Easy to Take

EASY TO TAKE

Life is full of things that are hard to take, like criticism, break-ups, and all that laxative you need to drink before a colonoscopy. But there are some things that are easy to take.

A little child’s pudgy arms thrown around your neck.
The song of a red-throated finch perched right by your front porch.
A massage in a darkened, scented room with a Zen fountain bubbling.
Sinking into your comfortable chair and taking off your shoes after a long day.
Hours in a beach chair reading a page-turning book while the Pacific whispers rhythmically on the sand.
Cherry-flavored cough drops that don’t work but taste wonderful.
The wide-eyed thank-you from a homeless man when you give him a twenty.
Hot water pounding from the shower onto your aching forehead.
Climbing gratefully into your own bed with your own pillow after a long absence sleeping on strange mattresses.
When the dentist says “All done” and takes that little napkin off your neck.
The sound of your name in a loved-one’s voice.

RED INK IN THE BLOOD

Red Ink in the Blood

I taught English literature and composition for 33 years. I hated grading papers, but it was my duty. I was paid to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to teach students how to avoid getting my red ink on their papers by writing it right the first time.

On Facebook I see many errors made, and I see many rants from people angry about the mistakes of others. Making others wrong is an ego ploy to make you feel right and therefore superior to the others. I resist getting into the rants, and I resist correcting spelling and other errors in people’s posts.

In the last two weeks, however, I have heard two people mispronounce the word “homage.” Instead of saying “OM-idge” they said “oh-MAZH” rhyming with the French word “fromage.” One of these speakers holds a PhD in English.

So, I have given my ego permission to write this post, just to let out my irritation at the mispronunciation of “homage.” I know English is one of the most adaptive and adoptive of languages, changing usage readily and receiving words from other languages with open arms, unlike the previously mentioned French. If enough ignorant people keep saying “oh-MAZH” on television and radio, very soon it will be accepted as the standard pronunciation. Why does that bother me?

Power and Control. In my learning and practice of Centering (Contemplative) Prayer, I have seen how my need for power and control have added to my suffering and prevented me from being my true, loving self. Here it is again. Now that I am retired, I have no students that I can teach the proper pronunciation of “homage.” I have lost the teacher’s power, and I certainly have no control of Facebook. I feel helpless to hold back the tide of mispronunciation that threatens the English-speaking world.

There. That feels better.

Keep Calm, and Love Thy Neighbor.

Reading at Dorland

Today I have the privilege of reading for five minutes along with five other poets at Art Under the Oaks, the annual art festival at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in Temecula. This is one of the lyrics I will be reading.
NO PEACE OF MIND

Verse 1:
What is on your mind right now?
Thinking back to what she said?
Facing tomorrow filled with dread?
Who’s gonna buy the daily bread?
What’s on your mind right now?

CHORUS:
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PEACE OF MIND.
YOUR MIND IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.
IF YOU WANT PEACE, YOU’VE GOT TO LET
THE CHATTERING VOICES END.

Verse 2:
What is on your mind right now?
Old regrets for past mistakes?
Adding up the time it takes?
Are friends true or are they fakes?
What’s on your mind right now?

CHORUS, REPEAT

Verse 3:
What is on your mind right now?
How ugly, old and fat you look?
The furniture your ex-wife took?
You’ll never be in the record books?
What’s on your mind right now?

Bridge:
Go in your room and shut the door.
Close your eyes. Turn off the roar.
God will come when the voices cease
To fill your heart with blessed peace.

CHORUS, REPEAT

A PICTURE’S WORTH

DSC_1283DSC_1308Just checking my “stats” and I see that my Old Town Agave post got more views than any of my written posts. People like to look at pictures. People don’t like to read. Those are my conclusions. So, let me post some more pictures of Old Town for your enjoyment. Why not?

Angel Numbers in My Addresses

My spiritual friend Sheree believes in angels. She suggested a book by Doreen Virtue on Angel Numbers. The first numbers I looked up were the addresses of the houses I have lived in . Here are the results:

643 Clark Avenue: Angels watch over your family to make sure all your needs are met. Indeed, this is the house where I lived as a child—growing up with my little brother and playing in the neighborhood. I felt safe and fulfilled; after all, I had the neatest playhouse, built by my grandpa.

1156 Karesh: Your powerful intentions are guiding you through this time of transition. Stay positive and focused through these times of change. Be careful to balance your thoughts about material possessions with faith. I lived here for a long time, through most of elementary school, all of junior high and high school, and through college. My first wedding reception was held in the backyard of this house. Lots of transitions took place in this house, including my mother’s funeral reception. I was unchurched myself, but I visited church with most of my friends. My non-existent faith got no encouragement from my secular teachers.

1017 Flora: Center your thoughts on God, creativity, and peace. You are on the right path. Creative? Yes. Amy was brought home from the hospital to this address. It was my refuge after divorce. It was a peaceful, happy time (mostly). I don’t think I was thinking much about God, though; my second wedding was performed by a judge.

6871 Shelton: You are on the right path with the actions you have chosen to manifest divine abundance in all ways. Watch your thoughts; focus on desires not fears. This is the first house we bought, and it was a good choice. Pippa was born while we lived here, and we were all baptized and started regular church attendance at this time. I did not keep my thoughts focused on the good and started into depression, trying to make myself happy with material things.

11015 Charleston: Keep your thoughts focused on God during this time of transition and change. You create your reality with thoughts and beliefs. Engage in creative activities and avoid addictive behaviors. God helped me through the painful times in this house: family strife, awful headaches, job loss, depression, therapy. I finally came to understand how my thoughts created my depression. Creativity was mostly in decorating the new house. Our time here ended with a major move to a new area.

44864 Linalou: The “Angels of Abundance” are with you, helping you receive your Divine inheritance. They are making sure your needs are met as you focus on your spiritual path. The more gratitude you show them, the more you open the flow of support. This is the house I live in now. It is the house where I began my conscious spiritual journey, joining DOK, learning centering prayer, going on retreats, reading about spiritual matters, writing songs about God in my life. My needs are being met so I have time to focus on the spirit. We ring our prayer bell daily and thank God for all his gifts.

So, there you have it. The way the numbers coincide with the way life went during my residence in these houses is fascinating to me. Maybe later, I will write about my phone numbers. They are even more awesome.

Mantis

Reflection on one of God’s creatures, or two.

MANTIS

Coming in from shopping one day, I encountered a mantis on the stucco by the front door. I think mantises are the oddest and most fascinating little creatures. You may have noticed that I haven’t written “praying” mantis. That is because I am not sure how to spell it.

I think “praying” is correct because the little guys are holding their green arms in front of them as if folded in prayer. In their contemplative stillness, they seem to be the most devout of the insect kingdom.

However, I have also heard tell that mantises are killers—of other insects. They prey on aphids, beetles, and other pesky crawlers. So, in my mind’s eye, I see the word spelled “preying” mantis.

Maybe the paradox of the praying mantis adds to its appeal. A still, sculptural, devout green insect waiting patiently, perhaps reciting an inner mantra, and then POUNCING on an unsuspecting aphid to devour it pitilessly.

How many of my fellow church-goers, so pure and holy as they kneel in confession, leave the church parking lot only to cut someone off on the freeway, flipping the bird as they race toward the casino, the bar, or the secret tryst with an illicit lover.

We advanced human life forms tend to think of insects as low, simple creatures. But, like us, the praying mantis is more than meets the eye.