There are very few shows that I will not applaud for.
Normally, if it was if I didn’t like the performance.
Tonight’s performance, I did not applaud because some music is so sacred that clapping could not articulate my deep love for the notes. I wanted simply to kneel and cover my head with my pashmina in prayer. I felt wrapped up in the womb of God, and the applause was too loud. I had cried for over 90 minutes listening to Verdi’s requiem. It was like being wrapped in a blanket and held gently as all the sorrow and grief I ever felt poured out of me in prayer.
I stood at the end, but I wanted to kneel, just kneel, cover my head, and cry silently. I wanted silence…the only way to honor such magnificence was through silence. A silence where the sound that I did not want to end would continue to seep into my soul. I was in a womb of sound, of purity, of goodness, of light, of love, of understanding, of connection, of unity.
I was home.
“Healers hold a space for other people’s pain.”-Martha Beck
To be a healer, you must first learn to heal yourself. Hold a place and listen to the pain within yourself. It could be physical or emotional or both. Place your hand on the place in your body where that pain resides, and listen to it, hold a place for it, speak to it, say, “Tell me everything.”
When I look at people, when I speak to them, my goal is to create a space where they feel safe to, “Tell me everything.”
Tell me everything about your sorrow, your grief, your joy, your happiness. Tell me everything about your beautiful wild soul.
Every interaction an opportunity to learn, to heal, to love more.
Let us heal, together.
“Character is what you are when no one is looking.”
“Oh…I’m early?” I looked at my calendar, she was an hour early. I was about to rush out the door to a meeting in the city, but there she was this interviewee. I had about 15 minutes so I decided to interview her myself instead of passing her along to my colleague. It would be a squeeze, but I liked to keep my schedule hoping.
“Please have a seat. So tell me a bit about yourself and why you are interested in this position?” She looked to be about 57 or so, thin, with watered down blonde hair. Well groomed with the look of someone who had a couple of lifetimes that had passed before their eyes. The dark night of the soul hung out around her crows feet. Yet, there was a lightness and glow in her, that radiated a kind of wholeness of a person who operated from a true sense of self.
“Well, I’m in recovery. I’ve been in recovery for 15 months. I want this position because I want to give back. So many people have helped me, I want to return the favor. These girls need support from someone who’s been there. This place helped me to not only save me from killing myself through heroin, but it taught me how to live a better life, how to transform my life. Here…let me show you. I carry this with me everywhere.”
She pulled out a wallet. On the front of the wallet was a clear pocket full of coins. At first I thought they were Mardi Gras coins, then realized they were AA sobriety coins. I smiled. Everything about this woman spoke to my heart. Transformation, recovery, coins that reminded me of my beloved New Orleans.
She pulled out a piece of folded up paper, very worn. She handed it to me.
“This is my safety plan. If I ever feel like using, I pull this out and look at it. It reminds me what to do, it also reminds me what I will loose if I use. I opened it up and read the following:
My Safety Plan
I know I’m in trouble when I run into (people places things).
A list of names.
When I get into trouble I can call:
When I get in trouble I can go:
When I get in trouble I can use these coping skills:
I will loose my kids, self esteem, money, job, my family, health…everything if I use.
I looked up at her. There was a glow of happiness and purpose in her. This woman, had a courage and self discipline that surpassed most of the people in the well to do circles that I ran with. This woman who worked two jobs, who raised her grand kids, who began using because her husband had died and the pain of that crushed her. This woman who’s heart was broken in ways that most of us don’t dare to imagine, this woman who had died a thousand times in a thousand different ways, who had been abused, who had abused herself, and had risen from that despair to be here now..no shame, holding her head high, and her eyes bright to say…this is me…this is me, and I’m here now…I’m here to help give back.
“This is beautiful.” I smiled as the tears silently fell down my cheeks.
It is the only time I have ever cried in an interview.
“Character is who you are when no one is looking.” she responded as I got up to end the interview.
“Yes…yes it is.”
A heroin addict in recovery had more character then I had run across in my life thus far.
I shook her hand.
“It has been an honor to speak with you today.”
She clasped my hand and nodded in the shared understanding that can only happen when words are no longer needed.
As I got in my car to zoom off to my next meeting, I was overcome by the wisdom of the meeting. We all need a safety plan. For anything in life. When we get in trouble, when we feel sad, when we need help.
What’s your safety plan? I encourage you to write your own. For when things go wrong. When your world seems to be crashing down, when you feel alone. Have a safety plan, write it down, and pull it out, to know…you are such an amazing beam of creative energy, worthy of safety plan, a safety plan co created with the Creator.
Yellow droplets of sunshine disguised as flowers sprinkle the fields like fairy dust in Ireland.
Ireland is the name of my favorite pasture at my boarding barn. It’s far away from the barn itself and I can sit unnoticed for hours with my boots off grounding my body in the earth.
I love laying on my stomach at the foot of the rolling hill by the lake staring up through the grass to the blue sky and fence line. There is bird song and breeze and the smell of grass, horses, geese, white clover buds.
Sparrows zipping above me, ants like arial artists on the blades of grass next to me, climbing each blades high height. As evening saunters in the frogs chirp by the lake.
I never feel alone in Ireland.
In Ireland, I feel like a girl again. This is what I did from 5-15, I laid in fields and stared at the sky. I wrote and thought about the world, I observed, I wrote poetry. It was a time before I knew about curse words and dark things. I only knew I was different from most children who were playing Nintendo. I preferred hours in a field alone.
I could go to the fields and feel loved and connected. To something bigger then myself, connected to the place that dreams came from.
Now I have Ireland. When I’m stressed or sad, I go there and lay on my stomach and look through th grass and know….this earth is good…and so am I. There is a deep goodness in all of us, that flows through us, it enters into our nose through breath. It enters are skin through sunlight, our feet through the ground.
Do you remember your magic girlhood or boyhood? That sacred time when you knew your own magic, your own goodnesss?
Yes, that is who you are still.
Find your Ireland…Go there.
I was driving out to the barn listening to Tori Amos, Hey Jupiter. A sad song, not because I was sad, rather, it was on. I found myself filled with emotion as she sang about heartbreak.
“You’re apocalypse was fab. Left my heart soaking wet, boy your boots can leave a mess.”
For anyone that has endure the unendurable, it hits home.
After you endure it, you are never quite the same. My new superpower was crying. The sort of tender hearted crying, when I’m moved by music, or a story, or I’m happy for someone, or sharing in another’s grief. I cry at Spirtual talks, mass, YouTube videos, you name it…anything that tugs at my heart strings I cry.
I am happy I cry and I am tender because for 18 years I didn’t cry.
I was speaking to a good friend who held the wisdom of 60 years in his eyes. “You should go out and meet someone?”
“ I lost 3 people in my last heartbreak. I lost my family. That was enough for me.” Then…of course…tears…but not weepy tears, the strong kind, silent, washing the windows to your soul.
So it didn’t surprise me one bit that the song made me cry when I heard it…
This is what did surprise me, shook me to my core. I wasn’t sad anymore…I was filled with the most intense gratitude and love. Gratitude that I understand and have experienced the deep connection of two people who share souls. That sort of connection that people write poems, and songs about, and is a part of Trinity and this beautiful divine dance we call life. And once you experience it, you know that God is real and love is sacred, and it calls you to be something more then you are. And the lessons of moving through it, the grief, you realize, how this love is a sacred space, and because you have experienced it, you can experience it in other things. The way the sunlight hits the mason jar of honey, in the nicker of your horse as you enter the barn, when your daughter isn’t afraid to tell you all her thoughts because you’ve created a home where judgement and punishment and boxes don’t exist. I experienced it today as I lay in the grass next to my horse, staring at the clouds slowly meader through a perfect blue sky, the openness and wonder of it, the sky was love proclaiming itself.
Past the pain, the grief, the loss, the anger…there is such a deep thankfulness to have loved and been loved, and loved children that were not my own, to experience it…even briefly, to know that was it! That was love. That was God calling us into maturity and depth, and wanting us to share in the abundance of relationship with him and with each other.
I don’t know why my lessons had to be learned the way that they were. But I’ve stopped asking why and simply say thank you, for all if it…every single bit of it.
How grateful I am, to have finally arrived at the beginning of things again.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
The question we should all ask ourselves, but not in the school room, not in answer to a parent or a teacher, not to our lovers, our spouses, our boyfriends, or our friends. This is a question that may be asked in a field of grass, in the silence of staring at a big blue sky, while listening to a morning bird song. It can be found in the transcendence of a candle’s flame.
This is the question for the soul, and the answer kept in a precious location, and made manifest not through what it is, but how we make the answer leap from the pages of our heart into the material world.
What do you plan to do, with your wild and precious life, this question I prefer to answer now, then at the end, when my breath begins to slow, and I realize too late…ah yes, my wild precious life of love. Have I lived you well? Have I loved well? Have I been true to the inner callings of my spirit. The one that whispers….”yes..yes! Do it!”
I opened my eyes to the prayer.
The prayer was in front of me. It was in the way the rose leafs’ wrapped around each other in an embrace.
The way the candle flickered it’s delicate scent. The opening to the sound of silence, much like the sound of growing things, a steady high resonating, if you are quiet enough you can hear your own live ness.
The prayer isn’t behind my eyelids it is with my eyes open. This relationship between the inner self and outer creation allows for relationship, it is an entrance into the circle dance between divinity and me. God is not “out there…to some place called heaven in the sky.”
He is in the Rose, in my gaze of the Rose, and in the feeling of tranquility as I enjoy its beauty. My appreciation of this gift of the creation is relationship. In the relationship is God . God is relationship. Love maintains relationship because love is God. Anything other than this is not true.
Relationship work starts here…between God, myself, and the Rose. Then it can extend outward, and then you start to see this connectivity…everywhere in everything. It’s an invitation, we are always being invited into this deep mystery of love. There is no lonlieness here in relationship with Love.
“ I was walking down a little trail when I saw this recluse coming toward me. Not wanting to interfere, I bowed my head and moved to the side of the path, intending to walk past him. But as we neared each other, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be a recluse. How did he know I was there? Or who I was?
He said, “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. When you’re preaching, just tell the people one thing: God is not ‘out there’! God bless you.” And he abruptly continued down the path. Now I have just told you what he ordered me to do. God is not out there!”-Richard Rohr