What's It All About?

It's all too easy for days to pass without reflection. It's my hope that through a greater active awareness on each day, that I will be able to consider God's presence in my life and in the world around me. Writing has always been a way for me to round up my thoughts. This blog seems like a good place to park those thoughts for my own benefit as well as the benefit of others. Please take a moment to read what I have written, to offer comments, and to share the ideas with others.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Happy Sunday!

Just planning my week ahead. I feel thankful to have options and flexibility and freedom. Enjoyed a walk with my husband today and am grateful for his companionship and presence. A cloudy but lovely day!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cassie and Her Love of The Rug

Cassie-photo by Libby Fife
I don't know if cats experience joy or happiness. I do know that today I am going to take a cue from Cassie and just try to experience the pleasure of each moment.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Connect The Dots

My husband and I have been together for 17 years.  I met my girlfriend shortly before this so she and I have been together for a little bit longer. We know each other fairly well at this point though we still get insights into each other as we grow older together. She and I were introduced through a mutual friend. At the time, she was going through a major upheaval in her life and this is what sort of bonded us together I think. We have some similar ways of doing things and of thinking. It's a good basis for a friendship. Plus, her extreme tolerance for all of my ridiculousness helps smooth things out!

We talk on the phone several times a week but don't see each other in person that often. Yesterday though we had lunch together. I was in the middle of telling her a stupid story. I got to the crux of the problem and she immediately knew why it was upsetting. She knew because she is upset by the same kind of stuff but also because, as I later reflected, she knows me. And how nice it is to be known by someone not only in a close-friends-kind-of-a-way but also in the way of not having to explain every single detail. The person you are talking with just knows.

I have read a lot lately about having a relationship with God. What an abstract and difficult concept that is to me. It isn't the same thing as having lunch with your girlfriend who is physically present. Or is it? Much of what I have read suggests that God knows what is in your heart; what you are thinking and feeling. I have also read that we are all made in the image of God (another abstract concept). As I was reflecting on my lunch yesterday, I was able to make the leap from the everyday to the divine. My girlfriend knows me fairly well-could probably finish some of my sentences-and she certainly knew why I was upset about what I had told her. It isn't a stretch to believe that it is similar to being known by God. It's the divine nature of intimacy I think. And how fortunate to recognize that in the everyday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reading Muir

"How vast it seems, how short human life when we happen to think of it, and how little we may learn, however hard we try! Yet why bewail our poor inevitable ignorance? Some of the external beauty is always in sight, enough to keep every fibre of us tingling, and this we are able to gloriously enjoy though the methods of its creation may lie beyond our ken. Sing on, brave Tamarack Creek, fresh from your snowy fountains, plash and swirl and dance to your fate in the sea; bathing, cheering every living thing along your way."

John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 

Muir was a deeply spiritual man, though I understand from reading this article here, that he may have abandoned conventional religious thought as he got older. It seems to me that being in nature and wondering about its mystery may have been his true religion.

I am currently reading the above mentioned book and have put it down many times after not having gotten very far. Insight I think is often revealed with persistent and patient effort but that just isn't easy. What you might get out of something isn't always immediately obvious and can take time to understand. Muir's writing seemed ponderous to me at first until I began to appreciate how much he must have been in awe of what he saw around him. His descriptions of the natural world are lyrical and eloquent, succinct yet expansive. I am learning to read his words in small bites in order to appreciate them more. The above book is a good introduction to his thoughts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking Beyond The Leach Field

Part of the backyard view-photo by Libby Fife

Our weather right now is just about perfect. A little chilly in the morning but warming up nicely by the afternoon. No need for the air conditioning just yet and so the windows and doors are open until we go to bed. The front and back door of our home are aligned and bracket either end of our living room. Sitting on the sofa last night watching the TV, I looked up and out into the backyard. What a view! In the photo above you can see a little bit of the hillside beyond our property. (You can also see the leach field!) The sun was setting over the back mountains and the light was wonderful. I thought that things were just about perfect and marveled at our good fortune, being thankful that we are able to live here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

World In Motion

Lake Hogan-photo by Libby Fife

While on my walk this morning, I stopped for a minute to savor the silence. For it being Memorial Day weekend, the lake is pretty empty. As I was standing there I looked around and considered how everything I could see seemed to be reaching in some way. Sounds funny but I bet if you walk out in your yard or even on the street you will start to notice that many things, including inanimate objects, seem to be in some kind of directional motion. Trees and their branches, grasses, the wires of a fence, and even the road you are standing on all seem to be reaching and running and moving in one direction or another. I am not suggesting anything profound here but it seems like all of us are constantly compelled to move somehow, to look forward or backward, to reach up for something, to sway or to walk, or simply to look up into the sky and wonder. Growing, stretching, craning our necks or stalks or stems. It sounds odd but it made me feel closely connected with everything I was seeing. And that felt profound. 


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday's List

Lake Hogan-photo by Libby Fife
Praying every day is not something that comes naturally to me. I didn't grow up with the concept or the practice and as an adult, I have had to gradually get used to the idea of praying. Doing something by rote can make forming a habit easier. Judaism has a set liturgy of prayers that are specific for times of day, events, and holidays. Within each category, the language varies but the concepts remain the same. One of the practices is to start each "event" or happening with a prayer of thankfulness. The idea, I think, is that even the smallest thing is something that can be sacred. I have read of a similar idea that Christians (or anyone else) can practice. A review at the end of the day can include a list of things that a person is thankful for. The bottom line in all of the above is a recognition of the "specialness" of the everyday things. Here is my list from Sunday:

* waking up in my own home with my husband and cats
* time with my husband on a walk at our local lake
* peace and quiet during the day; time to think and consider
* three meals with enough to eat; me preparing food for my husband-doing something to help him be comfortable
* positive interactions with people at the grocery store and fruit stand-I hope I was kind and present for them
* the freedom to pick and choose what I wanted to do
* correspondence with "friends" on the Internet-again, I hope that I was kind and present

A review like this is something everyone can try. I wanted to look for things that helped other people in some way and weren't centered on myself so much. I hope I found a good mix:)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why I love Getting My Haircut!

On Friday I made my monthly visit to the salon for a haircut. I love my hairdresser! And I love her business concept and the people that work with her. It took about a year or so after moving here to find someone that was both professional and competent. I have some special concerns because of my skin and it's hard to find someone who understands that. So trust is a big part of the experience for me.

After leaving with another great cut, I got to thinking about what it means to ask someone else to cut your hair...or do your nails...or give you a massage. What's the common denominator? It's touch. You are asking another human being to touch you which is really incredible if you think about it. Touch is one of the most basic ways that humans can feel close to each other, both literally and figuratively. It's also one of the most devastating losses to suffer when you feel as if someone won't want to have such an intimate connection with you. Asking someone to help you in a physical way, (which is what getting a haircut is all about), leaves you very vulnerable: you look terrible with wet hair, maybe you have a skin condition like I do, or maybe you just aren't comfortable with others being so close. You are really asking for acceptance, tolerance, understanding and some kindness. And the other person is giving it even if they don't know that. These are some of the same things that many of us pray for each day. This level of trust and faith, both from God and from each other. And if that's not about experiencing the presence of something more, then I don't know what is.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Stillness and The Wonder of it All

Stanislaus River-photo by Libby Fife
Yesterday's post was about renewal and faith. It has been on my mind. I subscribe to several newsletters and today, one of the items that showed up in my feed was this article by John Patrick Weiss. His bio indicates that he is a former law enforcement officer and current artist/cartoonist-an interesting combination in my book! The article is worth a read if you find that you are frustrated or somehow feeling at your wit's end. And from the standpoint of feeling God's presence in my own life, the article is a reminder that we all experience similar feelings and come at the conclusions from different angles. We are all in the same boat in other words. I take this as a sign and a wonder to pay attention to shared human experiences and emotions. 


Thursday, May 21, 2015


This week has been a little difficult, concentration wise. For whatever reason. The good news is that renewal is always possible. Just like when you renew your library books (do people still do this? I do.) and get a second opportunity to finish what you started.

I found myself completely disconnected from my art making this week. Completely dry. Time to recharge. Renewal is usually always possible with a little faith. One of the things that I have been reading about is how to find that faith. Everybody has their own way of course. Sometimes I just ride it out, trusting that I will pull out of things. Other times I switch gears and do something else. Above all though I remind myself that things will pass. I just have to have some faith. Faith in myself, the process and something beyond me.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


My husband and I have three cats. Because I am home during the day, our cats tend to gravitate towards me. At night, they want to sleep in the room with me which is fine. I don't mind. Two of them sleep through the night. The third cat, our only boy, has a completely different schedule than the rest of us. He is up when we are down and down when we are awake. His behavior in general can be very challenging and I don't always understand that he can't help himself. He isn't a human being and his restraint system is different than ours!

All three of the cats are a mix of good and bad. I love that they want to snuggle at night and follow me around from room to room, only asking that I settle down and keep them company. They trust me to treat them well. It's not great that they scratch the furniture and trail cat litter all over the house and don't understand that every trip to the kitchen does not signify a meal. Cassie is atypical in that she doesn't want to be picked up. Maddie is fearful still and I have to approach her slowly. Toby has three viruses that require medication and may shorten his life. I find it hard sometimes, especially when the cats are naughty, to see what is right in front of me all of the time: despite the negatives, these cats are a gift-their lives a miracle-and I am the happy recipient of that gift in many, many ways. Being their caregiver offers up a metaphor for me about dealing with life in general. Sometimes the best gifts are not the obvious ones.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Virtual Witness

Each morning I wake up and start my day with a cup of coffee (or two!) and some reading done on the computer. I have some news feeds that I look over and I look to Pinterest for inspiration but mostly the information comes from people's blogs. There are art blogs of course but I also enjoy inspirational writing and writing that centers around things that I want to learn about. All of the commentary though has this in common: it offers a chance to hear someone else's voice even though I don't know that person. It's interaction on both a macro and micro level. Macro in the sense that the writing connects me to a larger and more general world but also micro in the sense that it is the story of just one person. All of the writing though offers a chance for reflection of some sort.

This morning I read a piece in The Jesuit Post. Some of the writing is rather good, in my opinion, and the content of all of the articles never fails to be interesting for me. Sometimes though, the subjects are very hard and maybe not a good idea for the first thing in the morning. It feels like I don't want to "absorb" the feelings or problems. But then again, maybe these stories are just what I need to start my day. Take a look at this one here. If you think your day is going to be difficult, think again. I don't offer up this story as a way to count your blessings or to be thankful that this person in the article is not you. I am simply suggesting that one way to feel the presence of God (something larger than yourself) is to look outside yourself and consider another person's story, without judgment or conclusion. Just hear it and be a "virtual" witness to it even if you will never meet the person or take any action. Just know.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good News is Good News

On my walk this morning I ran in to two people that I see several times a week. Over the past couple of years I have become acquainted with the woman of the couple through art events. So yesterday as I talked with them they told me about their garage sale. I had completely forgotten about it since she mentioned it to me the week before. I was happy to hear that it was a success. Someone even bought a set of antlers from them! Hearing their comments made me feel happy for them. And then happy for me that I was able to listen and be part of their story for just a minute.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good Moods, Bad Moods

Yesterday would have been my mom's 82nd birthday. She passed away suddenly last year on May 1st. As I was looking at Facebook today I saw that several people had posted on her timeline to wish her a happy birthday. I had the feeling that they didn't know she was gone. That of course got me thinking!

Last night I was reading my Inner Compass book (written my Margaret Silf). The chapter had to do with sorting out our "moods." One set of moods goes along with the general human condition: good moods and bad moods. The other set of "moods' is really your spiritual barometer and stems from whether or not you are moving closer to or away from God. The premise is that through careful prayer and reflection a person can see how to steer their course in the right direction, no matter the obstacles in front of them. Ever forward right? 

How does this relate to my mom dying and those birthday wishes on Facebook? In her book, Silf suggests a nightly examination; a kind of reflective prayer. One of the ideas is to think about not only how God might have been present in your life that day but also how you may have brought the presence of God into someone else's life as well. This can be done in one way by sharing some part of yourself with another person. I considered that the people wishing my mom a happy birthday were doing just that. They were trying to share themselves with my mom on her special day; to be closer to her (and in my mind and in my belief system thereby bringing themselves closer to God.) I also thought that it was a shame that those well wishers seemed not to know that she was gone. (It should be noted that there was no service for my mom when she died. She and my dad wished for that.)  There is obviously a missed opportunity here. How often do you try and share yourself with someone else? To share the true and honest and best parts of yourself? It really made me think that this sharing should be as often as possible and in whatever way was necessary. An active and concerted effort. 

As for the birthday wishes on Facebook I can only say that if there is someone you want to talk with why not get up and do it right now if you can?

Friday, May 15, 2015

It's a Small World After All...

Yesterday, while in the Bay Area, I decided to do my grocery shopping. After loading my car and returning the cart, I got ready to back out of my space. The parking lot was very busy and I had to wait. Finally, as I started moving, I noticed a woman approaching my car. Truthfully, I was irritated that she appeared to be headed right for me and would be walking right next to my window as I was trying to move my car. Then as I was sort of stewing a bit, she approached my car and knocked on the window. Years of living in a semi urban center have made me hyper aware and so I wondered what this woman was going to ask for. Nothing but to say "hello" to me as it turns out. I knew her, you see. The lady was someone I worked with many years ago, nearly 20+ years or so to be somewhat exact. I took one look at her closely and got right out of my car. She looked as if she had been or was currently sick. After some discussion, she told me that she had had cancer (this was the third time as a matter of fact) and that she was all done with treatment. She underwent chemotherapy. (Even writing this word makes me a little sick.) In any case, she told me a bit about her family and then said that she had to get going. I told her that I was really glad to see her, that she was still here and doing well. What else could I say?

Seeing this woman rattled me a bit. I nearly cried on my way to my next stop. What are the odds of running into someone that you haven't seen in so long? I don't live in that area anymore. I thought with a shock that this was probably the last time I would ever see her again. It's not that dramatic but more realistic given where I live now and her age and health status. 

Seeing her really made me think. I had such an emotional response. Had I said enough to be of benefit to her? Did I say the right things? Moreover, was God trying to tell me something? (Writing that seems so literal; like a whisper in my ear maybe.) Without disrespecting anyone else's viewpoint, I don't believe that God literally moves people around like chess pieces. So, I don't believe that God placed this woman in that spot for my benefit or for hers. After some thinking on the way home, the most I can say is that perhaps the answer lies in what you come up with after the fact. How do you interpret an event and your reaction to it? I felt that seeing this lady was of benefit to me. That it was a call to pay attention, to reflect, and to appreciate the length of time that has passed; a call to imagine someone else's circumstances. And finally, it occurred to me that the world, for all of its vastness and complexity, can be very small and very simple. What a lovely gift.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mixed Up In The Morning!

It's funny how thoughts and events must come together in our brains, get mixed up, and then reconfigured for presentation while we sleep. This morning I had a dream in which I was attending the first night of the Yom Kippur service known as Kol Nidre. It was being held in a gymnasium at CSUH. I had deposited an orange and white quilt at the door, much as you would check your coat at a restaurant. The cantor was there singing and I remember thinking that the melody was beautiful. I sat next to the cantor and she noticed somehow where I lived (just the street name) and asked me about available housing. She thought I lived in another city that coincidentally had the same street name. I was sorry that I couldn't help her. When it was time to leave I had to present my ticket to get my quilt (remember I checked it like a coat). I had to line up in a very long line and when the dream ended I still didn't have my quilt. I remember being very upset that I had to wait so long.

What does my dream mean? I don't know yet, really. But I will think about it today. Some meanings are obvious and some aren't. I offer up this article here by Paul J. Shelton, SJ as a way to consider the obvious and not so obvious.  In it he talks about his first year as a priest, finding Jesus in all things that he encounters. While our religious viewpoints are different, I relate to him in the idea that God is indeed in all things, even those things that on the surface, may not be as clear. My dream above contains ideas for me to consider; ideas that might contain some grace if I can find them. As I go about my business today I will be on the lookout for all of the signs, even the ones that at first seem just a little regular. (And read the article if you can. It was sweet.)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happiness Is...

Happiness is: listening to my husband's voice as he talks on the phone while working from home. Another gift for my day:)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Treat For Tuesday

Stanislaus River, Big Trees Sate Park
The God of Surprises. In my reading lineup this morning was this article. A gift for Tuesday. Here is the link:

Tenderness Follows, Maggie Lane


Monday, May 11, 2015

New Beginnings?

Stanislaus River-Big Trees Park
Sometimes it's hard to look back and sometimes it's hard to look forward. The above photo was taken in 2013 after my heart surgery. I was so grateful to go back to this same spot where only the year before I had experienced so much physical pain. (I walked a short ways down to the river and experienced terrible chest pain.)

I bring it up now because life is an ongoing process. A life changing event doesn't necessarily change you. In some ways the heart attack and surgery have been life altering. In other ways I am still the same deeply flawed person that I was before. Looking back, even after all of that, is still disappointing. I read something last night in my Margaret Silf book. She is speaking about being just that, deeply flawed, and still understanding and accepting that God loves you regardless of your shortcomings.  She goes on to describe, ..."God's unconditional love for us, which holds our brokenness in gently sheltering hands." How can anyone be worthy of that?


Sunday, May 10, 2015


Mokelumne River-Highway 49 access between Jackson and Mokelumne Hill
Yesterday I attended the final event of the River Reflections Project. Through the creation of works of art, the project served to highlight the Mokelumne River. The artwork included painting, photography, ceramics, music, poetry and dance. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring awareness to the public about the many gifts that the Mokelumne River has to offer.

The final event yesterday included a dance performance, a group of people singing and playing guitars, and a solo singer with a keyboard. Having arrived at the event, I admit that I was in a funny kind of a mood, not really wanting to be there but feeling obligated (as a participant myself) to attend. As I watched the people perform and pay tribute to the river, I tried to find something (anything) to pull myself out of myself (if that makes sense). Slowly, I began to focus on what was in front of me. I realized that the artists performing for the audience were doing the same thing that I was doing with my own artwork every day. They were asking people to sit up, take notice, and get involved. Art making is nothing if not a back and forth; an interaction between performer and audience. They weren't asking me to approve of the work or to enjoy the style so much as they were asking me to take notice. I came to believe strongly yesterday that it's this appreciation and thankfulness for a person's honest effort that matters the most.  And my role was to respond to that by paying attention and by appreciating that effort. It ended up being a very good day.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Lake Alpine Access Trail-Bear Valley, CA
Dreaming of warmer days on the trail...

Trying to empty my head of thoughts is pretty tough. My mind tends to just keep right on going! As a consequence, much of my time walking is spent trying to work one thing or another out. This morning I couldn't even say for certain what it was that I was chewing on. At one point though, on the return trip, I stopped to remove my jacket. It was cold and windy but I had gotten overheated. As I stood still for a moment I keyed into the sound of the wind. It was whooshing through the trees next to me. I can't believe I missed it. As I finished up my walk I started to hear all sorts of sounds: geese, birds calling to each other, the crunch of the gravel underfoot, an airplane, some traffic from the road above, and the sound of the water. Well, I imagined the water sound I think! But, it was very nice to notice those other noises. It felt like even though I was alone I wasn't actually alone. It made me wonder just how much was really going on around me that I hadn't taken notice of before. Give it a try next time you are outside by yourself. I bet you will be amazed.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Of Bibles and Telescopes!

Outside Bear Valley-Overlook
Faith is such an interesting thing. I've watched two programs recently on Nova. The first was about the Bible-its stories and whether or not there is historical evidence to back up the events and people in those stories. The second program dealt with the Hubble telescope-its beginnings (way back in the 40's), how it was built, launched, and corrected, and its current status. Both programs made me realize that a person's faith in nearly anything could very well be based on belief alone. No concrete evidence but just a firm and unwavering trust in something greater. 

Take the telescope for example. The people who ran the program and got the telescope built had no idea that it would actually work. They believed that it was possible based on their calculations and all of their collective experience with science to that point. But honestly, they didn't know. And at first, when it was launched into space, it didn't work. It took several years to come up with a fix and to implement that solution. 

People who have religious faith have a similar issue I think. They know it's there. They believe in it. But honestly, for some, there is very little proof. (Evidence can be looked at as something on a sliding scale-I am not suggesting that anyone has it wrong.) They just have to believe.

Both programs really made me stop and think. Belief in something greater (and something unseen) is at the heart of both examples above. I don't have any conclusions but the questions that the programs raised feel important (and as of yet not fully formed!). 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Living With the Layers

Tracy, CA
It's always such a shock to see the hills turn brown. It's like they are naked or something!

Just a couple of things. While driving home today I came upon two road accidents. The first involved a big rig that had caught fire. The second involved two vehicles that had a bit of a problem sharing the road. All I can say is thank goodness for first responders. I don't know what motivates people to do these sorts of jobs but we should always be mindful and grateful for their efforts. Honestly, for all the things that seem to go wrong there are so many more things that go right and are never talked about.

The second thing involves a post by Parker Palmer. The link is here. Parker's writing is new to me and so far I have enjoyed it. In this piece he references a poem by Stanley Kunitz, who is also new to me. I particularly liked the line in his poem about the "milestones dwindling towards the horizon."  In any case, Parker's piece is a reminder to me that accepting all the facets of who I am is part of becoming closer to God (I hope). Good, bad or indifferent (and I must look at and live with them all)  those things have brought me to the here and now, right now!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Inner Compass: Some Ideas

Big Trees State Park-Arnold, CA
Currently I am reading a book by Margaret Silf, titled Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality. I learned about Ignatian Spiritual concepts several months ago after reading a book by James Martin, SJ. This book by Margaret Silf, mentioned above, was recommended and so I bought it. The more you read about the same subject the better you can begin to understand it. I offer up the following information which I found to be both helpful and interesting. 

One of the first concepts Ms. Silf describes is how to learn about your own inner landscape by identifying its three parts: Where am I? How am I? and Who Am I? The first outer ring consists of your own personal history. These are things that you cannot change (or are hard to change) such as your place of birth or where you work or where you live. We do most of our everyday living here. The second ring consists of your reactions to things. This is the place where we can exercise some choice. It's also where we can impact others the most with those choices. The third ring is where you are yourself before God. No pretenses, just yourself. Her point is that most people come into conflict when the outermost circle clashes with the innermost circle. How you are living is at odds with how you would like to be (and how God knows that you can be, given the opportunity). The middle circle is where the changes can occur; changes that will bring you closer to the innermost circle and closer to God.

I have gone around and around on this idea and the above paragraph is the best way that I can describe it. Ms. Silf's writing is just fine but she uses some terms that I just don't quite relate to very well. In thinking about things though, what she was suggesting sounded an awful lot like something I learned in college. It's called cognitive dissonance. It's a psychological construct that describes what happens when a belief that you hold to be true is at odds with something that you hear or see or do. It's uncomfortable and we work to rectify that discomfort in any number of ways. I think what she is advocating is resolution through action; changing your behavior through active examination and prayer in order to bring it in line with how you want to be-how God wants you to be. It's how you find your vocation or your calling. And how you move closer to God each and every day.


To Flop or Not To Flop...

No photo for Monday but just a thought.

It's always dicey when you do something for someone else. I think it is the rare person who doesn't expect something in return. Whether or not that something is just a response (like "thank you") or something larger like a gift, there always seems to be an expectation of reciprocity.

Yesterday I did something for my husband. It wasn't as well received as I had hoped for. Then, my father did something for me. I wasn't as grateful as I should have been and to top it off, the thing that he tried to do ended up being wrong anyway. My conclusion from these interactions is that just like the old adage says, virtue is its own reward. Here are two possible factors at work in that saying. Control is one thing. You can only control your feelings about giving and you can only control your reactions upon receiving. Everything else is off the board. The part of me that watches for God's presence in my life reminded me that the second thing is effort. The effort itself is important no matter the outcome. It's just icing on the cake if the receiver is satisfied.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

How Many In Your Household?

image-LOC-Jack Delano
"How many in your household?"

Today we had the census taker come to our door. I have never had that happen before. We didn't turn our form in though so that is what happens I guess. In any case, the first time she came I was busy, right in the middle of painting. I was a little short with her. Maybe rude in a small way. In any case, we agreed that she would come back in half an hour. She was graciously persistent! I vowed to be much better when she returned. I was grateful that she came back and I thanked her. We completed the questionnaire and she left. 

How often do you get a do-over when dealing with people? Almost never right? A successful interaction only takes two people but you do have to try. I was glad that I made the effort and was even more glad that she was determined. The awareness of God's grace seems to happen after the fact. No matter though. I'll take it!


Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Her Memory Be a Blessing

Bridge Over Putah Creek-Davis, CA
May 1st marked the one year anniversary of the passing of my mom. The past year has been challenging. Those challenges mostly have to do with what is left after the event, things such as my dad, my memories, and how to go forward without someone's direct presence. 

In a previous post I mentioned being Jewish. Judaism is a wonderful religion from my standpoint. It both answers and poses many great questions about life, spirituality, and belief that I find in many cases to be personally tailored to my way of thinking. But because I didn't grow up with it, the rituals and precepts aren't always helpful to me. I find that observing and applying those rituals doesn't come naturally for me and oftentimes I fail to grasp their importance.

Such is the case of the sanctification of the every day. Many Jews recite ritual blessings prior to and during common acts such as eating, drinking wine, reciting a particular prayer or even getting on an airplane! The idea I think is to be mindful of yourself and of God's role in what you are about to do or enjoy. You want to be thankful really. The rituals and prayers also give structure to things that oftentimes have no structure such as death, disaster, and other negative events. They also celebrate miracles, bounty and joy. Blessing the every day is a wonderful habit even for those with no particular religious affiliation or feelings.

Maybe sharing this particular ritual will be helpful. It involves speaking about the deceased. It's common practice to add an epithet of sorts after speaking a deceased person's name. As an example, if your sister Mary had died, you might say something like, "I remember my sister Mary, may her memory be a blessing.  She used to do such-and-such when she went outside." It's a way to continually honor the life and memory of a loved one. It's also an important aspect of healing and resolution particularly if those things are difficult to find.

As I reflected on my day yesterday and thought about my mom, I realized why that particular ritual mentioned above can be so helpful. Simply adding those words when speaking a person's name erases any hurt and anger that you could still be harboring towards that person. It reduces things down to something so simple: may that person's memory be a blessing (and not a burden or source of pain). There is benefit in ritual but it isn't always obvious.


Friday, May 1, 2015

It Was a Three Snake Morning...

King Snake? 5/1/15 Lake Hogan

Sometimes abundance isn't always obvious. On this morning, there were three snakes on the path. I saw two of them and was told about a third. My cup runneth over!

Hope everyone had a great week. Thanks for reading.