I wrote this on Johns and my honeymoon in the British Isles. We were staying at a B&B, in Cumbria, in a very old farmhouse were sheep grazed right under your window. The house did not have central heating and it was very cold in our room (no heat in the bathroom either), with only one light bulb. In the morning as we were getting up, I noticed there was a heavy fog, and outside the window sheep were grazing and moving in and out of sight. You could hear their bells tinkling and listen to their gentle voices while cropping grass. It was wonderful.
February 7, 2022
I was searching though old blog posts and re-read this one from July 2010. When I did, John’s and my honeymoon popped into my head with total clarity. We had so much fun in England, Wales, and Scotland. But the sweetest memory was this one in Cumbria. I still get tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat when I read what I wrote that morning.
As John’s dementia progresses, he has forgotten much of that trip and only remembers when I bring out the pictures. At some point he will not remember even then and that makes me so sad. I am losing the one person I love more than anyone else and it is hard. I am sometimes afraid of what will come, but memories like these remind me that love doesn’t die, that even at the end love is still there and love will hold me until I move on into the darkness.
July 28, 2010
It is in the small moments of the day that I find the greatest peace. I don’t HAVE to go to a separate location to find God, yes, I do love to go, but it isn’t necessary. Yesterday was one of those moments.
John and I hiked up to Barclay Lake near Baring Mt. and all day long I kept asking myself when I will feel God’s presence, She seemed to be absent from this walk. Now mind you we are walking up a mountain trail with vistas everywhere; Dark green trees, babbling brook below, sunshine on the path, and ferns gently blowing, sound idyllic enough for ya’. When we reached the lake and sat down to watch children enjoying the water and eat our picnic lunch, the sky was so blue, with not a cloud in sight and I kept saying “hey You, are You on this hike with us?” It wasn’t until we reached home tired, sweaty, and dirty that something clicked. There in front of me was John and Freddie being goofy as John got ready for his shower and suddenly, I realized I was looking in the wrong place and waiting for the wrong voice.
Yes, the glories of the mountain and lake were wonderful metaphors of God’s presence but John’s presence throughout the walk was the real gift. He waited for me as I stopped to look at small flowers and ferns. He didn’t quibble when I simply stopped to take in the view, losing myself in the landscape. John and Freddie made me laugh as they walked down the path in front of me and offered me a picture of memorable proportions.
I often tell people that when I look into the face of others, I see God looking back and here I was seeing that expression right in front of me and I didn’t see it. Wow, talk about not paying attention! 99.9% of the time God doesn’t make Herself known to me in grand gestures. She speaks to me in the small everyday things and events in my life, (not that John is a small thing or event) the ones that go by so quickly that if I blink, I will miss them. Opening my vision, hearing in my heart all those events require more than spiritual practice, or patience, it requires me to slow down and let Her voice and presence penetrate my awareness.
Awareness is a spiritual practice that I frequently ignore because I am ‘just so busy I can’t take the time to be aware.’ What a crock! Yesterday was so beautiful and there in front of me was God, ok so He is a little bowlegged and is wearing shorts and a dirty T-shirt but the image of God none the less, and I was so intent on hearing God in the wind or seeing God in a tree that I missed the loving embrace of the Divine. I admit it, I’m an idiot! God, I love you in all your images, trees, mountains, dogs, lakes, but most of all as John who is your presence here on this earth with me. Thank You!
It is time to stop thinking of this country as the “United State.” We are not united, the civil war never ended, and we are still north vs south. In addition, we have added west vs east, liberal vs conservative, plus numerous other divisions too many to name. There is not such thing as “My Fellow Americans,” because no one thinks of themselves as Americans anymore. We are white, black, brown, yellow, Republican, Democrat, liberal, progressive, conservative, Christian, Evangelical, non-Christian, goodness there are so many divisions it would take up the entire post to list them all. Something needs to change before we are doomed to collapse.
We need to begin to consider the dissolution of this country into areas where the many individual groups clamoring for attention can live in peace. Such a plan would require the dividing up of the country into several parts and giving each area their own governing body to address the issues of the area and people. It might mean a mass removal and resettlement program for each area to have the appropriate people who might, might mind you, live in harmony.
For example, the southern states such as North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama might be for far-Right conservatives. Middle of the road conservatives might be resettled in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Liberals might want the Northeastern States, or the Pacific northwest. Of course, you would have to taking the division of west vs east there. You just might end up with 2 liberal or progressive areas. Of course, resettlement would cause some problems, but the government has plenty of experience in that area. Given our experience with Native populations, and Asian Americans.
Of course, I am being facetious, on some level. Not the part about being a “United States” or “dissolution of this country, just about the rest of it. We are the Divided States of America. I am not sure I have talked, or read about, anyone calling themselves American first in a very long time. Everyone has a group, a section of the population that they belong to. All these groups have their own grievances, wants, needs, desires for their little group, and their little group is the most important all the rest are secondary. No one, except maybe a few occasionally, has considered what is best for America as a whole. Why is that? Can we please begin to see ourselves as Americans first and all the other designations as secondary?
Every person in this country is important regardless of their skin color, their gender, their ethnic makeup, economic status, culture, age, or physical ability. Each one adds to the whole of this country. We need each, and every, person to step up and recognize the value of every other person. The wealthy need to recognize they are dependent on the people they employ. The workers need to recognize the imaginative abilities of their employers. Shop keepers need people to buy their goods and they can’t sell them if the population has no money.
We are dependent on each other to progress scientifically, economically, and academically. Until we begin to accept that and start seeing ourselves as one people, as Americans this country is doomed to either dissolve, or become an autocracy with people like Donald Trump as our own “Hitler.” Is that the goal for the people of this country? If Trump should win again, or someone like him this country will dissolve, and the Great American experiment will come to an end.
We are in this together, every single person in the country. What happens depends on us, on whether we have the courage to be Americans, to draw together and explore and how our individual needs benefit the country, the people of this country, as whole. Until we see each other as equals, see the individual, or group, as just as important as every other individual and group nothing will change. Can we do It? I don’t know and honestly, I have my doubts.
It was early here in our Pacific Northwest town We were just rising Getting ready for the day — Turning on the news Then …
My Husband called out “Come out here, you have to see this” As I reached the living room And turned to the television The second airplane flew into the second tower My … heart … stopped For just a minute
Was this real What was happening I found I was crying We watched the towers collapse
We heard a low flying aircraft And ran outside to see A fighter jet from Whidbey Air base passed over I didn’t know whether to feel safe, Or frighted.
Twenty years, long years seems like yesterday Twenty years, a lifetime for some
Twenty years of fighting in foreign countries To many lives lost US lives, Iraqi, Afghani lives lost Twenty years of death Of young men and woman Lives gone, Ruined, Changed forever
Was it worth it?
Why must we always Respond with weapons, Hate, anger, torture, imprisonment, and lies … by those who said they would lead us?
Was it worth it?
Why did Guantanamo Bay have to happen? Why did Abu Ghraib have to happen Why the loss of limb and mind have to happen?
Was it worth it?
Can we not see that war only brings More hate, more war, more torture, More lives lost?
Can we not see that our Young men and Young Women, of all nations are worth more than cannon fodder?
Can we not see that war only teaches war?
Was it worth it?
Could we have responded differently?
Could we not have honored the dead of 9/11 by finding a different path?
Could we not have found a path that healed rather than kept the wounds open and festering?
In hindsight can we not see there Was a different way forward?
Twenty Years since September 11, 2001 Yet, we haven’t learned anything from that day.
John and I have missed in person communion, it is, after all, why we go to church. But going to church right now simply isn’t an option. So, I decided we would hold our own Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, Communion here where we are. I have everything I need, pitcher, chalice, paten, bread, grape juice and put all those together with John, me, and Jesus and our table is set.
I will admit we added three more. We added Charlie, Esmerelda, and Louis our Chihuahuas. Yes, I know some would say “what sacrilege” to give communion bread to my dogs. But I would tell them that no purer souls exist than the souls of my dogs. For they embody love, compassion, mercy, and yes justice as well. I know that Jesus would welcome them because they are Gods Children just as I am. And, since the table isn’t mine but Jesus’ then I know they are welcome. They are welcome just as any human who came to the table Jesus sets would be welcome. Just as anyone who came to my home and shared what was laid out would be welcome.
So, in need of Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist? Then come on over, no matter who you are, no matter what your faith, no matter your economic status, no matter your medical status, or creature type you are all welcome at the table.
I have lived with depression for many years and in all that time few people have known about it. That is not unusual for those of us who suffer from depression. Depression, well all mental illness, is a hidden disease, a taboo disease. When someone suffering from a mental illness speaks up, they are given a lot of advice, most of it worthless, then people walk away and avoid you from then on. Yes, the medical professions have finally begun to address mental illness for the disease it is. But, within the general population mental illness is still a stigma and affected individuals and their family go to great lengths to keep it hidden. You see most of our ideas of mental illness come from history where sufferers were thought to be possessed by demons or were the result of some shameful act in their or their family’s past. So, keeping sufferers of mental illness hidden has a long, painful, and cruel history.
In fact, today it is only when a person with mental illness becomes a threat to themselves or others does anyone know about it. When that happens it is not medical personnel who become involved it’s the courts or the police and the sufferer is then stigmatized and hidden away either in a mental institute, or prison. Mental institutes may or may not be helpful because they are poorly funded, and prisons, well they are simply store houses for the mentally ill.
In the last week a new spokesperson, Simone Bile, become the one who unlocked the door of mental illness and let in some light. She admitted she was suffering, which was causing her to lose focus when she needed it most. For her safety and the safety or her Olympic Team, she withdrew from competition. That took courage, great courage, for her to say no when many would have been pressuring her to remain in the games.
What follows is a prayer for sufferers of mental illness, who like me have been living in the shadows for a long time. I have lost friends to suicide because they couldn’t find the help they needed to crawl out of the darkness. I know too many who today struggle just to survive in a world that doesn’t understand or care about them. I do not know the number of people who suffer from some form of mental illness. But if we knew that number, I have no doubt that it would be the number one disease in this country. If we knew that mental illness affected more people than say cancer or heart attacks maybe we would have more funds to fight it, more personnel to treat it, and more compassion for sufferers.
A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness (Opening Prayer for Queen Anne Christian Church, Seattle WA.)
Creator, Partner, Friend, I wait for light In the darkness of my mind. I call out but I hear only echoes in the emptiness around me.
I am afraid to speak of my pain. People do not want to hear, To listen, to sit in silence with me, I frighten them. They fear not what they don’t know But what they might learn.
Creator, Partner, Friend, come to me and sit with me, Listen to me. Hold me in silence and give me comfort. Don’t let me go, be my light in the darkness You are all I have, If I lose you I am afraid I will lose myself.
Creator, Partner, Friend, I ask in humble prayer For myself and others like me. Open the hearts and minds of Our loved ones, of strangers, Give them courage To confront their fears and Reach out to touch us, To hold us, to listen to us, To sit in silence with us, To be with us in our suffering, our pain, To be the light in the darkness.
I ask this, Creator, Partner, Friend In the name of the Carpenter Rabbi Who welcomed us, Who sat in darkness with us, And brought us into the light.