There's an old song that sings about 'carrying moonbeams home in a jar'. I've always loved that song because it was one my mother used to sing when she was happy. I'm going to put it on my request list for the next sing along which we just do around our house all the time. Which is not the truth. Most of our singing is done in our hearts. We love music and have had some rather talented, musical players in the family but Mom and I don't count ourselves along their company. The funny thing is - I like to hear Mom sing. I don't think she would say the same for me except for one night we were camped around the kitchen table playing rummy and I broke into, King of the Road and she had a surprised look on her face said -
You could sing. I mean you don't sound horrible. You can actually sing that song.
Let's just say the bar is set incredibly low when it comes to my singing abilities. And apparently King of the Road by Roger Miller is the beginning and end of my repertoire but at least I have one go to favorite. I am much more Cameron Diaz character in My Best Friends Wedding singing Karoke at horrible warbler levels. I have had some bad singing experiences (like my 6th grade teacher trying to get me to harmonize with the other girls for a performance and going DON'T YOU GET IT???? WHY DON'T YOU GET IT???? I think she ended up telling me to mouth the words and not sing.) and those kind of things kinda shut down your performance schedule for the next fifty years.
Thankfully if people try to shut me up from telling stories I don't pay attention to them and won't shut up if they ask me to. And I do this thing called RADIO where I talk some, interview others, and play great music. I do not sing along.
I could not sleep. Could. Not. I tried Valerian root, warm milk, reading, no blue screens, more blanket, less blanket, fresh air, not air. Just as I was falling asleep I'd think of something that would startle me awake. I thought I heard Mom calling me in a desperate way. I startled awake, got up to go downstairs to check on her. Nope. Just my imagination. I almost went to sleep again. Startled awake. Wondered if I had forgotten to pour water on the fire I had started outside earlier. Mom was in the swing and me in the chair and we were in catch up mode as she pointed out which flowers needed more water. (watering flowers is Mom's thing and she has the greenest thumb I've ever known. I have figured out I can grow plants that don't have flowers. Ferns and ivy's. And, really, who can ever have enough fern and ivy?) Soooo I said - we should have a fire. And I got the lighter fluid and kept tossing it on the wood and relighting it to the whoosh sound. Mama said - you are gonna set yourself on fire. And I said - no, I'm not. I just like the instant heat. And, by the time we were ready to come in the wood actually caught fire.
Startle awake because suddenly I swear I can smell smoke and if the fire restarted it could blow embers onto my car which would blow up and that would catch the house on fire . . . I put on my garden boots and stomp downstairs and out the door. There is no fire. There is mist hanging on the trees so there is that dripping sound that is just the wet of the night air. But the sky is cloudless, the stars are out. It smells clean and good and I think to my surprise, This is August in the deep south and I could camp tonight by a fire. Camping. Something I haven't done in a while that I miss. (I have a new mastermind camping plan that involves Vespa's, the Natchez Trace, and one great backpack. This is a new plan that was inspired by riding the greyhound bus for forty thousand hours and it's still in the making.) But right now I'm in the backyard and I'm amazed at the peace and the quiet and the light. I decide to go to the front porch to see the moon. So I go back in, lock up that door and go out the front door.
And there was the moon. Pushing to full. And I thought - OH, it's you. No wonder I'm not sleeping. Full moons have a waking effect on me. Even if I can't see them. Call it strange or wondrous or both but like an animal - I am aware. I looked at the moon and at the new lights compliments of Nashville electric that light up the driveway in the dark. The light spills gently through the leaves of the trees and It reminds me so much of Daddy's creek and the light doing the same. I am thankful for the comfort of them. And I stepped to the edge of the porch where it's open and looked up at the sky and there she was in all her glory. A moonbeam! At first I thought I was looking at the milky way but then I realized no, this is something different. This is light. It is - Moonlight. And, it is a moonlight moonbeam shooting over my house and into the sky. I have seen many thing but I have never seen anything exactly like this. It was worth not sleeping.
If I hadn't taken time to sit with Mom and visit a little late yesterday, I wouldn't have seen it. Because I wouldn't have started a fire. And I wouldn't have startled awake in the wee hours to stagger outside have asleep and be accosted by starlight and fresh air and that moon.
I am always amazed at the things in life that catch me unaware. The moments that seem wrapped in surprise. The ways that natural elements combine to create something I see for the very first time. Still. At this age. At any age.
I hope tonight I get some much needed rest. But if I startle awake, out come the boots. I'll make some tea and head to the porch, look up at the sky and sing Moonbeams softly into the night.
Wherever you are hope you are able to catch a sacred, magical moment of your own and carry it gently to bed and into your dreams.
The sky is a solid mass of unwavering grey today. Aptly fitting for Ash Wednesday. There's no relief of rain. No promise of the parting clouds. Like the whole Earth is in mourning, clinging to its pain. A type of ashen twilight that will last eternal.
Rescue Kevin lays in the bed of leaves outside the door napping in the cool. He doesn't mind the sky at all. When I ask if he wants in he stretches, rolls his eyes in apology that he finds his bed more satisfying than my company. Eventually, Summer will arrive and my company in air conditioning will be much more in demand.
That grey sky today.
Somewhere there are lovers holding hands and making promises I hope last beyond the next full moon, the next low tide. The breathing in and out of this planet. That they have loves made out of storybooks.
Yet, somewhere too, there is an old person sitting all alone, looking out the window, hoping someone will ring the doorbell or their phone. A delivery perhaps from a sweetheart who has remembered them from old times past.
Last night I drove to the store and a firetruck rushed past it's siren wailing. The coyotes began their high pitched wails in response. I noticed how far they were up on that ridge beyond the river. I wonder where will they go now that we've come and inch by inch are taking everything. Where will all the wild ones go?
Today collides two events I've spent a lifetime observing. An unlikely paring of Valentines- that day of kisses and chocolate candies, and Ash Wednesday, that day of ashes and repentance.
Grade school was made for Valentines. We made those silly little envelopes and taped them to our desks. Then we went around dropping tiny envelopes in one another's mailboxes always hoping that our secret crush would choose that one large card in the pack that said something special and cryptic like - Valentine I Swoon for You. All the rest of them said, you are sweet, kind, my friend.
Being raised Episcopalian Ash Wednesday held a special significance. We went for ashes to be placed on our forehead in the form of the cross and the priest said, Ashes to ashes, dust to dust in a somber voice and then continued down the line - From the dust you came and to the dust you will return.
That this day falls on Valentines this year is simply Southern gothic perfection. I can consider the wages of love and repentance, sweetness and loss, in one swift hand.
The wind blows unrelenting. The fingerbones of the trees waving against the dismal sky. A lone crow calls out.
Perfect Lenten weather.
Perhaps tonight the sky will clear and lovers will find stars above them as they thread their way through streets to dinner. Or their love may cast its own bright light in all the darkness. Then, so be it. Let them drink and celebrate their lives bound together.
My life found more ashes than I expected but also more love. A kind of general love that meets the world beyond the walls of my cynic heart. This love - it leaps over me. Makes way for itself in spite of my comments and asides. This wild love knows something fierce. Something more akin to forty days than heart-shaped papers. A love born in deserts, surrounded by space and darkness, wilderness and wild.
I've longed for such I do confess. In times long past. A willingness to lay down myself, become another. A partnership of perfection. Eternal kisses, forever bliss.
Now the rain comes, it hits the glass in large drops unrelenting. Look. The sky finds relief after all. At least something moves, something happens.
For years I've seen in other peoples eyes, this one here and that one there - a type of kinship. Knowing another soul ar first meeting. A fast friends type of thing, brushing lives with a stranger in a line or some odd place. A mechanic shop. A bar. A bank. A struck up conversation. Not a romantic kind of love but that of just the sameness of being human. Man, woman, child. An understanding. When there is nothing left but craving understanding. It is a - see me. Hear me. Please before I break.
Forty Days. The Lenten Season. A valentine of words. Love and loss. Renewing and remembrance. It is the Yin and yang. The balancing of moon and sun, dark and light.
Love, sometimes a sacrifice. Eternal and Divine on scale of God as man or just a tiny act. A little bit of time. A coin. A rose.
Whatever love looks like for you today I hope that you find it - a greater love, a deeper love, an older love, a newer love, first love, last love or the soulmate that you seek.
The rain is steady now. It's become a small downpour. The driveway is washing away down the road. Kevin takes me up on a dry towel and a bone. We've come together to celebrate what it means to be alive in this life. Up on this hill. Watching the rain fall while voices of all manner whisper through this night, 'I Love you' and 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust.'
(Note to reader. These blogs are written for your pleasure and to keep the well of words pumping. They are not proofed, corrected, or improved. Read at Your Own Risk. Comma queen buddies - you might as well go ahead and faint now.)
35,000 feet plus some.
My head against the window watching the clouds from the last seat. rear seat. last seat tot the left. corner pocket. No transfer, no connect. I’m rushing into a three hour seat and wait for the right shuttle bus to carry me to another shuttle bus bound for Anacortes where I’ll sit and wait again for the San Juan islands ferry that will eventually land me into the waiting arms the amazing musical genius of, Susan Osborn and Orcas Island.
I’m no newbie to this. It’s my third rodeo for this gathering which readily explains that box of red wine traveling in my suitcase. A long across the entire country travel in a day can be rusty work. And overtired is trouble. It's where the gremlins of regret snatch and bite and find their entrance to worry my mind to hell and back. AT some eventual night's landing I'm planning to raise a boxed glass to God and celebrate the Kindlings tribe. The gremlins can take a hike.
This is a journey I planned to fast and pray for. Very specifically. As the Kindlings enter a new season with the founders if not stepping down trying to step aside there are questions about what does the future look like when the pure Divine magical inspiration and talent of Dick Staub and Nigel Goodman have brought the Kindlings to life (a serious nod to the time of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and their group hanging in the pub, drinking and discussing God and literature and faith in such a passionate way that the pub stayed packed with people simply trying to get close enough to overhear the conversation.
Turbulence. Seat Belts. No one get up. The plane shifts sideways, rides pockets of unseen air in a blue sky, rattles, hushes passengers.
I didn’t fast. Not alcohol. Or sugar. Not sweets. Or meat. Or movies. Nothing. However - prayed I did. In my passing thoughts, in my love and concern and care for this group that has consequentially touched my life. Who remain my tribe.
Then there was that whisper of spirit, those words of wisdom that surface that some of us attribute to God and some of us attribute to the Holy Ghost, and some of us to the Universe, the all-knowing collective consciousness, our ancient ancestors. The bottom line is when wisdom speaks there is a cool confidence. An all knowing. A spot on, you can bet on the race, take it to the bank - sure thing.
Wisdom sounds like clear, cool water. It makes crystal sense immediately. That voice said - Perhaps the journey is a prayer.
Leaving Nashville this morning, getting on a long flight to Seattle, waiting for hours for the shuttle to Anacortes, then waiting at the Ferry for the right ferry and after an hour on the ferry finally arriving ‘on island’ is indeed a type of pilgrimage. It is a trip that requires determination, patience, fortitude. A touch of adventure and a willingness to ride the raw air rattling us again so that words lose focus. Some clutch arms. Some read on. I’ve fallen asleep in the most notorious of storms somewhere out from Denver. I am untroubled by turbulence. In the air. Totally - unmoved. Beyond reason. Something in me leans in to flight. Soars my heart, clings to the landscape of clouds against blue. Of the earth quilted softly below in a grand scheming pattern that says, Hey now, we’ve got this. The roads all lead home.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been praying on planes for so long that I’ve casted a karma net of good vibes no matter. But this thing I do. I get on the plane. I sit by a window. And as the plane lifts, breaks the bond of gravity I pray for the safety of the destinies it holds. All those lives, all those stories. That their absolute purpose be fulfilled. It’s just what I do.
A thousand years ago my mother and sister saw me off to a small connector flight from Tallahassee to Ft. Lauderdale. Something about the plane didn’t bode well. Walking toward it I almost turned around, found another flight. Later I would discover that my mother and sister were standing watching me board and had that same sinking, pinched feeling that all was not well.
We prepared for take off as I considered my options, of causing a scene and asking for the door to be opened so that I could get off. Then the plane began to taxi the runway and pick up speed. Too late, I thought. Too late, I knew. Then - perhaps for the first time in my flying life as the plane picked up speed faster and faster - and just as the plane was lifting off, I said a prayer for everyone on that plane just as an explosion hit outside the window, the wheels were just lifting off and came slamming back down to the runway, people screamed. It’s a gut reaction. The plane began to taxi sideways backing down. Firetrucks came screaming out and we were calmly deplaned. Somehow a tire had exploded and sent pieces into an engine causing a shuffle of hushed chaos.
Waiting to get off as the firetrucks hosed down the engine, my seat-mate said, “Someone was sure saying their prayers.”
“I was.” Quietly, confident. Sure as a fast dog, a good bet. Crystal clear. There might have been fifty people praying on that plane but the prayer I felt was mine. There was something about that moment, something bold and sacrificial, visceral and passionate, something bigger than I am. Full of more compassion and love than I posses. I assure you.
We boarded the next plane. Same assigned seats. The man turned to me before take off and asked, “So, how’s this one.”
“It’s all good,” I told him and closed my eyes. “We’re all good.”
That night was so long ago that I was not yet a mother, not published, not broken, not rebuilt, not so many things.
Years of blessings and times of trouble. Bouncing, jostling life turbulence that threatened to crack me to pieces. But sometimes the faith I have in reaching my final destination finds me right where I’m standing. At sea level looking out to the horizon and in spite of everything still believing in destiny. In the Divine. In a wild sort of rise above, beat beyond defy the odds. Even down at that brown, broken ground level I'll still choose to cling to the expectation of my life.
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