Doing What We Can, Where We Can – With Love

I’ve been thinking about this quote for a while, which got me contemplating Sacred Activism….and then I began writing. I do my best figuring out while writing…..

I’m told that planning is underway for another round of protests outside of hospitals.

And I said, when I found out —
that I can’t imagine the moral depravity,
the completely empty space where their hearts must surely be beating.

A friend calls them “COVIDIOTS who live in an alternate reality.”
He says that 87% of the population believe in the vaccines and masks and measures that keep each other safe…
And that society is broken, broken, broken

And I am struck again and again and again
That in this alternate reality where those other 23% live,
That it’s a reality clearly without love.

Because —
If they felt love
If their hearts were whole,
then surely they wouldn’t,
they couldn’t…..

And then I remember about the Universe,
And her calling me to Love,
to love even the Taliban

And, somehow, somehow,
weirdly somehow
The Taliban are easier to Love
because they’re in a far-away land.

Not just down the street from me,
gathering under the windows
of people who are suffering
of people who are dying

Mother of God
Why?

Please tell me why my heart hardens so quickly
Why I’m so quick to judge,
to condemn,
to leap to anger and rage and despair.

And I know the answer,
even as I type the question,
because all of the Mary’s live inside of me.
Live through me

Although,
sometimes,
oftentimes,
many times,
I live in the forgetfulness of my humanity

And I’m quick to swim in the ocean of fear
fed by my own rivers of hopelessness,
My mind running the never-ending film of apocalyptic
horrors

And yet,
and even so,
I know the only way out of this mess
we have created,
is to Love.

Nourish,
Nurture,
Cultivate,
Love

When I want to hate,
When I want to rail against the lies, the injustice, the depravation
When I see grown adults behaving
like bullies in a schoolyard,
chasing, mocking and
coughing in the faces
of those who are masked

When I want to curl up and weep
or
Run outside and rage

God and Her Mother
find a way to remind me,
Always, always, always

To bring me back to Love,
Back to a practice of Loving Kindness,
One deep breath at a time,
One small step at a time,
One small action at a time.

I remind myself that I can
Condemn the Action
AND
Love the Being.

(And if you don’t believe in
God,
If even seeing that word causes you to cringe
As it once did me,
Tied up so tightly in a book I hadn’t read
Painted in patriarchy
Then leave it behind,
and take just the message.)

When I feel the stirrings of unrest in my heart
I ask myself,
What is the most loving action I can take?
How can I love more?

With strength
With compassion
With ferocity

And I write this all
as a reminder to ME,
Fear exists only,
where Love isn’t present

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The Call of The Universe

Forest Night Shot with Many twinkling stars.

The smoke has finally cleared, the air cooled, and the lake is no longer bathwater warm. Finally, once again, I can look up in the night sky and see the stars that call me home. I can see the moon as she rises over the spruce and cedar trees standing sentry by the narrow dirt road.

They are backlit, for a time, my beloved Ladies, those Queens, my Grandmothers in Green, so tall they seem to pierce the blackness, to make the stars with their needle tips.

I can breathe once more now that I can see Beyond. Now that I can trace my way back to the Beginning.

I lie down on the lawn that is more clover and dandelion than grass, and already damp with evening dew. There is no looking up at the stars without first laying my whole body flat onto the earth, as if to reach down and hold tightly the roots of the spruce and cedar trees that surround me. As if to stop myself from flying away.

My sister stands beside me, her neck craned backwards. How do you do that? I wonder, how can you stand there so simply, and not loose your body? Not drift out of your body and float, float, float upwards towards the stars?

And so, I press my hands into the grass and feel the earth under my bare legs. Hold me, Grandmother, hold me, I whisper as I gaze upwards at my home in the sky.

I can hear the Universe calling me, calling me, calling me, and she sometimes scares me with the power of her voice. I can feel the hard boundaries of my body begin to soften, and it’s only when I’m cradled by Mother Earth that I feel safe enough to let go, to surrender to the tension of the pull from above and the pull from below. When I can settle into the Temple of my own Being and let my heart once more become a  receiver. A receiver for the knowing of the Divine Heart.

What shall I know? I ask, What shall I know? For my Highest Good and Well-Being, what shall I know?

Just Love, just Love, just Love, She answers back. Love them all, Love Everything.

Love Everything? Love them all?
ALL of them? I ask,
Even, Even, even…..
Even the Taliban? I ask

Even the Taliban, she answers.

How? How? How, how how? I ask,
How can I love the Taliban?

Ahhh, She says,
Start with the Taliban within you.

Ohhh, ohhh, ohhh, and my heart burns like the wildfires
that burned all around me this summer,
and the Spruce and the Cedar stand sentry,
bowing their branches before me.
Listen, listen listen they whisper,
Listen

Find the Taliban within me
the one who wants
to control, to control, to control,
to judge and diminish

Love even that part of myself.
Forgive even that part of myself.

Let the Earth take that part of myself,
take the shadow and
transmute, transmute, transmute

What is in the One is in the whole

I look up at my Sister Stars and they dance that mystical law alive
drawing gossamer lines of light between them,
until the entire sky becomes a mystical, magical web of interconnection.

What is in the Whole is in the One

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Cheerios From Heaven

My shaman friend Lucy came to me last night
And whispered in my ear,
Mary, it’s always been Mary.

And even though her wild woman hair
Was smoothed down into a 60’s flip,
I knew she spoke the Truth.

And even though I’m not Catholic,
Have never been Catholic,
Can’t even call myself Christian,

I wake in the night with
Ave Maria singing through my soul,
As if She herself woke me.
As if to say, I’m here, always here.

And if that’s not a sign from beyond,
I don’t know what is.

When I was looking for a house to buy,
After the tsunami washed away my old life,
I prayed to my dead father.

And by praying, I meant spoke to him
As if he were sitting at the table,
Right beside me.
As if he were eating a big bowl of cheerios
Just waiting for my questions to come.

Dad, I said, if this house is right for me
Send me a sign,
And make it clear.
No white feathers in this land of seagulls.

I parked in the back,
On the expanse of grease-stained cement
That led from the house
To the lane.

I toured through the house
Where three families once lived.
Are you my home?
I asked the air
Dad? I asked, Dad?

I pushed open the sliding glass door
To the view of the sea,
To the view of the cement parking lot below me.

I toed a quarter on the peeling-paint-balcony.
Not a penny, not a dime.
A hole in a pocket sign.
A fumbling hand sign.

Until one quarter led to another, and another and another
Nickles, dimes, quarters
A pigg-bank pile,
Too many for a pocket to hold.

This is not your house,
My dad said,
This is a money pit.
And he went back to eating Cheerios in the land of Beyond.

Last night I dreamt of my shaman friend Lucy,
Who whispers the truth of Mary in my ear.
And Lucy is my own shaman self
Whispering my own Truth alive.

And Mary is the feminine within all of us.
She is the Wisdom of the Wild Woman.
And that Wild Woman is me,
Dancing Fierce Love alive.

The Fierce Love I need for today
To keep my heart open,
Amidst headline after headline after headline.
And a world that pushes and pushes and pushes
To constrict the Fullness of the Female.
The Female in all of us.

She is the one within me who holds the door open
For those in mourning,
For those grieving,
For those swimming in the sea of loss, of longing, of despair.

Whose doors are shut against the tide of tears,
That threaten, that threaten, that threaten.

She is my father’s breast I can no longer lean against.
She is my father showering coins.
She is the All of We,
The We of Me and the We of You.

She is Seven in front of me,
And Seven behind.

And who am I not to believe
That coins dropped on a rotten balcony
Are not cheerios from Heaven? 

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Raising Dragon Slayers

Loïc was throwing rocks off the dock with two of his uncles, a favourite activity for a five-year old boy, when suddenly he stopped, arms full of newly gathered rocks, and studied the trees standing sentry high on the bank.

“What is that?” He asked, looking westward.

“That’s the sun,” His Uncle Jared responded.

“No, it’s not,” Loïc furrowed his brow. He was five and a half and knew what the sun looked like, and it didn’t look like that strange orange thing glowing through the trees.

Jared reminded him of the wildfires that are burning our part of the world and pointed to the smoky haze that shrouded the lake, and talked of the ash we had just washed off our cars.

We’re well into the fourth wave of Covid, driven by an ever-changing, never-ending virus, and too many unvaccinated people. Loïc has stopped talking about ‘the end of the malady’ and readily slips his mask on over his ears. Rather than a book at Chapters, he instead chose a rainbow-coloured hand-sanitizer to clip to his backpack. This is his normal – we’re raising our children in an apocalyptic world.

A world in crisis
A worldwide reckoning
Long overdue

We don’t push the truth away from our children.

We talk to them about the little pairs of shoes lining the steps of the cenotaph in Hope, where we stopped on our way to the lake. We explain to Hazel why she can’t play with the sparkly unicorn and stuffed bear set amongst them. She takes it in, as much as a four-year old can.

I came across this quote on twitter.

“Never feel sorry for raising dragon slayers in a time where there are actual dragons.”

Dragons that we are growing and feeding –
With our reluctance and refusal to vaccinate.
With our continued use of fossil fuels.

By valuing bigger and better,
And more, more, more
instead of the
trees that are burning and
the ice that is melting.

Instead of the land we walk on and the air we breathe.

And my job is to foster their faith.
To infuse their little hearts with
the belief in the possible and
the love of the unknown


Of the magical mystery,
of the maybes,
of the who knows,
of the what if’s

We need to nurture our Dragon Slayers in the realm of possibilities, where Hope grows in abundance, if they’re to stand a chance against the Darkness we’re leaving behind.

Let them know the horrific truth of the world into which they are born, yes,

But let them also dream of the possibilities of unicorns and faeries and sprites that dance in dimensions simply unseen.

Let them skirt along the edges of the imperceptible
Balance the weight of Truth and Reality
With the infinity of imagination

Who are we to say that unicorns don’t exist, simply because we haven’t seen any?

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Used To Be

**take a hard right at the narrows and go all the way to the end of the arm – there you’ll find Salmon Arm**

“What is ‘used to’..?” my grandson interrupts, strapped in his seat in the back of the car. He’s been listening to my conversation with his mom while we’ve been stuck in traffic heading into town from our place at the lake.

‘Stuck in traffic’ should be an oxymoron, but instead, now defines my hometown. The place I want to get back to, the small town of my youth, of my childhood. The place we moved to when I was eight years old.

A small farming community then, before it became a tourist destination and retirement haven. Before the discovery of the lake and the mountains and the valley that sweeps between, as if God herself tipped over her glass of awe and seeded it with wonder and beauty.

Back then, in the world of ‘used to be’, when summers meant no shoes and living in bathing suits and making horses out of hay bales and then dunking hot, itchy bodies into the slimey coolness of the horse trough, the one the real horses drank from as their tails swished away the ever-present flies.

As we creep along the never-ending road construction, I been point out landmarks that are no longer there. Telling stories about each one as we pass.

That’s where Gruck’s (aka Grandma) gift shop used to be.
That’s where the motel with the bumper boats used to be.
That’s where there used to be a wooden bridge.

“What does ‘used to’ mean?” My grandson asks.

I point down the long road, the one with a traffic light, with the cement plant just past one corner and Dollarama on the other.

“See waaay down that road? Do you see a long white building? That’s a chicken barn, and that’s where I used to live when I was little. Used to means a long time ago. Back in the days of before.

Before yesterday and yesterday and yesterday. Before all of the tomorrows lined up in a row in front of you. Before all of the days, is where Used To lives.”

Back when this was a two-lane road masquerading as the Transcanada Highway, not a four-lane  super-highway-wannabe, Used-To-Be was quietly growing inside of me.  It lives In the Land of Before.

 I tell Loïc, “Used To Be lives inside of me, like you live inside of me when you’re not with me.”

“I used to be four years old,” Loic intones seriously, “Now I’m five years old.”

“That’s right.”

“Five and a half,” he corrects himself.

“And before that you were three years old” —

“And before that I was two years old,” he takes over. “And one years old!”

“That’s right – all the used to be you’s.”

He returns his attention out the window, smiling with his new knowing.

I have a friend who paints galaxies we’ve never seen. Planets and stars with streaks of energy pulsating through them. Deep blues and purples and greens. Sparks of white. He wakes in the night with visions of where he’s been and births a world onto canvases.

He thrums with the awakening of lifetimes of Used To Be’s.

Of the births of stars
Of the journey of souls.

Used-to-be is a place that lives inside all of us.

As we walk towards our tomorrows we carry our yesterdays with us.
The coalescence of all that was and all that will be.

Where all of our hometowns live.

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Matriarch

I look at my hands as they type these words and I see my mother’s hands. Same with my feet, I have my mother’s feet, and for that I’m thankful. They are strong and healthy, with straight toes and not a bunion or corn in sight. They are summer feet, in that they look good bare and in strappy, barely-there sandals.

My mom starts wearing her sandals as soon as the snow leaves the ground, and by the time July rolls around the sun has already tanned her feet a dark brown. She carries the tattooed memory of her sandals long into the dark winter months.

She grew up on a farm in northern Alberta, the daughter of two home-steading pioneers – a school-teacher and a champion oat-grower.  I grew up hearing the stories she told of her childhood, until they became mythical, my mind filling in the pictures to go with the words of her life.

 Of how she could walk along the barbed-wire fence, barefoot, arms out-stretched, balancing along the sharp-edged tightrope.

Of how she and her best friend, Elisabeth, rode Dinah along the narrow country lane to their piano lessons each week. Doubling bareback, Elisabeth’s arms threading around my mom’s waist, they’d yell a warning as they approached a corner, “Two girls on a white horse!”

Of summers spent swimming in the river, of boxed lunches at church socials, of everyone drinking out of the same bucket of water at school and using the same metal scoop and no one got sick.

Story after story after story, until her father died suddenly from a heart attack when she was fourteen-years old. The same time her older brother left home to go to college.

Then, suddenly, it was just the two of them living in the city of Grande Prairie, my mother and her own, schoolteacher, widowed mother. The beloved farm sold, the equipment auctioned off.

A heroine’s journey begun at the transection of teenage angst and the grief of loss.

Today that fourteen-year-old girl turned 83 years old. On a wall in her den hangs five large photographs, one for each of her five children on the day they married. The grooms in suits and the brides in various styles of wedding dresses. I’m the one wearing my mother’s wedding dress – the one she designed and wore when she married my father when she was eighteen and he was twenty-one.

On a narrow shelf under the tableau of photos, is a train of smaller pictures of her thirteen grandchildren, the youngest one fourteen-years old.

In the living room is the ever-evolving arrangement of her growing brood of seven (so far) great-grandchildren.

Her most prized accomplishments are the branches of her family tree, the ones growing from the roots and trunk of her own DNA.

My mother is adopted, and that single fact has informed her life perhaps more than any other. More than anyone who wasn’t adopted can imagine or fathom. More than I knew growing up.

My mother grew up surrounded by love, and at the same time, she grew up with the wound that adoption unintentionally inflicts. Of abandonment, and shame, and guilt, and secrets, secrets, secrets.

At 83years old, she knows she can carry both at the same time – Love and Loss. One does not negate the other, but Love can ease and soothe and help carry the weight of Loss.

Which brings me back to my mother’s feet. And my own.

I look at her strong feet and think of the millions of steps they have taken. The worlds they have walked through, the babies they have carried, the work they have done.

The imprint of love they have left behind.

I look at my feet and see her feet. I walk in the wisdom of her footsteps.

Happy Birthday Mom.

The Matriarch of our family.

Want to know where I got my writing gene?…My mom wrote a memoir called The Book of Mom

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Moment by Moment – Choose Love

I’m sitting here with my old dog curled up on a shaggy blue blanket beside me. She smells sour and the bones protrude along her spine as I run my hand softly down her small back. She’s fifteen years old and oftentimes forgets what she’s doing or where she’s going.

I find her standing as still as a statue in the middle of the kitchen floor, head slumped forward slightly, tail hanging down, as if her batteries simply ran out. I call out to her, forgetting that she can no longer really hear my voice, and so I walk around to the front of her, and lower myself into her field of diminishing vision. Suddenly she’s alive once more, licking my fingers or my feet and I pick her up and lay her back on the couch, tucking her blanket around her.

This pandemic has brought many changes to so many of us, to all of us. Bailey began the Pandemic fooling people into thinking she was still a puppy with her sprightly step and bright spark of a spirit. I look at her and can’t help but think she’s showing me how I so often feel these days – dragged down, unsure of where I’m going or what I’m doing, my days often filled with aimless wandering and standing still, forgetting, not hearing or seeing the world around me.

Unconscious fear can do that to me. Wrap blinkers around my eyes, muffle my ears, armour my heart.

One day, when we will once again, step outside our homes without fear, without anxiety, without unconsciously fingering our masks, checking that we have our hand sanitizer with us. Will the sun be shining on that day? Will it be raining? Will we all run out into the streets, dazed to see each other’s smiles?

Or will we simply be dazed. Unsure of our footing. Will we walk with unease into this new, open world where we can once again, inhale each other’s exhale? What will that feel like?

I remind myself that I don’t need to wait for a new world, that the world is already new. Is actually renewing itself moment by moment by moment.

I remind myself that I can choose how I walk out into the world – moment by moment by moment.

 I can choose how I greet each moment offered to me.

I can choose to walk with Love, to bring my fear close to me, to hug it gently and say,

“Yes, you too, fear, you can come with me in Love.”

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Self Portrait – I AM

When I was eight or
maybe nine years old,
I locked myself inside the bathroom
and climbed up onto the closed toilet seat.
Kneeling to face the mirror that hung above it,
I braced my hands against the top of the tank.

Closer and closer and closer
I leaned
Closer and closer and closer
Until my nose was almost touching the glass
and then I stared,
unflinching,
at the reflection that I had not yet learned to avoid.

There I stayed.
Small girl,
knobby knees,
With eyes opened wide

Staring, staring, staring
unblinking,
Into the mirror of the Universe

Breathing, breathing, breathing
Long, slow, breaths,
Wide eyes staring into wide eyes

Until I felt myself, not so much sink
As expand into, exhale into
The world inside those eyes

No longer was I kneeling
on the white toilet seat,
No longer was I feeling
the clammy cold
against the palms of my hands
No longer was I in my body

Instead,
I was floating inside the mirror
Instead,
I was transported through the portal
into the great beyond
Instead,
I was untethered, unattached, unlabeled, unnamed

At once I could feel the immenseness,
the enormity of I AM —
the ME of I AM
the WHO of I AM
the WHAT of I AM
the WHERE of I AM

I was the Universe
I was all things
I was the ether that surrounds all things
I was the space around the galaxies
I was the galaxy

And then, and then, and then
And then, at once,
I was the smallest, tiniest, teeniest speck
crawling on the ground.
Tinier than the tiniest ant
I was a dot, a grain of sand
Smaller, smaller, smaller

I could vacillate between the two at will
with just the flick of a thought switch
flick, flick, flick

I was the Space that contains all,
I was the microscopic particle –
I was both at the same time
flick, flick, flick

This thrilled me
and terrified me
and I understood something then,
kneeling on that closed toilet seat


I understood then,
That I was both all-powerful
and insignificant.
I was the wheel and the cog
Both were true
Both truths were alive within me

Somewhere along the way I stopped looking in the mirror
and believed the labels I stuck to my lapel,
applied to my body, shrouded my soul.

I forgot about the Universe held within the mirror, within me.
Instead, instead, instead
I became a reflection of expectations,
of assumptions,
of the inference of others.

Until –
One grey day at a meditation retreat
after the tsunami swept me away.
My son whispered into my ear,
Who are you?
Who are you?
Who are you?

I am mother, I whispered back,
I am sister
I am daughter
I am dancer
I am actor
I am writer
I am lost
I am broken
I am betrayed
I am no longer
I am All and I am None of the above

I am the mother-map on my body
I am the body of my soul
I am a coalescence of all that I have ever lived –
Lifetime after lifetime after lifetime.

I am the hand on my children’s fevered brow
I am the hand that brushed them aside
I am the voice that sang them to sleep
I am the voice raised in anger,
in impatience, and in frustration
I am the timbre of my motherhood,
raised by my children.

I am the sticky residue of left-behind labels
I am a pilgrimage to a holy place deep inside my soul
I am a sacred crystal palace

I am the one who Wonders and the one who Witnesses –
When the sediment of my separate Selves
have settled into the muck and the murk –
I am what is left.

We are all facets of each other
Unending, never-ending, vibrating prisms
All parts of a whole,
shimmering into being
Powered by moonlight and sunlight.
Slipping sometimes into shadow,
waiting to reveal the rainbow we all hold
The broken mirror reflections
of the Universe we all are

I am you, I am you, I am you.
I am
We are
Love


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Falling In Love…With a Place

Brazil was never on my radar. There was no longing or yearning to visit South America. It wasn’t like that at all. It’s like my soul was asleep, or maybe She wanted the element of surprise to awaken me to something I had long forgotten.

There was a niggling. A faint, little tickle. Maybe that’s what a soul’s longing feels like sometimes, a little tickle.

I remember writing an email to my friend Kathryn, sending her a link to the meditation retreat.

“I think I want to go here,” I wrote.

Not half an hour passed and I got an email back. She had already contacted the organizer, indicated our intention, and saved us two spots on the next trip.

Four months later, we flew 36 hours on four different flights and landed in Manaus in the darkness of the early morning. We drove through a mystery, peering into blackness in a land we had never even imagined. It was like we were living in an alternate reality, one where we were adventurous, where we hadn’t both married too young and stayed married too long.

Our bodies felt a quickening, an awakening to the possibilities. In the morning we took pictures of each other dipping our toes into the Amazon River.

Two weeks of touring, of discovering who we were without the name tags of mother/wife/divorced. We hiked through the jungle, swam in the Rio Negro, draped a python around our necks. Here, we were those kind of women.

When, at last, we landed in our intended destination – the place that originally called to us, it was like coming home – when I had no idea I had never been home in the first place.

It was peace, a welcoming back, a gathering back together. The umbilical cord of my soul joined to this place, the avatar of my being orchestrating from above, from beyond, from within.

Here. here, here. Here is where I am meant to be.
Here is home.. Here I can breath deeply.
Here, here, here, I can exhale. Exhale fully.

What if falling in love is like that?

In the safety of the exhale.
In the slowing of the heartbeat,
Like slipping in sideways into the softness of the air, in the languidness of the heat.

What if falling in love is like coming home?

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Star Seed of Me

When I look up at the night sky, I can sometimes see where I am from. I can see the light of me twinkling just beyond the tip of the great spruce tree growing in the corner of the neighbour’s yard. Star-seed, that I am.

Once upon a mystery, in a time long ago and far away, the leathered hands of a potter centred a mound of golden clay on his spinning wheel. As dragonflies dipped along the surface of the slow moving river, he shaped me into being, then placed me carefully on his highest shelf and covered me with a cloth dampened with love.

My sacred contract was infused into my being by the dance of the dragonflies. Kneaded into the clay of my existence by the old potter’s hands.

A knowing, a thrumming of the truth.

Abandonment.

I once thought I was a born a Princess, waiting to be reclaimed.

My mother was adopted. Her only sibling was adopted. My father’s only sibling was adopted. My father was raised by his grandparents. My grandmother’s mother died when she was twelve, and she was recast as Cinderella when her father remarried. Then she was cast aside and given to her aunt and uncle to finish raising.

No one lived with who birthed them.

I was an abandoned Princess who grew into a Goddess. What happened in between was the firing of the golden clay. Life is the fire in the kiln – sometimes the fires burn too hot and we may shatter. But, oh!… the burnished beauty of healing.

The art of Kinstugi, painting and marking and honouring the strength of our scars and imperfections.

What I know to be true is all of the above.

I came into this world, this existence, this incarnation to heal a long, winding, ancestral wound of abandonment. My mother, by her father’s death. My father, who left us when I was fourteen. My husband who betrayed me. One after the other after the other, after the other.

It stops with me.

It was written in the stars, in the star seed of me. The breath of forgiveness….

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