Connor

She took one sip, or maybe it was two sips, before it dawned on her to look at the glass of warm Pepsi she picked up just seconds before.

It was a plastic tumbler, not glass. And it was stamped with pastel blue and green, pink and yellow kittens playing with fuzzy yarn balls. Long strings unraveled into a big knotty pile circling around the bottom of the glass.

She shook her head in disgust knowing it was meant to be cute. In her eyes it was sentimental tripe. All those little balls of fluffy fur rolling on their backs or laying on their sides balancing the rounds in their paws or batting them away.

But the ends all met in a big ratty pile at the bottom, just like her life. A big ratty pile of shredded yarn covered in drool.

“Well done.” Connor congratulated herself. “Well done, like a piece of tough beef, your life and your heart.”

Connor was born Constance.

She was Connie when she was young. By the time she was a senior in high school, she was tired of the way Connie sounded. Like some sweet thing from a cornfield in Kansas milking cows and baking bread all day long pining for her man to come home.

She tried using her middle name from her grandmothers, both of them. Florence was on her dad’s side, Julia on her mom’s. Neither fit.

She kept Constance for a short while after she told her parents she wasn’t going to college. They told her it was college or the road. She chose the road.

Her first stop was Grams. Julia let her stay the first summer while she made a plan. Constance was good at devising plans and carrying them out. The trouble was it never fit in with other people’s plans. She was always doing it at the wrong time or in the wrong place or for the wrong reason, in her parents’ eyes. Although that wasn’t a hard task to accomplish. Constance knew that Grams Julia would give her the space and time she needed to make a new plan.

It was the first Sunday at Julia’s Constance remembered as she rolled the kitty glass in her hand. Hot and muggy. It was after church and lunch with the neighbors. It was quiet. All the stores were closed. Most people were sitting on their porches “wasting time watching the flies” as Julia would say.

Constance stretched out on the couch looking up at the ceiling trying to connect the little star patterns sparkling in the afternoon sun. It was a new decorating fad her mother loved. White plaster with glitter in it rolled into the ceiling with a special kind of paint roller.

Constance’s parents took it upon themselves to update Grandma Julia’s house. They did that kind of thing. They always thought they knew what other people needed. They also covered the creaky wood floors with thick carpet so it would be warmer in the winter for Julia. They removed all the glass doorknobs and “updated” them with shiny “gold-tone” ones. Constance thought that her dad probably was able to get a good price for the glass knobs at his cubical in the Antique Mall, his weekend hobby. Julia agreed and they both laughed. She told Constance that she should deduct it from her son-in-law’s inheritance. They both laughed. But Julia never complained to them.

Later, after all the work was done and her parents were quite pleased with themselves, Julia let Constance in on a secret.

“You pick your battles.” It was something Constance immediately understood and never forgot.

Constance’s eyes were getting blurry from starring into the white while the ham and scalloped potatoes were being properly digested. As her lids started to shut down for a glorious afternoon nap, Julia slapped a book onto her stomach.

“Here. Make good use of your time. You’re only staying for the summer. I’m counting down.” And Grams Julia left the room.

Constance stared at the book slowly rising up and down on her stomach. This was not a battle she was going to fight.

Flannery O’Connor. A Book of Short Stories.

From that moment on, she was known as Connor.

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Author’s Note:

Today at sunday Afternoon Writers at A Church of the Holy Family we gathered together for a prompt that led us in many directions.

We used Take Ten for Writing by Bonnie Neubauer. The prompt had us choose a word we liked least from a list of paired words. Mine were:

plastic (glass)
cats (dogs)
Pepsi (Coke)
Jump Right in (Baby Steps)
well-done (rare)
carpet (wooden)

Then we choose a number from one to ten and used the story starter that fell at that number. Mine was: She took one sip, or maybe it was two sips, before…

Instead of writing for ten minutes, we write for thirty and shared.

I hope to convince the others to share their pieces here, too, one day! Just a nudge right now.

Light Electric

I smell fall in
the rain tonight,
not bright and green,
crisp in spring’s newness
but a little musty,
a gentle touch layered
in seasoned experience.

I think of your smile
not a youthful grin
drunk on life
but a perfected bow
knowing its pleasure
patient in experience

As clouds relinquish
the first lightning on this
passing autumnal equinox,
so I surrender myself to You
ablaze, alive in Light Electric.

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Author’s Note:

This evening of the passing of the autumnal equinox it rained and a rainbow appeared. Later the sky glowed electric with lightning bolts in the distance.

My friend Kathie Kelly, my meditation satsang buddy at A Church of The Holy Family, challenged me to write a poem. I began this poem last evening and tonight’s light show helped me complete it. My apologies to Whitman.

Spiraled Crooks

Shake off embroidered
robes disguising your shape.
Peel away the gilt blinding sight.
Melt golden goblets too
precious for fingerprints.

Let fall cathedral headdress.
Silence inflated ritual.
Disentangle the ruling class.
May dogma of the martinet decay.
Our Holy One has gone missing.

Our Love has been bricked
over in a wall of self-indulgence,
a show of pomp and honors,
power swelling.

But my soul yearns to rest in the
arms of my Beloved not covered
in brocade but unadorned,
incarnate and gentle.

My soul sings with a Tender
Voice sighing in my joy,
whispering my name in dark
of night, holding me safe.

My souls walks with the One
who stays by my side not
altared on fussy chairs wielding
spiraled crooks, untouchable.

It is in simplicity I want to
dwell with my God, not
prostrate in submission
but surrendered in ecstasy.

I cannot find your heart when
it is so deeply disguised, florid
in its covering, raised so far
above me I am not to touch you.

It is not a ring I need to kiss
on a hand offered in dominion,
but a soft cheek that knows
my tears and sorrow.

He came to be fully human
just like us, not a maker of
rules, a tribune robed and
ornamented in anything but
genuine Light.

Let the grand facade of god
fall away. Pause in Grace, the
only embellishment necessary.

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Author’s Note:

When I left the Roman Catholic Church, I didn’t realize all of what I wanted to leave behind. I can no longer accept the pomp. Not the ritual, but the glossy, overindulgent showiness of wealth and power.

I have come to a time in my journey where I now want a simple way of church. But it’s more than just simple, it’s a move to authenticity. Real. Not one of boastfulness. I love the Mass and the consecration of the Eucharist, but it doesn’t need a lot of “stuff” surrounding it.

I long to see our clergy in simple dress, closer to regular clothes with just an elegant and simple statement of some piece of something to recognize their light that shines a bit differently with wisdom than mine. That is respect.

On the other hand, I long to see the gold cups and the fancy robes over more robes and belts and stoles thickly embroidered and hats that look like something at a fancy KKK ball, gone from site. Surrendered so that the chasm between clergy, especially the higher-ups, and us is leveled.

He did not come to make classes of religious worshipers. He came as you and me and lived as a real person with real feelings and emotions and fears. He wanted us to know that if he could do what Our God asked him to do as a real human, then we could also. Dividing us into classes of worshipers was not on His agenda.

O

What is this I see tonight in your Old Moon face,
not the sly wink of witnessing what we’re about.

It’s not your Familiar Beam taking note of a stolen
kiss behind the bleachers or the All Knowing Moon’s

affirming nod to the perfect pairing of two lovers.
Tonight I see, Harvest Moon, you are a Keening Moon.

How is it that I never noticed your O shaped mouth
before, a copycat round to your hanging frame in the

indigo sky. Oh, Sorrowing Moon, your O lament
surrounds me. I watch a thin grey silk sweep across

your moaning face unable to brush away sadness
falling from your mouth, wipe away heartache

dripping down upon us on this night of praise. I
cannot polish away your pain, wipe it clean with

a thin grey silk no more than clouds can change
Moon’s visage. I want my O arms to gather you near

me, unfurl the scarf from my shoulders, wrap you
inside to rest until laughter encircles you once more
under a May Bright Moon.

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Author’s Note:

Tonight was filled with sadness. Lots of pain shared. Lots of prayers requested.

Driving home I noticed the moon’s face. I always see two eyes, a mushed nose, and a mouth. It was tonight that I noticed the mouth was shaped not like a smile but someone keening, moaning, lamenting. Has it always been that way?

Selkie

She was vulnerable when she took off images
her coat to dance in the midnight sand.
Man and woman delighted in one another
till the sun beckoned them home once again.

Weary in her revelry she slept through
the exodus, her selkie coat well hidden above
in a shield of long straw shadowing the sun
keeping her safe, well protected from love.

She was faithful where she was led, not her
choice to be, a new place and way to serve.
She was true and devoted to word, spirit, creed,
even though she ached deeply for another.

She longed for water without knowing why
yet steadfast in her journey well run.
One day making bread, her food for the living,
from above selkie hide came undone.

A single drop, only one, oil glistened a call
to return to the shore of her yearning.
Her long slender finger lifted oil to her lips,
a recollection, a scent still languishing.

This woman of fidelity finally tasted and smelled,
remembered the raw deep sea of her beginning.
She walked to the sand without a look back and
slipped into her soul wild.

I am that woman of faith on my journey
from a life safely thatched and shielded.
I am grateful for Your grace, drop of oil,
passion in me, anointing a new life wild.

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Author’s Note:

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a retreat, Heartbeat of the Beloved: Exploring the Beauty and Power of Celtic Spirituality, by Stefan Andre Waligur, Marcy Baruch, and Steve Bross.

We sang, chanted, drummed, heard stories, and broke bread together. It was an amazing time getting to know a group of strangers pulled in by the same Spirit.

Stefan told a story of the selkies of Irish lore. And although his point for telling the story may be a bit different from what I gleaned, it was a powerfully moving story for my faith journey.

They Would Think Me Crazy

I forgot my age the other day as I
crossed the playground on my way
to class. No one was looking. The wooden
frame edging around, gravel filled, called
out to me as it had long ago.

I stepped onto its narrow ledge
one foot in front of the other.
I traced its trail around to the end,
back to the very beginning.

I didn’t fall, although my arms
shot out in preparation for flight
when my confidence waned for
a moment or two. No one was watching
under the grey day sky. Good thing,
I thought. They would think me crazy.

There was enough newly formed spirit
in me to give a little leap as I left the
timeworn timber. I was pleased no twists or
breaks occurred . Why did I ever worry?

I spent my youth meticulously walking
around and round on a splintery ledge
afraid of a plunge onto the rough blacktop,
scrapping my knee at the very least,
being broken to pieces at the worst.
I stayed the course much to long
unable to discern a safe way away.

In all those years, I never fell. I held on
tight. Refused to change. Resolute not to
let go. But as I grew old the game lost its
fancy. Rigid rule could no longer contain me.

Green verdant grass, sweet scented
breath, pure cool water invited me near.
I simply stepped off the black-and-white
merry-go-round, leaving behind counterfeit
passion.  I didn’t break. Only the bind of
false words, misleading tongues, spilt
onto the viscous hot tar.

I trusted the light down deep inside,
an infinitesimal whisper, just go.
I honored myself and the voice I knew not
and left without a blueprint in hand.

I walk a new path, one not yet forged. I
make a new way with Him. You walk along side
me, not above or below, but as one and
His beloved. Why did I ever worry?

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Author’s Note:

A new blueprint in hand.

Only one rule: Love.

 

 

John 14:15-20

The Message (MSG)

The Spirit of Truth

15-17 “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

18-20 “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.

Rare Offering

On the table sits a weathered bowl,
chipped with cracks not so deep it shatters
but lets one know of its fragility,
and, yet, a reminder of eternal refuge

Colors composed with discerning eye,
correct dimensions shaped by a perfect hand
sized to hold the right amount,
a comfortable fit

Inside, cupped in this gentle round,
royal grapes, sensuous pears,
tart apples, honeyed sweet peaches,
a legacy of spirit endowed

Present.
Ripe and luscious, each a rare offering
and inside a seed lingers, silent
waiting for the light

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Author’s Note:

What continues to amaze me about all traditions of faith is what we have in common.

In my journey these past two years, shedding the shackles of the Roman Catholic Church, being given the freedom to embrace what has always been inside of me but afraid to acknowledge in fear of…well, I don’t know what, looking to other faith traditions and embracing what they have to offer, I feel a grand freedom and rollick in the wonder of the beauty of our souls, the gift we have been given. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

Thank you to those who are walking with me. I am so very grateful.

For today’s light, I honor Fr. Scott Jenkins at A Church of the Holy Family, ECC in Aurora, CO for his guidance and wisdom as we study the Gospel of John.  It continues to present itself to me at every turn, every day.

John 1:9
The Message (MSG)

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.

Also, Mother Kedda Keough from Emmaus Catholic Community in Olympia, WA for sharing this video, Quakers and the Light, on her Facebook Page.

Art thou in darkness? Mind it not, for if thou dost it will feed thee more. But stand still, and act not, and wait in patience, till Light arises out of Darkness and leads thee.

James Naylor (1659)

And, of course, to Reverend Kathleen Gorman and the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation and my weekly satsang as follow Eknath Easwaran and Passage Mediation.

If you go on working with the light available, you will meet your Master, as he himself will be seeking you.

– Ramana Maharshi