Friday, April 14, 2017

An Easter Story for the believer, the non-believer, and everyone in between

Once upon a time I worked for a man who claims he saw an angel

not just any 'ole angel, but one that showed up close and personal
right there in his house
in a dark room
full of light
and spirit
and God's presence
As he retold the tale to me and several others, I've never forgotten the feeling it gave me.

The Retelling: An Easter story for the believer, the non-believer, and everyone in between

I don't know how we got on the subject, except that religion and faith always seemed to be tumbling into our office conversations. One of us was an atheist, one a Buddhist, one a born-again Christian, a strict Baptist, one bitter agnostic, a charismatic who spoke in tongues, a transcendentalist trying to find himself, two scoffing doubters, one former Hell's Angel and one on the fence. We worked together as a team for three years, sharing lunches and elaborate parties, successes and flops.  We were all business every day all day until this day; when the subject turned to the preposterous notion of living breathing angels walking around on earth, and how do you account for sight unseen occurrences or do you at all, and what about the bodacious claim that somebody's "God" bends down occasionally for the likes of humans to intervene in the lives of humans, even to hand out the elusive undocumented miracle.

A few were already laughing at the thought, the Buddhist lady had a wiry sneer on her lips at the onset and I think I saw the tongue talker utter a prayer under her breath. Me? I was poised over an electric calculator, twirling my pencil in my hair, as was my usual custom when it came time to ponder the preposterous. 

I loved to analyze and observe. I loved the debate even more. The room was ripe for the picking apart of beliefs, chapter and verse. And I was about to embark (unknowingly soon) on a journey that would lead me to throw my Bible against the wall in some wild defiance of everything religious. The timing of my presence in that ragtag conclave was prophetic.

I could feel the charismatic getting antsy, the Zen Man just wanted some air, the doubters were circling and motorcycle man desperately needed a cigarette. The only ones stone-faced were the non-believers, who were so sure that such conversation would quietly reveal the true crazies in the office that they didn't even bother to roll an eyeball. Given enough time, one of the believers would trip up and hang themselves on a begat and that would be the end of it. No more ridiculous supernatural discussions for this crew. I wondered which one of us would dare broach the subject with a tale to tell. My money was on the charismatic, who was looking at this point a little like she forgot which begat begot Baalam's ass in the first place.

Until the only one in the bunch whose very nature was reserved and aligned with normalcy, organization, order and precision, the logical, rational, sane one among us, Chamber of Commerce ready, as predictable as a red line pen mark in the debit column of an accountant's spreadsheet, rose to straighten his tie. This towering beautiful man in his late sixties, whose mission in life was to organize the usher's rotation roster each week at the Starched-Shirt-Church-Of-The-Saints, make sure there were suitable flowers on the altar, and tally up the collection plate money, suddenly waxed awkward and unfamiliar right before our collective eyes.

Mr. Predictable sat down in a chair in front of my desk and leaned his head back on the wall. He closed his eyes. So unlike him. He reached for his handkerchief. My pencil stopped twirling. And suddenly those hard-lined angles with all the checks and balances took a squiggly left turn. I saw smudges. All the ink in the room dried up. As he stepped out of the careful box he'd created and deliberately lived in all these years, I think I heard the proverbial pen rip right through verse four of Just As I Am and land somewhere between an impeccably drawn ledger line in the bookkeeping book of boring that was his life. Boring life. Boring religion. Boring book. He was a walking talking Billy Graham revival most days. He even sang like Cliff Barrows. It was only when he began to weep (a sight we'd never seen before) that the atmosphere in the room turned from theological skepticism, I can't explain it. You listen.

There's something about seeing a widly successful man who had the world by the tail, sitting in a starched white shirt, black tie, shiny shoes and salesman's cologne, suddenly break down at remembering. There was something going on with his daughter, he said, and she was distraught. Everyone in his house was distraught. She was lost in her own peculiar way and no one could find her. He told it so well. And before we knew it we were all hanging on every word of the story; the wayward child, the worrisome nights, illness, pain, uncertainty, a parent's nightmare. All told in perfect angst and candor to his friends. A man who had always seemed staunch with a tad of sanctimonious.

Until something else showed up.

And that was long about the time the second set of  tears began to roll down the shiny cheeks of the all business businessman, falling in droplets on the front of his made-for-business shirt...."I went into her room..."
His hands now covered his face. We saw water on his fingers, heard pain in his voice. The smirks were gone at the sight of his courage as his chest constricted and heaved between shallow breaths of tears and the sound of a well grown man unable to speak without gulping for air, the kind of retelling that only happens when you've accidentally opened up a deep well of wound or memory you forgot you had, and instead of drowning again and again you decide in some God moment that it must be time to let down your guard because all you can do God help you is bare it. You let people into your sanctuary of secrets and whether or not they deem it true is no longer your concern. You know the feeling, don't you?

And then I saw...I saw...
He stopped. He couldn't go on. My friend wept and wept in the made-for-business room.
And I felt it. What he saw. Before he said it, I felt it. We all felt it. It was all over him. All over us. In our room too.
As if it had just happened to him all over again. A silence of palpable presence that he'd held in his memory for nearly thirty years. And a gratitude that the God he loved and worshiped would seek to send him comfort and a promise in the midst of one of his darkest days. The presence of the Angel was still fresh in his mind. The events that surrounded his life at that time changed and he was never the same.

His story helped me understand the frame of faith in which he walked. And it solidified a belief I've held most of my life - That you can't argue with an experience. I don't care if you're an intellectual, a fundamentalist, agnostic or atheist, a liberal Christian or a Bible-thumping sainted ball of confusion, if you don't have an experience, a definitive moment in time that you cannot logically explain, to back up what and why you believe in a Higher Power, it means nothing to you but empty words. You can argue from Genesis to John, as we did many times, but none of us could argue with his experience. His long ago unexpected meeting with an angel of light and protection for his beautiful daughter, was still strongly tethered to the present. Quite simply, he knew he was not alone. He knew he would never be alone. And in the retelling of it, I got a front row seat and witnessed firsthand this fundamental truth....that words are only powerful when they're attached to your heart.  It was his experience, that experience, that made all our blubbering banter on the subject of religion 'round the water cooler mean less than a jar of beans. Because when something that powerful manifests itself in your life and changes the situation, it changes you.

Thirty years later it changed us too.

  Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass, on the Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois, USA
released to the public domain 
 The Annunciation  - Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, c. 1895.
 Ecclesiastical Angels - Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, c. 1890.
 Two Angels - Tiffany Studios, c. 1910.
Thomas Cooper Golch The Awakening 

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Who Needs a Weatherman When You Can Smell Snow?

I have this special intuitive power you see....
I kept waking up all night to look out the window because I knew I knew I KNEW I saw the weather report on the news that it was going to snow. Homer (the Palace Dog) believes me. Friends, family and colleagues believe me. They don't even listen to the forecast anymore. They just call me for a prediction. 
I charge by the snowflake.

So I went outside in my fuzzy slippered feet and looked around.
Yep. Snow.

I made this video just to prove that I can smell snow  that it snowed.

It didn't last long when the sun came out, but I hear there's more on the way later in the week.

Maybe I'll need boots this time! 
That would be nice and pencil-skirty indeed.
I hope you have a warm and cozy Sunday.
I'll just be here writing my resume for my newest career - meteorologist.

You believe me, don't you?

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Mimisms ~ How To Survive The Inauguration 101

Regardless of whether your politics fall to the left, right, or somewhere in the middle, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States in four days.
I remember vividly the emotions I felt during the inauguration of Barack Obama. I was inspired and moved by the events of the day. As I try to prepare myself for this momentous shift of power and change, I feel as though we're all about to board a roller coaster, take our seats, buckle in and white-knuckle-hold-on during a very bumpy ride. As much as I'd love to find a nice pile of patriotic goosebumps waiting for me on Friday, January 20th, I'm finding it hard to imagine at this point. The protests, the added security, the unrest, the confusion, the unnecessary back-and-forth schoolyard rhetoric from people old enough to know better, the hatred from both sides....and most of all, the uncertainty

But I'm a lemonade maker. A big believer in allowing challenges to kick my prissy skirt into action and not allowing them to define me. That is what I hope for this country.
This is how I'm going to survive Inauguration Day.

1. Stay informed.
Read everything I can get my hands on. Learn everything I can about our new president-elect, legislative process, laws, cabinet appointees and memorize my representative's Congressional phone numbers. Whether I'm praising or complaining, I need to know what I'm talking about. Did you know that knowledge prevents idiocy?

2. Keep an open mind.
No, it's not what you think. I don't have to change my values or my politics (which should be, my Bloggy People, one and the same). I don't have to turn a blind eye to anything (refer #1).
But my mind has to be willing to understand so that my heart can empathize so that my feet can walk so that stupidity does not win the day. Did you know that closed minds cause stupid people?  I learned that in Biology 101.

3.  I refuse to hitch my wagon to a person.
Our country just had a head-on collision with Itself at a four-way stop.
I'm about to get extremely self-centered. We can't afford to wait and see who is going to move first and who is going to stall out.  I need to let my convictions lead the way. Beep beep! Move over.

4. I will celebrate democracy and freedom.
Even and especially in a country divided.

We can do this.
It will be OK.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ Garments of Destiny and Other Fine Words

Today we celebrate the incredible life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Most of us think of him as a warrior for social justice.  And he was.  But roots in his character and associations suggest that at the heart of all he was, he was first and foremost - a peacemaker. 

In 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end racial discrimination and segregation through the avenues of civil disobedience and other non-violent means. He was also awarded the Catholic Pacem in Terris Award (Peace on Earth).  It is awarded "to honor a person for their achievements in peace and justice, not only in their country but in the world."

Four years after his work for social justice began in the streets of Montgomery, forcing social issues to the forefront and into the American and international psyche, he began to focus his energies on stopping the Vietnam War and ending poverty. He started a process of shifting, resifting, toppling norms and ideologies long held by establishments at odds with anything resembling human dignity and justice. These monumental shifts in the soul of our nation and the world are largely attributed to his courage and his voice.

Oh, but there was more to the man.

I was reminded today that he was inspired by the writings and teachings of another such activist.
When Dr. King visited India in 1959, he came away with a profound respect and understanding of the non-violent teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.

He later reflected, "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation."

He knew how to connect spiritual laws with scientific laws, science with morality, spoken words with unspoken fire, and generations of spiritual evolution into threads of commonalities within all cultures and religions while steadfastly holding to his own. Intrinsic ideas and truths became actions and deeds.

It is always the intrinsic that matters the most.
What I admire and appreciate about Martin Luther King, more than the amazing dream speech, more than his courage, more than his learned theological spirit, and even more than his political and social causes of injustice and equality, was his ability to intellectually intertwine all of those attributes and aspirations into powerful common sense purpose.  The sum of all those parts made his greatness.

Sometimes we focus on a few shining moments of publicity and grandeur so long that we forget what made him great in the first place. He knew who he was. He stayed in his lane. That was his true genius.

Dr. King surrounded himself with learned men, intimate and scholarly mentors, often controversial, books and a love of words, prayers, and a burning desire to pour out what was inside of him in letters and essays to the rest of us, even from a Birmingham Jail.
Because he honored the wisdom of others, to his credit, we not only find a profoundly cerebral giant among men, we find humility.
We mostly remember a speech, a bullet, a march, a statue, a remarkable iconic individual - and all those things are to be remembered, mourned, and revered about the man - but what lay underneath is more important to me, because without that brilliant, questioning, analytical ability to connect the dots and eloquently espouse them into one cohesive truth the whole world could understand, there wouldn't have been a march, a speech, or a movement.

The rest of his legacy would have been impossible to achieve and he would have become not a shining human light upon a hill of ugly darkness or a seeker of truth in Gandhi's shadow, but just another speech maker, noise maker, rabble-rouser and activist marching down roads at the whim of every wind with no direction and no clear path. No leader can lead walking blindly around corners of pivotal change and unrest, and take others with him, unless he already knows what lies ahead.

So today I celebrate Martin the man. The thinker. The preacher. The spirit. The leader.
And a man who understood who he was, where he'd been and where he was going.
This is one of my favorite quotes by Dr. King:

"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." - Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.

How I long for a time when the leaders we see before us in the world today, humble themselves before voices of wisdom gone by.  
May we find ourselves worthy of his fine example. 

Edited and reprinted from a previous version from Mimi Writes
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Virgin Beauty of Untouched Snow

I love the way the world stops when it snows.

As if it somehow those bursting clouds know we need a clean fresh slate to write upon.

All that ugliness that fell
 to the ground in thoughtless words has been covered up with fresh white powder as if it never existed. Think of the gift winter's magic could be if snow could actually erase the unnerving nastiness of noise left strewn about by voices in our world determined to unbalance the ordained equilibrium of the human race. 
Ah, but we are human.  

And those humans I know to be true of heart and integrity, full of hope and goodness, brave enough to silently mow down hatred with tied shoestrings of gentleness,  always tread brilliantly roughshod over roughness - even and especially in storms.

If I could blanket the world with a covering of newness in the form of snow - which seems quite holy to me - I would.

Save for the thick sheet of slippery sleet-delivered ice on the highway, today might just be the perfect way to enjoy a snowstorm. Big fluffy white sugar powdered flakes and less ice on the trees, I'm thinking we could hit the pause button and listen to the snow.

Let's disappear for awhile and pretend the world is clean.

and full of fresh born baby goodness

As far as my eyes can see there is nothing but untouched snow 
on top of untouched snow
on top of untouched snow

It's like the gift we give to each other when we decide to cover fault with a blanket of love
and love with a blanket of protection.

in the snow my footprints are clear
my vision unmarred and unmarried
to obstacles and stress

I only need worry about the depth
and breadth
 of the impression
I make
the direction I travel
and the words I choose
And that, my friends, is what freedom is all about.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Crossing The Road

No automatic alt text available.

It's New Year's Day 2017 in the castle of Bloggingham. Homer (the palace dog) is up and at 'em chasing the neighborhood beauties 'round and around the trees - or maybe that was a squirrel - I don't have my glasses on . 😄

He's getting up in dog years and the chasing is more of a limped trot but let's face it, at least he's still on the prowl for love and affection. Or perhaps he just wants his acorns back.

I can't tell you how many times this past year I've had the exhausting privilege of running round and around the same tree. After a while Your Royal Highness becomes Your Royal Dizziness and it's time to hide myself under a branch and rest awhile.
Who could run in these boots anyway??

Bloggingham is full of places to hide and a hyperbole approaching gazillion million trees.
They are my refuge and I love them. I know them.
They know me.

When the world goes as wonky as it did in 2016, it's good to know I have a place to be.
Just be.

Me and tall tall oaks with imaginary internet dogs that never need feeding and the silence of solitude that one only finds under long tree branches. My imagination does not fall far from the know....

2016 went with a flash at the stroke of midnight last night. And I am glad it's gone.

There were blessings inside of lessons.
Did you get that?

For me it was a year that began with love and ended with leavings, began with capturing sorely needed insight and ended with greater insight - but not a trace of bitterness or regret. Just peace. The whole year was like that from start to finish. Slow beginnings and quick endings seemed to be the norm for me in the land of midlife dating. No destination has to be - or should be - an ending. Instead of wondering if this one or that one might be my one and only, I stopped looking for that altogether; I chose instead to plant my boots where the door opened and step through of my own choosing, turn around and go back out again of my own choosing or wave bye-bye from under a tree branch when it wasn't my choice. I realized that all directions are fine whether you choose them or not. 
It was freeing.

 The old joke says that the chicken wants to cross the road to get to the other side, right? Wrong.
Sometimes you need to cross the road just to cross the road.

Own your life. Walk where you need to walk. 
Fall down in boots and hide under leaves if you must.
 But for Heaven's sake, just walk. 

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Monday, November 28, 2016

I Am Sure, Quite Sure, That Today Is NOT My Birthday

It's the same every blog year. November 29th rolls around and the calendar says it's my birthday. But it can't be my birthday. The year I was born this man, Abraham Lincoln Dwight D. Eisenhower, was president. Holy moley!

Eisenhower-Kennedy transition
I was alive when the first man walked (and talked) on the moon.  They always forget the "talking" part.  I stayed home from first grade the day President Kennedy, my hero, was buried. School was closed and my mother wept as we watched on the black and white television.  Do you remember that JFK created and established the Peace Corps?

And I was in high school during the Nixon/Ford Republican years when the Draft kept us wondering if my brothers would wind up fighting on a foreign shore.

 The Watergate years were worrisome and politically embarrassing, but it was nothing in comparison to what we witnessed in the 2016 election, or during those sordid blue dress White House moments.

How has my non-birthday meandered into politics?
Doesn't it shroud everything these days?
At least that's the way it seems. 

My non-birthday is a decade mark on the calendar for me and I must say that even though I feel almost as young as the still-uncolored bouncing curls on my brunette head, my mother confirmed that today is indeed the morn she birthed a tiny 5 lb. girl at 5:05 am who looked like a little squirrel in the palm of her hand with a head of dark hair.

Even though she called me a day early to wish me a happy birthday.'s that age thing! She forgot her own daughter's birthday but "remembered it like it was yesterday." LOL   I thanked her as if tomorrow had arrived. Did you get that, Bloggy People?

But let's look at the bright side. It's the year 2016.  John F. Kennedy couldn't be further from the presidency in soooo many ways (nope, that wasn't the bright side) but the world still spins and I'm still alive in the year I turned something-something-something that shall not be revealed.  It's really worse for Homer you know. I overheard him talking to his girlfriend last night. He said I "drove him battier than the Cubbies' dugout" on non birthday days and he wants to jump off a cliff.

I'm going to find some cake.

And a cliff.

Time for the next decade to begin. 
Let's jump!

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Gather Your Tribe

Welcome to BlogBlast For Peace 2016. We look forward to seeing your peace globe and reading your blog post or social media post! Please add your name to the Links in the sidebar so that we may read your contribution. NOTE: If the Linky function doesn't appear at the bottom of this post, please leave your link in the comment section. Tag me on social media. Most of you are there for this launch! This is the tenth year of peace blogging! Thank you so much for keeping this movement alive and blessing me with your tales of peace and inspiration. It's a launch.
MY FACEBOOK PAGE  is open and will allow you to see many of the peace globes that aren't linked here.
The Official Fan Page will do the same.  Check them out. They're AMAZING.
Grant us peace.

My 2016 peace post is called
Gather Your Tribe

She's been pulling things out of the closets and attic for weeks. My mother. 
Clothes, pottery, pictures, memories, toys, albums. She has not been well and well....I guess she felt it was time to get some things in order. Have you noticed that when people physically slow down their words get longer? And deeper.  Measured. Transparent.

Maybe it's all about the struggle.
Ain't nobody got time to blog for peace. Really, Miss Pencil Skirt? You want people to plop down a rosy picture on the subject of one of the greatest mysteries in life in the middle of the one of the worst years for strife we've ever seen? Really, Mimi?

Peace bloggers everywhere (myself included) are finding it challenging to come up with even one reason to be hopeful or optimistic in the world we live in today. I don't need to reiterate the obvious.  Just check your newsfeed every hour and you'll see all manner of inhuman atrocities, filthy immoral scandals, rumors of war in the newest of places, and people teetering on the edge of not being able to cope anymore.

"Go on, Mimi...try on this scarf. I wore it when I was in high school," Mama said.

Mama's scarf

    Money rules the world in every direction I look; lack of it or abuse of it for power's sake. We are seeing whole tribes of people being uprooted and moved to the next nation until somebody figures out what to do with them. Children never sleep while the hovel around them crumbles. And on our side of the planet, I see unspoken concern and despair on the faces of people. Worry. Sickness. No health insurance. Jobs are scarce and underpaying. People are stressed beyond anything I've seen and hurting with no end in sight. 
While we're forced to watch the vileness of the most shameful American election I've ever witnessed,  families are using and losing all they have just to pay the bills. They still manage to get up and go to work to make $12.00 an hour to feed a family of six while two billionaires banter back and forth about who contributed the most to charity on their tax returns.

Everyday average people don't want to hear that. 
They just want a fair shot at the kind of prosperity given to the wealthiest among us. 
We need a government that understands how average income people are struggling and set about to correct the inequalities and injustices. People are tired of constant stress.

But back to the closet cleaning.
My mother told me of a lingering memory she has of her own mother.  She remembers seeing her walk to work down the middle of the railroad tracks in the early morning and back home again at night - sewing in a hosiery mill to feed five children. It didn't matter if she was sick, she'd still go to work. And there was never enough to eat.

Women know the sacrifice and the value of work and that is why we
 keep things.
 It's in our DNA.

Women treasure things that belonged
 to another female member of their tribe.
Because we know the value of things is not things.

So when she pulled out a bag full of scraps, scarves, jewelry and wedding lace, it felt like a sacred moment between us and all who walked before.  Another torch of strength passed from her hand to mine. 

The gloves

These were her gloves.
 Given to my mother.
And now given to me. 
It's almost like I have her hands.

So,  I put them on.

And suddenly I felt my grandmother's touch.  Hands that braided my hair into French braids over and over at night. I would mess it up just so I could feel her strong and gentle hands again. She tried to teach me to do it myself, but I secretly didn't want to learn.

My great-grandmother's handmade monogrammed handkerchief is to the left, along with a set of emerald green jewelry that I saw my grandmother wear from time to time - a gift from Papa.
Given to my mother.
And now given to me.

My beautiful grandmother, who gave me the wrinkle in my nose, never told me about the railroad tracks or the poverty. She wouldn't talk about it. But I saw a strength and a dignity in her that could only be carried by one whose weary body and soul sought to feed hungry children with all the might she had. 

The gloves and the jewelry came later when Papa walked into her life. 
And oh, she knew the value. Stitched with love. Chosen with love. Worn with love.
Cherished through three generations.

Great-grandmother's monogrammed handkerchief
If I could talk to that girl on the railroad tracks, the one with the heaviest of hearts, I would tell her to watch and wait...for you're about to be blessed by the hand of love. Not only you, but your children and their children and their children too. It will only take one. Just him. But he's enough.
And he will give you the gift of gloved hands and jewels.

And tonight, just for you Grandmother, I will wear them.


If there's power enough in the seas
and power enough in the waves
to land upon feet 
of Giants and Fleets
then there's power enough
 in the least

For man is a jewel

man of sandstone and lime
fashioned headlong thru tumbling brine
designed by a Hand
that shapes trellis and tribe
each one molded
thru eons of time

Gather your tribe

and don't let go
No matter the trouble it brings
When the world is askew
and all's said and done
Wait for love
It only takes one

Goodnight Grandmother

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Eve of BlogBlast For Peace (Blog4Peace) ~ Papa's Marbles

It is November 2, 2016 and we are on the cusp of the tenth year of peace blogging. Two days from now we will once again speak "Dona nobis pacem" in the Blogosphere  and Blog4Peace 2016 will begin at midnight November 4th.  We hope you will join us from your corner of the globe.

It is my custom to start at the beginning and move forward through time as it happened on this blog and on many others. So I am re-posting the very first BlogBlast For Peace  from the year 2006. At that time we had no idea how far this would go or what it would become. Blogging in 2006 was much more interactive than it is today. I simply sent out a call to Blog For Peace Bloggers from all over the world answered.  I designed a graphic to sign (a peace globe) and bloggers began to create beautiful works of peace art and proudly flew the banner of their blogs. Today there are thousands of peace bloggers on Facebook, Twitter, and all across the web.

It's always best to start at the beginning. Flashback to November 2006. It was about midnight. And after inviting the whole world to join me, I had no post of my own. The muse, you see, has Her own timezone and is utterly reliable, as I was about to find out. I was in for a midnight surprise, a visitation.  The makings of a movement began that night. It started with a bowl of marbles. They belonged to my grandfather who passed them on to me.
 Here's my story. Here's how it began.

Let me introduce you to this honorable man, my Papa.

Dona Nobis Pacem 2006 

They've been sitting on my piano for more years than I care to count, on the corner of the Kohler and Campbell my grandfather gave me when I was fourteen years old. After he died, I found them in a tattered and dirty bag at the bottom of a box full of his personal things. He wanted me to have them. His marbles.

Handmade rough-hewn marbles crafted from rock by my grandfather and his brothers. The year was 1920 and there was no money for toys.
I often wondered why he didn't leave them for a male member of the family. Honestly, folks, it wasn't until just tonight - the eve of Dona Nobis Pacem in the Blogosphere - that I discovered the answer.

I know stranger things have happened.

I just can't recall when.

 I knew this post would not be written until the last moment. I made lots of notes but I just couldn't quite make it happen. It is still a little while before midnight in my part of the United States and I'm supposed to be spinning out a masterpiece of goodwill and peace prose - maybe a stunning poem like those we've already seen. A song, a lyric, a new tune.

Instead, Mimi Pencil Skirt wants to talk about rocks.

So I went into my study and began to polish them. One by one. The bowl, the piano, the granite. How many times had I sat at that very bench and casually glanced into that bowl? Thousands. Song after song. Tune after tune. Lesson after lesson. Tear after tear.

 He didn't have a lot of money it seems to me now, my grandfather.... at the time though, he was the richest man I knew. And he has been on my mind this week more often than not. Well over six-feet tall and always impeccably dressed, my Papa was the most humble man I've ever met.
When he passed away I met scores of people who told me what he'd meant to them. "He helped me when I needed money....." "He gave me his shoes...." and on and on.

 His kindness was not news to me. The fact that a large portion of the town showed up at his wake was, however, a stunning surprise. I didn't know I'd been sharing him all those years. He made me feel as if I were the only one in the world.
Strange, those marbles. All different shapes and sizes. Colors, too. Yet they've co-existed for years right there atop the long- lovingly- played strings inside my piano - the one Papa used his savings account to buy for me - while he worked two jobs at the factory and made time up on Saturdays when he missed work hours to drive me to my lessons in the afternoons.

 I was a bit different. Artistic. Content with solitude. Always writing in endless journals and playing broody piano music. Papa didn't pamper me - even though that's a disputed fact to this day in my family. What he did was more earth-shattering.

The one on top. That one.
Different... that one. I know that's the very one he made. I'm sure of it.

 When I think about peace and what it means to me, I always wander back to a time when I first felt it. Because I know on an unconscious level that world peace cannot - will not - be achieved without inner peace. Adversaries on both sides of the conflict have to have it. You can't weave magical tranquility out of thin air and conferences. Peace is a state of being.

It has a life of its own.
Real lasting peace is born of creative jumble and hard work. Victories are never won by the one who has the most power - wars are won; but not peaceful achievements. Nothing good can ever come of power at play for the sake of power. It never lasts. There's always a hideous price.

Papa's Marbles. Not a pretty one in the bunch.
Every one brown or taupe.

Almost every one.
I started thinking this week about those times in my life when I first felt real peace.
For me, it came in the presence of God at an early age. Not because I am privileged or special. But simply because I was loved. Unconditionally.

Sometimes it takes just one person

to unlock magic in someone else.

I watched that kind of magic flow through my grandfather's life. He was in tune with who he was. He knew the simple meaning of love. He knew how to pray. I often wondered how other people sensed that about him - without the benefit of those life-giving hugs he saved just for me.

Taking his hat off and bowing his head, he would very quietly hold audience with his Maker. It didn't matter how many people were listening. His prayers always began the same way......"Dear Gracious Heavenly Father......"
Hechose the color himself.   Papa.....he must have spent hours honing that rock.

I often went with him to backwoods church services. Informal revivals, formal services, anywhere there was special music and a spirit of God - he was there. I can't explain it really. We would visit churches and the minister would ask him to lead the invocation or say the benediction - even though they'd never met. How did they know he could pray?  
I knew he could pray......but how did they know?

No matter where. Or with whom. Or in front of whom.
Hat in hand. Head bowed. He knew how to reach God.

And people sensed that when they met him. If peace can be worn like a garment then he was always finely clothed, my Papa. One night he took me by the hand and led me to the altar with him. He knelt down on one knee, elbow resting on the other and silently voiced his heart. I was right there! I heard the whole thing and he never said a word.

He made them with his own hands. He molded them into shape.
Created them and lovingly took care of them. He chose the color.
Not a sonata or a novel. Certainly nothing brilliant or fancy.
Just ordinary marbles.

Tonight I'm sitting at my table writing stories on an electronic device that sends messages all around the world about globe graphics and insomnia, making pots of endless coffee to stay awake, answering emails from Germany, London, China, New York, Oman and beyond.
Could Papa have ever imagined such a thing?
Did he?
What was he praying about all that time anyway?

Papa's marbles.....There's something odd about them.

Oh forget about it. They're just a bunch of rocks. You've got a story to write. Can't you think of something brilliant? It's past midnight and everyone has their peace globe up but you.
I struggled. There's something missing here, I thought.

 It's about Papa. I can't stop thinking about him.
What would he say to me tonight? How would he pray?

The marbles.
Look closer.

When it hit me I was way past the point of arguing with myself about miracles and such. I've seen too many come through my mailbox today to argue with God about that. 

Do you see it?
The blue one on top.

It looks like a globe.

Dona Nobis Pacem did not start with Mimi. It started in 1920 when a little boy in the rural southeastern United States decided to shape a small blue marble - for his granddaughter.

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