Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Beggar's Bowl

I know of a silent argument
that exists between two women
a difference only in perspective
One lives in poverty,
the other lives in Grace
who sees her own blessings
and the blessings of others.
And before you judge
which one of the two
is the rich, and who the poor
allow me to tip the tables
upside down
For the one who sees
isn't the one who
lives in a fancy house
wearing fancy clothes
or, who can even afford
good shampoo.
No, she is the one
who carries an empty bowl
in her open palm
humbly walking
from door to door
offering the beggar's bowl
for the tithing from those
who have material good
The poor one
is the one who clutches
a full purse to her chest
seeing the beggar
as a thief
seeing it as a sin
to ask for help
not seeing the blessings
she has been given
without merit
For the bowl being offered up
before those who have
isn't found in some building
for investment
where an accounting
of what is given
can be seen by a hand
that won't let go.
The beggar's bowl
is God's living dish
being passed to those
for blessing
For who it blesses most
is the one who gives
so they may also
have eyes to see
from a grateful heart
what the beggar sees
and knows
If a beggar approaches
seeing that you have
bless her eyes
and thank God for them
And if you consider
the beggar's only desire
is to take from you
then you are poor in deed
for she sees
what you do not;
it is only by God's Grace
that you have
anything at all


Sunday, June 17, 2012

...And A Father Was Given To Her ~ A Daughter's Tribute

Before the age of 8 I had no father.  I didn't even have a grandfather.  My biological father had abandoned his family, us, before I turned 2 years old, and with him went a set of grandparents who, I was told, as it was, chose to stay out of the picture anyway.  My mother's father had died long before I entered this world.  So during my formative years, I had no concept of what a father was, or the importance of what a father represents and gives to a young girl's life.  The only knowledge I had of the father role was as a distant witness to the relationship my cousins and friends had with their fathers. 

From a young girl's mind and heart, I didn't yet have the capacity to understand the emotions that arose within me as I watched other children and their fathers interact.  It wasn't until much later that I could identify and name that what I was feeling was longing, a yearning desire, and with it a sense of confusion from a sense of being isolated from what other children had.  A sense of missing something important that I should have too, but could only watch from the other side of the glass.

Unfortunately, when my step dad entered the scene, when I was 8, I had already experienced, too much, the darkest nature of men.  For me, that is the only definition I had to go by.  And by definition, how I viewed men in general, and myself as a female in relation to the male, was already taking form within me, and was ruled by nightmares.  Through my eyes, men not only abandoned their children, they also crossed lines through the form of physical and sexual abuse.  To say I was distrustful by the time my step dad arrived would be an understatement. 

Understand, my dad wasn't made aware of any of this until I was well into adulthood.  All he knew was I was a troubled little girl.  My mother didn't even know.  Not only did I hold the dark secrets of men in silence, but even if I could speak of it, I had no words in my vocabulary to cover the magnitude of my experiences with them.  So this new man, this "stand in" for a father, as I initially viewed him, this stranger who entered my house and my world, was, from the beginning, viewed from a place of very real fear.  The thought that I needed to protect myself, and couldn't with a man in the house, forced me to keep my defenses up, always on guard, with antennae out, watching for any sudden discrepancies of behavior, and/or energy.   

My a good man.  I sit here in tears so profoundly grateful for his goodness.  For without that innate goodness that lives within him, naturally, as a man, and my experiences with that goodness, I wouldn't have been able to see another view of men.  By simply being who he is, I learned, slowly, that there are men in this world who can be trusted.  It was a slow process for him to finally win over my trust.  And he did that without even knowing why my distrust was in existence.  He was the very first man I gave my trust to.  I'm not even sure he is aware of just how precious that is, and what that says about him as a man, and a father.

One vivid memory stands shining, of a night when I finally stepped the rest of the way into giving my trust to a man.  And it is that night, that I knew for certain, that this man, was in every way, my dad.  For the first time in my life, I knew what it was to have a father --

I had snuck out of the house late one night after my parents had gone to sleep.  I wanted to be with my big sister and her friends, and didn't know why I couldn't stay out with her.  At some point, she told me I should get back, so I reluctantly snuck back into the house, and as I made my way through the living room, I heard the door from my parent's room open.  I hid behind the wall in the kitchen, which blocked the view from the hallway where I heard the footsteps of my dad.  I heard him check the front door, and then all I heard was silence.  Then, suddenly, he stepped into the kitchen.  I flattened myself as much as I could against the wall.  He walked a short distance away from me, then turned.  My heart was beating wildly, but when he turned around, and my eyes adjusted to what he was wearing, it stopped pumping, and I felt myself gripped by an unreasonable terror. 

He was dressed only in his underwear, and it was just he and I standing alone in the dark.  I knew I was in trouble anyway, for disobeying him, but that trouble paled in comparison to the unbidden question that arose in my mind, "Am I safe?"  I couldn't move, and when he finally spoke, he asked, "Didn't I tell you that you couldn't go outside?"  It took me a long time to speak, but I finally squeaked out an answer, "Yes."  I heard him sigh, and then he said, "Go to bed, Cindy.  We'll talk about this tomorrow."  I ran as quickly as I could to my room, and when I got there I don't know how long I stood, in a daze, waiting for the knowledge that was slowly hitting me to settle in...

I was safe.  I was safe...with my dad. 

From that moment on, I let the guards go.  They were no longer needed to defend me.  My approach to my dad changed.  I found myself opening up more, feeling freer to express who I was with him. 

The poem below is dedicated to my dad, the only father I've ever known...and the first man to lead me toward the light of healing. Simply by being...a good man.

Without You

How could you know,
when a young girl
stood before you,
that her dwelling place
was the dark side
of the moon?

She had no words
no voice
to be able to name
all the shadows
witnessed in men.

How could you know
that for her
you were a kind
suddenly appearing
from the light?

You offered her another
view of the moon
a place of hope
within her
she never knew.

You did not know
it was you that
led her to the light
offering her a hand
and from there
she could finally see
the Sun.

Without you
and the love you gave
she'd still be standing
lost and forgotten
in the dark.


Friday, June 8, 2012


My new blog is up and running ~ Symphony of Wonders.  I posted the second post just a few minutes ago, so be sure and check out the first one too!  I hope you enjoy what I have to share there as much as I enjoy the sharing.

My mind is full of the thought of flowers today, and I really tried to write something besides my version of poetry, but the following kept crowding in, demanding to be expressed.  I hope you enjoy it.


Within the seed is given the blueprint
of what that seed is to become
A flower begins it's journey
to fill the vision, and takes form

Yet that tender shoot must first
break through the outer husk
where it discovers itself
still encased in the earth

In the darkness, struggling
against the oppressive earth
it begins a slow climb
carving it's path upward

Unaware of the light
it neither questions, nor doubts
the vision given.  It only knows
what it is to become

And reaches

Through the hard crust
it breaks through, unfolding itself
to stand upright under the sun
rejoicing in the feel of the air

The vision drives it to continue
a soft melody calls it forth
until one day, there sits a quiet bud
encased again, like the seed
yet ... more translucent

and from the depths of it's roots
comes the song of it's journey rising
And with the glory of it
the bud bursts open
expressing in perfect form
the vision held within the seed.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gnats, Existentialism, and the Song of Creation

"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked."  Victor E Frankl

Gnats invaded our house this spring, and appeared to multiply by the dozens over night, steadily plotting the take over of every single room.  They seemed to favor the bathroom as their headquarters.

After a couple of disappointing and challenging months, and the plans I had didn't pan out, I moved back in with the Roomies I've lived with for most of the past year.  I couldn't miss the invasion of the gnats in the house, and asked what could be done about them.  There are parrots who also live in this house, so pesticides were out of the question.  The Roomies dug out a bug zapper thingy that looks more like a tennis racket than anything else -- the only difference being the netting is charged with electricity, and zaps any bug who has the misfortune of flying into it's path.  The use of this weapon can actually be quite gratifying in a twisted, passive aggressive sort of way.  All three of us who live in this house have used it as a kind of therapy I think.  Poor gnats. 

Anyway, the bug zapper thingy wasn't really doing the trick in ridding all of the gnats from this house.  Every morning there seemed to be more troops created over night to serve in the battle.

There is something I failed to notice while all of this was going on, and it was so subtle and insidious I almost found myself in amazement when I finally realized it, and wanted to say to the gnats, "Good game!"  My behavior, my simple habits were beginning to change.  The repulsion I felt rise up within me at even the thought of going into the bathroom with gnats camped out on my towels, the shower curtain, and the walls, made me want to avoid taking showers, and even the simple act of washing my face and brushing my teeth.  I did these things anyway, of course, but every time I'd go in there, I felt myself want to shrink, and I kept my movements to the bare minimum, so as not to stir them up in a swarm.  Once I noticed my aversion, and the hesitation in taking a shower, the gig was up.  I was like, "Wait a cotton pickin' minute here...!"  I was feeling like a victim, all helpless and incapable, to these tiny bugs who weren't even in their natural environment.  I would not allow them to change my basic hygienic habits!  Not to mention my enjoyment of a good, hot shower.  I would not allow them to change the natural expression and movement of who I am. 

Then the wisdom of that kicked in...

How many times did I find myself in a situation or condition that had me changing my natural ways?  How many times did I constrict, or restrict my movement, shrinking back, or withdrawing in reaction to what was going on around me?  How many times was I conditioned, to the point of habit, to move against my self?  There are times, yes, compromise is necessary, but not when it is to the detriment of our natural self.

And forgetting who I was, feeling such a sense of loss, and like I'd traveled far, far away from home, how long did it take me to trace the line back to where I'd gone so terribly wrong?  To the place and time where I zigged, when instead I should have zagged.  How many times must this happen until one day, I finally stand on solid ground, and say, "Wait a cotton pickin' minute here..!"

But the thing is, mostly, it's not the outside that influences us so much, but how we are viewing ourselves in relation to it, and that view dictates our responses.  Can we change our view, and then respond differently?  Yes.  Does that mean I'm going to put up with gnats cohabitating with me in the bathroom?  No.  My first response was to shrink away, feeling overwhelmed, there were too many of them, day in and day out, and I was.thinking of myself as incapable of dealing with them.  Not a good view.  And, seriously, I don't shrink away from much, so it goes against my nature, which ends up hurting me in the end.

We look at our world, and ourselves in relation to it, I think mostly seeking a reflection of acceptance.  Unfortunately, I don't think we'll find it out there.  I don't think that is the place to look for it.  The gnats don't really give a shit.

I read this poem yesterday morning, A Dot Upon A Page, by the wonderful poet David Brydon, and I understood the sentiment behind his words.  We had a blip of conversation about it on Twitter, and he said, "So glad you enjoyed the poem.  Sometimes I worry that others may find them negative or dark."  The poem might be dark to some, negative to others, and the "truth" he speaks may or may not be true, but this I know...I understood it.  I could relate.  There have been times when that is precisely how I viewed myself in relation to a family, relationships, this world.  Like the gnats, their numbers were too many, and I found myself shrinking, withdrawing, feeling small, overwhelmed, and insignificant in the whole grand scheme of things.

Yet...when we find ourselves feeling that way, isn't that in itself pointing like an arrow to our desire?  That we want to feel significant...and don't.  Like what we do, who we are...naturally...matters.  We want to matter.

But I think the feeling of insignificance arises when we ourselves stop doing what matters to us, what comes naturally.  When we argue with ourselves over it, or try to put the brakes on.  We can say it's because of the gnats setting up headquarters in the bathroom, or because the world responds with a flat note, or not at all, to what matters to us.  We can come up with a thousand, very convincing reasons not to do what matters, point out all kinds of things that get in the way.  But in the end, what, or who, is it that really stops us?

It's an amazing thing what happens when you've got nothing else to lose...literally.  When all that stuff you were so greedily grasping for slips away, and it feels like you're left carrying nothing more than an empty bucket.  You discover it was never, ever about any of those things.  They really didn't matter.  The empty bucket in your hand is what matters...and what's inside it.  The heart of what matters.  What's left is not stark emptiness, but possibilities.  Potential.  Creation.

I've been digging around in my bucket and was inspired to start drawing again.  I sent a drawing to my daughter the other day, and she exclaimed, "I'm soo happy you started drawing again! Its awesome!"  I was given an ink pen, as a very late Christmas present, the kind of pen that I have to dip into ink...very cool.  When I first held it in my idea occurred to me.  Not long afterward, I found a sweet deal on colored pencils, bought them, and decided to mix the ink and the pencils together in a drawing...well, sorta.  You'll see.

I'm in the process of building another blog, and I decided to incorporate my drawings with my writing.  I am no Michaelangelo, trust me.  But it has felt so good to draw again, that I desire to continue with it.  Maybe I'll get better the more I practice.  It's a part of myself I cut off a long time ago for some forgotten reason.  I am a creative.  I make the claim.  My soul loves art, expression, beauty, wonder...the song that fills me when I am creating in any form.  I don't care anymore whether what I do holds any significance to others.  It matters to me...and that, in the end, is all that matters.

I'll let you know when the other blog is up and running.  My hope is to have it up by tomorrow.  I hope you'll come and share in the wonder.