A Sunday Morning Meditation


For their trust, their faithfulness, their ingenuity, their affection, and their intelligence, among many endearing qualities. May they all be safe and loved. This is Nike, the first lost traveler who arrived in my back yard a few years ago. He is very sweet though he gets in more outdoor scraps than any of the others (which I somehow never see). He sleeps with his buddy, Hunter, a stuffed tiger, of which he is very fond. Sunday mornings they can always be found together.


I loved having babies. My two were born in 1965 and 1968, when I was a wacked out young flower child in the Haight-Ashbury. They were both 2 weeks overdue weighing in at 9lbs11oz and 10lbs2oz. I had a crash course in childbirth breathing stuff during the first labor, but was awake for both. I was physically healthy and so were they, thank god. My favorite part of them was the back of their necks. Nursed them both well past a year. I got to experience babyhood again when my grandchildren were born 12 and 8 years ago. There's just nothing like having an infant fall asleep on your chest with their fuzzy little head under your chin. Best of all though is watching them watch the world with fresh eyes. Don't you wish we could all get that back for a minute - maybe just on Sundays?


My first grandchild is 12 now and entering adolescence, but he remains a symbol to me of the joy that grandparents experience to be allowed to return one last time to the wonder of childhood in the company of their own flesh and blood. I decided by the time Cameron was two that I wanted to spend every Saturday with him (and later his sister, Sierra, who is now 8). I found him a Saturday friend, a little boy his age who lived across the street from me, and together the three of us had many grand adventures, in all seasons over the past 10 years. The friend has moved away, and now that parent dynamics have changed I see him more like every other Saturday, but I know I helped play a small role in the fine, bright, shiny young person he has become.


I just went out and snapped this photo from my back porch at 6:15 am in Portland, Oregon. It's officially spring now and it's my favorite kind of dawn, Sunday morning dawn. Dawn is kind of like New Year's Day. You get to start fresh. There are no grating motor noises yet, most people are enjoying sleeping in if it's the weekend, and you can actually hear the birds making those waking up sounds - little fluttering cheeping rubbing their eyes with their feathers sounds. You can imagine that today in your life you will be a good person, you won't hurt anybody (at least not intentionally), you might get to hug someone, and maybe there will be good news in the world. You start forth with hope.


This is a very dicey subject for me and many people. We have become a nation of overeaters, it would seem, and eating is a truly difficult addiction to treat, as one cannot simply stop eating like one can stop drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Apparently, we are a nation in need of comfort and food is one way to attempt to get it. On the other side of this coin is the fact that eating within healthy boundaries is a requirement for a healthy soul and body. It is also intertwined with so many lovely experiences in life - the preparation and tasting of food we have grown ourselves in our own gardens, the sharing of a simple meal with a friend, the first meal with a new lover, the holiday gathering of families around dinner tables, the experience of tasting a new cuisine in a foreign country or in our own. And there is always the awareness that while we eat for whatever reasons many in our world are starving. We may also be aware that some of the food we eat was produced by animals who were treated brutally for this purpose. We now can read labels and become more educated about all the preservatives and carcinogens that are present in much of the food we buy in stores. Endless books are written and diets created to deal with this complex part of our lives. There are whole stores full of nothing but cookbooks. Each of us must find our own path through this maze of information and take responsibility for our own health, both physical and spiritual. Recently, I took my grandchildren for a drive in the country and we stopped for lunch at a small-town diner. The walls were covered with photographs of happy local customers, the tables were busily occupied by them as well, and the staff was warm and hospitable to we three strangers. I chose a vegetarian omelet, as I'm drifting toward becoming a total non-meat-eater in the last part of my life. It was good, being with my grandchildren on a sunny day in the country was good, being part of the daily camaraderie of a small town restaurant was good. At that moment, eating was refreshing my soul.


Have you ever had the experience of walking along in your daily life and passing someone who looks right at you with the most open friendly smile, maybe just when you're feeling a bit down yourself? You'd remember it if you did, because it really doesn't happen all that often in this bustling stressed-out world we live in. Mostly faces are turned away at some angle or another, lost in their own thoughts, or if they look at you the look is suspicious, antagonistic. I treasure those moments of connection with the smilers. I call them Salt-of-the-Earth people. Faces tell us pretty much everything, even if a person is guarded. There are frown lines and laugh lines. There are the wrinkles of aging and of suffering. There are calm faces of those who have somehow found inner peace. There are children's faces, not yet showing the loss of innocence. (The photo is my daughter in her early Haight-Ashbury years.) There are the faces of lovers of any age regarding each other with confidence in that love. There are angry faces, lonely faces, sad faces, frightened faces. There are faces of different colors. There is your own face looking back at you from the mirror. Hopefully, you like your face and it has served you well. I hope you will smile and look right at someone today with it.


This is not a particularly good photo of my mother or of a garden, but it is the last photo I have of my mother gardening before she was gone. It remains in my heart as a symbol of who she was - someone who looked for the good in everything and raged against the bad all her life. She was an extraordinary grandmother to my two children, a devoted wife of over 50 years to my father (though it was not an easy relationship) who gave him meticulous care over his own last years as he sank beneath the combined forces of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, and a vigilant mother to me (as I battled my own demons). She loved on a large scale - she loved humanity. She was political and spiritual equally - she made them seem like the same thing. When I was a child she planted the flowerbox in the miniature house my father built me on the farm, and when she died I left her ashes in her last garden. I am old enough now to need a small chair to sit on when I garden like she does in the photo. And every time I experience the pleasure of my garden - the warmth of the sun on my back, the warmth of the earth to my fingers, the smells and colors of nature - I think of her.


These are the hands of my aunt Marjorie who lived to be 98 and was still creating collages (that were sold by her gallery for over $1000 apiece) out of rice paper. (You can see some of them here.) She began to do art when she had retired from a lifetime of teaching as a way to find relief from headaches. It opened a whole new world for her. Her hands were still busy till the day she died releasing her imagination for everyone to see. Hands symbolize so many things - creativity, strength, love, cruelty, hard work. Hands give us music. Hands built our homes. Hands delivered our babies. Hands pray for us. And who does not know the comfort of a hand gently touching us in a time of grief. May you find good use for your hands today.

Individualism The individualists I like are not just good at their chosen path (in this case music, a random choice), they come at it from a different direction than anyone expected. They jar us out of our boredom with the status quo. They blaze trails that we can choose to follow - or not. Sometimes they are dangerous. Sometimes the world is too dangerous for them. But we remember them today and tomorrow and forever.
Jane and Josh

.These are my two three-dimensional proofs of reproductivity in their early days on the planet. This was in our living on welfare in Marin County period. Jane's father was a Swiss painter in New York City on a 6-month visa when I met him and he looked like this photo. He died two years ago of throat cancer. He became a world-famous tattoo artist. Josh's father is a musician who prefers jazz but works mainly for years now with Huey Lewis & The News. The photo is how he looks today. I met him in S.F. after Jane's father was gone. He still lives there. It all sure wasn't traditional and left lots of scars, but Jane and Josh were the gifts. This is them recently. Their paths veered away from each other years ago, but to my perspective are startlingly parallel. Each is sensitive, talented, building character, politically correct, and close enough by to enjoy but not smother.They refresh my soul.


For those who just tuned in, I started doing this topic on Sundays back at A in the alphabet, so it's been a few months now and I finally reached K. It's a bit of a stretch to come up with something starting with K, but my flower child circuits kicked in and Karma popped into my head. Then I googled for an image and you'd be amazed how many people have named their children, pets, and rock bands Karma. So Karma. First of all, it conjures up for me personally those delightful distant days when peace/joy/love was my main vocabulary and the future seemed oh so probably rosy. Then I had children of my own and suddenly it seemed I was going to have to deal with the Real World to keep us floating. Karma fell into a category of concepts to consider in the five minutes each week one wasn't struggling to pay the rent. Still I began to notice (without parents, ex-husbands, teachers etc telling me) that my own actions had increasingly foreseeable consequences. You know, when you're young and bulletproof you try things out that you know are pushing the boundaries just to see if you can get away with it. (Actually, some of the greatest human accomplishments have resulted from such uppityness.) But later on when you have less energy to squander, you start to get a little of that stuff called Wisdom in spite of yourself. You begin to see the train coming down the tracks. Unfortunately, we live in an Instant Society, so we like to see Instant Karma. If we do something Good, we want to see good consequences right away. But I've learned for myself that it may take the rest of our lives or into the next generation for the good to ripple back. I think the same may be true of countries. Our country seems to be creating some bad karma for itself right now and I keep wondering how soon we'll start paying the price with more 9/11's. I hope that the current of resistance to this trend, the energy that goes toward peace, will have its own karma. So What Goes Around Comes Around and on Mother's Day today I wish you a day of Good Karma. We'll need all we can get for the journey to come.


L is usually for Love, isn't it? But love is almost a given for soul refreshment. Laughter isn't so obvious. Count me in that group of us who carry a big bunch of sadness around with them through life from the very beginning. I've given up trying to figure out why. But I've become increasingly aware of the power of laughter to fight the sadness back. I'd call myself a high-functioning sad person who keeps laughter in a toolbox of vampire-slaying tricks. Because that's what sadness is - it drains your heart dry. I want a moist, wet, drowning-in-laughter heart. So I post a Deep Thought in my blog each day because they crack me up. I make a point of keeping company with negative people to a minimum. I get my news from The Daily Show. I hang out with children and pets. I pray for more funny friends. Who says you have to stand in the corner all your life with a bag over your head? Laughter is like vitamins - take them or get sick. It's a choice.

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