Oh, Holidays

Oh holidays,

To the latkes I am cooking,

At whose applesauce topping I am looking,

Your potatoy goodness astounds me,

Your oily needs confound me.

Oh, holidays,

To the cookies I am baking,

With no grain, dairy or sugar I am making,

Will anyone be glad that they are for the taking?

For a Jew in Vermont, a state that despite being blue,

Is still a state of Christmas to which the cows moo.

So I sat with a cat wearing antlers on my knee,

And elatedly helped decorate my first New England tree.

I styled that thing from its limbs to its trunk,

My earnest enthusiasm could not be sunk.

I spiraled garland to add depth to its skinny bark center

‘Oh look,’ I called to my holy day mentor

With ornaments a plenty still dripping with glee

They wanted to see where they would go on said tree.

With glitter from icicles still on my face,

I was in a happy frenzy to keep up the pace.

But one who has designed NYC wreaths and tables aplenty,

Is apparently not appreciated as a north country celebration sentry.

So let me just say with a sigh and lament

At least they didn’t show me to the cold, cold cement.

Was it culture or couture that led to my demise?

Oh, well, I still have my menorah light in my eyes.

Posted in Poetry | Leave a comment

11/12 and Counting-Election Reflection

election

https://wordpress.com/post/insighthealingdotcom.wordpress.com/187

11/12 and Counting

Tuesday:

I went to sleep half an hour before the election was called. My sleep was grey and dreamless.

Wednesday:

 I awoke unable to take my usual deep and nourishing morning breath. The only thing I could manage was a thin inhale that had to maneuver between stone piled upon stone.

I was in a supreme oxygen-withholding-deep-dread-awareness-of-the-day-before mode. This soon became laced with organ menacing fear. My blood and breath were running their course, but with their backs to one another. This felt like a mirror of what is going on in our country. Those on opposite sides and preference have turned away from each other to lick their wounds or shine their win.

I thought about what will happen to Standing Rock. I thought about how deeply ingrained our country’s misogyny is; how fierce it is in our cultural geology. It is scary squared to think about Trump and Pence having a go at us. I thought about friends who voted for Trump and Pence and their vile views. What might this do to friendships? These were all issues that had been contentious conversations before the election. What would happen now?

We: those who voted for Hillary, those who voted third party and those who did not vote at all, are part of how this happened, as is the campaign and Hillary herself. Did we really believe no matter what happened that we had this election in the bag? Were we just too complacent to call out the behind the scene chicanery of ‘our’ party and the media? What if we protested then and not now?

I know that even if we did all we could, that the political machine is not a cool and witty steampunk contraption. It is a behemoth of gears of unrelenting disregard for those who do not oil it. We may still have had this outcome.

Thursday:

It was a blur of grasping for a normal moment; but normal is reshaping itself. It is throwing off our old expectations and behavior. That normal is chalk on the sidewalk outlining a body waiting for a forensic examination. This will be blown away by January’s snows. Don’t try to catch the glittery dust. There is no romance in those sparkles. My mantra for the day was, “We don’t need the SYFY channel. We are living it.”

Facebook was a flutter with condemnation, allegations and challenges of retribution. Some questioned if they should unfriend their friends who stood on the opposite side. Others tried to educate by posting endless articles and memes meant to show each other the way. Some tried to placate and reach out. Basically, Facebook used some funky mushrooms in its soup recipe post.

People look for comfort and explanation when bad things happen in order to cope. Posts and conversations began to talk about how Trump is our shadow figure and that this is a good thing to have happened so that now we can fix it. One article told me that Trump is really our spiritual teacher and that we can learn all about the darkness from him. Can you guess what my shadow wanted to do when I read that?

While there is some truth to this; to hear this now feels like an easy way to take the sting out of what happened through the guise of being ‘spiritual’(and I am part of that world).But I don’t want to take the sting out. I don’t want to risk losing the urgency to act. We need the sting.

The time will come when this shadow can be our guide to action, but we need to become stronger and unified first, or risk becoming passive because we are overwhelmed with the task.

Friday:

In a need for some relief of growing fears I wondered “What would be in my swag bag from this new venue of the Un-United States?” The grips dissolved in my hands when I picked it up. Clearly, I didn’t have a handle on this thing yet.

But then there were the swastikas.  I remembered learning about Nazis as a child, and being afraid to go to the bathroom at night because I would see two Nazis there with guns.

The hatred and bigotry is not only pointed toward Jews, I know this; but because the Nazi Swastika is still the symbol used, as it has become a container for all hatred; I cannot help but feel the time when I was in third grade and had rocks thrown at me for being Jewish.

The darkness of generational pain and loss again stops my breath, but it also sharpens my eyes and makes my feet want to walk hard on the path to join in the fixing.

We cannot become quiet and still after the first spate of protests fade, and our everyday lives call us back. What is ahead is daunting. It is bigger than each of us. It has also happened before. We have to look at history and finally learn from it. I fear that if we do not do this, and do not work together in a committed, compassionate and smartly strategic way, we will become the country of our nightmares.

Friday Night-Shabbat

It is Friday night. The sun has set on the fourth day since the elections. Autumn night Shabbats are my solace. The early darkness of these weeks, that only last till the next solstice, is a precious time to me. It is richly lush with the scent of the shifting earth. There are still some leaves left to swirl in the winds and our gardens are putting themselves to ground to begin their new year of regeneration.

This is a poignant image of what we need to do right now. We need to look deep into our own interior landscapes and then we need to look toward each other.

I remember lighting candles and singing with the friends with whom I am now at odds. Politics and religion are hard issues to clash over, and this election has brought them both out full force. I am not sure that the- we should just agree to disagree-solution will work this time.

The principled stance, despite the different ideas about what that is, has become a central pillar of discourse. The politic and the moral are deeply interwoven in the Trump/Pence platform. They see their politics growing out of their religious beliefs. Separation of their church and state does not exist in this world view that is rife with twisted and hateful declarations and plans to act on them.

“I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history,” said Pence. How can we respond to this? Action, not only words, must become the new response. Registering Muslims is the beginning of another holocaust, and not disavowing David Duke is agreeing with him.

 

I have friends who voted for this ticket because of its economic policies. They say they disagree with the misogyny, racism, xenophobic plans, denial of climate change, LGBTQ rights, voter suppression, etc. They do not see the disparity of this.  Those who are vehemently opposed to Trump/Pence do not see how they can miss it. This is where communications break down, and friendships find themselves in peril.

“When we judge others – we contribute to violence” – Marshall Rosenberg

Friday Night- Shabbat Mantra: “Before you taste anything, recite a blessing.” Rabbi Akiva

Saturday-Shabbat Morning:

It is Saturday, still Shabbat, and five days in and counting. The air is crisp and I feel fried. I have spent some time on Facebook posting and responding to other’s posts. I told myself that I would limit this because I didn’t want to get pulled into the whirlpool of call and response of the frustration, anger and pain. I needed a break and I wanted some solitary time to collect my own thoughts. I can take in just so much before I begin to lose my already off kilter center. And it is Shabbat, so why did I even turn on my computer?

Saturday-Shabbat Late Afternoon:

Words are difficult to reach now. The past days have lodged themselves in my body. As the sky begins to turn toward the evening, the end of Shabbat is coming. I usually feel filled with new energy for the incoming week, but I feel tired and heavy with concern and despair. When the body, mind and emotion are on overwhelm, the spirit steps back to make room for what the soul needs to process. The extra soul that we receive on Shabbat has not been a comfort to me because I can hardly feel it. My heart is wide eyed with pain and turmoil. I fight with myself to find my hope, the belief that we can make it through what is to come, and then, somehow, I feel a fragile smile of resolve.

Saturday night:

Hasn’t come yet. Can I presume I know what to assume? Not anymore.

But I do know that we cannot just crawl back into the cocoon of stillness. We need to fight that inclination and then fight the fight. Inaction is not acceptable.

Cry, if you are inclined, with tears of salt or howl with tears of primal tones. Let those tears roil into a sea of engagement. We need to move into the waves of action and wisdom.

I am afraid that the earth’s hands will let her fingers, that have been so entwined to hold us, dissolve and we will fall into the muddy abyss if we do not.

**************************************************************************

This was originally published in Vermont Views Magazine:

http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vermontviews.org%2Fvermontviews.org%2FAn_A-musing_Life.html&h=cAQFYMhPt&s=1

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blessed Samhain

spell

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Tis the Season

Christmas

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Heartwork

10647157_808592055873234_7151356383507923182_n

 

In recognition of World Aides Day, the following poem was written about John Fletcher Harris who lived in NYC. He died 25 ears ago today. Dec. 5, 1990.
I took care of him in the hospital the last month of his life. While his father would not come over to see him before he died, as he could not cope with John being gay, he never saw the huge light that John was for so many. His ashes are in Glastonbury.

Heartwork
And so I came to where you did your spirit’s work.
We did not speak, but I sat in your circle week after week.
You were mysterious to me.

And I would go home to the skies of late fall
And watch the shadows change from under my
warm sweater and steamy coffee and hazelnut liqueur.
The air smelled sweet-the time was safe.

One day you walked across the room.
You were not alone-you were not alone.
I saw the silent sigil of death that walked behind you.
You were in two worlds at once-and
the air parted to let you through.

And then there was voice on the phone.
“Go to the hospital. He is there.”
I was catapulted fast, so fire burning fast
that I had no choice but to follow its flame.
I saw the cold tiled floor and heard the
relentless clicking and churning of the machines.

I walk into your room and you are asleep.
You are asleep in your frailty, in your anger, in your pain
in a sterile white bed.
You sink into the middle: it surrounds you.
You look like a long, thin wavering line.
But your presence is strong-even then.
Are you traveling in your sleep-
time across the universe?
No, not yet.
We have work to do, you and I.

I put my hands around you.
I feel your heart and see where you are.
You know I am here.
And I begin to know you-
through my hands, through my heart.
These were the tools I had for you.
I began to know your pain and terror,
But I also learned your beauty and love.
You echoed in my heart in the most endless way.

It is twilight, darkness is coming.
This is not the comforting time of home-
This is not safe.
This twilight is of bold transition.
It moves the day to night with swift strides:
A tidal wave of shadows tumble in against the moon.

Our time was about our deepening connection
That was a step towards completion.
The fact of death, the process of dying shows us our frailty,
but also makes us find our strength.
Your heart lay upon my heart and beckoned me.
Your soul was the object of my vision.
For me your dying was to learn that vision.
For you it was a last lesson of love.

There is a certain rhythm to being.
It is a silent current in the earth: in our souls.
It is subterranean wet.
And when we reach it, we can ride its moist power-
Be surrounded by its waving, undulating pulse.
This is where the knowing is.
This is what we listen to deeply.
The language of the earth is time.
The language of the divine is love.
They intersect, they intertwine.

The day you were ready to leave I was in my kitchen.
You stood impatient-you were ready.
On the train the rhythm of the wheels felt like the beating of your heart.
My heart joined yours for one last time.
It grew luminous and multi-colored-the air was thick.
Time was culminating in a cascade of pulsing breaths.
We would ride them together until you could go alone.
I felt your moving to death around me like a wrapping from centuries ago.
It had the smell of time.
It had the feeling of grace.
It had the rumble of thunder.

I came to you.
A tear rolled down your cheek.
We looked toward each other one last time.
I saw you through the light-just a little way
And touched you one last time.
And then the air became sweet and the time felt safe.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Draped in Time

an a-musing halloween

Here is the original posting of my column- An A-musing Life- in Vermont Views- a great online magazine

http://www.vermontviews.org/vermontviews.org/An_A-musing_Life.html

                                                             Draped in Time

The trees begin to rustle. I change the ringtone on my phone to the Bewitched theme. Their leaves become brilliant with color. I get out the orange, purple and green bat mug. They crackle as they are tossed about by the autumn wind. The outside decorations sway their come hither dance in the October bluster.

The sun leaves earlier than many would like. The warmth has become illusive, although still shows itself in snippets. The last of the summer crops are foraged by hands still lustful for the past season.

But for others, this is the widening of the earth’s soul. It is a time of rising depth and deep inhalations of an expanse of spirit. The winds sing in the key of mysterium mundi.

This is the short and shifting time of year that walks toward winter quickly. Transitions are powerful. They rearrange and set the stage for what is to come. They demand you go with their will, or you are be left on your own. This transition’s beauty is soul searing. The verdant scent of the leaves and plants as they begin to make their way inward toward the earth fills the air and dances with the smoke of newly awakened wood-stoves. I love this rich and moist aroma. It coats my fingers and I feel it seep deep within my spirit. It takes me inside myself, just as it takes itself deep within the ground. It is lush with the changing of the season.

This is also the only time I am drawn to read the French Symbolist poets. How can one resist:

“Towards a sky softened by pure and pale October
That reflects its infinite languor in great formal pools
And deigns, on the stagnant water where the tawny agony…” Sigh by Stéphane Mallarmé

You get the gist, oui?

This is the turning time, when for a few nights, the veil between the worlds is open. It reveals the other side so we can take a peek behind the curtain. When we hear flapping in the night that swooshes us out of safe sleep; is it a night critter on the forage, or is it this veil fretting for us to look to the beyond?

Okay, so what is Halloween, or for some of us Samhain, all about? Let’s get the easy answers out of the way. It is a commercialized day that puts nothing but pressure on kids and parents, much like Valentine’s Day. It is when nerds, apparently the new cool, get to become their sci-fi alter egos, or as they may say, to be ironic; although I think that is more of hipster stance. It is also when there are way too many ads for insulting costumes for women as sexualized whatevers and anythings.

I must say, as someone who adheres to the spiritual aspect of the day, All Souls Day- which is the reworked takeover of a holy day that was not going to be wrested from the heathen heart- makes me smile a tad. I just had a thought! How about a new restaurant called ‘The Heathen’s Heart’-food for the soul and the stomach. It would be done up with lots of curtains that open to the various nether regions of the beyond-aka- eatery of mood environs; a sort of Dante’s Inferno, but with candy corn and a bit more fun, and velvet, lots of velvet. But I digress.

This is the spell of measure that offers a vantage point of the past, present and future within a shared point of time. It is a place to reflect and vision and to take honest stock of where you have been, where you are and where you want to go. Invite your ancestors and helping spirits, who may just be waiting by their cauldrons stirring their otherworldly chicken soup, to guide and inspire you. Don’t be shy. Velvet is soft and their hearts are warm.

Muse, reader, on this wind.
Muse, reader, on this time that holds the turning.
It can catch your soul as quickly as it can catch your eye.
And for crying out loud, let yourself eat some goodies.
Trick or Treat
and
Blessed Be to all.

Posted in Essay Thoughts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Penne for Your Thoughts

pasta_bowl_ext

Here is the original posting of my column- a great online magazine

http://www.vermontviews.org/vermontviews.org/An_A-musing_Life.html

                                                  A Penne for Your Thoughts

Oh great bowl of pasta that shines like a buttery heaven. It glistens with abandon. Little sparks of sunlight cheese roam about the grainy goodness to add some depth. This is the secret; a smattering of micro-planed hard cheese. Oh, the sheer fun of holding the wedge tempered to the room. Having lost its chill, it fits in her hand like it was carved by an angel. The cheese sings in soft timbre against the grater. The dulcet tone of tap, tap, tap. She gently pushes the last bits of tendrils that remain attached to the metal, like a chad, but much more holy. Her fingers, lovingly filled with anticipation, release their grip. The hard cheese floats softly down, deftly finding its place on the awaiting deliciousness.

Their tongues stand in anticipatory glee. They are on the precipice of joy. The scent of steamy sweet of flour, butter and cheese opens their hearts. Oh, the way it makes them feel; like all is well with the world. There is a unifying, cohesive awareness when you realize that many others, those of your cookery tribe, will intone the slurpy goodness as one.  All revel, in the taste gently cascading down their throats like sweet nectar of the gods as it swirls around their mouths. It is like dining with the deities.

Pasta is the flour of fun, the laughter of the soul. So many search deeply to experience this joy. How they shine with fullness as the cheese and butter fills them with inner spirited glow. This is the ultimate concern of roving moment. The immediacy and the everlasting become entwined. They meet and all rest in this cosmic unfoldment of truth and eternal harmony. Their spirits join in the great trinity of their hearts. Their souls are now on the path of completion. They inhale the luxuriant fragrance, like a holy rose, they rumi-nate on life. They are at their highest in themselves and group. How abundant is the world in all things-flour, even those without gluten. How it holds the sauce and nurtures it toward one’s feelings of satiety and sureness of glycemic footstep.

They become one with the breath of time. Oh, that glorious exhalation of the divine. This eatery of the repast they enter is one built of connection, joined commitment and path-work of the higher realms. This is not a place constrained by concrete and engineered plans. This is built this with intention, creativity and intuition.

Pasta flour sets the gastronomic table. But when it is dredged into suffocating form, the welcoming sheen of our dishes dull and tablecloths droop.

What true epicurean could like being boxed in rigid name and use? They tell you what to cook. They tell you how to cook it. They tell you with what you can eat it. They do not let you think. You are not allowed to create. Just follow the directions like it is the sacred writ of cookery: a doctrine of cartonology, if you will.  All are constrained and held back from true sensual delight. Their foodie spirits are squashed.  Enchantment and wonder cannot thrive because of obligation to strict adherence to the scribed words of recipe. They are a restraining package that directs the way to the pot and bowl like a blind horse that is pulled to water.

Angel hair in a box? Talk about a no fly zone.   Alphabet ‘noodles’ spell out “no escape”. What comes up in the spoon from the soupy lagoon is what you get to read. Ravioli is enclosed and has room for nothing else. It hides the truth of what is inside. It takes the unlit leap of faith to apprehend what it holds in its grip. Rotelle wheels turn but are burdened with the heft of the spokes of a doctrine hindered by false sense of savory correctness.

As so many others, those who follow this way, sit in the same chairs around the same table as those before them, and eons before them. Their experience is predetermined, just as will be their futurelings. Oh, how restricting and flat. To use the same methods meal after meal is death to the soul. How can one truly feel the joy of eating when you are bound by the twines of the dogma of nourishment? The toppings, sliced and rasped with graters annealed with the bound generations of hard cheese; that solid and indigestible food made from milk, canon that declares the only way.

So what is left for one to do? Is it best to gather ingredients with wild relish and abandon and to sing the glorious notes of savoring the unbound passion of pasta? Should one taste in pedantic chew after chew the ways that started it all? To adhere to the missives and memorandums of the ancestral gourmands, who perchance knew that flour, with its many possibilities, first has to be ground?

Or perhaps, it is best to remember that life is just a gas.

Posted in Essay Thoughts | Tagged , | Leave a comment