Category Archives: Joy

Celebrating the Rain

We’re celebrating a rare and wonderful rainy day here in parched Northern California—complete with deliciously heavy downpours, lentil-sized hail, lightning and big time thunder. I was blessed this afternoon to get home before the big show started, but here’s a journal piece I wrote after driving home in a powerful rain last fall—back when we all had high hopes that one rainy month was going to stretch into a rainy season and heal our drought woes. Thanks for reading:

Driving home from Placerville in the rain, mesmerized by the sound of the storm pounding like dried beans poured in a metal bowl, like pebbles striking. Suddenly I’m distracted by a high pitched rain drop, a maverick who wants to stand out, a small single dried pea that slips through the colander and pings on the floor. The noise is coming from the window by my left ear and I wonder if I will get to the valley and discover a leak and water puddled on the floor by my seat belt. No matter, I can’t turn now to check, can’t take my eyes off the wet road and the clutch of traffic. The car ahead of me is driving without his headlights on—a violation of a recent state law—and when I notice how grey and colorless his car is, I’m grateful for the high-pitched, pinging rain drop at my left ear. The steady pound of the storm on my windshield and roof is hypnotic; it’s the ping ping ping that’s keeping me awake. I think about getting home to my notebook so I can write all this down, and I berate myself that I haven’t written much lately. When I write every day the images and the words rise up out of the horizon like birds and airplanes and large animals, eager to appear in my poems and stories. It’s the habit that summons them. When I don’t write regularly I am stuck with the specter of dead friends and relatives, bullying bosses, and lovers who deserted me:  they come to tease at my frustration, my loneliness, my vulnerability. Specters who disappear like the rain.

 

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re enjoying your weather.

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Easter Musings 2015

For thirty-something years I had the privilege of working with children who have severe disabilities. Often when I was out in the community with my students, strangers would approach me and say, “You must be so patient.” Yeah, sure, but probably no more than any other teacher. Other times folks would tell me I was doing “God’s work,” and once a school nurse said I would get a “crown in heaven” for all I was doing for these children.

The truth is working with these kids was a hecka lot of fun, and I don’t need any greater reward than that.

Tim Shriver, one of the Kennedy clan and current chairman of the Special Olympics, was quoted in Parade Magazine last weekend, and what he had to say really summed it up for me too. Just as his parents taught him, this is what my parents emphasized to me: “What our Catholic tradition has done well is make you not just ought to help, but want to help—hunger for it. Be hungry for justice, be hungry for healing, be hungry for connection, be hungry for leveling the playing field. That’s more than just a moral imperative. It’s believing that your best self will always be in solidarity with those who are having a hard time.” After all, he adds, “Jesus was all about [taking care of] the poor and the marginalized and then having a party.”

Yes, Jesus teaches us to be hungry for justice, hungry for healing, hungry for fun and hungry for cake. And I think Jesus would be fine with Christians making wedding cakes for same sex couples too. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Happy Easter

Shepherd’s Story

In December

the sky darkened

but a star cracked

the blackness

to perch like a red bird

on the waiting finger

of an evergreen tree.

Hiking through the field

we knelt on damp leaves

and knew:

the Earth will heal herself.

Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice!

In Memoriam

My friend Craig was the vehicle for a tremendous spirit.  This spirit always had a tendency to vibrate faster than other spirits on this planet, and one day last week, it reached such a great velocity that it vibrated right out of his body.

Of course in my less enlightened state I am very upset because it sure looks like Craig has dropped dead of a heart attack, succumbing to a diet of double meat, double cheese, bacon–topped Togo sandwiches and Cherry Dr. Pepper.  In reality I know that what appears to be an untimely death is all part of a perfect Divine plan, but right now I am very very sad.

I will be writing about Craig for years to come.  I have dozens of anecdotes and pithy bits of his wisdom to impart.  In fact it has occurred to me that I could mine his letters and emails to me and make a career of documenting his time on Earth.  Plato had Socrates, Paul had Jesus, Carlos Castaneda had Don Juan.  I was blessed to have Craig in my life.

I met Craig twenty-one years ago.  He appeared at a time when I was deeply depressed.  He touched my heart and he gave me hope.

Back then he told me he was a Perfect Master, a spiritual being who had reached enlightenment in a previous incarnation but who had returned this lifetime as an act of service.  I know this sounds pretty arrogant, but Craig wasn’t arrogant.  Often, in fact, he seemed egoless.  Other times he seemed like your typical clueless man who doesn’t get what we women are talking about.  Yes, even Perfect Masters have limitations.

But I always believed his perfect master story.  He seemed to be psychic and often it appeared he was reading my mind.  But that’s not why I thought he was a master.  He was intelligent and wise, always giving me the right advice at the right time.  But that’s not why I thought he was a master.  I believed he was a master because he was the most joyful person I have ever known.  If I was upset about something, he’d get me to laugh about it.  He didn’t own a car so I’d often drive to his house and pick him up so we could go out to lunch or a movie.  He’d get in the car and within minutes he’d have me laughing.  It’s not that he was particularly witty or a great joke-teller.  It was that he had the most infectious smile.  You couldn’t be in his presence for long without smiling yourself.  The older he got the more he looked like one of those laughing Buddhas.  He was a big happy bear of a man and when I was with him everything was in perspective, and everything was joyful.

Right now I feel so sad.  I can’t believe he’s gone.  Really, I can’t believe it.  I’ve lost a lot of people I’ve loved in this life.  I’m a frickin’ expert on acceptance!  But I can’t believe Craig is gone.  The man was a mystic for crying out loud.  I can’t believe he won’t figure out a way to come back around and say at least one more pertinent thing to me.  C’mon old man:  you know where to find me!

In the meantime, Craig, I am continuing to write.  As you often told me, it’s what I was born to do.