My last full day in Florence. My challenge is to stay in the moment, participate fully. As I write, this thought just came to me: when we live in the moment, we experience inner silence, solitude and simplicity. Or, is it the other way around; when we experience silence, solitude and simplicity, we live in the moment. Regardless, something new, call it peace, is created from the two, forming a trinity.
On January 21st I will be participating in the Women’s March on Washington with my daughter, sister (who lives near DC), and other family members. I am not going to protest but to support the rights of all human beings. My energy is positive and prayeful.
I have begun a list of family, friends and friends of friends who can’t make the trip but who want to be there in spirit. I will keep the list close to my heart, at least for the start, but I may leave it somewhere along the way—in another marcher’s hand, at a designated memorial spot, on Lincoln’s lap. I may release it to the wind or bring it home with me. I’m open for surprises and miracles.
If you would like me to add your name, or the name of someone else to the list, please let me know.
Peace and love,
How do we carry on today, this day after Election Day? Not just carry on, but move on in a positive way. Approximately half the country is happy with the results; the other half unhappy, and many of those are scared; scared for the LGBTQ community, for reproductive choice, for Muslims, for the environment, for immigrants, for peace.
Like the psalmist we can lament; and then, like the psalmist, we can raise our thoughts beyond ourselves, and grab onto hope in something pastthe human response. If we don’t do this, we will remain wallowing in the vitriolic hatred that was the signature of the campaign that just ended.
There is much we can do to work for peace and justice in our country and in the world. It starts with who we are, with our hearts open to unconditional love, which is where the hard work is. As I go out today, my challenge is to express positive energy and maintain hope. In the end, love wins.
This morning I heard the drum roll. Across the street men and women gathered in front of the Civil War monument in front of the library. I joined them to honor all who have died in war. All—our service people as well as theirs; our civilians, as well as theirs. I just don’t get war; maybe if I could understand guns, I could. Too late: I’m too old to be anything up a pacifist.
Recently a friend told me that her middle aged daughter is suffering from some serious reoccurring medical problems. We talked, I commiserated, but toward the end of our conversation, she said something to the effect that she is in a place of peace regardless of how the situation continues. What a place to be! Peace regardless: peace in the midst of concern as well as joy.
This friend has chosen a spiritual lens through which to lead her life. I say chosen, because it is her choice, her choice to be hopeful, intentional, and realistic. She takes care of her physical needs, knowing that what she has and does now is temporary. She lives her emotional and spiritual life in that liminal space between heaven (the unknown) and earth (the known), which is where, she is demonstrating, inner peace resides.
Dear Martin Luther King, Jr.,
How do we do this? Could it just be that we all are all oppressors?
“The non-violent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them a new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.”
After taking a look at the debates last night, it came to me that my call is to be peaceful and positive in thought, word, and deed. Maybe one of the most important gift we older people offer to the world is to live our life with a peaceful mind, few words, and carefully selected deeds.
Of course this is not way of politicians. And then there is the age problem. Many standing there on the stage were old (will be the same for the Democrats). Many would be celebrating their 70th birthday in the White House. 70 isn’t old for some things, but I think it is for a president.
I understand politicians have to talk, but do wish they could ponder the quote by Robert Benchley from www.gratefulness.org that I put on this blog yesterday.
“Drawing on my fine command of the language, I said nothing.”
Enough. I will say nothing more.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve pretty much chosen to stay away from the news, and particularly from politics. It isn’t easy as the presidential primary in the state just north of us is heating up, and as the debates have started. I watched the other night, telling myself that I needed a ‘visual’ of what was going on. I was disappointed on two levels.
I was disappointed at the cynicism, rancor, rudeness, and negativity of some of the candidates. I was disappointed that the needs of the poor and disenfranchised were dismissed or framed only in legal terms. I was disappointed that these privileged men (and one woman) couldn’t show compassion, empathy or understanding for what it is like to be without health insurance, or the means to earn enough to live on. I was disappointed that there was no talk about gun control. I was disappointed at the subtle, and not so subtle racism and sexism.
Although I wasn’t disappointed in my opinions, I was disappointed that I allowed my buttons to be pushed. How do I, who longs for silence, solitude and simplicity, want to respond as democracy plays itself out in the next fifteen months? For a start, and perhaps a finish, I don’t want to make cynical, rancorous, rude, or negative comments about a candidate. How about taking the log out of my own eye, and then, if I can’t speak politely, lovingly, and positively, keeping silent.
I’ve picked up If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, a gem of a book by Brenda Ueland (1891-1985) that I put down for two months before I went to Scotland and became involved in family and Camp Fisher activities. Now my life is my own again and I’m settling into my home version of solitude, and into my writing..
I love Ueland’s message, blunt and unconventional. Just listen to this!
“But the great artists like Michelangelo and Blake and Tolstoi—like Christ whom Blake called an artist because he had one of the most creative imaginations that every was on earth—do not want security, egoistic or materialistic. Why, it never occurs to them….So they dare to be idle, i.e., not to be pressed and duty driven all the time. They dare to love people even when they are very bad, and they dare not to try and dominate others to show them what they must do for their own good. For great and creative men know what is best for every man is his own freedom so that his imagination can grow in it’s own way, even if that way, to you or to me, or to policemen or churchgoers, seems very bad indeed.”
That’s enough to ponder for the rest of the summer, or year, or a lifetime. Of course we’re not all great artists, but that’s not the point. We all have a creativity, imagination, spirit, whatever you want to call it, to nurture and express, even if only to ourselves.
What resonates with me is the permission Ueland’s gives me, all of us, to be idle, to be free from the duties that we feel the rest of the world is pressing on us. In that idleness, experienced in solitude, we are free, free to create, but also free to let go of the judgments we have about other people. When I dare take the counter-cultural stance and go to the cottage or travel alone, I satisfy my own good. It may appear selfish, but I think of it as being honest, which is essential for inner peace, and that I dare to assert is the ultimate goal of all of us..
Where do the memories of my artist dad fit into all of this? As my sister said at the gallery opening of his work, Dad was disciplined. It’s a given that to be good at anything we have to practice. But Dad also took time to be idle. Again I’m reminded of all those times when I would see him sitting in a chair in the woods. Sometimes he had a sketchbook with him, but my recollection is that he just sat. I wish I could ask him what he was thinking, what his process was. But maybe the memory of him ‘perched’ there as I, absorbed in my play, ran by, is enough. Dad and I, both in our imaginations, working things out. Dad, the grownup, thinking. Me, the active ten-year old, active, my thoughts and actions working simultaneously. Now, sixty years later, I’m more in my head although I get many of my best thoughts while walking. Regardless, whether sitting or walking, I am idle and alone.
Yesterday morning. along with the snow, my internet access returned. Actually, I was looking forward to one of those snow days of old with no internet until I remembered what that entailed—no power and a roaring fireplace tended by my dad. So I accepted the internet convenience, knowing that I didn’t have to click on. Of course it didn’t turn out that way.
I found the snow rather disquieting, although all was silent. Snow, zero visibility, more snow. Silence, as in void. My hyperactive self kept shifting gears, from low to high, from sitting, to knitting, to reading, to puzzling, to writing, to shoveling, and yes, to ‘internetting’.
As always, today is a new day. The void is filled with peaceful silence; middle gear is set and I’m going for a walk.
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4/30/15 Finishing up VG.