Monday, December 29, 2008

Two and a Half Caftans, One Small Boy, and a Great Big Snake...

A boy and his snake will not soon be parted...

The boy is Lucas, my 4 1/2 year old grandson. The snake is Benjamin, whom I made for Lucas for Christmas out of 2 1/2 of my old caftans, washed and still nice fabric but with tears so I couldn't wear them anymore. I think every body needs a seersucker snake, and Lucas had been asking me to make him one for some time. I made him a small one, a very friendly, sweet looking rattlesnake named Cassandra and he has been asking for a big one for sometime. Grandma Maitri is known to be goofy and cattywompus (Those were the first two words I taught Lucas. I'm the kind of Grandmother you have to watch out for!), so snakes made out of seersucker are no big deal.

Benjamin started out 4 feet long (Lucas is only 42 inches or so tall) but as I got to the tail the material had torn because I packed it so full of material for stuffing that the seams that I'd so carefully sewn twice, were bursting and tore the fabric. Benjamin is just about Lucas-sized now. There is also a special magenta button, engraved, from the 1940's under the end of his tail. When he touches things with that tail he does magic. (Grandma Maitri NEVER lies. She is just a wee bit more whimsical than the norm, kinda wonky, and has spent a good deal of time with the Mad Hatter at his tea party, not to mention having had breakfast more times than she can count with the White Queen who said, give or take, that she made it a practice to believe six impossible things every morning before breakfast. I usually believe and then try to do a dozen or so impossible things, but it's a tad iffy with a pug attached to your person as you saw in the last post!)

This pretty much looks like tea at my house. A table
full of animals, a mixed up "girl" and a crazy friend or
so pouring tea...

I think grandmothers are not supposed to be serious. I think they are supposed to laugh and have secrets and tickle and cuddle and smooch their little fellas, and make them handmade gifts. Lucas got many wonderful gifts from all the family members, store bought toys and wonderful things, but it is a googly-eyed snake that he hasn't hardly put down since Christmas. Made of my clothing, stuffed with it, and just a few vintage buttons to finish it off. Benjamin is very cushy and firm. I overstuffed him so as he "settled" over time he would still feel like a cozy armful.

Watch out for googly-eyed snakes. You
never know WHAT kind of trouble they
might get you into...

I told Lucas that Benjamin is, of course, magic, but that he would only talk to Lucas about things. That he is very shy and Lucas and he can have secrets. It's important to have a friend to tell secrets to, as adults truly don't understand so very many things. I know that I, like Alice, am always having to rescue some poor flamingo or other from being used as a croquet mallet, and I dearly wish I could have a flamingo for a pet. I mean there's so many birds here already, but nary a tall, pink, skinny legged one anywhere. Wouldn't a flamingo be just the thing? I'm going to teach Lucas about flamingos. They really only talk to certain people and they have secrets too. I'm fairly certain I fell down the rabbit hole as a child, and I never really came back out, or not for long. This gives me just the credentials needed to be a wonky-cattywompus-goofy grandmother which is just what a grandmother oughter be if you ask me. I think a grandmother who had a flamingo would be just the thing. Lucas could bring us for show and tell...

No, I fear I will never be an ordinary grandmother. But I think Lucas likes me this way. He is a magical child with an active imagination and he has already has some pretty mysterious, serious, secret talks with Benjamin. Every little boy needs some soft, handmade, goofy looking creatures to sleep with. I would if I didn't have so many pugs on my person already.

All in all I think I'm a good grandmother. Unusual, certainly odd, but a very loving and kind grandmother who makes up stories and has pretend friends that I talk to too, and Lucas and I can talk about the magical little creatures. Some have already come and gone in his life, but there are always more. My most important job, I believe, as a grandmother, is to preserve the magic, canoodle, and cuddle and giggle and squish a lot, sing to my wee little man, and make surprising creatures for him that he will never forget.

After this handmade, homemade Christmas, where we also re-gifted or shopped from our very own houses, passing along books, and handmade soaps and more, I never want to have a store bought Christmas again. The kids and I all decided we'd had the most relaxed and peaceful Christmas ever and we truly did. It was so much fun foraging for presents, making some, baking some, and tucking in little secrets and surprises. Yes, this is exactly the kind of grandma I want to be -- odd, goofy, and full of love.

Now I will put my crown on and knit awhile. I babysit Lucas tomorrow and I'm thinking up some wacky and wild things we might do. I think Benjamin could use a hat, and perhaps I'll make Lucas a flamingo for his birthday in May. I've made a pact with myself that every single day I will be working on making something or other. It's a wonderful way for a grandmother to live too, with lots of animals and magic everywhere...

Grandma Maitri, whose crown has
always been a bit lopsided... tsk, tsk...

Tenniel's "Alice" illustrations are used
with the permission of The Vicorian Web...

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Trying To Write To You All But I Have A Pug Asleep On My Head... And ... Why You Shouldn't Be Stressed Out Over Christmas...

I am typing away on my computer
Sammy is asleep against my neck...

Well, if there was ever a less attractive picture of me I surely don't know where it might be, but Sampson is adorable and really, in the end, isn't that what counts? It's just the fact that he is snoring rather loudly in my ear that makes it, uhm, rather hard to concentrate...

I have just written to a dear friend and it has given me much food for thought and helped me to relax. This last weekend I had my usual pre-Christmas panic and high-anxiety attack. I called my daughter Rachel who is getting her Master's in Clinical Psychology and told her it was nice having a free shrink in the family (until I see my own on Wednesday) and I needed my head shrunk a little until I could get there. She told me the best thing I could give the family was not to get myself all upset and just relax and enjoy Christmas. Inotherwords, do what you can, forget the rest, and enjoy the day. That helped enormously...

Sam is now asleep ON my head and his snoring is echoing
through the chambers of my pretty much
empty cranium.
Tis the season...

What I told my dear friend was that the biggest Aha! moment I've ever had around the holidays was four years ago when I fell down the stairs and broke both feet badly, and was in 2 casts for 6 months. It was December 8 when I went tripping down the stairs like one of the Dancing Hippos in Disney's Fantasia. I spent the whole season with my feet up in the air, unable to do anything, and my dear kids came morning and night and took care of my animals and I, my mother was here over Christmas and nursed me along, and I didn't get Christmas presents finished, nor a single cookie baked, much less prepare any of the feast, and you know what? Christmas went right on anyway, believe it or not, and it was one of the loveliest, stress-free Christmases ever. When you really can't do anything, you have to just let go, and you see the beauty and the sparkle of the season, the loving family, you meditate on the Christmas tree lights after dark, eat the wonderful meal brought to you with family mulling about, and... well ... thinking of this I stopped and thought -- and shared with my friend who is going through a hard time -- that if we can STOP when we HAVE to, then we can stop when we NEED to. The holidays are not worth a nervous breakdown, making yourself sick, or nuts, or about as useful as a bourbon soaked fruitcake. (I shudder. One of my mother's friends used to bring her one of these every year and she loved them and they used to make me turn kind of green and go weak in the knees with, well, blech, you get the picture...)

You see I really am trying to write this entry but...

Sam keeps shifting and now I am wearing a pug earmuff...

When you are an artist and writer who works from home you can be certain of a few things. You will write with one or five pugs near or on your person, perhaps a feather from one of the five parrots stuck in your hair somewhere, and good old Sam, only 9 years old, snoring on your head like a ninety year old man. One long snnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeee, and then he breathes out with a little puff of air so his fat little lips bump against my neck for a second and I giggle. I am thinking deep thoughts but giggling and it is near impossible to write!

Perhaps the most important thing is just to tell you to RELAX so that I can remember to do so as well, and remember that the holidays are meant for joy and love and peace, and not nervous breakdowns, anxiety, and overspending frantically the day before Christmas. Funny how Christmas, like most other days, just drifts along with or without us, so I might as well just sit here and do what I can with a pug on my head, and tell you all that I am sending my love this holiday week. Happy Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever else you may celebrate, I wish you the best. I will be here, with a pug asleep on my head, and life will go on as it always does...

Happy Holidays, Merry Everything...


I thought I would share with you the tree I had a
few years back with pink lights, hot pink beaded
garland, and flamingos, as well as all manner of
birds from the craft shop. SEE, Christmas is
supposed to be FUN!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Questions and Comments From The Woman Who Has Spent Her Whole Life Swimming Upstream ~ and, What My Religion Really Is....

"Prayer is not asking for what you think you want,
but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine."

~ Kathleen Norris ~

I have been thinking, of late, quite a lot about spirituality and religion. It's been a long and winding road but let me break it down for you in a few quick phrases ... Raised Catholic, 12 years of Catholic education. Husband and I had both been raised Catholic and both left the church before we were married at 20 and 23, the only difference being that he called himself an Agnostic, and I called myself Spiritual. I didn't for one moment think that God wasn't "Up There," and, as I have heard said, "You can take the girl out of the church but you can't take the saints out of the girl." I have always been particularly fond of the saints, and have always more comfortably related to the cloistered nuns and monks than the general population, but then the angels came winging their way after me, in less and less subtle ways, and though I have been an ardent student of Buddhism for 30 years I always heard God laughing merrily along the way, very present in my life, but not quite understanding what "it" all meant. What I mean by "it" is formal religion.

When I left the Catholic Church, and, as a young married woman with a husband who wasn't about to go to church, I continued on an ardent seeker, and I went to many churches alone. Actually the churches that I loved most were the black churches that I went to with the rousing choirs that made you feel like you were floating 10 feet off the ground, and I sang and danced with the rest of the congregation. It was the place I most felt a really alive spirit connection. It was visceral. It felt real, but I didn't understand it. I was raised in a very formal setting, and the Catholic church had very formal rituals. The black churches I attended startled me because I never knew that going to church could awaken something in you that would make you feel joyful inspite of your sometimes sorry self. And I never really knew what to think about the Bible. I mean in Catholic school we had the "catechism." Protestant churches seemed to have a bit of a different spin on things. I thought of the stories we were taught in religion classes as nice parables to teach people how to live. I never quite figured out how Noah and the Ark fit into all of that until I ended up living my life in a cottage with about as many animals as Noah had on that Ark and then I figured it must all have meant more than I had realized.

Still in all, with all of my seeking and searching and believing in all manner of things, I have never been comfortable with any kind of organized religion, not even the Buddhist aspect of Buddhism that is very formal. I have long written that I didn't want a priest, a minister, a monk, a rabbi, or any holy man or woman telling me how I should live, and be my guide in life. I wanted what I have always called, and written about, as "Direct Communion." I wanted to be able to talk to God directly without an interpreter. For a writer this will sound odd, but when it comes to God and I, it has always felt like words got in the way. My relationship with God is visceral. The call and response happens in the silence. It is way down in my solar plexus and when most connected, most deeply felt, blazingly alive, the experience has been like I imagine being struck by lightning might be. But we don't talk about God that way. It's not polite.

Too, other people's interpretations vary so greatly that what at one point in time may have been very simple has fractured this thing called religion into a million pieces. Churches broke away from their mother-roots, other entirely different churches sprang up on their own, so many wars have been fought with their roots in religious ideology, and outright murder and terrorism exploded from under the veil of something called Holy. How is one not to be confused? Confused, yes, but a believer? Always.

I came to a point in my life when I began to view spirituality as a Kaleidoscope. I have written about this many times, but it always comes back to this for me. All who are "Believers" (and I count myself as one) essentially believe in a God or Deity of one sort or another. Some believe in multiple Deities but for time's sake here I will refer to a monotheistic point of view and God help me I'm not going to go bumbling about worrying about pronouns and being "PC" for anyone. This is complex enough as it is. Imagine this...

You pick up a kaleidoscope and look through it up into the sky. You marvel as you turn the kaleidoscope at the myriad colors and shapes, but, you are still looking at the exact same thing. I began to see "Religion" like this. If there is only one (for most people, no matter your faith) God "up there" but so many people view "Him" in different ways, even those basing their religion on essentially the same book, well, all I can figure is that we are all looking at the same Being through a universal kaleidoscope and the different religions are merely a turn by which the view changes and different shapes and colors can be seen. These are translated into the tenets of each individual faith. I hope you can bear with me. I really am getting somewhere.

Remember -- and perhaps viewing the picture at the top again will help -- I'm the fish swimming upstream against the odds, I just will look at things funny, but if you ask me, at the heart of every religion/faith/spiritual path that I have pondered over and read and studied about for decades, the ones that hold at their center compassion, kindness, non-judgement and a gentle love and genuine tenderness, which most religions hold as truths and tenets of their faith, are the ones that I am/have been, drawn to. However, it has been my experience, attending different churches on my search for one where my soul might rest easy and find a home, what I found were that the tenets of the faith might be sound, but, sadly, all too often, run by mere human beings with faults and foibles as we all will surely have, the individual church had, if not openly discussed or owned, an undercurrent of discontent, or, perhaps to me, even worse, a flock that followed (please forgive me, I know this sounds harsh, and truly I mean no harm when I say this) blindly followed along simply because their parents had, and their parents before them, and theirs before them. That is indeed an unfair generalization but it's a point I wanted to make because it bothers me.

I'm not talking about Blind Faith, which is another thing entirely -- and I'm not going there in this piece or it would be a book -- I'm talking about people who seem to have fallen into a church at birth because that's where their family went and never thought about it at all, they either followed along or left, roaming the earth as I and so many others of my generation have, not feeling like we quite fit, but not willing to give up the (Holy) Ghost! It is quite a quandary, a conundrum indeed.

And I wonder why there is so much fear, across the board, of anything that is "different" in this world? I can carry forward, with me, on my journey, many traditions, many prayers, many types of blessing-ways, many tools and icons and garments used in different traditions that I stay with awhile, and humbly study and with awe, give thanks for. I can carry the rosary, the mala, the Native American Medicine Wheel inside of me, as well as things considered pagan and pantheistic but which for me have been deep teachings and vibrate with life and holiness, and don't tarnish or harm my vision of God. I can open my arms and my heart and my life to all of the things that are based in love, and with gratitude, and compassion, I can spend my days, in my own small way, giving what I can. What a world it would be if we all could do just that. Each one, reach one. That's all it really takes.

But then, here I am, at 54, having found myself going deeper and deeper, spiralling down farther and farther into myself like a spelunker in search of something precious and rare, and precious and rare the experience has indeed been. Still, to put a name on it, or to follow, by rote, some form of organized religion, I fear, will cause me to lose the wondrous thing I have found.

I once read a book that moved me deeply. A small book of letters between two poets. The book was called The Delicacy and Strength of Lace; the poets -- James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko. It was a life-changing book for me. A slender little volume that packed a wallop in a gentle way, and yet echoed through the four chambers of my heart on and on until one day I didn't hear it anymore, but neither was I the same woman I had been before I read it.

Finally, I think what I've come to is that I will leave the world to it's complexities, its verities, its constructions and tangled voices. I am a woman who can only live simply to survive and be whole in this world, and I will deeply honor all that is holy in my own way in my own little place in the world. And so now I understand more fully what my religion is, but I'll let His Holiness, the Dalai Lama say it, because he said it so much better than I could have. Simple words. Deep truth.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

~ The Dalai Lama ~

My religion is kindness, and so I offer that to you. I work toward that each day in my life. I stumble and fall, but I get back up, dust myself off, chop wood, carry water, pray the rosary, chant with my mala, use my pendulums to talk to God and the spirits and angels and deities who guide me, and above all I will be kind. For me, it is the only way.

Namaste, Gentle Blessings to you all, may love and charity abound...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Makes Mama Happy...

Tis the season to be ... stressed, panicked, numb, depressed, overwhelmed, and yes, happy. I was thinking about that this morning as I always, at this time of year, feel all of the first, and of course, the last. I love the family being together, the wonderful food, the love all around, the holiness of the season, the sacred, more kindness shown, even to complete strangers, but I also feel like I want to hide in a hole and not come out until January 2. When my three children were little I called this period "The Thanksgiving to New Year Holiday Slide," because it seemed that once you hit Thanksgiving, nothing was "normal" until the New Year passed. As I count on my routines to keep me calm and functioning, the shattering of routines unnerves me, even though I love Christmas.

This year, being most likely my mother's last Christmas, and the loss of my precious grey parrot Henry, has just knocked me off my feet. Yes, I have been down, way down, but then I look at Sampson, who is always attached to my body, and since Henry left he lies on the right arm of my overstuffed easy chair as he always has, but now he positions himself so that his two pudgy front paws and sweet, squishable face are resting on my shoulder. In bed he waits until I get settled and then he moves up against my back, the back of his little head against the back of mine, and his back running down my back. Sampson makes me happy. And I fall asleep stroking little Harvey's silky soft pug fur. I am like a little girl sleeping with two teddy bears.

And then, as I took a look around me, laughing because Blossom, the cockatoo, dropped the last of her piece of celery and looked up startled and shouted out, "HI BIG BIRD!!!" and wee little pug Harvey is lying on the floor to my left, Big Dog Moe, my black lab-doby mix, to my right, the girls, puglets Coco and Babs, just a short distance away, and the other parrots eating and playing, and I remembered the Nativity, and Mary in the stable with Joseph and their newborn son, and they were surrounded by animals. There is something so comforting in that image, the simple surroundings, the friendly beasts.

I look around the room at my friendly beasts and I smile. I lay my cheek against Sampson's on my shoulder and feel his soft, warm fur, and I laugh a little thinking about the conversation with Mom that I had a couple of days ago, a long and special conversation. She told me the doctor said she was Stage 4 and she is being kept alive only with weekly blood and platelet transfusions, but her spirits are always high. Through the worst of it all she has always said, whenever you talk to her and ask her how she's doing, even though you know she's very ill and in a lot of pain, "Every day's a good day, it is what you make it." What a teacher she is for us all.

As we were talking we talked about after she is gone, and how we both believed in signs and feeling the presence of our loved ones who have crossed over to the other side. I told her to make sure she gave me a sign. She said she would. I told her we could have conversations and maybe when I was walking down the aisle at the grocery store I would talk out loud to her and say, "Mom, do you think I should get this?" She laughed and said, "Oh Lord, don't say that, people will think you're crazy!" to which I replied, "Well, I am, but I take pills for it." and we both laughed. I will hear her laughter, hear her saying, "Every day's a good day," long after she is gone. And I might just talk to her in the grocery store too.

I am finding that happiness is a state of mind, and you have to work at it. If my mother can make every day a good day through nearly four years of cancer, a cancer that, when diagnosed in February 2005, the doctors only gave her a short time to live, and she has lived years past their expectations. I truly believe that it is due, in large part, to her positive state of mind -- if my mother can stay up and still laugh while dying in slow motion from Multiple Myeloma, I can sure enough keep myself up and happy through the holidays. I will do it for her, I will do it for my children and grandchild, my family and friends, and yes, for myself. I will do it with a funny little pug sleeping on my shoulder, a big white parrot doing funny tricks, and while I make my simple handmade gifts for Christmas, I will remember Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus in that stable -- more humble surroundings you could not find -- and I will feel deep gratitude for all that I have here at my little cottage, and I will be floated on the love all around me, with these funny wide-eyed pugs, big Moe, little Vincent, my Buddha Beta Fish, and all of the parrots.

"Tis the reason for the season," the saying goes, and now I realize that the "Thanksgiving to New Year Holiday Slide," was meant for just this, to remind us of our many blessings, to fill our hearts with love, with gratitude, to slow down because we must, and in keeping things simple, which, too, is part of the story of Christmas, we will find the glory in the season, and it can carry us into the New Year ahead with peace, love, and a full heart brimming with kindness, for ourselves and others, if we allow it, if we remember it, if we hold fast to the lessons of this season.

I think in the midst of one of the hardest times of my life, I'm going to have the happiest Christmas ever. I whisper "Thank you," many times a day, and begin, more and more, to be mindful of the sacredness of every day, the holiness of every moment, the blessing of a small boy with a pink tongue sticking out, and snuggling with me in bed at night. I smile and say "thank you," when I think of my tiny four year old grandson, my little joy boy. I feel an overwhelming tenderness and gratitude for my children and their partners, I feel a place of peaceful calm thinking of my precious Henry, never giving up hope that he will come back to me, in one way or another, and I laugh when I think about talking to my mother in the grocery store, when she is a spirit guiding me down the aisles and I try to sneak goodies in my basket when she isn't looking.

And now, on this Saturday so close to Christmas, and with much to do in, now, less than 2 weeks, and with my middle child, mother of my grandson, turning 29 next Tuesday, and the days so full, I will hold the image of my mother -- of her smile, her laughter and her great teaching about the goodness that every day holds if we allow it. My mama's happy, so I shall live up to her example, and I will hold each moment in my heart as the miracle that it is, and I will love, with an open heart, all that is, because I am made of love, if lopsided and cattywompus and a little goofy, and I will assure Sampson that Mama is happy, so everybody can be happy. It is my job to make it so.

Happy, Beautiful, Peace-full Holidays to you all, from all of us here at Dragonfly Cottage...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let Me Fall, Let Me Climb ~ "The one I want, The one I will become, Will catch me ..."

"Let me fall
Let me climb
There's a moment when fear
And dreams must collide

Someone I am
Is waiting for courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won't heed your warnings
I won't hear them

Let me fall
If I fall
Though the phoenix may
Or may not rise

I will dance so freely
Holding on to no one
You can hold me only
If you too will fall
Away from all these
Useless fears and chains

Someone I am
Is waiting for my courage
The one I want
The one I will become
Will catch me

So let me fall
If I must fall
I won't heed your warnings
I won't hear

Let me fall
If I fall
There's no reason
To miss this one chance
This perfect moment
Just let me fall..."

From Cirque de Soleil
Sung by Josh Groban

(Click above link to
see video and hear
Josh Groban sing
this stunning song.)

Music has always been the great healer for me. My companion in sorrow, in joy, and in coming to a deeper understanding of myself throughout the process I am going through at the moment. Roughly 7 years ago Josh Groban came onto the scene with his first c.d. and stunned the world, this young man with the deep, melodic voice that sent an arrow straight through your heart. His voice a vehicle for the deepest, darkest, saddest, and most moving songs. I played the c.d. over and over again. My nearly 30 year marriage was over, I was alone, lost, and I fixated on this one song. All I could hear was "Let me fall..." In my blurred, heartbroken mind those were the only lyrics I could hear, and the music itself carried me on a journey. I was suicidal at that time, and if I went, I would have been falling with the music of this song...

Fortunately, many years have passed and I am in a much better place. I have my ups and downs, my hardships and and sorrows, but somehow, I always rise. I think it has been a growing and strengthening of faith, plus a growing strength and fortitude inside myself, and nothing speaks better to this process, moving from one state of being to another than this song, Groban's unbelievably beautiful voice, and if you click on that link above and watch the video of him singing the song while Cirque de Soleil performs, falling through the air, and rising back up again, falling and rising, you will, if your heart is open, take in a picture of life, of all that is possible within us, of how the falling is necessary if we are to rise again.

Too, I feel the message that has been so important to me -- we must let go, we must fall, to escape the chains that have bound us, the pain, the misconceptions and things that were holding us back, we must cut the proverbial strings and fall, fall, fall, and when once again we begin our upward ascent, "the one I want, the one I will become will catch me..." It reminded me of a mother bird pushing a terrified baby bird out of the nest. He would never have learned that he could fly had she not, and now he soars. We must be our own mothers, tossing the old self out of the nest and watching with pride as our brave, new, trembling Self takes flight for the first time.

I am going through some very hard times right now for numerous reasons, but I am a woman who, at 54, has grown in faith, and faith in myself, and the will to live in me is strong, is exuberant, carries me over the swift running waters that would carry me downstream and away forever. I am past the point of no return, I am walking the first steps of a new life, one I can't even yet fully imagine, but the most important step of all is realizing that I have turned that corner, and let myself fall, so that the one I would become would catch me. I have reached that place, much to my surprise, and I played that song over and over and over yesterday, crying, not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy and gratitude for how far I have come.

You've got to hear the song to understand, and let it lift you up, and let yourself fly...

My deepest love to you all,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gratitude, A Soul Coming Home To Roost, and The Arrow That Flies Swift and Far...

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~

This Thanksgiving weekend has been full of grace, peace, a deep understanding, and a coming to terms with that with which I must. I'd like to share some of what I wrote to 2 different friends this morning who had written to me out of their concern for me because of Henry's absence. To one I wrote...

"I'm hanging in. It's so hard without Henry because he was the one animal in this house who talked a blue streak, sang, called all the animals by name, ALL of them, and was my constant companion in a very intimate sweet way for over 10 years. It's SO quiet here now. It's heartbreaking and it was 3 weeks on Saturday and, while I'm not one to ever give up hope, it's in God's hands now and I have to begin to let go because, finally, I have 11 other animals here who need me, I have my 3 children and their husbands, fiancees, partners, my grandchild, my dying mother and on and on. And I have a very good life, a simple life, a quiet and loving life filled with grace. It does not serve God to turn a blind eye on all of one's blessings in a time of grief. In the end, I think that's what really heals."

To another very dear friend I wrote...

"Thanks so much sweetie. I have been having a very quiet few days. We had a lovely family Thanksgiving. My heart was so open and soft. I feel I've had a sign and while very sad it's made me more at peace. I think, perhaps, you are one of the few people who would understand.

I prayed for a sign, any kind of sign, to let me know if he had crossed the rainbow bridge and wasn't coming back for sure. The day he left, I put 2 little things on my necklace, a long silver snake chain with a beautiful carving of Quan Yin that I never take off, and on it I added a medal of St. Francis, and a coral cross to cover a cross section of my belief systems. Well, I've been wearing them ever since. In the shower, everywhere. There was no reason for any of them to fall off unless one or the other of them got caught on something, which they didn't. Yesterday I prayed for that sign. As I came in from taking the dogs out, the St. Francis medal was on the floor, by the door, exactly where Henry flew out. I shuddered and teared up. I am a deep devotee of St. Francis, for he so loved the animals. It felt like a sign. It felt like I was being told that he wasn't coming back but that all is well. It took me quite by surprise and I'm still coming to terms with it, but so it feels.

... So much love and compassion have been shown me, so much kindness. It's because of this I realize, in the midst of everything, that in the middle of a terrible loss, if we can still leave our heart open and allow the love and many small kindnesses in, and feel deep gratitude for all that we do have, we are healed and able to move forward, stronger, and even more at peace.

The verse that keeps coming to me is one I know that you know. It's from Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet...

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.'

This piece from Gibran speaks so strongly to my feelings for Henry right now. I am deeply saddened and oddly at peace. He is the arrow that went swift and far..."

And so whether St. Francis was telling me that he is gone forever, or he will return, through that door, once again, he has given me a kind of peace that I needed badly. It is out of my hands. Henry came through me, not to me. I did not own him. He graced me with his presence. And if it is meant to be, he will return. For now, I walk on, back into my life, and thank God and all that I hold holy for all that I have, all of my many blessings, all of the dear people, family, friends, and new friends met in this mysterious, marvelous place called The Internet, who have become very dear indeed.

Today I will be giving out the first award to the blog that has signed onto the list of the Compassionate Living Blogs. As the weeks and months go along, some of my choices will seem odd to you, perhaps, as we think of works of compassion as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and needy, caring for the young and the old, and so many other things come to mind when we first think of compassion. But it is so much more than that.

Compassion is a word that encompasses so much more than I ever knew and have only, in these last years, begun to realize. A photographer, caring deeply about his or her subject, is showing a deep love and appreciation for the beauty before them. An artist molds clay or spins yarns and weaves tapestries and dreams and more with their holy hands. Yes, art is holy, and it is compassionate. It cannot be done quickly, and it honors everything on this earth. Even "dumpster divers" retrieving pieces of things others have thrown out and making of them something new are doing the holy work of honoring those things which have existed and served and now have been cast away. They, too, still have their purpose, in the eyes of the artist.

Compassion is the fortitude of parents going out every day to a job they perhaps don't like but do so that they may care for and feed their families. Time, our most precious commodity in terms of the measured space of being a living being on this planet, time, given freely to others, is an act of great compassion, as is solitude and silence, and meditation, the time in which we give thanks and come to a peaceful calm that lives inside of us but is too often forgotten, a grace that keeps us going and growing in the world.

Even blogs that are humorous might be viewed as compassionate if the humor is heartfelt and in good spirit. If you take the time, you can expand the definition of compassion out further and further, like the concentric circles that form and travel out and out and out when we throw a pebble in a pond. There are so many ways to open our heart to others. It will be in this spirit, wide and deep, that I will carry inside of me as I peruse the blogs on the Compassionate Blogs List. If you would like to sign up simply click the banner at the top of this column to go to the new blog that holds the info and sign-up list for the blogs who wish to be considered. I will tell you that any that have been sent in that are inappropriate will be taken down quietly and without making a big deal of it, but they will be taken down. My goal, with this list, is to gather together and celebrate those who live their lives with loving-kindness at their core, and share it freely through their blogs with the world. Blogs have become a powerful force in the world today, and the people who take time to do beautiful blogs that lift the hearts and spirits of others deserve attention. Too, the list itself will provide a great source of material that you may find interesting, healing, or that might bring you delight. To bring joy into someone's life is a powerful act of compassion too. I will put the award up tonight on this blog, the Compassionate Living Links blog, and next week, the winner will be the first one that will go on the Dragonfly Cottage website, where they will remain permanently so that others may find, and revel in, their work. They will stay on that page unless or until their blogs are no longer active. But the link will go up late this evening, for today I will carefully peruse all that links that are there.

And so I keep myself busy, I take time to feel gratitude and thanksgiving, and I thank God for all that I have, and all that I am, an imperfect-perfect, wabi sabi woman with a heart full of love.

May you be blessed, and at peace, and may you always walk with the knowledge that, as Julian of Norwich wrote in the 11th century.... "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all many of things shall be well." And so they shall.

With deep, heartfelt love,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Preparing For A Homemade, Handmade Christmas... AND, What Color Is YOUR Christmas?

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

~ Burton Hillis

Christmas is not as much about opening
our presents as opening our hearts.

~ Janice Maeditere

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas
spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.

~ Harlan Miller

The holiday time is, once again, upon us. Next week is Thanksgiving, and following fast on it's heels is Christmas. Christmas has always been a beloved holiday for me and I have the joy of a child around the whole season. However, a decade ago my decades long marriage ended and my children were fast growing and going off into their own lives, which, of course, is as it should be. In the years that followed Christmas became a hard, sad time for me, and a deep worry over money, and I would plan to make gifts and never have time to finish them, and I was filled with panic and in tears. As the holidays approached I began to feel a sense of dread. Well, no more. Christmas is only a scary time if you buy into the commercial aspects of Christmas and set yourself to standards that are not your own, but those of the world around you, those who will worry for some time after the holidays about how they will pay for what they overspent on the holiday. Now, if you have the money to spend, good for you, but if you don't, never fear, handmade, and homemade, and fun is here.

Three headbands I knitted very
quickly a few Christmases ago.
They are wide because they are
meant to cover the ears in the
wintery cold weather. Quick to
make and the girls loved them.

This year, with the economy putting so many in such a hard place, Christmas has become scarier than ever. I won't do that to myself or to my family. I wrote them each an e-mail that said that this year we should have a low-key Christmas full of love, but that the gifts should be homemade, handmade, or even regifted. I have many skills and the tools and supplies to make many gifts. We can make cookies or jelly or other homemade goods (And I am finding, more and more, that people are appreciating homemade, homespun, thoughtful gifts made of love, with our own hands that so often mean more than store-bought, expensive gifts. At least so I believe and so this is the way I choose to show my love through gifts.)

A little knitted pouch to
carry cell phone around
and be hands free. Great
for the car too. I also
tucked in the earphones
so I could do anything
inlcuding doing dishes
or crocheting while
talking on the phone...

So what, you ask, might you do? What can you cook, bake, or even package up, really pretty, a variety of ingredients for a loved one to make something else later on? We often get so many cookies and baked goods at Christmas we are inundated and then in January there is a sinking spell. What about a jar of jam and box of scone mix to open up in January? And I bet that there is not a person reading this that cannot make something! One of the most wonderful suggestions, for my children, would be pictures of their families. My son, and his then girlfriend did something a few years ago that I thought was adorable. They got a cheap frame (You can make a frame in any number of fun ways as well -- how about cutting and gluing together a couple of layers of heavy cardboard covered with fabric, felt is great -- it doesn't need sewing and doesn't unravel, and you can decorate with anything!), they put a picture of themselves in it, and then decorated the frame by gluing on lots of colorful buttons. I adore it! What about popcorn balls, candied apples, or the ever popular rice crispies squares with something Christmasy added in (sprinkles, M&M's, now in Christmasy colors, oh, so many things...). And guys, I bet you know how to make a lot of things in your shop if you have one, something with wood, or something from nature. Go out and cut greens and make a Christmas wreath, delivered fresh and early! Get the kids to help you make little home-made ornaments!

A little handmade doll made from recycled baby overalls bought at a yardsale. Soft corduroy, washed, and stuffed with other old clothes. Not embellished so safe for babies, but imagine what great dog or cat toys you could make like this, maybe tucking a little catnip in for a kitty...

And there are those of us who are artists that can make all manner of fun things. AND don't attempt BIG projects that will set you up for a nervous breakdown when the holiday draws near and you still have 10 things to finish with no hope of time enough to do it. Think of small things. And making things realistically small means that you don't end up giving I.O.U.'s so you can finish them later, only to (red cheeks) never finish them anyway (ahem)... Sigh...

A scarf can be knitted very
quickly one evening while
watching tv and is a great
winter gift!

Re-gifting. Don't knock it. How many nice things have you bought and never used? Maybe even on e-bay, or in a store? These things make wonderful gifts. Take cuttings now from favorite indoor plants and make little starter plants for Christmas. I did this for my eldest daughter a few years ago with a jasmine plant and she loved it. How many books are sitting on your shelves that you bought with good intent but never even cracked open? Cookbooks, garden books, craft books, novels, whatever. Make homemade journals. Kids notebooks, those little spotted ones with heavy cardboard covers we used as children and are still going strong today. They are cheap and you can easily decorate them a hundred different ways. You can make them guy oriented or feminine. Let your imagination SOAR! And further, feel free to send YOUR ideas in in the comments section after this post! We can all help one another through the holidays!

Lastly, and I have repeated this story many times over the years. I first heard this nearly 2 decades ago from a very dear friend whom I have sadly lost contact with over the years, but it has stuck with me forever because I think it's GENIUS! Imagine this. First of all, a holiday gift exchange rather than buying something for everybody helps if money and time are really tight. Barring that, if you want to give inexpensive gifts and make it fun, here's what my friend did...

If you have time and not too many gifts to make, a shawl is always a wonderful gift to snuggle up in on cold winter nights. This is one I made for my dear mother a few years back. You can also make smaller ones that just wrap around neck and shoulders, and the easiest thing to do is to do up a good size square that can be folded in half in a triangular fashion.

Brook and her friends would get together, draw names, and then each year they drew a color. Say it was BLUE. They set the limit at $5 and had to buy as much as they possibly could for $5 and ALL of the gifts had to be BLUE that year. I think a nice alternative, since everybody has a different favorite color, is that when you put your name on a little slip of paper for the drawing, you put your favorite color, so all your little gifts would be your favorite color. And they took great fun and delight in seeing how many things they could find, tiny things, in drugstores (tiny blue hair clips, cheap blue pens, cheap cheap cheap sparkly blue fingernail polish...), consignment shops, flea markets, wherever, (and these days we have Dollar stores everywhere, a font of great fun and surprises CHEAP!), like a scavenger hunt, finding the little items and wrapping them up in -- of course -- the person's favorite color paper (or maybe an old scarf that color, or cut up old clothing you won't wear anymore but it makes fabulous gift wrap!).

A picture of yourself wearing your
favorite flamingo light necklace
will not soon be forgotten!

Now, if you're not doing an exchange and have several people to buy for, even those $5's worth of items can add up so just MAKE the little things in that color. What about PURPLE Christmas cookies? Old salt and pepper shakers that have lost a mate make perfect little flower bottles for the kitchen windowsill for wildflowers. And SAVE all the little jars things come in through the year for these tiny gifts. And I can't stress enough, SHOP AT YOUR OWN HOUSE. You will find so many things it will be positively shocking. An unopened package of incense or never used candles. Again, if you sew, wash and dry an old pillow and cut up some of your old clothing that no longer fits or has a rip or tear somewhere and make a pillowcase for a pillow or two for throw pillows. My middle daughter made us all pillows one year and I still treasure it! Start looking around your house with a new eye... "What could I use THAT for? What might I turn THAT into?" What about cleaning and painting an old light shade? The possibilities are endless.

A wind-up
chicken is
a much
gift than
rocks in
sock of
who has
been a
bad boy
or girl!

So this is how I plan to prepare for Christmas, and in the light of my hard lessons and tender days, to be on the hunt or making something for someone I love will make all the difference. That's what I intend to do.

I knitted up this pouch a few years ago. A large single pouch sewn down the middle and covered with vintage buttons, with the handle color inspired by the buttons. A double pouch is a great idea. Glasses on one side and little note-pad and pen on the other, great for nature walks. Or cell phone in one side and sunglasses in the other, or whatever!

And if you don't celebrate Christmas, use these ideas for your own holiday if gift giving is involved. And have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving next week...

Happy Holidays, Merry Everything...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, That I May Have The Courage Of A Bird... and People's Reactions To Loss...

Birds of all kinds are full of courage. Have you not
seen the little Robin chase a cat? An Eagle will
keep a man away from the nest. A cock will even
attack a Lion.

~ John Audubon ~

Oh, that I may have the courage of a bird... I read this quote this morning and was shaken by it. While I am a quivering mess, Henry may be soaring through the skies, or holding up quite well with someone who has found him. He may have flown many miles before landing, and a good soul may have taken him in, being very good to him, and at a loss as to how to find his owner. I imagine Henry is holding up quite well, far better than I.

I have my moments when I feel strong, when faith wins out, when a kind note comes, prayers, support from unexpected places. Everything I have written here has been absolutely from my heart. In many ways I do have a deep strength and inner faith that hold me up. In other ways I am fragile and the thought of going on without this bird I love so well is almost unbearable. But of course I will go on, for many reasons, not the least of which is to honor Henry and all that he is. If we are reunited the joy will surpass any words that I, a writer, might come up with. Oh what a glorious day. No money, nothing, could top having my little grey boy back on my shoulder, giving me a kiss. But I must equal the courageous spirit that he must have during this time. I must hold him up in spirit to give him strength as he is surely sending me his own.

One of the things that I have thought much about, these last twelve days, since Henry went missing, has been to examine grief, loss, and people's reaction to them. My mother is dying of cancer. My beloved grey parrot has just flown away, and his return is uncertain. A dear friend lost a nephew last spring, he was murdered, and people lose loved ones, human and animal everyday.

People, including myself, are well intentioned and try their best to say the right thing. Would I put the loss of my bird and my mother in the same category? No, because they can't possibly be. The circumstances surrounding them and in my daily life are different. People have said to me, "Well, be glad it wasn't one of your children." Well of course I'm glad it wasn't one of my children. Nothing worse could happen to me. But in this moment, it is my beloved bird, the one who has been my constant companion for more than a decade, the one with whom I have woken each morning, fed and cared for, kissed and cuddled when there was no human here. For years. To say that a loss such as this is less than another kind of loss is to miss the point. Loss is loss, and in the moment, at the very time of the loss, words of kindness, help, support, prayers offered, mean far more than trying to cheer one up by suggesting that their loss isn't somehow as bad as another's.

How very often I have said to someone, in a heartfelt way, and meaning it deeply, "I am so sorry for your loss," without beginning to understand what that loss means to them. I am feeling so tender just now. I want to open my arms and my heart to everyone who has ever lost anyone or anything. We grieve, we pray, we hope for a good outcome, we steel ourselves for the worst. I have not given up hope but even now, the absence of his presence has created an enormous hole in the tapestry of my life.

If Henry were here he would be talking and singing and making me laugh and getting into mischief and making a mess and delighting me and sitting on my shoulder, eating right off my plate. There are no words that can blanket that kind of loss, and nothing that can fill that void. I have to believe that my boy will be back, but his absence now is causing me to examine many things, and see what I am made of. I am stronger than I knew.

I am afraid, I am sad, I am grieving and have at times wailed, calling out for him. I am also still, and silent, and move tenderly through my days caring for my 11 other animals, kissing noses and beaks, pressing my nose to the glass to commune with Vincent the beta fish, and I will babysit my precious grandson this afternoon, and hold him tight in my arms and read him a story, and kiss his fluffy, curly blond hair. And when my daughter gets home I will hug her tight and thank God that she is well, that my family is well. I will thank God for all that I have, which is much. I will try my very best to have the courage of the robin, the eagle, the rooster...

As I just finished typing the last few words I had to smile. Recently I read a quote that I have shared with a dear friend and we have repeated it back and forth to one another under different circumstances. It is brief, it is enigmatic, it is powerful.

The quote was attributed to the character Yoda in the Star Wars movies. It is:

"Do, or don't do. There is no try."

And so for Henry, for myself, for my family and loved ones, for everyone that has ever lost anyone or anything I will not try, I will be as courageous as the robin, the eagle, the rooster, and Henry himself, wherever he is at this moment. There is no try. And so, I carry on.

May we all have the strength to find that courage...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Henry's Poster, and A Lovely Award From My Dear Friend Shinade...

Please only use the above phone # with legitimate info.
about Henry. The number is being monitored. There is
a reward offered for his safe return.

As the days go on and my heart breaks a little more each day, I am simply in awe of the wonderful people and organizations worldwide that are looking for Henry. The above is the poster from "911 Parrot Alert," an incredible organization who has reunited parrots and their owners from as far as 2000 miles away after 7 months. They don't give up! And imagine my surprise when looking up African Grey parrots to find the above ad with them in the top 3 spots in Google's Search engine! Henry is advertised in every parrot hotline internationally or is in the process of being listed. Searching efforts are extensive. Meditate on that little bird and imagine him sitting on my shoulder, rubbing his cheek against mine, and saying in his funny little voice that sounds very like my own, "I love you mommy," because surely he would be on my shoulder saying that to me right now. Ads continue, help comes from everywhere and I am deeply touched, and my heart aches and tears constantly well up in my eyes. God, please bring my boy home.

In the midst of all of this I was sent an award from my dear friend Shinade. She is such a beautiful spirit and you can click on the ad to go to her wonderful website. My deepest thanks, hugs, and love go out to Shinade and all of the other wonderful readers and supporters who are helping me through this terrible time. I am humbled by your beautiful spirits.

Shinade, my love, you made my day. As have so many of you, too many to name here, you know who you are, and others can see you in the comments section here. I'm sorry I can't answer each comment individually, but know that you are in my heart and in my prayers with warm loving thanks going out in every direction.

Blessings and Love to One and All,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Note Of Clarification For People About My Blogs...

Dear Ones,

I have been receiving many notes of kind concern, not just about my dear Henry, who has yet to return (We haven't given up hope and are still making many efforts, so your continued prayers are most welcome...), and also some confusion over what has become of my blogs.

First of all THIS is the same blog you've been reading if you have been following, "Magic and Moments at Dragonfly Cottage." I simply changed the name to better fit what my heart required, and it is more representative of my work, my life, and myself at this juncture. I left a domain forwarding set-up so if someone went to the old address they would be forwarded here and not lost, but I bought the url for this one,, and it points to the blogspot address: I didn't want to lose people in the process.

Too, my other two blogs, "Art For Joy," and "Words, Words, Words - A Writer's Journey," I did delete. I was doing too much juggling with my mother's nearing the end of her battle with cancer, and when Henry disappeared the heart went right out of me. I just can't keep up with so much now. And more importantly, my life is all of a piece. The woman, Maitri; my animal companions and work here at Dragonfly Cottage; the book I am writing about my life here; my work as a writer and fiber artist and artist in general; my garden and more are all of a piece. Separating them out over three blogs was only further fragmenting me at a time I need to pull all of my parts and pieces together to handle what lies ahead.

Nothing will be lost, as I will now use this one blog for everything. Life at Dragonfly Cottage is all of the above. So you will hear about my writing and my art, the pugs and the parrots, big Moe my sweet old black dog, and never forget tiny golden Vincent, the beta fish. You will see, somewhere down the road, the move from this place to more spacious quarters as Dragonfly Cottage (which is wherever I am!) moves household to allow more room for myself, my work and my critters, and certainly you will be kept abreast of the search for my precious little Henry. Your thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt notes have been seeing me through and I just can't thank you enough.

I am sending you all warm regards, blessings in abundance, and thank yous too numerous to count for all of the loving support you have shown me. So no, as several dear people have written to me, we have not disappeared, just changed shape and form and gathered our skirts in around us so that we could all be in one place, and I can take a deep breath and settle a little and not feel that I am straddling so many things at once that I will likely topple over on my head.

I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued prayers and support. As the great Winston Churchill said, "Never give in, never give in, never give," and I certainly shall not.

With Love,

Maitri, and my Henry, who surely must be on his way home somehow...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Quit ~ The Silver Tint of the Clouds of Doubt...

Don't Quit...

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~ Anonymous ~

I have known this passage since I was young. It comes into my life just when I need it and then drifts off into the ethers again. It has just returned. Late yesterday evening fragments were floating in my foggy mind, but this morning, with the rising of the sun, it all came clear.

Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

There is the tendency, when we come upon hard times, to throw in the towel, to be frozen in time, to curl back into ourselves, in the fetal position, as if we were trying to climb back into the womb, but there is no going backward, and surviving.

Don't give up when the pace seems slow.

Waiting. Waiting for a loved one who has been suffering for far too long, and is struggling. Waiting, and not knowing. Watching a dream take flight as our heart leaves our body with the one flying toward the horizon and disappears and we try desperately to hold on like the tail of a kite. Waiting. Everything in slow motion, too slow. This is the time when it is easy to give up, to numb out, to want to rush through that which must move at the speed of molasses, to curl in upon ourselves in the fetal position and rock ourselves into a deep sleep. But then a moment comes when there is a sea-change. Something inside ourselves turns in another direction. It is possible not to give up, while still moving forward.

I have not been able to do my fiber work since Henry disappeared. I have been working on very large projects and they were too overwhelming to take up. But stasis does not serve either. Today I picked up a lovely little spoolknitter that my dear friend Noreen made, and I started spooling a cord that will be wonderful for a necklace. Baby steps, but steps, moving forward, one step at a time.

And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far...

How often have we been ready to give up on someone or something only to find that if we stayed the course we would find an answer, just around the corner. I believe that is where the saying, "It is darkest before the dawn," came from. I have found myself sitting, rocking in the dark, waiting for the break of day when the wild birds gather at the feeders, thinking that maybe if Henry was still in the area he would come to eat. With no voice due to this terrible chest cold I have I have whispered his name on the wind, hoping that he would hear me, and finally I must come in and start the day. There are five other parrots waiting for their breakfast and fresh water. The dogs are out, in, have their breakfast, go out again, come in again, and as they finish the parrots have eaten and are splashing and bathing. I make my coffee, the sun is brighter now, higher in the sky. I scan the horizon, and then I sit down with my coffee and start to work.

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

No, I don't lose faith and I don't give up. I do see that silver lining in the clouds and know that there are many good things to come, despite everything. I'll pick up my spoolknitter and the white/pink/fuschia cotton yarn will make a lovely cord. There is always smallwork that might be done and once that energy is going it warms us up to keep the forward momentum to get through the rest of the day. So no, don't quit, I tell myself, and I give myself a little nudge, and I keep rolling along.

Dont quit when life sends you a hard lesson. Look at the clouds. There are many answers there...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keeping The Faith, and Helping Each Other When We Stumble...

It helps, I think, to consider ourselves on a very long journey: the main thing is to keep to the faith, to endure, to help each other when we stumble or tire, to weep and press on.
~ Mary Richards ~

What a journey these last few days have been, and they are far from over, but somewhere between last night and this morning a kind of calm came over me. It's that place where you have cried so many tears you can cry no more, where everything that can be done has been done far and wide, and finally, while not ever, certainly, giving up, we come to a crossroads when the sacred sanctity of that still small voice within speaks to us, if we have a heart that will hear. I want Henry back with everything in me, and I may be blessed with his return. Prayer chains are going on all over the world for this little grey bird that over a decade has won the hearts of so many, and I thank everyone. It is the love, the prayers, the support and kindness, the generosity of my nearest and dearest and others far away who have gone above and beyond to get the word out in every way imaginable way and then some, that has lifted me up, not just through their actions, but through the compassionate grace and kindness they have shown me. "Thank you," doesn't suffice, but they are the only words I can think to say at this point, and they are delivered with all the love a heart can hold.

It is a funny thing that happens at a time like this. Amidst the grief, the shock, the knife-like pain that seems to slice you into pieces, come rays of light that allow a new kind of vision to emerge. Alongside the searching, the hoping, and the praying you become keenly aware of how much you are loved -- because we forget -- and you are touched by people who don't even know you in ways that move you so deeply you are changed
forever. Along with that you become keenly aware of the preciousness of all that you have, and you hold it dear. There are 11 other animals in this little cottage that need me. I have loved them tenderly, and gone to an even deeper level of awareness of the sacred gifts they are in my life. And that they are dependent on me also moves me through the days when I haven't felt like moving at all. I have become keenly aware of everything in my surroundings. This morning I watered all of the plants in the house with special care. I have been made acutely aware of how very blessed I am, and if I am graced by Henry's presence once more, it will be a richer atmosphere, a place where he is held even dearer than ever before, as they all will. Sometimes life jolts us out of our complacency and a kind of living stupor, going through the days taking things, precious things, for granted. As this electric current burns a path through our body, opening everything up, so much is there that spills out that we didn't know was there or didn't take time to see, and as we gather it all up in our arms we are given the opportunity to give thanks and praise for all that we can, and expand our world with more and more love, we can take more care to reach out to others as the dear people who have reached out to us have, awakening the human connection we all have, but in this fragmented world often forget.

I am remembering, now, a quote that I read recently by Viktor Frankl. Born in 1905, died 1997, he was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and a Holocaust survivor. When I read this quote it gave me great food for thought. Little did I know that, so very soon, it would have such deep relevance to me. He wrote...

"Whether we grow from this, or whether we die from this, is up to us."

As a Holocaust survivor he knew very well the depth of this lesson. And when I use it, I am not by any stretch entertaining the possibility that Henry won't return, but the time lived from here to there is a very critical time in my own soul development and in what I carry forward with me in life. There are many lessons I am learning through this, many awakenings, small and large, that will stand me in good stead no matter the outcome. I hope for the best, I pray for the best, but still I must go on every day from here to there and beyond, caring, ever more tenderly, for those who love and rely on me, as well as those I have never met and will never meet. Pain and suffering can harden or destroy us, it can also open us and soften us. My way is the latter, and my heart expands, exponentially, with each passing moment, as e-mails, prayers, and little kindnesses arrive.

I am being given so much. I am now more determined to give as as much as I possibly can within the ever-expanding confines of my own life. Little kindnesses, a tender word, a hand held, a warm meal taken, flowers brought, and most importantly, one's presence are things that we dismiss as small and unimportant. Let me tell you, from where I'm sitting right now they are huger than the solar system. They are the fabric of life, what holds it together. I, a weaver, one who creates large canvases of fiber, color, and texture, will now weave into my life all of the many things that have been given and done for me in these last days, so that I might not ever forget, and so that I will pass them on.

While I pray for the safe return of my little grey feathered man, and thank all of you who have been so kind, many in ways I will likely never know, I will continue to keep the faith, always, I never give up hope. Emily Dickinson said it best of all...

Hope is the thing with feathers --
that perches in the soul --
that sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all.

I won't stop Henry. I'm here waiting for you, now, always.

With Deep Tender Affection and Gratitude,