As I was sitting in a wooden pew, a few rows behind my best friend Barb and her family; we honored the life and passing of her father, Ralph. A little more than a month earlier, we were gathered around festively decorated tables, celebrating his 90th birthday. In the interceding weeks, life energy ebbed from him and last week he made his opening farewell and moved on to wherever his Spirit now resides. The presiding priest of the sacrament of the Catholic faith that Ralph embraced, assured those present that “God’s servant was now with his savior.” His voice, likely having recited the funeral mass countless times, was soothing, as were the prayers that were familiar to most there. A specific hymn reached my heart, since it was one that we sang at my ordination from The New Seminary, as an interfaith minister in 1999; called Here I Am, Lord. The service ended with the singing of Let There Be Peace On Earth. My experience of Ralph was that although he was not an overtly religious man, he did seem to be a peaceful man.
During the service, I took note of the line of heads from left to right of Barb, her husband Glenn, their son Alex; a student at Ohio State, Cady; my 14 year old God-daughter, Blake, in her first year at Temple University, and 7 year old Darah. The words to the Jim Croce song Time In A Bottle, ran through my head. Wishing I could capture memory and hold it literally, rather than figuratively in my mind. Barb and I met nearly 40 years ago on our competing community swim teams as we sat on the bench waiting to swim our events. We joked that we “swam on different teams together.” Hard to say what brought together a Catholic parochial school educated kid and a Jewish public school kid in such an enduringly bonded friendship. We had swimming, music, being the oldest of two (she has a younger brother and I have a younger sister), feeling a bit weird in a world of ‘normal’ people, in common. We loved singing along to records of musicals. It was she who introduced me to Jesus Christ Superstar and last year we saw the musical Godspell on Broadway. Jewish holidays were spent with my family, Catholic holidays with hers. For a few years, in my late teens, I was in relationship with Paul who went to her Catholic High School. Interesting the trajectory of her life led her to marry a Jewish man, send their children to Hebrew School; the oldest three having become Bar and Bat Mitzvot, the fourth, 5 years off yet. A few years ago, Barb converted to Judaism. As I watched her move through the inevitable doorway to becoming an ‘adult orphan’; her mom died more than 6 years ago, I noticed the same ‘get through it’ energy that I experienced when I crossed that threshold myself two and a half years ago.
It reminded me that ‘everyone is on loan to us’, as I was informed more than 14 years ago, when facing my husband’s death. It brought home ever so clearly that I need not waste time wondering ‘what it’ and instead embrace ‘what is’. In that way I can fully imbibe the sweet contents of each bottle.
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go Through time with
If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go Through time with
Songwriter(s): Jim Croce Copyright: Denjac Music Company
www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1YxczPEPrs Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce
I read this article by Miriam Hall, on another site for which I write, called Elephant Journal
The Basic Goodness Manifesto:
I trust in my own and others’ goodness.
I know that caring changes everything.
I trust my heart.
I trust you.
“We declare May 7, 2013 to be Basic Goodness Day, a day when people all over the world, no matter what their beliefs, religion, culture, or creed, collectively affirm their own and others’ basic goodness.
We want to live in a world of peace and goodness. We want a world where the highest values are tolerance, generosity, creativity, kindness, and fearlessness rather than self-absorption, aggression, and speed.
We all know—can feel—that there is an enormous collective longing for a world that operates on principles of sanity. But where to begin?
All you have to do is know beyond doubt that you are good, that you possess inherent worth and value.
When you do, something extraordinary happens. You come into your power. Your confidence rises and your distrust lessens. Your world becomes full of possibility rather than hassles. You see that others also possess this goodness and your heart opens to them.”
This came from the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and it echoes my own belief that people are intrinsically good and want to reflect light and love. It is when we lose our moorings and our moral compass goes haywire with the needle spinning about wildly, that we act in ways that counter this instinct. As a therapist for more than 30 years, I have witnessed first hand, the impact of erroneous beliefs of unworthiness. Addiction, violence against loved ones and strangers, and wars grow from the seeds of shame and self loathing. I was on Facebook tonight and saw a posting that appeared to be accepting of disciplining children by striking them with a belt and it was expressed in what seemed meant to be a reminiscently humorous way. When I commented on it, the person who posted it, offered the to-be-expected answer that all those she knew who experienced it turned out to be happy and well adjusted adults. My view is that they may have done so in spite of and not because of corporal punishment. When we attempt to control another person’s behavior out of fear, then we are on that slippery slope to the proverbial (as in Star Wars) ‘Dark Side’. I countered with the statement that if one adult hit another adult with whom they disagreed, with a belt, they could justifiably be charged with assault.
What if we saw everyone who crossed our path as that innocent newborn that they all once were. How would we treat each other and ourselves if we recognized that tiny God-spark that got itself born, before they/we were indocrinated to hate and fear?
How do we instill that in ourselves and each other?
Tell yourself each day that you are loveable and capable.
Take an inventory of the positive qualities you possess.
Affirm yourself when you engage in a loving act.
Write yourself and other people, love notes.
Compliment people in your life.
Praise for a job well done.
Express gratitude even for the things that may not feel wonderful, since they too are our teachers.
Be kind and compassionate.
And as E.T. said, “Be good.”
If you are of ‘a certain age’, you may remember the show from the 1960’s called Father Knows Best. While that may be so, in s0me cases, it is the contention of veteran journalist and award winning author Patti Murphy that indeed, Mother Knows Better! She has gathered together over 200 bits of wit and wisdom offered by mothers of women and men primarily from the U.S. and some sprinkled in from Canada and compiled them into a book entitled Mother Knows Better! Sense and Nonesense From American Moms. Her debut book was called Mother Knows Best – Wit and Wisdom From Idaho Moms, in May, 2011.
The idea for the book emerged from a conversation that Boise, Idaho ‘Chief Storyteller’ at Murphy Media Services had with a friend who was shrimp averse. When Murphy asked her why she wasn’t indulging, her friend responded that her mother always told her that shrimp tails were poisonous. (I’ve eaten plenty of shrimp and I’m still here to write about it!) She became fascinated with this particular brand of folk lore, intended to steer their kids in the direction of a successful life.
I chuckled as I read many, since some of these mom-isms were likely handed down from generation to generation without consideration of their meaning.
How’s this one :”GINGO-NETTIES!” was shared by Stephen Lowell whose mother Margot Lowell used to shout it out “when things got crazy with all the kids running around.” He goes on to say “All of us froze, calmed down and behaved. We took it as the word that indicate Mom has really lost it. Time to be good or else.”
When Rachel Kerstetter would ask her mother Charlaine Engelhardt what was for dinner, she would reply: “Lizzard gizzards and swamp weed.”
By way of reminding her of the importance of modesty, Nikki Conyers- Jackson’s mother Eloise Conyers-Jackson would admonish her “Keep your panties up and skirt down.”
“Your get up and go got up and went.” was offered by Helen Kennedy to her son, Academy Award winning actor George Kennedy.
From the mind of Lela Wing Benson, mother of Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, came “Don’t walk on the carpet! It messed up the vacuum lines.”
And the reassuring “Don’t be scared. Thunder is just the clouds bumping together,” was declared by Deborah Hightower’s mother Shirley King.
I was honored to be included, with two (of many) pieces of guidance that my mother Selma Weinstein fed me throughout my life. The first was a question: “What would you do if there was a sudden freeze and your face got stuck like that?” and the second which served me particularly well:”Walk in like you own the joint with your head held high,” to which I would add “knockers up.”, so that I wouldn’t be intimidated by anyone. As a result, I have been able to interview notables in the arts, academia, politics, peace, healing and personal growth and take leaps into experiences that might otherswise have frozen me in my tracks.
This is an ideal Mother’s Day gift as it seems to have advice for nearly every circumstance, the profound and the profane with humor and grace, with guidance for how to be and how NOT to be. Think back on what words your mother provided you that serve you to this day and thank her.
I woke up at early o’clock this morning; my mind abuzz with all of the things I need to do, which include writing articles, being interviewed on a Jamaica based, Blog Talk Radio show at noon est, called Between The Lines with Corine La Font (even if I am not physically in that tropical paradise, at least my voice will be:) and then hopping off the call to pre-record an interview with Satyen and Suzanne Raja for my own show that will be aired in June and then shortly after that, speak with Natalie Ledwell from Mindmovies and Inspiration Show about a collaboration and then go into work at my job as an addictions counselor. The next stop is Planet Fitness (the Judgement Free Zone) for my ‘playout’. In the midst of this, I have finally gotten around to cleaning out a room in my house that has been a repository for my parents’ belongings that I moved back up from Florida after they passed, as well as 25 years of back copies of Visions Magazine (that my husband I am co-published from 1988-1998), stacks of other mags for which I have written, and still others that I set aside to use for workshops in which folks create vision boards/treasure maps. In addition, there are shelves filled with books, some I have read, others waiting patiently to be perused, folders filled with workshop ideas and handouts, CD’s and cassette tapes, weights…… and who knows what else? “It’s only been two years, Mom since you brought grandmom and grandpop’s stuff here,” wisecracked my 26 year old “undercover angel, sent to teach me patience,” as he told me when he was 14. Now that I have moved it out and is scattered in various rooms throughout the house, Adam is spackling and painting it so I can put it to good use as an office/meditation/haven. I am envisioning what it will look like, but in the meantime, it is in that in between stage that is unsettling.
I have come to realize how my inner control freak likes a sense of order. Quite a shock, you see, since there was a time when that would have been unthinkable. I had chafed against the advice offered over and over, starting in my early 30’s by my dear friend and mentor Yvonne Kaye, that “discipline is freedom, my dear.” It flew in the face of my free spirit sensibilities. Now I crave it. There are so many facets of my life, tendrils reaching out to touch new horizons, gathering them in so that I can explore and share them with the world, that there are times when I wonder how to manage them all, even as I daily request to go farther, do more, share more. That’s when G.O.D (12 step parlance for Higher Power)- Good Orderly Direction comes into play. My childhood perception of the Divine has changed so that it now feels like a Unifying Force. A Cosmic Office Manager that takes calls with opportunities to cross paths with kindred spirits, opens mail that contains books I need to read at the perfect time. A Celestial Agent who puts me in touch with folks for mutual benefit. I am willing to be in receptivity mode and not just do-it-get-it-done-check-it-off-the-list myself mode.
In order to remain sane and vertical, I do my best to make sure that at least one room remains neat and clean. Blessedly, there are two-the kitchen and bathroom. And then there’s my Jeep, happily vaccumed and organized. I visualize the day within the next week when I can claim the room, close the door and snuggle in comfortably, with soothing music, incense, candles, my beloved books, this laptop on a real desk instead of the dining room table or literally on my lap. Sighing in anticipation and maybe God/Goddess/All That Is is sighing with me~ ahhhh….