Gentle Blossom

So fellow travelers, yesterday brought a gathering of cousins and another farewell. My husband’s aunt passed from this life peacefully, a week ago today.

Aunt Mary was the oldest and, at 102, also the last surviving of her seven siblings. She always insisted she would live to be 100 and like anything she set her mind to she succeeded beyond expectations.

(Photo: celebrating Mary’s 100th birthday November 2018)
She had no children of her own, so her nieces and nephews became her support system as she aged. Fiercely independent, she held onto her life at home as long as possible and when she moved to into long term care, my husband and his cousins continued to provide additional support and visit when possible. Last spring, Covid19 protocols changed “when possible”  to “not possible.” While our deepest regret is not seeing Mary before she died, it is reassuring to know she received the best of care right through to her last days. She died peacefully of natural causes.
Yesterday morning, I rose early to feed and walk our dog before we headed into the city for her memorial. Sunrise painted the winter sky with brilliant colors of pink and rose. I thought about a plant we brought home from her house ten years ago. The day after we received the news of Mary’s death, it bloomed for the first time in several years. From those two moments, came this haiku in her honor. 

Winter sunrise glows
Sacred flower gently blooms
One soul rises free

(photo: Mary’s Christmas cactus (schlumbergera truncata) Monday Jan 4th)

I am grateful my husband and I were able to gather safely with ten of his fourteen living cousins, many of whom we have not seen in several years.  The Russian orthodox service was beautiful and, even through his mask, the young priest singing the liturgy invoked a beautiful, compassionate angelic presence. I have no doubt Aunt Mary’s soul carries all our love and respect as she continues her journey home. 

Mary Lyboult (neé  Dominica “Minne” Rahalski) November 23, 1918- January 3, 2021

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

So Long 2020 and “thanks for all the fish*…”

So fellow travelers, today there will be a pervasive narrative of “Goodbye and good riddance to 2020.”

 

Before we take that on as our story know this:
Yes, I too will move forward from 2020 with tremendous relief because, make no mistake my friends, the past year was just the beginning. This first year of the new decade set in motion seismic shifts in human consciousness which are creating much needed changes across every system in society, all across the globe.
As with all significant change, there will be pushback from the status quo and attempts to distract us from the potential of greater good. Do not be drawn in. Change is inevitable, focus determines its trajectory. Our energy is too valuable to waste on senseless conflict and our focus must not be co-opted. Be mindful of what holds your attention.

With all its chaos, suffering and loss, 2020’s true gift has been revelation. We cannot heal what we do not acknowledge. Now, ignorance is no longer a viable excuse.  We either accept the intolerable or we help each other up off the ground and walk through this portal into a new year with mindful intent to not only embrace change but to consciously participate in creating it.

Walk gently on the path and let Love light the way. See you all in 2021.

Editorial Note: * The quote in the title references Book 4 of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. Its a strange and humorous series which makes complete sense after experiencing 2020.

In Search of Magic

So fellow travelers, rising well before dawn to greet the Solstice, a glance out the window in my meditation space revealed this gift

a moment which provided the last key to finding what seemed lost.

Tis now a season
made strange and unfamiliar
by required distancing
in full contradiction with
the inherent nature of the day
when gathering together to celebrate
the gift of Love made manifest on Earth 
is everything

indeed the only thing
on your list this year
and the one wish which will remain

not granted
So you search long and hard
far and wide
past and present
for that  “magic of the season “
and just as doubt weighs heaviest
The glow of snowkissed lights
 clear tones of a favorite song
sweet cinnamon cookies and tea

fragrant wafts of balsam
and just now

a gentle Angel’s kiss at dawn
There at last you find it
right where it was hidden all along
Peace
Love
Joy 
Magic is indeed alive and well
deep in your heart

Walk gently on the path my friends and blessings of the Season to you all.

The Decision

So fellow travelers, it is Thanksgiving Day here in the US, a holiday I enjoy even more than Christmas ,

and I have always loved Christmas!

.

Even the few times when I was alone or grieving a great loss , Christmas Day always becomes* magical to me. Still to me Thanksgiving is a celebration of the two things in life I treasure even more than the magic of Christmas: family and food.

This year, with the increasing momentum of the COVID19 pandemic’s second wave, staying home became the only responsible choice for me. It took a long, strenuous hike to work through the emotions that hit me the day I cancelled my flight to Portland to spend Thanksgiving with our kids. We won’t even be traveling to see family in cities close by. Decisions my husband and I reached out of simple, genuine concern for the well being of others, more than for ourselves. Decisions we had to make because of another, perhaps more dangerous, outbreak plaguing our country- a viral lack of concern for the impact our choices have on each other.  Decisions which it’s clear even more people will have to make for the December holiday season. So waking this morning with a deep need to shift that mindset of loss, I sat in meditation at sunrise.  The comfort I sought came as these words

In this moment here
reach for hope find peace and joy
now and yet to come

One small ray of Light banishes darkness. Nothing outside ourselves has the power to stop us of from the decision to be that Light.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

*PS~ The “becoming” part of Christmas Day’s magic is a post unto itself. Those thoughts are simmering with the traditional Turkey Soup yet to come.

Guest Post: Poem: Number 225,017

Every day the numbers are posted. And every one of those numbers has a story, a face, a soul , and regardless of years, a life sacrificed too soon.

Here is one from Tom Atkins.

https://quarryhouse.blog/2020/10/25/poem-number-225017/#like-34618

A Line in the Sand

So fellow travelers, RaVan2.o’s maiden voyage was a glorious success and musings on our explorations at Acadia National Park will follow soon.


That’s a promise made as much to myself as to you all, a binding intention to hold a focus of forward momentum, because right now I want nothing more than to hunker down in a blanket fort for the next four weeks.

The outrage is beyond exhausting
the frustration feels unresolvable
the apprehension becomes immobilizing
so you let the gravity of grief pull you down
and you sit in silence 
all tears long since spent
you sit with the emotions
because there is no where to go
where the anguish is not
and in the stillness of staying with
comes acknowledgement of what is
of what perhaps has always been
and finally given permission to exist
resistance relinquishes
you breathe
as if pushed up for air
just before drowning
a breath of commitment like your first
unclenching your fists
you rise, draw a deep long line in the sand
turn your face to the sun and walk away
never once looking back.

I’ll be back with the wonders of the Acadian Expedition just as soon as I get that blanket fort set-up.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way


The Silver Lining

So fellow travelers, as I referenced in the last post, September became  an emotionally intense time.

Zen dog meditation buddy

Honestly, as odd as it may sound, I think the demise of my little Blue Rav4 “camper” brought to the surface all the grief embedded in these months of quarantine. This was not just about losing a vehicle. This loss set in motion a continuous chain of what I first perceived as losses. From our early morning drive down to a favorite lakeside trail where Delilah could conduct squirrel patrol while I watched for early fall migrants, to cancellations for several camping trips to catch early fall colors. Ironically, my husband’s old car was also sitting dead in the driveway, so I found myself grounded while I searched for another vehicle.  And as that search evolved it became clear the better options would require an investment which would postpone my plan to buy a camper van, because now I had an immediate need for another vehicle.
Why not buy the bigger van now? Because that’s not a vehicle I would want to drive through our snow bound, corrosive road salted winters. And it seems likely I will remain here this winter, thanks to the pandemic pushing my cross country road trip out into next year.
Once I got my head out of the initial wave of frustration and disappointment, I began yet once again to re-set my future plans ( yes, I’m an eternal optimist, I actually do believe there is a future worth planning for.) Moving the camper van build project further out on the timeline, opened up different possibilities and after a lot of research, number crunching and visits to local dealerships the right vehicle presented itself-

Farewell Little 02Blue

Welcome  Rav “2.0”

-just in time for a trial run up to the one National Park located here in the Northeastern US. Stay tuned….Photos and adventures to follow…

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

The Road Forward

So fellow travelers, September continued with it’s theme of significant losses. Thankfully, by Divine Grace, none were from the living. Still, the loss of a companion of a different sort created a domino sequence of changes which has yet again altered my path forward.

Farewell Little Blue RaVan

On the first evening of Autumn, after bidding farewell to the little blue Rav which has been my camping haven through this summer of disorienting losses I walked to a nearby road and watched the sun set. Once a year, the setting sun aligns exactly with the gap at the far end of this road and turns it into a golden pathway.

There’s a moment when
all comes in alignment and
the path turns to gold

In a year which has brought changes of a magnitude no one could possibly have accurately foretold, this ninth month became a crossroad from which there is no turning back. And as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way


‘Til we meet again……

So fellow travelers, this 31st and last day of August 2020 brought me to a gathering at the beautiful Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse to mark the passing of a friend and colleague.

The last time most of us gathered together was 13 years ago when we threw Jim a 50th birthday party at the assisted living center he had moved to. Jim had Multiple Sclerosis. In the ten years I worked in Video Production I never saw him once give ground to it, no matter how hard he had to push to get things done. He ran the video department for the Catholic Diocese with a commitment inspiring to see and he brought that same focus and energy to the hundreds of hours he spent on our local cable television crew. I had the great fortune to share the sometimes wild and wacky experiences of all kinds of productions from local studio talk shows and Common Council meetings to bigger more exciting events like the NYS Empire Games and SU basketball loud and live in the Carrier Dome.

Jim was perhaps the only person on our production team who could out talk me in a conversation. If you’ve met me you know that’s a Herculean feat of verbal aptitude. As differently-abled as his body might have been, Jim’s wit and memory for detail was unparalleled. It hurts my heart to know his final years were steeped in struggle and at times great isolation. When reflecting back on my own 63 years, I often say I have no regrets; with Jim’s passing I can no longer say that with absolute conviction. While we stayed in contact through social media, I wish I had been able to connect with him in person one more time.

Ironically, just last week. sorting through photo albums (a project I started back when quarantine kept me homebound last spring) I had come across an album with dozens of photos from those video crew days. There are no coincidences right? When the Facebook message thread posted with news of Jim’s death, I added a couple of the photos he was in.

And when our small group of friends met at the Cathedral, the memories we shared brought Jim back full circle to those days when he would jump down from the back of the production truck, saying “I got it,” and dash off to get whatever was needed at that moment. And while my friends caught up on where other members of the crew are now and shared our current life details from kids to career changes it dawned on me how much of who I am today is rooted in the friendships and experiences of my past. How blessed I am to have shared so many amazing experiences with truly good people throughout my life.

If who we are now
is the sum of all days past
friendships count the most

Somehow I don’t envision our friend Jim “resting in peace” wherever his Spirit moves now; in fact I expect some Universal project just found it’s new on site manager and God can expect major progress is gonna happen. So stand straight as you finally walk free, my friend. Laugh long and loud among those night stars, I promise I will be listening.

James Funson August 4 1957 – August 14 2020

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way.

Can You Breathe?

My first thought when I got up today was, “It is a perfect morning for a long walk,” and indeed it is. Sunny, low humidity, with just enough of a breeze to ward off the bugs. Judging from the cheerful chorus which greeted me as Delilah and I headed outside, my backyard residents agree. Delilah scurried forward nose to the ground, tracking the “critter news of the day.” 

Watching a distant heron float across the brilliant blue sky, waves of pure joy ran through me, grateful for the simple joy of breathing fresh air. Breathing deeply now comes with a sharp awareness that this gift of breath has been taken from too many – taken by a killer virus in a pandemic that still frames our current reality.

Then, as we turned the corner, the sharp smell of smoke wafted from the remnant of a bonfire. My neighbors who live at that end of the street tell me the new owners are clearing the lot to eventually build a house. Right now the lot looks more like a war zone than a peaceful homestead and my heart ached again remembering that humanity is engaged in a battle with more than one killer virus- both of which unjustly deny our fellow humans of their right to the simple gift of life. These words were born of that grief.

Broken windows ask
Open the doors to your soul
Hear the cries of pain

More to come~

Walk gently on the path my friends and Light the way for others to follow.

Photo note: the black and white photo is NOT from the lot currently being cleared. It is a house which suffered a major fire back in February- there is no sign of that lot being cleared anytime soon.