Sunday, November 25, 2012

Setting a place at the Table

It's post Thanksgiving! Post-Black Friday, (except tomorrow is cyber Black Monday) and post feasting and frenzy purchasing! And we move on to the next big feasting and gift giving holiday: Christmas!

And I am at peace!

Something happened while at my Mom and Dad's that was affirming and for me a blending of our paths. Theirs is a Christian home; the kind of home I was raised in; where Jesus of Nazareth reigns King of all! This Jesus who never wanted to be King, but who wanted to eat, drink and sit with the marginalized, the poor, the disenfranchised, and those never invited into the homes and temples because of their "station" in life.

But that is not what I want to talk about here.  Or is it?

You see, I come from a very large family (5 siblings) and I was the only one there with mom and dad for Thanksgiving. Dad sat the dining room table that had 4 place settings for "decoration" and yet dad did not remove the 4th place setting, and added a napkin. He laughed when I pointed it out to him!

And then I began to talk of those who are hungry today, those who are homeless, who are worried sick about paying their bills, those who were being abused and neglected, those being tortured and brain washed, those whose families had deserted them, those in prisons both of their own makings and those not, those who were without health care, those dying and those dying to die. I spoke of those who damage the Earth, those animals who have been run out of their places to live and are starving as a result. I spoke of the pollution and the rampage from war and mining. I spoke!

But now, let me tell you, this is no surprise to my parents. I am the spokeswoman for these issues; I was the social worker for 33 years, I am the tree-hugging token hippie in this family of origin of mine. But what i said next was a surprise to them!

You see, as I said, this is a Christian home and I was invited into it even tho' I am their daughter. And I too was once on this Path and still honor it as one of the many Paths to the Divine!

So, I said, "This is a place setting for Jesus! This Jesus who embodies all that I just spoke of! Whose message was loud and clear as to where our priorities should be."

Yes, this empty place setting was not empty at our Table this Thanksgiving. This place setting was full of all that our society looks upon as unworthy, lazy and draining on our society. This place setting was full of all the love my parents give to their family and also to so many who are needy, hungry and homeless. They are good stewards to those in need; always have been and always will be.

So, there at the empty place setting I saw Goddess and they saw God! Crying out for us to get our priorities right. For me, not because this Jesus is coming back and will be in judgement but because it is part of our Creation to Do No Harm and to Do what ever needs to be done for the Neighbor!

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important the Bible says this:

In Matthew 22:37-40 Our Lord is asked by a lawyer “which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus says this…”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’

And so the Pagan and the Christians sat together at the Thanksgiving Table embodying this text from the New Testament Christian Bible. We all love the Divine with all our hearts and we all love our Neighbor!

I hope this will be a new tradition!

And when I told my mom this she said, "Well unless we are at someone else's home for Thanksgiving/Christmas." My response: "Well, what a wonderful teachable moment it will be."

May you always have a place setting both at your table and in your heart for the Divine and for the Neighbor!

Blessed be!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Attic

I have been waking up thinking about my maternal grandmother's attic this week. Like, for the past 4 mornings! 

So I thought I would pay attention to what this may mean. 

I loved my Gram! She was always "old" to me; she had white hair the whole time I knew her which was until she died at age 96 when I was 37 years old. She lived in Pennsylvania and we lived in Virginia. Our vacations were to visit her and my mom's siblings (she being the youngest of 5) and all my cousins! Grand times they were. 

And there was the Attic! 

Gram lived in a small white house at 62 Norman Street in Reading Pennsylvania.  I loved this house! I loved every thing about it! It had a wonderful basement where Gram kept her canned goods and had her washer (she hung her clothes out which is where I got my love of hanging clothes outside from), and a first floor and then stairs to go up to the three bedrooms.

But this is about the Attic!

So there was one bathroom upstairs. It had one of those footed tubs which I also adored and would love to have one day and a toilet where you had to pull the chain to get it to flush and a sweet sink area. But in the bathroom was the closed door that led to the attic!

The Attic! We were not allowed in the attic!

Yep....only on a few special occasions were us kids allowed to go into the attic and it had to be with mom or dad and only to bring down a few old toys she kept up there. But oh I remember it well. It was the type of attic they use to put in homes that were really like another room. It had all wood flooring and was tall enough to stand up in. I wanted to spend lots of time there, but we were not allowed. She said, "you don't need to be up there!" The stairs going up were thin and made the best creaking sound as you were climbing to The Attic!

When I was an adult and went to visit with my husband and new baby, I asked if I could take my husband up to the attic. She said no! Later when I went to visit her and I was alone, I went to the bathroom and gently opened the door with the plans of sneaking up into the attic for a peak. As I was doing so, Gram appeared at the bathroom door and just looked at me. When I asked if I could go up she said, "No!"

The Attic!

So, like I said, I have been waking up thinking about Gram's Attic. I am not sure why it was off limits---she was probably afraid that we would get hurt even as adults, but just suffice it to say, as often as I was in her home and spent many months there in the summer times of my adolescence; I was only up there once or twice. But I do remember The Attic.

We all have places like this don't we? We all have "places" where people want to go and we say no. There are parts of our lives that people want to visit and we say No! And there are places in our hearts, our minds and our souls that are off limits to others. Even our closest most beloved are told no when they ask to be allowed in!

And so maybe this is why I have been waking up to The Attic. It was a place of mystery and intrigue as I was growing up. But I learned to respect her right to say no, and not invite me to explore that which she wanted to keep to herself! I waited to be invited and she never did and that is ok.

I now wait to be invited into another's life, journey, heart, mind and soul. I ask questions out of respect for their right to say no! And when the answer is yes, "yes, climb the creaky stairs and I will let you explore what I hold onto so dearly", it is a tremendous honor! One that I cherish highly! But when the answer is no, I am fully comfortable waiting to be invited and if I never am, that's ok too!

The Attic!

Oh how I wish I had been able to spend more time there! But once again, a message from my Gram has led me to a life that honors everyone's right to keep the door closed to parts of themselves both physically, emotionally and spiritually! It is something we could all get better at! I am still listening!

Blessed be!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Christmas Trees and Grief and Loss

So I put up my Yule Tree (aka: Christmas Tree) yesterday. Yes, for many this is WAY too early, but not for me. Oh I could say the next 4 weekends are very busy, which is true, but not the whole truth. Really the truth is that I needed to put up my tree and decorations yesterday. It seemed important this year.

What was refreshing was that because I embrace this Pagan Path, it is not weird to "mix the seasons". My fall decorations can indeed stand side by side with my winter decorations. Isn't that like the Wheel of life?

But I digress and that is a blog post for another time!

I needed to put up the Tree this weekend.

This week (November 16th in fact) brings 10 years since I left my ex husband. November 16, 2002, my daughter and I moved into our apartment. November 16, 2002 I was 50 years old and she was 18. November 16, 2002, we stood in our apartment with boxes and breathed a new life into being. November 16, 2002 was the beginning of the release from a bondage of hell for both of us.

But this blog isn't about that day! No, it's about the Tree!

Now, here 10 years later, I am finally able to say that of course our lives weren't all bad! There were lots of good and happy times wrapped in those 30 years I was with this man and 18 years that she was with her father. But unfortunately, the good times don't always out weigh the destructive and often that destructiveness is all intertwined with the happiness. But let's just say, there were happy times.

And they seemed to be wrapped up in the Christmas Tree!

But this isn't really about this 10 year anniversary either.

It is all about the need to put up the Tree at this time, this year; November 10, 2012!

As I was putting up the tree, I flashed back to December 2002. I went to the house (we would not sell it until the next summer) where my husband was still living to divide up the Christmas decorations. I remember (as I do every time I put up a tree), sitting on the floor of the back bedroom turned into "his study" opening the boxes of ornaments and sorting out the ones I would take with me for the tree at my apartment. And I cried. I cried more than at any time I could remember. I cried, well sobbed, as I looked at all the memories laying on the floor in front of me. And I cried, well sobbed, as I realized I would be leaving my beautiful tree because it was too big for the apartment.

My husband came into the room and in his most arrogant and demeaning way said, "Well, if you are this upset about leaving me, then come back home."

"I'm crying because I have to leave my Christmas Tree." I said through the sobs.

Needless to say, he huffed and walked away. I think I held each ornament in my hand; trying so hard to capture all the memories, all the dreams, all the promises that each one of them held. A pile for him and a pile for me. Just a foreshadowing of what was to come as we broke up the only home my children had ever known.

Each year when I put up the tree, I would lovingly place each ornament in just the right place. And I would reflect on the year(s) past and I would dream of what it would be like then next time I put up the tree. I would think about the age my children were and imagine them a year older. I stayed in the past and the future because on most days the present was too hard to live in.

You see this simple tradition of putting up the Christmas tree was a way for me to journey with Grief and Loss and not have to let on that that was the path I was traveling at a time full of love and light. Grieving not only the hard times but grieving the good times that were now past. The loss of the innocence of a child as they gave up Santa Claus, grief over the knowledge that my life was not the love story I had dreamed of, and hope that the dreams each year I wrapped up in a beautiful package and placed under the tree that had not been opened that year, would hopefully be opened the next!

So, this year, a week before this 10 year anniversary of sorts, I needed to put up the Tree! I needed to take out ornaments of old and ornaments of new and not Grieve! Not grieve all those unopened presents, not hang ornaments of Past hurts and loss and not turn on the lights of the future!

No, this year, I was Present! And I didn't even realize it until my walk this morning! It just happened naturally!

It has been a long path: these past 10 years, but oh I am so glad I was on it; so happy I am on it now! And the fact that my Fall and Winter adornments sit and hang side by side, show that I can be in all places at once and it is all the Present! For here in the Present I am safe, I am the Love and the Light, I know that I did the best I could all those 30 years of putting up the Christmas tree, but most of all I know that I embody the Divine Voice!

So, last night as all the Lights in my apartment were off except for the Christmas Tree, I sat amazed at how this tree looks more magickal than any tree I have every had in my lifetime. This Tree is so very special! This tree is no longer about Grief and Loss but about Love and Light!

So may every day be in my life and in the lives of all I encounter.

So mote it be!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Leaves and Memories

I realized last week that many of my precious memories are in and around fallen leaves of Autumn! I was walking to the Lake and stopped and closed my eyes. I breathed in the smell of the leaves; dead and decomposing on the ground. It doesn't sound like a good odor, but it is one that reminds me of times gone by from my childhood and my children's childhood and my walk through the Wheel of Life!


We lived with the "woods" right behind our house! Right below one of the smaller mountains in Roanoke Virginia called Mill Mountain. The famous Roanoke Star sits on top of this mountain! Anyway; this was my playground from 1st grade through 7th grade. And oh the memories of Autumn!

There is something special about the leaves falling from the trees and then laying as a blanket on the ground. There is something special about raking all the leaves into a huge pile and laying in them; wrapping this blanket all around me! There is something special about the smell of those leaves.

And this is how memories are born! And as I walked to the Lake last week; making sure I walked through the largest piles so I could listen to the sound the drying leaves made; I pondered this special gift of Memory!

I pondered how we hold on to the bad memories so hard and so long that sometimes it uses up the room in our Memory bank for the memories that hold the love and light we so need to cherish forever! I work hard these days to bring forth and cherish those wonderful memories of my childhood. The memories of my dad piling up those leaves and then inviting us to jump in them even tho' it meant he had to rake them all over again. The memories of going out trick or treating and making sure I walked right through those big piles of leaves in front yards so I could listen to the sound! Memories of standing under a tree as the wind blew the leaves off the tree and knowing that snow was soon to come and it too would fall from the trees onto me!

Leaves and Memories!

But then I began to think about my Aunt Mildred. She is in an Alzheimer's Home. She has lost most of her memories; only her oldest son is recognizable now and she cannot recall any memories from her past; not even what happened 2 minutes ago. What a tragedy! She goes through her days; she just goes through her days. No longer do the smells of drying leaves take her back to days of old. No longer is she even able to relate the falling of the leaves from the trees to the changing of the seasons. No longer does she have the ability to recall memories that can comfort her, make her smile and remind her of times where all was well with her life.

Yes, I know that she doesn't even know she can't remember. And yet I grieve for the loss of this very special gift we tend to take for granted. And what do we do, but hold on desperately to those destructive damaging hurtful memories instead of making sure we replace them with memories such as wrapping ourselves in the leaves, giggling so hard that snot runs out of our nose!

At age 60 I am determined to hold on to those type  of memories.

I invite you to do the same! Gaia is ready to touch our senses in wonderful and enchanting ways to trigger that smile, that laugh, that memory of times when all was good in our life and She was present to guide our path! Come walk through the leaves with Her, hold Her hand, and smell Her goodness! She waits for you and for me!

Blessed be!