomas in Lives of the Cell describing relationships between symbiotic plants as lovers...

Gold chloride is water-soluble in the water that circulates in magma. It eventually dances to the surface of the Earth and cools. Gold, once again wanting to be free, breaks away a it cools in flakes and literally "falls out of the water", along with her companion, silica, breathing herself into quartz. The two are lifelong companions, they move into fissures in rock forming veins together.

The mystery and poetry of gold.

Monday, June 1, 2015

God As Hummingbird

I read the Bible. I also read Jacob Glass and have gotten into the custom of throwing Native American Animal Medicine Cards (shockingly similar to Tarot cards but calling on the symbolism of animals, as the native tribes viewed their godliness.) Today I pulled the Hummingbird card for the second time in about a week. I have come to see that when I pull the same card over and over it means something. God is really clearing Her throat loudly, tapping Her toe and maybe even waving Her arms at me....

Hummingbird awakens the flowers, regenerates, and passes around the love. She can fly in all directions, upside down, backwards, even hover in mid-air. She is different from the other birds. Hummingbird conjurs love and opens the heart...brings others together, and instinctively seeks beauty, but She flies away hastily from discord, ugliness, and harshness. If She is caged or imprisoned, she will die. To embrace Hummingbird medicine, we are called (as I was this morning) to drop judgement, avoid the nasties, and be renewed by living. I got that, it applies to where I am in my life right now, so much so, I felt a little "ping" as the puzzle piece fell into place.

 You only have to tell me twice, I get it....Thank you God.


So, I read John 2:12-20 The Temple story. When Jesus went into the Temple he saw animals milling about, being sold, money changers, people conducting business. It was noisy and messy and smelly and probably pretty fun and colorful. It was not evil or mayhem. These people were not gangsters or even republicans... They were not killing each other, raping women, beating anyone up. It was just people going about their daily life, trying to prosper, progress, create some product. Survive, for goodness sake! It is what we all do, everyday, almost all day long. We try to bargain and be productive under our own will. Isn't that the sum total of most of our days? when I am anxious or lost (which now is a daily occurance), I try to get organized in my life. I clean, finish projects...I get busy. It seems to is very filling like a big hamburger, yet it leaves an emptiness all around.

It is so empty and so full all at the same time.

Jesus was making a whip-lashing; temper-fit-throwing point of saying something more than just not to let the livestock shit in the church....and not because God wants purple curtains and a red velvet rope.....................


And by the way, a Temple is not only a marble structure built to worship the divine; it is also a place on either side of my eyes.


He might have been saying something a little more subtle...whip and all....saying that life is noisy and humans are so busy and lost and scared and ant-like in our daily routines. We just are such an noisy, busy tribe......maybe not with bad intentions.....but we get so loud that we cannot hear......saying that SOMEPLACES are SACRED and they need to be.....

Chorded off
Swept clean
Blessed and

They need to kept Holy.

Holy in the sense of open, clear, quiet, receptive, tender, serene, still, aware, expansive, limber, and ready.

                                                        A womb preparing for birth.

 Take off your shoes, said John the Baptist, we are all walking on Holy Ground, and this ground is between your temples.

Keeping a Holy state of mind invites the Hummingbird God to come; because she is a shy and elusive Little Girl. Her utterances are quiet and steady, like a hum, but terribly strong, energetic, and delicate. She is easily shooed away by the prattle of the human mind; by judgement, harshness, and most especially my own hysterical mind.

But God's humming wants to be heard. Wants to drink from me and pass the pollen on and regenerate the world.....

                                                   One hysterical woman at a time.

God wants to sip, spin, and hover all over us flowers and JESUS KNEW THAT. There are no exquisite Hummers at the Mall.
                                                   What a delicate, lovely God we have.

Jesus was trying to say (maybe) that the quiet presence of God may be easier to receive in a quiet, present mind, or in a quiet temple in a quiet place in the world. Mine is on my backporch, or pretty much any time I am outside looking up at the stars.

I want a quiet Temple, I want Hummingbird to come live with me. Jesus wants that for all of us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My (Reluctant) Messiah

John 2:1

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.[b]
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.


     It occurred to me reading John 2:1- 2:11 this morning that Jesus was not all-knowing and all-seeing. He missed things. In that moment, there, enjoying the party, visiting with friends; relaxing maybe..... He doubted Himself. He doubted God. He was, at times, misguided in his feelings and instincts, just like me. How can this be? What a heretical thought.

     John tells us this is Christ's first miracle. He turned water to wine. This was not allegory or metaphor, this was a full-out, in-your-face, mind-blowing miracle. The real stuff. John wants us to understand that Jesus was not an imitator, a fad, a Johnny-Come-Lately traveling preacher.....Powerful, powerful stuff.
     But what I read today struck me as off-putting in a sense.
What preceded one of the most inexplicably amazing events in human history was a mistake; a miscalculation, by the Lord Jesus Christ. (Don't gasp, it's really ok). When his Momma told him there was no more wine and then badgered him to fix the problem, this is what he said, according to John, who, by the way, actually walked with Jesus and knew him personally:

"Dear Woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come."
     What does this tell me about Him? Did He have a different time line for revealing Himself? Was he enjoying a little buzz and didn't want to face the reality of his coming task? Was he scared and uncertain about what he was supposed to do, or was God being very quiet, as He sometimes is when I am in need? Did he doubt himself; was he annoyed at Mary's demands?
     Whatever His motive, it is seemingly clear that He did not intend or plan to perform a miracle that night. He gave into his Mother.
     This is what I love about Christ. He was not God, exactly. He was a man, but not exactly. He may have possessed the powers of God (as perhaps we all do, droned out by the buzzing of the bees in our worried minds), but He had a very human heart. A frail, uncertain, wistful, reluctant human heart......cloaked in a great Mind.
     Wrought with uncertainty, insecurity, a drop of weariness, even hesitance...doubt....He struggled to understand what God wanted Him to do. And sometimes he missed the mark....
     I am not horrified by this tenderness; this humanity; I am tremendously reassured.

    If precious, loving, courageous, lonely Jesus had moments of uncertainty and confusion (and the loneliness that plagues us in the silence of God), than perhaps my own delusions, miscalculations, and simple blunders are not so bad after all.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Contemplating The Lord's Prayer on Christmas Night

Ten years ago, I saw this "light pillar"  as I read the book of John from my little travel Bible in a cozy cabin in Colorado. I had never seen a light pillar, and had to do some research to find out that this is a natural phenomenon that requires clouds and special angles and....all that scientific stuff. This one seemed to appear in an unobstructed, cloudless sky at dawn.  I promise this photo is unedited and completely real. I can still feel the thunderous pumping of my heart as I gazed at this wonder through tear-filled eyes moments after reading the words...."In the beginning there was light....". This is one of the many reasons I believe in an omnipotent, love-struck, kind, approachable, humorous, delightful God. He gives me these moments as I rock little bread crumbs on my meandering path through the woods of this grand life......

So tonight, alone in my little house and missing my recently scurried adult children with so much yearning that my chest literally aches, I began to think about the Lord's Prayer. I have always thought it interesting that Jesus was so specific about how to pray this prayer, even though He generally was very allegorical and metaphorical in his words. This time He said..."DO IT THIS WAY". So I went line and pondered what it meant to me...and this is what I came up with...

The Lord's Prayer                                         A Plea for Help from My Dad

Our Father, Who art in Heaven                           Dad, You smile and offer us a perfect world.
Hallowed be thy name                                       I SEE you and I am in AWE.
Thy Kingdom come                                           Love beyond imagining is within our touch, so
Thy will be done                                                Show us, teach us, give us this perfect love.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.                                Your love can change everything for us NOW.
Give us this day our daily  bread                         I’ll stop struggling to do it myself;  cause I can’t;
And forgive us our trespasses                            And I’ll stop trying to be perfect, cause I am not;
As we forgive those who trespass against us We'll love and forgive other struggling fools, and
And lead us not into temptation Calm and clear our silly, busy, human minds,
But deliver us from evil                                     So we can stop hurting ourselves and You.
For Thine is the Kingdom                                  Your Love is the solution to emptiness,
And the power                                                  And Your kind of Love is very strong.
And the glory                                                   When we finally come to You we will KNOW
For Ever and Ever, Amen.                                 Real happiness and unbelievable peace, Amen.

Jesus                                                                       A foolish girl visiting Colorado

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fall into Texas

To fall into Texas Fall, fall into her with both feet. She isn't about grandiose colored leaves, such as the maple (except in a secret place called Lost Maples). She is not about blankets of color on the ground that must be sucked up and composted to get to the grass. She will not dazzle you with the first snow at Thanksgiving or allow you to wear those furry boots but for a few extra chilly days in February.  She comes with a first slight norther or a good rain storm from the Gulf.

Texas reserves her Autumn beauty for the hiker....the one who gets off the road and steps away from easy sight seeing and into a true cross-country slog, through brambles and poison ivy, and knee hi King Ranch grass....but Fall in Texas is marked by something unique....

Something interesting. She comes with a sigh of relief that the interminable heat of Summer has eased and the trees and grass can actually perk up a bit. The grass gets greener in the Fall here, more bright, as if to steal a moment of attention before the frost.

Leaves have color here, but you must look close at the poison oak you avoided all year; at the Sumac and Red bud that hide way across the hill and appear as gold mittens waving at you in the breeze. Tiny heart shaped red leaves hug the edge of savanna grass, ant trails around them. Spanish Oak perhaps are the most traditional color, but even they are gnarled and stunted by the drought and rocky soil from which they cling to life.

 Look for mushrooms  and lichens, cause they are rare except in the Fall....They appear suddenly after a rain and when the night temperature drops to goose-pimple levels.....

I can recommend this. Put on your dirty boots and some jeans. A big sweat shirt and bring you phone for pictures. It is best to be a little depressed or blue about something as you walk out of your door and into a Texas Fall. Begin there, and stay off the regular trails.

And remember that a slightly veiled beauty is the beauty-est.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I wrote this a couple of years ago in the winter. Since it was 102 yesterday, it was a salve to go back and read some of what my mind was cooking with the air was cooler....

February 1, 2012 (dead of Winter, Texas style)

55 degrees and foggy-at least a dozen coyotes are howling and barking just across the river in the light of a full moon. Eerie and wonderful. I lay here wondering if my grandchildren who are still dancing around in heaven as we speak, will have the privilege of hearing these wild dogs in the wild Texas night?

I'll tell you, whoever you are that might be digging through the endless volumes I have written and have somehow lit upon this passage, I'll tell you this....

Sometimes the only door I can find is to write; to bear down into what laden my heart in bondage and just write.

Who the hell knows what any of this means; this one life; this brief flash that is MY life. Solomon had it SO right...."Nothing means anything". I have spent so many days trying to dig out the meaning of it all...find the root of the root and the core of the core. I have howled at life just like those dogs are baying. Tipped my head back and sent the heavens my screeching from the pit of my stomach and the bottom of my feet. Nosed around in the ground of it; brushed against every tree and rock that was my search for meaning. When meaning came, it was in a glimpse or a soft murmur; no trumpets or huge flashes of truth, but instead riddle after absurd, crazy riddle. Usually my only confirmation of having found another clue was a rush of odd knowing. A long exhale.

In the meantime life has happened; the years have fallen away like leaves in the wind.

If this were it, if I finished this last page and laid my old head down to die, what parts of my life would I gather up in my heart and pronounce significant? What memories would I take in my one-allowed carry on?

     A sunset on my bike on Arcadia Loop as I rode to get a coke and a bag of salted peanuts alone when I was 12.
     Swimming in the rapids below my house: floating there on my back, with only my nose above water, the swirls of water obscuring my vision.
     Dancing close under the stars and strands of lights swaying in the Texas summer breeze with a sweet cowboy.
     Holding Benjie, and later Bailey, and Ollie, and Henry when I was so lonely my very heart threatened to burst.
     Listening to Emmylou belt out TULSA QUEEN, feeling the chills run through me like an electric current.
     Every vista I saw when I topped a hill on a hike.

     That sudden pierce of wonder when I looked at a new piece of art and was again amazed that someone actually thought to do that!
     Holding my Master's Degree in my hand and rereading it so many times because I just couldn't believe I did it.
     The rhythmic sound of my scuba regulator, as I sucked cold, dry air into my lungs gliding in deep places.
     My husband's golden skin and perfect arms.
     How every single thing in my life changed the moment I held Chris for the first time.
     The little mole on his bald head.

     Feeling Mackenzie move inside me for the first time, then move in synchrony with me for 5 more months. The utter synchrony of us.
     The absolute selfish hunger I felt when Ian and I had our days alone together, little fists full of feathers, rocks, and other magical treasures. His deep sleepy hugs.
      Being a Mother and a wife.
     Those moments doing therapy when I knew YOU were leading me, compelling me to speak, or be silent.
      Moments of seeing change.

      Really seeing them.

     Music. And the sharing of it with other mystics; feeling the truth of GOD in it.
     Em-my soul companion, sister, friend.
     Thinking a new thought and marinating in the vast notions of science, philosophy and literature.     
     Falling in love again and again with authors, poets, artists and rebels.
    Poetry that always pierced me with the knowledge of eternal humanity.
     Pitching my head back in laughter with Irene, Sandra, Sonny, Nita, and my kids.
     Feeling focused when I am creating.

     Loving someone, felling that moment of being loved too.