Lanterns of Friendship

So fellow travelers, the cumulative effect of the year so far has been an emotional experience I can best describe as what happens right before a tsunami:

One moment I am standing on the safe warm beach, wrapped in a blanket of sun infused happiness. Suddenly the ocean unnaturally recedes so far out it doesn’t make sense. Then comes the moment when confusion becomes terror as the reality of what is happening hits: a tsunami on the way. 

Internal equilibrium has been a challenge to maintain this past few months, hence the periodic weeks of silence here. Sometimes fear and anger run so deep, it feels too dangerous to speak of, as if my words would tip the balance of power in the struggle to keep darkness from taking over my Internal GPS. Words reflect belief and belief creates experience. 

In times like this having friends we can rely on is a resource of immeasurable value. I mean the kind of friends who hear your need when you are silent and send a quick message to touch base or ask you to text when you arrive safely, the ones who right on cue post a meaningful message that reminds you hope is never cancelled, dawn always follows the darkest night and in time love prevails. The ones you, yourself do not hesitate to lift up when their spirits need a boost, knowing the hope and Light we give is always returns even brighter. For my tribe of friends,  these words came while exploring the wilds of Maine.

Navigating paths
Holding the lantern by turns
Transcending distance

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

Autumn Flags

So fellow travelers, the colors of my favorite season are peaking here in Upstate New York.

Autumn waves its flags
releasing what’s done with ease
with joy I follow

This glorious season of ephemeral beauty and joy is too brief to spend indoors. The Acadia trip posts will just have to wait.

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

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 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.

Life’s a Beach

So fellow travelers, yesterday’s adventure started with a this view

Which, after packing up camp, I traded for this view

Favorite picnic spot on Lake Ontario

The pandemic of 2020, as I’ve mentioned, has created several changes at our state park campgrounds. Check in times are later and check out times are earlier. So the birds obliged my requested wake up call at dawn, giving me time to catch that fiery sunrise before breaking camp.

It’s been a quiet few days, but the Fourth of July-ers started showing up yesterday. Lots of loud music at newly occupied sites and several rounds of small fireworks, which thankfully stopped not too long after the posted quiet time. Although one extremely loud rocket did send a young raccoon scurrying across my campsite. Later that night it appeared at the screen door of my tent and peered in at me, almost as if to ask if it was safe now.

Although a bit startled by it’s return visit, I did not want to frighten such an obviously young one so I whispered gently, “We’re gonna be alright.” I swear it gave a slight nod before rambling off.

But I laid there, wide awake for a long time wondering.

Are we? Are we really going to be alright ?

Eventually, the night time chorus of frogs singing by the marsh lulled me into a deep sleep.

A gentle round of Qiqong stretches while watching that fiery sunrise helped me find balance. There is something innately reassuring about the consistent rising and setting of the sun. And now, sitting with my feet in warm sand, waves rising and falling in steady calming rhythm, Wisdom speaks again

Eyes on the horizon
let the lessons of all yesterdays

remind us we can not move forward
if we only look back
and here, in between, what was
and what is yet to come,
to be present in this now moment
is to begin anew.

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

Our Fathers

So  fellow travelers, campgrounds in our beautiful NY State Parks fully reopened yesterday.

A favorite campsite, last summer

However, as with all things in our lives, the 2020 pandemic has imposed many changes and the process of actually being able to camp this summer is less spontaneous. Back in the BCV* era, one could just show up at the campground, acquire an available site and enjoy a campfire that same evening. Currently, reservations are required and because the on-line system does not allow “same-day” reservations, you cannot “walk in” and take a campsite no matter how many sites are open! So, two weeks ago, when the reservation system re-opened, sites booked up faster than anyone could say “let’s go camping.” I considered myself lucky to find one of my favorite sites open and, even though it was only for one night, I  gratefully clicked “reserve.”

Humidity arrived right on schedule with the Summer Solstice this past weekend and I was looking forward to Lake Ontario’s signature breeze. Even though the Rav is set up as a mini-camper, it’s not recognized as official “equipment” and I am required to pitch a tent, so I decided to get set up on site first, before going for a cool swim.

The site I pulled into was much changed from when I was there last year. It appears that the heavy rains we had in Spring washed a section of the embankment down onto the only flat section where I could pitch a tent. It was covered in rocks and gravel. Unfortunately I was not able to relocate to another site, so the attendant in the park office posted a credit to my account, which I have already applied to my next reservation. Although I was disappointed, this state park is one of several which are less than an hour drive from my home. The advantage of having my time to myself these days means a change plans is no big deal.

Zen moment spotted on the lake trail

There were many hours of daylight left to enjoy a quiet dinner under my favorite shady tree followed by a hike along the lake. The air was heavy and oppressively still, so we kept our walk shorter than usual. Delilah stopped frequently to raise her head and sniff towards the lake. I considered staying to catch the beautiful sunset view this beach is known for, but a thick haze along the horizon was beginning to obscure the setting sun. Then, a distant sound explained why Delilah kept looking back towards the other horizon. Thunder along Lake Ontario’s shore is always a clear sign it’s time to head back to shelter.

We heard a few more rumbles as I packed up the cooler and picnic blanket. Glancing back towards the lake, I caught a glimpse of the sun radiating brilliant beams as it slipped behind a dark line of clouds moving rapidly inland. The words of a haiku I had not been able to work through the day before quietly shifted into place as a prayer from childhood came to mind. It’s a day past but still the tribute I wished to create in honor of Father’s Day

Our fathers who art
Beacons of Light shining strong
Like our Father’s Heart

Sunset taken two years ago almost to the day from the same spot.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Hope light the Way.

Editor’s note: *BCV is my term for BeforeCoVid19

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.

Actions Speak Louder

 So fellow travelers, in light of recent events, I held off publishing the last post I wrote, choosing instead to immerse myself in coming to a better understanding of what the voices speaking out need me to do.
The process left me with what fellow writer, mentor and friend Tom Atkins refers to as an emotional hangover from the anger which rose within me. I am tired, but surely not as tired as the families of too many black men, women and youths lost to senseless racist fueled violence. After a day of rest and much needed time on a newly reopened walking trail, I realized to move forward I need to start where this new path begins:

June 1, 2020
This morning,  I woke up to a new life experience.  

My first thought  was:
“What day of the week is it?”
I am sure many of you whose routines have been upended by the pandemic can relate to the experience. When you don’t get up and go anywhere for days on end it is a challenge to keep track of the days, because everyday is the same.
And if you, like some of my friends, are one of the many working on the front lines, you too lose track of time, in a far more desperate way while battling to save lives or keep essential services running. “Thank you,” seems barely enough acknowledgement for that.
So, I clicked through my “what did I do yesterday” prompts all the way back to “Ah, we had our Sunday call with  Mom and Dad, so today is Monday.” My next thought was “ Hey even though it is Monday, I do not have to “go” to work today- because I am R E T I R E D!”
“How does it feel to be retired?” people have been asking me.
Well, to use a common point of reference, it feels like the first day of vacation, filled with joyful anticipation with one key exception-
—there is no pre-set end date 
———— there is no pressure to “fit in” all the things I want or need to do now
It feels like the freedom I yearned and worked for through so many decades is finally mine.

——————————————————————————————————-

At this point, my original post included a haiku about that glorious sense of freedom and the instant I signed in online to access my blog page, the entire post felt completely and utterly void of significance. The recognition that a revolution, fueled by the senseless murder of George Floyd was gaining global momentum superseded any relevance my personal sense of freedom might hold.
I hit “pause” on this post, along with any adventure plans, and got down to figuring out how I can make a difference and turn intention into true change. Because as I affirmed in my Memorial Day post, my own freedom means nothing if it is not equally available to all my friends.

After a week immersed in the dialogue of outrage and calls for reform, I at least know this:
I do not profess to have the answers or even to have the right words to offer yet. I understand this is a time for me to listen to my friends and the black community; it is not a time to speak over those voices which need to be heard right now. I also believe silence implies complicity, whether intentional or not. So, if silence is not an option, clearly it is time my actions spoke louder than my words.  
My Words:

Unless we speak love
Hatred will destroy us then
Freedom means nothing

My Action:

Walk mindfully on the path my friends, may Love find you ready.

Guest Post from Tom Atkins Poem: Murder is Slow — Quarry House

Murder is Slow A black man dies on a city street, the policeman’s knee on his neck, breath, life taken from him. There are riots. Of course there are. A people ignored too long will erupt sooner or later. A people not heard too long with erupt sooner or later. This is a truth we […]

Poem: Murder is Slow — Quarry House