Saturday, August 23, 2008


What follows is another "assignment" from Spiritual Poetry. This week we were challenged to write a short story/sketch.... not something I am so in tune with. So the project took a bit of coaxing on my part to find the idea, and let it bubble up in story format. What I learned was that it is good to try new things, give it a whirl. and again, not over think or over stress the process.... trust that there is something to say, and say it.

Memory of Her

Something this morning made me get up from my slumber and head back to the place that had haunted me in my dreams. After making a cup of coffee, extra strong to snap open my eyes and mind, I sit down at my computer and search out the simplest way to return to the seaside. How many years has it been then.... since I sat on the beach, felt the salty spray of ocean breeze against my face, and cast my dreams and hopes into the pounding surf. What is this insistent yearning, longing to get back to the beach of my girlhood memories? And why now, when life has come full circle, when the dreams and hopes cast into the sea have come and gone again and again and again, like the waves on that long ago ocean?

I print off the directions and grab some things to take along for the ride, a couple of apples, a book and my laptop to capture my thoughts and keep up with demands of life as I head out on this journey back to childhood. As I slip into the seat of my car, I hesitate and wonder if this is really something I need to do.... after all it was just a dream. But I can't erase the image in my mind... the rocky coast, the sun sending beams of glitter and gold onto the sand and waves, and her.... laughing and splashing in the sea.

We spent so many summer afternoons there together. Young girls- without a care- delighting in each other's joy, the cool water playing at our feet. Birds circling overhead and singing songs to us as we dreamed away our afternoons together. I shake the memories from my mind, start the car, and with a bit of eagerness that I haven't felt in a long time, pull out from the parking spot, and head down the highway to remember more. Surely this isn't just a trip down memory lane...something in that dream grabbed me, heart, soul and mind and insists on my getting myself back to the shore.

I turn on the radio and hope the tunes stop the images and memories from taking over my thoughts. No luck with that. As I drive- as the houses and hills fly past me, all I can see before me is the image of a beach, and her.... long hair blowing in the breeze, her rich and wild laughter hanging in the breeze like seagulls. I wonder what ever did become of my friend. She disappeared from the beach one day, almost as unexpectedly as she appeared. Will I find her there again- will she be older? Will she remember me? Surely time and life have taken their toll on her...look at me. No longer the wide-eyed innocent girl skipping down the beach looking for seashells, creatures and dancing in the waves. Now, a well weathered shell with a bit of music and memory left stranded on the sands of time. Yes, life has taught me to be a bit more proper, restrained, and more cautious of the dangers and pitfalls- like riptides and stingrays and storms.

Yet there is the memory caught in my mind.... as the wheels hum on the highway, I find myself humming along... it comes to me.... the voice, the song from my dream. Her voice, clear as the morning sun bouncing off the waves..... 'come to me, come to me, come to me,.....put down your work..... come back come back.... come to me.....

Is it the change in the air that is making my head clearer,,, the slow desccent from the highlands to the sea? Is my mind simply playing tricks on me? Am I in some sort of altered space- confusion and destiny mixing as one.... what the hell did I eat last night? I stop to stretch, take a long drink of water and clear my head. Is this madness- the last vestiges of my sanity escaping like the passing cars? I grab an apple and take a big bite. The crispy snap and tart juice startle me. This is not a figment of my imagination. This is real, as real as the snap and crunch of the apple against my teeth. The breeze catches my hair, and tossles it about my face. Again I am engulfed in memories of the sea. When the wind whipped our hair and skirts and seaspray stung our lips and eyes. No time to waste now, just a couple more hours, and I will be where my heart is racing towards, as the hum of the traffic sings the song of long ago memories.

Hastily I pitch my apple core into the long grass by the rest stop, and jump back into my car. The snap of the seatbelt sounds like a large wave clapping the dock- I need to hurry now, the beach is calling me louder and more insistently. I pull out without looking back, heading into the early afternoon, anxious to get to the shore. I check the scenery flying by and realize I have left the familiar green of the mountains and sense the oncoming coastline lurking, taunting in the distance.
My heart pounds against my chest, no longer the gentle waves of calm, but the insistent demanding waves of an oncomng storm. My mind wanders again to the shore, how we loved watching the rainbclouds dance over the water, darkening the day and sending brilliant bolts of lightening to light up the gloom. Fascinated by the ferocious onset of slashing wind, rain and pounding sea, we would cling to each other and shout into the wind. Daring it to carry us from our perch on the highest rock. We laughed at the audacity of the weather to challenge our ability to stand strong in the tumult.

I shake my head and wonder, where did that shouting down the storm child go? What became of the girl who's power and confidence taunted the force of nature, and stood strong and firm in her own power? Maybe this is why the sea is calling me back. Maybe I need to find that little girl who sat with me on the beach and created beauty from the broken and bruised remnents of life cast upon the shore. Will she be there.... will she wait for me? WIll I even know her anymore...

I cannot get there fast enough. My heart cannot take this constant slap slap slap of the waves rocking my soul. I am breathless and a bit dazed as I see the signs that will lead me to my dream, my destination. Hmmm. a Starbucks springs up in front of me, and other new signs of life that are not familiar. But as I weave my way towards the shoreline, things begin to look less new, less changed by progress and society. I find a place to pull in along the road, not wanting to park in some public place, so I can wind my way back to the "place" where my heart is leading me. I kick off my shoes, grab my bag, lock my car and scramble up the sand dune.

The warm gritty feel of sand grasps my feet and welcomes me back to this place. I stop and take a long slow breath in. My heart, thumping and pounding begins to slow and calm down. I spend a few long heady moments simpy breathing in and out the sharp. cool saltair. I scan the shoreline, looking for her. Nothing. I look up and down the beach, all is quiet. The sun is slowly moving towards sthe edge of the water. it will be dark soon. I must hurry to find "our place" the rocky nest that sheltered our play, that held us in the storms, and became our home and dreamcasting studio.
I begin to walk along the shore, letting the water lap at my toes. I am caught again in the web of memory. How many mornings we spent scouring the bach for our treasures. For the seaweed and shells, bits of glass and wood to weave our finest jewelery and crowns with. How we would stop to poke the sandcrabs, and make little pools for them to swim in with our footprints. I remember the sandcastles and sand people we crafted for them. The messages we wrote in the sand. Prayers sent to the sea for love, for beauty for joy. Our words swallowed up by the sea, and sent to the source of life in the waters of girlish desires. How we laughed and dared to dream.

I wander further along the beach, tears mixing with seaspray. My heart has settled into my throat. I cannot speak, or swallow. I am looking for the lost friend of my childhood. I am looking for the lost dreams and hopes of a girl who dared to shout into the storm. I am drowning in memories of her. And she is nowhere to be found.

I stumble and find myself kneeling in the sand, waves gently catch me, and help me land softly into the warm sand. And now the tidal wave of tears are unleashed. Torrential waves of tears and sorrow let loose upon the sand. Kneeling, I hug myself and collapse forward into the sea. The water envelops me like a womb, and i rest here as the sobs and shaking subside.

I have no idea how long I lie this way, the soft hum of the sea against my ears lulls me into a cradle of gossamer light and warmth. The sky around me is darker now, stars begin to peak out from their celestial abode. I slowly pull myself back into the present. My clothes are wet and soggy. My face and hands are smeared with sand and salt. I gaze at myself in total surprise. I pull off my soaking clothes and plunge myself into the surf. I swim out into the deep inhaling the smells and scents of the sea. It would be so easy to just let the waves carry me away- to surrender to their power and strength. I lay back and wait.

Something begins to sing- that song from my dream.... 'come to me, come to me, come to me.... put down your worry, come back, come back, come to me'. It's the girl from the beach, her voice is clear as as the evening stars bouncing off the waves. I turn my head to shore. Yes! There she is! She is waving me in. She is calling me. She is singing for me! I turn myself around and swim back to her.
My heart is light, my strokes are strong and powerful. I have found the little girl who used to dance and dream and shout at the storm. She is alive in me once more. How did this happen? Where was she all these years? I have so many questions for her. My strokes are more determined. I must get to her. As I step onto the shore, I rub the water from my face. I feel my smile spreading wide and free. I look for my friend.... I see.... nothing.

I look around, no - no - no! She was here I know it. She called to me. She sang me back from the depths. Why did she leave before I got back? I cannot believe this- I am standing here naked and cold, and confused. This isn't what I expected. This isn't fair.
And then i see my clothes- neatly folded - dry and clean sitting there, amdst the sand and shells and stones. I grab them, they are warm and soft and comforting. As I begin to dress trying to figure out how they came to be there, something else catches my eye. There next to my clothes is a message in the sand. I love you. Come back. Come back to me. You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Psalm 10 17-18 or Just another day in Lower Price Hill

O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek,
you will strengthen their hearts;
you will incline your ear
to do justice to the orphan and the oppressed
so tht people on earth may strike terror no more

Today I had the humbling and terrifying opportunity to see this scripture up close and personal. I had a meeting at State Avenue UMC, to discuss how to further be the presence of GOD in this crumbly and forsaken neighborhood in Lower Price Hill.

It is a harsh reality in these streets. Bounded by overpasses to major highways, roadways cut through the small neighborhood, dissecting and distancing the residents from the rest of the Cincinnati area.

Abandoned buildings sit along side the buildings that serve as shelter and homes for many. Litter and garbage are the landscape, along with the languid bodies of those who sit on stoops, sidewalks or linger on the sign posts. Dogs bark frantically, traffic noises from th overpasses drum their insistant, gotta get outta here, beat into the air, day and night.

Yet here are people, children, families, all creations of a loving and compassionate GOD. There is laughter, there is music. And there is pain. My heart simply was overwhelmed as I turned my car towards the "way out" and found myself face to face with a reality seldom seen by those outside these streets.

While some would be horrified (rightly so) at the amount of debris and despair on display.... I couldn't help but wonder about the lives and dreams of those I passed by.... as I looked around, the image of Christ broken and bleeding on the cross captured me at every glance, from every direction....

We had communion this week at State Avenue. Pastor Nilsa's communion liturgy did not come from the UM Hymnal or any other "scholarly" theological source. It came from the depth of her soul, as the pastor of this hurting and broken community; one condemned by society, abandoned and brutalized in the most heinous manner.... caught between the crosses of other thiefs who have stolen the dignity and sanctity of the people here. Crucified on the cross of poverty, race, culture and addiction- left by the "good people" of the day to die in shame and horror...

And yet Pastor Nilsa saw beyond all this, and re-membered this fractured tortured body as that of the beautiful body of Christ.... given so that ALL might have life, restored and renewed in hope and mercy. I wept my way through her words, as I held the hands of those at the table of mercy and grace,
a rag-tag band
of strugglers, survivors;
the addicted, afflicted,
rejected and neglected;
pastors, professors,
children, aged.

As we shared communion, one young girl barely two years old caught me eye. Pastor Nilsa offered communion wafers to her and her sister, they each grasped this special "cracker" with great delight, holding it up for their mom to see. As the cups of juice were offered, the older sister, confidently took her's in hand, while the younger sister, quickly disengaged her hand from Mom's and eagerly thrust her pudgy little hand up to receive this wonderful cup. On her face was the broadest, sweetest smile... pure and eager in its response to this next "action'

At that moment, I beheld GOD.... calling me, calling each of us, to receive this remarkable feast in this manner- with confidence, joy and eagerness. No matter how broken or stained or horrific our actions are before GOD, in this moment of communion, we are restored.
Accepted at the table of mercy and grace as a beloved child of the Good Creator.

It has been years since I have approached the table of grace with this kind of sheer eagerness, confidence and joy. God moved in my heart, reaching deep into the broken damaged places that I try to hide, and in the act of a child, reminded me to come as I am. To the Gospel Feast, to lay down my own self righteousness and need to be "holy" and simple reach out with confidence and love to receive the gift of GOD for the people of GOD.

I have mulled over this moment, and the message today from driving through the streets of despair and degradation call me to a new sense of communion. We see the suffering of Christ daily in our midst.... but all too often we simply hurry by- or avoid eye contact. Or think what a shame... there is no beauty, no hope there. There in lies our problem.... we do not SEE Christ- we see hopelessness and horror.... we see the Cross and we turn away.

In communion we are called to share the reconciliation and hope and peace of Christ.

Defend the needy and the poor, let justice and peace abound

This is what God is calling me to be and do and live for
in this community of my family in Lower Price Hill.
To accept them as they are, to love them as GOD created them,
and to work for a world, a community, a Church
where they will be welcomed at the table
and not left hanging on the cross.

May God grant me the wisdom to move with compassion as these days of wonder and discovery unfold.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

of mists, memories and mornings

Another morning rolls off the back of night wrapped in mists and dew.
I wake up slowly this day, a day that promises to be like many others,
and yet unlike any other I have ever known.

Life in it's inevitable course sends us up and- down along roads and byways that sometimes lead us to deadends, and at other times, bring us home.

This road I have traveled has had it's fill of detours, misdirections and deadends... it has also carried me to places of joy, peace and calm... and yet I am still traveling trying to find home.

They say home is where your heart is. My heart while it still beats in this aging body, is on the road traveling along, sometimes running, sometimes out of breath, and sometimes totally lost. But I wander on, still looking for home, praying for home....carrying home in me.

Home is where you discover GOD resides in those who take the time along the way to share their journey, their heart with you. Here's a prayer that we all find a heart that holds our home, as we open our hearts to be homes for others.

My heart is a home for the homeless, come on in, there is plenty of room inside.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Freckle Faced at 50

Freckles, the bain of my existence since I can remember. What kid wants freckles? Not this girl. no way no how... and yet there they were, and still are some 50 years into this life of mine.

You get used to them, after awhile. Just like all the jokes and comments that are either meant to tease or comfort, 'cause well, after all what are you gonna do about them- they grow on you :)

Oh yes, there are creams to cover or hide them... staying out of the sun doesn't work either- especially if you are a rambunctious red-headed tomboy who loved being in the midst of whatever was going on, wherever.

I recently ran across some old photo's of a much younger me, and sure enough, the child me was resplendent in her grin, freckles and out of control hair... funny how not much has changed after all... despite the years of trying to conform to standards of beauty and behavior that simply didn't, well fit :)

Re-membering her.. the child/girl now a grown "mature" woman- I can't help but wish to go back and tell the younger me that it will be okay- that all the distractions and standards that define behavior and beauty are simply that, distractions. That one day she will simply learn to look in a mirror and say, "good morning beloved" and that the face reflected there is the map and legend of a life lived in spite of, as well as in tune, with the inner song and beauty we each possess.

Sometimes we forget to sing our own song, and rely on the karoake versions to carry us along. But if we stay tuned in to our inner self- the essence of who and whose we are... we begin to embrace our differences as part of our own unique offering to the mosaic of community. I have learned this the hard way, by trying to sing others words, be what others have thought or demanded, and have come to a point where I can now re-member the girlchild Jeanne and embrace her whimsy and curiousity and tenacity with confidence and giggles.... and yes the freckles too!

My new anthem is "Freckles" by Natasha Bedingfield give it a listen;

So now my freckled 50 year old face smiles, grins and carries on, much like the girlchild- only a bit slower, but still loving every minute of it !

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Another exericise from Inspired... one that made me think and then stop thinking and let the words and rhythms flow, a reminder that inspiration cannot and should not be so controlled that the heart and soul are forgotten.

sitting on the beach
waiting for inspiration
to come and join me

God moves quietly
whispering the words to heal
my weary soul ache

waves of mercy pulse
upon the sand demanding
release on the shore

i venture again
into the living water
reborn, restored. Whole

Inspired! A SL writing circle

I am part of a collective writing group in SecondLife, we meet weekly to refine our skills of observation, inspiration and life... This is the first weeks writing prompt- could only use words proscribed by dear Gem- and of course I took liberties and added a few other words...:0 However the end results for all of us were remarkable....

Behold the beauty of the forest at my window!
God's power displayed in full authority over the earth.
The shining stars awaken stirrings within my soul
shadows and light entwine, a paradox of time and eternity.

Flowers sing like children the song of GOD's love and joy
exploding their colors and scent afresh upon the ground.
The Goddess touches my brow with gentle fingers,
guiding my eyes to see the grace and wisdom
unfolding by the lake, in myriad colors and shapes
the presence of the HOLY awakening in creation

Concrete Canyon

Saturday Afternoon in the Concrete Canyon

Listen to the wind whistle down
The concrete canyon
Stillness at hand,
The asphalt rivers cut through
The concrete walls,
Little life flows along their blackened surface.
The stillness is interrupted by the random
Call of the Holla back and shout out birds,
And the strident trumpeting of
hoopties and lo- riders:
resplendent in their spinners and hi-gloss sheen.
Church bells call out the cadence of passing
Minutes and hours
And the hum of life is hushed and slow,
As if anticipating the time when
The lights flip on, and once again
The asphalt and concrete fill with
The symphony of night music-
But for now, the wind whistles
Through the concrete canyon,
The asphalt river runs dry,
And the only sounds are those
Of anxious anticipation
Of the evening to come..