Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The other day, a link appeared on Facebook that I lacked the courage to explore.It showed a young man holding a gun to the head of a young white and grey cat that had its face fur pulled back by the man's other hand.What came next is too awful to think about.Apparently, because of Facebook, the man was arrested.

I have been watching all day from my reading chair for a squirrel that was under the bird feeder yesterday.As soon as I saw him, I knew something was wrong.He was closer to the ground than the others, darker and had no sharpness about him.As I watched, he would walk a bit dragging a leg along.Usually, if one squirrel gets too close to another's stash, off they go, chasing, muttering, all over the yard and up trees.No matter where this sad creature went, the others left him alone.At 4:30, he shuffled off and he is not here today.

Animals in distress have always grabbed my heart.I once saw an owl on a phone line in Florida.I was in my teens and this was a small fellow, grey and white .When he turned, I saw that he had one good eye and another pure white and empty.His little face haunts me still.

If I sit long enough,and thank God for retirement, I see some interesting animal behavior.The other day, a crow was in the trees near where the deer, raccoons, squirrels and birds were eating seed.He started calling and he was alone which is unusual.The creatures on the ground heard a tone or something and within a second the yard was empty.Not even a dragonfly remained.It was eerie until a hawk flew through a second later with incredible speed.I am convinced that the crow was sounding a warning and it was heard.

There is another story about two girls and a turtle that I won't tell but all of this got me thinking of connectedness.I have never had an experience that some have of seeing all the world as integrally connected.This mystical vision has not been given to me;but the way these abused or hurt animals haunt me is a sign.When that man grabbed the white and grey cat, something profound was dying in him.He has condemned himself to walking alone in this world.He will be fortunate if the face of that scared animal haunts him.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Last night, I had another chat with my newly found classmate from high school.I have written of her before.Jackie still works in the helping field of psychology and through the years has heard many stories.Last night, she wanted to tell me of Tessa.When she met this young woman, she knew of her shaky upbringing.Dropping out of high school as soon as possible, seeking employment in the shady entertainment business, and all the rest.The future must have looked dim.Jackie wanted to tell me of the day they met and how she saw something in the girl. Just something. Years have passed, the girl is married, has a GED and along with a child,  a good career where she is well regarded.

I think Jackie wanted to share this because it makes her happy, what God can do in a life.I agreed with her but I saw something else in the story.I saw namaste, mystically given.In the Asian countries, bowing and saying namaste is common.In Hindu it means this: "I bow to the divine in you"or "I pay respect to the Lord residing in you."Wonderful greeting.And with the bow, "I also humble myself before you."Sometimes, I do this spontaneously as I did when saying good-bye to the Kentucky couple walking the Hadrian wall in England.My bow said,"I honor your efforts and thank you for bringing a bit of home to me."

This is what I saw when my friend told her story.When Tessa met her, Jackie didn't bow or say namaste but some of her light reached out to the light that Tessa didn't know she had.Jackie's warmth and acceptance honored this other vessel of God and Tessa felt it.And now knowing she had that light, she could only try to make it brighter.This is the glow I felt as Jackie shared.

My next sentence, Jackie will try to bat away when she reads it.Her last name when I knew her was D'Angelo, of the angels:Jackie of the angels.Yes and Amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grasmere's poet...

Two poets, different centuries, different continents, heads bowed, rambling the back roads. I saw a poster while in Grasmere, home of my most beloved William Wordsworth.It said:"Wordsworth and Basho, the walking poets-a symposium."How I wished I could have been there in January.

Basho, the Japanese drifter who would sit by his humble hut by a river and then when the urge came, take a foot journey and observe. Basho is actually the Japanese name for a plantain tree and he had one growing in his spare yard that took off in growth to become the king of his garden.But the tree had no use;the fruit was inedible, it was not beautiful, it dropped spiny leaves and the lumber was too soft.He took it's name because he felt himself to be like it in it's uselessness.And yet, he walked and wrote.As useless as a sunset or a butterfly.

Wordsworth was a great sojourner.Long walks in the morning and evening trailed by his adoring sister who wrote down his thoughts, his verse.She, Dorothy, was devoted in the extreme to William and I read something about her that touched me deeply.When she was a child, she was taken to the ocean.She was helpless to stop tears of joy.When in old age, sick and confined to bed, her desire to see her garden was so strong that when finally able, she again was overcome.Such a tender heart to respond that way to the green heaven in which we wander.

If I were a poet, where would I walk? I85, Tara Road, any street in my county ?Do we have a dearth of poetry because we have no way to kiss and engage our world. How long did Basho spend at this pond on his journey before he wrote:"The old pond..frog jumps in, sound of water."That poem, simple as it is, came from moments of being attentive, without distraction to a pond.When the poor shabby poet sauntered away, he took with him those moments and that place became sacred as my running path becomes.

Thoreau was a great wanderer.An American icon, in love with the natural world.I went to his grave in Concord several years ago and took a small stone from it to put in my treasure box.I noticed something curious.He and his three other siblings have similar headstones. Just their first names. It is the Thoreau family plot so their last names seemed to be unnecessary.These are old stones, grey and weathered from the 19th century except for one spot.The top of Henry's stone.It is white and while I stood, I realized why.It is from the many hands stroking over the years.Touching, connecting with a wandering writer. On his grave was a small pumpkin left by someone who knew they were on sacred soil.

"As my eyes search the prairie
I feel the summer in the spring."Anonymous, Chippewa Indian

There is a place of great green beauty out there, waiting for a poet to come by.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tintern Time-June 20, 2014

My back is to the stone wall.They are the same as the cold grey ones that form a perfect writing seat for me.What would have been the place of  altar and Sacrifice is to my right.After many days on a bus with other tour members, I have skipped lunch, scurried away to hide in this vast ruin.

The birds swoop in and out of the huge arch behind the altar place where stained glass had once been. And here and there, high up on a forgotten ledge, a bouquet of pink flowers sways in the summer breeze.My  journal is out and my pen owns the paper as it tells of this place."The wind moves the small daisies at my feet: where stone slabs once made a floor, grass and daisies now cover. It seems right.And right that from the many arched windows, the green trees and hills please."

It was May 9, 1131 that this monastery was founded in Wales and men showed up to be alone with God. The Abbey still stands, though diminished. King Henry 8th saw to that many centuries ago. Henry is dust but somehow this edifice still stands. All the empty windows and doors arch upward.The message is clear. This is holy ground, sanctified by work and prayer.I could almost hear the chanting in the wind.Sanctus.Kyrie.What is more important than Sanctus?The arches say that, when you are looking up, you are looking for the God who will lead you to Himself. What is more important, they ask?

No wonder all the buildings in the Soviet Union were grey boxes.

A few tourists came through with their dogs.I heard the lady say:"Why did this happen to me?"She was talking about her dog whose droppings on the abbey floor would need picking up.My unkind thought was, "Why did this happen to me that you came into holy ground with your dogs?"But as God has reminded me many, many times,"where you dwell is not heaven."For a few minutes, it had been.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

running in Scotland-a paean

It was a stunning fall day in Georgia.Clear blue sky, cool breezes that invigorated my spirit after a hot southern summer.I was in Milledgeville for a cross country meet over 20 years ago.I miss those Saturdays.On this one, I had driven out alone, my high school runners were riding on a school bus.As I was driving home, having seen and heard those legs and feet all day, I just had to run myself.I found a big field, pulled over and off I went, in glorious motion.Around ,over and through the grass until I was satisfied.I will never forget that desire to fly over the field.

It is not like that for me anymore, the running. I can easily pass a field and stay behind the wheel but the desire, though different, is still there after 28 years. I was originally enamored by the way I felt after a run.So satisfied that I did it because it is hard and requires overcoming.I also had more energy, which is no small thing.

When I worked for BellSouth in Jonesboro, one of my employees asked me why I ran.The first thing that popped into my head was this:in the future, I do not want to be unable do something that I really want to do because of physical limitations. Little did I know that in June 2014, I would be on a tour of a gorgeous castle in Wales that required climbing steep stairs with many, many steps.The view from the top was worth the trek.

Here is a list of things that this runner believes came into her life because she laced up some old tennis shoes and went out there:
-a promotion.
-keeping a journal.
-hiking the Camino and mountains in the Catskills.
-fitness and castles.

I had hoped to run twice in Britain but we only had alone time on one day.We were staying at a lovely inn outside of Edinburgh and that afternoon, after writing in my journal, I laced up my worn red running shoes and started off down the driveway.It got busy, so I saw an entrance to a field of growing oats with paths along the edges.Perfect.Off I went, up a rocky hill, scaring two feasting magpies.Down the hill, turned right and up another hill and then back to the Norton House.I saw some wonderful things in the British Isles but this patch of ground is mine and it is sacred. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tower of London-June 22

The Tower of London was a surprise.It was many narrow stone towers and other large castle-like buildings.It was a beautiful day, sunny with the beautiful Thames in the background.The other choice on the tour that Sunday was a boat ride on that river but I chose the Tower.Despite the cafe, the gift shop and the ice cream vendor, the Tower is a serious place.I felt that.There are places here called the Bloody Tower and the Scaffold Site.

I've learned enough history to know that many were executed here.The inconvenient Anne Boleyn: the unmovable John Fisher and Thomas More.The towers where the prisoners were kept are narrow, rounded and with one entry, guarded always, no doubt.The guards are gone, the cells empty, but a light shines from this place that has flickered through the centuries.The one thing that Thomas More did not want to do was die. He languished in a cell for 15 months. He had a career, a much loved family and a deep faith.All he had to do was sign a paper saying that wrong was right with fingers crossed behind his back and he could have retired to the lovely countryside to read and dote on his family.How many prayers did he say asking for relief from the quandary he was in?Or for strength.Finally, the King, one Henry, could abide this resistance no longer and the time came for a visit to the scaffold.How does one walk to it?

This is how;"I do not care very much what men say of me, provided God approves of me."Thomas More 1532.

Saint Thomas, you may be surprised to learn that the Church has not forgotten you.Co-incidentally, today she celebrates your Godly life with a feast day.The same day that I came to witness where you walked.

All this happened centuries ago.I plodded along never expecting to be moved by empty tower rooms.But then I saw it: scratching on a tower wall, left by a Jesuit prisoner.I am sure he visited the scaffold too, but left behind a sign of where his strength came from.Under a protective plastic, are the letters I H S ,a monogram for Jesus Christ. I believe that this was the man's last thought as he walked to the scaffold and his first sight after that.