Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mt Hermon

like to take a tooth pick and throw it into the forest and say "You're home!" ... Mitch Hedberg 
This is a good way to describe how I felt at Mt Herman Writer's Conference last week. Santa Cruz is home. The ferns, bracken, eucalyptus and redwoods make a powerfully pungent memory scent. This combination is unique to the area. Childhood memories flooded. My blog's title is a tribute to the history I have there. Almost paradise again, in a fresh way. 

For the first time in my life, I mingled with a huge group of strangers and felt at home among them. Like I fit. Belonged. I kept thinking the well producing the tears would finally dry up. It never did. A silly smile and leaking eyes became my signature. Happy, grateful, amazed tears. There must be a dried, salt crystal trail where I walked. 

There were seasoned authors, newbies and wannabes. Agents, editors and publishing reps. VIP's and invisible people working behind the scenes. The food was made with love. The complicated schedule honed to manageable. There were old timers who made it welcoming once again. Some had been coming for 26 years. The friendships between them were sweet to observe. 

Everyone had a story to tell. Adultery, intrigue, abuse, memoir, fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, burn survivor, war survivor, etc. It was interesting to hear them pitch whatever they were writing.

My major morning track, the intense one - was with Steve. Not knowing the who's who list, it wasn't until the end that someone whispered he was like THE SIMON COWELL of the publishing world, right underneath Jesus in due reverence. I'm glad I didn't know. But now that I do, it would be a high honor to write something he would enjoy reading. His heart and mind were acutely attuned. He took us deeper. Offered words of life. 

Charlie Peacock and his wife Andi were the special treat. They are lovely people. Charlie is one of the last warrior poets. Easy to imagine him in a kilt and sword. Troubadour. They sort of embrace the L'Abri lifestyle, in Nashville. What they offered was so encouraging to life and to writing. He too, offered words of life. 

The last day, I talked with a 90 year old woman. She had a raggedy story filled with missteps and betrayal, mixed with vibrant living in between the pain. She used a cane, walked shakily, and carried a smile around that lit up the room. 

She was still writing poetry and cramming it unread under her bed. She still wanted to start her memoir and redo a dramatization series on video. 

I'll remember her forever. Her story did not yet have a happily-ever-after ending. But it did, because it will. She is finishing well, pen in hand, still writing her story. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Post Script to Love

My previous post was a plea. As I was mulling over why I felt so strongly about it, Tess shared a recent Hulu video (the last segment) about one of my favorite public figures, Chef Jamie Oliver. My response to it, after today's plea for Laura over the internet was a total breakdown. Fountain of tears and sorrow. Grief revisited. Loss remembered. Rejection and abandonment felt all over again. Remembering how it feels to be grossly misunderstood.

Here's the deal. It makes me furious when assumptions are made about a person's intent. I despise myself for doing it to others. Like Teddy said, "it's not the critic that counts, it's the man in the ring". It is crazy for us to think the small circle panned in the camera is the whole story. We think we are so informed, intuitive, perceptive and yet quite often, we are dead wrong!

The Today Show did their interview with Laura for ten minutes outside the prison in Haiti. It tied her with the Jorge guy who offered to help her and the family, then disappeared with $30,000 - a crook wanted by many countries for real child trafficking - my heart sunk. What if by chance she IS tangled with him? What if I'm laying my neck and reputation on the line.....along with those friends' who I've asked to help? What if we are being played as fools? What if we end up embarrassed?

These are hard questions. There was only one answer for me. I'd rather err on the side of grace, believe she's telling the truth and give her the benefit of the doubt. I'd rather look ridiculous than lose my integrity if she is innocent. I can live with myself if I'm sheepish and look ridiculous later. Never could I live with myself if I walked away and forgot her agony, without at least trying to vindicate her. So I stand with her.

I think it was easy to decide, because I would have given anything two years ago for friends to stand up for me. Someone other than my husband who would assume the best, advocate for me, fight for me, believe in me and discipline the bully on my behalf. No one did. No accountability happened. Most of my friends faded away, not wanting to get involved. The pain has been excruciating. Trust broken. Betrayal.

The accusations leveled at me, opinions assumed, and criticisms hurled - almost shut me down completely. I felt so alone, misunderstood, disheartened and crazy. I question what is real. It has been a challenge to recover. To trust. Each day gets a little better and the loneliness has fueled some beauty. Healing does happen eventually. There have been exquisite moments of joy in between.

But I don't want someone else to feel this way. Ever. It's as simple as that. On her behalf, I rally a cry. Being embarrassed won't hurt me; but being left alone, without loyal friends could break her heart and leave it scarred, ruined for the game of life for always. Being deserted in a time of dire need sucks rotten eggs.

It Should Be

My little sister is married to a wonderful man. His sister is a notorious criminal. A christian criminal, who if you google her name, the articles surrounding her are filled with vitriol and ridicule. Christians don't want to claim her, it's embarrassing. Non-christians find her guilty of the heinous crime of child trafficking. 

Laura is the leader of the group of missionaries who tried to take children over the border to the Dominican Republic after the earthquake. 

I don't know all the details, intent, designs, plans or history. I do know it wasn't well thought out. The allegations against her personal life are exposing. The facts of her financial woes leave her naked. She has broken hearted parents. Siblings who are worried sick. Children who are motherless. 

Porn stars get a second chance, are loved by Jesus, the t-shirts say. And I agree with Turner that Jesus needs new PR. 

What about a woman who let her misguided passion take her ninety miles an hour in the wrong direction? Does she get to have a piece of that mercy, compassion, grace and love we throw about so lightly? 

She's still in prison. She's a pest to the government who has looming, dreadful issues to deal with. She needs an advocate, even as Haiti needs tents and every other kind of help. 

I know I have made some stupid mistakes, taken a wrong turn, let my feelings override common sense and wanted to save the world and make a difference, like Laura. She got severe consequences for it.

She, in her foolhardy attempt at rescue, in spite of herself, has my admiration. I never got off the couch. She has pink ones of steel. Big ones. The media has portrayed her as evil. There really is evil going on in Haiti at the moment, but she's a good smokescreen to distract us. 

If you are the praying sort, would you? I think she's learned a lesson. Can we forgive her and get her out of prison? Twitter brought Toyota down, maybe it can get Laura home. 

Here's a link to the Today show interview aired today. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The river  
swallows my tears 
in one great gulp
the silhouette lump 
of it
travels lazy 
down his throat 
releasing me
nourishing him

I choose this 
alchemy of grace 
to change my ache
to sustenance 
a gift offered to dream seeing
fields below
ripe with fruit harvest 
growing green and sturdy
by pain

Once again
this river alchemist 
changes what was 
to what is and will be
licks a wound
quenches thirst 
mine and his
soaking dark ground 
with our tears 
rain making a
new crop
greening up
leafing out
soon to sprout 
new life

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Doors are curious creatures. A puzzle. An invitation. A Prison. Protection. Art. Functional. Hand crafted and if hung well,  last centuries.

A friend and I spent 5 weeks in the UK, April 2000. I'm grateful for the experience, thankful Loverby let me have this adventure with two young daughters left to care for at home.

A photo album stuffed with cut out shapes and pictures of doors freezes the memory for me. Why doors? Were rolls and rolls of film wasted?

We allowed ourselves one castle, Blenheim Palace. And one cathedral, Yorkminster. We had no pre- arranged reservations, only a Rick Steve's book. We landed in London then looped up through Oxford, the Cotswolds, Bath, Stratford upon Avon, north to York and across the border to Pitlochery. Edinburough, Inverness, and Cromarty. South again to Glencoe, Oban, Stirling and Glasgow. Ferry to Belfast looping north to the Giant's Causeway and the land of Finn McCoul and whisky barrels full of what tasted to us like paint thinner. South to Donnegal then back to Belfast for the ferry, before meandering towards our last week in London. 

It was this time of year. Volunteer daffodils were chirping spring, leading us on to the next patch of doors.

Every door we opened was a new one; a deli, a chocolate shop, a tea house, gift shop, museum, thrift store, bed and breakfast, church, information booth, gallery, palace, cathedral or gate to a grave yard.

We went through countless doors, yet even towards the last part of the trip, it hadn't become easier. Never knowing what was beyond the door on the other side became a bit wearing. Or maybe it was driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the street that was tiring?
Curiosity trumped fear and fatigue. When I felt too tired to be enchanted once more, the other side of the next door beckoned. There would be a fantastic person, experience or bit of history to be introduced to. Something to be amazed with. Sometimes it was a simple thing that caused our jaws to drop. At times it was a staggering piece of history encapsulated.

The offering of a warm cuppa, a biscuit, a smile ~ meeting us at the end of the weary worn day ~ these doors are what I remember most. Easy to knock on with a warm, sincere welcome from a kind host with a generous heart. The small amount of money we left them for our room could not have covered the clean sheets and huge breakfast the next morning. We never felt like an inconvenience or trouble.

Only pure hospitality makes the guest forget to feel beholden.

Those were the loveliest doors. Plain and lovely.

I have a few unknown doors to walk through. It's still intimidating. I'm trusting there will be a friendly face on the other side, offering warmth to fend off the cold loneliness of being a traveler.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dear Frankie

fluttering furious 
across an ocean 
minds keen 
sharp from use
honing each other
from afar
one surrounded by 
at 84 Charing Cross Road

Gifts sent 
requests made
respite from war
spawning ground 
for friendships 
lasting a life time
precious packages to open 
untie one at a time
treasured behind
the door
at 84 Charing Cross Road 

Imagine the lives shared
woven together between 
pages and bindings 
leather and ink
years intwined 
linked forever by
the little shop 
at 84 Charing Cross Road

 Dear Frankie ~
spur me on
understand the nuance
find the treasure
recognize the need
the essence in written words 
flying mind to heart to soul
without wrinkle
no insult to marriage 
a friend adding texture
gold threads of thought
kything from my street 
to yours 
at 84 Charing Cross Road

This was written from a poetry prompt - Streetwise - from L.L. Barkat for Random Acts of Poetry. We were supposed to write about a certain street or address. 

The movie 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favorites. I have always envied the rich relationship between these friends and mourn the fact that they never could meet in person. The years of correspondence left a cache of treasure for us. I'm thankful. 

I wish written correspondence was not a lost art. Cyber words aren't quite as life giving somehow. Maybe it's because we can't hold it in our hands and be infused with the very touch of the other person? 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Treasure Box

Words of affirmation/encouragement are my love language. Or is it physical touch/affection? They vie for first place. It's always a toss up. I feel loved with feedback and affection. Especially written.

A girlfriend sent me a tin box. I brought it with me to set on the table by the window of my little cabin on the beach. It is a better decoration than flowers. The box is stuffed full of love. Notes from a thirty two year old friendship. Notes of appreciation, validation, memories, acknowledgment, hope, thankfulness and affirmation. All written on exquisite pieces of paper. Words framed by pleasing texture and color.

A gift for my 50th birthday. As I read each one, tears poured down my cheeks. Tears of happiness at being celebrated. It's the nicest thing. I greedily and hungrily opened them faster and faster, gulping down the goodness. My heart was thirsty for such a feast. A meaningful present for such a time as this. Someone knew my need and prompted her.

It would be too embarrassing to tell you how many times I have reread them. Let's just say I lost count.

The lid is filled with rocks found beach combing. Thoughtful words side by side with friendship words. 

She had tucked a $50.00 Barnes and Noble gift card inside. It was completely unnecessary. The notes are the prize.

She looked back, remembering ahead, to the person I might become.  This box is full of grace. It is  lovely to have all my failures, mistakes, prickly edges, stupid choices, warts, boogers and glaring faults forgotten. Unremembered. 

I've always wanted to be a mouse in the corner at my memorial service. Weird? Am I the only one who wonders if my life has made a difference? Am I alone in wondering if there would be any "It's a Wonderful Life" sort of replay. Did it matter?

It would be fun to hear all the nice and funny things people only say when you're gone. Hopefully, people would show up and oblige me. Fantasy eulogies. 

And yet ~ because of this box stuffed full with words of life ~ eavesdropping at my funeral doesn't sound as appealing. Groan, it is possible that only a handful of silent people would show up. Introverts don't really draw crowds.  :)

I think this is real enough to last till the end; and better now than later. I can re-read them and hold them in my hand. Pet them. Smell them. 

My favorite note? "Manic looks fabulous on you, as do the age spots you celebrate." [snort] [bahahahaha]  Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" is thrashing around my head right now..........

Many thanks, my friend. It was just right, like the baby bear's porridge.  :)

Happy Birthday from you to me. Wish me not well, but to finish well. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Solitude Prayer

Fill me with your love.
Complete me.
Pour into me your spirit.
Tell me my white pebble name again.
Help me thrive.
Help me know how to help others.
Thanks for gifting me with freedom.
Teach me how to offer comfort.
Show me how to love well.
Fix me in the broken places.
Discipline me with care and gentleness.
Put balm on the wounds.
Thank you for your kindness.
I love your tenderness towards me.
Sing me love songs.
Especially sing me love songs.
Hold me.
Dance with me.
Whisper endearments.
Cuddle me.
Touch the bruised places.
Strengthen the weak spots.
Walk beside me.
Build muscles for the trip.
Take me in your lap.
Hold my face and tell me again. And again.
Whisker rub me.
Let me tangle my hands in your hair.
Hold my hand.
Swim down deep with me.
Mend my broken wing.
Let me fly, shine twinkle, soar, offer the real me again.
Swing with me.
Rock me in the hammock of your hand.
Garden walk with me.
Beach comb by my side.
Wipe my tears.
Let me see a smile crinkle your eyes.
Breathe for me when you leave me breathless.
Surprise me anew.
Wash me, scrub me, moisturize me everywhere-inside and out.
Give me every good thing you planned.
Help me see, notice better.
Stretch my capacity to receive it all.
Let me know how I can make you feel loved.
Tell me what makes your spirit burst with joy.
Whisper your favorite creation.
Let me learn how to please you, satisfy you, bless you.
Where is your sweet spot?
Can I comfort you?
Wipe your tears?
Wash your feet?

Your Mary,  uncomfortable always in this very Martha world....

Monday, March 8, 2010


Bracing wind 
strong enough to infuse 
courage and resolve

 citrus wind 
sour enough to cleanse 
dormant corrosion 

biting wind bares
 its fangs
to rip easily
ropes holding
dreams down

scouring wind 
abrasive enough
to bring back lustre 
where dullness choked
the shine

First morning in Westport. The beach, the sky, the clouds and the wind were magnificent this morning. The beach sand was rolling fast enough to make me dizzy. Miniature dunes were being created as I walked. 4 more glorious days. Sunshine down. Bless me indeed. Enlarge my borders. Keep your hand on me. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bottle Cries

  Put a message in a bottle

fill it with anguish

pain enough 
to fill it full

fling it towards me~
I'll float it with 
tears of my own

searching always
I find them
one by one~

no hiding from 
noticing eyes 

each gathered into
a precious mound 
of stories heard
tears caught
help sent 
comfort brought~

washed up 
to mingle 
 in loneliness
found by love

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shattered Glass

A glass coffee table top shattered. I stacked the shards as high as possible then ran the hose over the whole pile. It fascinated me how such an innocent thing as water completely softened the razor edge.

This is clear glass, and yet like a glacier or a diamond, gathers color. It entranced me. 

Iced confusion. Broken, shattered dreams. 

Piled up, the pieces are beautiful 

Light. Stacked. Captured. As a whole, enchanting.

Nancy's photo of layered 'found' paper inspired this. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Capturing Light

Far from us 
from the green isle
came a picture 
capturing light
it squeezed my heart
until tears appeared
reminding me to see again
notice anew 
glance away
then back once more
for a moment when 
pouncing on possibility
I might
catch light

Across the country
while mothering
and homemaking
another woman child 
chooses the way of love
capturing moments 
in a day 
when light radiates 
from her home
out of her heart 
into ours 

her way with light 
is fueled by pain 
I know this kind
of bright white light
she captures

it holds me captive
as I remember
forever lost are
those moments
before back when
I could not 
imagine them 

Claire Burge and Kelly Langner Sauer are photographers. 

Both are artists - they share their gifts lavishly. I'm thankful when art provokes and compels me to notice more. I went out to the back yard and my garden shed, surprised at the light I saw with my new eyes. Courage is capturing it.