Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And who picked the grapes?

Not so long ago, I was invited to a business dinner at a posh little restaurant with an impressive wine list. Midway through dinner, our host asked a question for each of us to ponder: Who 
is the most famous person you've personally met who made the biggest impression on you?

Having spent 5+ years as a newspaper reporter, I've interviewed some pretty interesting people, including Ken Lay before his demise and a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who launched the whole chaos theory.

I've also had some less-than-savory encounters with other famous folk, including a cruel professional basketball player and one big-name White House TV correspondent who stepped on my hand till it hurt, grabbed my reporter's pad and ridiculed my scribbled notes in front of the capitol press corp who were following Jimmy Carter, and generally made a spectacle of himself and a horrified, humiliated cub reporter of me. And all of these people made a big and lasting impression.

But it was long before those days that I met the person whose name I would ultimately give as my answer at that dinner. And it was his hands, his gentleness, his smiling hooded eyes, his powerful message that jolted awake some radical part of being.

Without a doubt, it was Cesar Chavez. And today is his birthday.

I was among thousands of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Chicanos, and Chicanas who massed in droves to see and hear Chavez speak elegantly of our power to bring about change by boycotting grapes and lettuce to protect and defend the rights of migrant farm workers. I was a gawky teen then, with grand ideas about justice and civil rights and what I was going to do with my life.


I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to shake his hand. But I did, and he looked me
 straight in the eyes as if we were the only two people in the room. I'm sure he said something lovely, but I don't remember the words. Just the sensation of being touched and his warmth and his simple humanness.

I'd have given all my allowance to have him be my uncle, to traipse after him and ask him questions and just sit in his shadow and soak up his goodness.  I gave my dollars, of course, to the cause--and I boycotted grapes with a vengeance.

Except for the night the question was asked, when I sipped wine without a single thought to who picked the grapes.

Lo siento.




Monday, March 30, 2009

Promise?



Resistance is futile
by Chris Heeter

Who could sleep with all this ruckus?
It is barely light as the chorus begins:
the croaking, the peeping, the chirping,
the quacking, the honking.

My winter ears hear it all,
accustomed to the season of slumber
through winter's long, dark night.
Interrupted only by owl's soft call,
or sled dogs answering train whistles.

But winter has bid farewell,
and this wild world has awakened,

I am not spared in my den of wood and brick.
Spring calls to me as surely as the buds on the trees.
Calling me out of my slumber
and into the lively energy of spring.

Resistance is futile.

Published by Yileen Press




Sunday, March 29, 2009

Note to self

"When it seems humanly impossible to do more in a difficult situation, surrender yourself to the inner silence and thereafter wait for a sign of obvious guidance or for a renewal of inner strength."

-- Paul Brunton
Meditations for People in Crisis


Found on Mar 28, 2009, Word for the Day at www.gratefulness.com






Saturday, March 28, 2009

She floated in


The year my mom got pneumonia and didn't get better, her doctor came to me and said, "Her prognosis is not good. I think you should consider hospice."

The words slammed into me with breath-taking velocity, and I felt my body slide right out its ribcage.

You want me to condemn my mother to death, I thought? 

"I need to think about this," I said. The doctor nodded.

I was new to meditation, but quite sure I needed to find a quiet place to think, to pray, to listen for guidance. I figured the hospital must have a meditation room. Probably on the first floor, I reasoned, and so I slogged my way down the hallway, through disbelief and doubt, to the elevator.

The elevator, the one that had a mind of its own. It would not deliver me to the first floor, no matter how much I pushed the backlit button with the numeral one. It would not deliver any of its riders where they intended to go. Instead, the doors opened on all the wrong floors, and finally, in resignation, I stepped out on 3.

There it was, to my right. The meditation room. I entered a small room, a space of silence and sorrow and solace.

I sat on a piano bench, and within seconds, all emotional control vanished. I blubbered like the lost child I was. I cried, begged, prayed, stood up, paced, sat back down and beat my hands on my legs until I went numb and could finally catch my breath and wipe my nose and simply slump.

In the midst of my post-sob spasms, a woman quietly entered the room. She was tall, elegantly so, like a model from Africa. Even in scrubs and a poofy headcovering, she floated in like an incarnation of grace.  She removed her shoes and drifted quietly to a basket in the corner. From it, she pulled two pieces of cloth and a small rug.

She unrolled the rug, wrapped one cloth around her waist, and the other, she draped over her head. She stepped lightly onto the mat and then she began to pray. Not the way I had, more like a dance. She folded her hands in front of her, bowed her head, and then bowed at the waist. She knelt, touched her forehead and palms to the floor, all the while repeating words that made no sense to me but sounded reverent and soothing. 

I watched her every move, mesmerized as she repeated her movements and soft murmuring, and all I could think was: I want to learn to pray that way. I want to dance my prayers, too.

Then she stopped and she looked at me. Those eyes. Those incredible eyes. Such tender compassion. Such pure kindness. I blurted: "Will you teach me to pray that way?"

She smiled, and in her newly acquired English, she said, "I pray for you."

"My mother is dying." The sobs roared back like a tsunami. "I don't know what to do. If  I choose hospice, it feels like I'd be killing her. I can't lose her. Maybe more antibiotics. Swallowing therapy. Thicken her fluids. What should I do?" I pleaded to this complete 
stranger.

She tilted her head to the side, walked over to me, pulled me into an embrace, then moved me back in front of her, still holding me. "I pray for you," she said. "We believe one God, too. I pray for you." 

At that moment, my head became too heavy to hold up, and between the next wave of sobs and the dawning of understanding, I cannot remember her leaving the room. But it was empty when my composure returned. And I knew exactly what I needed to do.

People talk about seeing angels and long-lost relatives and auras and all kinds of extraordinary things during times when death is near. I can't say I've ever seen a winged human figure in a flowing white garb. But I can tell you without a doubt that I had an apparition that day: I caught a glimpse of
 divinity in the finest that humankind has to offer.

And it was only the first of such apparitions that came during the next 3 days. 

. . .to be continued

 


Friday, March 27, 2009

Pink slips


I must say I like the word better than layoff, but I think it's a little silly for these times.

Isn't there a better word? Seen in a certain light, isn't a "pink slip" more like a ticket?

Maybe it's only a lottery ticket with "dashed hopes" written on it and no money at the end of the day.

But it could also be a ticket to something better, couldn't it? A ticket to a new freedom, new possibility?

With so many people holding these slips or tickets or whatever word is best, is it not possible that a groundswell of something new, something big, something seismic is in the making?

A girl can hope.

May all who "hold" a pink slip tonight find themselves grasping one glorious ticket soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Optimist or pessimist?


Can we change our nature? Once an optimist, always an optimist? Same for pessimists?

"D" said tonight that her students tell her she's too optimistic. I think she's grand just the way she is. And I'm willing to bet her students adore her for seeing the best in them and drawing it out, and they just want to make sure nothing bad happens to her because she didn't see it coming.

On the other end of the spectrum, I'll admit that I chide Mr B for being too pessimistic. To which he counters he's a realist. Something about the glee in his voice when he talks about the next looming catastrophe makes me think I'm right. Then again, he's the kind of guy you'd want in your corner when that catastrophe does happen.

I read something in Oprah's magazine recently about the advantages of being a defensive pessimist. Sounded like a really good way to be. Which is part of the reason why I'm curious about whether we can change. I'd like to say that I see the glass as half full and half empty, not one or the other.

According to Helen Keller, "No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit."

Call me an optimist, but I find it hard to argue with Helen Keller.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This from Mary Oliver



"My feelings about the natural world
and the kindness of people
sustain me."

Heard at a poetry reading in Minneapolis, 2006

Image by autan

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Come rain or come shine


Written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer

I'm gonna love you,
Like nobody's loved you
Come rain or come shine
High as a mountain, deep as a river
Come rain or come shine

I guess when you met me
It was just one of those things
But don't ever bet me
'Cause I'm gonna be true if you let me

You're gonna love me,
Like nobody's loved me
Come rain or come shine
We'll be happy together, unhappy together
Now won't that be just fine

The days may be cloudy or sunny
We're in or out of the money
But I'm with you always
I'm with you rain or shine


(What if the Great Unknowable had a voice like Ella Fitzgerald's, smooth as a satin doll?)


Image of Ella

Monday, March 23, 2009

Almost spring



I peeked under the soggy mulch along the east side today and discovered the field pussytoes have plump green leaves and have spread farther along the garden bed. On the north side, stubborn clumps of snow  have almost melted away with the soft rains these past two days.

Feels like spring is just about to pounce. That's what spring does in Minnesota, but it usually waits till May. We have 6 seasons here: winter (Dec-Mar), brown (Apr), spring (May), summer (Jun-Aug), fall (Sep-Oct), brown (Nov).

I thought could do without the brown seasons until I came across this passage from the book Sisters of the Earth: Women's Prose and Poetry About Nature . . .

"The Many and the One" by Barbara Dean

The day is cool, but the slope is sheltered from the wind, and its angle catches the full full power of the sun. I lie down, arms outstretched, motionless against the earth.

The earth molds itself to my curves: we fit. The sun reaches deep, through skin to bone, through surface to center. I smell the rich damp warmth of almost spring, see through my fingers and pores, listen with my bones, forget to breathe. . . .

I feel a deep, beatific relaxation. The boundaries that I think of as "me" are suddenly no more than illusion. My body's limits are a product of the same surface tension that allows a water  bug to skate on top of a pond.

Now, as I lie here, the tension is released, the illusion suspended.

The varied personalities and centers of energy that make up my place on the hillside merge, and all of life flows into and out of one another. And the many--the wonderful, entertaining, diverse manifestations of life--become gloriously One.





Sunday, March 22, 2009

Call me crazy, but . . .

. . . I could be a professional recital attendee.

Honestly. I love kids' recitals. I don't even have to know the kid. I could sit for hours listening to scratchy melodies eeked out of violins, staccato tunes plunked on pianos, or pirouettes spun in tiny tutus.


I look at those terrified faces and trembling hands and think about the courage mustered to put themselves out in front of us, all for the love of their art form (or because their parents made or bribed them), and my heart simply turns into cotton candy.


And I like it when my heart goes all soft and sweet like that.



I tell everyone I know with kids to pul-lease invite me to a recital. But very few take me seriously.



Why is my earnestness so hard to believe? For goodness sakes, people have been inviting professional criers to funerals throughout the ages, so why not recitals?


Oh, did I mention that, from time to time, a tear or two wells up? That's not too embarrassing or anything, is it?









Images: Tutu, crying ladies

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Indisputable advice


"Whatever you are, be a good one."
--Abraham Lincoln 


(Please note: Honest Abe did not use the words "exceptional," "great," or "perfect.")

Picasa photo by Erik


Friday, March 20, 2009

Sounds good to me


Let us hold
in our hearts
the sure knowledge
that
past all tears . . .
past all time . . .
past Death itself
we shall meet again
and
Embrace!



Words by joan walsh anglund from The Way of Love
Painting by Elisabeth Louis Vigee-Lebrun

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Death, Nell

I cried so hard after I saw the movie "Nell" that Mr B had to drive me around a nearby lake for half an hour till I could get a grip. A pretty strange reaction to a movie a lot of people found average to awkward to awful.

I still don't know exactly why I was so deeply moved, but I'm sure that Natasha Richardson's performance together with Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson evoked something very deep in my bones about the breathing-taking forms that love and loss and love-again can take.

Natasha's death this week has rattled me to the numbing point of denial. I could not bring myself to read about it or even try to piece together the chronology of her demise from snippets of overheard conversation. Usually I fixate on such events, one, because I'm drawn to all things medical, and two, because I'm a movie star junkie.

But not this week.

My beloved firstborn has had so many head injuries from soccer and snow sports, we began to think of the emergency room staff as next-door neighbors. And while hate is not an emotion I that experience often, it's the precise feeling that springs to mind when I think of head injuries. And I have one.

And that's why I snuck out of the room on this tragedy. Not because of the unbearable grief that accompanies Natasha leaving two young boys and a bereaved husband and family. Not because of the vacuum created when the world loses one so luminous and gifted and young. But for baffling selfish reasons.

I'm alive. She isn't. My fall 5 weeks ago could have dimmed my lights for good. But it didn't. I had nasty symptoms and a hematoma outside my skull. She didn't. I was immediately whisked away into the blessed vortex of savvy, compassionate, nearby medical care. She wasn't. I'm recovering. She won't.

I'd like to say I'm grateful, but the word isn't big, rich, deep, wide, or beautiful enough.

Oh, Natasha...

(For a cogent take on this tragedy, I suggest you visit the beautiful post by A Tidings of Magpies)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Look what you started, Mom


IMG_2964
Originally uploaded by Luperca
It all started it I was 4.

I'd crawl into bed, snuggle up with my mom, and listen to her perfect voice read a perfect tale.

The first words I learned to sight-read were these: "he said" and "Buck."

I'll never know what possessed her to read aloud Jack London's The Call of the Wild to her 4-year-old. I don't even understand how a preschooler can grasp the language, let alone endure listening to some of the savage imagery.

But I did. Oh, how I did.

Browsing through the Wild Rumpus bookstore recently, I found a Dover Thrift edition for $1 and couldn't resist buying it, if for no other reason than to elicit those tender memories.

If you don't know the story, I don't want to spoil it for you. But I will say that Jack London's classic tells a tale of greed and of hard choices made during a hard time. And, my, doesn't that sound familiar? It also speaks of redemption.

I call myself a musher, because I've been bitten. Not by a dog, but by a call from my childhood that turned into a dream that became a reality for me last year and has now settled into my marrow.

People do crazy things when this happens. They sell all their belongings, move somewhere insanely cold, and start surrounding themselves with wolfish dogs who sing and jump around like frogs when someone appears with a harness that to them means freedom. Such joy is wildly infectious, and I can understand how people succumb to it. Only Mr. B stands between me and the same madness.

Today, Lance Mackey won the fabled "Last Great Race," the Iditarod dog sled race that remembers a period in our nation's history of which Jack London wrote so elegantly. No superbowl, final 4, or world series will ever compare in my mind to this race of everyday men and women who have gone mad for the love of dog and wilderness.

From The Call of the Wild by Jack London published in 1900...

John Thornton was eating dinner when Buck dashed into camp and sprang upon him, in a frenzy of affection, overturning him, scrambling upon him, licking his face, biting his hand--"playing the general tomfool," as John Thornton characterized it, the while he shook Buck back and forth and cursed him lovingly.

For two days and nights Buck never left camp, never let Thornton out of his sight. He followed him about at his work, watched him while he ate, saw him into his blankets at night and out of them in the morning.

But after two days the call in the forest began to sound more imperiously than ever...

Good night, Mom. Thank you for reading to me.
Good night, Victor, Grasshopper, and Dizzy.
May you all rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bus drivers


I can't help but notice really nice bus drivers. They make me want to cry.


Like the driver who gave big-eyed toddler her very own transfer while very young mom dug for change, cradled teensy babe, and balanced grocery bags between offbrand sneakers.


Or the one who waits an extra 7 seconds to see if Lucy, the lady with not-quite understandable speech, is still wobbling down the street as fast as she her not-quite-right legs will take her.


Or the driver who greets me with "Good morning, princess" when I've overslept, failed to erase a toothpaste drip from my jacket, and just noticed I'm wearing mismatched socks.


How do they get this way? Better yet, how do they stay that way?


May there be a special place in the heavens for them--with divine layovers, great coffee, and quiet, lots of quiet.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Now I get it

So that's what they meant by rest!

A sunny, quiet hermitage, snow melting in 50-degree weather, the tender loving care of Franciscan sisters, food so good you can't help but take seconds, sitting still while night slowly settles in and softens the edges of everything, watching the moon rise all plump and buttery. And sleep.

Such was my weekend at Clare's Well retreat farm. And Sunday, as I reflected on my great fortune to know a place with so much goodness, I realized that for the first time in weeks, I had a day with no dizziness, no lack of coordination, no sheer exhaustion, no headache.

Coincidence?
I choose to credit The Great Unknowable for this one--and thank her kindly. Blessings...
Flickr photo: Andrew Dunn



Friday, March 13, 2009

What does 'fine' mean?

Seems like people fall into two camps when you ask, "How are you?"

Camp 1: People who give you a good amount of detail
Camp 2: People who answer with one word: "fine"

Camp 2 people seem like geodes to me: I want to know what's really going on inside. Once a reporter, always a reporter, I suppose.



So what does that mean, exactly, "fine?"

I heard one person call the word an acronym for the following: Feelings Inside Not Expressed

And just today, my friend Amy said she has a pal who likes to say: "I'm fine...but I'll be alright."

I'm going with online Webs definition #3: delicate, subtle, or sensitive in quality, perception, or discrimmination.

I'd sure like to be that kind of fine person--and depart Camp 1.

Photo from here.

Just a little more spray, if you please


Bad hair day
Originally uploaded by fantommst

"The bigger the hair, the closer to heaven."

--Ann Richards
Only the best Texas governor ever

(It's been a lonnnnnng day, and I think it would be wise for me to go rest my brain now.)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Smiles






Ricky
Originally uploaded by Flicasso


"I'll never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish."

- Mother Teresa

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sacred cyberspace


One of my favorite things about growing up Catholic was lighting candles. I'd bend my legs to rest on a kneeler in a dark alcove, plunk a few coins in a metal box, light a wick (preferaby in a red votive), and say a little prayer for someone in need. Sometimes, I even lit a candle for myself. 

These days I love to light candles in a sacred cyberspace created by a Benedictine monk at gratefulness.org. The candles feature takes you gently through a few steps, encouraging you to quiet your thoughts and reflect. You can even let someone know you've lit a candle for them. And it "burns" for 48 hours in a lovely virtual grotto, filled with a sense of peace.

As I post this, 7,166,771 candles have been lit from 242 countries, including 15,243 candles in the last 2 days. Reading some of the prayers that go with the candles will truly make you feel grateful.

Do you know anyone who could use a candle right now?
Maybe even you?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sites and sounds of the Iditarod start



Iditarod 2009
Originally uploaded by sarah.schoolcraft
You'll hear the announcer mention "Susan's dogs." He's referring to the amazing Susan Butcher, who won the Iditarod 4 out 5 sequential years. Sadly, Susan died in 2006 after fighting leukemia, but her legacy lives on in the lineage of beautiful dogs she gently and compassionately raised and the role model that she has been to other women mushers. The driver of the team you'll see in this video is Kim Darst, 40, a helicopter pilot.

Just look at those dogs go!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

And you thought the New Age was new


Cathedral
Originally uploaded by Simonds

A dear friend of mine knew I was fretting about something, and she sent me the following quote:

"At the moment of commitment, the universe will conspire to assist you."

-- Goethe

Thank you, Marly.

A Boomer's Guide to Brain Rest


I wish there was a manual for what to do when you get a severe concussion. Although, I suppose you wouldn't be encouraged to read it since you're supposed to be resting your brain.


I'm coming up on a month, and I'm still on the mend. I really didn't believe the docs when they said it could take a month (or more) to get back to normal. That's a lonnnnnnng time to try to rest a brain. Even longer when you lack patience to begin with.


So, for the benefit of any you baby boomers who bonk your head, take it from me (really, please take it):



Suggestions:



  • Sleep, a lot

  • Sleep, more than you can imagine yourself ever sleeping

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep

  • Let people know your limits and limitations; this isn't the time to pretend all's well

  • No matter how frustrating, hang on...to hand rails, to someone's arm, to hope

  • Remember you have 5 senses, and if your eyes and ears cause you trouble, check out touch, smell, and taste

  • Snuggle with your pets, if they're the snuggling type; otherwise, a mushable stuffed animal should do just fine

  • Listen to guided meditations, unless they give you a headache

  • Listen to Krista Tippet's interview with Matthew Sanford

  • Figure out how long your "charge" is and keep any activity within that timeframe

  • Take the elevator, not the stairs; this isn't the time to try to lose weight

  • Believe your doctor when you're told, "It just takes time"

  • Cut yourself some slack; this isn't the time to overachieve

  • Limit your screen time; seriously, no cheating, unless you're searaching for podcasts

  • Get a massage

  • Get acupuncture

  • Take lots of deep breaths, especially when you've had it with your head injury

  • Work at home, if you can work at all; the travel time really eats into your "charge"

  • Eat yummy things in little portions often

  • Ask for help; people are amazingly kind, and this is the time to discover this wonderful truth

  • Apologize if you snap at anyone because you're out of you're ever-lovin' mind with boredom and frustration

  • Listen for the lesson in all the forced rest

  • Sleep

Really bad ideas



  • Going to a movie, unless you want to feel and look like you're a drunken sailor on your way out

  • Trying to push yourself to the point that you get stupid, sloppy, and sick to your stomach

  • Blogging longer than 15 minutes

  • Thinking you're still a spring chicken and will get better faster than your doctors predict

  • Ignoring doctor's orders

  • Going postal out of frustration and doing something stupid

  • Giving up hope, though it's OK to give up controlling

So, here's the disclaimer part: I am not a doctor. I repeat: I am NOT a doctor or any kind of medical professional. (I've always wanted to be a doctor, but that's another story.) Consult your own physician for bonafide medical advice. As for my suggestions, take what you like and leave the rest. But if you have some other ideas, I'm all ears, if you promise not to shout.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Splendor in the grass


Whispers in the wind
Originally uploaded by canmom
As a girl, I was mostly gangly limbs and buck teeth. (Think Bugs Bunny, girl version.)

Bless her soul, my mother saw to it that I got braces. Every couple weeks after school I walked to the orthodontist to get my wires tightened. Along the way, I passed through an empty lot filled with long leggy grasses. No matter which way the wind blew, at least some of the fuzzy heads on the tall grasses bent my direction as if to whisper, "We love you." Grinning, I tried to touch as many as I could. I think that was my first sense of God as nature.

Many years and hard times later, I went on a weekend treat to Clare's Well, a place abundant with grasses and God. I was exhausted and trying to understand the baffling concept of "letting go," of not being what Sean at age 6 termed so"controlsive."

On the second day, I took a walk to the pond to sit in the sun. Along the banks, I spotted a small paddleboat and thought to myself, "I can do that. I can muscle the boat upright, get my feet a little muddy, push out into the water and set sail--all by myself. And I did. Proudly.

I figured out quickly how to use the rudder to choose my direction and began paddling. Within seconds, a rope completely tangled up the paddle gears. It hadn't occurred to me to put it inside the boat. I was good and stuck.

Oh, for Pete's sake, I thought, now what do I do? Scream for help? Try to use my hands as paddles? Sit there helplessly till someone rescues me? I drifted. And as the breeze carried off my bone-weary problem-solving skills, the tears let loose.

I don't know how I long sat in that miserable state, totally adrift, but at some point, the wind gently nudged the boat close to a marshy spot where tall wetland grasses grew along the edge. I reached out and grabbed them, pulling myself closer to the shore. Hand over hand, I clutched bunches of the strong, smooth reeds and slowly pulled myself back to the dock. Making my way to safety and thinking how silly I must have looked, I couldn't help but laugh, somewhat from relief, but also from imagining God chuckling to herself, shaking her head, and saying, "When will she ever learn?"

These days, I keep a sweet little pot of decorative grass on my desk. It reminds me I that I am still learning. And of God.

Cattails photo: Wiki Commons


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hugs

I love my kids' generation. They're huggers. Like me. At least the ones I know are, which may well be limited to Minnesota kids.

By kids I mean young adults, somewhere between 18-28, give or take 5 years. Boomers (my gen) seem a little more cautious about contact. I'm not really sure why. But those Y kids, they just hug with abandon. Good ole back slapping hugs, gentle embraces, "air" hugs for the shyer types. Doesn't matter. They just do it.

Best of all, they hug me, too. God love 'em.

News Flash: It's not just Minnesota kids! I just found out about the Free Hugs Campaign, so I'm posting some pictures from it. You've got to watch the video on the site!

(And thank you for permission to use the international photos, Flickr)




Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Not a bad thing

I meditate. Sometimes in the lotus position. Sometimes seated in the back row of the bus on the way to work, my legs stretched out in front of me. Sometimes walking a lovely labyrinth mowed into a sloping field of prairie grass at Clare's Well. I think I still have what Buddhists called a beginner's mind, which isn't a bad thing.

Lately, meditating's been a little hard. I've found some guided meditations online that help. I like this one with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Problem is I keep falling asleep, which I suppose isn't entirely a bad thing when you're under doctor's orders to rest your brain, but it's not quite the same thing as meditating, which I really like.

Today I read something about the concept of Monkey Brain. That's where you have all kinds of thoughts brachiating* around your head when you're trying to quiet your mind. Zenlike folk suggest you simply acknowledge these distractions and return to meditating.

So one time I tried a little something to help with Monkey Brain, and I found that it worked like a charm.

As soon as the "monkeys" started clammering for attention, I told them they were welcome to stay but they'd need to be quiet. One by one, with puzzled looks on their faces as only monkeys can get, they stopped swinging and chattering and came and sat down around me to watch. I admit, it was a little strange to have an audience of monkeys observing me meditate. But they did quiet down and so did I, which isn't a bad thing.

*Is this not the coolest term? I first heard it when I was an anthropology major at the University of Texas at Austin and a professor demonstrated brachiation in front of a class of 500. That was one term no one missed on the final exam.

Aspirations

"I live by the truth that 'no' is a complete sentence.
I rest as a spiritual act."
--Anne Lamott
From: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

The Baker clan has kept up a tradition for years.

On the first day of the month, for good luck, they say:
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

I worked with someone once who had been through a spate of disasters, so I shared the tradition with her--and she hasn't stopped since. These days, we text each other with the words. No one seems to know how the tradition started, but I guarantee you, no one ever forgets to say or text it.



Who you calling superstitious?



Photo: Wikipedia

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