The sun broke through on Thursday, and my sweet husband and I headed out to the tip of the peninsula where the old lighthouse stands. What a place to look out at the water! Sometimes I pinch myself and shoot up a prayer of thanks that somehow I ended up here in the Puget Sound community. Not only did I discover I was a writer, I found the love of my life, and discovered the love of a place other than that which I grew up. To love two places as I do — here and Louisiana — is sorta like having two lovers, and yet remaining true to each. Oh, yeah.
Archive for January, 2010
Please. Stop for a moment. Let’s all of us breathe in, let our bellies be big, like Buddha belly, like we’re pregnant belly. Big belly is good when we breathe. Let us clear all the useless mess out of our minds — all the things that do not matter, all the things that suck our energy. Things that push on us to buy, buy, consume, consume. Breathe.
See them. See those who suffer. They are everywhere. In our country, according to the last thing I read, ONE out of every EIGHT people need some kind of assistance to have enough food to eat. Suffering. We have to hold onto joy at the same time that we witness the suffering. But right now, the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Haiti is great. They have suffered so much already. I have wondered in the past about a place that has had so much suffering heaped on it, and now the earthquake.
For a long time now, I have focused my donations and thoughts on the people who were wounded or killed — and the living that are still wounded, traumatized, or homeless. I do not like the way the government or the Red Cross dealt with the disaster in my homeland. But now is the time for me to widen my heart and my vision further, while never forgetting (like much of our news media does) those who still suffer from Katrina. Am I alone in having questions or blinders on the way we give to those who suffer?
Let’s don’t allow ourselves to grow narrowed by our own lack of focus, or numbed by the news and its love for sensationalism. None of these are the story. The story is simple: How do we take care of our brothers and sisters who are suffering the most, at any given moment? It might be within our own family. That is the closest and most important care. But if we can, we must widen to hold the family that is all of us. Let’s give as much as we can. For most of us that means giving money. Clothes and supplies are good, but from everything I can tell, money is better.
Thank you. Bless you. Laugh when given the chance to, keep your hearts open, and remember: dance in the kitchen!
International charities are just beginning to ramp up their efforts in Haiti. If you’re looking to give money to help these relief activities, I’ve looked around, and compiled a list of some of the larger, established international aid organizations responding to the disaster:
Some organizations accepting donations by text message:
American Red Cross: You can text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti, charged to your cell phone bill.
Yele Haiti: You can text “YELE” to 501501 to automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund, charged to your cell phone bill.
I am not endorsing or vouching for any of these groups. The list is just a starting point for you and your own research. There are a number of online tools available for evaluating charities and making donations to a broader range of NGOs, including
Angels at my kitchen door guard from all evil spirits! The great thing is that angels never get tired. I know that yours are all around you.
I can hear the fire works starting, coming through the woods. It’s wet and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest, but I stepped out last night, and it was so clear that La Luna shone through achingly clear. I find myself thinking about the term “being broke.” It means so many things. Financially. Brokenness of the heart. One time a woman who had come to clean my house accidentally broke a statue of an angel from Mexico. This little angel statue meant a great deal to me, but not as much as this woman. She had come into my life and told me about plastics and how they could outgas chemicals and how that could be toxic. She was one of many people pointing me in the direction of healing. She cried in front of me. ”I’ve broken your statue,” she said, “I’m so sorry.” I told her it was not a big deal. ”It is a big deal to me,” she told me. I forgot about it. I went away. At that point in my life, I was going away a lot from my home. I was traveling, and I left my home behind, and did not know how important it was to keep in deep touch with my family.
When I came home, the angel statue stood on the kitchen table, miraculously restored. A note was next to it. It read, “Angels understand repair.” These were beautiful words, and to me they are true. The fixing of the angel statue was not a miracle, but rather the meticulous, painstaking work of someone who knew how to work with her hands so deftly you could scarcely detect the fissures.
Sometimes things break up because they need to. I had a friend once in New Orleans who inspired a character in THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER. He took an abandoned lot and turned it into one of the most beautiful courtyard gardens in the city. Whenever any of us was going through a bad time, he invited us over to bring over old plates or cups that had chips or cracks in them. He’d show us how to break them into smaller pieces. There was a huge release in breaking up these pieces. It felt good to break them up. Some items that had once held such power in my life had to be broken in order to turn into something new. Before long, the courtyard “floor” was filled with the tiles that we’d all broken up. Broken pieces of the past that made a new path.
I was raised a Catholic. While I am not a practicing Catholic, I often read and study Catholic writers. The monk, Thomas Merton is one of them. I have been meditating on the quote below since I read it some time in the early 1990s. I suspect that its central idea has sneaked into my writing; I only hope actual phrases haven’t. That’s the way it is when you study someone closely, but not closely enough.
Now, on New Years Eve, I think about broken things, and how they might get fixed. Broken economies, broken objects, broken hearts, broken vows, broken backs, broken ties. This last one is the one that hangs so heavily around me tonight–the broken ties between brothers and sisters. Living in a country that is waging two wars. The sadness of ties broken between us and so many of our brothers and sisters, human, animal, trees, sun, and climates (for anything that was once whole can be broken), the broken hearts of mothers and wives and husbands and little ones who are dying, both on battlefields and at home, because of war.
I live far from the balmy climate that brought “T-shirt New Year’s Eves.” I have my hat on in my study, and my dog at my feet. I feel warmly toward you for coming to see what I might write here. I am blessed.
May this new year be balanced between what needs to be broken in order to be fixed, and that which needs to be fixed in order to become whole. We will be faced with so many decisions. May we choose love.
Here, some “seeds of contemplation,” from Thomas Merton:
“As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is a resetting of a body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them. There are two things which men can do about the pain of disunion with other men. They can love or they can hate. Hatred recoils from the sacrifice and the sorrow that are the price of this resetting of bones. It refuses the pain of reunion. But love by the acceptance of the pain of reunion, begins to heal all wounds.” Thomas Merton