all souls need solace

My internet connection was down for a week and thereby shut me out of the Temple of Solace and Soul Food Cafe.  After a few days I realized that anywhere in Soul Food is my Temple of Solace from my surroundings.  The whole world seemed to get stuck on the “ugly channel” for a while.  And then somebody switched it to the “Seanna” channel again, and though that channel is a painful one, it is anything but ugly.  There’s so much love and beauty to be discovered in there. 

One of the reasons for getting a ferocious looking dog, and a dog who indeed would be ferocious if anyone broke in while I was asleep upstairs, is the lovely addition to the neighbourhood of the crack house on the corner of my block several houses to the right of mine.  They of course are not to be outshined by the neighbours three doors to my left who left such an enormous number of bags of garbage outside the city refused to take them away and the tenants let them rot by the sidewalk until they were overrun with rats.  Yes, rats.  Neighbours called to yell at The City, and The City called to yell at The Building Owner, and The Building Owner threw The Tenants out and there was quite a scene.

The rats came from the hazardous waste site that my property nears.  I say “nears” because there is an alley between my backyard and their storage yard.  It’s really called an “environmental waste storage facility“, but they are moving and the land being redeveloped into something friendlier.  I think.

I know everybody likes Spring, but winter’s snow covered the garbage in the alleys and streets and gulleys and ditches.  The snow has receded to reveal the same mess only now with colours muted slightly from last year’s garrulous hues. 

The brightest display this season was put on not by a showy flower but by flames shooting skyward from what we thought was the old St. Vincent De Paul building.  Coming home from dinner two nights ago we saw thick black smoke rising in the sky and followed it down to its obvious source:fire.  The fire appeared to be coming out of the building next to Beasley Park just around the corner from my house (inner city version of a “park”).  No fire trucks or police cars were on the scene so we called 911 and got through just as the first fire truck arrived on the scene and said “Never mind.  They’re just arriving.”  We drove around the block to park well out of the way and came back to discover that the building was not on fire, but just a car that was parked in front of it.  Totally engulfed in flames.  Must have had a full tank of gasWelcome to the neighbourhood!

Last night I dreamt that I was looking for my Seanna, sure that she couldn’t really be gone, that she must be around here somewhere.  Where’s my beautiful girl?  Where’s my beautiful babe?  Where’s that pretty smile hidin’?  Where’s she tuckin’ away them pretty hands?  I dreamt that I broke into her birth mother’s house, where Seanna died, to look for Seanna there.  Thinking that I’d been misinformed.  But no.  There was no sign of her.  Life had gone on with all of its kid stuff but not with Seanna.  They went on without her.

The world was such a pretty place when Seanna was here.  But then…I wasn’t living in this house…then.  Here.  This is a sad place.  I have been planting trees and ducking the bees buzzing the gorgeous scent of the blossoms on my apricot tree.  Tomorrow I will take pictures for you, but today is a migraine headache day.  Damn the sun!  Ow!!!!  I took a small wayward seedling of plum from the back corner and planted it in the front.  And in the corner of the postage stamp lawn (where people throw garbage…argh!!!!) I dug up a section for a wee patch of garden.  There are peonies, something that will reveal itself when it blooms, and a tiny tree replanted from the kitchen garden.

My eyes are filled with ugly images and the promise of beauty alike.  I wonder which will follow me into my dreams tonight.  I’m looking for something.  I need something.  I need solace.  This house, this home, must become my own temple of solace.

steph

Questions for the Doctor

Let’s see now.  What else should I ask?  Where’s that list?  Oh, yes, so far I’ve got:

 

  • Is it really cancer?  That word, cancer, sounds so unreal.  Mom and Dad had cancer so I guess it’s possible or probable that I would also.  Should that be the first question?  Well, it IS the first question. How can it not be?

 

  • How big is the tumor?  I didn’t even feel it or know it was there.  How can it have been growing inside me and I not know it?  Just like Mom’s brain tumors growing big and no one knowing they were there.

 

  • What, exactly, is adeno… adenocarcinoma of the uterus?  What a lovely sounding word, yet isn’t lovely to have.  ah-den-oh-car-sin-oh-mah    Just rolls off the tongue.  Could even be the name of a character in a story.  Adeno Carsin Oma was the grandmother (yes, the Oma) of five delightful grandchildren.  Oma loved to hold them when they were babies, but now they are growing up and don’t want to be held as much as to have stories told to them, particularly of the time when…

 

·   Could it be benign?  Or must it be malignant?  What will I tell everyone?  And coming too close after Sis’s operation for a benign but dangerously placed tumor near her pituitary gland.  I’m glad I had a chance to be with her during her recovery last month, but how will everyone deal with me having cancer right now?

 

  • How long have I had it?  Growing inside, like my fingernails grow, like my cells grow, like all the life processes go on inside without my awareness.  A part of me wants to just get it out quickly, yet… really… it is just doing what is its nature to do.  Grow, survive, reproduce, grow more.  Just like us humans as we take over the earth thinking we are the important ones…free to kill animals and destroy forests and oceans…Who has the right to be here? Or maybe we all have the right to be here in this world of  duality.  Maybe we are all struggling souls.

    

  • What is the treatment?  Treatment?  Is treatment necessary?  What exactly are we treating?  Something that will continue to grow and take over my body and all its processes.  Something that is doing what it is designed to do at the expense of the “me” I know.  So many other aspects of my body have changed over the years, is this the final change?  Or can it be altered?  What is the right thing to do?  I sure don’t know what is best for me spiritually.  What is “Thy Will”?  What is best for my spiritual self?  What lessons are yet to be learned?  From what choice?  What is “Thy Will”? 

 

  • Surgery?  Initial difficult shock for the body then 6 weeks of rest at home, then a long scar downmby belly.  If they can get it all, that’s the end of it.  No cancer and no more uterus. And after all my uterus has done for me – what a shame.  This seems to be the course for now and then we’ll see.  Six weeks of rest sounds good – a chance to meditate and mull and relax at home where I love to be, looking out at the garden and the clouds drifting by and the birds twittering and the butterflies and bees  as they enjoy the flowers.  

 

  • Chemo?  Radiation?  We’ll wait and see about these possibilities until after the surgery is completed and the biopsy results are back.

 

  • How long a recovery?  Is there ever a full recovery?  Perhaps physically, but how about emotionally?  I would think that experience stays with you forever, particularly if it becomes part of your personal growth.  And I would hope that something of this nature becomes an aware-part of personal growth.  What is the point of it all if not?  Part of the process of having us ready to move out of this world when it is our time.  Dying to live – living to die.  The only choice can be “Thy Will be Done!”

 

I guess that’s all the questions I can think of now.  I’m sure that others will come to mind as I listen to the doctor’s replies.  But I had better not misplace this list.  They say that you have just a few minutes of the doctor’s attention, so I want to have the essential questions ready–the important medical questions the doctor will think are relevant.  The rest is up to me and “Thy Will.”            

The Beach

This was written as a way of grieving my ongoing loss of living near an ocean. 

 

The Beach

 

            I created a microcosm of the beach because of my love of the ocean shore macrocosm.  I lined the bottom of a 4-by-4 by 2-inch clear plastic lidded-box with sea-blue velvet material.  In one back corner, I placed a small blue ocean-scented candle to prop up a large sand dollar discovered on a San Diego beach when my son was married there at sunset in 1996, complete with musical ocean waves and a seabird choir.

            A few pieces of coral, jagged edges smoothed from my touch since acquired in Panama in 1961, reside near the long-pointed shell added two years ago from a California beach.  A smooth black rock with narrow white lines from Tintagel on England’s Atlantic shore, a small purple and white rock from the Arabian Sea beach at Bombay, India, a maroon rock from an English Channel beach, shells from the Atlantic Jones Beach, New York where I grew up, and a tiny shell from the Gulf Coast Florida beach all flow together to form my microcosm of where the ocean and the beaches of the world mingle. 

A tiny carved purple-stone turtle basks on a shell, representing turtles befriended over the years, from painted Red-Ear Sliders of childhood to recent box turtles.  Two small seahorses nestle among the treasures, reminding me of the three-inch dried seahorse found at Jones Beach when I was engaged in 1960, and of visiting the San Diego Aquarium with my infant granddaughter in 2004.

            Sprinkled over all is sand collected from many beaches.  The grains of sand flow together, just as all of my memories and experiences of beaches flow together in a collage of love: each distinct yet part of the whole.

            Two crystals from Arkansas remind me of the beauty which comes from beneath the earth, far from any beaches now.  That even here, when life feels confined to an office in Arkansas, far from any beach, I can lift the lid, inhale the scent of ocean, salt and sand; my imagination provide a magic carpet ride to the beach. 

                  – published in Story Circle Journal –

 

 

Goodbye, Martha

She was beyond old, and a little deaf. She had grown tired of the cold in Illinois and come to Arizona to warm up. She was a night owl, I could hear her TV when I walked past her apartment on the way to the laundry room.

One day, hearing the radio alarm on when I passed her apartment, I wondered why the alarm was ringing in the middle of the afternoon. I picked up my mail at the communal boxes, and heard the alarm on my way back. I knocked on her door. Nothing. I knocked harder. She came to the door, and looked at me smiling.
“It’s good to have youngsters in this place,” she said. I smiled back, it’s been many years since I could have been a youngster, but to her, I was.
“Your radio alarm is ringing,” I said, “so I came to check on you.”
“It is?” she said, “Well, I wonder what it wants.”
I turned it off for her, and chatted for a few minutes.

canning jarShe asked about the canning jar that sits by the bougainvillea shrubs during the daytime. I explained that it contained a solar battery that charged in the sun, then the jar glowed at night, and I used it to cheer me up in the dark.
“We all need one of those,” she said, “Something that soaks up sun in the day.”
In March, she began to make plans to return to the East.
“I can’t manage by myself anymore,” she said, “so I’m going back to the cold.”
She gave me her ironing board and iron, and I planned on giving her the canning jar, so she could take some Arizona sunshine back with her.
Yesterday, she sat down in her apartment and died of an aneurism. She won’t have to go back to the cold. She won’t have to endure the broiler-heat of July here. I hope that wherever she goes, her generous and cheerful spirit will be happy, and that she will have a bit of Light to enjoy.

In Honor of Loved Ones Who’ve Passed

Sweet Surrender

enwrapped by sunlight
still waters flood the tulip
in sweet surrender

For all of our loved ones who have passed, we must reach deep into the sweet surrender of an inner stillness.

— genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet

For Anne – Mourning Her Mother’s Passing

ItsTime

At the appointed time we must each return to our source.
For Anne who is left behind.

Deep peace I breathe into you
Oh weariness here, O ache, here!
Deep peace, a soft white dove to you;
Deep peace, a quiet rain to you;
Deep peace, an ebbing wave to you!
Deep peace, yellow wind of the east from you;
Deep peace, blue wind of the west to you;
Deep peace, green wind of the north from you;
Deep peace, red wind of the south to you!
Deep peace, pure gold of the sun to you;
Deep peace, pure silver of the moon to you;
Deep peace, pure green of the grass to you;
Deep peace, pure brown of the living earth to you;
Deep peace, pure gray of the dew to you;
Deep peace, pure blue of the sky to you!
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet Earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you,
Deep peace of the Goddess to you,
Deep peace of the God to you,
Deep peace of the Flock of Stars to You.
Deep Peace of the Spirits to You.
Deep Peace, Deep Peace.

– Old Irish Blessing of Peace