Archive for November, 2017

What is essential is invisible to the eye

November 26, 2017

Not long ago I owned a coffee mug with this wonderful image.  Since I rarely purchase anything new, I must have come across it serendipitously.  Giving it up wasn’t easy, but the loss was softened when I imagined how the happiness I would feel each time my mind walked across the memory would echo what I’d felt encountering it the first time.

“It is the the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important,” says the fox.

This morning as I considered my journey toward healing, an image arose of the landscape from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, a drive I took weekly last winter to see my therapist.  What a wonderful terrain to capture this journey with its long vistas that both held and hid so much in the foreground.

I thought of all the incredible views I’ve been privileged to during the past few years and how I have almost no reproducible images of them.  How different from the standard approach most people take toward experience.

Then, as a rebuttal to this charge of no photographic evidence, a response was formed, one that looped me back to my dear Larson mug, reminding me in more ways than can be measured how I’ve been there and back:

Flash photography isn’t allowed in Hell.

Still learning the alphabet

November 18, 2017


beyond miracles

November 13, 2017

Just a few hours since the Venus – Jupiter conjunction in early Scorpio.  Last night I went to bed not long after reading one astrologer’s take.  Although I’m Scorpio Rising, since the conjunction is occurring in my 12th house, I read the Sagittarius one.  Within his brief listings of possible manifestations, the astrologer used the word “miracle,” so I started joking about it with George the cat.

“Do you have a miracle in your back pocket?” I asked.

He started scratching.

“Well, that’s where your back pocket would be if you had one,” I conceded.  “Check and see if there’s a miracle there.  You know I share whatever good fortune I have with you.”

Being the sort of obsessive thinker that I am and knowing this alignment was coming up, I’d been wondering how it would present itself.  Additionally, I’ll admit, I’ve spent too much time gnashing my teeth that whatever good luck might sweeten my life, it wouldn’t be in the form of partnerships or money.  In my 12th house, it could be as quietly hidden as, say, not stabbing myself with scissors while walking with them.  Too often the words of an old song seems to apply: “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

As I fell into sleep, I thought about what I might point to in my past experience as a miracle.  Yellowstone seemed less like one and more like winning a ticket to a thrilling adventure.  The Indigo Night job, offered 9 months after the interview and 5 days after I’d decided to take in my kitten Bandit?  Yes, that felt like a miracle of sorts at the time.  But more accurately, it was more an answer to my prayers.

Prayers are funny things.  What we’re convinced we need to make us happy – love, money, forgiveness, attention – are what we’ve identified as what’s lacking.  So if we give ourselves love, respect, justice, etc., eventually, in some form, it will manifest.  Can we call that a miracle if like the little red hen we’ve cultivated it ourselves?

So maybe those aren’t miracles.  The miracle was Bandit and my seeing that, my refusal to give him up when it seemed the only logical thing to do since I had no income and my housing was ending.  The miracle was continuing to hope the park service had an adventure in store despite the misery of my first season.  The miracle was holding onto former lovers despite all the ways we’d misunderstood and hurt each other so that now when we need reassurance, we can draw from that deep well of love.  The miracle was allowing my father to help me last winter in spite of a lifetime spent in grief and anger over his cruel neglect.  The miracle is that there are still moments before the sun rises, no matter where I might be, where I believe I have something to offer and that there is a place where I belong.

In my dreams last night, I was absolved of the charges my park supervisor made and reinstated at the park.  As the day begins, it appears more like the kind of joke I was making with my cat.  The miracle is that I’m no longer there, can no longer be bullied or forced into silence.  What happens next will be the answer to my prayers.

sunrise over the Potomac

messages from the world of spirit

November 11, 2017

from this morning’s journal:

Strange dreams and more of them than I can recall.  The final one: I’m traveling with someone and we’re in some Scandinavian country.  My companion is there to visit friends.  The day we’re departing arrives and for the flight I choose the strangest outfit:  a bustier with garter straps (unused), a black down vest, and my grey and white pajama bottoms.  At one point, I wonder why I’ve dressed this way, then decide that since we’ re traveling, comfort is all that matters.

We’ve been staying with my companion’s friends, and we’re about to leave when I realize I never brought my passport.  I can see in my mind’s eye where it is still wedged in my organizer basket.  Now it will be at least a few days before I can leave.  While I’m waiting, I’m still at the home of my companion’s friends.  When something strange and complicated occurs very quickly, I am the only one in the room.  From what I can recall right now, one of the men of the family – husband? father of the wife? – comes into the room and collapses.  Before I can do anything to assist, a large object detaches itself from the ceiling (?) and falls, piercing his chest and killing him immediately.

Faced with the prospect of trying to explain this outlandish chain of events and then being accused with murder, I decide to leave, friendless, without a passport, not knowing the language or the land.

Now for how I interpreted this:

Fear of being accused of something one didn’t do doesn’t come naturally.  At first we believe in justice.  We think the truth will out because our innocence shines as brightly as the sun.  But then experiences teach us something else, something that doesn’t draw from within but is forced upon us from without.  People, hungry for restitution from lives twisted by wrongs rush to satisfy their desire to blame and to punish on others.

One’s own faith that justice will prevail begins to erode.  Everyone, one learns, has a point of view where they are the wronged person, and even if adjudicating the situation in front of them won’t erase the stain of wrongedness, they will take what small pleasure they can get.  The pleasure will be even sweeter if the accused “thought she was better than we were” (which could be translated as “she was different in some way we couldn’t measure,” ie, an outsider).

What I learn from this, I hope, is not to join in the blood fest of fear.  The pain I’ve endured as an outsider has been hard and beyond my capacity to describe.  Even my ex husband threw me to the wolves rather than negotiate his next wife’s insecurity over our lingering friendship and past dependency.  To justify his shameful behavior, mine had to be wrong.  In his construction, my hands had to be covered in blood; my heart must have harbored hate.

Yes, my heart has harbored hate.  I am human, with the full spectrum of all that’s implied with that condition.  But I have struggled, alone & unwitnessed, to address that particular kind of guilt.  And while there have been too many instances where I’ve failed to master my worse behavior, there have been many others where I have succeeded.  And most of all, I try, try, try to leave space for others to evolve.

“Forgive but not forget?”  Is that the answer?  Let wind and water disperse the resentment.  But we must testify.  We must say there is a better way of being in the world, a better way to understand ourselves and others.  If we don’t, how can we hope to survive with grace the horrible storms that most definitely lie ahead?  And how will we account for our lives at the end if our actions have not matched what we know to be true?

Know peace. Know justice.

November 3, 2017

I have just started a fascinating book entitled American Taxation, American Slavery.  To paraphrase poorly her argument, the writer, an historian @ Berkeley, uses her examination of how tax codes were written and implemented in the colonies and then the newly formed states up until the Civil War to illustrate how today’s anti-government rhetoric is a narrative that can be directly tied to the elitist, pro-slavery, anti-democratic governments of the southern states.

For me, having returned to the south and with my own connections to slave-owning founding fathers (including living 4 miles from Robert E Lee’s birthplace), this a timely link, but I think it is also an illuminating way to perceive how racist assumptions underlie what’s transpiring in our culture.  It’s also a useful reminder that until we ALL work to pull apart these complicated skeins, this stain of injustice/abuse of power will remain and pollute our possibilities toward peace.

I had an interesting dream I’m still processing. It was quite disturbing, although the graphic elements were mercifully absent. At a celebratory party (maybe my birthday), close friends and I treat an outsider in a dismissive way. As others laugh at him, I do too and he gives me a look that I register as hostile and aggressive. After the others are gone, he comes in through an unlocked door, holding a bat. Because I cannot bear the thought of being beaten, I submit to his raping me. As time goes on, this situation continues, with me saying nothing to anyone. My friends wonder why someone so unpleasant is permitted to hang out with me/us, but I’m too subdued by guilt and shame to say or do anything. At one point, a group of us discover the bodies of girls who’ve been tortured and murdered in an empty building, and I am sure the perpetrator was him.  I realize that by allowing him to abuse me, I have not minimized his capacity for violence but instead in some manner increased or at least continued to conceal it.  I confide in one friend, and together we begin to devise a way to bring him to justice.

This issue of justice is one I’ve been allowing to remain in my peripheral vision, the way one yearns for beauty or love or community as an ideal. For instance, what’s happened to me in my various park positions are examples of power being abused and of my allowing the situation because of some degree of guilt/shame. My growing interest in the subject of slavery also involves the abuse of power,  finding it threaded through the stories we tell about our country when we talk about “founding fathers” like Thomas Jefferson & George Washington whom, we explain, hated slavery but couldn’t find a feasible way to free their slaves (a story that desperately needs to be re-framed). What I’ve found, however, in my own heart, is that when I think about justice, I allow myself to accept injustice being perpetrated in my own line of sight because, I argue silently, “the world is an unjust place.”

In a newsletter he sent out early this morning, an astrologer whose cultural critiques I find perceptive in an intuitive way wrote about the Trump-Manafort news in terms of justice. I’m not quite sure I can completely agree with the assertions he made in this instance, but he provided an observation that’s provided a useful description of the path my mind is tending:

Having faith in justice is in part the result of being a just person, since if you’re not personally connected to something, it’s difficult to imagine its existence.

That this issue of justice and each person’s connection to it are fascinating and fruitful to me I can feel in my heart which feels tight with possibility. It’s a scary feeling, one I can sense others (and me in the past) would easily turn away from.  If I take what the wisdom this astrologer has offered here and my own intuitions, I know the difficulty involves working through and moving beyond one’s own collusion with injustice (through the vestiges of our guilt and shame) so that we can stand on the side of justice.

I hope I can find the courage to commit to unearthing the layers of the stories that are offered to me as a means of testifying to a different way, a better way.