Awaiting the Spirit

Searching for my soul –
alone, bereft
long since in hiding
an aching deep within
is recovery possible?
how to miss so deeply
the body’s lightest weight

I yearn for my normalcy –
that cherished feeling of
blessed warmth and firm resolve,
in touch with my savior –
lost without it
teetering at the edge
of a yawning chasm
hoping for a sign
of abiding mercy

Come upon me –
Mystery of
wonderful nourishment
settling over me
when the Breath of the Spirit
touches inner knowledge
bringing draughts of wisdom,
answers, direction,
and a font of peace.

I await mysticism –
praying I let the door
open enough
for the Holy Spirit to enter.

Care Receiver

I have been a caregiver for many years now.  Taking care of the elderly has been a privilege and hard work.  So now it is a humbling experience to be the recipient of care.  I had surgery on my foot and have to keep it elevated for a couple of weeks.  The past several days I have had a caregiver coming to care for me.  I feel all my secrets have been exposed . . . that extra roll around my middle, my fastidiousness, etc.

As I gain a little more mobility, I feel I am regaining myself.  To turn over my care to another is disconcerting, to say the least.  Being helpless is not a comfortable feeling.  It is giving me a sense of how it feels when I am caring for someone else.  You need to make allowances for the caregiver’s way of doing things – your way is not the only way.  Still, it can drive you a little crazy to see someone else’s handiwork where things are not exactly the way you do them.

There are clients I’ve had that instructed me step-by-oh-so-minute-step how to do every task, telling myself this person thinks through these things day-in, day-out, with little else to think about as the days wear on.  I understand a little of that now.

I am more than grateful to have a wonderful aide who has stood by me this week as I transition back to a somewhat more active life. Knowing the recovery is going to be 6 – 8 weeks long, I better learn how to be fully independent again.  Home care is not cheap.  But I have to admit, I like my knee scooter.  It’s like having a skateboard and I can move much quicker than otherwise, especially as I’m supposed to be off my foot (do they really think that’s entirely possible?)

It’s good to be back.

Computer Woes

My computer has become my Velveteen Rabbit, careworn and real.  It is tediously slow, the lines skip up to other places at times, it is shabby and tired.  Really, it needs to be put out in the pasture, to communicate with all the other poor computer souls who have seen better days.

Still, I struggle with it, remember better days when speed was fast and letters fell in the right places.  When it didn’t freeze on me or delete whole passages.  This is mostly meant to say I will be working on the computer when it lets me.  Now I need to think of something worth writing about.

A Flurry of Questions

Are you one of those who, when asked for a volunteer, raised your hand and said you would? Be wary, be very wary.  I recently volunteered to be the leader of the Staff/Parish Relations committee of my church.  I floundered through the first few meetings, doing an adequate job but not really knowing what I was there for.

Then I went to a meeting on heading up that committee and what my role was in it.  At 5:00 the next morning I dragged myself out of bed, unable to sleep because I wasn’t aware of the ramifications of the role or the committee to any educated degree.  Opening my computer, I spent the next few hours researching. OMG.

Overnight I was rocketed into a new dimension.  We had been given a rare opportunity to make a leap of faith into growing our church more and becoming vessels for change in people’s lives and in the community.  Now I have to say our church is special.  While having a small congregation, we do a lot with what we have.  We genuinely care for one another and we have services we offer up to the community which are used: a food pantry, thrift shop, 6 AA meetings a week make their home in the church, community dinners, and free catering funeral and wedding services.

But we need to do more.   I think of our congregation, with its elderly population and its old building requiring constant attention and ask how much more can we accomplish?  I would like to start a ministry in the prisons but I would likely be a committee of one.  We need to attract the minorities in our community and the children.  Young people and young families would be welcomed through our doors.  Gay people and those with other alternative lifestyles would be lovingly received.

How do we get the word out?  How do we make this old, majestic, but rather intimidating building become user-friendly to those seeing it and not knowing what is within so we can welcome new members?   How do we make the children’s rooms safe, happy havens with joyful voices ringing through the halls again?  I can remember those sounds, the explorations into vacant rooms and hidden staircases.  I want so badly to give other children the opportunities I had here.

And to accomplish those goals, I need to up my game as a leader and as a member of the congregation.  How do I ask people who give of themselves all the time to give of themselves more?  Busy people, who have jobs and responsibilities, who are lovingly dedicated… is it fair to ask more from them?  At least until we see results and the burdens of responsibilities can be shared by new members.  In a small congregation, there are many jobs but not enough people to do all of them.  What is fair and equitable?

Many questions stir through my head these days, but not near enough answers.  I hope to grow clearer and find my way to a resolution soon.  In God, I must trust.  That is where the answers will come if I can but hear them. As I read through this, I see that is where I left out the primary ingredient.  Trust in the Lord and open myself to his voice.  Hear the still, small voice within my heart.  Or maybe the clangor requiring recognition.  Become a true Disciple of God.  And trust what must be is what should be, regardless of my perceptions and opinions.  I must carry the shovel, use it to the best of my ability, but understand God, not me, is directing the plan.


Women – what a wonderful mix

There are no limits on the number of fabulous women in the world.  In doing the research on my book, I am coming across so many women I wish I could focus more completely on but who don’t fit the parameters in my subject area . . . women who have gone through, traumatic, tragic experiences have become great and are doing great things as a result.

It has three parts. A tragic event occurs.  The person overcomes it or moves through it.  And because of the event (s), achieves greatness and helps others in the process. The thing I am experiencing is there are so many fabulous women in this world, doing remarkable things to help others.  Many are enabled by their status in the world to help whether they be celebrities who can attach their name to bring focus on a situation, or are from privileged or “normal” families and have not experienced the trauma of the magnitude I am looking for. To those, I have much admiration and gratitude for their services.

But I am finding these women who have been subjected to tragedies that would flatten most of us and went ahead to achieve brilliance.  Normal people faced with extraordinary experiences.  Women who have started out with hard lives faced more trauma, and gave their lives to making a better world for women or humankind.  I am humbled.

I look at these women and think of my own life, wishing I could have that extra something to do the things I always wanted to accomplish and never had the where with all or courage to reach out and work toward attainment.  But I am one of the millions who strive to do their best through their days, having ups and downs but walking onward.  Having little accomplishments that build upon each other.

Reading and writing about these women energizes me, fuels me.  Each time I find a new one I am like a parched and weary traveler who has found an oasis.  I drink of their accomplishments, of the terrors they have faced, of their energy and ability to sustain where others can only marvel.

Not to take away from men, but women desperately need leaders of their own sex to spur them onward, give them hope.  There are still too few true female leaders out there for us to latch on. They have to be world-renowned.  They can be becoming.  They can be carving out that nitch that needs exposing.  We can have History books devoted to what Women have achieved – about how History has been changed or impacted by the actions of Women.  Or, dare I say it, History books that equally represent the actions of women and men.

Take, for instance, Shirley Johnson in Tallahassee, Florida.  She began being raped when she was eight years old. At ten she became pregnant. At seventeen, she was the mother of six, married in name only.  By the time she was 27, she had 9 children with two husbands.  The first husband was the church deacon who was one of those raping her, whom she was forced to marry at age eleven.  She had to drop out of school when baby number six came along.  She was shamed and ridiculed within her church, the pastor of which was one of her rapists.  Her mother publicly accused her of lying about her attackers.

At age 56, she has found her voice.  She is fighting hard to make Florida become the first state in the Union to pass a law outlawing marriage, for any reason, before the age of eighteen. She is a caregiver, something she knows well how to do.  Nothing of privilege, she is only now receiving support in her endeavors from organizations for bringing the bill forward through the legislature.  To me, she is great.

It doesn’t take much to make a stand in this world.  You need only have a voice and be willing to use it.  You can be a ripple in the pond, sending other ripples outward.  Or be the butterfly’s wings in the Sahara that creates a hurricane in the Americas.  You can be like Mairead Maguire, who stepped out of her house to join a protest passing by and became a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work bringing peace first to Ireland and then to other countries.

It only takes a step . . . .

Facepalm Moment

I have to share a facepalm debacle with you.  If you look through my archives you will come across “Esmeralda’s Hair”, a children’s book I wrote.

Well, I edited it into the ground, over and over again.  Granted it was much better as a result but I was getting neurotic.  It had to be perfect because I was sending it out to publishers.

I wrote a query letter, not really knowing how important it was.  I’ve since bought a book on it so I don’t have any cause for the book to be turned down.  Then I made copies of the story and sent it out.

A problem, big gulp.  I didn’t read about proper format.  The copies were all single line formatted and although the font was acceptable, I’m not sure it was one of the top three.  And I didn’t have a printer so all copies were made at the library.  Expensive to say the least.

So now I have a printer (With the price of ink, still expensive but I don’t have to leave home and it’s not $.05 or .10 a copy). I’ve waited the number of requisite months to give the publishers time to forget all about me (if they ever took me out of the slush pile, which is highly unlikely).  I’ve read more about query letters and writing in general.  I’ve researched to increase the number of additional publishers to send it to.

Now it’s time to research the publishers so each query letter is unique.  Time to make each manuscript copy look properly formatted.  Make sure the publishers are still in business and still accepting children’s books.  What am I missing?

So, in a brief period of time, I will start over again, remembering how many times Dr. Seuss was rejected before he broke through and became a superstar.  I don’t want to be a superstar.  I just want to get published, a humble enough desire, or madness, whatever.

This Old Church

My hand wraps around the banister
feeling warm wood glowing beneath the skin
climbing stairs to ancient classrooms
long stilled, the cacophony of youthful voices
echoing through rafters and down the balcony
children no longer haunt its rooms
the church’s youngest members,
from middle age and up
recall times of lessons and play
now hushed, rooms empty
since parish members were children.

The sanctuary’s seats are many
with a dividing wall 25 feet tall
to allow for overflow when needed
the organ’s pipes, overwhelmingly silent,
once rang with a sound so powerful
vibrations thumped within our chests
the organist fails to know
the music of the soul anymore

The Church was built for a time
when families faithfully attended
each Sunday, bringing children
to learn Bible rules and stories,
its storied stones and gloried stained glass
holding the congregation safe
within its all encompassing bosom

The remnant congregation,
wearing their coats against the draft
are committed, generous, active people
welcoming all who come to visit
saying prayers they will return
but times have changed
music and services need adjusting
to meet the desires of these generations
growing up outside the stone walls
without ever placing a foot within.

The Church is a wonderful place
where life can rejoice yet again
but it needs to host children,
young parents, the middle-aged
finding our way to that is the challenge
for although going to services and serving
on committees, more is still needed
so much more

My heart yearns to
sway in the arms of the Father,
raise my arms  and dance
to hear the Bible read and interpreted
giving meaning and translation
expanding the small parts within
to resonate with a defiant ring
so I can stare boldly at my Savior’s
glory and rejoice.


The Acts of a Christian

So what is a true Christian?
Someone who shows up at church
glad-handing those worthy to meet
standing upright in the pews
with head bowed at the proper angle?

The doer who takes on the work
of running a church
filling committees, cleaning,
lending her voice to the choir
taking children to the playroom
so mothers can enjoy service?
a practical Christian.

It’s all about the
what to do next, how to say
what needs saying without
distancing others in the process

Mortar, drywall, paint, pointing,
building a new roof and raising
the funds to do it
staffing the Thrift Shop
dedicating others to ministry

But my longing for God
transcends functionality
and I fear the more I function
the further away God feels

What became of raising my arms
to the Father
of finding a way to meet The Son
on my own terms
or on His
Believing in the Path
and how to walk its way

What became of joyful rendering,
of praising God even if
I feel uncomfortable
because it isn’t a natural process
to me yet but . . .
is something I desperately want?

In all the functionality
of being a modern, practical Christian
I miss God more than ever
and doubt Jesus even less.

So am I a true Christian any more,
a servant of God?
Or am I just a working hand
paying homage to the Building
and not the One for whom it stands?


Calling all readers

I am writing this as a request for all those who read my writings.  I’m writing a book on women who have gone through terrible traumas and horrific experiences yet through those experiences, and because of them, they are doing work which is, and have become, great.  There are so many women who are great but not so many who are great because of what they experienced and their work reflects those experiences.

I’m not writing about women like Hillary Clinton or Queen Elizabeth or even women like Angelina Jolie who does great work through the UN but her previous life does not reflect the causes of her work now.  I am writing about women like Malala Yousafez who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about the need for education for girls in Pakistan and went on to win the Noble Peace Prize and extend her mission to girls throughout the world.

Or the Radium Girls, dial-painters from 1917 through the 1930’s who were exposed to radium through their work and, though many of them died as a result, fought for worker’s compensation and led to the development of OSHA.  Their stories are tragic yet they are heroines for the struggles they went through and the victories finally achieved, although many still went without compensation for their injuries and diseases.

I am gearing this book for young adults.  So many young people are very aware of the travesties of life but women are often written out of the equation.  Some women go through tremendous struggles to achieve and this is inspiring. I think young women need hope and inspiration in this world, particularly as the emphasis is so often on devastation and ruin, evil and horror.

Therefore, I am asking for input.  Should you know of women who fit these parameters, please let me know about them.  There are many.  I would like to cover as many aspects of life as I can – para-athletes, explorers, scientists, doctors, refugee activists, politicians, social activists, etc.  Some of the women will be older or from different eras but I would like to add as many current achievers as well. If you could add a note with these names as to why they fit these parameters, that would be great.  I would appreciate your help.  Thank you.


When I’m with you I feel real,
he said, the gentleness
in his eyes belying the fear
in his heart, the quivering
insecurity of his soul.

He is a wounded one, all right,
the pain of betrayal
steeped in his loins.

There once was a woman,
she said, who hung mirrors
in every room, every niche,
in a towering edifice
she insisted was home.

Done so she could look
and remind herself that she
still existed, that she was real.

Read the “Velveteen Rabbit”,
she said as she softly
slipped her hand into his.

Look in the mirror
and tell yourself again
and yet again,
that you are Real.

She knows that emptiness
brought on by years
of holding herself erect,
while inside she melted away,
the “who” of herself
fading from the “what”
of her life, brought to bear
upon her by those called family.

Within, she said, rests a kernel
of effervescence –
luminous, brilliant, yet
with a purity too true to destroy.

Let the mirror be your guide
into the heart of you.

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