Words that Open Into Peace

Ta Nehisi Coates’ new book, Between the World and Me, is absolutely luscious — which is an odd thing to say about a challenging, painful, hopeful memoir.

In writing his letter to his 15 year old son about the fragility, the endangeredness of the black male body.

You couldn’t look away from the honesty — and didn’t want to because you might miss something.

You couldn’t look away from the sense of responsibility, the need to make this different, the push to become engaged.

It was a privilege to be invited into his world — and that privilege carries weight.

There are huge chasm’s between us and Peace and if we do not recognize them, if we do not make a difference to those who are so endangered, then Peace is just a wistful little fantasy. We must Peace. There are no prayers but our involvement, our willingness to change and to make a difference. There is work to be done.


Peace Feast, llvl

Go out into the garden and see the bounty remaining even after that first frost. Oh, you’re like me? Try this: Go to the market and notice all those richly colored foods piled up around you. yum. Mother Earth is proudly trotting out her fall bounty. It’s up to us to enjoy.

It’s also a good prompt to share that enjoyment. Eating together is a lovely way to build Peace. Discovering what kind of spices you use on these fall delicacies gives me new ways to enjoy old favorites. (Just found out that my friend Ed likes nutmeg on roasted Brussels sprouts. I have another friend who eats it on broccoli — but she’s Dutch so of course she does! That Dutch East India Trading Company made its mark on its home country.)

And the foods are good for you and beautiful to see. What more could you want? Company, you could want company to enjoy the Feast. Get together, say a prayer of thanksgiving and enjoy the feast. It’s an interesting question to look at who you celebrate with. How many people that you invite into your home look like you? How many look very different from you? Have you considered your hospitality as part of your Peace efforts?

Part of the glory of living a vida local is to enjoy the seasons. Make Peace. Eat good food with a friend. And while you’re enjoying, feast your eyes on Deb Slade’s pic! MMMMM. Now that’s delicious.


Peace Thinking, again, llvl

It’s been interesting to look at my life that is so luxurious in love at the same time the world is blowing up in hatred. I don’t know how to bottle this feeling or calibrate it so that others could understand, I just know (believe?) that openness to intimate relationships lessens our openness to hatred. I know for me it heightens the need to participate in some ameliorating of the problems…

My friend, father Kerry, posted a picture today of a man receiving 450 lashes in Saudi Arabia for the crime of being gay. We shudder in horror, but don’t make sure our PA state government (and your state’s government?) pass simple non-discrimination bills that would provide safety in work and home. We watch in pity on Facebook as an 8th grader posts one of those index card videos talking about cutting himself or committing suicide because he’s being bullied for being gay, but aren’t actively involved in anti-bullying programs at home. Wonder how we pray with our lives… and what our prayers should be.

It’s hard to take these painful thoughts and mix them into my vacation thoughts. I needed this break, I’m not apologizing, even to myself, for having taken it. I can feel a natural ending as I begin to long to write and return to my work… although as was obvious from my progress yesterday, not too much… I love that Facebook keeps me aware of your lives if not actually in them. I cherish this precious time with friends here… and love that this Saturday’s moon will shine on us all.

Blessings and Peace be with us all.


Swedish Sabbath Peace, llvl

This morning there is indeed Sabbath Peace in our hearts. Lorraine’s son called her about 11 last evening. He’d just seen his aunt’s post on Facebook. Her son was missing. He’d fought with his parents and stormed off. He was drinking, they knew that. He can’t drink on the medications he’s on, they knew that. He hadn’t shown up the evening before for an 11 o’clock meet at a concert.

What to do, what to do? They called. They posted on FB. People shared. His sister and her friends shared. The rest of us just hoped and prayed and willed best outcomes. But people came forward to comfort and to reassure. It’s happened to me, I’ve had that fear; yet it was ok.

Most of the time it is ok… but sometimes it isn’t. But there you were, willing to take a moment to think about a young man you’ll never meet and a frantic mom and dad. To hold your friend who holds her friends. Community, with the loosest of connections, but stepping up to be community.

So today, because of where I am and because of who you are, I’m counting blessings and giving thanks. For all the places we miss the mark, there are plenty where the arrow flies true. Thanks for being those well aimed friends. Love, it’s for everyone. Peace lies in our hands, which today were very capable. We must remember how capable we are!


Sweet, Summer Peace Days, llvl

I’m having the loveliest time… So many sweet summer days in a row, “no particular place to go…”

Although today we do, Lorraine’s sister Dorothy and her daughter Sigrid are coming and we’re taking the “banana boat” over to the island and going to Kjell and Lorraine’s favorite rocks on the island. Lunch is coming along. Swimming will ensue. It’s only going to be mid 70s today, but the water’s still warm… ahhhhhh. And it’s nice because there’s a rigamarole attached to it. Drive to the boat. Stand in line. Ride to the island (we’re on the Vanern Lake now, the large, large lake in central Sweden, Karlstad is the closest town that’s usually visible on the map, but we’re in Kristinehamn.) Then it’s a 20 minute walk through the woods to get to where we’re going. (that’s the scary part for me… my balance, my balance!) and then out onto the warm, warm rocks that slope into the sea. yay! Everyday’s a holiday.

Yesterday there was dinner with a well known Swedish filmmaker… small art films, not big commercial ones. Gunvor Nelson lives in the same Artists Area in K’hamn that Lorraine and Kjell do. (There’s a print of her house in the snow, done by Kjell that hangs in my office). Pizza. yum. Really, it’s a perfect vacation, lots of eating, lots of swimming, lots of talking to beloved friends and visiting beloved places.

And so I’m reading and enjoying life. Writing a little. And at the same time, fretting a little because after all… There’s a war on and my friend Sonia’s family is at risk. But I guess my prayers from here are carried as well as they might be if i were at home. It’s a very frightening time we live in. As Pope Francis, quickly becoming beloved, said: No more war! No more War! No more War!


Joy, Joy, Peace, Peace, llvl

I believe it’s important to live into Beauty and Love when given the opportunity. And I believe it’s important to make the opportunities. What a delight to be living that out. Almost moment by moment. It’s so rare for me to be here, that I’m working very hard to experience every moment. I’m working — or not working — to know Peace from the inside.

I’m not silly enough to think that I must know personal Peace to work for global Peace. But I am smart enough to revel in what’s here. To notice. To rejoice. Those are important, don’t you think? I’m so privileged to be living back into these friendships and this beautiful country.

To be in the sea is such a delight for me… It’s full of memories and pleasure and so much joy. It buoys my heart as well as my body. And to share that with friends, friends who belong in different lives… the joy deepens!

There we were, dashing about cleaning up the house and making and assembling cakes. Four people; four cakes.  New marketing idea for USA: cake bottoms! I was charged with the meringue whipped cream fruit cake. stacking, I can do it! Lovely, lovely, lovely!

And now, it’s time to pack away these beautiful thoughts and move on to the next, oh, my goodness, wonderful island. My soul continues to expand.

And at the same time, I think of the places and the people whose lives are not filled with expansion. I hold my friend Sonia in my heart, whose family still lives in Palestine and who is building a house there. Whatever the problems, bombs are not the answer, not, not, not. We must do better…

And those of us who live in Peace must pay attention and be grateful. We’ve got to help Love to conquer Fear. We are the ones the world has been waiting for… Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me. and you. Peaceful Prayers be with you, my friends.



Summer, Sabbath, Creeks & Peace, llvl

You take your Sabbath where you can get it. Mine started before sundown yesterday with a stroll down to the creek, followed by a quiet plop or two as we settled into our chairs in the middle of the creek.

And there we sat. With no particular place to go and nothing pressing on our minds. People kayaked by. They inner-tubed by. And there we were on the front porch of Peace.

We all waved and wished one another a good evening… Just being neighborly as folks traveled a sweet highway.

A friend joined us. More desultory conversation ensued.

And then the frogs sang.

Ah, the Sweet Sacred Peace Prayers of Summer. Mother Earth was putting on the ritz in a quiet kinda way. This is what a Sabbath is all about for this (don’t tell anyone this part) Country girl.


Roots of, Roads to Peace, llvl

If you’re going to live la vida local, part of the joy is celebrating those places where your life was “local” before.

This weekend I went “home” to my college for our 40th reunion. (ok, one more chorus of darling we are growing old, move on. sing a loud raucous chorus of a college chant). It was, it always is, balm for the soul. Part of it is the remembering, that piecing back together of a place inside that pleasured us. Part of it is the people, people who have been part of my life for a long time. People I love. People I respect immensely. People who share a passion for life and for the education of women — because they know what it’s made of us. They may not be the warp on which i’ve woven my life, but they certainly are tangled in the strands or perhaps they reinforce it. (ok, i’ll stop, i don’t weave, and I’m sure the metaphor can be stretched only so far!)

I’ve been doing a lot of that this year and I’m going to do more. I was in California where I lived for 13 years. I saw dear friends. I’m going back to Sweden. My friend Soo is going to Alaska this year, visiting places trying to heal from the loss of her husband, places I saw while trying to let go of my sister. She carries me with her, she carries me in her heart, with apologies to monsieur cummings… I went to Wilson. (and after that, I went to the blues festival and saw a woman I adore sing the hell outta those blues! more about that tomorrow)

On the way down to Wilson, I was eager to get there, thinking about who would be there, reveling in the act of going somewhere, stopping along the way for a meal, indulging myself. And getting there, re-immersing myself in the pool of loving affection that is my small class of women and one man and all their loving spouses, was simply luxurious. We knew each other when we were young and passionate and insecure. Perhaps you can’t say of all of us that we know one another well now, but for certain, we recognize one another. We can understand how each woman became who she was today. I have to say that I have both liking and admiration for each. What a treasure is that.

So it was wonderful to touch my roots at a time when my life is unsteady. And then, driving away, it was wonderful to drive home to the life in which I am (re)becoming indigenous — all the more celebrated because I was coming from another place where my life had been so grounded. As I came home, I drove up river to the place that is at one and the same time, source (for it was here I started my education if not my life) and life (for it is here that I have re-rooted after a life of wandering.).

Because I have always been a wanderer, I treasure the journey as well and the sights you see along the way. Ah, my wide and beautiful river set in a broad valley surrounded by rolling green hills… you both settle and excite my heart.

Indeed, it’s lucky I am to have strong roots, great company and a life that yearns toward Peace. It’s lucky to have the Peace road be one of beauty because it’s often arduous. What an amazing world we live in… The being in the midst of it and the getting to where we are going are both sacred prayers for Peace.


Waiting in Peace, LLVL

I’m sitting in another waiting room, grabbing another hospital’s wi-fi, since there’s none at home. Brought a friend in to the doc. Turns out this is the waiting room where I waited with my sister so many times. So weird, used to sitting here waiting for her, find myself turning to look…

One more place where people wait separately together. “What’s your story?” is the question on everyone’s lips. Everyone wondering if someone has a story of hope to share or a tip on curing nausea.

It’s easy to shut down here. You want so much for the answers to be the ones you wanted. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they’re not. But here you all are. And you’re really not alone.

Nothing more immediate and real then this place, that’s for damn sure. Even though my friend’s here for something else, this is Cancerland for me. That’s a locale where I lived a lot of life last year. This is a place where I bore witness and tried to keep my hands and heart open. I have tears to offer. I hope I have smiles as well. for the hardworking staff, for the hopeful waiters. I can be present, to my own sadness and to others’ hopes. I can pray for the wellbeing of the sojourners and the companions.

We’re all just looking for Peace (big and small p) in waiting rooms like this…


No Love, No Peace

It’s easy to mourn from a distance. It’s easy to be infuriated. It’s not my tradition. It’s not my rights, either to marry or to perform a ceremony that are being abrogated. I am not married because some of you cannot marry, but that was an easy gesture for Steve and me to make; we had no compelling need to marry.

But I’m far sadder than I thought I’d be, both because of the hatefulness and the willingness to allow hate to overshadow their very real responsibilities to Love.

I believe in church. I always have. It is where I have found meaning. It’s true that the meaning I have sought and found has changed over the years. I’m very happy being a Unitarian Universalist for all so many reasons. (you know spell check really should learn to recognize Universalism as a religion and stop telling me I’m wrong!)

But this is where I have immigrated, it isn’t where I was raised. That was sweet and wonderful time for me that eventually didn’t hold the meaning I needed. We held my sister’s memorial in the church we grew up in, and it was clear that that may not have been the best choice theologically, although it was an emotional tie. Too long gone. And way too much theological distance between us.

My early tradition taught me to choose Love. And when I did. When I realized that I would have to grow or lose the friends who were discovering or uncovering their sexuality, I chose Love. This may have been my first step into adulthood (the first step out of Eden?). I danced in and out of that garden gate for a while and eventually left.

And now it seems barbaric to waste time, energy and resources fighting about people’s Love (a pastor’s for his congregation, a father’s for his son, a son’s for his husband) and not about real injustice. Jesus never enjoined folk to hate. “Do you love me, feed my children.”

This year more Americans are going to go hungry. It seems people who style themselves as religious ought to be worrying about that.

I’m sorry for my clergy friends in other traditions who are living with these limitations. I pray for your finding your way forward. I’m sorrier for the differently-loving that you are told, over and over again, that your Love is not worthy. Those who tell you that are flat wrong. My prayers are with you all.

And I’m really, really sorry, that too many of today’s mainline churches would rather pick nits than do justice… and in the name of nit-picking commit sad and sorry injustice.