& we hire a pile driver

the end of the story is always the beginning.

it sometimes feels like we are moving in the wrong direction as we dig, drill, and burrow down & down & down, deeper & deeper – looking for bedrock – searching for a solid foundation upon which to begin building a home, base, structure, edifice – something! upon which we can then place the castles (and temples, altars, shrines) we have already built in the air.

& we hire a pile driver – pound pound pound – do you feel the repercussions, the vibrations! hallelujah! oh – they spread out & out & out – yes.

ps – isn’t Google great!? here’s what i found about building castles in the air.

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

The Princeton Edition of Walden was published in 1971.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. (Walden, 323- 324)

pps – and here’s the first three entries (edited slightly) Google returned for “pile driver” search. tmi?

  1. Pile driver – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pile_driver

    A pile driver is a mechanical device used to drive piles into soil to provide foundation support for buildings or other structures. The term is also used in reference

  2. Piledriver (professional wrestling) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piledriver_(professional_wrestling)

    A piledriver is a professional wrestling driver move in which the wrestler grabs his opponent, turns him upside-down, and drops into a sitting or kneeling position,

  3. Sex positions – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_positions

    The piledriver is a difficult position sometimes seen in porn videos.

The Hub of the Wheel

Today I exist at the hub of the wheel. I am surrounded, on all sides, and part of me pushes, pushes, pushes — please, just give me some space, some time, some quiet, some peace. And part of me feels more centered than surrounded, and still there is a sorrow. Oh how I yearn to connect. I imagine sitting down, facing outward toward all the “gifts” that surround me. Facing just one, opening it, savoring it. But there are so many more! I tell myself there are too many. That I can’t do it.

Shot through the heart . . .

“Shot through the heart and you’re to blame. You give love a bad name.” Somehow “I” became the one shot, the one to blame, and the one who is wrong – who can’t even “love” properly – “I” ruin it for everyone (give it a bad name).

I, personally, “wrecked” love – me – little ol’ me – had the chance and said no and sent everyone and everything – to hell – eternal damnation – I sinned and I was separated from God and separated everyone and all — it is all my fault.

Now that is quite a story – Pandora – me – evil impatient curious heart-closing – eve eating the apple – ruining paradise for all – Jo.

quite a story.

— the feminine.

Is it just me?

And what about the story? is it “true”? necessary? kind? – revealing the wound – opening it —

is it a wound? or just part of me? is there a way to love, honor, receive its gift? accept, invite its fullness? “heal” — shift perspective

— bless   yes   thank you

join together  walk together

journey together  arm in arm

come, with me, together — we are not handicapped, disabled; we each carry a piece of the whole; and we each, together, brighten the sky each day —

didn’t you know we (all of us, together) make the sun rise?

[and the thrasher calls]

Musings on Reconciling from a Spiritual Eclectic

On Saturday I attended my first Charge Conference. I’m still not really sure exactly what that means but it apparently is an annual event for United Methodist Churches where the individual churches meet, make decisions for the upcoming year, and then file an annual report with their larger Conference.

I was in my car, driving across town, and in that “place” where random thoughts just seem to appear. I first thought about how I described finding a “home” at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church (UMC) – who would have ever thought there could be a Christian Church where a pagan who loves Jesus could be welcomed and feel at home?

And then another question just popped into my head – isn’t that what St. Francis of Assissi was – a pagan who loved Jesus? Didn’t he commune with nature, with the birds, with the animals? Didn’t he worship nature?

Then I arrived at St. Paul’s UMC. This is where many of the churches in the Conference (geographical area I guess) would join together for the day for the Charge Conference. The day’s plans included registration, with an opportunity for fellowship, coffee and food, a shared worship service, a workshop on “Creating Worship with Deep Soul,” lunch, and individual church meetings.

It was a beautiful day. It felt like the first real day of Fall and what a glorious day it was. During the night the wind had howled and whirled and blown all the warm air away, leaving behind a gift of rain, bright blue skies with just a few puffy white clouds, some snow on the Catalina’s, and fresh cool crisp air. The critters were rejoicing too – lizard, butterfly, hummingbird, hawk . . .

I arrived quite early and was still in a bit of a contemplative mood, so I skipped the fellowship and went into the mostly empty sanctuary. Several people were practicing and preparing for the worship service and it was delightful to be able to peek behind the scenes in a way, and so inspiring to hear and see some of their plans. I settled into a pew near the front, left room for others from St. Francis to join me, and felt open to whatever might transpire.

It turned out to be a lovely opportunity for conversation first with someone from St. Francis, and then with a woman from Christ Church. Those small gifts of “connection” are so special and wonder full.

I could write a book about the worship service. It was stunning, wonderful, awesome, amazing, and “just right” for me. The sanctuary itself was beautiful, especially the glorious stained glass window you only saw when you turned and faced the back of the sanctuary. It was so colorful and full of symbols and images I could imagine staring at it for many many days and finding something new every time I looked. How could it possibly get any better than this?!! That’s how it felt – an answer to prayer and So Much More.

You see I had been up in the very early morning hours writing about Jesus. Owning up to my feelings about him. Reconciling, I guess you could say, with my Christian “roots.” You see, even though I see the divine in nature, in all people — in all creation — I still have a very personal relationship with Jesus. Even though I am very open in this Blog, there are some things I don’t want to write about here. Some things I tell very few people, if anyone. Some things that are “personal,” “private.” Suffice it to say, this relationship is very real for me.

At different parts of my life (and just recently) I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t just be simpler, easier to choose one path – become a Nazarene, become a secular humanist, become a Mormon, become a 12-step adherent, become a Wicca practitioner, become a goddess – nature – new age spiritual person, become a member of St. Francis, become a Religious Science practitioner, become an interfaith spiritual director, become a minister . . . Alas, this singular intensely focused way is not “my” way, not “my” path.

And there are expectations to release, losses to mourn, grieve, move through. But (love the but!), there are great joys, such great joys, from being able to accept, allow, love – reconcile – all parts of “me.”

So, back to the worship service. I (we) got to worship Jesus! I (we) got to see Jesus – in the beautiful stained glass window! I (we) got to hear stories about Jesus and his disciples! I (we) got to sing about Jesus, pray about Jesus, speak about Jesus, and I (we) got to break bread and commune with Jesus! It was glorious and my heart was so full. I guess I didn’t fully understand or know how strong my desire was until I was so deeply nourished, fed, sated.

And here’s where it gets really fun to be a spiritual eclectic. I see, feel, “know” that it is possible to reconcile Christianity. It is part of me, real, true. I understand and love the fundamentalist born-again Christians. I understand, love, respect the staunch Lutherans. And there is a place we can meet. I see it. I know it. “Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there lays a field. I’ll wait for you there.”This is how Rumi puts it.

It is easy for me to see how to love “them” – “they” are “me.”

And I wonder if “they” would ever be able to love “me.” And I realize that it is possible, of course – I have experienced it – haven’t we all!? The love. That is where we connect – the love. The heart, the open heart, the breaking heart, the broken heart, the yearning heart, the born again heart, the “sinner’s” regret full self condemning heart . . .

As a great sage once put it, “It’s easy. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. Love, love, love. . . .” And maybe you could say I’m on one path – the path of unconditional love. And, yippee!!, I’ve signed up to take a nonviolent communication (NVC) year long immersion program beginning the end of January. My heart is smiling, my face is smiling, my fingers, toes . . . . love, love, love . . . .it’s easy.

So, this is what I understand about being “born again” – it is a profound and phenomenal spiritual experience! Knowing god, knowing love, knowing liberation, freedom, forgiveness, and so much more. Once a person has experienced that – isn’t it understandable that he or she knows that as the (one) way? And here’s what I understand about those who believe that the only way to heaven is through Jesus and believing that he died for our sins – they truly believe it! It is real for them. Their faith is so strong, so steadfast, so powerful, and so real.

And I also know (just a very small portion) of the pain, the deep longing to share the good news with loved ones — and everyone is a loved one. And the loved ones usually don’t want to hear. And hearts break all the time. All I want to do is love, give, as God and Jesus have given to me – can’t you see it?!! Won’t you receive my gift?!! Oh such anguish. To have this gift of eternal salvation and to have those I love choose hell and eternal damnation instead. Such helplessness, such hopelessness – oh the humanity of it!

Knowing these things opens my heart. And, what is perhaps even more awesome, I know these “other” hearts are open to me too. Given the chance, they will share their love and faith any way they know how. Even through the pain.

Circling the Wagons

For some, there seems to be an impulse now to “circle the wagons.” I was at first willing to see this simply in terms of fear and contraction, but maybe there’s more to it.

I thought of quail, who for safety and protection gather in a circle, facing out. When a threat arises, they flush and startle and are able to remain safe, together.

And what did it originally mean, to circle the wagons? Wasn’t it a communal life affirming act?

And I recall the October 17, 1989 earthquake. And there was certainly a similar response. We gathered together communally for our security – it was a powerful – seemingly almost biologic – urge. We gathered with neighbors in the open courtyards during the day. At night our families felt best all sleeping together in one room. And we did. Our bodies complied with the powerful urge.

And perhaps this is similar to an impending “birth” – a process that can be seen as a crisis – scary, dangerous, messy, bloody, somebody could die, fear and pain is involved – but there’s so much more too. There is a great communal and protective urge too – to celebrate new life but also to join together to nurture and care for this precious new life.

Yesterday I was reading a book where the author (Nancy L. Bieber) wrote that “Something More” is one of her favorite “names” for God, Spirit, Divine, Life, Love . . .  – whatever name we choose to call “it.” And I kind of like the name “so much more.”

What if god was one of us?

It’s a song – of course!

And this is very new for me. My Grandma Lorraine was schizophrenic. As a child, I remember her as lovely and wonderful in her quirkiness. But, in my adult life, I have always been afraid of people who seem “crazy.” It was one of the hardest things for me about being a Public Defender. Many of my colleagues were great at dealing with people with mental illness, but it was always very difficult for me. I never knew quite what to do, never felt comfortable or confident in my interactions.

Fast forward to this past Sunday. I was attending Celebration/Worship services at St. Francis in the Foothills UMC. A thin, disheveled, dreadlocked, kind of crazy looking/acting young man walked right up to David in the front of the Center and said something like “I am a Jew, being persecuted by my parents, I don’t know where to go.” My immediate thought when I first saw this man standing there very close to David was, “He is Jesus.”

I don’t remember exactly the order of events, but I do remember stating loudly something like “this is a good place for you.” David repeated that, and also told the man he would talk to him at the end of the service, and a retired minister came forward and gently escorted the man to a seat and sat with him.

I did notice David talking to the man after the service. And later, I noticed the man sitting alone outside on a bench a bit apart from our after service gathering spot. I heard someone say that if you engaged him, he would talk for an hour.

I had a very strong sense that this was a very good place for that young man to be – the physical place that is called Saint Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church. Earlier in the week I had meditated on Spirit’s Highest Vision for St. Francis and one of the things I saw was a very real “vortex” or “cone” of energy “above” the property. I also had the sense that it was a very healing energy. So, I was not at all surprised that this man was somehow attracted to St. Francis. And I, once again, felt the pull to tell him that this was a good place for him to be.

I approached him, asked if I could introduce myself, shook his hand, and learned his name is Benjamin. I sat on the bench next to his, and told him I wanted to let him know that I thought this was a good place for him to be. He was not too interested in engaging with me, stayed turned away, and said he was just waiting for someone to give him a ride down the road to the Jewish Community Center. I said something else, can’t remember what, and he again said the same thing, he was just waiting there for the ride. I told him that I knew for him, even if he was unable to know for himself, that he would make the right choices for himself. As I stood to leave, I once again offered him my hand, he took it, and I told him, meeting his eyes, that he would be very well. There was a connection. He heard me. And some part of him knew that I believed that. He asked me my name, and I told him. It sounds kind of sappy, but I must say it – I had a very real heart connection with Benjamin – and I would not be at all surprised to learn that he (like everyone, isn’t it what we believe?) is Jesus.

Matthew 25:40 The Message (MSG)

37-40″Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:45 The Message (MSG)

45″He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

Potluck

I’m taking the HEART series course and we share a heart healthy vegetarian potluck meal each time we meet. It’s wonderful! We get to “break bread” together, try wonderful new recipes and connect with each other.

We are assigned a particular category each week, but it’s pretty “loose.” One week one of the gentlemen was not able to get home to pick up his dish, so he just brought himself. One week I lost my list, and the instructor no longer had a copy so she said just bring something heart healthy and yummy!

I have been a bit concerned about what I could bring this evening because I have an appointment this afternoon which might make it challenging to get there on time, much less worry about what to bring, and keep cool, or keep warm . . .

So, last night, in my dreams, the instructor told me that I needed to bring 5 items for our next potluck. I think it was for some kind of “amend” but I can’t recall that part. I thought she was kidding, but then I realized she was not. When I woke up enough to write something down about it in my journal, I wrote about the new way (a different take on fairness or justice):

  • some bring some,
  • some bring none,
  • and some bring more.

Sounds “just right” to me. Or maybe “just us” (say it aloud, it sounds like justice).

Reconciling with Country Western Music

In her book Listen with the Heart – Sacred Moments in Everyday Life, Joan Chittister says this about music: “If you know what music it is that you can’t bear to hear, you’ll know what memory it is that you haven’t come to peace with yet.”

For me, it was country western music – the music my Dad listened to and the music my Step-Dad listened to. And this insight did help me come to peace with memories of them.

And what a joyous reconciliation with country western music I’ve experienced! I don’t know if you’d call Elvis country western, but apparently my mind put “gospel” music of any type in there too. (Or, hmmmm, maybe that’s another area where I’ve done some peacemaking with my memories.) I’ve already written about Waylon Jennings. And there’s Tammy Wynette too. And somehow Johnny Cash never got wholly ousted but I can enjoy his gospel tunes now too. And Hank Williams, Sr., Jr., and III. Wow. A whole new bright and wondrous arena is re-opened to me! Thank you.

Here’s just a few examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9lZPWdqfqc (Men with Broken Hearts, 3 generations of Hank Williams)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc-YCcP1HrU (Walk a Mile in My Shoes, Elvis Presley)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM-S6wVw8rA&feature=fvwrel (I Saw the Light, Hank Williams Sr. (and Jesus))

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLhHYwqpLRA&feature=related (Wings of a Dove, Johnny Cash etc)

And, this has nothing to do with country western music but I just loved it today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv1oPvSg5G0&feature=related (That’s What Friends are For, Dionne Warwick and friends)

What if it is no longer necessary for the visionaries to be killed?

Isn’t it a beautiful question? Isn’t there so much hope contained within it? What if we have evolved as a species to the point where we don’t need to kill that which we do not understand or that which scares us? What if we are now willing to look at those fears, or whatever fears or seeming inadequacies we have, and dive into them, and discover the great freedom that lies within them? What if we as a species have already developed new ways of allowing? What if it is possible that we humans get to the point where the light pulling us forward is so bright that the darkness that is so much a part of our human condition pales in comparison, and is seen as only a very minor nuisance? What if it isn’t as hard as we think it might be? What if there are so many who are ready, willing, and able – waiting with bated breath – to befriend, and companion, and love us, and all we have to do is ask?

(I am so inspired by Russell Brand on the Rosie Show, and by the Occupy Wall Street people across the country and here in Tucson. And before I push the “publish” button, I ask myself, boldly, “For the love of God, is there any reason I should not publish this!?” And the answer I get is clear.)

Marching Song

Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1944 edition

Another gift that seems to come to me “out of time” and perhaps as part of my heredity, or a legacy. The red cloth cover is delicious. And, on the front, is me, a young girl with her folded paper hat and her wooden sword held high, leading the march. Brother Jimmy is just behind her, banging the drum. You have to use your imagination to see that the little boy at the end of the line is her baby sister Becky, playing a small flute.

The illustrations in this book make my heart sing. No wonder I have dreamt of joyfully swinging so high, of cows, of crocodile, and of Grand Adventure of every sort.

The book came to me in a dream (A Child’s Garden of Verses) and I went to Powell’s in Portland and was able to purchase the “right” edition. I think it was Summer 2010. And I seemed to remember it from my youth. Then we came home, and I had the same edition, in my closet, with all the old books I had inherited from my Granny. Maybe I read it at Granny and Grandpa’s house when I was a little girl. And I saw the date it was published and began to wonder if it wasn’t my mom’s book originally. At first she didn’t seem to remember it. Then, she thought maybe she did. Or at least that’s how I recall it. Memory is so facile (and, this happens to me a lot lately – a word will come to me and I won’t really know what it means but I’ll look it up and, sure enough, it will be “just right” – like facile).

Marching Song (the cover illustration relates to it)

Bring the comb and play upon it! Marching, here we come! Willie cocks his highland bonnet, Johnnie beats the drum.

Mary Jane commands the party, Peter leads the rear; Feet in time, alert and hearty, Each a Grenadier!

All in the most martial manner, Marching double-quick, While the napkin, like a hammer, Waves upon the stick!

Here’s enough of fame and pillage, Great commander Jane! Now that we’ve been round the village, Let’s go home again.