Saturday, February 27, 2016

Remembering Childhood

I have six sisters. Six! (And two brothers!) Needless to say, my mother was a remarkable woman. She allowed us to explore, create, dream, build, imagine, play, dance, and twirl on tire swings until we were dizzy with laughter. In the middle of the laughter, we developed bonds that still hold us together, get us through heartache, and connect us in ways only sisters understand.

Sisters are connected at the hip
By the ever twirling seat of imagination,
Gripping to what some call chains of naivete
But they call kindred links of love.
They spin effortlessly in
Complete and pure joy,
True and deserved freedom;
Not caring what passes them by--and trusting nothing will--as
Their giddy laughter
Harmonizes perfectly
With the wind blowing
In and through and all around them,
Creating a magical space only sisters

Sisters are connected at the heart
By the ever whirling chair of resilience,
Holding to what some call chains of reality
But they call gentle bonds of true friendship.
The ride courageously in
Solid and sure peace,
Strong and determined focus;
Not acquiescing to disappointments--and knowing such will pass--as
Their childhood laughter
Harmonizes precisely
With the changing winds
Often gathering all around them,
Blowing a sacred space only sisters

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Like a Piece of Driftwood

I took a diversion on the beach today to observe a large piece of driftwood.  I was reminded of the photograph of a similar piece of wood I saw some time ago, and which inspired me to write a poem:

My skin is wrinkled, weathered and worn;
Parts of me have been ripped to shreds
By tremendous tossing and turning in the giant waves.
There are deep crevices, pockets, and scars
From termites and maggots and other unwanted intruders.
But I am no longer troubled by these external imperfections;
I like this place I am now.
Here I sit naked and majestic
For all to see and study--if they will--and consider their own
     line-creased foreheads
     furrowed brows
    crinkled crows feet
     age-spotted limbs!
I am not rotting away with indifference, apathy, fear, or bitterness;
I am still and steadfast on this spot,
Reciting the chapters of my life for ears that will hear and listen to its beauty,
Grateful to rest on this beach of acceptance.
And when my bark drops to the sand, one cell then another,
The tide graciously covers my extremities
And I am washed away to another place,
There I will be gathered back up,
To tell my stories again.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Universal Spell

There are over 6,500 languages spoken throughout the world. I speak English fluently, and know only a few words in Spanish, German, French, and Latin.  Yet, there are some things in our world that intrinsically transcend all language barriers and have the remarkable ability to weave common threads of understanding among all people. Things like the warmth of a smile, an embrace, the magic and mystery of music, a sunset, an act of kindness, a star-filled sky, a sculpture or a painting.  And! 

There are over 400,000 species of flowers, which is nearly half as many words as there are in the English language!  Flowers are used in nearly every culture and for practically countless occasions: to honor birth, commemorate holidays, celebrate weddings, remember anniversaries, praise accomplishments, just-because, as a message of encouragement or condolences, to decorate and beautify, to extract oils and essence, express love and affection, and to memorialize death.  These magnificent treasures of nature have the remarkable ability to reflect countless sentiments and emotions, in every language, simply by their existence. 

What is this universal, magical spell that flowers have upon humans, to affect not only our five senses but even imprint our hearts?  What is this remarkable ability to speak every language simultaneously? And to radiate unadulterated bliss!  Maybe it's because flowers are like an intoxicating olfactory potion that relaxes and rejuvenates body, mind and soul, or restores health as we breathe in sweet, spicy, woodsy, or delicate fragrances.  Perhaps it's the visual beauty of flowers that resonates in our souls, reminding us of our own stunning glory and uniqueness and immeasurable value.  And our innate power as a one-of-a-kind in our own species.  Whatever it is, there is unmistakably a connection between most people and their relationship with flowers.

Whenever I receive a bouquet of flowers or a live plant as a gift, I'm instantly aware of a feeling of euphoria that comes over me.  It's an inner space that opens up and allows me to feel greater happiness, gratitude, and delight.  Even if the flowers are given during a time of bereavement or ill health, my spirits are lifted, and they instantly provide a measure of comfort and peace.  

Yet, there are also times when I've received flowers that I hear myself say, "What did I do to deserve such an expression of love? Why would he or she send flowers to me?"  I'm taken back by the person's thoughtfulness and the fact that someone was thinking about me. I look at the flowers very closely.  I touch the soft petals, stroking them gently.  I study their shape, texture and variety.  I breath in deeply.  Then, ever so quietly, it's as if the perfection from which the flowers were created whispers in unison with the one who gave the gift, and replies, "Because you are so very special to me."  Next time you receive flowers from someone, or walk in a meadow of wildflowers on a mountain hike, or simply observe a single flower in your garden, just stop and listen for a few minutes.  Perhaps you'll hear something, too. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Can You Hear the Whos in Whoville?

I recently underwent surgery to replace three small bones behind my eardrum which are necessary for conducting sound. I'm still recovering and my ear is not back to its normal size yet.  It feels floppy and huge.  I confess that I look a bit like Horton!  But I'm endeared to Horton, so I don't mind the temporary likeness.  And thanks to medical technology, soon my hearing will be restored to the normal range for a human my age.  It could be a bizarre side effect from the pain meds but all this attention on my ear makes me wonder about Horton's keen ability to hear sounds that others don't. Admittedly, elephants can hear at frequencies twenty times lower than humans, but this does not address the level of hearing required to identify communication from a Who in Whoville.  Does Horton have extraordinary eardrums?  Is he simply hypersensitive to the slightest noise, even for an elephant?  Do large elephant ears provide greater hearing capacity?  

These questions are irrelevant. Horton likely has the same capacity to hear as does any other elephant or kangaroo or monkey in the world of Dr. Suess.  However, Horton has an uncommon gift which allows him to hear a noise coming from a mere speck.  This rare gift doesn't involve his ears at all.  He simply uses his heart to truly listen.  Imagine what we could hear if we listened to others like Horton does!  

We could hear the cry of a person who feels lonely, insignificant, useless, or forgotten, and we'd fly to their aide.  We could hear the laughter lost in a boisterous sea of another's everyday burdens, and then we'd carry a little merriment across their heavy harbor until they have reason to laugh again.  Or perhaps we'd hear the magical melody of hope, and play it's tune for a friend in despair, or who suffers from depression.  And maybe we'd hear the wind whistle a whimsical tune to calm a frightened child, or to an adult who feels like a frightened child.  

It's important to recognize that before Horton could truly hear the Whos in Whoville, he first learned to listen to his own heart.  He ignored the nasty naysayers and pesky pessimistic peeps (who were not really his friends at all), and he did what he knew he must.  He was courageous!  Bold!  Valiant!  Compassionate!  These are the qualities necessary to listen with your heart to any Who in any Ville.  Of course a little faith helps, too.  Faith in the goodness found in people everywhere. "Because, after all, a person's a person, no matter how small."