reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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y. [merely-a-thought monday]

in what seems like decades ago, way back in 2020, on may 19, i wrote a blog with a similar photograph prompt. it was a stick – out in the woods – and i stated that even nature was asking “why?”.

at that time the pandemic was in its very early days, i was recuperating from a couple broken wrists and there was much in front of us we hardly knew – or imagined – would happen. it felt like we were already living in an alternate reality. i left off with a thought – that the decisions we made about the pandemic right then were going to impact us forever. we would look back and, with an eye to conscience, ask why we made them or why we didn’t.

it’s still relevant. y.

it’s the thing that nags me through the days….the whys.

i suppose it is the very thing that can stop-motion all forward movement. sometimes, there just isn’t time for a why. like when your toddler is about to touch the hot stove or run into the street after a ball, there are no moments to spare to answer “why??”. it just is. it does bring to mind all the people who whined “why?” about mask-wearing in a global pandemic. there wasn’t time for that. it just was. over a million people – in this country alone – likely wish those folks hadn’t stopped to ask why.

i’ve come to realize that sometimes, also, there just isn’t an answer. there is no good explanation for why people would be ruthlessly unkind to other people, why so many of our leaders deny that our good earth is in crisis, why – closer to home – people have used their own agenda to thwart the livelihood of people working hard for a community, why people don’t speak up for others being wronged or why people don’t ask more questions before jumping on bandwagons of mistruths, whatever they may be. the irony of it all. on may 19, 2020, i pondered whether decisions would stand the test of time.

so, coming upon the Y on the trail, i had to laugh.

because it is probably the one thing that i belabor, the one thing i try to figure out – day after day – the thing that keeps me from entirely moving on. y.

ok, ok, nature. i got it.

*****

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moving on. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

most of my friends who are my age are retired. they have had long and dedicated careers and, at the time of retirement, chose to retire and were ready to change directions and do something new.

some of them are grandparents now and wee babies and rambunctious toddlers, children growing, growing, take up their time. precious moments spent with these tinies, indelibly etched on their hearts, both.

some of them have chosen to spend time immersed in reading. they have cultivated friend groups who share their passion for diving into books, they discuss and ask questions and share.

some of them have opted for sizing up, adding acreage and livestock to their lives. i can think of no better example of this than linda who, with bill, has adopted multiple alpaca and a horse and a goat and the-most-adorable-donkeys.

others have elected sizing down, heading south, condos and pools and beaches and sun in their future.

some, like the wander women, have chosen a plan, shedding much of the life paraphernalia we all accumulate – absolute free and loose adventure in their sixties, opening themselves up to thru-hike and bike and camp and, inbetween, live full-time in their rv.

and some feel lost, trying on various hobbies for size, seeking satisfaction and fulfillment, an elusive goal.

i am not retired. i am no longer holding a we-pay-you-to-do-this-job but i’m not retired. i haven’t quite figured it all out yet, much like, well, probably, many of you. but i spend lots of time creating…writing, cartooning, writing. i have found birds and plants are speaking to me more these days and i have also found that i don’t require being around a lot of people. i guess i’m a little bit more introverted than i thought.

people have told me that – in losing my last position in a four decades long career path of music ministry – i can redefine. they, in all innocence and with sincerity, have told me that it’s an opportunity for a new beginning. i hasten to say that they might be sighing inside to themselves as they say this, grateful that they don’t have to start anew. we’ve all done it…sometimes it’s easier to be generously gracious when it’s not your challenge. nevertheless, it does feel like a new beginning, so that part is right.

but, in seeking inspiration, coming from life, from the universe, from reading an article, from a conversation, from moments blowing dry my hair, i realize that maybe in looking forward i am avoiding that which is obvious.

linda had more time to pick up knitting needles after she retired. she uses the wool from her alpaca, which she has cleaned and spins, to create beautiful knitted gifts. my favorite fingerless gloves, the ones that always remind me of the canyonlands with my beloved daughter, were made by her. she returned – in this time of a-little-more-space – to what she knew, what she loved to do.

the map of inspiration may bring me forward. but in its forward-ness, it may remind me also of what i know. the map might point out my waiting piano, the pencils scattered on the music stand, the boom mic stand in the corner. it might point out the pieces of writing i’ve started and put aside. it might point out the glee i get from producing our cartoon. it might point out the camera and the poetry and the ahhh’s they bring me. it might connect the dots back. to me.

and in touching back maybe i will be moving on.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

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fish-fry friday. [k.s. friday]

fridays are fish-fry days in wisconsin. if you want fried fish (or baked, to represent actual menu-inclusivity) you can find it practically anywhere. truly. any where.

it’s a year. tomorrow will mark a year. we didn’t go to a fish fry that day, though it was a friday. it turned out i was the fish du jour. and, in an unremarkably remarkable statement read on a zoom call, my eight years with my employer came to a screeching halt.

i have no false notions as to why. i know, from decades from experience, that i was doing an excellent job, at the time further impacted and expanded by covid, necessitating additional online skills and responsibilities. i had contributed in a big way to the place. i brought my best game and, sadly, my heart and big love to that place. the community had become my family. but the cloak of covid was hanging over it and no one in the community really knew what was happening; they still don’t. i spent an hour in the dog food aisle with a member of the community who asked me over and over again what i had done that was so wrong, so egregious, so as to be fired. it sickens me to think that there are unanswered questions out there, that there are slanderous statements made by leadership, that, without any transparency, this place – a church – allowed a small contingent of “leaders” to make a choice that the people who actually paid my salary had no idea they were making. even my own supervisor had no idea what was going to take place on that zoom. once done, there was no recourse. done. with no identification of conflict, no attempt to – together – mediate or mitigate such perceived conflict, no conversation, no communication, no resolution. and clearly, no truth.

and so, suddenly, it’s a year. and in a way like yesterday’s post and in a way not like yesterday’s post, it is way past time.

i had never been fired before. in all my years, in all my work, in all the places i worked, i had never been terminated. it is unlike anything else. and it takes a toll. which, i see now, is precisely the point. mean-spirited comes in many shapes and forms and people.

the loss of work and income are monumental losses for anyone, particularly in the middle of a raging pandemic, particularly after whole-hearted dedication, particularly at an age when new positions are fewer and farther between. the loss of community is a whole ‘nother thing. the phoenix doesn’t rise quickly with new relationships, new friendships, trusted alliances. these cherished people, who had spent great deals of time in our actual life and at our home, know the drawer where the silverware is kept, where to put their coats and their potluck casseroles, stood with me as my sweet momma was dying, know the moment we were married and surrounded us in a circle at our wedding singing “we are family”…these people are no longer a part of our everyday life. that has been a devastating blowback from a power move made by – mostly – people who barely knew me, had never been to our house or a rehearsal and obviously didn’t have any real investment in the joy that had been created through years of committed effort. so be it.

“new beginnings are often disquised as painful endings.” (lao tzu)

and so, today, a year-to-the-day-before, the ashes release from the scorch of the flame. time has taught me of those who are compassionate, those who seek the truth, those who actually care enough to ask questions. time has reminded me – once again – that no one should be put on a pedestal, that people will shock you and throw you under the bus, that others, in the busy of their own lives, will surprisingly not step up and advocate for you, that power and control are clearly addictive and snowballing agendas, that the health of a place will suffer at the hands of those agenda-driven, that hypocrisy is alive and well. i am weary of the painful.

“all that talk about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is so not true. do you know what makes you stronger? when people treat you and your art with dignity.” (lana del rey)

it is as it is. it’s life. it’s friday. a year later. i’ve got bigger fish to fry.

*****

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the broken salad bowl. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i broke my mom’s salad bowl last night. it wasn’t fancy; it was a simple glass bowl, shaped in the letter v. but i loved using it for salads and quinoa tabouli and all kinds of fruit. it slipped from my grasp in the sink and, despite my best efforts at rescue, broke in two large pieces. i was instantly saddened, not because i get upset when things break, but because it was my sweet momma’s and using it was a silken connected tie.

we were on i-70 driving across denver and stuck in traffic. we played leap-frog with several vehicles as we inched forward. one of them had a sticker that read “extreme rightwing” and another had this sticker “humankind. be both.” i am betting you can guess the one with which i felt in alignment. i wanted to roll down big red’s window further than i already had it and call out the window, “love your sticker!” but i didn’t. instead, i photographed it, trying to look casual, like i wasn’t taking a picture of their vehicle, and thought about how i instantly liked them.

my sweet momma, the former owner of the now-broken salad bowl, was a firm believer in kindness. her favorite saying, “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can,” was a john wesley quote. this is not the first time i have told of her kindness to others…all others.

as my mom prepared to move into assisted living she started giving away things she wouldn’t be bringing with her. she gave away her couch to a neighbor who needed one; she gave her dining table to another neighbor without a place around which to gather her family. she let things go, with love and caring moving them out the door to their new homes. she didn’t hesitate. it wasn’t about the stuff; it was simply about helping those in need of something she had. we just heard that many of the things in david’s parents’ house, that is being emptied now, have been given to neighbors and people who need particular items. a gesture of paying the generosity we are afforded forward, i immediately thought back to my mom’s own altruism in her time of transition.

these last months have been very challenging for us. i was devastated when, in this time of pandemic and after losing our other two positions, and at the start of my ninth year there, i lost my job. confusion and fear and dreadful sadness at losing my living, all the effort and love i had put into growing a music program, the loss of my dear community, all ran rampant in my heart. the stages of grief, including anger, lined up and for the last five months, i have tried to sort through all of what i have felt. the other day i drove past my former place of employment and just was overcome with how intensely weird it felt, how intensely weird the whole travail has been.

but in the middle of all of this weirdness, the lack of communication, the non-effort at mitigating whatever was seemingly accepted as an ousting-reason, there have been people. humans. kind humans. little by little people have reached out – in generosity and kindness. and, for that, the way has been a little less scary, a little less painful. the ties to the place, astoundingly, considering the place, are broken – irretrievably – shattered into a dark hole in a million shards. but the silken connections of people – from a full compass of our lives – extend in warm embrace. humankind. be-ing both.

i guess the next time i make salad or tabouli i’ll use the big stainless steel bowl – the one that also used to be my mom’s. it’s unbreakable. just like my tie to her.

*****

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


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“i forgive you.” [merely-a-thought monday]

i forgive you

frank made sure to bring us the dvd.  our favorite of the hallmark christmas movies, a season for miracles was scheduled for tv viewing at a time we were not available.   and he knows.  frank knows how much we love this movie during this season.  we, i have to admit, spend just a little bit of time watching hallmark christmas movies, despite their obvious indulgence to happy-endings-aficionados.  a season for miracles is such a story, but there are these lovely lines spoken by patty duke toward the end, that inevitable-anticipated-yet-yearned-for end.  she wisely advises one of the stars of the movie, giving him something to consider,  “i forgive you.  there’s a lot of power in those three words.  they can change the world.”

yesterday i sang these lyrics, “all these pieces broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole.  empty handed but not forsaken.  i’ve been set free, i’ve been set free.” (broken vessels – j. houston, j. myrin)

in true cliche, i would, indeed, say we are all broken by pieces we need to forgive, things for which we need forgiveness.  we carry these burdens like heavy luggage, dragging them day by day, place to place.  nary a moment goes by without our minds summoning up a reason to be dismayed or disgusted with someone, disappointed in ourselves.  we are not free.

is it pollyanna-ish to believe that the world would be changed if forgiveness were paramount?  is it an irrational, unreachable panacea for all the divisiveness and turmoil?  is there just too much purity – too much hallmark – in those words, in that kind of peace-seeking?

if you could, who would share the third seat in a room with you and forgiveness?  with whom would you seek forgiveness from?  who would you forgive?

is it better to be mended and empty-handed than holding-on-tightly-burdened with sharp, broken pieces that pierce your heart?  where is your free?

it is a season for miracles.

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

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sigh now. held in grace: pray now. [d.r. thursday]

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“a state of detente”

i just read these words and stopped and re-read them.  for no specific reason – just because, i had taken the sarah ban breathnach book simple abundance out of the old wooden north carolina cabinet on the other side of the bed.  i flipped open to december 5, old cards and notes and newspaper clippings trying to slip out of the pages into which they were tucked.

the quote at the top of the page read, “most of the sighs we hear have been edited.” (stanislaw jerzy lec) and the meditation for this day was about sighing.  in fact, one of my favorite sentences reads, “women sigh so that we won’t scream.”  oh yes!  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about screaming, “there are several occasions in the course of any woman’s day when, without question, screaming is the appropriate response.”  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about sighs, and writes, “the act of sighing is a quiet vote of acceptance – of … moving on.  …letting it out.  letting it go….”  resilience.

sarah’s quiet wisdom touches a nerve:  “…sigh more… because … preferences, needs, wants, wills and demands to be dealt with, if there is to be a state of detente in the daily round.  more bending in order not to break…”  sisu.

i hadn’t thought about my sighing, but i know i do it.  the intake of breath and the slow exhale.  the thought i-have-no-idea-what-i-can-actually-do-about-this-anyway or the thought i-have-no-control-over-what-others-are-doing-or-thinking-or-feeling.  my own feeling of being astounded by someone or something.  the feeling of hurt.  the feeling of exasperation. fragility.  fortitude.  both.

the sigh.  a release.  from my heart into the hands of the universe.  isn’t that prayer too?

sigh now.  pray now.

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hear you whisper. [k.s. friday]

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missing comes in many shapes and sizes.  colors too.  i’m now at that age that i hear this song in the context of too many people i know who have lost loved ones.  whether their beloved has moved on to a different dimension or a different life, it leaves behind someone grieving.  “you’re so here though you’re not here.” 

i occasionally browse through facebook and i am struck by the number of acquaintances or friends or family members who are remembering a loved one, this group of people unknown maybe to each other but bonded invisibly by a mutual intense emotion.  my heart responds to their pain, their determination to keep going, their day-by-day stepping back into the world.  it’s indeed a “crazy maze” that they are navigating, that i have navigated as well, that we each navigate at some point in time.

although moving on to a different life presents other extraordinary challenges to live through, losing someone to dying often leaves so many unspoken words, so much un-lived living-together.  “i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, over many miles and many distant skies.  i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, and i believe it’s not goodbye.”  like many of you, i, too, have listened intently to the universe, to the night, waiting to hear, believing that just-on-the-other-side is a whisper, on the wind, wafting its way to me.

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