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.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dear God,

I've been moving around this planet for 56 years; an ant among ants, one little cell in the body Earth; a single part and player....your child.

Last week, I went to the hospital and had my uterus removed; They just went in there with Star Wars robotic arms and evicted her. It was such an odd and inhospitable thing for a hospital to do; yet it had to be.

I woke up at 4am the morning of the surgery, heavy with the realization of it. Steeped in wondering and a little worry, I went to the bathroom and stood naked in front of the mirror one more time. I took a good long time and was fairly transfixed by the honest accounting. There she was, my  sweet, old body; better preserved than some, a lot more worn than many, I suspect. Gravity was evident, but I still had some brazen tan lines and if I squinted, I didn't look as old as all that....

There she soul's vessel,  vehicle,  cup. I thought as I looked, "This will be the last few hours I will move whole and un-blemished," without a mark from the the "living" which has been done.

Not true though.

I began to see it. My C section scar-where Chris came wriggling and stretching into the world. It looked like a small "eternally knowing" smile. Looking on that scar, I was transported back to the moment they laid him in my shaking arms and I fell in love with him. It seems to say to me now, "See? wasn't having that boy a great idea?"

A broken fingertip from carrying cardboard boxes full of Lunchables up the stairs on Mackenzie's 5th grade field trip; I remember my finger throbbed all night, which allowed me to sit up in bed and notice how exquisitely beautiful she was as she laid there next to me in that hotel room, caramel-colored hair splayed across her pillow....

Little white scars on my shins that have always looked like tiny minnows underwater. Many times perch have tried to nibble them as I snorkeled. These were proudly attained when my brother Sonny and I played "Chicken" involving sharpened bamboo spears, and one still unsettling incident with a Black Cat firecracker and a coke bottle.

He also broke my nose when I was 11, which doesn't show, but is great fun to remind him of every time we drink together.....

And there is the grand scar on my knee from the day when a skinny 8 year old girl thought it would be interesting to try to shave her legs with Dad's wood plane. I didn't have a speck of hair on my legs, so I have no idea why I wanted to do that.

All of these little tattoos are snapshots of a life lived. All are moments of love and remembrance. All are precious to me. In that naked-in-front-of-the-mirror moment I was reminded by you, God, that I do love my body. It is a great and wondrously-made thing. She has run me 1000's of miles up and down my ranch road by now, past cows and coyotes and rabbits and cedar trees; carried me all about the world, to God-knows-where-all with so many people that I love so well.

She has been a trooper. A good soldier.

I love this particular body; it suits me. I am tall,  allowing me to throw back my shoulders brazenly, when in reality, I was withering with grief and uncertainty inside from some life tragedy.

I have strong legs and hips, which means I was good for having three beautiful babies....and my boobs are not too big.....a blessing and curse, I guess.

Thank you God for these old hands that have so often held another's;
touched babies' cheeks;
held paintbrushes;
examined trees and rocks, puppies and books;
seashells and insects;

For my eyes that have gazed upwards at cathedrals and art;
mountains and comets;
Looked down lovingly on tear-stained cheeks, and 4th grade essays;
They've seen so many, many beautiful things,
and keenly spotted a sticker that needed to be removed from a little pink foot.

I appreciate my ears, by the way.
As  Kurt Vonnegut said, " Music is all the proof I need of a loving God."
But also because I can hear the sighs of my dogs, and even the almost inaudible nuances of
love, pain, fear, and joy in the people I love.

And thank you God for my mind;
for the ceaseless wondering and thinking I have done.......

For every time my head pitched back in laughter at something absurd and irreverent.

For my exceptional imagination and desire that has helped me (sometimes) lose (and always) rediscover You.

In front of this mirror naked, tummy pooching a little, my vanity does sting. Its easy to want my body whole, young, beautiful, unblemished again, but if life has taught me anything, it has taught me this.....there is always some better thing ahead.  You do seem to have given me a great conciliation prize. You have given me another person with whom to cross this new threshold.

I get to feel another set of arms around me besides my own strong ones; another voice in the dark when I am scared. My body rests a bit knowing finally there is someone else there who can share the load that living inevitably offers.

And on this thought I found I could rest a bit.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mothers Day and the Big Bang

Since college, I have subscribed to Scientific American. I know why. This is a periodical that is not like other magazines, covering Quasars rather than quick meals....Dark Matter instead of dating tips. Don't be too impressed with me. It is not out of some elevated intellect or grasp of complex scientific systems although the layers and layers of mystery in science and astronomy have always been fascinating to me.

No, it is about my Mother.  With Mother's Day coming, I have been thinking about her, and about the dog-eared magazine that I keep near my bath tub for my morning soaks. It is about freedom and choice, and how we defy our own limits. It is about what she taught me.

Like the night sky, it is all about the vastness of things.

I just finished an article called "Cosmic Dawn" in the April 2014 edition. Remarkably, it seems that our lovely universe, which banged into existence 4.2 billion years ago in fire and light and incredible power....suddenly went completely dark after only 400,000 years.....but just briefly.

In other words, the Cosmos took a short nap; just closed her eyes and dozed off for a 100,000 million years. Scientifically speaking, things had to cool down enough for hydrogen atoms to be able to form...they are like ice cream cones...they don't thrive in heat. With the hydrogen ice cream cones came cool, misty, darkness.

It was the long breath before the plunge, as Gandalf said...just imagine all that heat and fury suddenly going silent, dark, still. The dragon went to sleep and stopped roaring.

Gradually little stars began to form that began gobbling up the hydrogen (reionize) and the birth of our Cosmos resumed. You know the rest of the story....and it is a wonderful story indeed. The biggness of the Universe, the time frames, the power and force of destructiveness of creation becomes the picture frame for how I live with the mystery of an unknowable-undefinable-ironically available Higher Power.

So, back to my Mother. She did not READ Cosmo; read about the Cosmos. Fist to the sky in defiance, she fed her brain these mysteries as if to say..."You cannot tell me what I can know." Of all her qualities, loveliness, femininity, dogged individualism and intellect, I loved this most about her. She didn't think like other women. She read Scientific American, Omni, and any technical journal I would throw her way during college. Once I gave her an article on Psychotherapy and Quantum theory. It would put a hyperactive boy on candy bars into a dead sleep; literally bore a person to death.

Not Mom. She called me sometime later so excited; asking all kinds of questions....intelligent, deeply insightful questions about it.

She never did that about a new casserole recipe.

I felt such a bond with her then; I was proud and I knew that we were both different from other women. I don't have many good memories about her teaching me how to cook. She never looked at my report card, or (God forbid) darkened the door of my school for any reason, in fact, she was DOA during most of my normal childhood moments..

She was not a PTA mom. She hated that shit.....

She did teach me something more important. She taught me about the nature of God.

She showed me that reading and pondering over these big, oddly satisfying ideas would always deliver me to the doorstep of God. God in the vastness of space; God the scientist, the mathematician, the dreamer of big things.

To me (and maybe to Mom) God is just saying...."SEE? Isn't this thing I am doing really cool? It's a puzzle!" Honestly, this is what I really think God is.....a giant, immensely intelligent, impossibly and wonderfully complex, ridiculously unknowable....but perhaps lonely power....yearning for us to see. Mom was a rebel about God....hated church..loved Christ....loathed typical shows of faith.....but was a staunch promoter of grasping God in the little things....bugs, birds, flowers.....night skies. Maybe God just needs us to get what is up, the clasp hands and join in the journey of wonder.

I think she was on to something with the way she was thinking.

So, Happy Mother's Day Momma. Thank you for the walks, for the talks; thank you for teaching me to rebel and to challenge what I think I should be. Thank you for never minding if a little girl, holding her hand on a walk down to the river, made endless stops to squat and watch a bug or tilt my little head backwards and gaze into the vastness of the night.......................

And see.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Birding medium rare

Ah, Central are an odd mistress. You are one hot mama with a cool spirit. Despite the ridiculous change in temperature in the last two weeks which probably heralds another hot year,  I have begun to throw myself head over heals into birding; and now much more close to where I live......on a lovely stretch of riparian forest south of Blanco. Throw a rock south, you hit San Antonio where this week Fiesta has left a rain of confetti on the sidewalks like Walt Disney's dandruff. Chunk a rock north and you hit snotty Austin, home of all those out-of-towners that are taking over Texas. It does have wonderful hiking trails though, and my favorite Indian restaurant out of a Wind Stream trailer called, aptly, The Garage Mahal. Yesterday I saw a t-shirt in San Antonio by someone who said...." Keep Austin..." instead of "Keep Austin Weird".

Back to birding in Central Texas. The blush of spring is full-on; I am shocked that the flowers and trees have the nerve to bloom and put on leaves knowing what is around the corner. If you listen carefully, perhaps you can hear an anticipatory groan from deep in Mother Earth as she prepares for another gosh-darn hot Summer. Those warm spring breezes at night just sigh in the tops of my they know what is coming.

It reminds me of when my babies had a fever. They would fall asleep as normal, but wake me up in the middle of the night with curls stuck by sweat on the napes of their necks and a desperately hot breath....the true sign of a fever. That is a Texas Summer....... and the birds suffer most of all.

 Last summer I said "To hell" with my well. If Tom Benson can water his golf course all day, I can  water my birds; so I put a garden hose in a bush and let it slow-drip water into my ground bird bath. Fresh, cold, clean, sweet Texas water....all day long. It was about as much as a leaky fawcett, or a runny nose. Just enough to spoil all those exhausted warblers passing through from South America to Canada. they would come to my bath and roll around and splash like fools.....what a sight. Smuggly, I like to think of myself as the USO for migratory birds. I am Bing Crosby crooning and passing out Schlitz. Then on some days, I turned my fountain sprinkleron, way up under my huge octopus live oak that shades a third of my yard. I made sure the water hit the understory bushes,  where the birds came flocking to sit on tiny branches and fully soak themselves. No care for me nearby, or the fat green-eyed stray cat tucked up under the shade of the deck....they just sat and soaked. It was so indulgent, so sexy. One those days I was Joey Heatherton to my birds. Breathy and indulgent. I was handing out candy bars and wet kisses.

So this year, I have lots more birds than usual. Is it because word got around? Is it because I had the proper frame of mind when I mentally call them? Maybe it is the peanut butter suet and oranges I nail to my trees. Last night I saw a lovey female rose-breasted grosbeak, and my painted bunting pair that like to come every summer. I also had about 5 black-throated hummers jousting with their beaks in mid air all around the feeder. I have canada warblers, vireos, summer tanagers, little bushtits and of course cedar wax wings who come in full uniform.