Sunday, May 27, 2007

Journal entry 5/27/2007

I’m reading a book I picked up at Barnes & Noble last night, Mother Teresa – Her Essential Wisdom, and these small powerful passages are stirring my soul. Her instinct to work among the poorest of the poor, to work with the dying... I feel some of those stirrings too.

Since retirement two years ago, I have been working as a hospice volunteer. At first I began in people's homes. Then I worked one afternoon a week visiting hospice patients in nursing homes. Some of those relationships lasted for months, in one case even a year. Now I am working one afternoon every two weeks in the inpatient unit, a 10 bed unit where the average stay is 6 days. Sometime I will write about how beautiful it is to be there.

In our culture it is lonely and often scarey, the journey of dying. There is such a fear of death that even loved ones do not know how to accompany one who is progressing toward that change. Yet I am drawn to moments like these, where an offering of kindness and companionship is so deep - for both the giver and receiver.

In investigating the complex choices available as Medicare decisions approach for Dan and me, I feel instinctively I want to get the basic bottom-line plan, what any poor elderly person would get. Why should I have special priveleges?

From long experience, I see that every thought I think creates something. Thoughts of my spiritual oneness promote a deep happiness and sense of well-being. I learn to listen to my inner guidance, the Soul of me whispering kindness, humor, and direction. That is a wellspring of life.

I note the food stamp challenge undertaken this month by a handful of congressmen and women – to live for a week on what a poor person receiving food stamps would live on to eat - $21 per week. Eye-opening for them, to say the least. Here's a recent posting on their results:

Then there is Bill McDannell from California, a Vietnam vet and former Methodist minister who feels so strongly about the immoral war in Iraq, that he has sold his home and belongings, and set out to walk across America to deliver his petition to Congress. Now his only home is a small camper truck his wife Jonna drives to follow him. He asks only for a friendly place to park at night to tie into electricity and water. He logs his progress on his computer and uploads it to his website. People he meets join him and sign his petition. I could be tempted to walk a mile with him with my scooter. Here is his petition:

With the arrival of summer, I sort through my clothes, looking to trim away all except the ones I love the most. I don’t need a yard-high pile of shirts! Plus it is such a relief to bring things I no longer need to the Salvation Army.

Soon our old above-ground swimming pool will be opened for the season, hopefully with a new and quieter pump. Swimming is so good for me: I want to take care of my body, make myself available for new life – in whatever form it comes.

I envisioned a new card this morning: You inspire me. And as I think about my eBay card store, which basically has zero activity, I long to take a more radical step with it. Maybe offer cards for $1 each, or even free, or simply the shipping charge. The work is to help people say true and wise things to each other, to uplift and heal. Something is stirring there too.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Sculptors in life

Here is a recent design I made for card or poster. I love thinking about how we create with our thoughts and feelings, a passion of mine for the last thirty years...

How to make a beautiful day?
How to shape a thought so that it has the maximum exposure to light and love?
How to discover and express the unique and wonderful and eternally unfolding beings that we are?

Gail 5/25/2007


Friday, May 04, 2007

The Ant Parade

I can see the ant whiskers twitching as I remember this tale. As though they are listening to me and I am listening to them.

A long time ago, when my daughter was still a girl, we lived in a little house in the Rhode Island woods with our dog and cat. We felt safe and happy in the house our friends had made for us, and I felt glad to be living in the country and to be so close to nature.

But that summer something changed. At first we only noticed a few ants climbing around the sink. They were the scouts. In a few weeks there were ants in the kitchen – on the walls, on the table, floor, around the sink and counters. It was hard to do anything without seeing three or four ants going about their business.

I like ants well enough outside the house, but inside my home – this would not do. I hated doing it, but I began squashing them wherever I saw them. And doing that for several weeks made me feel ugly inside. I was mad and upset at the ants, and I was ashamed of all the killing I was doing. There had to be a better way.

So one day I just prayed, and asked for help in knowing what to do. The answer came gently and clearly, as though someone very kind was speaking to me: Ants are always looking for a better home. Imagine what a good home would be like for them. When they have an idea of a better home to go to, they will leave.

I remembered a Bible passage that talked about this. About the way we could feel into our spiritual sense of home: “For we know that if our earthly house… were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (II Corinthians, 5:1)

This was a whole new way to think about the ants. I felt excited. I began thinking about the qualities of home for them. It would have shelter and food nearby. It would be safe from predators, even humans. I began to imagine a home in nature that would be like that, just perfect for the ants.

Right away, that helpless angry feeling began to soften, as I saw the problem from the ants’ point of view. They had a right to a good home just like I did.
I was sure that it existed and they would find it. I stopped killing them, and just kept knowing there was a wonderful home for them and that my home was wonderful for me.

In a few days, I noticed something unusual. There was a LOT of activity going on. Ants were on the walls, climbing down to the table, dropping their eggs onto the floor. Ants on the floor were carrying the eggs down the step into the living room, and from there they made a column going out a crack under the front door. The ants were moving!

Wanting to be helpful, I put a towel on the floor so the eggs would have a softer landing. And finding it hard to walk in the kitchen without stepping on them, we decided to go out for the day. Hours later, when my daughter and I came home, they were gone. Only a few stragglers remained, picking up the last few eggs. We let them finish their work in peace.

The house felt silent, safe, ours again. I knew the ants had indeed found a new home, and I silently blessed them even as I felt blessed. They stayed moved too. And over the years if I saw a scout, I remembered to cherish the spiritual sense of home – the house not made with hands – for both of us.

With love,

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