reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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it seems so simple. [merely-a-thought monday]

it seems so simple. love is love. not a lot to argue with there.

yet, there are those dedicated – no, rabid – about setting down deplorable narrow-minded rules about who-can-love-whom and the rights and freedoms of those whose love is for someone of the same gender.

it seems so simple. love is love.

yet, the crimes of hatred are aimed at the LGBTQ+ community every single day and leaders in government push to strip back protections insuring every single person’s ability to – simply – live in love.

it seems so simple. love is love.

yet, churches – sanctimonious, full of hypocrisy – spew pious words supposedly meant to revere, words canonized, words conveniently warped to fit agenda. we read the other day that a texas preacher declared all gay people should be lined up and shot in the head. where do you even start with that? what jesus would sign off on that kind of revolting hostility?

it seems so simple. love is love.

yet, this story of fighting for the freedom to love-whom-one-wishes-to-love goes on and on and on. and to what end? because power and control and aggression and anger and bigoted, intolerant ignorance rear their ugly heads and are loud, self-righteous, autocratic.

it seems so simple. love is love.

yet, our son – who we love so much, of whom we are proud – must concern himself with the cruelty of people who feel “their way” supersedes any other way, the frightened despicable heterosexuals with checklists of “normal”, and legislation, “religious freedom” and big guns to back them up.

it seems so simple. love is love.

yet, there is pushback against people just living, people just loving. wasn’t that the point – to live, to love others? what other point is there, really? how does the expression go? “and then you die.”

piglet: how do you spell love?

pooh: you don’t spell it. you feel it.

(a.a. milne)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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vine-climbing. [merely-a-thought monday]

the 1977 graduating class of john glenn high school chose this song as our theme song. before the decision and ever since, it has remained a favorite. seals and crofts dominated our senior variety show – the one for which i wore a full wet suit including fins and played a piano duet -, our graduation, our prom, our yearbook. they played over and over in my bedside cassette player, on radio, on stereo systems throughout elwood and, likely, everywhere.

“so, i wanna laugh when the laughing is easy.

i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile.

i may never pass this way again,

that’s why i want it with you…”

(jim seals, dash crofts – we may never pass this way again)

just last week jim seals died. he was 80. and suddenly, again, time flashes in front of us.

because somehow, listening to their music, i am back at 17 or 20 and they are in their early to mid thirties. but the years come and go and the journey keeps journeying, faster and faster it seems.

and so the moments and presence become infinitely more important and the stuff becomes less. the grand illusion of foreverness becomes foggy and we learn – little by little – sometimes, though, with ferocity – that we must be-here-now. we graduate and grow and regress and grow again and start to see that full spectrum is not so bad – that belly-laughing and weeping are both, indeed, necessary and that as we vine-climb from dirt to sky we are only really here to be with each other.

our beloved daughter was here for a couple days. any time we see her or our beloved son are those kind of rare-gift moments. we giggle and poke fun and talk and reminisce and ponder and there’s eye-rolling and i am astounded by them and, always, i cry upon their leaving or upon our parting. it is the hard part.

i know that we just never know. life has a way of teaching us that – again and again – though it is easy to forget, to push it aside. but the further up the vine we get, the more we recognize it. it is all so fragile. we may never pass this way again. simple. true. a calling, an imperative to say the stuff, to be vulnerable, to experience, to love, to acknowledge, to laugh, to cry, to be-with.

good choice of song, jhghs.

“all the secrets in the universe

whisper in our ears

and all the years, they come and go

and take us up, always up…”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


					
		
	


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cowboys and mayapples. [k.s. friday]

he sat easy in the saddle, cowboy hat planted on his head, his horse striding down the trail. “have you seen the mayapples?” he turned his head toward us. “yes, you were the one who told us about them,” i replied. satisfied, he rode on.

it’s hard to miss the canopy. they stand tall and the leaves intersect like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, gone a little wild. it is as if the mayapple all joined hands, agreeing that their mutual umbrella is the point, their canopy of protection a priority. the green is beautiful, lighting the floor of the forest. i bend down to photograph them, again.

and there it was. a stunning white flower. hidden under the umbrella of a wide expanse of leaves above. only stems with more than one leaf will flower; the delicate white bloom grows out of the axil of two leaves.

we had never noticed the flowers before. i don’t know why. but the canopy stretches on and on and you must bend and peek to see the flowers. they exist in this other-world, beautiful, showy, fragrant. it came as a shock to us – how many times we had passed by the mayapple – to not know the existence of these pinwheel flowers, each one ever-important to the thriving of the colony. the canopy provided shelter, guarding the precious flowers that will need be cross-pollinated and will then produce a berry ripe with seeds, ensuring mayapple’s continued spread. so much going on in this tiny underworld of the forest. nature continues on her merry way.

the cowboy seems to really love the mayapple. though he doesn’t remember, each year he quietly tells us about them as he and his horse walk by. it never appears that he is in a rush. instead, he is slow and deliberate. and those mayapples.

what beauty we all might find…were we to bend down and peek into the world. what shelter we might provide were we to join hands, spreading out like the canopy of mayapples. how we might protect what is precious to us, the delicate, the fragile, the children among us. how we might lift each bloom and help it thrive.

we walk under a canopy of blue sky and inky stars. we can do this.

*****

nurture me

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

NURTURE ME from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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and love. [merely-a-thought monday]

it was, without a doubt, one of the holiest moments i have felt in the middle of almost ten thousand people. it was more organic and held more of a sacred hush than most church services i have attended or of which i have been a part, which is saying a lot since my professional work as a minister of music was over three decades of tenure. it was, without a doubt, something i will remember – a visceral memory – forever, probably.

matt maher was singing onstage at red rock ampitheatre, nestled in gigantic red rock formations and mountains in colorado. mostly just him and his piano, his simple but profound lyrics had everyone on their feet, arms around each other, strangers and friends all alike. moving from one song to the next, this man-who-was-not-the-headliner wove a net of love-for-humankind around us all and, for a few moments in time, we were transported to a place where love was – truly – the way.

“…and love will hold us together
make us a shelter to weather the storm
and I’ll be my brother’s [sister’s] keeper
so the whole world will know that we’re not alone…”

(matt maher – hold us together)

it – truly – is the only way.

the aggression of our neighbors, our leaders, our country, our world is a broken path, filled with trolls and ogres, bastardizing efforts of goodness.

this time is surely fleeting. we are reminded, sometimes cruelly, of this every single day.

i walk on dusty trails, on the cement sidewalks of our neighborhood, in the grasses of mountain meadows, on the sand of seashores, always looking, looking. our walks, our hikes – these are the places of true sanctuary. for, often, in those other places there are bellicose voices, desiring argument, pushing agenda. so instead now, we walk and breathe in the granola of the universe, under the sky of all possibility.

and in the way of nature, they appear. heart-shaped rocks, heart-shaped leaves, heart-shaped raindrops, heart-shaped puddles. reminders, always, they stop me, sometimes to pick them up, sometimes to photograph them, sometimes to just simply ponder. always, always, they give me pause…moments to think of beloveds, moments to have quiet gratitude, moments to think of love.

“love is a place

and through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

yes is a world

and in this world of

yes live

(skilfully curled)

all worlds”

(ee cummings – love is a place)

though the world does not shake out the way we might choose it to be, we have the choice whether or not to reach out and put our arms around the person next to us, whether we know them or not. we can choose to be shelter for each other or we can choose to be antagonistic. we can choose to weather the storm or we can choose to be the storm.

we can choose to be alone or we can choose to be together.

“tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ (mary oliver)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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fog. [k.s. friday]

and, if i am honest, i would tell you that i can feel the fog lifting. finally. i don’t think i knew the extent of the fog because fog is kind of like that. dense and clammy, less penetrable by light. once you are in it, you feel somewhat disoriented and everything looks different. you can’t really tell how foggy it is because suddenly you have nothing with which to compare it.

we underestimate the importance of attending to our emotional health. yes, there are all kinds of positive memes out there. yes, there are self-help books galore. yes, there are commercials on tv recommending therapy. yes, yes, yes. but we are stoic, we humans, and we are also stubborn and self-conscious. and many of us underplay how we are feeling, so as not to make others uncomfortable with our grappling. people ask how we are and our answer is “fine”. it’s just too too much to give a real answer. most people prefer answers with a little vague blurriness.

i ran into someone a bit ago at the fedex store. she asked me how i was. i told her. i don’t mean i told her “fine”. i actually told her. i can’t say it was a mistake, but she was writhing and trying to get away, though i was simply telling her how i was. i wasn’t verbose; it didn’t take much to say i had been struggling. but it was a truth and maybe she would have rather heard that everything that had happened in the last couple years took no toll. she wanted everything to be “fine”.

i recently saw a meme on someone’s facebook page. it read: “people don’t want to be talked out of their feelings. people want to be heard, seen, felt and understood.” (rachel samson) i always wonder if the people who post such things really mean them. surely they have also experienced times of soupy, where there was a ceiling of zero and they were feeling all of what life had tossed them.

it is in looking back at the dissipating cloud of fog that you know a little more the extent of your murky. it is in noticing light peeking in that you know a little more the extent of the loss of light. it is in seeing more clearly that you know a little more how much clarity was missing. it is in feeling my shoulders rise that i know that i have been bent under the weight of some sadness, some disappointment, some confusion.

though we all function in the middle of our haze, out of necessity, out of self-preservation, out of obligation, there is a moment when a pinprick of brightness burns through. we realize that the horizon is still there and that now, with the lure of distinct light and the buoys of clarity, we are headed in that direction. we’ve been brave and we’ve pulled energy from every cell to get to to that point and we keep taking steps, taking steps.

it isn’t easy. despite advertising dollars spent, this society is not really about self-help. it does not encourage time to be within oneself, time to rejuvenate, time to be healthy. our ideals push success and prosperity, seemingly at the price of balance. there is a cost for sharing what is real, for standing in fog, a worry of judgement and marks of weakness in our permanent record.

it’s up to each of us to step aside the everchugging uphill-downhill train and catch our breath. it’s up to each of us to breathe slowly and sort to that which makes us sit on the fulcrum of the nonstop seesaw. it’s up to each of us to be gentle on ourselves, to lighten up, to seek soft days that feed us and give us strength for the other days. it’s up to each of us to stand in self-care, to not worry ourselves with wondering about the judgement of others. it’s up to each of us to eliminate the stigma of admitting struggle. it’s up to each of us to support one another in the times of fog, to mean it if we ask “how are you?”. it’s up to each of us to reach and touch the curtain of fog as it lifts, grateful not only for its leaving, but for what we learned about its presence.

“the fog has lifted
the weight is gone
lightness has returned
singing is in me
humor also
light again
and i do not know why- “

(shalom freedman)

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WHEN THE FOG LIFTS from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood


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one way. not really. [flawed wednesday]

not really.

there is not really one way.

well, maybe i can make one exception: when driving and faced with a dead-end corner and a one-way street. one way.

otherwise? not so much.

the headline read, “florida isn’t the only state pushing legislation that could be harmful to LGBTQ students.” there’s also idaho, georgia, iowa, tennessee and oklahoma. not to forget texas and whatever other states have jumped on the bigotwagon since this headline. what?! apparently, these are states in which leadership has decided there’s just one way. and it’s theirs.

as the proud mother of a gay man, i have to wholeheartedly disagree with these folks. any idea of “normal” that they have conjured up is a warped righteous positioning of power and control, some sort of strange arc into absolutism. it does make one wonder about the possibility of people who need to compensate for something in their own lives. it is astonishingly arrogant, haughtily heartless, cruelly uncaring, blindingly bigoted, disgustingly discriminatory, and sickeningly small-minded in the most prejudiced of ways.

i’m guessing, then, that these same huffy lawmakin’ folks are sittin’ around makin’ it their business to raise questions about people, ponder others’ sexuality or gender, disparage people who identify differently than they do. they are wringing their hands and plotting how to silence them, to marginalize them. because their one-way is the only way and lives that may be richly influential, steeped in open-mindedness and the embrace and love of all humankind should be silenced and marginalized.

this is not the way.

there is not one way.

for that, indeed, would signal a dead end.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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peter and company. [k.s. friday]

peter is a welcome visitor.

he just sat there watching us watch him. no fear or aggression, he was peaceful and calm, even appearing gentle. we’ve seen him a time or two before – or perhaps a possum that looks like him – since they are individually hard to discern between. we’ve seen him waddle down our driveway and cross the street. we’ve seen him down by the corner, where the neighbor puts out seed and corn.

but the allure in our yard was the golden-corral-like smorgasbord we were providing in the small compost pile we have out back. i sent a picture of peter and a description of what he was likely eating to a friend who wrote back that it wasn’t golden corral. “that’s the four seasons back there!” a little research showed that opossums love fruit and vegetables, among other things, so we were right on target with our spread. it’s sweet to know that the compost is aiding this beautiful creature in its survival during this cold winter.

we try to keep our birdfeeder full and we generally set out the crusty ends of bread or the last bits of tortillas on the potting bench. the squirrels have discovered it and leave menus with items checked off they’d like to see more often. we haven’t seen our chipmunks, so they must be hibernating under the deck or living in the volkswagen in the garage – who knows – waiting for spring. they won’t be fooled by false starts; i’m certain they’ve enough birdseed from our feeder to last until the temperatures don’t hover near freezing anymore. i know that fox and raccoons, rabbits and skunks are out there, foraging and waiting.

it’s darn cold. and as february drones on and on we seek comfort from warm soups and stews and nourishing foods. i’m grateful that the wild critters in our neighborhood have a fighting chance.

and i swear that peter, gazing at us from the fencepost, seemingly waiting for buffet hours to open below him, telepathically said thank you.

*****

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NURTURE ME from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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three fat and furry squirrels. [merely-a-thought monday]

there were three of them. up and down. up and down. up and down. it went on and on and on. over and over and over. and i watched.

three fat and furry squirrels working together.

one squirrel ran down the hulking street in the backyard, tail flying behind it. it scampered into the bushes, out of view for a couple moments. then it emerged back on the tree, on its way up. first-squirrel encountered a second squirrel on its way down. they met on the tree, sniffed noses, twitched tails and parted. first-squirrel ran up, its mouth full of leaves. second-squirrel ran down to the ground, while at the notch in the tree, way above, third-squirrel began its run down. each one ran up to the big-branches-notch with decaying leaves and underbrush and then ran back down again. up and down. up and down. on and on. over and over.

it was mesmerizing.

i stood at the sink and marveled at their work ethic. after a bit, i moved away from the window. but from time to time i would go back to check and, sure enough, they were still at it. a long day of tree-climbing and nest-stoking. from what i could tell, there was nary a grumpy moment, nary a nasty action, nary an agenda but for nest-stoking…together.

the squirrels worked hard – all day and in community with each other and i can only assume they wore little buttons that read “be kind”. one could get kind of crabby running up and down a tree all day. and squirrels are known for being somewhat territorial. i’m guessing that they were working to shelter from the extreme cold, doing what they had to do to get through it – together – to stay well, safe, alive.

we drove past the neighborhood elementary school and the sign out front read “choose kindness”. i looked at david and said, “let’s use that! you can’t beat THAT drum too often.” we went back to take a photograph.

national random-acts-of-kindness-day is february 17. a specific day marked and set aside to perform – yes – random acts of kindness.

hmmm. in a world fighting a pandemic, a country politically divided, communities marked by despair and illness and economic instability, families facing loss and grieving time spent together, i’m thinking that this scurry of squirrels would encourage us to celebrate this every day.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

click here to purchase smart-squirrel “be kind” buttons

and in other news, i am craving entenmann’s crumb cake. i haven’t had this in yearsss, but right now this ny staple has risen to the top of my consciousness and won’t let go. it must be random-bits-of-inessential-information day.


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the deal. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

to the casual observer, i’m sure it looked clandestine: gas station parking lot. man pulls up in newer vehicle. woman pulls up in older-model vehicle to newer vehicle’s driver’s side. woman stays in vehicle and opens passenger window. man gets out and goes to passenger window with envelope. man extends envelope into vehicle. woman extends package toward man. yikes!

the woman in the very-nice-car next to me was watching. i could feel her eyes on the back of my head. i turned toward her and she raised her eyebrows and frowned at me. i made sure to hold the binax-now-covid-self-rapid-test box up high so that she could see it. from the look on her face, i’m guessing she thought that i had disguised the real stuff with this box. 20 and i exchanged envelope and box and, although the envelope had nothing to do with the box at all, and this was just me bringing 20 a rapid test since he couldn’t find any, it appeared – to this woman drawing conclusions – that we had done a deal. ewww.

the last time i felt that way i was in the kansas city airport. i flew in and, with a sizeable bank check in hand, met a complete stranger in the baggage claim area. i was purchasing littlebabyscion and driving it home that same day, but it sure looked kind of suspect.

back-in-the-day, decades ago now, when i worked for the state attorney’s office in florida, my husband was a detective with the sheriff’s department. there are many stories of stings and deals and situations to which i have been privy. some stories are funnier than others. like the time he landed the department helicopter in the field having watched a guy pull marijuana out of a neighboring field and run into the nearby house. from my recollection, when he went to the door a small child answered. he asked if he could speak to his daddy and the innocent little boy said, “right now he’s in the bathroom flushing plants down the toilet.” yes. a different situation.

these are indeed strange times. and we are all trying to do the best we can. we keep track of where we’ve been, who we’ve seen. we are cautious to be vaccinated and boosted and wear masks and sanitize and avoid crowds and obvious circumstances that might be more dangerous from a contagion point of view. we sacrifice some now in order to have a better (and sooner) future without covid. we make soup for others, call on people to check in, deliver groceries, share masks and rapid tests and information.

saturday night we watched a documentary: the first wave. our daughter sent us the link; one of her friends with nat-geo was involved in its production.

if you have forgotten why you are being vigilant, why you are vaccinated, why you are boosted, wearing a mask, isolating, keeping distance, not gathering, not eating in crowded restaurants or going to crowded indoor events, you should watch this movie.

if you have been wondering why you are emotionally and physically exhausted, why you are sometimes edgy, why you have been pining for normal, you should watch this movie.

if you have somehow lost the vision in your mind’s eye of the absolute terror and fear in people’s eyes who have been stricken with covid, you should watch this movie.

if you have forgotten about courage and science and the miracle of others sustaining each other, you should watch this movie.

if you have lost perspective and are just d-o-n-e with it all, you should watch this movie.

our daughter wrote that she had never seen anything like people on respirators, ventilators or in the devastating state this pandemic slammed upon them. i wrote back, still crying from watching, even a half hour after this movie, that neither had i. and the thing i had to keep reminding myself during the movie? that it was real. that it was true. that it still is.

we all know we’d do just about anything for the people we love. it is important – in these times – for us all to be honest and forthcoming. to let each other know if we are at risk, if we might be putting the other at risk, if we are ailing, if we think we are ‘positive’, if we need help or, simply, if we need the emotional support of the people who love us back – standing with us in the middle of it all, even if that is virtual.

our hearts are all connected together. and i would, once again, risk the unfair judgement of a bystander to stay that way.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the gift of a gift. [merely-a-thought monday]

and, of course, i wonder who found them.

the hike to looking glass rock is uphill. not a little uphill. reeeally uphill. the view through the trees, sans leaves, reveals mountains close-up, mountains out in the distance. it’s a gorgeous trail.

we started later than we had planned. and so, we had to turn around before we made it to the top. because once the sun goes down – and it goes down fast – it is next to impossible to safely navigate the trail back down. roots and rocks and twists and turns could turn it into a crisis. and we have watched everest enough times to remember professional guide rob hall’s words: it’s not my job to get you up the mountain…it’s my job to get you safely back down. pisgah national forest is – clearly – not the intensity of everest, but the same rule applies anyway.

and so – this time – we missed looking glass rock, an amazing formation, its sheer stone face rising above the trees. there will be a next time; we’ll start earlier, carry some lunch and more water and we’ll get there and back before darkness falls.

i had tucked a package of our “be kind” pins into my bag. i thought that there might be a place i could leave them. each time we have passed a little trail magic – a painted rock, tiny gift – it has lifted our spirits. i couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to leave these pins than this forest. the knot in the tree seemed perfect – at the right eye level for those hiking up. my only regret is not being able to go back and see that they are gone.

for each time i have left a rock – with a heart or a peace sign or a tiny message – on our local trail tucked into the notch of a tree, on an obvious branch or perched on a burl – i have had the opportunity to go back a next time and see that it has disappeared. it’s the gift of a gift.

i can only assume that the little cellophane bag tied with green curling ribbon in brevard is gone. i can only assume that someone has given out all the “be kind” buttons. i can only assume that as the recipients wear them or put them on their backpacks or their purse or hang them on the visor in their car they smile and pay it forward just a little.

the gift of a gift isn’t always known.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY