Cloud Eyes

Cloud Eyes

Depression falls around me.
A streaming cascade of gray droplets clouding my eyes.

How will the mist rise
                                up
from the valley of hardship
and wisdom?

Clouds hide behind white orbs
and green crysalides.
My eyes
      wait
for wings of spirit
to fly
with clear sight
of heaven and earth.

Cataracts,
Surgery,
the Doctor says.
Thick black glasses
                    perching
on his white hawk nose.
Thin black pen
                    opinionating
on the white chart paper.
Slim black hand
                    ticking
on the white clock. read more

Victims, and Victory Through Perception

Victims, and Victory Through Perception

The snow falls around me,
snowflakes kissing my lashes,
tickling my nose.

I stick out my tongue
to taste the cool wetness on my lips,
and I remember the taste of peppermint
in the candy cane hot chocolate
of childhood winters.

I scoop a wet snowball
in my softly-mittened hands,
as the fast-falling flakes
circle my warm jacket
in an intimate embrace
of white.

I meditate on the moment,
knowing that, for this fleeting gesture,
this silent tick on the forward march of time,
I am at peace.

###

The snow falls around me
in a dizzying blaze of white arrows.
Sharp icicle darts,
are thrown from gray clouds
with angry, thunderous faces.

I duck my face
and cover my head against the storm.
Ice stings my eyes
as blood pounds against my reddened cheeks.

I shiver and curse the wind
that blazes through my coat and scarf,
to wraps its icy fingers around my veins.

Time ticks forward one more agonizing second,
and I wonder if I can last.
I rush forward,
blindly seeking a warm shelter,
a comforting friend,
in the frigid storm of white.

###

Victims, and Victory through Perception

This is my second Minnesota winter. I am still amazed by the vast amount of snow that falls here during the long, frigid winter months. As I watch the snow falling yet again, I am struck by the power of my thoughts.

To illustrate my point, I wrote two poems about the snow. The first is full of joy and wonder at the delights of winter; the second is full of agony and fear in the face of a winter storm. The snow remains the same, but the experiences and thoughts of the onlooker change.

Psychologists often say that your perception is your reality, and I believe this is true, for the most part. Now, some people take it so far as to say there is no such thing as a victim, there is only a “victim mentality.” I vehemently disagree with this; as long as evil exists in the world and people choose to commit evil acts, then there will be victims of the evil. I also don’t particularly like the teachings of the “The Secret.” I don’t believe that a vision board and simply thinking positive thoughts will always bring us prosperity, wealth, and happiness. YHWH, the Divine, is more interested in your spiritual prosperity, and sometimes that involves molding through the fire.

Still, when we find ourselves to be a victim of another, or of our circumstances, or even simply in pain from life’s many storms, we do have a choice how we frame the challenge in our mind. Please do not deny the pain; you must feel your emotions and listen to your heart, your inner voice, all the time. When this voice is a hurt and crying child, listen with patience and nurturing. Feel the pain, acknowledge the pain, and love yourself.

At the same time, try not to stay in the pain. With gentle words and slow, healing touches, coax that little child out to once again face the world. Re-frame the evil events in your life, the times you were victimized, and turn them into a positive. Meditate through the pain, dance over the injury, and come out victorious.

When the storm clouds gather, and the snow falls out of your sky, can you find the courage to somehow change the white daggers piercing your heart into gentle flakes kissing your eyelashes?

Peace, love, and healing, my friends.

Photo used freely, courtesy of ak-girl on stock.xchng

Running Shoe

 

Photo used under creative commons license by Sharon Drummond on flickr.com
Photo used under creative commons license by Sharon Drummond on flickr.com

This is a story that I created for a writing class that I am taking. The teacher challenged us to use a shoe as metaphor, and this is my response. Several years ago, when I was a music student in graduate school, a marathon runner, and a wounded soul just beginning to discover my path of healing, I experienced a brutal ankle injury. Here is my memory of that time.

***

The shoe sits by my door, new dust of neglect mixing with the old dust of races won and lost. The shoe looks lonely, like a puppy waiting by the door, leash in mouth, looking for her owner to come home for a walk. But the outing will have to wait for a brighter day.

Months earlier, I had sat on the edge of the doctor’s table. “Take off your shoes, please,” he mumbled as he stared at the X-ray. “Well, there’s nothing broken, but you will have to lay off running for a while.” He took my bare foot in his hand and gently flexed my ankle. “Does that hurt?”

Does that hurt? I wanted to scream at him. If it didn’t hurt, why would I be here? Please, fix it now. I have a race this weekend, and then in two weeks, the big one. The marathon. I have trained all year for this race. Eight miles a day. Twenty-mile-plus runs on the weekend. Does that hurt? Yeah, but the pain is good, right? Just breathe, Amy. Just breathe.

I stared at the doctor. He picked up my shoe and studied the bottom, looking for some clue in the wear pattern. Was there something wrong with my gait? Maybe a pebble had gotten lodged in some deep crevice, making me limp, ever so slightly, changing the balance.

Balance.

New Balance.

That was the name of this pair of shoes. Ironic. My life seems so out of balance right now. There is so much pressure in grad school. Perform, perform, perform. Audition next week. Get those études perfect. Come on, I expected more out of you. You call that music?

Running is my escape. I lace up my shoes and let them take me deep into the woods, and I meditate to the rhythm of my shoes on the path and the trees whispering around me.

But now the shoes and the trees are silent. I only hear the ticking clock in the doctor’s office. He has left the room to go talk to someone. He comes back with a prescription for pain medicine  and physical therapy. He looks at me sternly. “Take it easy. Keep your weight off that ankle as much as possible and DO NOT run.” I nod my head and get up to leave. I see compassion in his gaze as he watches me, and I think I hear him whisper, “I know how it is. I miss my shoes, too.”

I cannot stay away. I load up on pain drugs, and I hobble to the race. The physical pain in my ankle is nothing compared to the emotional pain that I can beat away on the pavement. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe I can erase the pain of my past and all the abuse and hurtful words by running them into the ground. My running shoes are an escape valve for my exploding heart. I am excited by the cheers of the race-day crowd, and I breathe deeply of the brisk autumn air tickling the red and gold leaves on the trees. I am propelled forward by a physical high, my body responding to injury upon injury by supplying an extraordinary, primal adrenaline rush. I finish the race with a new personal best time.

Then I collapse in the first aid tent, pain coursing through my foot like a hammer crushing through my dreams.

A friend takes me back to the doctor. I have to trade my shoe for a walking cast and crutches. The doctor looks at the pain in my eyes, and he holds back his lecture. Instead, he pats me on the shoulder and says, “You will get better, in time. Give it time.”

The damage is complete, and complications ensue. I end up traversing seven months on crutches, two surgeries, and almost a year of physical therapy before I can walk normally again. While the storm rages, I learn to invite the rain to begin healing the deep places in my soul and make peace with my music and my past. At the end of the year, I hobble across the graduation stage, minus one shoe, but plus seven months of a lifetime of wisdom.

The Joy of Life

The Joy of Life

I have a serious personality, too often expressed through the tears falling on my pillow. I feel the pain of others wherever I go, and I am so connected to the spirit realm that I can sometimes feel the pain of those who have crossed over. All of this is a weight on my body, and is connected to my own issues with chronic joint pain.

I am a healer in need of healing.

I am in good company. Hildegard von Bingen, a vibrant Catholic mystic, struggled with migraine headaches, violent, painful auras in which she learned deep spiritual truths. Two of my favorite authors struggled with pain and despite this, or more likely, because of their pain, they wrote deeply and brilliantly about the human condition. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, had epilepsy, perhaps due to his violent encounters with a government who tried to kill him and silence his work. Ernest Hemingway struggled with chronic pain, emotional and physical, so severe that he eventually committed suicide. Even Jesus often went away to silent places to pray, and I imagine he had great emotional and even physical pain. He was certainly an empath, and the Bible says that he bore the weight of humanity on his body.

I have been meditating on the source of my pain, and the Holy Spirit whispers to me that I need to find Joy. The Joy of Life. Even as I look at the ugly parts of human society which put people in bondage and oppression, there is another side of human love. I am reminded of this when all the children in my preschool class, which I teach, run up and gleefully yell my name as they hug me every morning when I enter the classroom. If I leave and come back only ten minutes later, they do it again, the joy of their boundless child love shared through their smiles and arms.

I am reminded of the joy of life when I see another person give change to a homeless man on the street or give a place to stay for an orphaned teenager. I know joy when I see a group of Christians embrace a group of homosexuals in a show, or even an attempt, of love and understanding. I know joy when I see a mother kiss the head of her wide-eyed newborn.

I see joy when I look at the trees and flowers on a sunny day or marvel at the cloud formations in a coming storm. Joy is all around me, a gift of nature and the Universe to help me through this earthly journey. Today, I will purpose to let go of my pain and pursue the joy of life.

Caring for the Hurting

Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng
Photo used freely, courtesy of saavem on stock.xchng

This is a story I wrote for a college class that I took on death and dying. I have also shared this on another blog, prophetessamy.com. Although this story is fiction, it is repeated every day around the nation. We as a society have little time, patience, or compassion for the poor and the hurting. We walk by them every day in our hurry to get to our next appointment or our next job assignment.

As a Reiki practitioner and healer, it is my job to seek out the poor and the hurting and bring them healing. Everyone is called to the same healing work and compassion for their fellow human beings. This is what Jesus was talking about in his famous Good Samaritan parable.

Let the Reiki light open your eyes to Sally and her story and the stories of those all around you. Namaste.

The Tragic Death of Sally

No one remembered Sally. Perhaps no one even knew Sally. Sure, people heard of her. Her picture was splashed across the news in a dramatic end to a quiet life. A life cut short by desperation.

***
Sally stared at the mirror, foward, then sideways. Can you see the bulge? Perhaps if I arrange my dress this way, no one will notice. Her thoughts flitted like the sunbeams spilling through the window. Nervous. Excited.

Sally eased herself into the chair, carefully balancing her belly by slouching forward. The pastor walked by and Sally averted her eyes.
“Hey, Sal. How are you? You know, I really need that bulletin done, and can you answer some of those emails, people really are interested in the church lately, and I need…”

The stream of words stopped abruptly as the pastor’s eyes moved from Sally’s breasts to her stomach. Sally winced.

“What? What? I really thought you were better than that. Sexual immorality will not be tolerated in this place, do you hear? You are supposed to be a role model in this church.”

The walls shook at the pastor’s outburst. Sally’s mind darted back to that late night dog walk, the piercing pain, and then the darkness. A long nothingness and then a hospital room, an exam, a police report. Sally breathed back her tears and looked down at her hands. Hands that should have protected her that night. Why did she not know better?

“Get out of here. You are done. I never want to see you again. No employee of  my church will ever display such behavior.”

Sally could no longer hold back the tears. She whispered, “Without this job how can I ever support my child?”

“Go get another job you sinner! Are you thinking about abortion? You deserve to burn in hell.”

Sally ran out the door, leaving a trail of tears behind.

***
“I’m sorry, there are just no jobs. Are you sure that you don’t have any other experiences? Your resume is just so… bare. Have you tried the local restaurant? What about retail, fast food, anything?”

Sally bowed her head low. “I’ve tried everything, ma’am. I was hoping your agency…”

“Well, I’m sorry. The economy is tough for everyone right now. Check back in a few months.”

***
Department of Human Services. Sally shuddered at the sign. She pushed the door open and looked down at the slip of paper in her hands. Appointment time: 9:30am. Intake counselor: Linda.

“Are you Sally?” Sally looked up to a tired, grimacing face. “Come on back, I’ll see if I can help you.” Linda turned and walked toward the back of the office, keeping up a stream of mutters. “Geez, when will this ever end. It will be so busy again today. I know bad economy and everything, but really. Can’t people learn to take care of themselves?”

Linda plopped down at a desk and Sally eased her heavy belly into the chair on the other side. “Now I see that you are in your ninth month of pregnancy. We can open a new case for you. I can see you have little cash reserves and your need is immediate. I can get you food stamps today, and I will put you in the pre-TANF program. You will have to let me know as soon as your baby is born. With a family of two, you can get about $400 month. How is your housing situation right now? I hope you don’t pay more than $200 rent. I can put you on the wait list for Section 8 housing, but it is a three or four year wait. You know, you will have to start looking for a job when your baby is 6 months old.”

Sally stared at her hands and nodded. She thought back to the newspaper opinion article she read the day before. “Many people are turning to government assistance, using the economy as an excuse. Why should the welfare recipient work after all? The government provides everything for them. Do you know that they can even buy lobster with their food stamps? This laziness is spreading to the millions on unemployment as well. The Republicans are right to put an end to all of this and return to the principles of hard work on which our country was founded. The family is breaking apart and so many unwed mothers are causing poverty to rise…”

“I’m not lazy, am I?” Sally whispered.

Linda looked up from her paperwork. “What did you say?” she asked sharply. Sally shut her eyes in fear.

“Never mind. Just write your social security number here and fill out this other form. I’ll be back in a minute.”

***
Sally moaned in pain. “Just one more push. You’re almost there!” The doctor  patted Sally’s arm while the nurse placed a cloth on her forehead. Sally found her last strength and pushed.

“Congratulations! It’s a girl.” The doctor’s jubilant words were met with silence. Under his breath the doctor whispered, “Come on, baby. Just breathe.”

“Sally, we are going to take your baby down the hall,” the nurse said as she rushed out of the room.

Sally was too tired to cry, too tired to feel. This baby was everything, all she had left in the world. She buried her face in the pillow and closed her eyes.

God, she thought. You took my job, you took my house, you took my dignity. Do you have to take my baby? God, do you even exist? Why is the world so bad?

“I hear your cry, I feel you pain.” The answer came back in Sally’s fevered dream. “I have prepared heaven for people like you. Hold on. I see the sin of the world, and I will judge.”

***
“I’m sorry, Sally. With no child, you are no longer eligible for TANF. You can get food stamps.” Linda patted Sally’s hand, her demeanor softer than before.

“But where will I live? I was using all the money to rent a room. Now I can’t even do that.” Sally sobbed.

“Perhaps you can stay in a family shelter. Call 211 for assistance. I can’t do any more for you. I’m sorry.”

Sally left the DHS office and walked down the road to the bridge. “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” she whispered.

***
The evening news splashed across the town’s television screens. “Woman’s body recovered in Cangey River. People passing by tried to stop the suicidal young woman. Rescue crews were sent, but it was too late. The identity of the woman has not yet been released.”

 

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