28 July 2010


The love that shines on our souls is called Grace.

When it strengthens us to do well, it is called Charity.

When it attains full perfection
it not only leads us to do well
but act
Then it is called Devotion.

Unity Prayer

Banish whatever may endanger my peace.
Break barriers that divide us.
Strengthen mutual love.
Learn to understand one another.
Pardon those who have done wrong.

Ephesians 2: 14-18

Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourself what is the will of God.  Romans 12: 1-2

I cannot possess God for myself; I can belong to him on in union with others, being loved, and loving others in return, charity, service, humility, love.

26 July 2010

Notes on St. Paul & Losing Myself # 3

Through feeling poor, being needy for love, feeling abused, and trying to heal my wounds, I've developed a perspective of charity.  Meeting one another's needs is essential to wellness for all people.  This unity in Christ is unity in service and in love.

Jesus demolishes the barriers between God & man, liberating us, freeing us from orthodoxy.

Love asks nothing more than to help others.  UNITY.

Finding Unconditional Love

The 4 states of mind known as the brahmaviharas.  Consciousness settles as these qualities are radiated.  This consciousness is a selflessness and a unity with God.

1)  friendliness or lovingkindness metta - gentle friend
2)  compassion karuna to lighten sorrow
3)  joy mudita simple pleasures
4)  equanimity - upekkha even mindedness of non attachment, no judgment, indifference

Pantanjali, an Indian Sage, from 2 BC compiled the Yoga Sutra

Quiet the mind.

Swami Satchidananda
By cultivating attitudes of 
friendliness toward the happy
compassion for the unhappy
delight in the virtuous
disregard toward the wicked
the mindstuff keeps calm.

Vikshepa - tendancy of the mind to be distracted and outwardly directed

Pantanjali - when we react haphazardly or callously to what people do around us, inner disturbance is the result.

Focus on indifference not judgment.

22 July 2010

A week earlier, the man across the street who I formerly referred to as the redneck from Columbia was staying in his condo.  I paid no attention to him, except that his dogs were unleashed and he annoys me.  However as I extended friendship toward the young happy people at the pool I learned that they were his children, and one month ago their mother, his wife, died, suddenly.  It was his daughter who told me.  I felt useful.  I gave her a place to talk about it, but even more, I suspect we were supposed to interact.  This loving kindness is necessary to create unity.  I will approach her father with kindness when he returns.  Here among my neighbors was a strong bearded man, with dogs and a fishing boat, in grief, and I was concerned with myself.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Notes on St. Paul & Losing Myself # 2

The Resurrection of the Spirit Cycle

My identity struggles with self make me more understanding of the struggles of others because at the core I realize how self-serving we all are.  As I move in and out of transformative states I find myself eager to serve because in it is the only real peace, love and joy.

Prayer - in the act of prayer man unites himself with God.  Prayer keeps God alive on Earth, and unifies people.  In prayer, I assume a humble posture.

We all carry the sentence of death, so that we are forced to trust not ourselves but God.  He will save us.

God lifts a person from despair, from the very gates of Hades.  When in despair, then restored, we complete the resurrection of the dead.

Notes on St. Paul & Losing Myself # 1

When madness makes my mind turbulent, I surrender.  By now I should know how and live it unfailingly, but indeed, I do not.  Self centeredness, worry, fear, they take over my soul.  In these moments I seek God.  Maybe it occurs  so I am reminded to never rely on myself, or maybe I simply haven't mastered selflessness.  In this whirling mania, I lose control of all that is good.

In this helplessness, I recognize that I am unaware of everything around me.  Everything I know is trivial. I have no choice but to surrender to something more.  Here, I find Hope.  I recall this feeling of complete peace in my memory of George's battle with cancer.  I was helpless, clueless, and totally dependent on God.  I didn't know what to do; I didn't know what was next; but I knew that it was in the God of the Universe's control.  As moments of days played out with precision and gentleness, as my needs were met and my fears were vanquished, my trust grew exponentially.  I found the peace that passes understanding. Not my will, but His.

I am reflecting on St. Paul & the Brahmviharas - to remember how to lose myself.

My primary concern is that of the apostle - to help the poor.  In accepting and releasing self, I use the many aspects of who I am to relate to those in need.

Join the highest (God) and the lowest by the bond of charity (service in pure love).

I will let the Spirit do the work, in loving kindness (the first state of mind in the Brahmvihara)

I am content to be weak.

I will transcend self in contemplation of God.

Inwardly I will consider the things of God.
Outwardly I will carry the burdens of others.
Creating pure joy from love, the source and the action.

When I am unsure what to do, I will go within to the soul, contemplating God.

10 July 2010

the tree of knowledge

When you are lost to yourself, angels pass through you.

These words were the nicest collection of letters ever sent to me, about me, a gift in grief.   I remember the moment, the words so close to the actual experience, epiphany.
The irony, the man who comforted me,  I've never met, in another hemisphere, on another continent.  Once I heard his voice in a cordial and broken greeting; I'm known vicariously, through her.  
She knows my vulnerability, maybe more than me.  She is my sculptor, and I reject her now and then, my stubbornness.  At times, she moves on to more beautiful things, but I know there is no such thing.  Together she and I have seen the mystery.  So clearly, that he is able to say it best.
More than this symbolic knowing, that moment.  I want that back.  I crave that omniscience; that garden of eden sin is mine.

06 July 2010

A conversation I did not hear today

After lunch:

she and her husband are going to Walmart to buy mini-marshmallows for the primate he is picking up at the airport.

04 July 2010

The F.Scott Fitzgerald of Beach Writing

A  fellow claiming to be a writer from Traveller's Rest, writing a book called Drip, Drip, Dump, a children's game like Duck, Duck, Goose interrupts Buff & Maggie, while they swoon on the red and white picnic blanket at Folly.  He said, "I'm about to submit it, and I need some pictures of kids on the beach.  Can I take some of your kids?"

the scene the man from Traveler's Rest intruded on

Buff and Maggie, stared with a Xanax glassy gaze at the gray haired man in a Loggerhead t-shirt.

"They're not my kids," says Buff.

"Okay, then do you mind if I take a picture of the strange kids that are not yours?" the man's voice sings in a drawl with a lilt.

"John?"  beckons Buff.

From a few feet in front of him, lounging in our red beach chairs with the surf at our feet, John and I turn to look.

the intent look of please don't interrupt my reading

The bizarre leathery man, while kneeling next to Buff and Maggie on the checkered blanket, speaks up,  "I know it sounds crazy as hell, but do you mind if I take some pictures of your kids for my book?"

Silence, even the waves stopped crashing.  For a full second, absolutely no one on the beach made a sound.

"Yes it does sound crazy as hell, and no, I don't think we are going to promote them that way."  I state with an annoyed definitiveness, like someone just interrupted me while I was reading Let the Great World Spin, or told  me a stupid joke, and I wasn't interested.

I turned and looked at John and said, "Does anyone on this beach really believe we are Buff & Maggie's parents?"  I continued, "Did Buff and Maggie need help answering that?  Would anyone really ever say yes to him? Did they need us to bail them out?"

After he walked away, we turned back to Buff and Maggie, confused.  Maggie explained the concept of the game to me.  It was only then that I realized he was asking about my children.

Later, John asked me if I googled the guys book.  Buff said, "how funny would it be if this guy ended up being the F. Scott Fitzgerald of beach writing?  The kids featured in his book get their own reality show and the game becomes the next corn hole.  And you are all like, we're not into that kind of self promotion."

He continued to warp my perception by saying, "The really funny thing is I had already told him yes."

I googled drip drip dump and the first hit was Sick and Twisted games.

Drip, Drip, Dump

The Goose created a blog


I could really use a wish right now

Last night after the fireworks, Jake claimed he saw a shooting star and made a wish.  I told him not to tell anybody his wish and maybe it would come true.

I instinctively knew he would wish for money.  Excited, he ran up the ramp of the dock and said, "should I tell you my wish?"

I said, "no, it won't come true."

Abbey said, "give us a hint."

Jake responded, "a really hard one, one of the letters is N."  He ran back down the ramp.

Abbey and I conferred.  I told her he wished for money.  I felt disappointed in his wish, yet I understood.  Last week he bought a wallet to keep his money in.  After he paid for the wallet, he didn't really have any money to put in it, so he's been doing chores, and making bets, trying to fill his pocket.

I said to the Goose, we could make his wish come true.  She said we needed to be sure that was really what he wished for.  We called him back.  He offered another hint.  "N is the 3rd letter," he said.  I assured Abbey we were right.  She, still not certain, asked him for another clue.  He said, "O is the second letter."  I explained to Abbey that we couldn't guess it or let him give it away, or then we couldn't grant it.

I guessed, "It's a pony; you wished for a pony."

He giggled, "No it has 5 letters."

Abbey and I gave up; we had the information we needed.  His wish would remain a secret.  We whispered our plan.  When he fell asleep we would put an envelope with $5 on his pillow.  Abbey colored it with the words, "Shooting Star, Your Wish Came True."

When Jake woke up, he found the fulfilled wish.  He couldn't believe it.  He said he wants to see another shooting star tonight.

Abbey made some magic, and I smiled.


The colors of my canvas

Red White and Blue

Independence day.  Individuals try to escape being alone,  and America celebrates winning a war  that separated us from tyranny, repression, and unsuitable taxation.  Individually, we seek out partners and have children, and we are still alone.  Sometimes we fight to separate ourselves from each other.   We celebrate liberation.

This idea of independence squirmed into my life as a stifled child; a child with latent words ready to spew lava and ash all over my town.  A child with a knowing, a bee that could find honey.  Even landlocked, I felt the magnetic pull drawing me to high tides and hammocks of full moons and peace.

Isn't that the basic human condition? I wanted my freedom.  I wanted to escape a dictatorship.  I wanted to rise above my condition.  The quest for more, better, something else.

When my  daughter was a toddler she would wobble up to the refrigerator and open it, stand there, the frigid swirl of air escaping, wasted energy.  I offered her a carrot or a cucumber, she'd study them, and then declare: "I need something else."

"Something else,  what do you need?"  I would say.

She would choose yogurt.  She smeared it in her hair, on her face, on the tray of her walker and all over the dog's back.  She'd roll over to the refrigerator again,

"I need something else."

As with all the paradoxical truths of the universe, more, what's next, the find is first what I sought.  Insatiability handcuffed me.  In all of my accumulation I found prison.

So I took out my paint brush, and I changed the images on my canvas.  I threw globs of green and blue, pink floated in.  Orange and yellow hid in shades.  I added the whole brown family, with white poodles and grey dew on lime wedges.  No form, no need.  When I finished, I noticed, smudged just like the pluff mud, my safe place.

"The Artist" by Abbey winner of  the MUSC Happy Halls Art Contest 2010  

I like to celebrate independence every day.  Realizing very young how alone we all are, not as a design flaw, but a simple condition, made declaring myself free an effortless step.  However, knowing nothing, being culturally starved, and listening to the messages society inundated me with, left me with credit debt and a bad habit.  Freedom was a bit of a mess.  With no boundaries, I was testing all the back alleys.  I stumbled over broken bottles, and wiped blood off my forehead.  I celebrated by flying with strangers in single engine airplanes over the mountains.  I shot fireworks out of the back of taxis.  I ate charred hot dogs off grills of silk spider webs.  Freedom was sloppy.  I slept through days and stayed awake for weeks.  I didn't wear a watch because it was worth more than time.

I need something else.

I freed myself over and over again, and every time my independence looked like an old railway, overgrown with rust.  The weeds twisting a note on the ties that they too are free, no longer useful.
Independence.  Freedom from people, the paradox of what I seek and what I resist.

My moment of real liberation came when I freed myself from the obligation of stuff.  I purged.  I vomited all the things I thought freedom meant.  Once emptied, I found the elusive freedom I was looking for.  And then I channeled everything I had into finding a place to just be.

I fled the dark alleys of freedom for a smaller safer place.  A place with stars in the sky, and fireworks in the crickets song.

I can take care of myself, educated, strong, unafraid of challenge and risk, but that isn't freedom.  I can give generously to others, but that isn't freedom.  I can need no one, and crave company, clearly, not freedom.  My freedom came when I looked out into this great black void of loss and failure, and saw not the emptiness but the stars.  I am content.  I am free.

Hipster Small Talk

She's a hipster. According to Urbandictionary.com 
Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively.

While this is typically considered a state of mind, it also involves nouveau dress and living. She's got it. She's  young, and smart, loves literature and cooking.  She's the graceful southern version of a Greenwich village hipster.

Beth prays, and laughs.  She inspires passion for learning and living.  Cool things happen to her.  Her eucalyptic energy entices me.

Beth is always welcome to kayak at my house.  She and her husband Matthew clean the equipment and put it back neatly after they use it.  

Last night, John, Buff, Maggie and I rode over to Bowen's Island on our bicycles and watched the fireworks as we rode along.  We pedaled under a starry sky, watching the bombs burst in air, celebrating our independence on a beautiful, cool, 77 degree evening with a light breeze.  

Two glasses of Malbec into my dreamy buzz, I see Beth in the parking lot at Bowens after the fireworks show.  I suck at small talk, and I'm a little bit wobbly.  It never occurs to me to discuss the literature course we are taking together next week.  Instead, I say hello, something stupid about I wish every day could be the fourth of July (but it was only the 3rd of July), and then I realize except for the fireworks, everyday is like this for me, and I simply don't have any other words to say.  She politely and gracefully mentions she brought her parents.  And all this time, during the whole conversation, the only thing I can think about is damn, I was going to wear this outfit on Tuesday to that class we are taking.