Christmas Lights

christmas-tree2
When I think of Christmas I see lights reflected off snow, sparkling red, blue and green. Somewhere in the distance voices raise in song and I am again a child, my hand in my mother’s as together we view the light display in temple square. In my child’s mind this temple embodied every kind of magic, its beauty shining like a beacon of beauty and peace into a wary world. I used to pray that this part of Christmas would last all year. I loved the silence of Christmas. I loved the sense of wonder, the love and warmth of light reflecting out into the darkness bringing hope. In no other time of the year did I feel as loved, as united, or as precious as I did in those long dark winters in Salt Lake City. I was still a child then, still innocent and open to the magic in the world.

In the days after we’d decorated our fragrant tree, I would gather my books, blankets and my teddy bear Rose-Amora and slide carefully into the corner behind the branches to read by Christmas light. I remember hearing my father walk through our old Victorian house while he called my name. I’d listen in silence, my book sitting still in my lap while my father pretended he couldn’t find me. I giggled when he return to the living room with my cat Cumulus Nimbus under his arm. “Find Eleanor,” he’d say, setting the cat down before the tree and sure enough Nim would run right to me meowing.

It’s so easy to forget what Christmas is in the hustle of holiday sales, family get together, and church events. It’s easy to fill silence with noise, and stillness with action, to remain so busy in preparation that we forget to rest in the fullness of experience. Each year when we take out the Christmas lights I am reminded of what happy feels like. Each year I take time to rest with a good book and a cat in the light of peace as I did so long ago in the light from a Christmas tree. Each year I listen to the world call my name while I pretend not to hear because it feels so good to rest in stillness. Whether your light comes from the star of Bethlehem, the Menorah or the Holy Fire, be still in its presence, practice gratitude for all that you are and all that you have and be childlike; for only in innocence can we know peace.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Advertisements

Nothing to Prove

two girls holding hands
I no longer have anything to prove. Not to myself, not to my friends and not to the world. Stress, anxiety and worry, guilt and fear grow stronger when I reach for perfection; wanting in every way to prove that I am worth knowing, worth hearing, worth the time it takes to say hello. Freedom lives in acceptance, as does love, compassion and the greatest gift, contentment. I have set aside my need for riches, my wish for worldly wealth and I am at home with myself and to myself in a way I never was before, simply because I make no excuses for who I am. I am…and that’s enough.

The road to poverty is paved with unnecessary consumption; that driving need to own the latest, the greatest, the biggest and the best in order to be cutting-edge, cool and accepted. I have bought my fair share of acceptance based merchandise. I have run up my credit cards and wept when I couldn’t pay the bill. I wore the right shoes with the right dress to the right occasion where I said all the right things to all the right people? Instead of feeling exhilarated, accepted and admired I felt tired and jaded as if I’d shelved the best and brightest parts of me for one radiantly superficial occasion.

Once shelved, our best and brightest features begin to fade. Our true natures waste away into the shadowed recess of our souls, coming out in confessions to a friend who isn’t really a friend because in truth, she’s never really met you. Oh sure you’ve shopped together and gossiped together but the moment you let your true self slip into the open, you’re confronted with the reality that you’ve crossed that line into inexplicable depth. Your pretty friend’s eyes glaze over, there’s a lull in conversation accompanied by the reality that you’ve gone too far. “Beyond this point there be dragons,” the old maps used to read and you struggle through uncomfortable chatter, the bird song of small talk, until you reestablish the comfortable anonymity that kept you both intimate strangers. Then your friend grows busy, too busy, to shop and gossip and her world spins on without you.

I have nothing to prove, nothing to preach, I’ll love you in your best dress or in your most ragged pair of sweats. You know the pair you reserve for those days when you’re too old for teddy bears but too broken to understand how much you need one. I don’t care if you’re not wearing eye makeup or where you got your hair done. If you can’t stop crying I’ll probably join you. If you’ve got the giggles I’m right there to.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
-William Shakespeare

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

That Boy by the Mailbox

boy by the mailboxThat boy waiting by the mailbox tastes like strawberries in summer. I like the way he runs his fingers through my hair when he kisses me. Even on these kill you hot summer days – I feel a shiver.

Today he wears old blue jeans and a grey t-shirt with a tear. I can see him waiting behind the camellia if I lean out my second story window just right.

“I’m going to get the mail,” I call skipping down the stairs two at a time. Daddy says something about it being Sunday but I pretend I didn’t hear him. God and he both know I never keep track of the days.

My boy sees me coming and smiles so big I’m blinded. I see him duck between the lilac and the camellia out of sight.

I act all nonchalant, while my eyes flicker over the neighborhood making sure no one sees me. I slip in behind him but not before I catch sight of old Mrs. Danby peering at me from behind a rose bush. I don’t care what she sees cuz she’s crazy anyhow.

My boy tastes good today, like salted chocolate and yep…strawberries. We kiss a little then he draws back and tells me I look pretty. I know he’s lying cuz I haven’t even done my hair but maybe he’s the kind of boy who really does like the look of a girl like me.

My boy starts unbuttoning my shirt and really I don’t mind cuz there’s not much I do mind. Unfortunately, five buttons down, I hear the screen door on my house squeak open.

“Jane?” Daddy calls and I start buttoning like mad. Across the street old Mrs. Danby cackles real low and my boy goes so pail he might as well have just died. I’m out of the bushes in seconds and am just about to head home when I hear, “Forget something?” When I look up, daddy’s watching me and he’s glaring real mean at my last two buttons. I just smile my best smile. “Sure did Daddy. I forgot it’s Sunday. Why didn’t you remind me there’s no mail today?”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Cultivating Silence

I love silence. It’s a rare and beautiful thing. Silence eludes me at times but is easily cultivated once I let go enough to let it wander free. I love drifting through my silenced house with nothing to do. It’s these empty spans of nothingness that feed my soul in a profound way. I put on silence like an old coat, one that holds me close with its friendly warmth. I like the way silence buffers away the complicated storm swept world as it soothes my mind into quiet order.

In those rare moments when silence is accompanied by nothing to do I invariably finger a book I have no intention of reading or better still I pet my cat and break silence into a raucous flow of vibrational joy. My cats purr is deep and throaty. It is a cultivated purr won from silence, the silence of never having known love. That was not a nice silence. My cat has the purr of a feral cat dumped high on a hill top farm. It is the purr of courage which sings, “I dared to trust and in trust found love.”

Sometimes in my silence I contemplate at my toes. I have brave toes. I like to think of all the places my toes have led me. To the crib where my baby boy slept, to the door of my mother’s house, to the airport where together, toes and I boarded a plane. Finally I like to think of the moment my toes stepped to the top of Wearyall Hill. In this place the silence listens, builds and grows into a sort of spiritual wonder I can scarce find words to express.

One of the sweetest silences I know is barn silence. That’s right…barn silence. I have known barns filled with the slow breaths of big horses and the silent swoop of swallow’s wings. I have cupped my hands to catch gold bright dust particles suspended for a moment in the gleaming perfection of sunset; my horses quietly chewing in their darkening stalls. Barn silence is the best silence because it is filled with contentment. It whispers, well done, everyone is stalled, blanketed, fed, happy and safe. You’ve done your job, your free to find your bed but linger a while because contentment like this only comes to rose sniffers, day dreamers and those who understand and love the richness that comes with the knowledge that all is right with the world.

Silence gives rise to contemplation, the birthplace of epic daydreams. Epic daydreams become manuscripts upon which I labor hour after hour day after day. I nestle down happy with the certainty of my well spun plot, the depth of my characters,  enjoying the peace of knowing that everything will end as I wish it. What if life could be as conveniently orchestrated?

In Silence I disconnect from the global mind, allowing myself to once again become unique to my surroundings. In this great disconnect, I go off-line into silence and am again the girl I was, quiet and shy, no longer forced to brave a world which feels too big.

In silence I hear my heartbeat. In silence I’m glad I’m alive. In silence I am able to set aside my humanity, drink in the sublime and let go of all the petty rages which injure only me. In silence I am home, I am free and I am at peace because silence asks for nothing. It simply gives me space to be.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

What the Rain has Taught Me

Sun shines

and I bolt from the house

like a bird-freed from its cage

capering through my garden.

My thoughts beg the flowers to bud

the leaves to unfurl

the world to open up

blue sky and blinding day.

In light I remember what it was to be a child

bare foot in the grass

golden patterns filtering through branches

casting bright shadows across the lawn.

In blinding hues

I am the girl I was,

the woman I wanted to be

laced into a tight sundress and sandals

with red lacquered toes

too bright to be proper,

too free to care.

With sun comes heat.

Under its pressing warmth

I grow slow and lazy

flopping from lounge to chair

porch to sitting room

a glass

iced cold

pressed against my temple,

the phone or a friend

resting ever at my side.

Light makes me civil,

makes me social,

makes me the chatty companion I never am

when the rains come

and they come as surly as sun-set and death.

Rain comes on fierce wings

blown off tumultuous oceans

to fall with force from fat lazy clouds

or sting my face with fog

too heavy to maintain its ephemeral form.

With the rain comes the other self,

the turtle self;

a shell wearing, head hiding, self-cramming house dweller

too afraid to venture into the cold and clammy world beyond.

What is there to celebrate

when darkness creeps on moistened toes

to drench and smother all small joys?

I die in the rain

wilt and recede in its constant drizzle

my soul braking, shattering, glittering on the pavement

splashed across the surface

like the drops which wound me.

My soul free falls into the depths of black ridged winter

then vainly does my heart cling to artificial light

powerless to replace that blinding golden glow of summer?

The rain has taught me patience,

the value of old sunlit memories,

the necessity of an ever expansive inner world.

From long spells of impenetrable darkness

I know that no matter where I am or what I am reduced to

there is a place inside my mind

for a girl in a sundress

luminous under a full and fearless sun,

a girl who refuses to dream in monochromatic–rain dampened hues.

By EE Orme on surviving Seattle, the place where sometimes it rains longer than 9 months of the year.