A Breeze Blowing Through

The other day I was sitting on the sofa across from a south facing window, in full lotus, getting ready to meditate. It’s usually an exercise in futility for me but sometimes I achieve a state of semi-peace. Nothing major.  I just sit.

As I sat there, not really into it yet, I thought about how my notion of God has changed over the years. I used to be very religious, grew up Catholic. But, over time, organized religion seemed to pinch, like shoes a little too small for my feet.

Gradually I left it behind. “Spiritual but not religious” became my new religion. Whatever encouraged me to open wide to love and life, to connect.  I meditate in order to immerse myself in something larger than myself, something I don’t understand. I’m part believer, part agnostic, part atheist. It’s not real comfortable living without certainties, but it’s where I’m at.

So as I sat facing the window, before closing my eyes, I opened myself to the “Universe,” not knowing to Whom or What, if anything,  I was opening. Just then a breeze blew through the big green leaves of the trees right outside my window. And for that instant I knew.

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Evening Stroll

I heard thunder rumble. Far away. The sun was shining. Very bright for 7:30 in the evening. Almost like midday. But not as hot. Today was a scorcher. July in central Florida can be one hot, muggy hell.

But it was bearable at 7:3o and the thunder was maybe a false alarm so I decided to walk off dinner.

Not far though. Just to the end of my street and back. There’s this one stretch at the north end that looks more like a campground than suburbia. Thick with twisty old oaks whose limbs reach across the road, and lots of palmetto.  

In a front yard three houses down sat a big flatbed truck with long metal pipes strapped on, and a big gaping hole where grass used to be. Pope’s Well Drilling it said on the side of the truck. 

Not far into the walk I saw two birds fly across the road and into the trees. Hawks. Small, maybe kestrels. I could hear their calls. I stopped walking and scanned the trees, but no luck.

This end of the street is so pretty. A woman I used to know from a therapy group 20 years ago grew up on this street. So pretty, she said, especially on the north end. That was before I moved here.

She told us her mother committed suicide when she was a kid, on this very street. It left scars. She got married a few years into the group and had a baby, moved away.  She seemed happy last time I saw her. But I always wonder, when I pass by the houses at that end – was it this one? That one?

The thunder was getting closer and the sky turning stormy-purple to the east so I hurried home.

Posted in birds, death, emotions, fear, human interest, nature, poetry, psychology, relationships, sadness, spirituality | 2 Comments

My Mother’s China

I’m de-cluttering my house. My summer project. Working my way from room to room.

I’m going through kitchen cabinets now and on the very top shelf sits my mom’s china. An attractive pattern with a brown and gray floral border on white porcelain. It was her first set of good china.

My parents were part of the up and coming middle class who rode the tidal wave of post-war prosperity in the 1950s and 60s. But they started out dirt poor, like almost everyone else during the Great Depression.

And so, to them, success meant little luxuries. And nice china was one of those. Dad was a career Air Force officer with a good head on his shoulders, who intended by the grace of God and his own resourcefulness to leave all that dirt-poor as far behind as he could.

Hard work, sensible choices and pinching pennies are what their generation was all about. He and mom usually opted for drab, cookie-cutter base housing and my mom used her homemaking flair to make each one as comfortable and classy as possible on Dad’s modest income.

Dad made it all the way to Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the Air Force and he and mom finally built their dream house.  They filled it with the made-to-last Early American furniture they’d purchased with pride, and mom’s china. Most of their beautiful furniture was sold off when they died; my sister and I already had furniture of our own. But I took a few things, including the china.

And so it sits on my very top kitchen shelf. Rarely used, but cherished until it’s my kids’ turn to give it a home. Or not. I think I’ll start using it more often.


Posted in beauty, emotions, family, human interest, love, mother, nostalgia, poetry, psychology, relationships, sadness, senior citizens, spirituality, women | 1 Comment

The Puzzle

I’m putting together a jigsaw puzzle. What a time waster, huh. Pure self-indulgence. No one will benefit from it but me.  Sometimes I hear this little voice in my head saying, “You could be doing something productive; something helpful; you’re not a kid anymore.” Yada yada.  When I hear that little workaholic voice I say, “Enough!  I’m retired.”

I feel I’ve finally earned the right to do whatever the hell I want, or don’t want, to do. And I want to do this puzzle. Without guilt.  But with the world in such a mess shouldn’t I be saving the planet, feeding the hungry, washing my car?

Yet the puzzle isn’t entirely child’s play, it has some redeeming value. It teaches me patience, perseverance and self-control. There’ve been times I’ve wanted to throw it all overboard, sure that the one piece that’s eluding me is missing! Or when that one piece that really should fit, doesn’t. But I just keep slogging away. And I use that little self-improvement argument to shut up the annoying voice when it starts chirping.

Two and a half sides done. Yippee!  Those millions of all-white cloud pieces are going to be murder…

Posted in emotions, health, human interest, humor, love, psychology, senior citizens, spirituality | 2 Comments

The Owl

As I drove down the dark, wooded street I saw something in the middle of the road. Just sitting there. An owl!

In the split second of surprise before I swerved around it, the beams from my headlights lit up its beautiful face and huge golden eyes. Eyes that looked straight at me.  It must’ve been guarding dinner because it didn’t budge.

Almost after the fact, I took in the dark and light speckles of its head and shoulders and the huge pale disks surrounding those penetrating yellow eyes.

It all happened in less than a couple seconds, but in that compressed time-outside-of-time  was packed a whole lot of magic.

Posted in beauty, birds, emotions, human interest, nature, pets, poetry, psychology, religion, science, spirituality | 3 Comments

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

Can you imagine being completely paralyzed except for your left eye?  I just saw this movie called “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Based on the reviews, it sounded pretty depressing. But I like movies that dig down deep. And if it’s a true story, so much the better. Bring it on.

It starts with this guy waking up in a hospital on the coast of France. Jean-Dominique Bauby. The successful young editor of “Elle,” the French fashion magazine. He’d had a massive stroke that left him in a coma for three weeks.  He can’t speak, so the subtitles tell you what he’s thinking.  The camera is shooting from his perspective. Everything is blurry at first, and then faces emerge. It’s like being in his body. In his head.

The doctor comes in and says he’s the one who gets to tell him the bad news. He’s got “Locked-in Syndrome.” And it probably isn’t going to get any better. The brain works just fine, but nothing else does. Except that one eye. Very rare, the doctor says.

Then there’s this scene where another doctor is sewing his bad eye shut to keep it from getting septic. You see the scene from inside out. I don’t know how they did that, but you get to experience the eyelid being stitched shut, and the patient’s horror at losing half his sight. God. The things some people have to go through.

Are you still with me?

But the story isn’t about how bad things are. It’s ultimately about how he’s able to stop pitying himself. To stop wishing himself dead.  It’s about the people who love him and a little about who he was before the stroke. About how he uses his imagination to escape the confines of his body.

And how, with that one good eye, he’s able to learn how to communicate using blinks, and dictate a whole book, with the help of some very patient people.  The movie is based on that book. He died ten days after it was published. The “Diving Bell” refers to the feeling of being trapped in one of those heavy, old-fashioned armour-plated diving suits, and the “Butterfly” is– well, that’s pretty obvious.

Locked-in Syndrome. It’d be easy to get all platitudinous here and talk about how locked-in most of us are on the inside, if not the outside. Which is true. But, I won’t. I just want to bring some attention to a valiant spirit that was larger than the brutal fate he learned to endure.  When the movie ended with his death, I felt humbled at having had the privilege of catching a glimpse of that spirit.

Posted in Christianity, emotions, health, human interest, love, poetry, psychology, relationships, religion, sadness, spirituality, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Angry Birds!

It started all of a sudden.
A blue jay brouhaha right
outside the living room window.
Five or six angry birds in full combat,
screeching and dive-bombing
for all they were worth.
A cat skulking too near a nest?
My son and I peered through
the window to see what we
could see.
No cat. No nest.
Just angry birds squawking their
heads off at some invisible threat.
Soon, a meow at the door and
the invisible threat walked in,
looking dazed.
The screeching stopped.
The cat plopped on the floor
and fell asleep.
The war was over.

Posted in birds, family, human interest, humor, mother, nature, pets, poetry | 2 Comments