Friday, February 27, 2009

Proper Names ~ The Essence Of Our Past Behavior...

"Proper names are poetry in the raw.

Like all poetry they are untranslatable."

~ W.H. Auden ~

"Our names are labels, plainly printed on
the bottled essence of our past behavior."

~ Logan Pearsall Smith ~

Names. This should have been an easy post to write, or so I thought, until I started to write it four days ago. I have written, re-written, changed the title, the quotes and the graphic. I have stewed. It seemed silly. And then, yesterday, when I was holding my grandbaby in my arms, snuggled in my left arm and writing in my notebook, balanced on the right arm of the couch, I did a little experiment, and it helped me to understand not only quite a lot, but I realized, in that moment, the perfect way to approach what I wanted to say. Bear with me. It may be a strange post to some. And the journal teacher in me wants to tell you all to try this exercise. You might be surprised where you end up.

Naming is a very important thing, from the name given to the newborn babe in his or her parent's arms (and oh how parents struggle for just the right name...) to the names we will take in our adult life, whether a married name, or after divorce taking a different name, perhaps graduating from medical school or a PhD program and putting "Dr." in front of your name, all of these things are stepping stones along the path in our lives and each name holds so much information about our lives, so much that we carry in our heart, so much history and mystery, things that are emblazoned in our minds and things we have long since forgotten or blocked out. Now that's a whole different exercise, to try to list, and it may take weeks or months, the things that are still illuminated in our minds maybe 50 years later, as well as the things we have pushed away, blocked out intentionally, or carry as a heavy burden even today. (And put that baggage down. You've carried it long enough.)

So, yesterday, I jotted down my list of names and made little notes of explanation about them, very brief, and I am going somewhere with this!

1.) Baby Smith ... This is what it actually said on my first birth certificate. I was "relinquished," that being what the process of a birth mother handing her newborn child over to be placed in another's care, and I would remain in St. Mary's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois for one month before I was adopted.

2.) Marcia Ann Reidel ... This was my first name, given to me by my first adoptive parents, but they were separated by the time I was two, and my mother was remarried when I was 4 to a man who legally adopted me making me...

3.) Marcia Ann Tyson ... which was the name I carried for 16 years, from 4-20, when I would marry a lovely man and become ...

4.) Marcia Tyson Kolb... I lived this name for quite some time. From 20, in November 1974 until April 30, 1999, when I was 45 and separated from my 25 year marriage. Of course I still had this name until June 2005 when our divorce was final.

Upon my divorce I went straight to the courthouse and took the name I had been using unofficially for nearly a year, but made it legal on July 8, 2005. On that day I became Maitri Libellule. People wonder why? Well, when you are divorced in midlife and you know there may be another Mrs. ______ on the horizon, and you don't want to go back to your maiden name because you came from a history of abuse and the maiden name represents things you'd rather not carry with you into the future, the taking of a new name is a very powerful thing to do and I had been thinking about it for a few years before it finally happened. I filed the papers the day of the divorce but as in the old town squares where they put things up on a board for all the townsfolk to see, they had to post my old/new names on a board just outside the office door of the County Clerk's office for 10 days before the name change could be finalized. I found this hilarious. The office is deep in the bowels of the courthouse, hard to find and NObody would go there unless they had business of their own meaning they couldn't give two hoots about my name change. Finally the day came and I stood out in the beautiful sunshine on the courthouse steps with all my paperwork in my hands. I was now, legally and for all time.....

5.) Maitri Libellule ... Well, this name shocked everyone, no one understood it, not to mention spell or pronounce it, but that's okay, it had very deep meaning for me. As I have said before I took the name Maitri for the teaching of maitri, the Buddhist teaching of loving-kindness and compassion. I knew that my work for the rest of my life would be deeply spiritual and I wanted a name to reflect that, as well as being something I could remember and work toward living up to every day of my life. I fail, I fall down, but I keep getting up, because my name is Maitri and it is my responsibility.

I am half French, my biological grandmother's maiden name was Papillon (Butterfly in French...) and my home, and the 10 year old website I just closed, and all of my work was named Dragonfly Cottage. The Dragonfly is my totem animal. He leads us out of the darkness and into the light. This, too, would be part of my spiritual journey, and I was simply in awe as I went that day from the Social Security Office with my new card (You keep your same number but they issue you a new card with your new name.), the Driver's License bureau with a new driver's license saying "Maitri Libellule," which I just couldn't get over. For a long time I looked at the notarized paperwork, the social security card, the driver's license, and myriad other things and I giggled. Well, it was very important to me but it felt kind of fluttery and silly and yet very serious and deep at the same time. I have spent 4 1/2 years truly living my name until my given name, married name and so on seem a distant memory. And you don't just take a new name. You step into a completely new life when you take on a new name. I was reborn.

Auden wrote, in the quote at the top, that names are like poetry, and that they are untranslatable. This is absolutely true. I can tell you what my name is but that doesn't mean you know me. I can tell you why I took the name and what it means and you might think you understand but you couldn't possibly. The absolute truth is that when I took the name Maitri Libellule, I didn't just change my name, I changed my life, like the taking of the veil in a cloistered order. I retreated to my little cottage and went much deeper with the work I'd been doing for over 20 years, though few people realized it. I was dedicating my life to spirit, to prayer, to a life of service, teaching, counseling, healing, and most importantly, loving.

There are many kinds of love. The love we have for our parents, siblings if you have them (I am an only child.), for your spouse or partner, for your children, for your friends, and all are very special kind of loves. They are deep, and true, and fulfilling.

I myself am deeply in love with a woman I've known for 7 years, and should we ever decide to make a commitment to one another it will be the greatest joy and most tremendous love that two humans can experience. I love her with my whole heart and soul and being. But this, too, is a human love, it is temporal on this earth, everlasting in the afterlife, but somewhat limited in scope while we walk our parallel paths on this terra firma.

I knew when I took the name Maitri that I had chosen, not just a name, but a path, the path I would follow the rest of my life, and while I don't have it all figured out yet, I am definitely walking on that path each day that I am alive. I am a woman who has given her life to God, and whose path is one of service, what Ram Dass calls Compassion-In-Action. And to further complicate things, as I barely leave my home all of my work is done via computer, phone, and mail. The next name I would take would be the name that would put a seal on my true name and life, and this one I have struggled with. I feel it needs an explanation.

When I was ordained, the first weekend in January of this year, I had a limited choice of titles that I could take to designate myself as a clergy person, and this was very difficult. From the beginning I knew what I wanted to take, because it fit like nothing else, but I felt shy about it. My initial ordination papers said Reverend Maitri Libellule. Somehow I knew this was temporary, and by the time I received my wallet i.d. my true title was put on it. I am now:

6.) Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule ... I felt very shy taking this name, for the most part, I suppose, because I grew up Catholic and the head nun, if you will, was called Reverend Mother in many orders. I was not going to be a nun, but like they call Priests "Father," Buddhist men are monks and women nuns, and so on, I wanted a name that I felt better represented who I am. I am a mother of three and grandmother of one so far. I have a very soft, gentle, feminine, nurturing nature, and I mother everything that moves or breathes and have a very special gift for working with animals, most especially "difficult" parrots who have been given up on, and I am involved in pug rescue with 4 rescue pugs in my little home, not to mention big sweet old Moe who came from the Humane Society. I have always had a gentle way with my students, with those I have counseled and worked with, and from the time I took the name Maitri quite a number of people started calling me "Mama Maitri." I thought it was cute, but didn't give it much thought. And then, I was ordained.

Ordination is a very big step. You can be a very devout member of your faith, without taking that step, but if you do, once you do, you stop being an individual concerned first and foremost with your own life and that of those close to you, you give your life over to that of committed service and in my case, as I live a life almost completely cloistered, living very much like an anchorite, my path would have to be one of long distance ministering, an outreach ministry, via internet, phone and mail. And that's what I am doing, and I am working very hard to structure it. It is both humbling and exciting to realize that I will not be ministering from a church to a local congregation, but to people all over the world. Humbling and important. Warm, gentle, and motherly, as best I can.

My in house "congregation" are the twelve animals that I live with, and it is a true learning experience every day. Last week, Maya, the macaw, came back to live with me as I wrote a couple of weeks ago. This bird, whom everyone, except Jeff, is afraid of, and who hadn't been with me for a decade, now lays her head on my shoulder and I hug her and kiss her all over her face. She is like a baby in my arms. I am her mother. I feed her warm formula from a very large syringe to help her gain weight and feel nurtured, to bring the life force back into her. She looks up at me with the small bright eyes of a child, unsure, but wanting to believe that this time she will be loved and cared for all day long. She already talks to me and has picked up language from the other parrots here. I am a mother to my animal family, to my children and grandchild, to many people I have worked with, I seem to fall into that role, without thinking or trying, and I always wondered why, and now I know.

Perhaps the most important part of my ministry is to help those who need help, love those who feel unloved, nurture in any way that I can, show compassion and kindness to all that I meet, and help new souls be birthed into this world, meaning helping someone transform themselves from a person lost and in pain, to a person who can begin the path of transformation, finding their true path in life, and helping them through. I was trained as a lay midwife by a doctor. I am a midwife in people's lives today. I say that shyly, blushing a little, but it is the truth of my being, of my world, of my commitment.

To that end I will now use my proper title, Reverend Mother Maitri, but Maitri is just fine. As I have to use the title in certain circumstances, I felt I'd best start using it and make it clear why I am.

There is a beautiful meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh. In the hour long meditation he plants seeds to guide our meditation, and one that made me cry until my shoulders shook was that no matter who we are today, who our mother is, our father, and those around us, we should meditate on them as a five year old child. We all started out innocent and pure. Life takes us and does what it will for this earth journey, and perhaps an example that I can give you is what happened to me when my father died, he who had abused me.

As he lay dying, I sat next to his bed holding his hand with my left hand and writing in my journal with my right hand, writing it all out, the pain, the confusion, the anger, the pain in my body and soul, and through the process of those days, watching this man die, I let go, I forgave him. I will be forever marked by the abuse, but as I wrote in a book I hold very dear, we have to draw the line in the sand somewhere. I wrote in that book, "How do we stop the chain of pain, the gift that keeps on giving?"

It didn't start with my father. I am who I am because of what he did to me, but he was who he was because of what was done to him, and so on and so forth back and back and back. Finally, if we are to be at peace, and truly love, we must forgive, not just the person who harmed us, but so that we can be released and begin to find peace inside. My father died the day before Valentine's Day, 1988, 21 years ago, and I have done a lot of therapy and writing and living my way into my new skin because of that experience. Not the abuse, the forgiving.

No, it doesn't happen overnight. I still had my children to raise, home school, the marriage would eventually end, and I would spend a decade alone in such pain, such a long rebirthing, that it felt as though I were naked in this world. Not just without clothes, but without skin. I shed my old skin over that decade and once naked you enter the cocoon and begin to grow into a whole new being. I went into the cocoon Marcia Tyson Kolb, and I came out Maitri Libellule. And this year I became Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule, and while you can just call me Maitri, I wear the mantle with pride, and with the full weight of the responsibility. I am Reverend Mother Maitri, and while I felt shy at first even saying it out loud, I am wearing it now with pride, it is part of my new skin, of the woman I will be for the rest of my life.

I can say it now, with pride, blushing a little, still feeling a bit shy, knowing that a lot of people will think I'm "putting on airs" using a title, and yet with a macaw on my shoulder, a big black dog laying on my feet, an old pug fella asleep on my other shoulder, I know that I am meant to be exactly who I am: a mother, a grandmother, a reverend, a reverend mother, a Mother Maitri, a compassionate healer, a gentle tender of souls, and as my prayer beads move through my fingers, I pray for each of you, for everyone in the world, and I truly do love from a generous open heart, with a name that is unnameable, with a bottle on the table in front of me full of the essence of my past lives, many lives in one, so that I never forget who I was, nor who I am, and I never stop moving forward, no matter how I tremble, no matter people's opinions of my unorthodox way of ministering, no matter those who doubt me, and I can draw a line in the sand when it is all too much, and sit here with my animals and my fiber work, because that's who I am too.

Unexplainable. Unnameable. Me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What It Means To Believe ~ Building A Temple In My Heart...

"I find it sad to consider that belief has become a scary word,

because at its Greek root, 'to believe' simply means
'to give one's heart to.'

~Kathleen Norris, from Amazing Grace ~
In the chapter, "Belief, Doubt and Sacred Ambiguity."

The last week I have been tossing and turning on the inside, struggling with something that I could not understand. And day by day it came to me, like each bead on my strand of prayer beads, be it a rosary or a mala, each prayer taking me deeper, opening my heart further, so that I came to understand that I was not yet on my true path. I was edging into it sideways, but not there, not just yet.

Yes, I am an ordained minister, but more importantly, I am Maitri, and when I took that name legally my path was laid out before me like a holy cloth on an altar. I am to build a temple, a temple in my heart, and it is in this temple that I shall pray, for strength, for guidance, and to be led by spirit so that I might fulfill my purpose in this lifetime, to carry love and compassion to all that I meet.

I have struggled all of my life with the concept of organized religion, even while holding within me the knowledge that I was deeply connected to spirit, and my work would be spirit-led. To that end I pray that I may live my way into my name, Maitri, without a title, without needing to use my last name, except legally, because the practice of maitri is what I am to spend my life learning, and practicing, and sharing while I may. Yes, I will build a temple in my heart, brick by brick, prayer by prayer, because I gave my heart long ago to a belief in love, love under all circumstances, a pure, sweet, gentle love. Not grasping, not judging, always forgiving, never regretting, always opening like the thousand petals of the lotus, as long as I am alive.

I want, so much, for people to reach out to one another from the center of their beings where the fire in their belly burns everything away so that the embers glow beautifully, and everything is seen as brilliant and golden. Must we name religion to live in spirit? Must we look for differences and fight against them, instead of seeking the sameness in the eyes of those around us, and loving them with open arms?

My prayers are not naive, they are hopeful, they are the bricks that I am building my temple with, each brick handmade from the mud from which the lotus flower springs forth. The most beautiful flower rises above the muck and the mire and holds it's petals aloft, opening slowly, slowly, with an iridescent radiance as the sun shines on it each day. As human beings we are not without our frailties and weaknesses, we are not the lotus flower, many days the mud clings to our boots, but it is in the striving to rise above it all, yet again, another day, another moment, that we become the lotus, if only for a brief period of time, and this is worth giving one's life to, to rise above the ugliness, the harshness, the unkindness, the dark side of life, and become a petal of the lotus, opening each day, and each day that follows, again and again.

I believe my maitri path is one of temple building, stopping to pray in the temple and refresh myself in the cool, underground waters that flow within me, as well as helping others to build their own temples in their hearts. We feel the stream flowing when we lie in bed at night and our breath comes and goes, our bellies rising and falling, floating downstream in sleep, healing the hurts of the day, and preparing for another day of opening and loving.

I started, after my ordination, to try to do something that it is not in my nature to do, to move too fast into the outside world, to build something outside of myself. I have nothing to build outside until my temple is built within. Perhaps that is what this lifetime is about, to live in love, to give of ourselves, to move forward from our hearts, with open arms, and each good deed done, each loving word, each tender gesture, each act of kindness, is another brick to add to the wall of the temple that we carry inside. Perhaps by the time we have built our holy temple, and hear the bells ringing, this is the time when we cross over from one reality to another, into that radiant light, where we meet the God of our understanding and bask in heavenly grace, where we are forgiven our sins and our very hearts open wide, like the lotus finally spent, bursting open and releasing her seeds for the next life.

We live in a garden of grace, and like the flowers in the garden, we grow from a seed, we move through the steps of maturity and reach our peak, we begin, slowly, to fade, and then we pass from one cycle to the next when it is time to plant the seed once again. This is how I see our worldly existence. One life lived, ending only to open to another, and on and on and on, like a field full of wildflowers, constantly reseeding itself, coming back again and again and again. My temple is surrounded by flowers. I stay grounded in reality by watching their cycles and patterns of growth. Every lesson we need to learn is always right before our eyes in nature, I believe this with all my heart.

We seek the answers to life, religious leaders fight over which one is right, and yet the very people called "heathens," those who live closest to the earth, those whose beliefs are grounded in the earth beneath their feet, are closest of all to the truth. If God created the heavens and the earth, would He not try to teach us, through that which he created, the meaning of life, the cycles of birth and death and all they hold and what comes beyond this world in Nature herself? A gardener knows as well. You plant a seed, it sprouts, it grows, it forms buds, it's petals open and for a time -- and the length of times vary greatly, some blooming for a day, others for months -- it shows it's incredible beauty to all whose eyes fall upon it. We feel sadness to see the leaves wither and turn brown, when we see the fruit fall from the tree and rot on the ground, but there are always seeds inside that are the birthing of another life. Look not to a book, but to the world the creator made. The answers are always there, before us, every single day, and the further we stray from Nature, the more frenzied our lives become, calm leaks out of us like a boat with holes taking on water. We sink, slowly, slowly, slowly, day after day.

For some long time holes have sprung in my boat and my life has been a series of patch jobs, but patch I have, and onward I have sailed. Now, in my mid-fifties, it matters not, for my job now is not to race to some unknown finish line, growing larger, better, more successful, clinging to the collection of worldly goods. Now, I walk barefoot in a flowing caftan, a shawl around my shoulders, amongst birds and dogs and plants and flowers and books, and I sit in the middle of my temple and meditate and pray. And answers come, and I feel calm. When the turbulence rises again, as it surely will, I know to stop, to return to my breath -- for without our breath we are not alive -- and to release the tension from every muscle of my being, and slowly I find my posture, I bow my head, I meditate, I pray.

The world will move on fine without me, if I choose to work from my cloistered world where I am so in sync with the now thirteen animals who share my home, that when I take a nap among them, they all become quiet and nap with me. We move as one, this flock of birds, this pack of dogs, one Buddha Beta fish and his 2 snail friends, and we capture moments in our nets, like stars in the heavens, and we kneel before these revelations in wonder and prayer. My life frightens some, because they don't understand one moving so slowly, so outside of the "normal" world, and yet I am here, building my temple. This is my job.

Just now Maya, the blue and gold macaw who came back to live with me this week, is speaking in "macaw" which sounds much like mumbling, but there are a few crystal clear words. She is a clown, she is beautiful, and she is also fragile. Though I hand raised her and she was with me the first year of her life, and with Jeff the next nine, she has never forgotten me and we are the only ones who can hold or touch her. I stand respectfully, silently, moving slowly, talking softly, just above a whisper, I sing her baby song to her (Every parrot I have hand-raised has had their own baby song and every one of the six parrots in this house know their song and will stop whatever they are doing when they hear it. I can now approach Maya with song and prayer, with gentleness and love, and I have been able to hold and cuddle her, to walk about with her on my shoulder, and to kiss her precious white face. There is nothing in the world, I think, softer than a macaw's face, the white skin so fragile and thin, that to kiss that skin, to be allowed to kiss her at all, is an honor, an awesome one, for this girl that could eat through a piano leg can also be as gentle as a lamb.

We are not taught to move slowly, respectfully, to gain one's trust, to take our time, to approach someone gently and with care, bowing to their own tender feelings and fears. People are in too much of a hurry. We live in a fast food society where everyone wants to be in the rat race, or why would they be there? I make no judgment, rather I sit quietly and watch, and listen. People are rushing so fast through their lives that I wonder, sometimes, if they will dive head-long into a casket with a list of "things to do" still held in their hand. I wonder if they see things, really see things, in the world around them. I think not. No time. Like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, we watch people rushing always "too late, too late, for a very important date," but what are they rushing past, or toward, and is it really worth it? What are they giving up? Is what they are giving to get worth the price they pay. It is not for me to judge, merely a question posed for me to ponder, because I would like to be able to reach these people, and, while honoring all that they are, to show them that they can still gain what they seek by taking time to build that castle within, to sit in it each day, to believe (in something, anything) and more importantly, to give their hearts to.

What do you give your heart to? What do you believe? Each day I come closer to an answer -- it slips through my fingers and I let it go -- and the next day I am able to hold it for just a little longer, and in the center of my being I know that I come closer to a truth I am to learn every single day. When finally I am able to grasp it, another question arises and again I move toward it, slowly, breathing deeply, knowing that all things are answered in their own good time, and it is not mine to rush, but simply to move forward, lifted aloft on a cloud of grace, and keep on moving along my path as long as I live.

And so if belief is "giving one's heart to," then I believe with all of my heart, whose doors swing wide open, that I have given not just my heart but my whole being, and I shall continue to build my temple, and if I can help another begin to build theirs, so I shall.

I walk a labyrinth each day, eyes closed. I get to the center and sit down on my zafu and meditate. I am still fingering my prayer beads and doing kinhin, walking meditation, to find my way back out of the labyrinth. Each new day is a new question. I can only live one question at a time. I am trying my best.

With Blessings, and the deepest love, I hand you a brick made by my own hands with the mud underneath the lotus flower. Feel the holy center of each brick and put it in it's proper place. Build your temple, and then we can look at one another, eye to eye, and see the growing calm in each other, and we can walk together, parallel for awhile, until there is a fork in the road and we each go our separate ways.

Travel joyfully, listen carefully, walk slowly, and discover, once and for all, what you have truly given your heart to in this life.

Build your temple. I'll be building mine.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Very Touching Honor From Someone Whom I've Come To Trust and Hold Dear...

February 7, 2009

"This time, SlogBite is featuring two sites from the same author. Many of you probably know her. Her message is so important and so critical in today’s world that I strongly suggest visiting. She is known as the “Compassionate Blogger”, Reverend Maitri Libellule. I also encourage you to sign her visitor’s list for compassionate bloggers. If you are on her list, then I will approve you if you want to join SlogBite’s “Compassion” category."

Dear Ones,

Much to my surprise and delight, Mel, at Slogbite, wrote to tell me that I was the featured "sites" of the day. He usually only lists one. Today he listed both of mine. I am so touched and humbled by this award I barely know what to say.

I am very shy about awards and really don't put them on my site anymore, NOT because I don't appreciate them enormously, but because I don't want it to feel like I'm tooting my own horn by putting them up. However, this particular double-honor has the potential to help others. I am not a joiner, don't care for ads, and even took the donations info. off of my site because it just didn't feel right for me. But any of you who join Slogbite because of the above award will be put in the Compassion category (And any other ones you choose that fit the scope of your blog.) and you can get a lot of exposure. He is growing very fast and doing amazing things. Here's the button I have on my Compassionate Blogger's Circle page, and you can use it to click over to join Slogbite if you'd like. You won't regret it. I love it!

Thanks so much Mel. I'm pink-cheeked and grinning and very touched, more than I can say, for these awards. God Bless you...


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Coming Full Circle...

"And it took me, since I was 17 and left home, running from God,
to now, as a 30-year-old man, when I honestly feel like I've
come full circle and my heart's finally in the right place."

~*~ Scott Stapp ~*~

Maya and I in the year 2000. She came to me as a
tiny baby in August 1999 and I hand-raised her. And
in September of 2000 she went to live with my best
friend Jeff, whom she adored, and he had lost his
beloved blue and gold. Now, his life is frantically busy
and she is not doing well. Maya is coming back to me.

It would have been nice, if, like Scott Stapp, I had come full circle at 30, but I had just had my 3rd child at 29 and things were hectic and we had moved to the country to go "back to the land," and those were the years when a family can barely keep themselves together, all of a piece, and keep on keeping on. And it is right and proper that my earlier womanhood should have been spent with a wonderful man raising our three precious children who are now adults themselves, one with our first grandchild. And though Kevin and I haven't been married for awhile, I do and always will love him dearly. We are very close. But we too came full circle, and when the children had grown, our paths crossed with a hug goodbye, and off we went to live the next phase of our lives.

I cannot live the simple life of St. Francis, not that simple, any more than I could go be Thoreau in the woods, but I can simplify more and more, needing less and less, and caring for the precious animals in need who come to me, and if you came to my little cottage you would find it somewhat startling that I live in a tiny place with more animals than furniture (though there are an abundance of dog beds on the floor for the five dogs) and the five parrots, and soon Maya, are quite lively companions, not to mention the beta fish plus his new friends, the Golden and Black "Mystery Snails" -- which I believe to be Apple Snails, and someone please write and tell me if I am wrong -- make for a soothing atmosphere. Their slow-moving, peaceful calm, helps me daily come back to my breath and brings me back to mindfulness.

Upon becoming a minister, at the beginning of the year, I felt I needed to make grand gestures and be very organized and, frankly, be something more than I am. Being a minister doesn't mean we are the Almighty Being (which I never thought I was, but you get my drift...), but simply a human being, giving over our lives to a path of service. And it was with a great deal of relief that a few days ago I made arrangements to close my ten year old website, Dragonfly Cottage, and one of my blogs, The Maitri Ministry. With the latter it was too confusing for people, or they thought I had named it after myself which looks egoistic in the extreme, when in truth I had named myself after it. I took the name Maitri, legally, as a guiding star to follow, all the days of my life, the Buddhist practice of maitri, of loving-kindness and compassion. It's why I became a minister, it is what I strive to be, it is what I want to give to people and to animals, it is want I want to give to the world, as I am able. And to do that I need less, not more. And I need to love more, and more, and more, not less. And I need to make more room in my life for doing just that.

Dragonfly Cottage is the name of my home, and it is very dear to me, and it had it's heyday as a website as a very active community of thousands with, at one time, 15 yahoo lists, several moderators to help me after it became completely overwhelming, many beautiful, wonderful times, and finally, it, like all things, ran it's course. For the last two years I've barely touched it but to make periodic changes. And bills come due, and one looks hard, and it is not part of less, it is part of more. And February 13 it will disappear into cyber-space. And finally I am at peace with that. Finally, that feels right. It's been a decade, and as it turned 10 years I was ordained, and now I am to follow my path.

Prior to Dragonfly Cottage I spent 25 years being a mother, raising my children, and I will be a mother and a grandmother all of my life, and I take great pride in that, and I am bursting with love for my children, for my family, but they are on their own paths now. I have their backs, but they are doing well, and I am so proud of them all. And now their mother has her path, to be a mother and a grandmother, a friend and a counselor, a teacher and a healer, to all that I can. And I am ready. I am also a Warrior, A Samurai, cutting away the dross in my life to make what stays clearer. I am a great warrior fighting my own demons to serve others. I have come to love and accept myself as I am, and with my myriad of mental health diagnoses, all controlled by medication and nearly 40 years of therapy, I am balanced, I am calm, but I need to be ever watchful and take care of my own life. It is what I have learned to do, and I do it pretty well. It is what I have to give others, on many levels.

I am no longer the abused, frightened child. I am no longer the wife and mother in a household of small children. I live alone and my children are my little animals who need me. I am giving my life to them. I am giving my life to you. I am writing books to share what I know so that I might help others. I am giving what I have to give. I have come full circle, and it is just exactly where I'm supposed to be. I am a holy woman. An ordinary domestic mystic, as Lucie Brock-Broido wrote in her incredible book of poems, A Hunger. In that poem she wrote:

"This work of mine, the kind of work which takes no arms to do,
Is least noble of all. It's peopled by Wizards, the Forlorn,
The Awkward, the Blinkers, the Spoon-Fingered, Agnostic Lispers,
Stutterers of Prayer, the Flatulent, the Closet Weepers,
The Charlatans. I am one of those."

I am one of those. I am a Domestic Mystic. I am not one of the Great Ones, I am one of the small ones, and we need the small ones. When we are young we seek fame and glory. When we reach midlife and beyond we come to realize what a holy thing it is to find God in a rock, in a blade of grass, in an old dog's eyes. I see it in birds who come to me frightened, injured, or disabled, the ones nobody wants. I want them, I heal them, I kiss them, I give them everything I have to give. I am one of those too.

So the injured, abused child is now the healer, the dreamer, the one who loves, even the forlorn, especially the forlorn. I am a Domestic Mystic. I am one of those.

Be at peace. Spread Love. It is more important than you know...