Sunday, February 28, 2010

During Yesterday's Walk....the Deer and the White Rose

During yesterday's walk, I detoured and came unintentionally to the place where we had buried a fawn found dead by the roadside months prior. The earth in this area isn't deep enough to dig a suitable hole so we gathered twigs, leaves and greenery sufficient to cover the little dappled, body and placed her at the base of a small evergreen.

With time's passing, we've noticed the little lump under the tree decreasing in size. Two weeks ago, I walked past and thought, 'This is exactly how it's suppose to be.' We come from earth, we return to earth. The little pile continued to diminish.

Yesterday I walked to the evergreen and was shocked to find the earth was flat. Only twigs and leaves remained, undisturbed, still as we had placed them. No sooner had I thought, 'The deer is gone,' I heard, "My body may be gone, but I am still here." Bending toward earth, I replied, "Hi, sweet spirit of the Deer." As sure as I stood there, the deer stood by me.

I paused taking in the satisfaction and gratitude of having stopped that first day to do what was important, to shed tears yet feel great peace in honoring and burying a life.

Walking back to the roadside, I noticed a nearby soft drink can. For the first time in months, I had tucked a plastic bag in my pocket before leaving to walk. I bagged the can, then a scrap of cardboard which was followed by fragments of what looked like a fender from a wreck months ago. Like Hansel and Gretel following bread crumbs, I picked up trash working my way into the little wooded area adjacent to a neighboring pond. This small area covered in fallen leaves and sticks was dotted with glass bottles, brown, clear and green many containing dirt. These were not 'modern' bottles but old ones thrown into the pond some time ago and washed to land by the recent rains and melting snows. As my bag filled, I made two piles to later retrieve.

Typically I would collect trash with a sense of disgust and judgment for whomever unthinkingly left such a mess. This day I was happy to be part of a process. Oddly as I contentedly collected, I came upon a rose, a white artifical rose buried in the dead leaves, limbs and trash. I thought of purity and innocence symbols of the white rose as well as the young deer.

I flashed on the Mother's Day ritual from childhood, in which my sister and I would wear red roses pinnned to our dresses for church as would our mother, symbolizing that our mothers were living. My grandmother would wear a white rose symbolizing her mother's death.

Picking up the white rose, I thought of Mother Earth. Mother Earth as she was known in her vast wildness before we came along is gone. That Mother Earth is dead. I did not like this thought.

Then I knew. Mother Earth isn't dead. As with the deer, She is very much alive. She lives in my blood and my bones. She lives on. Everything that has been, that once was, still is just in different form. Everything lives on without, within.

During yesterday's walk, I found myself. I found myself in the Deer. I found the Deer in me. During yesterday's walk, I found myself. I found myself in Earth and I found the Earth in me.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 2/10

Friday, February 26, 2010

Comings and Goings of the Four-Legged Kind

How is it that during my morning walk Sarge, the neighborhood dog, who I've not seen since late last Summer shows up greeting me like I'm the one who's been absentee? I had left home minutes prior sensing that my friends had just put their dog to sleep, their dog whom I had seen last evening, to whom I said my good-byes and felt an ambialence about his leaving this world. Yes, his days were numbered. I just wasn't sure it was time to call his number, yet he wasn't my pet.

Less than twenty-four hours later, I stood engaging with a chunky robust, very delighted Sarge when it occured to me, Sarge's adoptive owner left him abruptly just about a year ago.
Kenneth, who gave us his excess hoes and rakes when we moved in, moved out of this world suddenly last March. Kenneth and his wife Mildred had adopted Sarge, ensuring he was loved and well fed. Soon after Kenneth's death, Sarge suddenly began hanging out in someone else's yard. In a very short time, he was another's dog and from all appearances still loved and well fed.

Spenser's passing reminds me our four-legged companions leave us yet Sarge's sudden presence reminds me sometimes they get left. In the between-times we are blessed to have one another here on Earth.

Life. It is a series of comings and goings. Moments arrive bearing gifts. Sometimes we take notice and other times we miss the gifting. I don't believe in accidents. Sarge gifted me this morning as Spenser did last evening. I pass the gift to you.

-Dawn!, The Good News Muse

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Procrastination, Pie and the Road in the Rose

I had not intended to write. Actually I had intended to, just not about what follows. I was sampling the crust from a baking apple pie. The intended crust for the top turned into crumbles so I sprinkled them atop the pie rather than throwng them out. The next issue of Martha Stewart's "Living" will probably include a recipe for crumbly top pie.*

This is my second apple pie in two weeks the result of having come upon gluten and wheat-free crust at the grocery. Ya-hoo. The first one also had a organic topping and I don't mean organic as in au naturale although it was natural and organic in its own way. That top crumbled too. Like a kid with playdough, I rolled it all into a ball, got out a knife and sculpted little hearts I placed around the top.

This afternoon procrastination prompted me to make another pie. Actually I'm uncertain it's truly procrastination since often working with my hands, tending, be it vacuuming or cooking inspires me. Today while thinly slicing each apple I thought of women around the world cooking at that very moment, some in earthen ovens outside and others in kitchens filled with appliances, all of them connected in the preparing of food. I thought of the apple, how woman was tempted by the apple and how during college while working at camp I told a some story of the apple, not the Eve story, but in the telling also cut the apple horizontally to reveal a star, a symbol of Venus, planet of beauty and love. That wasn't the story I told either I'm quite certain thirty years ago.

With pie in the oven, I was inspired to call my cable company something I had also procrastinated doing after my bill doubled. I assumed as with the roofer that this too would be a hassle.* Forgetting the flow is always around and I'm the one that's AWOL, I mustered my patience and called the toll free number. Within two prompts I got past the auto-woman and found Erica, who five minutes later had me signed up for the same service plus commercial free radio for less than what I had initially paid.

Before hanging up, I shared my gratitude for her helpfulness and patience as I had in far too much detail explained why I didn't want the multitude of services offered. I concluded with, "Have a good day" the phrase offered by cashiers in check out lines. I've previously wondered do they mean it. I meant it. Maybe they do to.

Having said good bye, the smell of pie caught my nose and the site of the last Valentine's rose caught my eye. Over the days, I've been photographing them, gifts from Mystery and Bogey, at different angles. Early on they reminded me of a woman, the petals like folds of the labia (can I say that on-line?) reminded me of the womb and the mystery, the place of darkness leading to life and light.

Today though I notice the spiraling of petals and am reminded of the journey of life, how we go round and round. If we're not paying attention life can seem like the same thing day after day. With presence, each going round offers something new just as I noticed looking even more closely at the rose. Each petal has velvety red veins.
Removing a petal from one of the wilted five, I see the veins come from the center outward. They look like branches stemming from the trunk of a tree. Did the tree inspire the rose or the rose inspire the tree? Maybe it was mutual. Nature knows a reciprocity we seem as a whole to have forgotten.

Maybe the spiraling road in the rose will remind us of acknowledging one another whatever our pace as we make the rounds of life, some spiraling into the darkness while others are emerging, all part of the Mystery. And may we imagine and notice in each turn of life, that life like the rose and the apple, and the star in the apple as well as the interactions with strangers in kitchens worlds away, in grocery lines, on phone lines and yes, in crumbly top pie, life is ultimately beautiful and sweet.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 02/10
*Click Nov.11 for more on "Living" with Martha...titled "Sucked in by Beauty" and click
Feb. 14 for the story on the flow and my roofer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Where is Your Heart Right Now in the World?

A high school friend with whom I've recently connected on Facebook shared with me that his son was his heart walking around outside him in the world. I may have the quote just a tad wrong, but hopefully you get the amazingly beautiful essence of what he meant. Phil's comment was so profound I couldn't forget it. I found myself wondering what form my heart takes in the world outside me.

Then it occurred to me while watching the birds this morning. My heart walking around outside me in the world, is the world, but in particular the natural world.

This is why I feed the birds, deer and foxes nearly as well as I feed myself and find great joy in doing so.

This is why every day I click the 'donate food' box on the Animal Rescue Site. Corporate sponsors of the site do the donating. I just click the box.

This is why I sign every petition I receive related to halting aerial helicopter hunting of wolves in Alaska or more recently the wolf-killing derbies sponsored by a sporting good stores in Idaho.

This is why I request petitions related to safeguarding the rainforests and stopping Mountain Top Removal from care2 .

This is why I'm an avid user of cloth bags, not plastic, and reuse jars for canning.

This is why I hug and talk to trees, catch bugs in my home in a little jar then release them outside where they're food for a bird, part of the cycle of life, versus just squashed by my hand.

This is why I use a hav-a-hart trap to catch the mice in my basement seeking shelter from the cold as well as the neighbors cat rather than a trap that kills them.

Nature is my child. Nature is my heart walking around outside me.

And as my friend has already experienced or will do so when his son encounters the bumps and bruises of living, I hurt with what I see being done to nature. Frankly it's more than hurt. I weep over how we treat animals and the natural world. Yet now I also take heart because there are people of heart, not just women, but men of heart too, who recognize their hearts in the world wherever that might be.

Just this morning I heard an interview with Sacred Activist Andrew Harvey as he spoke with the founder of Earth Fire Institute, a forty acre sanctuary in Idaho (home of the wolf derbies) where wolves, bears and other animals indigenous to the area live safely and are honored and loved.

I know at least two other people who transport little bugs to jars for safe passage outside rather than to the trash and have so many friends who are tree hugging, wolf loving, petition signing souls.

Thank you, Phil, for sharing your experience as well as allowing me to share it. We may not have taken or had the opportunity to learn from one another in school, but it's never too late to learn from one another now.

To you dear reader, I ask: Where is your heart right now in the world?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse - who occassionally rants rather than musing
** Good News: You can click on any of the highlighted words in the story above to learn more, send free cat/dog food to a shelter and yes, sign petitions at no charge ! This is Good News.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good Help and Good Pine Aren't Hard to Find

"Life is a mystery. Hopefully we are not too busy to miss the vital clues."
-from "The Return of Merlin" by Depak Chopra

I learned through email that last Sunday was not only Valentine's but also the New Moon which happened to begin an Aquarian cycle. The email suggested since Aquarius relates to the future that this was the perfect time to raise one's energy and get unstuck. One of the rituals suggested involved placing greenery such as pine in one's home to assist in the process of inviting in the new and clearing out the old.

What a beautiful idea. Prior to taking a walk, I stated that we should look for a few sprigs of pine we could place in our home. The walk began. We've a nearly two mile path we take, walking to a certain home in the area then turning and following the same path back most times. Sunday was no exception. Early on in the walk, Jerry said, "There's pine" only to realize as we neared it was cedar.

We walked and talked, got to our turn-around having forgotten the pine until for some reason we looked down and we were literally standing on several twigs in the road. They had fallen from two large branches that were now on the ground torn by a heavy snow from nearby trees.

We hit the jackpot. We had not only twigs, but branches that we walked home with one under each arm. Once home, I tucked pieces of pine around the front door and window as well as in the back by Venus our outdoor fireplace and around the bench near our bird feeders where we often sit. Jerry placed branches in each room inside then we held a ritual invoking the new.

Days later, I'm still curious as to how moments prior to walking out the door, I placed an intention to find pine twigs then literally walked over them. Fortunately they found me, me standing on them while returning home.

How is it I ask for something then so blatantly miss it? At times I stop the process of things coming to me through procrastination stemming from a bad attitude based in not-so-helpful beliefs.

My website references my desire to be the Good News Muse, but this Muse often finds she has bad attitudes. Here's what I mean..

For months we've needed a few minor home repairs. It's been so long it's a bit embarrassing. The story at least for me goes 'good help is hard to find' or maybe it's 'affordable good help is hard to find' and if I find it I'll have to rearrange my schedule which will be a hassle and then the person probably won't show up on time or do the job 'right.' This being the case, I had procrastinated calling anyone until prompted by weather rumors of big rain a month ago.

It was a Wednesday when I finally called Leonard, the roofer we had used eight years prior, to see if he could come by and check our gutters which had been popping away from the house, not a good thing rain or no rain. I didn't know if he was still in roofing let alone remember me.

How happy I was to find Leonard was still in business and recalled exactly where we lived. He offered to come out later that day. By Noon, the gutter situation had been assessed, and the source of a ceiling leak discovered along with two other potential leaks. He agreed to return the next day. As we stood and caught up on life over the past eight years, I asked if he knew a painter since many of our windows needed sanding and repainting around the trim.

By the following afternoon, not only were our gutters reattached and the leaks fixed, but the trim around the windows was sanded, caulked and painted as well as the door all for an extremely reasonable price. Equally as satisfying was the sense we had reconnected with an old friend.

These two small but important vignettes remind me of the New Testament directive, "Ask and you shall receive." How often do I get in the way of receiving the very things for which I've asked? How often does busyness or bad attitudes keep me from seeing and hearing the Mystery, the Mystery, call it God, Spirit, whatever you choose, that desires our engagement, the Mystery that needs our engagement in order to make itself known in the world?

If good help and good pine aren't that hard to find, what else is right before our very eyes?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 02/17/2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

From Ah-Gnaw to A-Ha and Ah - The New Balance

Ah, it doesn't get any better than this.
Rain on the roof.
Freshly made lemon chicken soup.
Red wine in a champagne flute.
(Who said flutes have to hold champagne?)
Candlelight and a pile of books by my side -
poetry, "Animal Speaks", "The Backyard Bird Bible" and Bob, yes, Bob's still in the picture. (See Oct. 10, 2009 for Bob and my history.)

This had not started as an 'Ah' kind of day. Actually it did but my wall got in the way. It started more like an ah-gnaw (very Southern for 'oh no') kind of day.

This was my first morning in the country. I intended to write, but the day started with a jolt. I pulled back the curtain and saw a cardinal lying on the deck. I gasped and felt sick. The last thing I wanted to do the first thing in the morning was have a funeral. I made my coffee, ate a bite and lest I forget erected my wall.

In December after writing about building a house of love, I realized one of the reasons for faultily built 'homes' is one's project manager goes AWOL or in my case I resist being managed even when I know management is wise. This particular morning my project manager was present and very aware I did not want to be present if that meant feeling. I also didn't want to rush out in search of film to cover the windows in case the bird had crashed or pecked itself to death thinking its reflection was a rival -something not uncommon in male cardinals. I was suppose to be taking action, writing.

I did place the cardinal in a shoebox and made a quick list of associations related to red in an attempt to stir my creative juices. Julia Cameron of the "Artist's Way" would have been proud. It was while making my list that I noticed the box was a New Balance shoebox.

'A new balancing of power,' I thought, 'since red is a color associated with power.'

I then proceeded to putz for most of the day, writing nothing but notes in the margin of a new soup recipe. I had never had such an unproductive day except for making the soup. I berated myself, felt guilty for being lazy and did none of the things I imagined like inviting neighbors for dinner. Of course none of these things were the intended writing. My inner tyrant, who stepped in after my project manager stepped out, preached from The Book of Shoulds. "If thou shall resist writing, then at least listen to an educational cd or better yet the French one that's been on the shelf for months. Lift weights and vacuum. Be productive. Clean the attic."

Finally I opted for movement. Not exercise, but actually getting in my car and driving with a goal in mind. Somewhere between buying Frenchesque Valentine's at Walgreens and washing the salt from my car even though it was now raining, I began to reconnect. My wall gradually lowered as I interacted with people who were kind and saw beauty and humor in the Valentine aisle at Walgreens.

Returning home I immediately found a spade and dug a hole near the shrub where I had repeatedly this winter seen seven cardinals hanging out. Now there would be six.

Taking the cardinal from the box, I realized the only side I had seen was colored very much like a female, shades of gray and blue with a hint of red. As I held it, I saw the side that had been facing down was brilliant, fire-engine red. This dear bird's body represented a New Balance in the world, a world in which both masculine action and doing are honored equally to feminine feeling and being, a world in which we aren't threatened by the heart nor do we misuse or neglect our personal power. It was beautiful.

The burying of the cardinal, the digging of the hole and collecting of fern fronds for its bed, doing in nature, led me to a place of being. My wall nor autopilot existed. Being engaged in a sacred cycle honoring and returning a creature to the earth returned me to Me.

Earlier in the day I had not acted from the place of new balance of which I wrote, the new balance within. My ongoing disconnect and irritation came from a place of resisting my feminine side. Instead of listening to and allowing feelings about the bird's death I compulsively moved through the day. The only tangible product of work and thus my worth for the day was soup, a soup which although it was good, had no monetary value in society's eyes and we all know society is the judge of how we spend our time. (That's another story.)

This beautiful day perfectly illustrated the importance of tending my inner balance, the balance between feeling and doing, masculine and feminine. How easily I forgot that actively tending one's inner balance contributes to the New Balance unfolding in the outer world.

Once inside, my house and myself, I knew exactly what I wanted and needed. I wanted the beauty of good food and poetry, fruits of the earth and of feathered souls, and lest I forget Bob my gardening go-to guy, who like a good project manager reminds me of what's important.

Being inside allows me to realize the things for me that have value, things connected to soul and soil, the plants and animals. It's in listening while doing that I engage in sacred cycles whether interacting with nature or others even in the Walgreens' checkout line.

The day that began with an ah-gnaw moment led to significant a-ha's and eventually to the inner 'ah' - all ultimately bringing me back to me and new balance. This is grace.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse
Here's Good News!
This Friday through Monday is the Great Backyard Bird Count a joint venture with the Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Click the link in the line above to print out a list of birds in your area and count for as little as 15 minutes on of those days or every day then report on-line your findings. This allows scientists to track birds, flight and habitat changes, etc.

Also February is designated bird feeding month nationally. Click National Bird Feeding Month to learn more and check out the Backyard Bird Bible for great feeding info for the feathered souls that grace the earth.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Of Melting Snow, Picnics Past and The Deep End

Earlier this week my gutters were singing. Yes, the tinkling sounds of the weekend's snow turned water were the first thing I heard upon going outside Monday morning. I excitedly thought, 'The Goddess is singing.' The combo of roof, gutters and water birthed a sound that sparked this thought, a thought I quickly edited for fear people would think I had gone off the deep end, wherever the deep end might be. Besides I told myself I didn't even know exactly what I meant by the goddess is singing.

The following day the dance of the gutters had shifted. The snow nearly gone created a drip, drip, dripping like a clock or metronome keeping time.

Now with today's rain, the gutters sound more like a babbling brook similar to the creek that ran by my grandparents' house, the creek by which my grandmother would spread a blanket for picnics when we were kids. Her pimento cheese sandwiches were delicacies thanks to the magic of sitting by the creek surrounded by daffodils in spring and filled with crayfish in summer.

I do not want to have lived having missed magic. I do not want to have lived having marked time or keeping time by someone else's clock for fear of their judgments. I do not want to live having edited myself for when I do imagination is pruned and experience limited. When I'm gone, I want people to say, "Dawn not only went off the deep end, she lived in the deep end and showed us the richness there."

Earlier this week, the Goddess sang in the tinkling sounds coming from my gutters. This morning she was heard in bird song and last week in the Haitian people making music amidst their sorrow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Search of the Goddess

Having embarked on lengthy quests in the snow over the weekend in search of food, jazz and basketball, I intended to give my boots a rest this morning. My intentions quickly shifted upon hearing of the snow goddess up the street and around the corner somewhere between my house and the grocery. Armed with layers of clothing, paper, pen, money, a pocket recorder and excitement, I set forth on an unexpected adventure in search of the Goddess.

I wondered how long my anticipation would last as I clomped and slipped through yesterday's snow now today's slush. I imagined a lengthy pilgrimage along neighborhood streets ultimately not finding the goddess but having an epiphany of sorts something like she was here all along in everything yet I missed her while focused on the goal. You know one of those life is the journey not the destination realizations.

Rather than wander, I walked straight ahead, no side street detours. After a few blocks and a corner turned, there She was between a neighborhood "Go Green" sign and a dragon-like gargoyle, guardians present and past of the Earth.

Quietly and regally She sat, legs crossed, a penetrating yet peaceful expression on her face. A flame of ice, cyrstal-like, rose from her jewel encircled head.

I wanted to meet the creators but snapped instead several photos mindful my quest didn't take long. Rather than creating a drama that could have lasted most of the day, She was nearby, not far away at all. My epiphany didn't result from an arduous ordeal, only the simple yet determined act of deciding to walk, albeit carefully a few blocks away. I only had to engage in the journey.

My return home involved detours, intentional ones allowing time to consider what it meant to go in search of the Goddess. Two things immediately crossed my mind, the first being a photo I had taken days prior in what's unofficially called Dragon Park thanks to the beautiful mosaic dragon created from drawings by area school children. The ones that caught my eye recently were hearts.

I walked home during that quest thinking how the mosaic heart beautifully represented each of our holding pieces of the heart coming together at this time around the world. I walked home today aware once again the dragon, feared and revered, showed up not only in the park but in the yard adjacent to the Goddess. A fire breathing dragon on this wintry day guarded the frozen Goddess.

The other thought hanging around my mind as I journeyed home was that the Goddess (or God, Higher Power, Creator if you prefer) is just as much in search of us as we are in search of her/him.

Arriving home, I felt compelled to google 'the goddess' out of curiosity. There was much to read but what caught my attention were four words near the beginning of the first website: God in feminine form.

This was perfect. This was really what was meant by God is love. God is compassion. God is heart. God is the feminine, here to hold and express love and compassion.

Yet the flame on the Goddess' head was frozen. The Goddess herself was frozen. Yet like the snow outside today She is unthawing. Unfreezing of hearts can be messy especially in a world that's valued outcome over process, logic over feeling and labeling over letting go.

Here I sit, hours after my external quest, continuing to quest internally as to how all of this speaks to me. What I believe for now is that we each have an entity call it whatever you wish that longs for our engagement with our one and only life. If we don't take our individual journey, it will not be taken. What I believe for now is She is here, a strong, fierce, feeling Feminine, inside each of us, female and male alike. She is here. She has been frozen. She is unthawing thanks to the flames of love.