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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  173                       Cumulative Days Blogging: 158

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1149

Mother with Child

I am composing this posting as I sit in the memorial garden at my church on a beautiful sunny Sunday.  I would like to wish my mother (Rose Ann) a wonderful Mother’s Day; she is half the country away but will be spending it with one of my sisters.  As I have recently dealt with the transition of “letting go” of my eldest son as he enters the US Army I have often thought of my mother and the fact that she went through this six times!  I have such a deeper appreciation for what she must have gone through across a span of ten years. Thanks mom… I love you!

As I sit here wrapped in the beauty and inspiration of Mother Nature, I find myself thinking about the universality of the mother archetype.  She shows up in all cultures across all of recorded history.  Yesterday I came across an appropriate Indian saying: “All women in this world are forms of the Goddess.”

Migrant Mother

According to some belief systems motherhood is not the only or most important archetypical phase a women goes through in her lifetime.  Some authors within the Wiccan/Druid systems speak of three distinct female archetypes.  Not all women will experience all three over the course of their lifetime, some choose to halt the progressive unfolding of this archetypical journey, while others are blocked or forbidden to express them by their culture or society.

These are sometimes called the “Triple Goddesses:” 1) The Maiden or Virgin – an independent women who is enticing and filled with energy and passion; 2) The Mother – a women who embodies fertility and growth while displaying tenacity, protectiveness, and resourcefulness; 3) The Crone – the wise old women who embodies independence, resourcefulness, and life knowledge.

Rose Ann from Maiden to Mother

Some women move graciously from one phase to the next, while others struggle to hold back the future (cronyism), to hold onto the past (taking extreme physical measures to retain the Maidens allure), or try to recapture what was lost.  Clearly the society and culture a woman is embedded in can greatly help or hinder these transitions.  The business and marketing world clearly cherishes the young maiden physique which drive huge markets in cosmetics, diets and plastic surgery.  Some religious and political systems over emphasize the Mother phase and do not allow or support women being educated, taking part in decision making or amassing wealth.  I live in South Carolina.  The state has 50 state senators who draft our laws, how many women are part of this powerful body?   None… zero!  Which archetype is neither recognized or cherished “in these parts?”

Many societies create rituals to signify the transition between phases.  Marriage and weddings represent a transition from Maidenhood to Womanhood traditionally with children following close behind.  Traditionally women would give up their employment (independence) to become a full time mother.  It can be argued that menopause represents a physical transition to the Crone stage; sadly most modern societies do not have social rituals to signify this change. Although my partner Susan recently joined her friends at something called “Menopause the Musical!”  Perhaps as the mass of female Baby Boomers reach this phase we will see the development of some recognized transitions. I believe that we should celebrate and embrace all three archetypes.  We should have a Maiden’s Day and a Crones Day, not just Mother’s Day.

Even Avatars had Mothers

However, on this day we should give thanks for the loving and caring qualities of our mothers. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a living mother, making this day a sometimes difficult celebration.  For others it is the joy of being a mother that gives this day meaning and helps them project their future onward towards coming generations.  For others there is the joy of having a trusted intimate relationship with older women who assumes a “mother like” role in our lives.  I suspect that this form of relationship is a fulfilling manifestation of the Crone archetype.  Let us give thanks for all the biological mothers who raised us and for all the various wise old women who have and continue to help us through life!

As I sat in the church garden studying the memorial monument I recognize a number of names one stood out in my memories and warranted recognition on this special day.  I hope you enjoy this poem/musing:

Fern Evelyn Thompson Moss

I stand on flat smooth

   Stepping stones

      In the church memorial garden

I stand at the base

   Of a granite monument

      Baring names of the departed

I smile at the memory

   Of your small stooped stature

      Of your radiant smile

         Of your heartfelt greetings

From 1918 to 2008

   You walked among us

      Spreading joy and comfort

         Living your wisdom

We miss you Fern

You live on

   In our memories

      In a beautiful garden

         In wildflowers and grasses

You live on

   In our unfolding lives

      In the lives of those we touch

We miss you Fern

Don't forget mother nature!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  170                             Cumulative Days Blogging: 155

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                    Total Trip Mileage: 1134

35th Engineer Battalion

Greeting to all my fellow pilgrims!  It is good to finally climb back onto the bike and report to you all what has happened in the past weeks.  I had taken to the roadways and drove to Missouri to attend my eldest son’s graduation from US Army training.  I then shared a day and a half drive with him back to South Carolina.  The trip back was the rainiest stretch of travel I have ever undertaken in my life.  It rained steadily from Memphis to Atlanta, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Mississippi and Alabama impacted by the string of tornados that were figuratively “in our rear view mirror!”

I enjoyed the opportunity to visit an area of the country I had never had the opportunity to see before, the Ozarks.  The tree covered hills, rushing rivers and streams and pastures populated with cows and horses were idyllic.  In many ways it reminded me of the upstate in South Carolina, for I saw a lot of timber haulers, pickup trucks and trailer homes! 

Standing out from the crowd!

I experienced a great deal of pride watching my son’s graduation as he had distinguished himself in his training and received the US Army Engineers Trailblazer Award,  a distinction granted to only about 5% of the recruits.  The award proclaimed: For meritorious achievement as a combat engineer Pvt.  Edwards distinguished himself by exceeding course standards for all combat engineer occupational skills training levels of motivation, discipline, teamwork, and leadership throughout the training cycle, signifying him as one of Charlie Company’s finest.

He now stands tall and proud and is excited about making his way to Fort Lewis Washington where he will be assigned to a specific unit.  The drive to Missouri afforded me an opportunity to reminisce about the joy and sorrows of parenthood and the time I spent with him as he grew up.  I know that this mixture of ups (joys) and downs (stress and sadness) are part of the process of parenting, and a teenager’s need to find their own identity and path in life.  I am excited about the growth he has shown in the military.  I am excited that he will be seeing new places and meeting new people.  These can be valuable transformative experiences.  But I am also apprehensive as I know he will cross paths with problematic people, and be forced to make problematic choices.  He very likely will go to war and be faced with death!  I will save my thoughts on that prospect for another day.  I look forward, with mixed feelings, to his life unfolding and my watching from the sidelines… but I have no other choice!

Ho'oponopono Prayer

The title for today’s posting came from last Sunday’s sermon by the Rev. Pat Jobe.  It is a Hawaiian prayer!  Prayers come in a number of different forms and this one does not fit easily into the standard categories (e.g., Petition, Confession, Adoration, Intercession, Meditation, Thanksgiving, and Consecration).  Given that it does not make any reference to the divine it functions very much like a therapy or self-help device.  It offers a four step process to deal with feelings of sadness and anger at people or events in our lives.  These many represent current situations or feelings we are carrying from our past.  The first step is to declare “I’m sorry,” the second step is to ask “forgive me,” the third step is to declare “thank you,” and the final step is to proclaim “I love you!”  Listening to Pat talk about the prayer and its usage made me realize that I needed to repeat this prayer with respect to both of my sons and my long deceased father.

Proud warriors at ease!

Years ago as I prepared to become a father I remember thinking about my own father, about the pain and sorrow he visited upon his family.  I cursed him for the scars we (his children) carried forward into our futures.  I knew on some level that he carried his own scars, for he was the product of an emotionally distant alcoholic father.  However, the pain was strong and not easily extinguished.  I swore to myself, as I awaited the arrival of my first son that I would not make the mistakes my father made.  I would be emotionally involved and invested in his life at the same time I would let him become who he needed to be!

I am happy to report that I did not make the mistakes my father made!  However, sadly it seems that I made all new ones!  I’ve come to believe that you cannot be a parent, a partner, a teacher or a friend without making what in hindsight can be called, mistakes.  We cannot be “loving caring involved human beings” without some times disappointing or falling short of the hopes and expectations of those we love.  I realize now that my father was just doing the best he could.  I don’t make excuses for his bad choices, but I do forgive him for them.  I thank him for the many gifts he gave me, including an interest in art and nature and my mechanical abilities.  I am sorry for the frustration and sadness I know I visited on his life, especially as a cocky teenager and I do love him and regret that he never saw my successes and his grandsons.

I apologize to my sons, I am sorry for the things I have done that might have hurt or dismayed them.  I ask for their forgiveness.  Even if I knew of all the mistakes I’ve made I could not go back and change them, none of us can, so please forgive me!   I have received so much joy from having them in my life.  I have gained a youthful sense of awe and wonder as I experienced the world through their eyes.  I have sense the possibilities of a future that extends far beyond my own time on this earth.  I love you both and I pray for your safety.  I pray that you have sons and daughters that bring you as much joy and provide you with as many insights as you have brought into my life.  I will love you whether you succeed or fail, I will love you as much when you leave as when you come home.  I will love you where ever you travel, whether I still walk this earth or whether you are on your own.  My thoughts and prayers will always be with you!

I recently posted and old poem I had written about the sadness and regret I felt that my father and I had not talked and shared our thoughts and feelings as adults.  The following represents a follow up to that poem:

Trip Partners

young man

crisp uniform

ribbons and medals

a stoic face

hum of the highway

engine sounds

then he speaks

stories of intelligent actions

in a passionate voice

old man

casusal cloths

joyful smile

pride filled heart

a wish has been granted

a poem fulfilled

father and a son

two men – two voices

on a cross country trip

past troubles and sadness

in the rear view mirror

pushing through the driving rain

ahead of dangerous storms

racing forward

toward blue sky

toward sunlight

toward the future

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Newly minted soldier!

Greetings fellow pilgrims!  I had stepped away from my stationary bike for several days in preparation for a cross country trip that starts this morning.  I will be driving to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri to witness my son Max’s graduation from US Army engineer training.  He will then drive back with me on Friday and Saturday. 

I look forward to seeing him and I am proud of the seriousness with which he has training.  My apprehension is about the likelihood that he will be travelling to Afganistan some time soon.  I will spend my drive today sorting out my thoughts and feelings on the topic.  In the mean time I have reposted my Jan 5th blog which was the day Max left for bootcamp.  I am especially looking forward to my drive home with him, as the second poem notes (below) I never had such an opportunity with my own father.  I will have more to say about the graduation and the trip in the days to come.  Hold us in your prayers!

Jan 5, 2010

 We watched at noon today as my son Max walked to a waiting van. Along with six other young men, they started a journey into manhood as warriors for our nation in a time of war.  He carries on a tradition, from father to son.  My grandfather an Army veteran of WWI sent his oldest son to the Army in WW2. He sent his youngest son, my father, into the Navy to fight in Korea. My father sent his oldest son, yours truly, into the Navy during the Vietnam War.  Now I send my son Max into the Army to likely fight in our latest war. All of the “Edwards boys” came back in one piece; I pray that Max will continue with that tradition! 

  Remembering all who serve!

I searched the internet for a Soldier’s Prayer and found many.  But none that was satisfactory for the feelings of relief, excitement and pride that I feel at this moment.  They use names for God I do not use, and ask for things I would not ask.  So I send my son off with two poems.  Both were written in the past, one a product of my pride at his earlier warrior efforts.  The second written with memories of my father in mind, longing for a dialogue that could never be, a dialogue I hope to someday have with my son. 

  War Games 

  

Warrior on the line!
Waves of geese 

    Pass overhead 

      Squawking in support 

As the ground forces 

   Surge forward 

      Tanks on the line 

   Fleet fast infantry 

      On the corners 

   HQ in the rear 

 The defense 

    Meets them head on 

       With a crash of pads  

          And helmets 

 Generals  

   Shout orders  

       From the sidelines 

JV football practice 

   My eldest son 

      Mans the right side 

         Of the attacking line 

  Handshake and a handoff to the Army!

What I Knew Could Never Be 

 Its taken a quarter 

 Of a lifetime 

 For me to learn  

 How to speak. 

 I was not raised 

To have opinions, 

 I was raised  

 To mouth my father’s words. 

I was raised to act proper 

 To be seen and not heard. 

 Don’t follow the crowd 

Follow me was the message. 

 He prefered to have me 

Be different from my peers? 

 Not to challenge him 

 With my questions of youth? 

 My spirit left home 

 Before my body. 

 It journeyed to the sea, 

 Driven away 

 In search of acceptance 

 And the wonders I knew to be. 

 I saw my father 

Only a few times in adulthood. 

 Superior I was, but sad I felt 

 At what I knew could never be, 

 A dialogue between father and son, 

 Two men, two voices 

Be safe son and know that you are loved! 

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  169                             Cumulative Days Blogging: 154

Today’s Mileage: 5                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 1129

In my most recent blog I spoke about my strong disagreement with a historian’s statement about the future as an “apathetic void of no interest to anyone.”  I highlighted what I believe is the importance of the “here-and-now” and the “possibilities” of the future.  I’ve had a discussion with several people about this point and I wanted to clarify my views a bit further.

Life is a balancing act!

I recognize that our attention can easily be drawn to the past like an intriguing movie or play.  We often know some of the characters by name (i.e.., Generals and Presidents, siblings and parents), we know some of the locations by experience (i.e., battlefields and Capitals, childhood homes) and we often know how the story ends (i.e., who wins the battles and the war, where people are now).  By delving deeper into the story (our shared or individual past) we often discover new scenes, intriguing relationships and hidden plot twists that had escaped our earlier awareness. While the past can offer insights as to how we got to where we are today and at times offer possible solutions to current problems, our decisions have to be imbedded in the present and take into account the forces at play in the here-and-now.

I am always suspicious when people like the Tea Party activists, frame our present problems as identical or closely related to that which occurred hundreds of years ago.  I remember seeing where a local church was advertising that it was “First Century Christianity in the Twenty First Century!”  This appeared to be based on the fact that their “church” had no physical building, but met on a rotating basis in members homes. I see that statement as being nonsensical or at least historically inaccurate.  Who knows for sure what first century Christianity looked like!   It was a product of a time and place that no longer exists.  It represented a new movement (not an established faith or societal institution) pitted against an established institutional religion (paganism) and was being persecuted (not embraced by the society’s leaders) and forced to operate under a cloak of secrecy (the fish symbol and hidden meetings). Whereas now Christianity is an established religion and social institution, it operates in the open, it controls many media mouthpieces and counts a majority of the nation’s leaders among its members.  What this church was offering was a variation of twenty first century Christianity! I also suspect that once their membership grows large enough they too will purchase a church building!  At that time I guess they will need to market themselves as “third century Christianity” or just join the rest of us in the present!

Dwelling on the Past

Small islands of pink granite

Stretch like a chain of pearls

The strand lies broken

Large gaps separate them

Filled with swirling waters

Brown, green and murky

Even the lone goose   

     navigates the eddies with caution

Only a giant or NBA center

     could transverse these stepping stones

Small rock outcroppings

     In the center of the river

Human free sanctuaries

     Sporting clumps of trees and scrubs

Is it wrong to wish

     for the droughts return?

When the main channel was a slow moving stream

     And bridges of stepping stones

     Offered walkways to green islands

     Far from the noisy picnickers

     And their second hand smoke

****

Several month ago I blogged on one aspect of the challenge we face on our spiritual journey.  I quoted an Ani DeFranco’s song: “When I look down I miss the good stuff (scenes about us and on the horizon) and when I look up I just trip over things (obstacles at our feet)”.   I noted that one of the challenges on our journey is find a rhythm and balance between stopping to look up (checking out the road ahead) and then moving a distance while glancing down to watch your footing.  I would like to add our current discussion of the importance of the past to this analogy. 

Some times there are warning signs!

The  challenge is to find a rhythm and balance on your journey through life among three components: First, we must at times stop and look up toward our future path, see our goals, look for forks (decision points) in the road ahead, note if there is a blind turn in the road or signs of adverse weather. If you fail to do this with sufficient frequency or adequate attention to detail you will be “surprised” and “blind sided” by forks in the road, washed out bridges or dangerous and threatening situations that seemingly “just happen.”  Secondly, at times we need to stop and glance over our shoulders into the past, to see if the surrounding scenery looks familiar and ask how our past choices have shaped our current situation, look for reoccurring patterns (like what happened the last time when the fuel light lit up on our dashboard and we ignored it).  While we cannot backtrack and redo an earlier choice we often can make future choices that steer us back toward our stated goals, or we can reevaluate our future goals to match future possibilities. Lastly, we always have to remember to move forward while focusing on life’s moment-to-moment demands on the path about our feet.  Be attentive to the moment-to-moment changes in our relationships, the unexpected delays and detours, the multitude of small seemingly simple choices that occur.  It is not the past or the future that trips us up, it is life unfolding and playing out at our feet, which includes repeating patterns and predictable events and choices!

Some events just feel familiar!

I find it ironic that three days ago there were many people around the world who had plans to travel to and from Europe on vacation and/or business.  Then an event that no one had any control over, the eruption of a volcano hundreds of miles away brought much of the world air traffic to a halt.  This acts as a reminder that the “best laid plans” are just that: “plans”!  Some events (often called acts of God or Nature) just appear with little or no warning… welcome to the balancing act we call life!

Why?

Perhaps I was a bit too hasty

In cursing the high water

On an island well out of reach

A dozen large turtles

Bask in the midday sun

Further down the shoreline

A young man

And his three bikini clad companions

Occupy an island

I watch with amusement

And appreciation

Their slow and noisy

Return to shore

It was a slippery journey

But leaves me with a question

Why do young girls

Scream so much?

****

Water + Sun + Friends = A Basking Moment!

I hope you enjoy the two poems I included today.  They were the product of my river walk that took place several days earlier.  Tomorrow we return to our pilgrimage journey across northern Florida.

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Celebrate Life out of Joy and Gratitude!

Greetings to all my family, students and friends.  Many of you have been asking “what happened to the stationarypilgrim?”  I did disappear from the blogosphere for several days but I am ready to return to our pilgrimage journey.  

I have a job/profession, as a Psychology professor, that involves a great deal of thinking, pondering and speaking.  I strive to “bring together” somewhat abstract ideas with everyday activities, observations and behaviors.  I am known as a “man of many word and stories” and a good teacher, at least that’s what the students say on their evals of me!  I am seldom without some topic to speak about, some insight to share, some observation to make!  However, there are times that I do fall silent! 

I have learned over the years as a teacher, therapist and spiritual seeker that there are times when one’s words and ideas stop flowing or become murky and chaotic.  This often signals the coming of a serious life choice and/or the arrival of a significant insight.  I have been experiencing one of these periods!  

I have also learned that the best thing for me to do is to not force the words, but to just quiet myself and listen!   I listen to the voice from within me, and those from outside (e.g., a sermon, a partner, friends and students, sacred scriptures, secular philosophy, world events) and of course all forms of the voice of nature.  

I am preparing right now to take a hike along a beautiful river on a sunny Spring day, then I will attend church and enjoy the sharing of fellowship before joining a long time friend for lunch and an always stimulating discussion.  Later this evening I will climb back on the bike and share with you more about this period of silence.  Again thank you to all my fellow pilgrims for your concern and  encouragement.  I will leave you with a poem/musing I wrote this morning as I read the paper and fed my caffeine habit at a local eatery! 

Listen: There is always something to hear!

One to Go 

  

Like a parade of classic cars 

they creep past 

wearing gray trim 

   – like me 

thin top covering 

   – like me 

they savor their coffee 

   – like me 

they ponder serious issues 

   – like me 

they seek Sunday morning wisdom 

   – like me 

they open their Bibles 

   the youngest among them 

      leads the prayer 

I close my paper 

   and my notes 

Called to worship 

    by the sun 

        the rushing river 

           the bird calls 

This classic prefers 

    a path less travelled 

        at a creeping pace 

Fifteen for coffee 

   one to go! 

**** 

A new day with promises, opportunities and joys!

Have a wonderful day… embrace, savor and share it with those you meet!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  165                         Cumulative Days Blogging: 150

Today’s Mileage: 5                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1112

As I rode the bike this evening my thoughts drifted to yesterday’s visit to a Christian Easter Day service.  The service was joyful with the reading of scripture and singing, directed by my partner Susan.  The service brought back memories of my childhood and significant church holidays.  The one thing I missed was the sight of children running around the lawn collecting colored eggs!

While I enjoyed the service I also made it a point to take a walk around the church campus before and after the service.  It was a particularly beautiful day and as always nature bombarded me with distractions.  I have decided to share with my readers several poems and musings I wrote before and after the service.

Across the Street

Church lawn:

   Pristine green

   Parallel mower marks

   Edged pathway

   Leads to a

   Tall white building

   Stark wooden cross

   Bares white cloth drapery

   Easter Lilies

   In plastic pails

   Circle the base

       Signs of a Church’s belief in resurrection!

 Across the Street

 Empty house:

   Unkempt lawn

   Mats of dark green clover

   Points of purple and yellow

   Dandelions and wild violets

   Scattered about

   Flowering dogwood

   Twisted wooden fingers

   Bearing pink jewels

   Majestic white irises

   Circle the base

       Signs of Nature’s promise of renewal!

****

Tree Mysticism!

In the Shadow of Giants

 Ancient oaks

Tower overhead

Midriff bulge

Extends its base

Onto the sidewalk

Like a living

Volcanic flow

What was two

Had become one

An extra

Roll of bark

Marks their seam

They are not alone

A vine

With a girth

Similar to my own

Sends tentacles

Like heavily laden

Fire hoses skyward

Braiding with branches

And twin trunks

A small flowering dogwood

At their base

Cannot compete

For size and age

It counters

With its beauty

Living in the shadow of giants

 ****

Natures Gifts!

Holiday Treats

 Forty steps

Along the sidewalk

From the back

Of the church

Before the Easter  

Sunday service

I found green grass

Colorful blossom gifts

On the lawn

All that was missing

Was a basket

And a chocolate bunny

 ****

Gaia!

What was…

 My favorite part

Of the Easter

Church experience

Standing at the base

Of a majestic

Magnolia tree

In the sun

Surrounded by

Spring bird calls

I admired the

Tree’s shade and

Structure

It must have been

Wondrous being a child

Around these trees

They were designed

For climbing and

Hiding in the branches

 ****

Patterns, cycles, beauty!

I hope that you enjoyed my words and caught glimpses of the beauty I find in nature!  My experience yesterday reminded me of the fact that “one size does not fit all.”  While the church was filled with people finding meaning in their sacred scripture and the story of a risen savior, there are others, myself included, who find meaning and guidance in the “voices of nature.”  I do not believe that one path/approach has more “truth or validity” than the other, they represent preferences based on our experiences and history.

After a recent posting concerning the Catholic Church one reader made the comment: “Sorry to hear that you are a former Catholic. Only Catholics that don’t know their faith leave because if you truly knew the faith of your birth you would see that there is no other faith to move to. The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded upon Peter and it has lasted the last 2,000 years. Come home!”

Nature Saints?

I respect this reader’s right to his opinion and recognize his exclusionary beliefs about the Catholic Church.  However, I have found my path and like many others “my home” is within the realm of nature, its symbolism, its cycles, and its beauty!

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  157                          Consecutive Days Blogging: 141

 Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 1069

Huguenot Cross!

We have arrived at Saint Augustine Florida!  As I ride the bike I ponder the question: Where to start?  This is a pilgrimage site rich environment, including historical sites, architectural sites, archeological sites and religious sites!  In addition, as I read up on the history of this area I was astonished at the amount of history to be found at every turn.  Much of the history has significance religious overtones, including religion inspired mass murder!

 However, I have been overly involved in following the Health Care debate that has unfolded today and was unable to stay focused on the blog.  Some days you just need to go with the flow and follow events unfolding around you.  Tomorrow we will visit a Greek Orthodox Shrine, and today I will share two poems I wrote last week.  One was written on my drive home, the other as I waited for my partner at her work place.  I hope you enjoy

 Fish Beware

 traffic jam

at the boat landing

parking lot

full of pickup truck

empty trailers

tool boxes

muddy running boards

Clues

these were not

pleasure craft

These were hunt

and seek vehicles

With silent

trolling engines

Fish Beware

these hunters

do not play fair

With fish finders

and under water

maps

Winged Victory!

School of Music

Waiting

Reclining

On an overstuffed sofa

In the shadow

of an eight foot tall

headless winged statue

flowing robes

Victory

Two busts

On shelves

Above the stairway

Roman emperors

I assume

Floor to ceiling windows

Looking over a grass field

Four students

Toss about a Frisbee

Badly

But its good exercise

A falcon

Turns slow corkscrews

Against

a baby blue backdrop

calipee of sounds

drift down the hallway

from the practice rooms

male and female voices

not in unison

French I think

A piano

Follows its own music

Practicing and repeating

Stanza and reframes

The rhythmic tap

Of heels on tile

Someone approaches

I glance at the young women

Shorts

Shapely  white legs

heavy cowboy boots

she needs some sun

young mother

occupies a distant sofa

her son approaches

the dark shiny giant

grand piano

notes fill the atrium

halting

jarring

chopsticks

played with persistence

the falcon

with slow spirals

holds its position

one of the students

flings the Frisbee

with exaggerated force

it sails out of sight

all four students

follow it

in slow pursuit

older women

hair in a bun

stops at the piano

gives the young boy

a thumbs up

waves of voices

piano notes

cascade down the hallway

something new

joins the mix

a high pitch squawk

not the falcon

my guess

a clarinet

half dozen young women

walk into the atrium

I sit up

They look puzzled

At the old guy

Lounging

In the school of music

I hope you enjoyed the poems and will join me as we visit a pilgrimage site tomorrow!

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding: 147                                      Days Blogged: 131 

New Mileage: 8                                                     Total Trip Mileage: 1023

Bidding Farewell!

As I climbed on the bike this evening I did not have a blog topic in mind.  There are always ongoing world events and articles in the paper with spiritual themes.  Of course I could always return to the scene along the beach as we head up the coast. 

 I am amazed at how often topics appear as I go about my blog business on the internet.  I recently made Facebook friends with a young man from Bali Indonesia.  He is a Bali Hindu and I was intrigued to find that he had photos from a “Royal Bali Cremation Festival.”  This led me to research these festivals and discover some intriguing facts about the Bali Hindu cremation ritual.  It is like nothing I have come across in my studies and explorations. 

Parade of Gift Giver!

It seems that in Bali, like with many Hindu communities, cremation is the preferred form of interning deceased family members.  However, the ceremony appears to be complex and costly, as one source noted a family has to be quite rich to afford the ceremony.  So when someone dies they are temporary buried and then once every 5 years, at celestial auspicious times the departed are dug up, rewrapped and carried to a large communal funeral pyre.  It was noted that as many as 100 individuals may be cremated with each festival.  One author noted: “that strange as it seems, it is their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun! “

Royal Bull and Tower!

A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of a Hindu’s most sacred duty: the ceremonial burning of the corpses of the dead to liberate their souls so that they can thus attain the higher worlds and be free for reincarnation into better beings.  A large and choreographed ceremony is conducted.

First there is a parade of gifts for the families of the deceased.  In turn the family feeds everyone and entertains all with band music.  During this time a large bull statue is constructed out of bamboo and velvet along with a tall bamboo temple.

The bull and the tower are then carried to the cremation site.  The road is washed before them and all are sprinkled with holy water.  The path they travel is uneven causing the carriers to “shake” the bull and tower, as a means to “shake of evil spirits.”  Then the bodies are moved to the site and the cremation takes place.  The next morning the ashes are collected and carried to the ocean where they are cast into the water.

Carrying the Bull!

Several tourist guides noted these ceremonies as “must see” events!  I often tell my students that there is a great deal of variation on the surface or form level of funerals.  Cremations are less common in my culture as are joyful celebrations.  But the functions served by funerals in Bali or the USA are much the same: to bring together family and community, to share the memories of loved ones, and to release the loved one spirit.  It would appear to be similar to what you might find in New Orleans or an Irish wake.  The approach toward the event is one of joyful celebration instead of focusing on the “woe is us, how can we survive without them” attitude.  The focus is on the joy and the memory that they graced their lives.  I like that idea!  I guess I would like to think that when the time comes to have my ashes spread that people will not so much grieve at what is lost, but celebrate the seeds I have planted.  I wrote the following poem a number of years ago after attending a “spreading the ashes” ceremony at my church:

 

 

The Bull Burns!

Recipe for my Burial

Place my ashes

   In a large mixing bowl:

 Add one cup

     Of coffee beans

     Dark and oily

     Heavy with fragrance

          (Bavarian Chocolate would do nicely)

 Add one cup

     Of Flower Petals

     Assorted colors

     Soft hues

          (irises, daylilies, and roses too)

 Add a quarter cup

     Of Wild Flower Seed

          (any assortment will do)

 Add a half cup

     Of my Poetry

     Finely chopped

         (works as an odorless fertilizer)

 Add one pinch

Of Blackboard Chalk

 Add one heaping teaspoon

Of color pencil shavings

Ashes to the Sea!

Stir vigorously

With a wooden spoon.

 Find a sunny spot

     Which is easily seen,

     But not heavily trodden.

Apply mixture liberally

     To the dampened earth.

 Assist the rains

     With frequent watering.

 Think of me

   In every wild flower

      In the scent of coffee,

         In the fragrance of colorful blooms.

 Think of me

   In each poet’s word,

      In each artist’s vision.

 I hope you enjoyed the poem and that you will join me tomorrow as we near St. Augustine and several new pilgrimage sites.

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His shadow is the answer!

Please note that this is my second posting for today.  Please go to the recent posting heading to the right and visit: “Stepping off the Bike and Into the Spiritual Mountains” if you did not read the earlier posting.  It explains where I am at.  The following are the product of a walk I took down and back up “The Mountain.”  I hope you enjoy!

Three Forms

My early morning breath

     Coffee fumes above the cup

Mounds of tainted snow

     Crunches under foot

Tear drops race down stalactites

     Streams trickle in the cracked roadside

Sun and still mountain air

Bring about transformations

The night will stop the process

And hide the dangers of ice

 

Insulation

 

Snow

Covers the landscape

Hides sleeping creatures

Protects the spring seeds

Snow

Covers the landscape

Deadens all sound

Echoes of my footsteps

Do not resonate

Water drops fall

From sun lit leaves

Borrow silently into

The covering

Snow

 

Words

 

Are these poems?

Are these musings?

Are these distractions?

Are these products

       Of an overactive mind?

Are these messages?

Are these reminders?

Are these answers

       To unknown questions?

Are these profound?

Are these wasted ink?

Are these meaningless questions?

Or

Are they simply moments of being?

 

Simple Observation

 

When the sun is up

Shadows are never black

They are always some hue

In later afternoon they are blue

 

Three Quarters of a Mile

 

Winding path

On the mountain side

Slow measured pace

Note pad and pen

Yields five poems

And deposits me at

The Labyrinth’s gate

 

No Cheating

 

Now there is a good sign!

The labyrinth

Covered in a pristine

Blanket of snow

No one cheated

Walking straight

To the stone obelisk

In the center

Spiritual insights

Spiritual wisdom

Must be achieved

By following the process

 

The Labyrinth

 

Wears a pristine

Winter cloak

Hides its rock outline

A cold stone bench

And four capped

Torch lights

The only indication

Of the outer circle

Today’s visit

One of admiration

A visit to the center

Will wait for another time

The forest spirit

Will understand

My respect

For winters work

Renewal is not yet here

Dormancy prevails

 

Wish I had my camera

 

I will have to carry

The image in my mind

Paint it for you with my words

Trust me

For I do not have the verbal hues

Or sufficient techniques

To convey the beauty

Or the serenity of

A rare moment

 

The Car

 

It slows down to pass me

It rocks with youthful energy and song

The chaperone lowers the window

And nodes toward my son

Seated in the back seat

“You owe me!” he exclaims

 

Pilgrim on the Path

 

I was going up

She was coming down

I was visiting

She was leaving work

We both agreed

This is a special place

To live or to visit

 

Always Amazed

 

I’d been too busy

Writing a blog

Watching the kids

And enjoying a nap

To take my usual walk

Down the mountain side

But I found time

As the teens visited town

And nature rewarded me

With a multitude of gifts

If I hadn’t been here

They would have

Just gone to waste

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Days Riding: 141                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 123

Today’s Mileage: 5                                          Total Trip Mileage: 991

As I ride the bike and write today’s blog it’s snowing outside, large white flakes are slowly drifting to the ground.  It paints a beautiful scene, although it is not yet “sticking” it is melting on contact with the ground.

Yesterday I took a walk along a local river, studying the rocks and shoreline clutter.  I shared with you several “poems” I wrote on the walk.  My partner Susan commented on the fact that my words did not meet the classification of poetry as they do not rhyme.  I noted that I sometimes call these pieces my “musings.” It is not in my nature to spend time trying to label or classify my creative efforts.  The important thing to me is the process of being aware, perceptive and receptive to my surroundings.  I attempt to capture these perceptions in words and images as a form of celebration and as a way of leaving “bread crumbs” along the path, perhaps enticing others to follow and explore on their own.

The Spirit Tree!

The snow continues to fall outside my window.  This leads me to ponder the spiritual significance of snow.  I know personally I’ve always found it to have a very calming and tranquil effect on me.  I suspect it’s because the snow covers everything, leaving the landscape smooth and pristine.  In addition, the damping effects of snow seems to not only soften life’s sharp edges, but also it quiets and settles the mind.  Several weeks ago we had a five inch snowfall.  Looking outside, everything had a “Wonderland” appearance.  It covered all the flat surfaces and left faint raised impressions of anything buried beneath it.  Often the identity of the object was a mystery, like looking at a blanket and seeing the “lumps” indicating the present of some mystery object.  Of course, the snow may not produce such a positive and peaceful feeling if you know you are going to have to shovel it!

Water hose under the blanket.

I did an internet search on the “spiritual significance of snow.”  I come up with fewer hits than I had expected.  Many of the references were for people named Snow or the significance of the fairy tale Snow White.  I did find several sites speaking of the meaning of snow from a Jewish perspective. The Rabbi Simon Jacobson noted that water was a symbol of divine knowledge, it’s “falling’ represents the   transmission from the Divine.  He noted that rain represented the “continual flow” from the Divine, which carries the risk of overwhelming the recipients.  Ice, however, as a compact and solid form of water, freezes the “flow” and makes the Divine wisdom easier for humans to comprehend.  Snow, he noted, is in an intermediate transitional state which allows the flow of information to descend so that it will not be overwhelming.  He also noted that snow is special because it contains both water and a “nucleus particle” of Earth that acts as a seed for the ice crystal.  Therefore, snow represents a combination of water and earth; it is half heaven and half earth!

An inviting scene!

 Several internet sites spoke of the Christian perspective on snow.  They noted that the whiteness and freshness of snow symbolizes purity and freedom from sin, and that after repenting for their sins, a person is described as being “white as snow.”  Snow is often associated with heavenly beings who are usually wearing white robes.  It was pointed out that the snowflake with its individual uniqueness is often used as an object lesson for children of the unique nature of each human being who has been created by God.  One author did note that in ancient times being “white as snow” could have dangerous and frightening connotations associated with leprosy.

I reviewed a book entitled: “Everyday Tao,” by Deng Ming-Dao.  His book of Taoist wisdom noted that:  “Water is powerful.  Although it can be soothing, comforting, and cleansing, it can also be enormous, mighty, and overpowering.  Its nature is constant. It is true to itself in any extreme.”  The author also discussed the importance of the color white:  “White is the symbol for purity.  In ceremonies, it is the color of spirituality. Since the ancients taught that we are already pure, they laugh at teachers who advocated penitence and self mortification as spiritual methods.  They said: we are already holy.  Why struggle to become something we already are?”

Buddha wearing winter's finest.

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